Olga Zabotina

Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular BIology
Olga ZABOTINA photo

Cell wall is unique plant extracellular compartment which is involved in multiple cellular functions. In plants, cell walls control growth and morphogenesis, determine cell-to-cell interactions and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.  In human life, cell walls are valuable raw material for various industrial applications: wood, paper, fuel, textile, construction material, food and feed production, nutritional supplements and pharmacological agents.  All these make cell wall components highly important as the source of our needs.  Polysaccharides (pectin, hemicelluloses and cellulose) are the major structural components of cell walls.  Therefore, knowledge about synthesis, metabolism and degradation of structural polysaccharides is a fundamental problem in improving of plant development and resistance to the environment and biomass production and its quality for industrial use.

My lab currently pursuing three major research projects in the area of carbohydrate biochemistry and molecular biology: 1) study of hemicellulose (xylan and xyloglucan) biosynthesis, 2) extraction and purification of bioactive oligosaccharides liberated during polysaccharide metabolism and their functional characterization, 3) plant modification directed toward improvements of biomass for cellulosic ethanol production.

These projects involve multiple problems and strategies: 1) analytical analysis of carbohydrate structures, 2) reverse and forward genetic strategies in identification of enzymes involved in polysaccharide biosynthesis, 3) biochemical characterization of enzymatic activities, 4) functional characterization of bioactive oligosaccharides using proteomic, genetic and biochemical approaches, 5) genetic modification of the plants using the genes involved in biosynthesis or biodegradation of cell wall polysaccharides.


A novel enzyme-enabled Raman spectroscopic imaging (e2RSI) system for imaging the nanoscale molecular arrangement of the extracellular matrix of plants


Area of Expertise: 
Carbohydrate Biochemistry
Molecular Biology
M.S., Chemistry, Kazan State University, Russia
Ph.D., Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Institute of Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences
(515) 294-6125
3212 Molecular Biology Building, Iowa State University