Michael Emes

Email Address
[email protected]
Research Description

My lab focusses on understanding the production and structure of starch, primarily in seeds of cereals such as maize, barley, rice, and wheat. This is important not only for seed production, but also for human wellbeing, since different types of starch can provide health benefits.

Research Summary

Much of our current effort is focused on understanding the regulation of starch synthesis in storage tissues such as the developing seeds of cereals. Starch is the major determinant of yield in such crops, and has wide application in both the food and non-food industries, yet there remain a huge number of unknowns in what limits the production and structure of this important glucan polymer. There is also an increasing realization that different types of starch provide benefits for human health. For example, Resistant Starch (RS) reduces the glycemic load in foods and helps maintain insulin sensitivity, reducing the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). RS which passes into the large bowel then becomes a substrate for the human microbiome, and the products of starch degradation in the large bowel improve colonic health and are believed to reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer. Our research covers cereals such as maize, barley, rice, and wheat, as well as the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. I lead a large, interdisciplinary team whose expertise includes plant biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, human physiology, and nutrition.

Techniques Used

The techniques we use to address these questions include proteomic technologies such as mass spectrometry, and bioinformatics as well as protein isolation and organelle purification coupled with genetic modification.

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