Plant Metabolic Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Prof. Emeritus & Queen's Research Chair in Plant Biochemistry
Dept. of Biology
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6
My research program focuses on understanding the organization and control of plant carbohydrate metabolism and the biochemical adaptations of phosphate-starved plants. This work integrates a variety of biochemical, proteomic, molecular biology, and genomic tools to characterize the molecular and functional properties, and protein:protein interactions of key enzyme proteins. We are particularly interested in post-translational enzyme modification by phosphorylation, monoubiquitination, and glycosylation since these can play pivotal roles in regulating an enzyme's activity, subcellular location, protein:protein interactions &/or turnover in response to various extra- or intracellular signals.
Systems that we have been studying include developing and germinating castor oilseeds, and suspension cell cultures and seedlings of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We have also collaborated with Prof. Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering, Queen's) and her team on novel, sustainable approaches to green algae-derived 'carbon-neutral' biofuels production and recovery. This research will provide a range of benefits to Canada: including promoting the development of the renewable energy sector and reducing GHG emissions.
Our overall research has significant long-term applications to problems in Canadian agriculture and ecosystems including the: (1) targeted modification of storage oil versus protein levels in oilseeds such as canola or soybean, (2) optimizing plant-based conversion of atmospheric CO2 into renewable energy sources such as biodiesel and ethanol, and (3) development of phosphorus-efficient crops, urgently needed to reduce mankind’s rampant but inefficient use of non-renewable, unsustainable, and polluting phosphate fertilizers.