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Jörg Schwender


Plant biomass is of increasing importance as a renewable resource for the production of fuels and of chemical feedstocks that replace petroleum based materials. As a basis for rational engineering of seeds and other plant storage organs, our goal is to increase the basic understanding of the functioning of storage metabolism in plants. Of central interest here is the process of allocation of maternal carbon and nitrogen resources to different storage products (oil, protein and starch) in a sink organ like a developing seed.

Schematic of carbon flow during storage synthesis in developing seeds of Brassica napus based on metabolic flux analysis (See publications below). PPP = pentose phosphate pathway; TAG = triacylglycerol.

Research Interests

Within the interest in carbon partitioning in sink organs in plants, our research is focused on metabolic flux analysis and pathway analysis by employing isotope labeling experiments, mathematical models and computer simulation to describe and analyze metabolism quantitatively. In particular we use steady-state stable isotope labeling to determine the flux distribution in central carbon metabolism. Cultures of developing embryos of Brassica napus and other brassicaceae turned out to be excellent in vitro models to study seed development and storage synthesis. Growing in culture, embryos are labeled with a variety of 13C-labeled precursors and individual C-atoms are traced through the metabolic network by analyzing the label in metabolites and end products by GC/MS and NMR. Different nutritional conditions or genotypes can be analyzed and compared.

In order to quantitatively characterize and measure metabolism as comprehensively as possible, we consider enzyme activity and metabolite levels as important metrics in addition to metabolic flux. In collaboration with Alistair Rogers (BNL, Environmental Sciences Department) and Hardy Rolletschek (Institute for Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Gatersleben) enzyme and metabolite profiles are measured in parallel with flux. The principles of Metabolic Control Analysis and enzyme kinetic models help to interpret these data and to model and understand the allosteric regulation in central metabolism.

Recent News

Published Books

  • Plant Metabolic Networks
    Schwender, Jörg (Ed.)
    2009, X, 390 p. 13 illus., 11 in color., Springer, NY, Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-387-78744-2

