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About Us

IN brief

The Persson lab aims at understanding how plants produce their cell walls, with a particular focus on the prominent cell wall polymer cellulose. This is the major contributor to the biomass of a typical plant and consists of glucan chains that are hydrogen-bonded into microfibrils, which also provide the major strength to the cell wall. Consequently, cellulose is a major determinant for directed plant growth and provides stature to plants. Cellulose is produced at the plasma membrane by large multimeric cellulose synthase (CESA) complexes. These complexes move forward through the membrane during synthesis because the cellulose microfibrils are entangled in the cell wall and further synthesis therefore pushes the complex forward through the plasma membrane. The direction of the movement is typically directed by cortical microtubules via the protein Cellulose Synthase Interacting1/POM2. A major goal of the group is to understand how the CESA complex is regulated, what the components involved in making cellulose are, how the microtubules impact on cellulose synthesis and the means that the cell wall uses to communicate with the interior of the cell.

Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

Interested in working or commencing a postgraduate study with us? See potential projects or contact us here

Meet the team

Staffan Persson

Staffan Persson

Professor, Group leader

I did my PhD as a joint degree between Lund University (SWE) and NC State (US) in 2003. I then joined the team of Chris Somerville as a postdoc at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University (2004 to 2007) after which I started as a Max-Planck group leader at the MPI-MP in Potsdam (DE). I was offered a full professorship at University of Melbourne (AUS) in 2014 where I spent the next five years as an ARC Future Fellow. During these years, I was awarded a JiaoTong scholarship as visiting researcher at HZAU and later at SJTU (CHN) where I still maintain a joint role. In 2020, I moved to Copenhagen University via the aid of Villum Investigator, NNF Laureate and DNRF chair awards. I am currently also the Head of Copenhagen Plant Science Center.

Shuai Zheng

Shuai Zheng

Postdoctoral Researcher

My name is Shuai Zheng, from China. I am interested in the regulation of cell wall biosynthesis. Traveling is an excellent way to enjoy my relaxing time.�

Guillermo Moreno Pescador

Guillermo Moreno Pescador

Assistant Professor

Originally from Spain, I am currently a PostDoc in Biophysics at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN) & Niels Bohr Institute (NBI) since 2021, both at the University of Copenhagen. I finished my Ph.D. in June 2018 at the Niels Bohr Institute (UCPH) in the Experimental biophysics and Optical manipulations group (former Optical Tweezers group). I used optical tweezers, thermoplasmonics, and a wide range of microscopy techniques applied to membrane proteins in cells and synthetic systems during my research. Formally trained as an acoustician and physicist, my current research interests fall at the crossroads of plant biophysics, optical tweezers, and single-molecule biophysics.

Mike Ogden

Mike Ogden

Postdoctoral Researcher

From Canada, where I completed a BSc at the University of Prince Edward Island and an MSc at McGill University. My PhD research was carried out as a joint program between the University of Melbourne and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, where I investigated how the plant cell wall is regulated by nutrients and specific herbicides. My current research focuses on two main topics: investigating the mechanism of action of herbicides that alter the plant cell wall, and identifying cell wall biosynthetic enzymes in macroalgae.

Leonard Blaschek

Leonard Blaschek

Postdoctoral Researcher

After a BSc in Germany, I moved to Sweden for a MSc in molecular plant sciences and stayed for a PhD in Edouard Pesquet's group at Stockholm University. After years working on the cell-specific – and surprisingly dynamic – lignification of secondary cell walls, I am now investigating how plants continuously adjust the structure and composition of their primary cell walls to maintain growth in challenging environments. More specifically, I am curious about putative feedback mechanisms between PM-bound receptor-like kinases and cell wall biosynthesis.

Li Ding

Li Ding

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am from China, and working on the PhD project with title of -Carbon allocation among carbohydrates in rice grain. The main aim is to figure out how whole carbohydrate-producing pathways are regulated in plants with a particular focus on rice grain. My hobbies are watching movies, reading, and badminton.

Isabella Østerlund

Isabella Østerlund

Postdoctoral Researcher

From Denmark, studied my masters at University of Copenhagen at Niels Bohr institute, specialised in Bio- and Medical Physics. Currently working on investigating the actin part of the cytoskeleton in Arabidopsis. This is done by developing an algorithm using graph theory.

Delphine Pottier

Delphine Pottier

PhD student

Born in France, I got my Bachelor degree in Biology at the University of Angers before moving to Germany to join the international Master's program of Plant Sciences at the University of Bonn. I am currently working as a research assistant in Staffan Persson's group and I would like to pursue my scientific career as a PhD student in plant molecular biology or biochemistry. Outside the lab I like to read, play basketball and discover foreign cuisines.

