Quantum leaps in biological research are closely tied to the development of new technologies. The department has several modern technology platforms which make research possible in the absolute frontline, internationally. We believe it our duty to strengthen inter-institutional cooperation by utilizing and further developing the platforms.
A quantitative description of principally all metabolites in an organism or in a tissue is a significant element in the description of the organism. We have already developed methods for determination of many metabolites, both naturally occurring substances and primary metabolites, and have attained advanced expertise in this field. Analyzing metabolites is a crucial parameter in the vision of the virtual plant and is of immense significance for the research in plants in relation to foods and health.
We aim at expanding our platform in metabolite profiling. Realizing that we cannot analyze all metabolites, we will focus on naturally occurring substances and on carbohydrates, including complex carbohydrates. To understand the role they play in the plant, it is essential to study the profile differences under divers physiological conditions, for instance as defence against pathogen attack. It is our strategy that the platform can be used in a great number of projects by the Department and our partners.
Genome research results in the identification of thousands of new genes, which codes for proteins with unknown functions. Bioinformatics is a method platform for predicting function through analysis of sequences and for making biological sense of substantial data on gene expression and metabolite profiles. Bioinformatics is an important starting point in the long-term goal of establishing “the virtual plant”. The bioinformatics area is situated in the border field between mathematics and biology, and we are already benefiting from the cooperation among departments in Center for Applied Bioinformatics.
In this post-genomic era, new technologies enable us to study physiological processes on a molecular level in whole organisms. The Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology has access to the latest instrumentation within the area of bioimaging, i.e. visualization in real time of biological processes in the living plant. We wish to strengthen the new professorship in the field by enhancing the inter-institutional cooperation in Center for Advanced Bioimaging (formerly LIFE's Bioimaging Centre).
The Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology has an ongoing research which conditions us to make contributions within nano-biotechnology. Biosensors are designed proteins which continually measure the concentration of substances e.g. pH, metabolites and salts in the living cell. At the Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology we want to utilize our bioimaging platform to develop a new generation of biosensors in nanoscale, which are coded by synthetic genes inherited in transgenic plants.
At the Department, we also have a considerable knowledge on mechanisms for self assembly of large complexes of proteins and polysaccharoses. Polysaccharoses can be used to develop surfaces which can be exploited in medico technological equipment and for drug-delivery. We aim at utilizing our position of strength in the field of polysaccharide by targeted contributing in the practical exploitation of nano biotechnology.
Proteins – structural proteins and enzymes – practically always carry out their function in interaction with other proteins. The interacting proteins can be closely connected in a more or less static complex or the interactions can be transient in metabolons or at signal transduction. A complete understanding of a protein’s function can not be achieved by studying the isolated protein, but requires knowledge of the protein-protein interactions. This research area combines the Department’s biochemical expertise within proteins, especially membrane proteins, with the expertise within bioimaging and cell biology.
On a short view, the understanding of protein-protein interactions is a source for discovery and description of new proteins. On the long view, protein-protein interactions are a part of the systematic description which is crucial within system biology and which form part of the vision of the virtual plant.
Molecular genetics and transformation
To clarify the molecular basis for plants’ and plant pathogens’ life functions we typically use mutants. These could either be the result of ‘forward genetics’, where the mutants are selected according to their phenotype or by means of ‘reverse genetics’, where the mutants appear by disrupting a particular gene. Genes can be disrupted both by knock-out mutations and by RNAi and similar mechanisms. The Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology has extensive expertise in employing all of these types of mutants and transformants. We excel in Arabidopsis, especially, but we also employ other plant species when well-founded. Accordingly, we also have expert knowledge on relevant fungi.
Diagnostics and plant pathogen interactions
We have a powerful technology platform where methods for disease diagnostics and characterization of pathogens are based on traditional methods combined with the latest molecular diagnostic techniques and the associated bioinformatics. Furthermore, the platform embodies significant technologies for studies of plants’ defence response. This basis of methods has advanced the development of new central technologies for the basic as well as the application-oriented research on plant pathology. The monitor technology enables detailed studies of gene expression in interactions with the plant and in studies between pathogenic and antagonistic fungi.