Selected Publications

  • Hay J.O. and Schwender J. Flux variability analysis: Application to developing oilseed rape embryos using toolboxes for constraint-based modeling. Plant Metabolic Flux Analysis: Methods and Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, M. Dieuaide-Noubhani and A. Paula Alonso, Editors, Chapter 18, Vol. 1090, pp. 301-316, Springer Science + Business Media, New York, NY (2014).
  • Hay J.O., Shi H., Heinzel N., Hebbelmann I., Rolletschek H., and Schwender J. Integration of a constraint-based metabolic model of Brassica napus developing seeds with (13)C-metabolic flux analysis. Frontiers in Plant Science 5, p. 724. (2014)
  • Schwender J., Konig C., Klapperstuck M., Heinzel N., Munz E., Hebbelmann I., Hay J.O., Denolf P., De Bodt S., Redestig H., Caestecker E., Jakob P.M., Borisjuk L., and Rolletschek H. Transcript abundance on its own cannot be used to infer fluxes in central metabolism. Frontiers in Plant Science 5, p. 668. (2014)
  • Yan Y., Candreva J., Shi H., Ernst E., Martienssen R., Schwender J., and Shanklin J. Survey of the total fatty acid and triacylglycerol composition and content of 30 duckweed species and cloning of a Δ6-desaturase responsible for the production of γ-linolenic and stearidonic acids in Lemna gibba. BMC Plant Biology, 13:201 (2013).
  • Borisjuk L., Neuberger T., Schwender J., Heinzel N., Sunderhaus S., Fuchs J., Hay, J.O., Tschiersch H., Braun H. P., Denolf P., Lambert B., Jakob P. M., and Rolletschek H.
    Seed architecture shapes embryo metabolism in oilseed rape.
    Plant Cell, 25(5):1625-1640 (2013).
  • Fan J., Yan C., Andre C., Shanklin J., Schwender J., and Xu C. Oil accumulation is controlled by carbon precursor supply for fatty acid synthesis in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Plant Cell Physiol., 53(8):1380-1390 (2012).
  • Lohr M., Schwender J., and Polle J.E.W. Isoprenoid biosynthesis in eukaryotic phototrophs: A spotlight on algae (Review). Plant Science, 185-186:9-22 (2012).
  • O’Grady J., Schwender J., Shachar-Hill Y., and Morgan J.A.
    Metabolic cartography: Experimental quantification of metabolic fluxes from isotopic labeling studies.
    Journal of Experimental Botany, 63(6):2293-2308 (March, 2012).  PubMed
  • Schwender J., and Hay J.O.
    Predictive modeling of biomass component tradeoffs in Brassica napus developing oilseeds based on in silico manipulation of storage metabolism.
    Plant Physiology, 160(3):1218-1236 (2012).  PubMed  Abstract
  • Hay J. and Schwender J.
    Metabolic network reconstruction and flux variability analysis of storage synthesis in developing oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) embryos.
    The Plant Journal 67(3), 526–541 (2011).  PubMed  Abstract
  • Hay J. and Schwender J.
    Computational analysis of storage synthesis in developing Brassica napus L. (oilseed rape) embryos: flux variability analysis in relation to ¹³C metabolic flux analysis.
    The Plant Journal 67(3), 513–525 (2011).  PubMed  Abstract
  • Lohr M., Schwender J., and Polle J.E.W.
    Isoprenoid biosynthesis in eukaryotic phototrophs: A spotlight on algae.
    Plant Sciences, 185-186:9-22. doi:10.1016/j.plantsci.2011.07.018 (2011). PubMed
  • Schwender J.
    Experimental flux measurements on a network scale.
    Frontiers in Plant Sci., 2:63. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2011.00063 (2011). PubMed
  • Koschützki D., Junker B.H., Schwender J., and Schreiber F.
    Structural analysis of metabolic networks based on flux centrality.
    J. Theor Biol., 265:261-269, DOI 10.1016/j.jtbi.2010.05.009 (2010).  PubMed
  • Lonien J., and Schwender J.
    Analysis of metabolic flux phenotypes for two Arabidopsis thaliana mutants with severe impairment in seed storage lipid synthesis.
    Plant Physiology, 151(3):1617-1634 (2009).  PubMed  Plant Physiology
  • van der Lelie D., Taghavi S., Monchy S., Schwender J., Miller L., Ferrieri R., Rogers A., Wu X., Zhu W., Weyens N., Vangronsveld J., and Newman L.
    Poplar and its bacterial endophytes: Coexistence and harmony.
    Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 28(5), 346-358 (2009).
  • Schwender J.
    Metabolic flux analysis as a tool in metabolic engineering of plants.
    Curr. Opin. Biotechnol., 19(2):131-137 (2008).  PubMed
  • Junker B.H., Lonien J., Heady L.E., Rogers A. and Schwender J.
    Parallel determination of enzyme activities and in vivo fluxes in Brassica napus embryos grown on organic or inorganic nitrogen source.
    Phytochemistry, 68(16-18):2232-2242 (2007).  PubMed
  • Schwender J., Shachar-Hill Y. and Ohlrogge, J.B.
    Mitochondrial metabolism in developing embryos of Brassica napus.
    J Biol Chem., 281:34040-34047 (2006).   PubMed  
    See also:
      J Biol Chem of November 10, (2006).   Paper of the Week
  • Goffman F.D., Alonso A.P., Schwender J., Shachar-Hill Y. and Ohlrogge, J.B.
    Light enables a very high efficiency of carbon storage in developing embryos of rapeseed.
    Plant Physiol., 138(4):2269-2279 (2005).   PubMed   Full Text
  • Ruuska S.A., Schwender J. and Ohlrogge J.B.
    The capacity of green oilseeds to utilize photosynthesis to drive biosynthetic processes.
    Plant Physiol., 136(1):2700-2709 (2004).   PubMed   Full Text
  • Schwender J., Goffman F., Ohlrogge J.B. and Shachar-Hill Y.
    Rubisco without the Calvin cycle improves the carbon efficiency of developing green seeds.
    Nature, 432:779-782 (2004).   PubMed
    See also:
       CH Surridge, Nature News and Views:
       Plant biochemistry: Green catalytic converter.
       Nature, 432:684 (2004).   PubMed
  • Schwender J., Ohlrogge J.B. and Shachar-Hill Y.
    Understanding flux in plant metabolic networks.
    Curr Opin Plant Biol., 7(3):309-317 (2004).   PubMed
  • Schwender J., Ohlrogge J.B. and Shachar-Hill Y.
    A flux model of glycolysis and oxidative pentosephosphate pathway in developing Brassica napus embryos.
    J Biol Chem., 278(32):29442-29453 (2003).   PubMed   Full Text
  • Schwender J. and Ohlrogge J.B.
    Probing in vivo metabolism by stable isotope labeling of storage lipids and proteins in developing Brassica napus embryos.
    Plant Physiol., 130(1):347-361 (2002).   PubMed   Full Text