Plant Synthetic Biology and Cell Walls

Welcome to the online home of the Designer Glycans!
Click here to meet our current research team members.

Go glyco!
Yeast colonies expressing a red fluorescent protein

Our Glycan Mission

Glycans densely cover the surface of all life forms. Polysaccharide-rich cell walls enable plants to thrive in a remarkable range of environments and are the most abundance source of renewable materials on Earth. Although they are essential for the health and energy needs of our civilization, carbohydrate polymers remain challenging to make and modify compared to other classes of molecules such as proteins. To uncover the genetic blueprints for plant glycans, Dr. Cătălin Voiniciuc and the Designer Glycans team apply innovative synthetic biology tools in several model systems.

Seed Mucilage

Research overview

The mission of the Designer Glycans group is to design new paths to control the function, synthesis, and modification of plant Cell Wall Polysaccharides. Mechanistic insights in these areas, coupled with advances in Plant Synthetic Biology, will enable the assembly of sugar units into tailor-made polysaccharides with desirable agricultural or industrial properties.

The Designer Glycans lab uses several approaches (natural variation, reverse genetics and synthetic biology) to discover enzymes and chemical mediators that establish and modulate cellulose-hemicellulose networks in plants. We primarily focus on heteromannan, an ancient class of hemicellulose that is found throughout the plant kingdom. Polymers built of β-1,4-linked mannose units are particularly abundant in algae, legumes, and conifers. From ice cream to cosmetics, many products contain legume-extracted galactomannans as stabilizers.

Mailing Address

Dr. Cătălin Voiniciuc
Horticultural Sciences Department
2550 Hull Road, PO Box 110690
Gainesville, Florida 32611
United States of America

Laboratory Address

Building 885, Lab 003
2432 Hull Road
Gainesville, Florida 32611

cvoiniciuc [at] ufl.edu | (352) 273-4782

  • The Future is Here
    Does anyone else feel like 2023 flew by? Here are some of the many highlights from the Designer Glycans team in the last 6 months: In the summer, both Annika and Madalen submitted their doctoral dissertations in Germany. Annika successfully… Continue reading The Future is Here
  • Summer Updates
    May 2023 highlights: undergraduate student farewell, new arrivals and upcoming positions

The physical home of the Designer Glycans lab is shown above.

The @PairwisePL mustard 🥬 sampling at the #PMCB symposium: what a difference in taste thanks to gene-editing https://www.pairwise.com/news/pairwise-and-bayer-expand-crispr-leafy-greens-market-through-licensing-agreement Could become broadly available thanks to new agreement with @Bayer

Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program Retreat #PMCB, with speakers and inspiring discussions to match the view

Lignocellulosic biomass is challenging enough to convert to fuels. As a biologist, it's difficult to imagine that solid waste conversion will be yielding cleaner fuels

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