Mark Stitt How Do Plants Regulate Their Behavior Based on Their Carbohydrate Resources?
© Maximilian Dörrbecker
Max Planck Society
"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology
The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPIMP) was founded after the German unification in 1994, as one of 18 institutes on the territory of the former GDR. The founding director was Prof. Dr. Lothar Willmitzer, who is the director of one of the three departments which have been established since then. From originally only 16 employees the institute grew into a large institute, which now employs about 360 people from all over the world, who put their combined efforts into elucidating the secrets of plants.
In the first years the scientists performed their research in buildings on the campus of the University of Potsdam. In 1999 the construction activities on the Max Planck Campus were completed and the MPI-MP, together with the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, moved into their new buildings. The three institutes share a central building with a lecture hall, seminar rooms, administration offices and a cafeteria. Apart from that, they are completely independent from each other.
The MPI-MP investigates metabolic and molecular processes in cells, tissues, organs and whole plants. The overall goal is to understand how growth and metabolism are regulated, to learn how they respond to environmental factors, and to unravel genetic factors that underlie these processes and responses. To achieve this, it is not only necessary to understand the functions of individual genes, but also the molecular details of individual processes like the uptake of nutrients, the structure, storage, transport and mobilisation of plant components, and the regulation of individual processes. It is also essential to learn how these different processes interact in networks, and to develop approaches that provide quantitative information and a predictive understanding of these complex networks. More information about the research interests of the various groups can be found in the Research section of this website. (Source)
It has been known since the 1980s that sugars are central to the growth of plants. High levels of carbohydrates enable the plant to assimilate nitrogen to increase amino acid synthesis which then enables them to make proteins more quickly which, in turn, allows the plant to grow faster. It is still unclear, however, how plants sense their levels of carbohydrates and how they regulate their metabolism and growth based on this information. As MARK STITT explains in this video, he and his fellow researchers studied the compound trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P) that plays an important role in carbohydrate sensing in plants. To investigate this mechanism the researchers developed methods to measure the levels of T6P as well as many other compounds and the rate at which they are being made. Introducing a mutation in the plants that increases the level of T6P at a certain point enabled the scientists to monitor the effects of the changes. The findings confirm the essential role of T6P in carbohydrate sensing and the regulation of the plant’s metabolism. The results are important as they show a way to improve plant growth and help to understand how plant behavior is determined.
LT Video Publication DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10339
Trehalose 6-phosphate Coordinates Organic and Amino Acid Metabolism with Carbon Availability
- Carlos M. Figueroa, Regina Feil, Hirofumi Ishihara, Mutsumi Watanabe, Katharina Kölling, Ursula Krause, Melanie Höhne, Beatrice Encke, William C. Plaxton, Samuel C. Zeeman, Zhi Li, Waltraud X. Schulze, Rainer Hoefgen et al
- The Plant Journal
- Published in 2015