Storage Lipid Accumulation in Plants

Group Structure

Group Leader: Carlos Vicient (CSIC Assistant Professor)
PhD Students: Hedia Tnani (January-June 2012)
Undergrad or Master Students: Silvia Barbaresi (February-June 2013), Bhagyasree Narayanan Thampi (February-June 2013), Betty Cristiane Kuhn (February-June 2013).
General Research Support: Ignacio López


Seed development and germination are complex processes involving several developmental programs. In our previous work we have used transcriptomic and proteomic approaches in order to identify genes and proteins specifically involved in those processes in maize scutellum (the single cotyledon of the maize embryos). In the course  of these analyses we have identified and characterized: A) a peptide transporter protein involved in peptide transport from endosperm to the embryo during germination; B) an endonuclease probably involved in the  cell death process associated with scutellum development; C) an oil body associated protein involved in oil body stability. Our current work have centered in the oil body associated proteins. Plant oil bodies (OBs) are subcellular organelles involved in lipid reserve accumulation in seeds and other organs composed by a core of neutral lipids surrounded by a phospholipids’ monolayer in which a series of specific proteins are embedded. In plants, most abundant OB associated proteins are oleosins, but other proteins have been described. Although in microbes and animals OB associated proteins are mostly comprised of enzymes or proteins involved in subcellular transport, there is few information about the association of these type of proteins to plant OBs and their role in the dynamics of OBs during seed development. We are using genetic, molecular, metabolomic and proteomic approaches in order to identify and characterize new proteins involved in the structure and dynamics of OBs. As models we use Arabidopsis, rapeseed and maize. We identified a gene predominantly expressed in maize mature embryo (obap1) encoding a protein located in OBs. Arabidopsis obap1 mutant seeds show low germination rate and big and irregular OBs. Our findings suggest that OBAP1 protein is involved in the stability of OBs.

Research Projects

  • Identification and characterization of new genes involved in plant embryo development and germination.
  • New oil body associated proteins in plants

Selected Publications

Sanchez-Pons N., Vicient C.M.
Identification of a type I Ca2+/Mg2+-dependent endonuclease induced in maize cells exposed to camptothecin
(2013) BMC Plant Biology, vol 13, Art. number 186

Gomez-Orte E., Vicient C.M., Martinez-Izquierdo J.A.
Grande retrotransposons contain an accessory gene in the unusually long 3′-internal region that encodes a nuclear protein transcribed from its own promoter
(2013) Plant Molecular Biology, vol. 81 (6), pp. 541-551

Tnani H., Garcia-Muniz N., Vicient C.M., Lopez-Ribera I.
Expression profile of maize (Zea mays) scutellar epithelium during imbibition
(2012) Journal of Plant Physiology, vol. 169 (14), pp. 1430-1433

Tnani H., Lopez I., Jouenne T., Vicient C.M.
Quantitative subproteomic analysis of germinating related changes in the scutellum oil bodies of Zea mays
(2012) Plant Science, vol. 191-192, pp. 1-7

Tnani H., Lopez-Ribera I., Garcia-Muniz N., Vicient C.M.
ZmPTR1, a maize peptide transporter expressed in the epithelial cells of the scutellum during germination
(2013) Plant Science, vol. 207, pp. 140-147