Cornell University

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"Uncovering the metabolic and genetic regulation of free and bound amino acid in seeds

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at 12:20pm

Emerson Hall, 135

Amino acids play an important role in seed development maturation and desiccation. There are two functional pools of amino acids in seeds: the free, and the protein-bound amino acids. The free amino acids (FAA) comprise 5% of the total seed amino acids in seeds and provide building blocks for proteins, as well as precursors for many biological processes that are essential for seed development, maturation, desiccation and germination. The bound amino acids (PBAA) comprise 95% of the the total amino acids (TAA), from which ~60% is deposited in seed storage proteins (SSPs). Despite our vast understanding of the metabolic pathways of amino acids, we have very little understanding of the regulation of these traits, or the interplay between them - especially in seeds. Our research aims to enhance our fundamental understanding of the FAAs and PBAAs regulation and control under standard and stress conditions, as well as uncovering their genetic basis using quantitative and reverse genetic approaches. Our studies reveal that FAAs are plastic, and potentially adaptable and their levels  are, at least in part, controlled by secondary metabolisms. In contrast, PBAAs are very robust traits, and their relative composition is rigorously maintained by balanced proteomic re-programing when stress is imposed. Our data strongly suggests a distinct metabolic and genetic regulation of FAA and PBAA. Comprehensive understanding of the regulation and mode of action of this metabolic system is crucial for efficient amino acids' biofortification in seeds. 


Ruthie Angelovici

Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri

Ruthie Angelovici is an Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator at the University of Missouri. She received the BARD Postdoctoral Fellowship between 2010 and 2012, honored the Chair of the Plant Metabolic Engineering Gordon Research Seminar in 2013, and received the Postdoctoral Independent Career Potential Award in 2015.

Research Focus

My primary research aims are to uncover the metabolic and genetic mechanisms driving the AA network’s response to multiple cellular demands and to environmental changes as well as to understand the evolutionary forces and developmental constraints that shaped them. To this end, my lab is focused on dissection of the genetic architecture that underlies the natural variation of seed AA related traits across multiple species under various environmental conditions and to evaluate their evolutionary context.

To achieve these goals, we employ GWAS and classical linkage mapping combined with molecular and genetic approaches, functional genomics, and bioinformatics. My lab’s long-term goals are to be able to model the genetic and metabolic response of the AA network to different abiotic stresses.

This information will provide the basis for genetic improvement through both transgenic approaches and classical breeding programs to ensure sustainable high quality seed.

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Plant Breeding and Genetics


CALScomm, pbg, sips




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Tara Reed

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Ruthie Angelovici

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University of Missouri

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