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.

  • Carbohydrate metabolism
  • Starch biosynthesis and degradation
  • Photosynthesis


  • The PRK/Rubisco shunt strongly influences Arabidopsis seed metabolism and oil accumulation, affecting more than carbon recycling
    Deslandes-Herold, G; Zanella, M; (...); Zeeman, SC
    Plant Cell, 10.1093/plcell/koac338   2023

  • Plant growth: An active or passive role for starch reserves?
    Zeeman, SC and Solhaug, EM
    Current Biology, 32 (16) , pp.R894-R896, 10.1016/j.cub.2022.07.024 2022

  • Effective root responses to salinity stress include maintained cell expansion and carbon allocation
    Hongfei Li; Kilian Duijts; Carlo Pasini; Joyce E. van Santen; Jasper Lamers; Thijs de Zeeuw; Francel Verstappen; Nan Wang; Samuel C. Zeeman; Diana Santelia et al.
    New Phytologist, 2023-03-29, DOI: 10.1111/nph.18873

  • ACA pumps maintain leaf excitability during herbivore onslaught
    Fotouhi, Nikou; Fischer-Stettler, Michaela; Lenzoni, Gioia; Stolz, Stephanie; Glauser, Gaetan; et al.
    Current Biology 10.1016/j.cub.2022.03.059  JUN 6 2022
  • Coalescence and directed anisotropic growth of starch granule initials in subdomains of Arabidopsis thaliana chloroplasts
    Burgy, Leo; Eicke, Simona; Kopp, Christophe; Jenny, Camilla; Lu, Kuan Jen; Escrig, Stephane; Meibom, Anders; Zeeman, Samuel C
    Nature Communications  10.1038/s41467-021-27151-5  NOV 26 2021
  • Ectopic maltase alleviates dwarf phenotype and improves plant frost tolerance of maltose transporter mutants
    Cvetkovic, Jelena; Haferkamp, Ilka; Rode, Regina; Keller, Isabel; Pommerrenig, Benjamin; et al.
    Plant Physiology 10.1093/plphys/kiab082  MAY 2021
  • Distinct plastid fructose bisphosphate aldolases function in photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic metabolism in Arabidopsis
    Carrera, Daniel Arpad; George, Gavin M.; Fischer-Stettler, Michaela; Galbier, Florian; Eicke, Simona; et al.
    Journal Of Experimental Botany 10.1093/jxb/erab099  MAY 4 2021
  • Morphological bases of phytoplankton energy management and physiological responses unveiled by 3D subcellular imaging
    Uwizeye, Clarisse; Decelle, Johan; Jouneau, Pierre-Henri; Flori, Serena; Gallet, Benoit; et al.
    Nature Communications 10.1038/s41467-021-21314-0 Published: FEB 16 2021
  • A multifaceted analysis reveals two distinct phases of chloroplast biogenesis during de-etiolation in Arabidopsis
    Pipitone, Rosa; Eicke, Simona; Pfister, Barbara; Glauser, Gaetan; Falconet, Denis; Uwizeye, Clarisse; Pralon, Thibaut; Zeeman, Samuel C; Kessler, Felix; Demarsy, Emilie
    Elife e62709,  10.7554/eLife.62709, FEB 25 2021
  • Starch: A Flexible, Adaptable Carbon Store Coupled to Plant Growth
    Smith, Alison M.; Zeeman, Samuel C.
    Annual Review Of Plant Biology, Vol 71, 2020   DOI: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-050718-100241 2020
Samuel C Zeeman

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

Tel: +41 (0)44 632 82 75

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