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Waite Research Institute Seminar – Associate Professor Jenny Mortimer

May 13, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

This seminar series showcases the excellent science our members, affiliates and collaborators are undertaking across the agriculture, food and wine sectors. Expand your network and find new collaborators! Everyone is welcome – seminars are generally scheduled at 12pm on Thursdays, with some exceptions. Registration is required.

Associate Professor Jenny Mortimer  – Learning to engineer plant glycans

WRI and School of Ag, Food and Wine

WHEN: Thursday 13th May 2021, 12pm, followed by coffee

Jenny Mortimer

About the speaker:  Jenny Mortimer joined the University of Adelaide in 2021 after previously working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA; Riken, Japan; and The University of Cambridge, UK.  Jenny completed her PhD at The University of Cambridge in 2008.

Jenny’s group is interested in how the plant makes and uses complex multi-unit sugar chains (polysaccharides). Some of the questions we are asking include “how is the plant cell wall made?”, “what else does the plant do with complex sugars?”, “do plants with altered cell walls interact differently with their environment, including with microbes?” and “why are there so many glycosyltransferases?”. We apply knowledge to engineer plants with biomass tailored for downstream processes.  More recently, we’ve become interested in how to understand this sort of biology across scale, and how to connect findings in the lab with findings in the field. By applying the principles on synthetic biology (design-build-test-learn), we aim to understand the roles of complex glycans, and predicitively engineer them to produce sustainble, robust crops.

Abstract: The ability of plants to fix carbon dioxide means that carbohydrates are not limiting. As a result, their use throughout a plant’s life cycle has expanded enormously, both in functionality and structural diversity. Arabidopsis alone has ~400 glycosyltransferases, the enzymes which form the glycosidic bonds, of which only a tiny fraction are characterized. These glycans provide support, storage, and functional modification of lipids, proteins, and metabolites.

Here, I will describe some of our work to engineer the plant cell to improve biomass composition for the production of biofuels and bioproducts, including our efforts to develop an improved model of the plant cell wall. I will also describe our work to explore and redesign the glycosylation of a class of plant-specific sphingolipids (GIPCs), which impact plant-pathogen interactions, formation of symbioses, and salt tolerance.

The seminar will be both face-to-face in Charles Hawker Conference Centre and as a webinar.

Due to a limit of 70 people in Charles Hawker if you wish to attend in person you must register at this Eventbrite link


Alternatively register for the Webinar at



May 13
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Waite Research Institute


Charles Hawker Conference Centre
Charles Hawker Building, Waite Rd
Urrbrae, SA 5064 Australia
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