Fatty acids and lipids are essential components of plant cells with diverse structural and signaling functions. They also form waxy cuticles on the plant surface required for plant protection against water loss, pathogens and insects, and serve as storage reserves in the seed that are exploited for human nutrition, as well as production of lubricants, detergents and chemical feedstocks. Research in my lab is directed toward understanding the following aspects of plant fatty acid and lipid metabolism:
We are using molecular-genetic, genomic and biochemical approaches and cell biology in a model crucifer Arabidopsis thaliana to define the molecular mechanisms that control these metabolic pathways. I envision that the knowledge of cuticle structure and function will facilitate the development of crops with improved tolerance to drought and other environmental stresses. Similarly, understanding seed oil metabolism with guide rational efforts aimed at metabolic engineering of seeds with improved utility as sources of renewable materials and as biofuel feedstocks.