Welcome to the van Wijk lab

Chloroplasts are essential and unique photosynthetic organelles that synthesize plant hormones, amino acids, carotenoids, chlorophylls, vitamins and more! The van Wijk lab aims to understand how chloroplasts are formed (biogenesis), maintained (homeostasis) and become specialize (differentiation). Moreover, we are interested in how C3 and C4 plants differ in their leaf developmental programs, leaf (sub)cellular organization and leaf metabolism. Where possible, these biological processes are studied in a quantitative manner, taking a 'systems biology' approach.

We use a wide variety of experimental techniques, ranging from molecular biology and genetics, metabolite analysis, protein biochemistry, proteomics and bioinformatics, in a multi-disciplinary fashion. Since many of the processes that we study involve hundreds or thousands of different proteins, we use large scale analyses of proteins by mass spectrometry (proteomics) and integrate these (quantitative) protein data with other types of information.

Primarily three different plant species, namely Arabidopsis thaliana (a C3-type dicotyledon), rice (a C3 type grass) and maize (a C4 type grass) are studied in our lab. We maintain our own mass spectrometers and proteomics infrastructure, and together with colleagues at the CBSU, we developed an extensive bioinformatics infrastructure to process these mass spectrometry and proteomics data. We created a freely accessible online plant proteomics database (PPDB) in which protein information for Arabidopsis, maize and rice is integrated. Several of our projects involve collaborations with other laboratories.

Our main interests are focused around the following themes:
  1. Comparative leaf development and cell-specific differentiation in C3 and C4 leaves of maize and rice; a systems analysis

  2. Proteolysis in plastid biogenesis and homeostasis with focus on the Clp protease system

  3. Macromolecular networks of plastid gene expression and biogenesis

  4. The role of lipoprotein particles (plastoglobules) in chloroplast biogenesis, metabolism and stress response

  5. Characterization of the leaf and chloroplast proteomes and specialized structures

  6. Tools for plant proteomics, mass spectrometry and the Plant Proteome Data Base (PPDB)

Klaas Jan van Wijk
Department of Plant Biology, Emerson Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca NY 14853