Prof. Lee Sweetlove
Professor of Plant Sciences

St Cross College


Tel  +44 (0)1865 275000

Last Modified: March 2015

Prof. LJ Sweetlove

Research Area

Regulation and engineering of the plant metabolic network.

Research Description

The societal uses of plants are intimately linked to their metabolic output. Plant-derived food and fibre are direct products of autotrophic metabolism that transforms inorganic precursors into useful organic molecules and polymers. Plant metabolism also generates non-food products such as fuel, natural products and pharmaceuticals

Classical biochemistry has given us a detailed understanding of the metabolic transformations within plant cells and the properties of the enzymes that catalyse these reactions. However, it is clear that for many applications, our understanding of how plant metabolism is regulated is woefully inadequate. This lack of knowledge represents a serious barrier to the successful rational engineering of metabolic outputs and to achieving predictable outcomes of such translational science.

The research in my lab aims to increase our understanding of regulation of flux through plant metabolic networks and to exploit this knowledge for engineering increased yield and quality of crops and for increased production of useful metabolic end-products. We use a variety of biochemical, molecular and modelling approaches to understand metabolic flux at the network level.

Current projects include:

A whole-plant metabolic model of resource allocation in Arabidopsis
Modelling flavour traits in tomato fruit
Intracellular transport of metabolites as a determinant of tomato fruit flavour
Metabolic engineering of sterol metabolism
Metabolic engineering of cyanide detoxification for phytoremediation
Metabolite channelling as a flux-regulatory mechanism
The role of micro-compartmentation of enzymes
Investigation of the metabolic factors influencing carbon-use efficiency
Control of bioenergetic coupling in mitochondria

Sweetlove Group Members

Publications (while at this department)

Snowden, C.J, Thomas, B, Baxter, C.J, Smith, J.A.C, Sweetlove, L.J. (2015) A tonoplast Glu/Asp/GABA exchanger that affects tomato fruit amino acid composition Plant Journal. 81 (5): pp 651-660.

Gehl, B, Lee, C.P, Bota, P, Blatt, M.R, Sweetlove, L.J. (2014) An arabidopsis stomatin-like protein affects mitochondrial respiratory supercomplex organization Plant Physiology. 164 (3): pp 1389-1400.

Gehl, B, Sweetlove, L.J. (2014) Mitochondrial Band-7 family proteins: Scaffolds for respiratory chain assembly? Frontiers in Plant Science. 5:.

Masakapalli, S.K, Ritala, A, Dong, L, van, der Krol A.R, Oksman-Caldentey, K.-M, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J. (2014) Metabolic flux phenotype of tobacco hairy roots engineered for increased geraniol production Phytochemistry..

Maurice, Cheung C.Y, Poolman, M.G, Fell, D.A, George, Ratcliffe R, Sweetlove, L.J. (2014) A diel flux balance model captures interactions between light and dark metabolism during day-night cycles in C3 and crassulacean acid metabolism leaves Plant Physiology. 165 (2): pp 917-929.

O'Leary, B, Preston, G.M, Sweetlove, L.J. (2014) Increased β-cyanoalanine nitrilase activity improves cyanide tolerance and assimilation in arabidopsis Molecular Plant. 7 (1): pp 231-243.

Cheung, C.Y.M, Williams, T.C.R, Poolman, M.G, Fell, D.A, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J. (2013) A method for accounting for maintenance costs in flux balance analysis improves the prediction of plant cell metabolic phenotypes under stress conditions Plant Journal..

Finkemeier, I, Konig, A.-C, Heard, W, Nunes-Nesi, A, Pham, P.A, Leister, D, Fernie, A.R, Sweetlove, L.J. (2013) Transcriptomic analysis of the role of carboxylic acids in metabolite signaling in arabidopsis leaves Plant Physiology. 162 (1): pp 239-253.

Morgan, M.J, Osorio, S, Gehl, B, Baxter, C.J, Kruger, N.J, George, Ratcliffe R, Fernie, A.R, Sweetlove, L.J. (2013) Metabolic engineering of tomato fruit organic acid content guided by biochemical analysis of an introgression line Plant Physiology. 161 (1): pp 397-407.

Sweetlove, L.J, Obata, T, Fernie, A.R. (2013) Systems analysis of metabolic phenotypes: what have we learnt? Trends in Plant Science..

Sweetlove, L.J, Williams, T.C.R, Cheung, C.Y.M, Ratcliffe, R.G. (2013) Modelling metabolic CO2 evolution - a fresh perspective on respiration Plant, Cell and Environment..

Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R. (2013) The spatial organization of metabolism within the plant cell Annual Review of Plant Biology. 64: pp 723-746.

Schwarzlander, M, Murphy, M.P, Duchen, M.R, Logan, D.C, Fricker, M.D, Halestrap, A.P, Muller, F.L, Rizutto, R, Dick, T.P, Meyer, A.J, Sweetlove, L.J. (2012) Mitochondrial 'flashes': a radical concept repHined Trends in Cell Biology..

Schwarzlander, M, Logan, D.C, Johnston, I.G, Jones, N.S, Meyer, A.J, Fricker, M.D, Sweetlove, L.J. (2012) Pulsing of membrane potential in individual mitochondria: A stress-induced mechanism to regulate respiratory bioenergetics in Arabidopsis Plant Cell. 24 (3): pp 1188-1201.

Schwarzlander, M, Konig, A.-C, Sweetlove, L.J, Finkemeier, I. (2012) The impact of impaired mitochondrial function on retrograde signalling: A meta-analysis of transcriptomic responses Journal of Experimental Botany. 63 (4): pp 1735-1750.

Wirtz, M, Beard, K.F.M, Lee, C.P, Boltz, A, Schwarzlander, M, Fuchs, C, Meyer, A.J, Heeg, C, Sweetlove, L.J, Ratcliffe, R.G, Hell, R. (2012) Mitochondrial cysteine synthase complex regulates O-acetylserine biosynthesis in plants Journal of Biological Chemistry. 287 (33): pp 27941-27947.

Araujo, W.L, Nunes-Nesi, A, Nikoloski, Z, Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R. (2011) Metabolic control and regulation of the tricarboxylic acid cycle in photosynthetic and heterotrophic plant tissues Plant, Cell and Environment..

Finkemeier, I, Laxa, M, Miguet, L, Howden, A.J.M, Sweetlove, L.J. (2011) Proteins of diverse function and subcellular location are lysine acetylated in Arabidopsis Plant Physiology. 155 (4): pp 1779-1790.

Howden, A.J, Salek, M, Miguet, L, Pullen, M, Thomas, B, Knight, M.R, Sweetlove, L.J. (2011) The phosphoproteome of Arabidopsis plants lacking the oxidative signal-inducible1 (OXI1) protein kinase New Phytologist. 190 (1): pp 49-56.

Lehmann, M, Laxa, M, Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R, Obata, T. (2011) Metabolic recovery of Arabidopsis thaliana roots following cessation of oxidative stress Metabolomics. pp 1-11.

Obata, T, Matthes, A, Koszior, S, Lehmann, M, Araujo, W.L, Bock, R, Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R. (2011) Alteration of mitochondrial protein complexes in relation to metabolic regulation under short-term oxidative stress in Arabidopsis seedlings Phytochemistry. 72 (10): pp 1081-1091.

Schwarzlander, M, Logan, D.C, Fricker, M.D, Sweetlove, L.J. (2011) The circularly permuted yellow fluorescent protein cpYFP that has been used as a superoxide probe is highly responsive to pH but not superoxide in mitochondria: Implications for the existence of superoxide 'flashes' Biochemical Journal. 437 (3): pp 381-387.

Williams, T.C.R, Sweetlove, L.J, George, Ratcliffe R. (2011) Capturing metabolite channeling in metabolic flux phenotypes Plant Physiology. 157 (3): pp 981-984.

Moller, I.M, Sweetlove, L.J. (2010) ROS signalling - specificity is required Trends in Plant Science. 15 (7): pp 370-374.

Sweetlove, L.J, Beard, K.F.M, Nunes-Nesi, A, Fernie, A.R, Ratcliffe, R.G. (2010) Not just a circle: flux modes in the plant TCA cycle Trends in Plant Science..

Williams, T.C.R, Poolman, M.G, Howden, A.J.M, Schwarzlander, M, Fell, D.A, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J. (2010) A Genome-scale metabolic model accurately predicts fluxes in central carbon metabolism under stress conditions Plant Physiology. 154 (1): pp 311-323.

Lehmann, M, Schwarzländer, M, Obata, T, Sirikantaramas, S, Burow, M, Olsen, CE, Tohge, T, Fricker, MD, Møller, BL, Fernie, AR, Sweetlove, LJ, Laxa, M. (2009) The metabolic response of arabidopsis roots to oxidative stress is distinct from that of heterotrophic cells in culture and highlights a complex relationship between the levels of transcripts, metabolites, and flux Molecular Plant. 2 (3): pp 390-406.

