Research — Dr. Wayne Loescher , Professor
Physiology of carbohydrate metabolism
We have long been involved in elucidating the metabolic pathways for both biosynthesis and degradation of several acyclic sugar alcohols, e.g., sorbitol and mannitol, and determining the characteristics and tissue, cell, and subcellular locations of those enzymes involved in these pathways. Enzyme identification and characterization currently includes study of regulatory mechanisms at both the protein and gene level. We have, for example, cloned and sequenced the gene for mannose 6-phosphate reductase, a key step in mannitol biosynthesis, and are now investigating those factors involved in its regulation. Similar work is focused on sugar alcohol transporters.
We are very interested in developing an understanding of the mechanisms by which plants tolerate abiotic stress, environmental extremes such as salinity, drought, and temperature, especially since several of these mechanisms may be related to the capacity of some plants to synthesize compatible solutes like the acyclic sugar alcohols. Accordingly, we have been looking at how certain abiotic stresses regulate sugar alcohol metabolism, storage, and transport, and how these compounds may accumulate in response to exposure to stress.
Carbohydrate partitioning and photosynthesis
In collaboration with colleagues we have been involved in a variety of projects related to determining patterns of carbohydrate allocation as a result of sink/source interactions. These interactions profoundly affect crop quality and yield, yet little is known about the mechanisms involved.