Research Faculty #32
Canadian Research Chair in Plants Natural Products Chemistry
Full Professor (Departments of Botany and Chemistry)
Ph.D. Botany (1993) Univ. of Kaiserslautern (Germany);
Postdoctoral Fellow (1994-96) Washington State Univ.;
Research Associate (1996-2002) Univ. of Wuerzburg (Germany).
Dr. habil. (2000) University of Wuerzburg (Germany).
Plant biochemistry, physiology and chemical ecology; molecular biology and enzymology of wax metabolism; chemical composition, physiological function and ecological roles of plant surface lipids.
The plant surface – a vast stage for interactions…
- How do plants create flexible, long-lasting, water-proof skins that grow with their organs?
- How do plants seal their vast surface against adverse climatic conditions?
- How do insects assess host suitability when they first land on a plant?
- How can plants select for partner insects while excluding their unwanted competitors?
- How do carnivorous pitcher plants catch their prey?
These are the biological questions that motivate the research in my lab. In order to answer them, we employ molecular genetic, microscopic and eco-physiological (as well as biochemical) techniques to study plant surfaces. Depending on the individual research question, we use Arabidopsis thaliana and an array of other plant species as models for our studies.
In particular, we investigate cuticular waxes, which coat most above-ground plant organs. We explore both the biological functions of these waxes and the molecular biology underlying their formation. We investigate wax functions such as their central physiological role to seal the plant tissue against water loss and their ecological function as a first line of defence against herbivores. On the other end of the spectrum of our biological interests, we investigate the molecular machinery – the genes and enzymes – plants employ to generate their wax coatings.