Marty, L, Siala, W, Schwarzlander, M, Fricker, M.D, Wirtz, M, Sweetlove, L.J, Meyer, Y, Meyer, A.J, Reichheld, J.-P, Hell, R. (2009) The NADPH-dependent thioredoxin system constitutes a functional backup for cytosolic glutathione reductase in Arabidopsis Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 106 (22): pp 9109-9114.

Poolman, M.G, Miguet, L, Sweetlove, L.J, Fell, D.A. (2009) A genome-scale metabolic model of Arabidopsis and some of its properties Plant Physiology. 151 (3): pp 1570-1581.

Rigas, S, Daras, G, Laxa, M, Marathias, N, Fasseas, C, Sweetlove, L.J, Hatzopoulos, P. (2009) Role of Lon1 protease in post-germinative growth and maintenance of mitochondrial function in Arabidopsis thaliana New Phytologist. 181 (3): pp 588-600.

Rigas, S, Daras, G, Sweetlove, L.J, Hatzopoulos, P. (2009) Mitochondria biogenesis via Lon1 selective proteolysis: Who dares to live for ever? Plant Signaling and Behavior. 4 (3): pp 221-224

Schwarzlander, M, Fricker, M.D, Sweetlove, L.J. (2009) Monitoring the in vivo redox state of plant mitochondria: Effect of respiratory inhibitors, abiotic stress and assessment of recovery from oxidative challenge Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics. 1787 (5): pp 468-475.

Sweetlove, L.J, Moller, I.M. (2009) Chapter 1 Oxidation of Proteins in Plants-Mechanisms and Consequences Advances in Botanical Research. 52: pp 1-23.

Morgan, M.J, Lehmann, M, Schwarzlander, M, Baxter, C.J, Sienkiewicz-Porzucek, A, Williams, T.C.R, Schauer, N, Fernie, A.R, Fricker, M.D, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J, Finkemeier, I. (2008) Decrease in manganese superoxide dismutase leads to reduced root growth and affects tricarboxylic acid cycle flux and mitochondrial redox homeostasis Plant Physiology. 147 (1): pp 101-114.

Schwarzlander, M, Fricker, M.D, Muller, C, Marty, L, Brach, T, Novak, J, Sweetlove, L.J, Hell, R, Meyer, A.J. (2008) Confocal imaging of glutathione redox potential in living plant cells Journal of Microscopy. 231 (2): pp 299-316.

Sweetlove, L.J, Fell, D, Fernie, A.R. (2008) Getting to grips with the plant metabolic network Biochemical Journal. 409 (1): pp 27-41.

Williams, T.C.R, Miguet, L, Masakapalli, S.K, Kruger, N.J, Sweetlove, L.J, Ratcliffe, R.G. (2008) Metabolic network fluxes in heterotrophic arabidopsis cells: Stability of the flux distribution under different oxygenation conditions Plant Physiology. 148 (2): pp 704-718.

Baxter, C.J, Redestig, H, Schauer, N, Repsilber, D, Patil, K.R, Nielsen, J, Selbig, J, Liu, J, Fernie, A.R, Sweetlove, L.J. (2007) The metabolic response of heterotrophic Arabidopsis cells to oxidative stress Plant Physiology. 143 (1): pp 312-325.

Baxter, C.J, Liu, J.L, Fernie, A.R, Sweetlove, L.J. (2007) Determination of metabolic fluxes in a non-steady-state system Phytochemistry. 68: pp 2313-2319.

Graham, J.W.A, Williams, T.C.R, Morgan, M, Fernie, A.R, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J. (2007) Glycolytic enzymes associate dynamically with mitochondria in response to respiratory demand and support substrate channeling Plant Cell. 19 (11): pp 3723-3738.

Nunes-Nesi, A, Carrari, F, Gibon, Y, Sulpice, R, Lytovchenko, A, Fisahn, J, Graham, J, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R. (2007) Deficiency of mitochondrial fumarase activity in tomato plants impairs photosynthesis via an effect on stomatal function Plant Journal. 50 (6): pp 1093-1106.

Nunes-Nesi, A, Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R. (2007) Operation and function of the tricarboxylic acid cycle in the illuminated leaf Physiologia Plantarum. 129 (1): pp 45-56.

Sweetlove, L.J, Taylor, N.L, Leaver, C.J. (2007) Isolation of intact, functional mitochondria from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 372: pp 125-136

Sweetlove, L.J, Fait, A, Nunes-Nesi, A, Williams, T, Fernie, A.R. (2007) The mitochondrion: An integration point of cellular metabolism and signalling Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences. 26 (1): pp 17-43.

