Eva Maleckova - AG Weber

Photosynthesis is a process crucial both for plant energy metabolism and establishment of the current oxygen levels in the atmosphere. For photosynthesis to take place, plants naturally need to exchange gases, carbon dioxide and oxygen, through devoted epidermal pores, stomata. However, in the case of land plants, keeping stomata opened simultaneously threatens them with water losses. This becomes a serious problem especially in regions where water is scarce. Many plant species thriving in such regions have thus evolved an alternative mode of carbon assimilation: Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM).

Similarly to C4 plants, CAM plants also rely on a specialized enzymatic gear. Unlike in C4 photosynthesis, however, the primary and secondary carbon fixations are not separated spatially but in time. It is because restriction of stomata opening to cooler nights enables CO2 uptake while reducing water losses through transpiration. Through actions of carbonic anhydrase and phosphoenolpyruvatecarboxylase, CO2 is stored in form of organic acids, leading to nocturnal acidification of leaf cells. During the subsequent day, NAD(P)-dependent malic enzyme releases CO2 from its temporary storage and thus provides RuBisCO with continuous supply of its substrate even when stomata are closed.

For its high water-use efficiency, engineering the basic CAM components to conventional crops requiring high irrigation was proposed as one of the strategies to deal with growing global population, increasing demand on crop yields and predicted water scarcity. While the concept of CAM has been known for a long time and several methods have been employed to show CAM in numerous plant species, we need to learn much more about this pathway to make CAM engineering possible. To expand our knowledge, we chose to use Talinum triangulare for our experimental work. One of main advantage of this species is the inducibility of CAM by an external stimulus: under natural conditions by drought.

Previous work by Brilhaus et al. (2016) pointed out correlated expression between CAM-core genes and components of the abscisic acid (ABA) signaling pathway. Building on these findings, I aim to use ABA as a switch to induce CAM, while hopefully eliminating/reducing the complex stress response otherwise occurring simultaneously with CAM. Using this system, I would like to identify key molecular components crucial for the functional CAM pathway and unravel their regulatory mechanisms. To do so, the inducible CAM pathway will be studied at the levels of both metabolome and transcriptome. 

Starting date: 01.09.2016 / PhD student

Thesis committee members: Andreas Weber, Matias Zurbriggen, Shizue Matsubara

Mini Academic CV:

  •  2013

    • Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) Molecular and Cell Biology, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic
      Thesis: Involvement of photoreceptors and ion channels in seed germination    

  • 2016

    • Master of Science (M. Sc.) Molecular and Cell Biology, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic
      Thesis: Molecular Characterization of Fungal Pathogen Blumeria graminis and Development of Suitable Markers    

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Eva Maleckova

Verantwortlich für den Inhalt: E-Mail sendenDr. Petra Fackendahl