funding & Projects
The group gives heartfelt thanks to the various grants and foundations that have supported the group during their journey.
Industrial Biotechnology and Environmental Biotechnology Postdoctoral Fellowships 2021
Fellow: Kristian Frandsen
I will design, engineer and determine the 3D structure of novel plasma membrane localized xylan synthases inspired by the cellulose synthase complex.”
Data Science Collaborative Research Programme 2021
In this project, we aim to investigate how the shapes of leaf cells contribute to the photosynthetic capacity of the leaf. Here, the morphology of cells inside the leaf creates airspaces where carbon dioxide and water vapour can diffuse to support photosynthesis. The leaf cell architecture is therefore likely influencing the diffusion and hence photosynthesis. This project is a truly inter-disciplinary program with three additional co-PI; Prof Zoran Nikoloski (University of Potsdam, DE), Assoc Prof Ala Trusina (Niels Bohr Institute) and Assoc Prof Johannes Kromdijk (University of Cambridge) as it integrates computational modelling/machine learning and plant biology.
Danmarks Grundforskningsfond chair 2021
Much of the knowledge we have about what happens inside a cell has come from the field of cell biology and bioimaging. However, most microscopes used for these insights are off-the-shelf solutions and are rarely ideal to address questions in plant biology. In this project, we have teamed up with researchers (Assoc Profs Poul-Martin Bendix and Liselotte Jauffred) from the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University to build new microscope solutions and to use biophysics tools to address outstanding questions in plant cell wall biology.
Lundbeck Fonden 2020
Microtubules are key to the cytoskeleton, supporting important functions in cell biology, including trafficking, cell division and elongation, and cell shape. The organization and dynamics of microtubules are regulated by microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). We discovered a MAP in plants that maintains microtubule stability and cellulose synthesis during salinity stress. This protein has striking biophysical similarities to a prominent MAP, called Tau, in neurobiology. Tau function is important to prevent neurological malfunctions, sometimes referred to as Tauopathies, related to Alzheimer’s. We have identified several other plant MAPs that are reminiscent of MAPs in neurons. This project aims to functionally characterize these MAPs to better appreciate their role in plant and neuronal biology.
Laureate Research Grant 2019
Carbon dioxide is fixed via photosynthesis, which is used to build most of the macromolecules in plant cells. However, photosynthesis occurs during the day as it uses sun light as energy source and much of the fixed carbon is therefore stored as starch to be used during the night to drive metabolic processes. Plant cell walls constitute a major sink for the fixed carbon and the interplay between starch synthesis-breakdown and the production of cell walls is therefore key to understand how a plant allocates its resources to drive growth and development. However, we have scant knowledge of how the plant makes the decision to use the carbon or to store it. In this project, we are interested in identifying factors that drive allocation of carbon in plant cells. By identifying such factors we may be able to change the carbohydrate content in for example grains with significant health benefits.
Villum Investigator 2019
In this program, we aim to understand how plants make secondary cell walls, which largely make up the biomass of plants. Secondary walls mainly consist of polysaccharides and polyphenolic compounds called lignin, and critically contribute to plant stature and the water transporting capacity of plants. The latter is mediated via the plant vasculature, more precisely xylem vessels, which have patterned secondary walls to sustain the transport of water. We are using a range of tools to further our knowledge regarding how the secondary wall synthesis is regulated, if we can change the composition of these walls and how the xylem-associated cell wall patterns are regulated. By controlling these processes we may be able to custom-make secondary walls with potential to change plant growth and plant biomass characteristics with outcomes relevant for agriculture, biomaterials and the green transition.