Plant primary metabolism - From basic research to crop productivity

The domestication of crops was a landmark in the development of human civilisation. Today, most of our food and many of our resources are derived from plants. One of the most fundamental compounds is starch. Starch is the predominant storage carbohydrate in plants and the major constituent of our staple crops (e.g. rice, maize, wheat, potato etc). Despite its importance, our understanding of how plants make and degrade this essential resource is far from complete. Our research team focuses on the metabolic pathways leading to and from starch, and the way in which they are regulated.

We use the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana as our experimental system. This allows us to exploit the complete genome sequence and the array of post-genomic facilities to make rapid progress. Our current understanding suggests that different plants make starch is essentially the same way, as the components of the pathway appears to be highly conserved, even in distantly related species. Consequently, the knowledge gained through studying Arabidopsis will be transferable to starch-producing crops and enable their future improvement. This is an essential goal as the world population approaches its predicted peak of over 9 billion.

 

Recent Publications

  • Modification of Cassava Root Starch Phosphorylation Enhances Starch Functional Properties
    Wang, WY; Hostettler, CE; Damberger, FF; Kossmann, J; Lloyd, JR; Zeeman, SC
    FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 9 10.3389/fpls.2018.01562 OCT 30 2018
  • Changes in resource partitioning between and within organs support growth adjustment to neighbor proximity in Brassicaceae seedlings
    de Wit M; George GM; Ince YC; Dankwa-Egli B; Hersch M; Zeeman SC; Fankhauser, C
    PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 115 (42):E9953-E9961; 10.1073/pnas.1806084115 OCT 16 2018
  • Plastidial NAD-Dependent Malate Dehydrogenase: A Moonlighting Protein Involved in Early Chloroplast Development through Its Interaction with an FtsH12-FtsHi Protease Complex
    Schreier, Tina B.; Clery, Antoine; Schlaefli, Michael; Galbier, Florian; Stadler, Martha; Demarsy, E; Albertini, D; Maier, BA; Kessler, F; Hortensteiner, S; Zeeman, SC; Kotting, O
    PLANT CELL  30 (8):1745-1769   10.1105/tpc.18.00121 AUG 2018
  • Repression of Sex4 and Like Sex Four2 Orthologs in Potato Increases Tuber Starch Bound Phosphate With Concomitant Alterations in Starch Physical Properties
    Samodien, Ebrahim; Jewell, Jonathan F.; Loedolff, Bianke; et al.
    FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE 9: 1044  10.3389/fpls.2018.01044  JUL 23 2018
  • Two Plastidial Coiled-Coil Proteins Are Essential for Normal Starch Granule Initiation in Arabidopsis
    Seung, D; Schreier, TB; Burgy, L; Eicke, S; Zeeman, SC
    PLANT CELL 30(7): 1523-1542   10.1105/tpc.18.00219 JUL 2018
  • Genetic Diversity of Diurnal Carbohydrate Accumulation in White Clover (Trifolium repens L.)
    Ruckle, Michael E.; Bernasconi, Lucia; Kolliker, Roland; Zeeman, Samuel C.; Studer, Bruno
    AGRONOMY-BASEL, 8 (4): https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy8040047 APR 2018
  • Distinct Functions of STARCH SYNTHASE 4 Domains in Starch Granule Formation 
    Lu, Kuan-Jen; Pfister, Barbara; Jenny, Camilla; et al. 
    PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, 176 (1): 566-581 JAN 2018 Article (Details)
  • OCTOPUS-LIKE 2, a novel player in Arabidopsis root and vascular development, reveals a key role for OCTOPUS family genes in root metaphloem sieve tube differentiation 
    Sola, M. Aguila Ruiz; Coiro, Mario; Crivelli, Simona; et al. 
    NEW PHYTOLOGIST, 216 (4): 1191-1204,  10.1111/nph.14751  DEC 2017
  • Alpha-Glucan, Water Dikinase 1 Affects Starch Metabolism and Storage Root Growth in Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) 
    Zhou, Wenzhi; He, Shutao; Naconsie, Maliwan; et al. 
    SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 7: 10.1038/s41598-017-10594-6 AUG 29 2017
  • Simultaneous silencing of isoamylases ISA1, ISA2 and ISA3 by multi-target RNAi in potato tubers leads to decreased starch content and an early sprouting phenotype 
    Ferreira, Stephanus J.; Senning, Melanie; Fischer-Stettler, Michaela; et al. 
    PLOS ONE, 12 (7): 10.1371/journal.pone.0181444 JUL 14 2017
Samuel C Zeeman

Prof. Dr. Samuel C. Zeeman
ETH Zurich
Institute of Molecular Plant Biology
8092 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 632 82 75

Research topics

  • Carbohydrate metabolism
  • Starch biosynthesis and degradation
  • Photosynthesis

 

Interdisciplinary

  • Plant biochemistry and physiology
  • Molecular genetics
  • Genomics, proteomics, metabolomics