Brandina, I, Graham, J, Lemaitre-Guillier, C, Entelis, N, Krasheninnikov, I, Sweetlove, L, Tarassov, I, Martin, R.P. (2006) Enolase takes part in a macromolecular complex associated to mitochondria in yeast Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics. 1757: pp 1217-1228.

Carrari, F, Baxter, C, Usadel, B, Urbanczyk-Wochniak, E, Zanor, M.-I, Nunes-Nesi, A, Nikiforova, V, Centero, D, Ratzka, A, Pauly, M, Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R. (2006) Integrated analysis of metabolite and transcript levels reveals the metabolic shifts that underlie tomato fruit development and highlight regulatory aspects of metabolic network behavior Plant Physiology. 142 (4): pp 1380-1396.

Dixon, M.H, Hill, S.A, Jackson, M.B, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J. (2006) Physiological and metabolic adaptations of Potamogeton pectinatus L. tubers support rapid elongation of stem tissue in the absence of oxygen Plant and Cell Physiology. 47 (1): pp 128-140.

Finkemeier, I, Sweetlove, L. (2006) Signalling in primary metabolism New Phytologist. 171 (3): pp 445-447.

Sweetlove, L.J, Lytovchenko, A, Morgan, M, Nunes-Nesi, A, Taylor, N.L, Baxter, C.J, Eickmeier, I, Fernie, A.R. (2006) Mitochondrial uncoupling protein is required for efficient photosynthesis Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 103 (51): pp 19587-19592.

Baxter, C.J, Carrari, F, Bauke, A, Overy, S, Hill, S.A, Quick, P.W, Fernie, A.R, Sweetlove, L.J. (2005) Fruit carbohydrate metabolism in an introgression line of tomato with increased fruit soluble solids Plant and Cell Physiology. 46 (3): pp 425-437.

Baxter, C.J, Sabar, M, Quick, W.P, Sweetlove, L.J. (2005) Comparison of changes in fruit gene expression in tomato introgression lines provides evidence of genome-wide transcriptional changes and reveals links to mapped QTLs and described traits Journal of Experimental Botany. 56 (416): pp 1591-1604.

Finkemeier, I, Goodman, M, Lamkemeyer, P, Kandlbinder, A, Sweetlove, L.J, Dietz, K.-J. (2005) The mitochondrial type II peroxiredoxin F is essential for redox homeostasis and root growth of Arabidopsis thaliana under stress Journal of Biological Chemistry. 280 (13): pp 12168-12180.

Giege, P, Sweetlove, L.J, Cognat, V, Leaver, C.J. (2005) Coordination of nuclear and mitochondrial genome expression during mitochondrial biogenesis in Arabidopsis Plant Cell. 17 (5): pp 1497-1512.

Ingle, R.A, Smith, J.A.C, Sweetlove, L.J. (2005) Responses to nickel in the proteome of the hyperaccumulator plant Alyssum lesbiacum BioMetals. 18 (6): pp 627-641.

Nunes-Nesi, A, Carrari, F, Lytovchenko, A, Smith, A.M.O, Loureiro, M.E, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R. (2005) Enhanced photosynthetic performance and growth as a consequence of decreasing mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase activity in transgenic tomato plants Plant Physiology. 137 (2): pp 611-622.

Overy, S.A, Walker, H.J, Malone, S, Howard, T.P, Baxter, C.J, Sweetlove, L.J, Hill, S.A, Quick, W.P. (2005) Application of metabolite profiling to the identification of traits in a population of tomato introgression lines Journal of Experimental Botany. 56 (410): pp 287-296.

Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R. (2005) Regulation of metabolic networks: Understanding metabolic complexity in the systems biology era New Phytologist. 168 (1): pp 9-24.

Urbanczyk-Wochniak, E, Baxter, C, Kolbe, A, Kopka, J, Sweetlove, L.J, Fernie, A.R. (2005) Profiling of diurnal patterns of metabolite and transcript abundance in potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves Planta. 221 (6): pp 891-903.

Fernie, A.R, Carrari, F, Sweetlove, L.J. (2004) Respiratory metabolism: Glycolysis, the TCA cycle and mitochondrial electron transport Current Opinion in Plant Biology. 7 (3): pp 254-261.

Smith, A.M.O, Ratcliffe, R.G, Sweetlove, L.J. (2004) Activation and function of mitochondrial uncoupling protein in plants Journal of Biological Chemistry. 279 (50): pp 51944-51952.