Paul Vogel

Paul Vogel

PhD student

Coming from Germany I did my BSc at the University of Freiburg in general biology. For my Masters, I went on to study Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at Lund University, Sweden and completed my degree project at SLU Alnarp developing genome editing tools for plant breeding. For my PhD project I am studying the influence of membrane lipids on cellulose synthesis.

Owen McGinley

Owen McGinley

Guest PhD student

I'm a PhD student from the University of Melbourne joining the Cellulose Synthesis lab as a guest student. My research topic is investigating the synthesis of cell walls in red macroalgae with particular respect to their unique sulphated galactans. My areas of interest are genomics, bioinformatics, and red algae phycology.

Bachelor of Science 2015-2017, The University of Melbourne.
Master of Biotechnology 2018-2019, The University of Melbourne.
PhD 2020-, The University of Melbourne/ The University of Copenhagen.

Kristian Frandsen

Kristian Frandsen

Assistant Professor

Research: Investigating computational structural biochemistry of carbohydrate active enzymes. Fellowship: NNF Biotechnology Postdoc. Carlsberg Foundation and MSCA AgSk+ Fellow at INRAE Marseille. Activities and hobbies: DIB NyT�nk project promoting sustainable �green� technologies from Southeast Asia. Running, Football, red wine and Raspberry Pi.

Lisa Steiner

Lisa Steiner

Postdoctoral Researcher

I completed my PhD with Silvia Vignolini in the Chemistry Department at the University of Cambridge, UK, where I studied the secondary cell wall architecture, unravelling how the properties and arrangement of the carbohydrate polymers give rise to a beautiful phenomenon, structural colour, in certain plants, like Microsorum thailandicum (https://doi.org/10.1098/rsfs.2018.0055), Pollia condensata (https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2111723118) and Margaritaria nobilis. I joined Staffan Persson as a postdoctoral researcher in August 2020 to study the deposition and rearrangement of xyloglucan via chemical labelling and fluorescence microscopy.

Lise Noack

Lise Noack

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am interested in the interplay between membrane lipids and membrane associated proteins in signaling pathway. During my PhD in Dr. Yvon Jaillais� lab, we unraveled the existence of a protein complex produding phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate at the plasma membrane. I am pursuing my work in the context of cellulose synthesis at the University of Copenhagen in the lab of Prof. Staffan Persson, studying how membrane signaling lipids can regulate cellulose synthase complex trafficking and dynamic.

Samira Ebrahimi

Samira Ebrahimi

Postdoctoral Researcher

My research interest lies at the interface between experimental optics and biology. Particularly, I am interested in developing new platforms of multi-dimensional imaging and visualization systems for identification of dynamic soft matters e.g. bio-samples. I completed the PhD in experimental Optics and Laser Physics at Shahid Beheshti University of Iran in 2020. I joined the Cellulose Synthesis research group at the Department of Plant and Environmental Science as a postdoc in 2021. My research aim is the development of label-free quantitative optical imaging methodologies for plant cell wall studies. I am very interested in Art and Literature and my further activities are Painting (portray and Vitray) and Persian poetry and songwriting. Link:�https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Samira-Ebrahimi-4

Liu Wang

Liu Wang

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am Liu Wang, from China, where I finished my master study in China Agricultural University. I then joined Persson lab in the University of Melbourne in 2018 as a PhD student, during which I focused on revealing the functions of COMPANION OF CELLULOSE SYNTHASE (CC) proteins in an evolutionary context. During my postdoc in University of Copenhagen, I will explore how cellulose synthesis is regulated under salt stress.

Jazmin Reyes Hernandez

Jazmin Reyes Hernandez

Postdoctoral Researcher

Jordy Perez Gonzalez

Jordy Perez Gonzalez

Postdoctoral Researcher

Originally from Mexico, where I study a bachelor in Biology. Since I wanted to develop myself in an international environment, I moved to Germany to study a Master in Plant Sciences at the University of Bonn. Currently, I am a PhD student working with microtubule-associated proteins in plant and animal cells. My goal is to become skillful manager in industry. Outside work, I enjoy photography and digital art, traveling and long hikes.

Beyza Özmen

Beyza Özmen

PhD student

I’m Beyza, born and raised in Turkey (Türkiye). I graduated with BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Istanbul Technical University (ITU) then I moved to Germany to do a Master’s degree in Plant Sciences at LMU, Munich. I worked on plant carbohydrate metabolism and would like to extend my knowledge of plant cells by researching cellulose synthesis, regulation, protein interactions, and how fixed carbon plays a role in the cell wall with temperature changes. Therefore, I’ve started my PhD studies in Staffan Persson’s group to improve myself in these topics. Besides lab work, I’m interested in playing bass guitar, painting, video editing, and traveling.

