Our work is focused on lipid droplets, special organelles consisting of a phospholipid monolayer surrounding a core of hydrophobic compounds, in most cases predominantly triacylglycerol. They are prominent in seeds of angiosperms, the tapetum and the cytosol of pollen grains, and occur in principal in all plant tissues in varying numbers.
Many aspects of lipid droplet synthesis and degradation are not understood. Also, much needs to be learned about the purpose of lipid droplets besides their function as an energy and carbon storage in seeds. One reason for the poor understanding of lipid droplets is the small number of proteins actually known to reside at these organelles. We use quantitative proteomics of lipid droplet-enriched fractions and validate the candidates by a cell biological methods. Then, we functionally characterize these proteins using genetic, biochemical and cell biological approaches. We now use lipid droplets as micro-factories and storehouses for valuable hydrophobic compounds.
Our research is currently supported by the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes and the DFG, including a Heisenberg professorship awarded to Till Ischebeck.