New microtubule-associated protein for cellulose biosynthesis (Article#25 & 1000 citations milestone)

In collaboration with Katharina Bürstenbinder’s team at IPB Halle, we used reverse genetics to characterize IQ67 DOMAIN 9 (IQD9) and KINESIN LIGHT CHAIN-RELATED 1 (KLCR1) as two microtubule (MT) associated proteins that guide cellulose distribution during seed mucilage biosynthesis. IQD9 physically interacts with KLCR1, and mutations in IQD9 as well as in KLCR1 lead to compact mucilage capsules with aberrant cellulose distribution. Resembling previously described trm4 seeds, our study of these Arabidopsis mutants provides the first direct evidence that members of the IQD, KLCR and TRM families have overlapping functions in cell wall deposition.

Reference: 25. Yang B, Stamm G, Bürstenbinder K*Voiniciuc C* (2022) Microtubule-associated IQD9 orchestrates cellulose patterning in seed mucilage. New Phytol

Figure 5 from Yang et al., 2022 (New Phytologist)

This study also marks two milestones for Dr. Voiniciuc: the publication of the 25th peer-reviewed article and over 1000 citations in Google Scholar.

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Student and Postdoctoral Positions to Join the Designer Glycans Lab in Florida

Although carbohydrate polymers are essential for our health, energy and materials needs, the metabolic pathways related to these complex molecules have been challenging to study in plants (Voiniciuc, 2022; The Designer Glycans group uses synthetic biology in yeast and plant model systems to discover how cell wall glycans are made and how their structure/function can be fine-tuned with precision. The lab also collaborates with leading scientists from other countries (e.g. Zhang et al., 2022;

We are looking for an inquisitive PhD student, two motivated postdoctoral scientists as well as undergraduate students to join our international team of scientists in the Sunshine State. The Designer Glycans lab is committed to increasing diversity in science and encourages all qualified applicants from a wide range of backgrounds to apply for these positions. Experience with molecular biology, biochemistry or plant genetics would be an asset but is not strictly required. The start dates are flexible, with August/September 2022 as a desired point for several new members.

How to apply: For full consideration, email Cătălin Voiniciuc ( with a single PDF file detailing your motivation, CV (or resume for undergraduate students) and contact details of references. Applications will be reviewed on a weekly basis and continue to be accepted until all the positions are filled.

Location: The University of Florida ( is a Land-Grant, Sea-Grant, and Space-Grant institution, encompassing virtually all academic and professional disciplines, with an enrollment of more than 56,000 students. UF is a Top 5 Public University and has the most powerful supercomputer in U.S. higher education and is building an ambitious Artificial Intelligence (AI) program with far reaching impacts. The Horticultural Sciences department, currently ranked #1 in its national peer group by Academics Analytics, participates in interdisciplinary training programs such as Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology and is leading a collaborative initiative to establish a campus biofoundry. The UF campus also offers world-class facilities for cytometry, microscopy and mass spectrometry in the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research (

Most Recent Publications (see Google Scholar for full details):

Zhang A, Matsuoka K, Kareem A, Robert M, Roszak P, Blob B, Bisht A, De Veylder L, Voiniciuc C, Asahina M, Melnyk CW* (2022) Cell wall damage activates DOF transcription
factors to promote wound healing and tissue regeneration in Arabidopsis thaliana. Curr Biol
Voiniciuc C* (2022) Modern Mannan: A Hemicellulose’s Journey. New Phytol
 Robert M, Waldhauer J, Stritt F, Yang B, Pauly M, Voiniciuc C* (2021) Modular biosynthesis of plant hemicellulose and its impact on yeast cells Biotechnol Biofuels 14: 140
Mielke S, Zimmer M, Meena MK, Dreos R, Stellmach H, Hause B, Voiniciuc C, Gasperini D* (2021) Jasmonate biosynthesis arising from altered cell walls is prompted by turgor-driven mechanical compression. Sci Adv 7eabf0356
Yang B, Hofmann F, Usadel B, Voiniciuc C* (2020) Seed hemicelluloses tailor mucilage properties and salt tolerance. New Phytol: 10.1111/nph.17056

SynBio talks at the Plant Biology 2022 Worldwide Summit | July 9-13, 2022

The first concurrent session of ASPB Plant Biology 2022 meeting on “Living Factories for Plant-Based Products” will be chaired by Catalin Voiniciuc and feature a diverse panel of speakers, contributing synbio insights from all career stages.

