Ruth Welti, University Distinguished Professor
508 Ackert Hall
Lab website: www.k-state.edu/lipid
Ph.D. 1982, Washington University in St. Louis. Cellular Biology.
Area(s) of Specialization
Structure and function of cell membranes; Mass-spectrometry-based lipid analysis.
The focus of my research program since 2000 has been on the development of a quantitative, high-throughput, mass-spectrometry-based lipid profiling technology and the application of this technology to identify alterations in lipid metabolism that occur as results of signaling events and/or stress responses. Through ongoing collaboration with researchers working in Arabidopsis, an organism that is particularly genetically tractable and relatively easy to grow and manipulate, we have been able to put into practice a very efficient lipid profiling technology. Funded by NSF, Kansas NSF EPSCoR, Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, Kansas Biomedical Infrastructure Network, and Kansas State, we have established the Kansas Lipidomics Research Center (I am serving as Director) and its fee-for-service lipid profiling analytical laboratory at Kansas State, we have developed high-throughput, quantitative methods for all the major lipid polar classes in plants, yeast, and animals, and we have examined the role of lipids in physiological responses. The Lipidomics Center can also perform structural analysis and can analyze simple lipids and other metabolites. See www.ksu.edu/lipid/lipidomics for updates.
In plants, stresses that lead to alterations in lipid metabolism include drought, cold, freezing, wounding, pathogens, and insect pests. Utilizing plants with genetic alterations, in collaboration with others, we are profiling lipids to determine the function of genes involved in these processes. Currently we are focused on understanding the function of oxidized and head-group-acylated membrane lipids during plant stress. These compounds may regulate the function of enzymes or transcription factors. Our lab’s roles in collaborative projects are to develop new technologies, to perform the lipid profiling data collection and processing, and to aid in data interpretation. We also grow plants, subject them to stress, and analyze their stress phenotypes, and lipid compositions.