Plant Specialized Metabolism

As organic chemists par excellence, plants produce an amazing array of diverse metabolites and the unique natural products (also called specialized metabolites) are essential for plant fitness and survival. Our research focuses on plant specialized metabolites with the goal to gain understanding of pathway orchestration, transport processes from site of synthesis to storage and the role of specialized metabolites in the communication and interaction with other organisms in the surroundings. As model compounds we use the glucosinolates that function as defense compounds, signaling cues as well as nutritional factors. The gained knowledge is applied in pathway and transport engineering to increase plant disease resistance, remove anti-nutritional compounds in e.g. seed meal, and to promote human health.

Professor Barbara Ann Halkier is coordinator of the DynaMo center in collaboration with the partners in, which we seek to understand the dynamics of molecular processes that enable a plant to coordinate growth and survival in the ever-changing environment, using glucosinolates in Arabidopsis as model system.




The projects listed below are suggestions. You are welcome to contact Barbara Ann Halkier and discuss the possibilities of designing another project.

  • CRISPR/Cas9 technology to develop plant-based protein for human consumption
  • Transporter engineering to prevent toxins in seeds using Crispr technology
  • Decoding of the chemical language of plants
  • Synthetic biology to engineer the production of health-promoting bioactives in microbial cell factories in industrial biotechnology
  • Beneficial microbiome(s) towards the future of sustainable agriculture
  • Application of advanced synthetic biology to build an efficient yeast cell factory producing health-promoting glucosinolates

Contact Barbara Ann Halkier for further info on the projects



Deyang Xu, Assistant Professor
Niels Christian Holm Sanden, Postdoc
Michal Poborsky, Postdoc 
Line Lykke Hansen, PhD student
William Thomas Wajn, PhD student 
Laura Dethier, PhD student
Christos Theodorou, PhD student
Shiwen Yang, PhD student
Fangfei Niu, PhD student
Louise Svenningsen, Laboratory Technician
Peter Felix Lund Thygesen, MSc student
Jakob Skytte Thorsen, MSc student
Malin Madeleine Eriksson, MSc student



Industrial Biotechnology and Environmental Biotechnology, Novo Nordisk Foundation: February 2021 -   January 2024 (3 mill.)

Distinguished Investigator, Novo Nordisk Foundation: February 2021 - January 2026 (10 mill.)

Villum Investigator, Velux Foundation: July 2021 - June 2027 (30 mill.)

Green Solution Center: 1 Sept 2023 - 31 August 2024 (300.000 DDK)

Pioneer Innovator grant, Novo Nordisk Foundation 1 Sept. 2023 - 31 Aug. 2024 (1 Mill. DDK)