The Center for Metabolic Biology (CMB) facilitates, encourages, and sponsors innovative and fundamental molecular research that will lead to a comprehensive understanding of metabolic networks and systems. The goal of the Center is to generate the fundamental understanding of metabolism that will provide the basis for designing novel biological pathways for biochemical constituents that improve the nutritional quality of agricultural products and generate novel biorenewable sources of industrial feedstocks.
About the Center for Metabolic Biology
The Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) is developing the tools, components and materials needed to transform biological-based systems to generate chemicals. The Center is developing generalized platforms for transforming plant derived carbohydrate feedstocks into chemicals that integrate both biocatalytic systems and chemical catalysts. See project website.
In this project, we are developing mass spectrometric imaging techniques to map metabolite distributions within plant tissues, and eventually among individual plant cells. The project build on our past advances to 1) enhance mass spectrometric imaging (MSI) for determining the distribution of metabolites at very high spatial resolution within plant tissues and cells; and 2) apply these techniques to understand the organization of complex metabolic processes at the levels of single cells and subcellular compartments. Read more about Mass Spectrometric Imaging of Plant Metabolites
This multi-disciplinary team will develop new integrated novel multi-spectral imaging technologies that will assess and quantitatively model metabolic processes that are asymmetrically distributed at the cellular and subcellular levels of plant organs. The imaging technology development will be in the context of computational capabilities that will integrate multi-spectral images with genome scale modeling and thus contribute to the better understanding how biomass-based biofuel producing metabolic pathways are interconnected and controlled within topological constraints in spatially defined subcellular regions within plant cells. Read more about Integrated and Dynamic Multi-Spectroscopic in situ Imaging of Plant Metabolism at the Level of Subcellular Compartments
Nectar and nectary metabolomes will be analyzed using methods optimized for the preliminary data. These methods are based on procedures used to determine the metabolomes of several plant organs, including Arabidopsis seedling leaves, soybean seeds, maize leaves, and Jacaranda nectar.
This collaborative and interdisciplinary project is focused on understanding the biosynthetic pathways and genetic networks responsible for the accumulation of surface lipids on aerial portions of land plants. See project website.
Roots interact with and respond to the biotic and abiotic environment in which they live (the rhizosphere) by qualitatively and quantitatively modulating material exuded by roots. These exudates use the language of chemistry to communicate between and among the biotic and abiotic components. Powerful DNA sequencing platforms and analytical tools for identifying chemical components are now available for profiling these interactions among the rhizosphere and the root components. Read more about PAPM EAGER: Microfluidic Root Exudate Sampler with High Spatio-Temporal Sampling Resolution
The objectives of this project are to use systems biology approach to study regulation of seed composition, to develop a molecular tool for soybean germplasm improvement. This molecular tool can generally increase plant defense to pathogens/pests, with higher-protein trait, with normal morphology, development and yield similar to the control plants. A non-transgenic approach has been set up to generate non-regulatory soybean with potentially both high-protein and pathogen/pest-resistance traits. Read more about Regulation of Seed Composition
The goal of this project is to pool the expertise of the PIs in nanotechnology, spectroscopic biosensing, mechanical engineering, physics, plant molecular biology and biochemistry and develop a novel enzyme-enabled Raman imaging (E2RSI) technology to molecularly image for the first time the extracellular structural components of plants at a spatial resolution of ~15 nm. The technology will generate highly resolved 3-D maps of the molecular organization of the polysaccharide and lipid components of the extracellular matrix. Read more about A novel enzyme-enabled Raman spectroscopic imaging (e2RSI) system for imaging the nanoscale molecular arrangement of the extracellular matrix of plants
The objectives of this project are determination of the antioxidant activity of selected mushrooms, evaluation of the inhibitory effect of different extracts of mushrooms on HMG-CoA reductase activity, isolation of bioactive phytochemicals for HMG-CoA reductase inhibition, and structure elucidation of compounds that inhibit HMG-CoA reductase by using NMR. Read more about Isolation and Evaluation of Phytochemicals from Mushrooms for the Inhibition of HMG-CoA Reductase
Great strides have been made in the plant sciences through high-throughput DNA sequencing and analysis of plant genomes. The challenge now is to develop analogous high-throughput technologies to analyze a plant’s biochemical phenotype (phenome), which is the key to utilizing genomics to improve and develop new cultivars. Read more about BIC: An Innovation Partnership to Advance a High-Throughput Phenotype Screening Platform
On September 16-17, Basil Nikolau hosted the annual meeting of the USDA-funded Multistate Project, LIPIDS of Crops. This group of 20 scientists is studying lipid-related metabolism and traits relevant for crop improvement.
The poster Evolutionary Origin of Orphan Genes by Zebulon Arendsee (BCB/GDCB/CMB), Andrew Wilkey (ISU undergrad in BCBio), Priyanka Bhandary (BCB/GDCB/CMB), and Eve Sykin Wurtele (BCB/GDCB/CMB), was awarded F1000 Poster Award at the 2016 conference of the International Society for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (ISCB) held July 8-12 in Orlando, Florida.
Basil Nikolau was an invited speaker at the International Symposium on Lipids Science and Health held May 26-27 at the Oil Crops Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS) in Wuhan, China.
His presentation addressed recent advances in identification and characterization of plant cell biocatalytic components that comprise fatty acid synthase, and illustrated how these catalytic machines can be bioengineered to impact global sources of dietary fats and oils and improve human health.