Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Associate Professor Chris Cobbett

Position: Reader, Department of Genetics University of Melbourne

Affiliation: Department of Genetics University of Melbourne

Postal Address:
Department of Genetics
The University of Melbourne
Parkville, Victoria 3010

Phone: +61 (03) 8344 5138
Fax: +61 (03) 8344 6273

Research Profile

Heavy metals, such as cadmium and mercury, are important environmental contaminants. However, the mechanisms by which plants deal with various toxic metals are not well understood. Using the model laboratory plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, we have identified some important genes in heavy metal tolerance.
By isolating and characterising cadmium-sensitive mutants our group has been the first to show that a particular class of metal-binding peptides, the phytochelatins, is essential for cadmium tolerance. Using this approach we aim to describe the molecular, biochemical and physiological basis for various heavy metal tolerance mechanisms.

Selected Publications

  1. Maughan, SC, Cobbett, CS. (2003) Methionine sufoximine, an alternative selection for the bar marker in plants. J. Biotechnology 102: 125-128.
  2. Cobbett, CS, Goldsborough, PB. (2002) Phytochelatins and Metallothioneins: Roles in Heavy metal detoxification and homeostasis. Annu. Rev. Plant Biol. 53: 159-182.
  3. Cobbett, CS, Meagher, RB. (2002) Arabidopsis and the Genetic Potential for the Phytoremediation of Toxic Elemental and Organic Pollutants. The Arabidopsis Book, eds. C.R. Somerville and E.M. Meyerowitz, American Society of Plant Biologists, Rockville, MD, doi/10.1199/tab.0032 - this publication is only available as an on-line text.
  4. Cobbett, CS.(2001) Heavy metal detoxification in plants: Phytochelatins: biosynthesis and function. IUBMB Life 51: 183-188.
  5. Cobbett, CS.(2000) Heavy metal detoxification in plants: Phytochelatins: biosynthesis and function. Australian Biochemist 31: 16-19.
  6. Cobbett CS, Goldsbrough PB (2000) Mechanisms of metal resistance: metallothioneins and phytochelatins. In, Phytoremediation of toxic metals: using plants to clean-up the environment, Eds. Ensley BD, Raskin I, John Wiley & Sons, New York, USA. 247-269.
  7. Cobbett, CS (2000) Phytochelatins and their roles in heavy metal detoxification. Plant Physiol. 123: 825-832.
  8. Cobbett, CS (2000) Phytochelatins and heavy metal tolerance in plants. Current Opinion in Plant Biol. 3: 211-216.
  9. Vernoux T, Wilson RC, Seeley KA, Reichheld J-P, Muroy S, Maughan S, Cobbett CS, Van Montagu M, Inzé D, May MJ, Sung ZR. (2000) The ROOT MERISTEMLESS1/CADMIUM SENSITIVE2 gene defines a glutathione-dependent pathway involved in initiation and maintenance of cell division during postembryonic root development. Plant Cell 12: 97-109.
  10. Cobbett CS (1999) A family of phytochelatin synthase genes in plant, fungal and animal species. Trends Plant Sci. 4: 335-337.
  11. Ha S-B, Smith AP, Howden R, Dietrich WM, Bugg S, O’Connell MJ, Goldsbrough PB, Cobbett CS. (1999) Phytochelatin synthase genes from Arabidopsis and the yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Plant Cell 11: 1153-1164.
  12. Sherson S, Gy I, Medd J, Schmidt R, Dean C, Kreis M, Lecharny A, Cobbett C (1999) The arabinose kinase, ARA1, gene of Arabidopsis is a novel member of the galactokinase gene family. Plant Molec. Biol. 39: 1003-1012.
  13. Cobbett CS, May MJ, Howden R, Rolls B (1998) The glutathione-deficient, cadmium-sensitive mutant, cad2-1, of Arabidopsis thaliana is deficient in g-glutamylcysteine synthetase. Plant J. 16: 73-78.
  14. Gy I, Aubourg S, Sherson S, Cobbett CS, Cheron A, Kreis M, Lecharny A (1998) Analysis of a 14 kb fragment containing a putative cell wall gene and a candidate for the ara1, arabinose kinase, gene from chromosome IV of Arabidopsis thaliana. Gene 201-210.
  15. Cobbett CS (1998) Biochemical genetic analysis of metabolic pathways in Arabidopsis. Annu Plant Revs 1: 61-106.
  16. Michael MZ, Savin KW, Cobbett CS, Cornish EC (1997) The molecular biology of petal senescence. In Plant Senescence. Ed. Palni LMS, Gyanodaya Prakashan, Nainital, India
  17. Bancroft I, Love K, Bent E, Sherson S, Lister C, Cobbett C, Goodman HM, Dean C (1997) A strategy involving the use of high redundancy YAC subclone libraries facilitates the contiguous representation in cosmid and BAC clones of 1.7 Mb of the genome of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana Weeds World 4(ii) 1-9.
  18. Macknight R, Bancroft I, Page T, Lister C, Schmidt R, Love K, Westphal L, Murphy G, Sherson S, Cobbett C, Dean C (1997). FCA, a gene controlling flowering time in Arabidopsis, encodes a protein containing RNA-binding domains. Cell 89: 737-745.
  19. May MJ, Parker JE, Daniels MJ, Leaver CJ, Cobbett CS (1996) An Arabidopsis mutant depleted in glutathione shows unaltered responses to fungal and bacterial pathogens. Molec Plant Microbe Interactions 9: 349-356.
  20. van Vliet C, Andersen CR, Cobbett CS (1995). Copper-sensitive mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiol 109: 871-878.
  21. Howden R, Andersen CR, Goldsbrough PB, Cobbett CS (1995) Cadmium-sensitive, glutathione-deficient mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiol. 107: 1067-1073.
  22. Howden R, Goldsbrough PB, Andersen CR, Cobbett CS (1995) Cadmium-sensitive, cad1 mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana are phytochelatin deficient. Plant Physiol. 107: 1059-1066.