Sharon Robinson Research Pages
Thermogenesis and thermoregulation in plants
This international collaboration with Dr Jennifer Watling (University of Adelaide, Australia), and Dr. Kikukatsu Ito, (Iwate University, Japan) is applying a systems biology approach to elucidate the mechanisms by which certain plants, such as the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) and Philodendron selloum, are able to maintain above-ambient stable temperatures without the complex homeostatic processes present in animals.
This process is facilitated through respiratory pathways which utilise the alternative oxidase and uncoupling proteins to uncouple respiration from ATP production resulting in energy being released as heat. We are using a combination of proteomic and biochemical techniques as well as on-line gas chromatography mass spectrometry techniques to measure plant respiration. Recent highlights include the first measurements of in vivo fluxes through the alternative pathway in thermogenic tissues (Watling et al, 2006 PDF 260k). The sacred lotus seems to rely on the alternative oxidase for heat production but other plants may use both pathways.
Current Staff & Students
Rebecca Miller - Post Doctoral Researcher
Nicole Grant - PhD, Thermoregulation in the sacred lotus.
Future opportunities for research
1. The role of the alternative oxidase and uncoupling proteins in thermoregulating plants
2. Spatial and temporal patterns of AOX and UCP gene expression in thermoregulating plants.
Watling, J.R., Robinson, S.A. Seymour, R.S (2006) Contribution of the alternative pathway to respiration during thermogenesis in flowers of the sacred lotus. Plant Physiology 140, 1367-1373
Watling et al, 2006 (PDF 260k)
Lambers, H., Robinson, S.A., Ribas-Carbo, M. (2005) Regulation of respiration in vivo. In Plant Respiration: from cell to ecosystem, Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration v18 (H. Lambers. M Ribas-Carbo eds.). Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp 1-15.
Ribas-Carbo, M., Robinson, S.A., Giles, L. (2005) The application of oxygen isotope technique to respiratory pathway partitioning. In Plant Respiration: from cell to ecosystem, Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration v18 (H. Lambers. M Ribas-Carbo eds.). Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp 31-42.
Robinson, S.A., Ribas-Carbo, M., Yakir, D., Giles, L. and Berry, J.A. (1995). Beyond SHAM and cyanide: opportunities for studying the alternative oxidase in plant respiration using oxygen isotope discrimination. Aust. J. Plant Physiol. 22 487-96.
Ribas-Carbo, M., Robinson, S.A., Gonzàlez-Meler, M.A Lennon, A.M., Giles, L., Siedow, J.N. and Berry, J.A. (2000) Effects of light on respiration and oxygen isotope fractionation in soybean cotyledons. Plant Cell and Environment 23 983-989.
Paper in PDF (192k)