Rational engineering of plant metabolic networks.
The growth of plants is underpinned by, and in many cases limited by, the capacity of their metabolic systems. In green tissues, the process of photosynthesis transduces light energy into chemical energy to power the assimilation of carbon and nitrogen from the environment, the biosynthesis and maintenance of cellular components and export of sugars and amino acids to support the growth of the rest of plant..
The research in my lab aims to develop a better understanding of the behaviour of the metabolic systems of plants in order to devise metabolic engineering strategies that will improve the productivity and quality of crop plants. We use both computational and experimental approaches to achieve this.
Computational: We construct and analyse flux-balance models of large-scale plant metabolic networks. We use these models to make predictions about metabolic flux distributions at the single cell level and also at the tissue-level and whole-plant-level.
Experimental: The experimental strand aims to investigate and exploit the predictions from the computational strand. We use a range of rapid genetic testbeds, including transient expression in tobacco and stable expression in Arabidopsis and Marchantia polymorpha. An ongoing interest is the subcellular organisation of metabolism by transient assembly of enzyme complexes that support probabilistic metabolite channelling.