Plants display incredible plasticity in their response to a changing environment. Under different environmental stimuli, plants shift their resource allocation between general and specialized metabolism. The interaction between general and specialized metabolism affects for plant performance, and impacts digestibility and toxicity. With temperatures and atmospheric conditions changing at unprecedented rates, this interaction must be understood to improve crop performance, and conserve wildlife systems.
Our research aims to understand the molecular regulation and evolution of plant metabolic pathways, providing fundamental knowledge for application to environmental, agricultural and biotechnological platforms. We achieve this by utilizing a full “omics” toolbox; from the glasshouse to the field.
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- Integrated “omics” approach to understand the role and regulation of specialized metabolites in trees (Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Betula) in response to biotic and abiotic stress
- Drought tolerance and recovery in cereal crops by redirection of nitrogen between specialized and general metabolism
- Pathway discovery of genes involved in general and specialized metabolism, with a focus on cytochromes P450
- Biosynthesis and role of oximes in plant metabolism
- Evolution of general and specialized metabolite pathways in ferns
- Volatile emission from Eucalyptus
- Metabolomic investigations into specialized metabolite detoxification by marsupials
- Prevalence of cyanogenic glucosides in Eremophila and Myoporum
Current research projects
- VILLUM Center for Plant Plasticity 2013-2019 (EHJN co-applicant)
- VILLUM Foundation Young Investigator Program “How does climate change impact plants and their herbivores?” 2016-2020 (EHJN)
- Danish Council for Independent Research “Improved drought tolerance and recovery via redirection of nitrogen between specialized and general metabolism” 2016-2019 (EHJN)
Using a multi-disciplinary approach, our research has established an intricate interplay between plant general and specialized metabolism. We have demonstrated that plants exhibit a metabolic shift in chemistry in response to developmental and environmental change; in the glasshouse and in the field. The redirection of resources between general and specialized metabolism can improve plant growth and performance under adverse conditions. This metabolic shift, however, has significant consequences for plant toxicity and nutritional content, and downstream consequences on different trophic levels.
We have optimized analytical methods to separate and analyze complex plant mixtures. We are currently identifying key biosynthetic pathway members involved in the biosynthesis of different specialized metabolite classes, combining transcriptomic and proteomic analyses.
- Elizabeth H. J. Neilson
- Amalie Bendtsen
- Bruna Marques dos Santos
- Cecilie Cetti Hansen
- Gunbileg Disan
- Mette Sørensen
- Sara Thodberg
- Xinxing Xia