Jwalit Nayak


PhD Candidate

Thesis Title

A Carotenoid-derived Metabolite Regulates RNA Structure and Carotenoid Gene Expression Controlling Pro-vitamin a Accumulation in Crops

Research Project

Carotenoids are isoprenoid pigments synthesized in all photosynthetic organisms, as well as some aphids and mites. Lycopene cyclization in the carotenoid pathway diverts into two metabolic branches, one that produces lutein (prevents macular degeneration of the eye) and the other β-carotene (provitamin-A; a precursor to vitamin A that promotes healthy eyesight in animals).

The research will investigate; 1) define the mechanisms by which an apocarotenoid sensing RNA structural switch regulates carotenoid gene expression to fine-tune pathway flux that controls provitamin-A levels, and 2) how different light spectra can control a carotenoid isomerase photo-switch that modulates downstream β-carotene and apocarotenoid derived signals. A significant outcome would be to unravel a new mechanism that can switch on provitamin-A accumulation in horticultural crops.


Dr Chris Cazzonelli, Dr Jonathan Plett, Professor Priti Krishna