Ute Roessner has obtained her PhD in Biochemistry at the MPI for Molecular Plant Physiology in Germany, where she developed novel GC-MS methods to analyse metabolites in plants. Together with the application of sophisticated data mining the field of metabolomics was born and is today an important tool in biological sciences, systems biology and biomarker discovery. In 2003 she moved to Australia where she established a GC-MS and LC-MS based metabolomics platform as part of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics for which she now leads the node at the University of Melbourne. In addition, since 2007 A/Prof. Roessner has been involved in the setup of Metabolomics Australia (MA), a federal and state government funded national metabolomics service facility and now leads the MA node at the University of Melbourne.
Identifying novel salinity tolerance mechanisms by spatial analysis of lipids in barley roots
(Marica Hall, Jun 26th, 08:40)
We are facing the challenging task to meet the growing demand for food which must occur in an environment of a changing climate with increasing environmental stresses such as drought, extreme temperatures, nutrient deficiencies and mineral toxicities. Less land available to cultivate crops, declining water quality and prioritization of biofuel production at the expense of food production further exacerbates the situation. A combination of climate change and poor agricultural practices signifies that 50% of current arable land is at high risk of increased salinity and hence unusable by 2050. Here we aim to develop and apply new tools to unravel how plants respond to the perception of salt stress. Evidence is accumulating that lipid signaling is an integral part of the complex regulatory networks in the responses of plants to salinity. Modifications of membrane lipids occur through the activity of phospholipases, lipid kinases and phosphatases such as phospholipase D and diacylglycerol kinase that produce different classes of lipid and lipid-derived messengers. These provide spatial and temporal regulatory functions crucial for cell survival, growth and differentiation and for an appropriate response of the plant to environmental stimuli. We are using modern lipidomics technologies to compare the root plasma membrane (PM) compositions of different barley genotypes with contrasting salinity tolerance levels upon salt stress. Our aim is to investigate the link between PM composition and functionality in aspects of salinity response by examining whether observed changes in lipids are involved in either the alteration of fluidity, or in lipid-based downstream signaling. We are also using MALDI-FT-MS based imaging technologies to monitor spatial distributions of lipids across root sections of salt treated tolerant and intolerant barley genotypes. These novel findings will lead to a better understanding of the role of lipids, lipid composition and signaling for plant salt tolerance.
Metabolomics Australia and the Australian Center for Plant Functional Genomics, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, Australia