A plant science researcher in Bio4Energy has been granted SEK3.05
million to continue refining scientific knowledge of the molecular structure of plants and trees, and notably on the way in which water and minerals are transported in their "vascular" system.
"My research takes aim at the cells that conduct the hydromineral sap" in a tree or plant, Pesquet said. In particular, he has been studying the small vessels that are responsible for transporting water and minerals from a plant’s roots throughout the plant. He likens this system for hydromineral transport with the vascular system of humans or "any superior organism. It must function or we die".
Knowing how to break down plant matter
It follows that, the more we know about the functioning of this hydromineral transport system, the more researchers can target their efforts at creating optimal growing conditions for trees and plants. Or, as Pesquet explains in a press release from Umeå University, "the more we know about how to take them apart". This becomes important for instance in biorefinery production, where researchers need to understand the functioning of plants on a molecular level to know how best to advice industry on the processing of plant matter or wood in view of making bio-based products.
The award means that Pesquet will be benefiting from the mentorship of Gunnar Öquist, an internationally acclaimed Swedish biologist and a professor of plant physiology at Umeå University who served as the permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from 2003 to 2010.
Says Pesquet of his research on the UPSC website: “The aim of my work is to elucidate the molecular mechanism underlying the differentiation process and more specifically the secondary cell wall formation of xylem vessels of both Arabidopsis (the genetic plant model) and Populus (the genetic tree model). The identification of key regulatory genes modulating xylem vessels' cell wall formation will allow transgenic modification of the process to better understand how xylem/wood formation is controlled”.
Comment piece of 12 December 2012 by Gunnar Öquist and co-author in Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden's most read daily newspapers, on the reason why "fewer" Swedish researcher make the top ranks among scientists globally.