Invited Speakers:

  • Emma Walker (Western University)
  • Jaya Joshi (Concordia University)
  • Britney Moss (Whitman College)
  • Steven Burgess (University of Illinois)
  • Dae-Kyun Ro (University of Calgary)

Plants and microorganisms produce a wide range of products that are at the cornerstone of our lives, ranging from small molecules with therapeutic applications to polymers for food, feed, biomaterials, biofuels or carbon sequestration. Although some cells accumulate compounds that are of great industrial interest, their biosynthetic pathways have been historically challenging to elucidate and modify. Leveraging advances in synthetic biology, plant metabolism can now be tuned with unprecedented fidelity and speed.  Moreover, a variety of surrogate hosts such as yeast have become instrumental to reconstitute plant natural product and signaling pathways and to engineer new derivatives. These enabling technologies are providing answers to fundamental questions about biology and open new avenues for the bioengineering of plant-based molecules and materials.

We hope that you can join us virtually or in person in Portland, Oregon.

Conference website:

Live on bioRxiv: how IQD, KLCR and TRM proteins guide cellulose distribution via microtubules

In our new pre-print, we explore two outstanding questions that have been challenging to address in plant cells: What proteins control the microtubule cytoskeleton and how do they function together to influence the polarized deposition of complex polysaccharides in the cell wall?

Using Arabidopsis seed coat epidermal cells as a genetic model system, we discovered that IQ67 DOMAIN 9 (IQD9) and KINESIN LIGHT CHAIN-RELATED 1 (KLCR1) have overlapping roles in microtubule organization and cellulose deposition with the TONNEAU1 (TON1) RECRUITING MOTIF 4 (TRM4) protein we previously identified (Yang et al., 2019; New Phytologist).

Our results demonstrate that IQD9, KLCR1 and TRM4 are microtubule-associated proteins that modulate seed mucilage architecture by supporting cellulose synthase movement. This study provides the first direct evidence that members of these three families have overlapping roles in cell wall biosynthesis.


Yang B, Stamm G, Bürstenbinder K*, Voiniciuc C*. Microtubule-associated IQD9 guides cellulose synthase velocity to shape seed mucilage. bioRxiv:

Yang et al., 2019; New Phytologist:

Designer Glycans students shine as summer ends

We are proud to highlight some of the some of our students’ accomplishments this summer.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on

Our glycan designers win two student prizes!

• At the start of July, Annika Grieß-Osowski and Madalen Robert received awards for their presentations (poster and talk, respectively) at the 7th International Conference on Plant Cell Wall Biology (PCWB2021) organized remotely from Japan. Congratulations to both PhD students for winning these highly competitive prizes! See IPB Halle press release for details.

• Madalen also presented her latest findings in the Voiniciuc lab at the 2021 German Conference on Synthetic Biology (GCSB). Many thanks to Madalen for stepping in to deliver this selected talk at relatively short notice.

• Stefanie Clauss wrote a very good MSc thesis and successfully defended it on September 20th. Her research was on the “Modulation of Hemicellulose Synthesis by Arabidopsis GT106 Proteins”. We are grateful to Prof. Dr. Steffen Abel for co-reviewing the thesis and Prof. Dr. Milton T. Stubbs for chairing the final examination.

• This week, Madalen was elected to serve as a PhD student representative. Madalen joins Annika (vice-chair of the Staff Council) in providing service to IPB Halle. Well done and we wish you a successful year!