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Charting the evolution of protein-protein interaction networks shaping plant metabolic adaptation to land

Project description

Untangling the protein-protein interaction networks behind plant metabolic adaptation to land

Much as fish evolved into land animals, land plant ancestors evolved from freshwater algae. The water-to-land transition was likely accompanied by the emergence and/or expansion of protein families that supported novel plant metabolic pathways. The pathways themselves have been well studied. However, little is known about the proteins in these pathways and their interactions in complex protein networks. With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the EPPIMAL project will take a closer look at key enzymes (protein catalysts) in important metabolic pathways of existing land plants. Characterising protein-protein interaction networks will shed light on the evolution of plant metabolic pathways and potentially reveal overlooked proteins.


Plant colonization of land was a critical evolutionary step for terraformation and the emergence of rich terrestrial ecosystems. Land plant ancestors emerged from freshwater algae and subsequently radiated to yield the astonishing diversity observed nowadays. Extant land plants comprise two major groups, tracheophytes and bryophytes, which represent the vascular and non-vascular stage of their evolution. Recent advances in phylogenomics indicate that the water-to-land transition was accompanied by the emergence and/or expansion of protein families that founded novel plant metabolic pathways. This has been for instance the case for the pathways generating phenylpropanoids, specialized molecules serving as anti-UV and precursors to structural polymers, and the hormones abscisic acid (ABA) and strigolactones (SL) that help plant coordinate stress responses and interaction with microorganisms. While these three plant metabolic pathways are almost fully elucidated, little is known about (i) the organization of involved proteins in interacting networks and (ii) the evolutionary relevance of protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks for the emergence and function of metabolic pathways. EPPIMAL project proposes to answer these questions by exploring the evolution of PPI networks associated with the phenylpropanoid, ABA and SL metabolisms. The project will implement a cutting-edge proximity-dependent labeling (PDL) approach centered on key enzymes to characterize PPI networks in bryophyte and tracheophyte species. The project shall disclose the conservation or expansion of PPI networks in the course of land plant evolution and potentially identify overlooked protein involved in investigated metabolic pathways. PPI data will be complemented with molecular genetics and metabolomics investigations. Altogether, EPPIMAL will bring original information on the evolution of protein networks shaping three iconic land plant metabolic pathways that supported plant adaptation to land.


Net EU contribution
€ 211 754,88
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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
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