DK: DKK 10M grant to understand sugar and hormone transport in plants

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Growth and development in the plant kingdom are mediated by the controlled distribution of sugars and the growth-regulating hormone auxin, but we still know surprisingly little about the molecular details of these two intertwined and essential parts of fundamental plant metabolism. The new project in Bjørn Panyella Pedersen’s research group will elucidate the molecular mechanism of sugar and hormone transmembrane transport in plants.

Correct plant growth and development are completely dependent on sugar uptake and are made possible in all plants by sugar transporters called SUCs and STPs. In parallel, intracellular auxin levels trigger this growth and development and are regulated via the activity of auxin transporters called PINs. Herbicides, known as synthetic auxins, are transported through the plant by auxin transporters, including PINs, to interfere with plant growth, and they represent 20% of the total worldwide use of herbicides.

Despite extensive research, the central parts of the molecular mechanisms behind sugar and auxin transport, as well as their regulation and substrate recognition, remain unknown. The project will address this by using a complementary set of methods founded in structural biology to determine the 3-dimensional structures of key players in these transmembrane transport systems in parallel with a comprehensive biophysical characterization.

Bjørn P Pedersen says: “Understanding how substrates, including herbicides, are recognized by these central transporters will allow us to predict, augment, and modify plant responses to a changing environment, with immense agronomic applications highly relevant for a green transition. I am very happy for this award that will allow us to continue our work within this topic, and I am very proud of my research team that made it possible.”

Source: mbg.au.dk

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