Isabel earned her Ph.D. in 2008 and, after completing postdoctoral training at MSU, she joined Algoma University in 2011 at the rank of Assistant Professor. Isabel’s research focuses on investigating how plants make the protective lipids that establish the main physical barrier with the environment, a field that touches related disciplines, including biochemistry, molecular genetics, cell biology, plant physiology, genomics, and bioinformatics.
“From biosynthesis to function: exploring the multiple facets of plant extracellular lipids”. The plant cuticle and suberin are cell wall lipid modifications that play a number of important roles in plant biology, acting as barriers to control the movement of water, gases and solutes as well as to protect plants from biotic and abiotic stresses. Both the cuticle and suberized cell walls are composed of polymers of glycerolipids and waxes. The cuticle covers all aerial primary organs where it establishes a vital interaction interface with the environment. Suberin is present in many internal and external tissues including root endodermis and the periderm of roots, tree bark and tubers. Much of our current knowledge of apoplastic lipid biosynthesis, composition and function is from research with Arabidopsis. The chemical and anatomical characterization of cutin and suberin in Arabidopsis seed coats will be described. In addition, our recent progress in elucidating some of the multiple functions of such barriers of the seed coat will be presented. The functional contributions of the maize cuticle and its components to abiotic and biotic stress responses have been rarely studied so far. Moreover, the biosynthesis and composition on the adult leaf cuticle, agronomically the most important growth phase, are largely unknown. We have explored the chemistry, ultrastructure and function of developing cuticles of adult maize leaves. Our results in this area will be summarized.