Our research has three primary goals. First, to discover how the enzymes of starch synthesis act in a co-ordinated way to generate the semi-crystalline structures found in starch granules. Secondly, to discover how starch is remobilised in plant cells to release the stored carbon for metabolism. Third, to understand how the diurnal turnover of starch is integrated with the rest of metabolism and tailored to optimise growth in different environmental conditions.
We are using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, as our experimental system. This plant accumulates starch through photosynthesis during the day and remobilises it during the night, allowing both processes to be easily studied. Using this system also allows us to exploit the complete genome sequence and the array of post-genomic facilities. Knowledge gained from Arabidopsis about how this vital plant product is made can then be transferred to other species to improve and diversify starch crops.