70% of the earth's carbon in living biomass exists in land plants, most of it in the form of polysaccharide and phenolic biopolymers in the trunks, stems and roots of vascular plants. For the plant this means coordinating how to get carbon from the air and hydrogen and oxygen from water via the roots, to synthesize sugars in the leaves – the currency that the plant can invest. In each of billions of individual plant cells, tens of thousands of proteins work together to metabolize thousands of molecules to use these sequestered sugars and build stable cell walls, keeping open channels for communication and transport throughout the plant. Underground – in addition to getting water, the roots work to obtain crucial nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, via transporters, specialized structures and enzymes, and through symbiotic partnerships with a wide variety of micro-organisms.   

 

In the African Plant Systems biology for the Bioeconomy programme (APSB) we use systems biology, evo-devo approaches, genome engineering and synthetic biology to study important traits in African plants of ecological and economic importance. This includes how plants acquire, manage and invest sequestered carbon to adapt to low-nutrient environments, and create superior plant biomass. 

 

Research Themes

  • Xylem development and evolution
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus acquisition in the plant tree of life
  • Evolvability in real and simulated phenotypic landscapes

Contact Us

Contact:          Prof. Eshchar Mizrachi

Email:             This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Telephone:      +27 12 420 2136

New Publications

Tonfack LB, Hussey SG, Veale A, Myburg AA, Mizrachi E. (2019) Analysis of orthologous SECONDARY WALL-ASSOCIATED NAC DOMAIN1 (SND1) promotor activity in herbaceous and woody angiosperms. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 20:4623. 10.3390/ijms20184623
Myburg AA, Hussey SG, Wang JP, Street NR, Mizrachi E. (2019) Systems and Synthetic Biology of Forest Trees: A Bioengineering Paradigm for Woody Biomass Feedstocks. Frontiers in Plant Biology 10:775. 10.3389/fpls.2019.00775
Roodt D, Li Z, Van de Peer Y, Mizrachi E. (2019) Loss of wood formation genes in monocot genomes. Genome Biology and Evolution 7(1):1986-1996. https://bit.ly/2WvIe8V PDF
van der Nest MA, Wingfield MJ, McTaggart AR, Van Wyk S, De Vos L, Trollip C, Santana QC, Naidoo K, Dong TA, Wilken PM, Chan W-Y, Palmer M, Soal NA, Roodt D, Steenkamp ET, Wingfield BD. (2019) Genomic analysis of the aggressive tree pathogen Ceratocystis albifundus. Fungal Biology 10.1016/j.funbio.2019.02.002 PDF
Pinard D, Myburg AA, Mizrachi E. (2019) The plastid and mitochondrial genomes of Eucalyptus grandis. BMC Genomics 20(132):1-14. 10.1186/s12864-019-5444-4 PDF
Pinard D, Fierro AC, Marchal K, Myburg AA, Mizrachi E. (2019) Organellar carbon metabolism is co-ordinated with distinct developmental phases of secondary xylem. New Phytologist 10.1111/nph.15739
Hussey SG, Grima-Pettenati J, Myburg AA, Mizrachi E, Brady SM, Yoshikuni Y, Deutsch S. (2019) A standardized synthetic Eucalyptus transcription factor and promoter panel for re-engineering secondary cell wall regulation in biomass and bioenergy crops. ACS Synthetic Biology 8(2):463-465. 10.1021/acssynbio.8b00440
Wierzbicki MP, Christie N, Pinard D, Mansfield SD, Mizrachi E, Myburg AA. (2019) A systems genetics analysis in Eucalyptus reveals coordination of metabolic pathways associated with xylan modification in wood‐forming tissues. New Phytologist 223(4):1952-1972. 10.1111/nph.15972
Brown K, Takawira L, O'Neill M, Mizrachi E, Myburg A, Hussey S. (2019) Identification and functional evaluation of accessible chromatin associated with wood formation in Eucalyptus grandis. New Phytologist 223(4):1937-1951. 10.1111/nph.15897
Laubscher M, Brown K, Tonfack LB, Myburg AA, Mizrachi E, Hussey SG. (2018) Temporal analysis of Arabidopsis genes activated by Eucalyptus grandis NAC transcription factors associated with xylem fibre and vessel development. Scientific Reports 8:10983. 10.1038/s41598-018-29278-w
Pinard D, Mizrachi E. (2018) Unsung and understudied: plastids involved in secondary growth. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 42:30-36. 10.1016/j.pbi.2018.01.011
Botha J, Mizrachi E, Myburg AA, Cowan DA. (2018) Carbohydrate active enzyme domains from extreme thermophiles: components of a modular toolbox for lignocellulose degradation. Extremophiles 10.1007/s00792-017-0974-7
Mir BA, Myburg AA, Mizrachi E, Cowan DA. (2017) In planta expression of hyperthermophilic enzymes as a strategy for accelerated lignocellulosic digestion. Scientific Reports 7(1):11462. 10.1038/s41598-017-11026-1
Roodt D, Lohaus R, Sterck L, Swanepoel RL, Van de Peer Y, Mizrachi E. (2017) Evidence for an ancient whole genome duplication in the cycad lineage. PLOS ONE 12(9):e0184454. 10.1371/journal.pone.0184454
Hussey SG, Loots MT, van der Merwe K, Mizrachi E, Myburg AA. (2017) Integrated analysis and transcript abundance modelling of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 in developing secondary xylem. Scientific Reports 7:3370. 10.1038/s41598-017-03665-1
Van de Peer Y, Mizrachi E, Marchal K. (2017) The evolutionary significance of polyploidy. Nature Reviews Genetics 18:411-424. 10.1038/nrg.2017.26
Mizrachi E, Verbeke L, Christie N, Fierro AC, Mansfield SD, Davis MF, Gjersing E, Tuskan GA, Van Montagu M, Van de Peer Y, Marchal K, Myburg AA. (2017) Network-based integration of systems genetics data reveals pathways associated with lignocellulosic biomass accumulation and processing. PNAS 114(5):1195-1200. 10.1073/pnas.1620119114 PDF
Davin N, Edger PP, Hefer CA, Mizrachi E, Schuetz M, Smets E, Myburg AA, Douglas CJ, Schranz ME, Lens F. (2016) Functional network analysis of genes differentially expressed during xylogenesis in soc1ful woody Arabidopsis plants. The Plant Journal 86(5):376-390. 10.1111/tpj.13157
Mewalal R, Mizrachi E, Coetzee B, Mansfield SD, Myburg AA. (2016) The Arabidopsis Domain of Unknown Function 1218 (DUF1218) Containing Proteins, MODIFYING WALL LIGNIN-1 and 2 (At1g31720/MWL-1 and At4g19370/MWL-2) Function Redundantly to Alter Secondary Cell Wall Lignin Content. PLoS ONE 11(3):e0150254. 10.1371/journal.pone.0150254 PDF
Mizrachi E, Myburg AA. (2016) Systems genetics of wood formation. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 30:94-100. 10.1016/j.pbi.2016.02.007