Plant polyisoprenpoids - Secondary metabolites or physiologically important superlipids?
by Dr. Tariq Akhtar, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph
LOCATION: Room 202, Crop Sci
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 8, 2018 @ 10:30 AM
Since the accidental discovery of polyisoprenoids in cellulose pulp extracts almost 60 years ago, the widespread occurrence of these compounds has been reported throughout the plant kingdom. Yet, questions still remain about how plant polyisoprenoids are synthesized, where they reside in the cell and what functional role they serve. This seminar will highlight some of our most recent findings about this historically enigmatic class of plant compounds and present evidence for a more evolutionary conserved role for polyisoprenoids than previously thought.
My primary research interest concerns the splendid array of compounds made by plants and the underlying molecular and biochemical basis of their biosynthesis. I first developed this passion during my M.Sc. degree where I investigated the molecular mechanism by which various environmental cues cause plants to accumulate flavonoids. I then completed my doctorate under the mentorship of Dr. Andrew Hanson at the University of Florida where I contributed to a viable and cost-effective way to overcome global folate malnutrition through plant 'biofortification'. I followed my interest in plant biochemistry to the laboratory of Dr. Eran Pichersky where I studied salicylic acid, polyisoprenoid, and dolichol metabolism. I recently joined the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department at Guelph and my research continues to investigate the biochemical pathways that operate at the interface of plant primary and secondary metabolism.