Ilaria Porcelli

Ilaria Porcelli

PhD student

I’m Ilaria from Italy, graduated from a MSc in molecular biotechnology and bioinformatics. I did my thesis research at KU with the Erasmus+ project on diterpenoids in coffee. My PhD is focused on unravelling cell wall synthesis components.

Tianyi Zhao

Tianyi Zhao

PhD student

I got my bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s degree in electronics. I am now keen on optical imaging, and my aim is to build a microscope from scratch that can achieve high-resolution imaging in live plants!

Johanna Krahmer

Johanna Krahmer

Assistant Professor (tenure-track)

My research interest is to identify mechanisms that connect signaling pathways with metabolism in plants. Presently I am investigating how vegetation shade signals regulate resource allocation in seedlings. When I’m not working I like to spend time with my family, and occasionally I get to go running, biking or swimming.

Peter Bjørk

Peter Bjørk

Postdoctoral researcher

I’m a Copenhagen native and a postdoc in the Persson lab, specializing in structural biology. My research focuses on understanding protein functionality, regulation, and complex assembly. I obtained a PhD in plant biochemistry from University of Copenhagen in 2019 and moved to Aarhus University to do 3-year postdoc studying root nodule symbiosis of legumes in the Plant Molecular Biology group. I then received a Carlsberg Foundation fellowship for a second postdoc at New York University, investigating plant membrane receptor complexes using cryo-EM. I hope that my plant biochemistry background and structural biology passion can help guide exciting plant experiments that will bring us closer to understanding important plant machinery.

Leia Colin

Leia Colin

Postdoctoral Researcher

I started studying plant biology at Bordeaux University (France), and I then joined Olivier Hamant�group in Lyon (France) to do a PhD on how the cell cortex contributes to mechano-transduction during plant development. With a strong interest for developmental biology and interdisciplinary approaches, I studied the relative contribution of mechanical stress on cortical microtubule orientation using single cell system (Colin et al., 2020, PNAS). In parallel, I also investigated the role of the plasma membrane as a mechano-transducer, focusing on two major aspects of plant development. More recently, I joined the group as a post doc, to investigate plasma membrane-cytoskeleton anchoring mechanisms.

Yang Wang

Yang Wang

Postdoctoral Researcher

From China. Finished my PhD in plant cell biology in the Sampathkumar lab in MPI-MP, Germany. I am interested in the organization and dynamics of cytoskeleton, and the impact of cellular behavior on developmental aspects. From the August of 2022, I joined Staffan’s group to investigate the formation of leaf airspace, and the root growth behavior in soil, during the development of the model plant Arabidopsis.

Gustav Blichfeldt Pedersen

Gustav Blichfeldt Pedersen

Postdoctoral Researcher

Marcos San Segundo Eizaguirre

Marcos San Segundo Eizaguirre

Postdoctoral Researcher

I was born in Spain and specialized in organic chemistry, with experience in the fields of transition metal catalysis, asymmetric chemistry, and photoredox. Currently, my research focuses on photoinduced proximity labeling of proteins within plants.

Ouda Khammy

Ouda Khammy

Technician/AC-TAP

I graduated from a Bachelor of Applied Science (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) and Honours of Science (University of Melbourne) and have been in science for over 15 years in varying roles from diagnostic cytopathology, heart failure research and now, in plant research. I have moved from Melbourne, Australia to join Staffan's group as a laboratory supervisor, managing administrative tasks, procurement, safety and training for the group as well as assisting in general technician duties.

Anil Can Önder

Anil Can Önder

PhD student

Born in Turkey. I received my bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics and master’s degree in Biotechnology at Izmir Institute of Technology. Currently, I am a PhD student, also working as a teaching assistant in Persson Group. My research topic focuses on carbohydrate partitioning and shade signaling in plants. I like teaching a lot, that is why I decided to pursue a career in academy. I enjoy watching and playing football, performing music, exploring different languages and cultures, and playing video games on my free time.

Raegan Larson

Raegan Larson

PhD student

I am a PhD student from Canada who aims to investigate the cell wall integrity signaling pathway in the red macroalgae nori. I completed both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Canada at the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto respectively. During my Master’s degree, I helped develop promoter-reporter gene fusions that could be used to monitor cell wall signaling in real-time. Building off my interest in the cell wall integrity signaling pathway, my PhD project will explore the pathway with an evolutionary perspective in an unconventional model organism.

Junyue Chen

Junyue Chen

Masters student

Hi! I’m Junyue from China. After completing my bachelor's degree at Beijing Normal University, I came to the University of Copenhagen in 2023 to pursue my master's degree and join the Persson Lab. Currently, I am working on my project focusing on the structure of CESA3 and CESA6. In my spare time, I enjoy playing football, cooking, and traveling :)

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