Research Interests in Maeda Lab
As sessile organisms, plants produce a tremendous array of organic compounds using CO2, underground nutrients, and sunlight energy to survive in challenging ecological niches. This plant chemical diversity is achieved by the diversification of plant metabolic pathways far beyond central metabolism. Although extensive efforts are currently being made to understand these plant-specific metabolic pathways, we still have a limited knowledge of how plants allocate available carbon, fixed by photosynthesis, to a variety of downstream metabolic pathways. This fundamental knowledge gap also creates a bottleneck in effective plant breeding and metabolic engineering for the improved production of targeted metabolites. To address this issue, we focuses on understanding the biosynthetic pathways and regulatory mechanisms of plant primary metabolism, specifically the shikimate and phenylalanine/tyrosine pathways, which allocate up to 30% of photosynthetically fixed carbon for the production of numerous plant natural products (e.g., lignin, flavonoids, antioxidants, alkaloids). Our research specifically focuses on the following two projects.