Departments of the Institute

Department of Botany

Department of Cell Biology

Department of Animal Physiology


Department of Zoology

Laboratory of Molecular-
Biology Diagnostics

Department of Biology Education


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Research at Department of Genetics is oriented to genetic regulation of biosynthesis of secondary metabolites by molecular-genetic, biochemical and bioinformatics approaches at different OMICS levels starting with functional genomics and ending with metabolomics. The objects of our study are secondary metabolites with anticancer activities produced by some representatives of the genus Hypericum. The secondary metabolites from isoprenoid group in model plant Arabidopsis thaliana are studied as well.

Regulation of hypericin biosynthesis in the genus Hypericum

Hypericin and its derivatives represent interesting photodynamic pigments which are produced from among the higher plants exclusively by some representatives of the genus Hypericum. Despite their increasing significance with perspective use in photodynamic therapy and diagnostics of some cancer, genetic and epigenetic aspects of regulation of their biosynthesis in planta remain uncovered. Genes coding for key enzymes in hypericin biosynthesis are identified and validated actually.

Biotechnology as an alternative of secondary metabolite production in the genus Hypericum

Along with secondary metabolism biosynthetic studies in the genus Hypericum and spatial-temporal regulation we focus on biotechnological approaches aimed at induction and/or increasing production of these substances in different plant cells and tissues in vitro incl. those that are genetically modified.  This study is aimed at the influence of exogenous signals, biotic/abiotic elicitors on biomass and secondary metabolite production. As an essential part, the study of stressors associated with cryogenic treatment is included.

Regulation of isoprenoid biosynthesis in model plant Arabidopsis thaliana

In plants, isoprenoids function as both primary metabolites (phytosterols, chlorophylls, carotenoids, hormones, quinones) that have essential role in physiology and biochemistry of plants and as secondary metabolites that are involved in interaction of plants with their environment. In addition, many isoprenoids are of economical interest as drugs (anticancer drug taxol, antimalarial drug artemisinin, antidepressant hyperforin), nutraceuticals (vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10), flavors (limonene, menthol, steviol), fragrances (geraniol, limonene), pigments (carotenoids and xanthophills), agrochemicals or desinfectants (terpene essential oils). Isoprenoids could potentially become also a source for the development of new biofuels. Understanding the isoprenoid flux regulation in plants can thus facilitate molecular breeding and genetic engineering to improved crop yield and food quality. Moreover, genetic engineering of crops and microbial organisms can also contribute to the production of economically valuable plant terpenoids.

Knowing the essential components of the isorpenoid network and understanding regulation of isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential for pathway engineering. We currently have three major lines of research in the lab:
i) Transcriptional regulation of isoprenoid pathway
ii) Relationship between the isoprenoid pathway regulation and development
iii) Identification of components of the Arabidopsis thaliana isoprenoid pathway gene and metabolite network in order to build a reliable system for pathway modeling