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Research at St Andrews

Alyson Kim Tobin

Person

Alyson Kim Tobin, FSB
Postal address:
School of Biology
Bute Medical Buildings
St Andrews
Fife
United Kingdom

Email: a.tobin@st-andrews.ac.uk

Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 46

Research overview

Current research is into nitrogen assimilation and protein remobilisation during grain filling in barley. We are investigating the genes that encode glutamine synthetase, the enzyme responsible for ammonium assimilation into the first organic product, glutamine. Partitioning of nitrogen during the grain-filling stage is an important determinant of the crop's value for food and for malting. The expression and location of the 4 genes for glutamine synthetase are currently under investigation in my laboratory, with the aim of modifying the grain content of carbon and nitrogen in this major cereal crop.

We also study the development and division of mitochondria in plants, using green fluorescent protein as a marker that enables us to view mitochondria in living cells. Our work has led to the identification of a number of mutants of mitochondrial form and distribution in plants, with subsequent work leading to the isolation of candidate genes

We have developed novel techniques for isolating plastids from leaf epidermal cells and use proteomics methods to start to characterise their metabolic potential. Our work has identified structural and functional differences between these plastids and those of the photosynthetically active mesopyll cells.

 Cellular and subcellular level studies of plant responses to the environment, with particular interest in nitrogen nutrition and light (including ultraviolet B radiation). Studies of the response of Antarctic plants to enhanced UV-B radiation and drought stress, including their susceptibility to DNA-damaging stresses and their associated ability to repair DNA damage.

Technical approaches include: production of transgenic plants; in situ hybridisation and immunolocalisation for gene and protein expression; confocal and fluorescence microscopy and real-time imaging of living mitochondria; analysis of plant proteins and DNA; proteomics and metabolomics analysis; plant growth analysis; subcellular studies, particularly the isolation of plant cell organelles.

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