Location: Chemistry Research Unit
Project Number: 6615-22000-027-04
Start Date: Jan 24, 2012
End Date: Sep 30, 2014
Many plant defense chemicals are absent in non-stressed plants but accumulate locally to very high levels following attack. Therefore, by specifically targeting the identification of small molecules that accumulate after defense induction, we will enrich for plant metabolites that have biological activity in animals and microbes. To increase assay reproducibility, the plant hormones methyl jasmonate, salicylic acid, pathogens, and insects will be used to elicit defense responses. We will employ a wide range of analytical skills and implement complementary mass spectrometry (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based assays that will maximize the diversity of compounds that can be identified. We will work towards the improved annotation of novel components of the induced-defense metabolome in three well-studied plant species, Arabidopsis, maize, and rice. By targeting these species, we will benefit from sequenced genomes, well-developed genetic tools, and an extensive body of prior research in our subsequent research to identify genes that encode enzymes for the synthesis of previously unknown plant metabolites. The function of candidate genes will be confirmed through identification of natural variation, isolation of mutant plants, expression in heterologous systems, and enzyme assays. Importantly, to confirm functions of the newly identified plant metabolites, insect and microbial bioassays will be conducted with both mutant plants and purified compounds.