Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows


Louise Michaelson

Senior Research Scientist
Biological Chemistry & Crop Protection

My research is conducted in the area of lipid metabolism.

I study the pathways and networks of cellular lipids during development and stress. My work utilises mutants and the dissection of cellular lipids in biological systems on a large scale known as lipidomics. The combination of mass spectrometry linked to highly efficient liquid chromatography allows us to address questions regarding lipid substrates and products. Knowledge of how plants control lipid metabolism is important in ensuring food security in changing conditions. Previously I have characterised fatty acid desaturases and elongases in plants, fungi and C. elegans.

+44 (0) 1582 763 133 ext: +44 1582 938878
Rothamsted Research, West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ
Past Projects
Project Leader
  • IDG/Oil Production in the extreme
  • Lipid-derived signalling
  • Establishing a transatlantic platform for plant lipidomics

Hsiao AS, Haslam RP, Michaelson LV, Liao P, Napier JA, Chye ML. (2014) Gene expression in plant lipid metabolism in Arabidopsis seedlings. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 29;9(9):e107372. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107372.

Chueasiri C, Chunthong K, Pitnjam K, Chakhonkaen S, Sangarwut N, Sangsawang K, Suksangpanomrung M, Michaelson LV, Napier JA, Muangprom A. (2014) Rice ORMDL Controls Sphingolipid Homeostasis Affecting Fertility Resulting from Abnormal Pollen Development. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 5;9(9):e106386. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106386.

Michaelson LV, Markham JE, Zäeuner S, Matsumoto M, Chen M, Cahoon EB, Napier JA. 2013 Identification of a cytochrome b5-fusion desaturase responsible for the synthesis of triunsaturated sphingolipid long chain bases in the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana. Phytochemistry. 90:50-5

Haslam RP and Michaelson LV 2013 Oil production in the Extreme. Annals of Applied biology.Volume: 163  2   Pages: 170-173  

Mortimer JC, Yu X, Albrecht S, Sicilia F, Huichalaf M, Ampuero D, Michaelson LV, Murphy AM, Matsunaga T, Kurz S, Stephens E, Baldwin TC, Ishii T, Napier JA, Weber AP, Handford MG, Dupree P. 2013 Abnormal glycosphingolipid mannosylation triggers salicylic acid-mediated responses in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell  25:1881-94.

Michaelson LV 2011 New insights into cell death induced by long chain bases in Arabidopsis New Phytologist 191:909-911

Michaelson LV, Dunn TM, Napier JA. 2010 Viral trans-dominant manipulation of algal sphingolipids Trends Plant Sci. 12:651-5

Michaelson LV and Napier JA 2010 Sphingolipid signalling in plants, Vol. 16, Lipid signalling in  Plants, Munnik, T (Ed.) ISBN: 978-3-642-03872-3.

Roudier F, Gissot L, Beaudoin F, Haslam R, Michaelson L, Marion J, Molino D, Lima A, Bach L, Morin H, Tellier F, Palauqui JC, Bellec Y, Renne C, Miquel M, Dacosta M, Vignard J, Rochat C, Markham JE, Moreau P, Napier J, Faure JD. 2010 Very-long-chain fatty acids are involved in polar auxin transport and developmental patterning in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2 364-75.  

Reina-Pinto JJ, Voisin D, Kurdyukov S, Faust A, Haslam RP, Michaelson LV, Efremova N, Franke B, Schreiber L, Napier JA et al. . 2009. Misexpression of FATTY ACID ELONGATION1 in the Arabidopsis Epidermis Induces Cell Death and Suggests a Critical Role for Phospholipase A2 in This Process. Plant Cell 21(4):1252-1272.

Michaelson LV, Zauner S, Markham JE, Haslam RP, Desikan R, Mugford S, Albrecht S, Warnecke D, Sperling P, Heinz E et al. . 2009. Functional Characterization of a Higher Plant Sphingolipid Delta 4-Desaturase: Defining the Role of Sphingosine and Sphingosine-1-Phosphate in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology 149(1):487-498.

Bach L, Michaelson LV, Haslam R, Bellec Y, Gissot L, Marion J, Da Costa M, Boutin JP, Miquel M, Tellier F et al. 2008. The very long-chain hydroxy fatty acyl-CoA dehydratase PASTICCINO2 is essential and limiting for plant development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105(38):14727-14731.

Garcia-Maroto F, Garrido-Cardenas JA, Michaelson LV, Napier JA, Alonso DL. 2007. Cloning and molecular characterisation of a Delta(8)-sphingolipid-desaturase from Nicotiana tabacum closely related to Delta(6)-acyl-desaturases. Plant Molecular Biology 64(3):241-250.

Lefebvre B, Furt F, Hartmann MA, Michaelson LV, Carde JP, Sargueil-Boiron F, Rossignol M, Napier JA, Cullimore J, Bessoule JJ et al. . 2007. Characterization of lipid rafts from Medicago truncatula root plasma membranes: A proteomic study reveals the presence of a raft-associated redox system. Plant Physiology 144(1):402-418.

Napier JA, Haslam R, Caleron MV, Michaelson LV, Beaudoin F, Sayanova O. 2006. Progress towards the production of very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid in transgenic plants: plant metabolic engineering comes of age. Physiologia Plantarum 126(3):398-406.

