IPB Symposium 2019: acyl sugars and cannabinoids

Every year, the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry organizes a symposium. Selected researchers working on plant related biology and chemistry are invited to give a talk on their research. Last year was the IPB’s 60th anniversary, and the focus was on plant hormones. This year, the symposium took place in our institute from the 23rd afternoon to the 24th of May. Six speakers were invited and I will talk about two of my favorite talks.

Among the speakers, two  really caught my attention. The first was Prof. Rob Last from the Michigan State University. His work covers the elucidation of the acyl sugar biosynthetic pathway which is relevant to my research on tomato resistance to whiteflies. 

Prior to his talk, we had an hour of discussion where I presented briefly my PhD work. I received some good feedback and suggestions on how to proceed with some of the experiments that I am currently and going to work on. 


During his talk, he elaborated on an invertase which cleaves off the furanose ring of the P-type acyl sugar from the Solanum pinnellii, a wild tomato that produces high abundant of acyl sugars in the glandular trichomes. This was from a recent publication (Leong, et al., 2019). He also talked about the flipped model which led to the differentiation of P and F type acyl sugars (Fan, et al., 2017).

The second speaker who gave a very interesting talk was Giovanni Appendino from the University of Piemont Orientale, Italy. He is chemist and works on cannabis. Hi presentation was very entertaining, hillarious and informative. His work cover elucidiating the pathway of cannabinoid biosynthesis which is something new to me (Hanus, et al., 2016). I learned that there 3 types of cannabis: sativa, indica, and ruderalis. There are also different varieties that you can clearly see when visiting weed shops in Amsterdam. He did not only explained about synthesizing different cannabinoids, but also on cannabiquinonoids which could be a potential medicine against scleroderma and cancer (less toxic). A review on natural and synthetic cannabinoids can be found in the article by Morales et al., (2017). 

Since I am not a consumer and never smoked weed before, I don't really know how weed reacts to the body. What was knew to me was when Giovanni showed this slide. He explained that different cannabinoids stimulate different responds. He also mentioned why the effect of smoking weed causes more problems in Europe as to USA. In Europe people mix weed with tobbacco which has a higher burning point as to just weed alone. Therefore, it is more hazardous.

Me personally, I do not know a lot about cannabis because its production is illegal in Indonesia. However, when I was in the Netherlands, I got a chance to visit the historic botanical garden in Aalsmeer (2015). There I took a picture among a small field of cannabis. Which of these plants are female and male? Left or right? In a few weeks, I will have a literature a seminar in the institute and there I will present about how the Nanopore sequencing technology is used to elucidate a gene cluster related to cannabinoid biosynthesis, so keep your eyes open for my next post!




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