Autophagy is an evolutionary conserved catabolic process deemed to maintain or restore cellular and organismal homeostasis. In plants, basal autophagy is essential for growth and development, it is required for nutrient remobilization during senescence and nutrient deficiency, for removal of organelles and macromolecules formed during plant development or damaged by environmental stresses.
Our research group is mainly involved in the studies of the metabolism and physiological functions of growth regulators, polyamines and phenolic compounds in plants. We investigate the role of these biologically active compounds in plant development and in the response of plants to abiotic stresses.
In our experiments we use the diverse plant systems from the whole plants to the cell cultures. Our research is primarily focused on somatic embryogenesis of conifers. In the scope of this theme we study the regulation of somatic embryo development, the role of phytohormones in somatic embryogenesis and the effects of abiotic stresses on somatic embryos.
We use a wide array of approaches:
Microscopy – light, confocal and electron microscopy, enhanced by advanced computer image analysis
Biochemical methods – studies of activities of enzymes involved in metabolism of biologically active compounds (e.g. radiometry)
Molecular biology methods – specific gene expressions, and transformation of tissue cultures
Analytical methods – qualitative and quantitative determination of biologically active compounds by gas- and liquid chromatography in tandem with mass spectroscopic detection (cooperation with the IEB Laboratory of mass spectrometry).
Phenolic compounds (phenylpropanoids with an aromatic ring bearing one or more hydroxyl groups and various other substituents) are produced by plants as secondary metabolites, ranging from simple monomers to very large polymers. Due to their antioxidant activity they play crucial roles in plant defences against both biotic and abiotic stressors, moreover they are an important component of animal diet and they are highly beneficial for human health.
Phenolic compounds play important roles in plant defences against both biotic and abiotic stressors, and many in crop plants are highly beneficial for human health, but their quantities and profiles are influenced by numerous factors. Thus, the purpose of this study was to quantify free and glycosylated phenolic acids in apples (important sources of beneficial phenolics) in the course of fruit development, at harvest and during 5 months of storage.
Chenopodium ficifolium flowers under long days without upregulation of FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) homologs
Frequent duplications of the FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) gene across various taxonomic lineages resulted in FT paralogs with floral repressor function, whereas others duplicates maintained their floral-promoting role. The FT gene has been confirmed as the inducer of photoperiodic flowering in most angiosperms analyzed to date.
Seed dormancy is an adaptive mechanism that allows seed germination under suitable environmental conditions. Germination of stored dormant seeds proceeds after dormancy breaking induced by stratification. To improve understanding of dormancy breaking in beechnuts, we: investigated effects of moisture content and temperature during storage; analysed contents of abscisic acid, abscisic acid metabolites and indole-3-acetic acid in embryonic axes during storage and stratification; and histochemically localized storage proteins.