Swidzinski, J.A, Leaver, C.J, Sweetlove, L.J. (2004) A proteomic analysis of plant programmed cell death Phytochemistry. 65 (12): pp 1829-1838.

Considine, M.J, Goodman, M, Echtay, K.S, Laloi, M, Whelan, J, Brand, M.D, Sweetlove, L.J. (2003) Superoxide stimulates a proton leak in potato mitochondria that is related to the activity of uncoupling protein Journal of Biological Chemistry. 278 (25): pp 22298-22302

Giege, P, Sweetlove, L.J, Leaver, C.J. (2003) Identification of mitochondrial protein complexes in arabidopsis using two-dimensional blue-native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis Plant Molecular Biology Reporter. 21 (2): pp 133-144

Giege, P, Heazlewood, J.L, Roessner-Tunali, U, Harvey, Millar A, Fernie, A.R, Leaver, C.J, Sweetlove, L.J. (2003) Enzymes of glycolysis are functionally associated with the mitochondrion in arabidopsis cells Plant Cell. 15 (9): pp 2140-2151

Sweetlove, L.J, Last, R.L, Fernie, A.R. (2003) Predictive metabolic engineering: A goal for systems biology Plant Physiology. 132 (2): pp 420-425

Lytovchenko, A, Sweetlove, L, Pauly, M, Fernie, A.R. (2002) The influence of cytosolic phosphoglucomutase on photosynthetic carbohydrate metabolism Planta. 215 (6): pp 1013-1021.

Sweetlove, L.J, Tomlinson, K.L, Hill, S.A. (2002) The effect of exogenous sugars on the control of flux by adenosine 5′-diphosphoglucose pyrophosphorylase in potato tuber discs Planta. 214 (5): pp 741-750.

Sweetlove, L.J, Heazlewood, J.L, Herald, V, Holtzapffel, R, Day, D.A, Leaver, C.J, Millar, A.H. (2002) The impact of oxidative stress on Arabidopsis mitochondria Plant Journal. 32 (6): pp 891-904

Swidzinski, J.A, Sweetlove, L.J, Leaver, C.J. (2002) A custom microarray analysis of gene expression during programmed cell death in Arabidopsis thaliana Plant Journal. 30 (4): pp 431-446.

Sweetlove, L.J, Kruger, N.J, Hill, S.A. (2001) Starch synthesis in transgenic potato tubers with increased 3-phosphoglyceric acid content as a consequence of increased 6-phosphofructokinase activity Planta. 213 (3): pp 478-482.

Sweetlove, L.J, Mowday, B, Hebestreit, H.F, Leaver, C.J, Millar, A.H. (2001) Nucleoside diphosphate kinase III is localized to the inter-membrane space in plant mitochondria FEBS Letters. 508 (2): pp 272-276.

Sweetlove, L.J, Dunford, R, Ratcliffe, R.G, Kruger, N.J. (2000) Lactate metabolism in potato tubers deficient in lactate dehydrogenase activity Plant, Cell and Environment. 23 (8): pp 873-881.

Sweetlove, L.J, Hill, S.A. (2000) Source metabolism dominates the control of source to sink carbon flux in tuberizing potato plants throughout the diurnal cycle and under a range of environmental conditions Plant, Cell and Environment. 23 (5): pp 523-529.

Sweetlove, L.J, Muller-Rober, B, Willmitzer, L, Hill, S.A. (1999) The contribution of adenosine 5'-diphosphoglucose pyrophosphorylase to the control of starch synthesis in potato tubers Planta. 209 (3): pp 330-337.

Sweetlove, L.J, Kossmann, J, Riesmeier, J.W, Trethewey, R.N, Hill, S.A. (1998) The control of source to sink carbon flux during tuber development in potato Plant Journal. 15 (5): pp 697-706.

Sweetlove, L.J, Burrell, M.M, Ap, Rees T. (1996) Starch metabolism in tubers of transgenic potato (Solanum tuberosum) with increased ADPglucose pyrophosphorylase Biochemical Journal. 320 (2): pp 493-498

Sweetlove, L.J, Burrell, M.M, Ap, Rees T. (1996) Characterization of transgenic potato (Solanum tuberosum) tubers with increased ADPglucose pyrophosphorylase Biochemical Journal. 320 (2): pp 487-492


Leverhulme Trust


Alisdair Fernie, Max-Planck-Institut fur Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie, Golm, Germany
David Fell, Mark Poolman, Oxford Brookes University
Robert Ingle, University of Cape Town
Ruediger Hell, University of Heidelberg
Yves Gibon, University of Bordeaux
Ian Max Moller, Aarhus University