Department of Plant Functional Metabolomics



Prof. Paweł Bednarek



Dr. Marta Pastorczyk,

Dr. Anna Piasecka





PhD Students:
Paweł Czerniawski, MSc;  

Nicolas Jedrzejczak-Rey, MSc

Roksana Jura, MSc










Key words:

Secondary metabolites, plant immunity, tryptophan metabolism, glucosinolates, Brasscicaceae, Arabidopis thaliana, Brachypodium distachyon


Scientific profile:

Scientific interest of our research group focuses on plant secondary metabolites, particularly on their function in plant-microbe interactions. The sessile nature of plants forces them to network with, and modify their environment. Secondary metabolites are important tools enabling communication and interaction of plants with other organisms co-inhibiting the same ecological niche. Particularly intriguing is the highly diverse set of metabolic pathways present in different plant phylogenetic clades, resulting in the accumulation of thousands of different metabolites. Accordingly, the unambiguous assignment of function for secondary metabolite biosynthetic pathways, and their corresponding products, in plant interactions with other organisms remains a major challenge.

Part of our scientific activates focuses on the tryptophan-metabolic pathways from Arabidopsis thaliana. Trp-derived secondary metabolites have been shown to play key functions in the immunity of this model species against a broad range of fungal and oomycete pathogens. We are also performing metabolomic analysis aimed at identification of novel microbe-inducible metabolites in selected Brassicaceae species with available genome sequences. Fingerprinting of bouquets of secondary products in closely related species combined with genomic approaches should help to understand how plants generate and manage chemical diversity. Since classes of secondary metabolites are often restricted to a single order or plant family or even to a single genus, Brassicaceae species embody only a fraction of the actual chemical diversity of flowering plants. To broaden considerably our insight into the chemical diversity of plants we started metabolomics analysis of Brachypodium distachyon to identify phytochemicals involved in interaction of this species with microorganisms.

We strongly believe that knowledge on the biosynthetic pathways leading to particular plant metabolites combined with insight in their mode of activation and action in interactions with microorganisms may impact future improved crop growth and protection strategies. For example, an understanding of the toxic principles underlying plant-derived antimicrobials can stimulate the rational design of synthetic ‘green fungicides or bactericides’ that are less harmful to the environment.


Current research activity

  • Further functional characterization of Trp-metabolic pathway in A. thaliana
  • Evolutionary analysis of secondary metabolic pathways in Brassicaceae species.
  • Identification of metabolic and enzymatic components of pathogen inducible metabolic pathways from the model grass B. distachyon


Most important research achievements:

  • Characterization of function of indole glucosinolates and other Trp-derived secondary metabolites in the immunity of A. thaliana.
  • Recognition of a novel clade of myrosinases in Brassicaceae plants.
  • Identification of additional metabolic and enzymatic components of the PEN2 pathway.


Actual research projects:

  • Plant secondary metabolites controlling microbial colonizers (National Science Center SONATA BIS).
  • Molecular mechanisms underlying loss of a defensive metabolic pathway in a phylogenetic clade of plant species closely related to Capsella rubella. (National Science Center OPUS).
  • Function of plant secondary metabolites in microbe-induced growth promotion. (National Science Center HARMONIA).


Selected publications:

Nakano, R.T., Piślewska-Bednarek, M., Yamada, K., Edger, P.P., Miyahara, M., Kondo, M., Böttcher, C., Mori, M., Nishimura, M., Schulze-Lefert, P., Hara-Nishimura, I., and Bednarek, P. (2017). PYK10 myrosinase reveals a functional coordination between endoplasmic reticulum bodies and glucosinolates in Arabidopsis thaliana. The Plant Journal 89, 204-220.

Fukunaga, S., Sogame, M., Hata, M., Singkaravanit-Ogawa, S., Piślewska-Bednarek, M., Onozawa-Komori, M., Nishiuchi, T., Hiruma, K., Saitoh, H., Terauchi, R., Kitakura, S., Inoue, Y., Bednarek, P., Schulze-Lefert, P., and Takano, Y. (2017). Dysfunction of Arabidopsis MACPF domain protein activates programmed cell death via tryptophan metabolism in MAMP-triggered immunity. The Plant Journal 89, 381-393.

Pastorczyk, M. and Bednarek, P. (2016) The Function of Glucosinolates and Related Metabolites in Plant Innate Immunity. In Adv. Bot. Res. Stanislav, K. ed: Academic Press, pp. 171-198.

Frerigmann, H., Piślewska-Bednarek, M., Sánchez-Vallet, A., Molina, A., Glawischnig, E., Gigolashvili, T. and Bednarek, P. (2016) Regulation of Pathogen-Triggered Tryptophan Metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana by MYB Transcription Factors and Indole Glucosinolate Conversion Products. Mol. Plant, 9, 682-695.

Piasecka, A., Jedrzejczak-Rey, N. and Bednarek, P. (2015) Secondary metabolites in plant innate immunity: conserved function of divergent chemicals. New Phytol., 206, 948-964.

Lu, X., Dittgen, J., Piślewska-Bednarek, M., Molina, A., Schneider, B., Svatoš, A., Doubský, J., Schneeberger, K., Weigel, D., Bednarek, P. and Schulze-Lefert, P. (2015) Mutant Allele-Specific Uncoupling of PENETRATION3 Functions Reveals Engagement of the ATP-Binding Cassette Transporter in Distinct Tryptophan Metabolic Pathways. Plant Physiol., 168, 814-827.

Hiruma, K., Fukunaga, S., Bednarek, P., Piślewska-Bednarek, M., Watanabe, S., Narusaka, Y., Shirasu, K. and Takano, Y. (2013) Glutathione and tryptophan metabolism are required for Arabidopsis immunity during the hypersensitive response to hemibiotrophs. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 110, 9589-9594.

Bednarek, P. (2012) Chemical warfare or modulators of defence responses - the function ofsecondary metabolites in plant immunity. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol., 15, 407-414.