Mette Sørensen

Mette Sørensen

Guest Researcher

My research focuses on the plethora of specialized metabolites contained in Eucalyptus trees, and how this plays a role in its interaction with the environment. The project comprises two main research topics: (1) a study of cyanogenic glucoside biosynthetic pathway at its regulation by tracking the cyanogenic glucoside content during plant ontogeny and leaf ontogeny and correlate the cyanogenic glucoside content with gene expression levels and (2) profiling the “cocktail” of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) constantly emitted from Eucalyptus leaves and flowers that interact with the surroundings incl. nearby standing trees, herbivore insects, pollinators and koalas feeding on the trees.

Evidence suggests that Eucalyptus is a great model for studying the regulation of specialized metabolites in plants. This allows us to pursue the genes behind regulation and to learn more about the difference between plant species. Studying VOCs in this manner will help to fill the knowledge-gap within the biochemical composition of Eucalyptus trees by revealing information about how a changing climate will affect Eucalyptus trees and other plant species. This is important information as plants are sessile organisms that cannot escape potential enemies and thus are forced to defend themselves at site.

Since I started on the project we have succeed in making a collection of Eucalyptus in Copenhagen with more than 30 different species that have been analyzed in different projects. Half of my project is thus carried out in the glasshouse in Copenhagen, and the other half is carried out in Australia in collaboration with University of Melbourne. The project is great to me because it allows me to combine studying the small details e.g. on gene level as well as the bigger picture on tree or even ecosystem level.

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