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Environment-coupled metabolic models for engineering high-temperature and drought REsistant LEAF metabolism.


Food security is one of the biggest challenges of our century. Climate change and an increasing human population call for
crop plants that are resistant to abiotic stresses, such as heat and drought while maintaining high productivity and nutritional
values. This will require rational strategies for metabolic engineering of crop plants. Fundamental to this engineering
challenge is the modelling of leaf metabolism. Leaves are the main site of photosynthesis and therefore the interface where
carbon from the environment is assimilated to synthesise and maintain cellular components. Plants have developed different
mechanisms to fix carbon: C3, C4, and Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM). While C3 photosynthesis is the most
widespread form, the latter two exhibit higher efficiency at higher temperatures or drought, respectively. Current large-scale
metabolic models lack a mathematical description of processes on the interface between the environment and the leaf. To
address this problem, I intend to devise a computational approach that couples genome-scale metabolic modeling to the
environment by explicitly modeling gas-water exchange. These multi-layer models will help address fundamental questions
about the operation of C4 photosynthesis and CAM. The workplan comprises two research objectives: 1) Coupling CO2-
water gas exchange models with multi-timestep diel models: The CO2-water exchange models will allow changing
environmental conditions during the diel cycle (e.g. temperature and humidity cycles) to be coupled to the behavior of the
metabolic models. These environment-coupled models will be used to address the second research objective: 2) Model-driven studies of C4 and CAM metabolism: The extended diel models will be used to investigate metabolic engineering
strategies for improved productivity under high temperatures (e.g. by introducing C4) and to understand the trade-off
between productivity and water-use efficiency in both C3 and CAM plants.

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Meccanismo di finanziamento

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


Wellington Square University Offices
OX1 2JD Oxford
United Kingdom
Tipo di attività
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Contributo UE
€ 183 454,80