Professor, CBS Department of Plant Biology, Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute, and Department of Horticultural Science (CFANS)
290 Alderman Hall
1970 Folwell Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108
- B. A., Oberlin College, 1992, Biochemistry
- Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 2001, Biochemistry
Plant Metabolomics; Biochemistry; Plant Specialized Metabolism
- HORT 2100 — Agricultural Biochemistry — Fall semester
For more information on these courses, see the Course Catalog.
Plant Specialized Metabolism
Plants, as sessile organisms, must be able to cope with a broad array of stressful environmental conditions that motile organisms can overcome by simply walking away. As a result, plants exhibit numerous chemical strategies to moderate environmental stress. Plants cannot run away from herbivores, but many synthesize toxic or unpalatable chemicals as feeding deterrents. Plants cannot relocate when nutrients are depleted, yet many can synthesize and excrete compounds into the soil that help liberate nutrients such as phosphate or iron as needed. Other chemicals are synthesized that help provide protection from fungal or bacterial infection, excess UV light exposure, and freezing or drought conditions. In addition, plants synthesize a wide array of chemicals to influence the behavior of other organisms, the more obvious of these being pigment, odor, and flavor compounds in fruits and flowers that promote pollination and seed dispersal. Less apparent are the chemicals involved in interactions with other plants, fungi or bacteria. Phytochemicals (chemicals produced by plants) that influence the behavior of other organisms are profoundly important to people, not just because of pharmaceutical or commercially useful compounds, but because of those that make up the colors, flavors and odors that effect the quality of our food and surroundings.
Metabolomics and Metabolic Isotopic Labeling
Our laboratory uses high throughput chemical analyses such as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to measure hundreds to thousands of compounds simultaneously in plant extracts. This methodology, called metabolomics is related to other systems biology approaches such as genomics and proteomics, which also attempt to provide comprehensive descriptions of the molecular status of a biological system as an initial step prior to formulation of hypotheses and more traditional lines of scientific inquiry. Metabolomics depends heavily on rapidly changing analytical methodologies. As a result, many of the resources for the field are still in development. One of our major interests concerns the creation of isotope-assisted metabolomics tools and resources that can take advantage of our capacity to metabolically label plant materials with stable isotopes (see http://13carbon.com). These approaches allow one either to derive high quality quantities for all labeled species in a sample or to begin to probe dynamics within biological systems to derive metabolic flux or protein turnover information.
Peer Reviewed Publications:
- For the most up-to-date list of Adrian Hegeman's publications, see his Google Scholars profile.
- Frey, P. A., and A. D. Hegeman, Enzymatic Reaction Mechanisms, January 27, 2007, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.