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Alain Goossens leads the Specialized Metabolism Group. Across the plant kingdom, the jasmonate hormone steers the delicate balance between growth and the activation of defence programs, such as the production of bioactive specialized metabolites. Plant cells are capable of producing an overwhelming variety of (specialized) metabolites, both in terms of complexity and quantity. These small organic molecules allow plants to cope with various types of stresses but often also have biological activities of high interest to human. Yet, this impressive metabolic machinery is still hardly exploited, mainly because of the limited molecular insight into plant (specialized) metabolism. By using cutting-edge functional genomics tools, in combination with reverse genetics screenings, we aim to identify the essential components acting in the jasmonate signaling network and to characterize the molecular mechanisms driving plant natural product biosynthesis in crop, medicinal and model plants.
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To address the current shortcomings for designing effective plant metabolic engineering strategies, a functional genomics based technology platform has been created that enables comprehensive investigations and large-scale gene discovery programs for metabolism of model and medicinal plants.
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Our gene platform will be primarily exploited in a synthetic biology program, in which whole pathways, leading to the production of valuable known compounds or structurally novel compounds with superior bioactivity, will be recreated in heterologous plants or microbial hosts.

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Food has a great impact on our health and the prevention of disease. In a society where food is abundant, health depends on a balanced diet. The latter depends amongst others on grains, vegetables and fruits that are produced safely, but also on sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals, and access to health promoting molecules.

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