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Ever since the endosymbiotic transfer of plastid genes to the host genome, the development, maintenance and metabolic activity of the plastid have been largely dependent on coordinated gene expression between the host and the endosymbiont, despite the fact that they are physically and biochemically distinct. As the crucial metabolic processes of photosynthesis and photorespiration as well as generation of myriad of molecules including amino acid, secondary metabolite, fatty acid, chemical energy and plant hormones take place in plastid, plastid-to-nucleus retrograde signaling has indispensably evolved. This retrograde communication is essential not only for the biogenesis of plastid but also to integrate a multitude of environmental signals into responses assisting in the fine-tuning of plant development.Hence, a rapid adjustment of plastid homeostasis is possible with the communication, which eventually becomes vital for plants to acclimate under the fluctuating environment.
The primary research themes in the Kim laboratory are perception/responding mechanism of chloroplast to stress, chloroplast-to-nucleus signaling, and chloroplast-mediated stress response including growth inhibition, acclimation and cell death. In addition, we will try to understand the mechanism that underlies chloroplast-mitochondria communication and chloroplast-dependent epigenetic inheritance. In this context, we may eventually understand how chloroplast acts as sensor of multitude of environmental factors and affects plant growth and productivity. The research approach utilizes genetic screen, deep sequencing, proteomics, 540 chloroplast homozygous mutant lines, metabolomics, cell biology and biochemistry in conjunction with plant physiology.
Fig 1. Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) generation in light-dependent reaction. Is ROS downside or advantage of photosynthesis under adverse environment?
The postdoctoral fellows and PhD candidates will be involved in projects addressing the following questions: 1) revealing perception and response mechanism of chloroplast to stress 2) finding genuine molecules that participate chloroplast-to-nucleus retrograde signaling 3) dissecting the ROS-triggered chloroplast signaling pathway and finding molecular components that relay the signal from chloroplast to nucleus (Fig. 1) 4) understanding acclimation mechanism that is mediated by chloroplasts 5) elucidating subcellular organelles communication with various reporter lines (Fig. 2) 6) building chloroplast phenomics database using chloroplast mutant lines in conjunction with stress responses 7) investigating chloroplast epigenetics.
Fig 2. Integrity of subcellular organelles under adverse environment.Various reporter lines using GFP, CFP, YFP, mCherry and redox-GFP are created to examine the structural integrity of subcellular organelles and their responses to stress.