Borner GHH, Sherrier DJ, Weimar T, Michaelson LV, Hawkins ND, MacAskill A, Napier JA, Beale MH, Lilley KS, Dupree P. 2005. Analysis of detergent-resistant membranes in Arabidopsis. Evidence for plasma membrane lipid rafts. Plant Physiology 137(1):104-116.

Tonon T, Sayanova O, Michaelson LV, Qing R, Harvey D, Larson TR, Li Y, Napier JA, Graham IA. 2005. Fatty acid desaturases from the microalga Thalassiosira pseudonana. Febs Journal 272(13):3401-3412.

Napier JA, Beaudoin F, Michaelson LV, Sayanova O. 2004 The production of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in transgenic plants. Genet Eng (N Y). 26:143-57.

Napier JA, Beaudoin F, Michaelson LV, Sayanova O. 2004. The production of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in transgenic plants by reverse-engineering. Biochimie 86(11):785-792.

Dunn TM, Lynch DV, Michaelson LV, Napier JA. 2004. A post-genomic approach to understanding sphingolipid metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana. Annals of Botany 93(5):483-497.

Garton S, Michaelson LV, Beaudoin F, Beale MH, Napier JA. 2003. The dihydroceramide desaturase is not essential for cell viability in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Febs Letters 538(1-3):192-196.

Sayanova OV, Beaudoin F, Michaelson LV, Shewry PR, Napier JA. 2003. Identification of Primula fatty acid Delta(6)-desaturases with n-3 substrate preferences. Febs Letters 542(1-3):100-104.

Whitney HM, Michaelson LV, Sayanova O, Pickett JA, Napier JA. 2003. Functional characterisation of two cytochrome b(5)-fusion desaturases from Anemone leveillei: the unexpected identification of a fatty acid Delta(6)-desaturase. Planta 217(6):983-992.

Napier JA, Michaelson LV, Sayanova O. 2003. The role of cytochrome b(5) fusion desaturases in the synthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 68(2):135-143.

Napier JA, Michaelson LV, Dunn TM. 2002. A new class of lipid desaturase central to sphingolipid biosynthesis and signalling. Trends in Plant Science 7(11):475-478.

Michaelson LV, Longman AJ, Sayanova O, Stobart AK, Napier JA. 2002. Isolation and characterization of a cDNA encoding a Delta(8) sphingolipid desaturase from Aquilegia vulgaris. Biochemical Society Transactions 30:1073-1075.

Napier JA, Michaelson LV. 2001. Towards the production of pharmaceutical fatty acids in transgenic plants. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 81(9):883-888.

Napier JA, Michaelson LV. 2001. Genomic and functional characterization of polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis in Caenorhabditis elegans. Lipids 36(8):761-766.

Luckett S, Sessions RB, Michaelson L, Naldrett MJ, Clarke AR, Fido R, Tatham AS, Shewry PR. 2001. Amino acid sequence and molecular modelling of a lipid transfer protein from sunflower (Helianthus annus L.) seeds. Protein and Peptide Letters 8(4):241-248.

Beaudoin F, Michaelson LV, Hey SJ, Lewis MJ, Shewry PR, Sayanova O, Napier JA. 2000. Heterologous reconstitution in yeast of the polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthetic pathway. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 97(12):6421-6426.

Beaudoin F, Michaelson LV, Lewis MJ, Shewry PR, Sayanova O, Napier JA. 2000. Production of C-20 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) by pathway engineering: identification of a PUFA elongase component from Caenorhabditis elegans. Biochemical Society Transactions 28:661-663.

Libisch B, Michaelson LV, Lewis MJ, Shewry PR, Napier JA. 2000. Chimeras of Delta(6)-fatty acid and Delta(8)-sphingolipid desaturases. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 279(3):779-785.

Longman AJ, Michaelson LV, Sayanova O, Napier JA, Stobart AK. 2000. An unusual desaturase in Aquilegia vulgaris. Biochemical Society Transactions 28:641-643.

Napier JA, Michaelson LV, Stobart AK. 1999. Plant desaturases: harvesting the fat of the land. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 2(2):123-127.

Wongwathanarat P, Michaelson LV, Carter AT, Lazarus CM, Griffiths G, Stobart AK, Archer DB, MacKenzie DA. 1999. Two fatty acid Delta 9-desaturase genes, ole1 and ole2, from Mortierella alpina complement the yeast ole1 mutation. Microbiology-Sgm 145:2939-2946

Michaelson LV, Lazarus CM, Griffiths G, Napier JA, Stobart AK. 1998. Isolation of a Delta(5)-fatty acid desaturase gene from Mortierella alpina. Journal of Biological Chemistry 273(30):19055-19059.

Michaelson LV, Napier JA, Lewis M, Griffiths G, Lazarus CM, Stobart AK. 1998. Functional identification of a fatty acid Delta 5 desaturase gene from Caenorhabditis elegans. Febs Letters 439(3):215-218.

Jackson FM, Michaelson L, Fraser TCM, Stobart AK, Griffiths G. 1998. Biosynthesis of triacylglycerol in the filamentous fungus Mucor circinelloides. Microbiology-Sgm 144:2639-2645.