Office: 262 BSC
Phone: (413) 597-2330
Area of Interest:Biochemistry
Plant lipid biochemistry, plant sphingolipids and sphingolipid metabolism, physical properties of lipids and membranes, plant sphingolipids in signal transduction and cell regulation.
Sphingolipids have been demonstrated to play important roles as both membrane components and as signaling molecules involved in regulating cellular processes in animals and fungi. While sphingolipids are quantitatively important components of specific plant membranes and recent evidence points to sphingolipids serving as signaling molecules in plants, surprisingly little is known about plant sphingolipid function. Work in the Lynch lab, funded by the NSF 2010 program, focuses on the network of genes predicted to be involved in sphingolipid metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana. Further information about the project, including a list of the specific genes under investigation, is available at http://www.plantsphingolipids.org/ while two recent reviews of plant sphingolipid biochemistry are listed below. These genes are being identified and the functions of the respective protein products of the genes (e.g., the specific reaction catalyzed by the gene product, its substrate specificity, subcellular location, expression and activity in tissues) are being determined. The specific roles of different sphingolipids in plants are being investigated by characterizing the properties and behavior of mutant plants defective in specific sphingolipid metabolic genes and so incapable of synthesizing a given sphingolipid. This collaborative effort involves five investigators at distinctly different institutions (including Williams College, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and the Danforth Plant Science Center).