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Plant mitochondria and their role in metabolism

Research project All cells of higher organisms contain mitochondria, which have a central role in their energy metabolism. The aim of this project is to identify the contribution of mitochondria to photosynthesis and senescence.

During photosynthesis, a process occurring only in the light, the chloroplasts are the main players but also mitochondria have important functions. We will primarily direct our studies to their contribution to the redox situation of the cell and how this affect acclimation to fluctuating external conditions such as temperature, water and nutrient supply. In relation to the senescence process we will study how mitochondria and respiratory metabolism contribute with energy and carbon skeletons. In particular we will analyze which compounds that are transported from the decaying leaf and try to identify genes that are central for this process.

Head of project

Per Gardeström
Professor emeritus

Project overview

Project period:

2006-01-01 2008-12-31


Finansår , 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

huvudman: Per Gardeström, finansiär: VR, y2006: 400, y2007: 400, y2008: 400, y2009: ,

huvudman: Per Gardeström, koordinator, finansiär: STINT, y2006: , y2007: 250, y2008: 500, y2009: 250,

huvudman: Per Gardeström, finansiär: Kempe, y2006: , y2007: 186, y2008: 186, y2009: ,

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Plant Physiology, Faculty of Science and Technology

Research area

Biological sciences, Botany

Project description

Individual cells in a plant have a very flexible metabolism facilitating the adjustment to the variable environmental and developmental conditions that they are experiencing. In this project, leaf metabolism is investigated with the aim to obtain a better understanding of the metabolic pathways involved, their regulation and compartmentation. In particular the interactions between mitochondria and chloroplasts will be in focus. The project contain two parts (1) the interaction of respiratory and photo-synthetic metabolic pathways in photosynthetically active cells and (2) the involvement of mitochondria and respiratory metabolism in the process of leaf senescence.
Specific aims are:
• To define the mechanisms of interplay between photosynthesis and respiratory metabolism with special emphasis on redox interactions and transport processes.
• To identify the contribution of mitochondrial FtsH proteases to plant acclimation.
• To characterise and understand metabolic processes during leaf senescence, in particular the involvement and importance of respiratory metabolism.
• To define the transport to and from senescing leaves.
• To screen for mutants that are essential for the senescence process.