Employees – University of Copenhagen

Ana Assuncao

Ana Assuncao

Associate Professor

  • Section for Plant and Soil Sciences

    Thorvaldsensvej 40, 1871 Frederiksberg C

    Phone: +45 35 33 12 74

Regulation of micronutrient zinc homeostasis

Zinc is an essential micronutrient for all organisms being necessary for the structure and metabolic activities of a variety of proteins.  At high levels zinc can lead to toxicity and therefore its uptake, distribution and storage have to be tightly regulated. In plant production, the existence of zinc-deficiency in agricultural soils is a widespread problem affecting crop yield and quality. Despite of its importance, the knowledge of how plants cope with zinc imbalance is very limited.

In our group, we study the molecular mechanisms and regulatory events of the plant response to zinc supply. In zinc-deficiency conditions, plants react by inducing gene expression of key zinc transporters and chelator producers at transcription level. We have previously identified that the basic-region leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factors bZIP19 and bZIP23 are essential regulators of this response to zinc-starvation.

Our main focus is to understand how plants respond to zinc-deficiency stress and determining the role of bZIP transcription factors in this process. To address this problem, we perform an integrative approach combining molecular biology, genetics, imaging and transcriptomics. As model systems we use Arabidopsis thaliana and zinc hyperaccumulating plants to then translate our findings into important crops.

A better understanding of how plants sense and adapt to variations in micronutrient zinc availability will help improving crops for zinc-use-efficiency and adaptation to zinc deficient soils.

Research topics

  • Regulation of Arabidopsis bZIP19/23 by zinc status
  • Identification of bZIP19/23 functional homologues in rice
  • Functional characterization of genes involved in zinc homeostasis


ID: 11080369