Christoph Benning

Director, MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory
University Distinguished Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Professor, Molecular Plant Sciences Program
Professor, Plant Biology
Professor, Genetics & Genome Sciences Program
MSU Foundation Professor, University Distinguished Professor, MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory
Professor, Cell & Molecular Biology Program
University Distinguished Professor , BioMolecular Science Gateway
Location: 106 Plant Biology Lab
Profile photo of  Christoph Benning
Photo of: Christoph Benning


## Research: Lipid Metabolism in Photosynthetic Organisms
Research in the Benning laboratory focuses on lipid metabolism in photosynthetic organisms. One area of particular interest is the assembly and maintenance of the photosynthetic membrane in plants and algae. The photosynthetic membrane contains a unique set of polar lipids. Their specific functions in photosynthesis, especially during dynamic conditions and under stress, are investigated by applying state-of-the-art phenotyping to Arabidopsis and Chlamydomonas lipid mutants.

Different membranes cooperate in the synthesis of lipid precursors needed for the assembly of the photosynthetic membrane. Thus, lipid biosynthetic enzymes and lipid transport mechanisms involving chloroplast envelope membranes are investigated in the model plant Arabidopsis using biochemical, cell biological, and molecular genetic approaches.

Photosynthetic organisms are exposed to a changing environment which can lead to stress inhibiting growth. Lipid remodeling in response to adverse temperatures or nutrient deprivation is an area of study in the Benning lab. Nutrient-deprived algae enter a state of cellular quiescence. Cell divisions cease and metabolism is redirected to accumulate storage lipids. The Benning laboratory is identifying factors governing cell division in response to the metabolic state of cells in single-celled algae. Approaches ranging from biochemistry, genetics, and systems biology to modeling are used to gain insights into this process with the goal to optimize algae for biofuel production.

## Education
* Ph.D. 1991, Michigan State University
* M.S. 1986, Albert-Ludwigs Universitaet, Freiburg, Germany

## Previous Appointments
* Group Leader, 1993-97, Institut fuer Genbiologische Forschung Berlin GmbH, Berlin, Germany
* Postdoctoral Researcher, 1991-93, Michigan State University

## Awards
* 2022 - Senior Member, National Academy of Inventors
* 2019 / 2020 / 2021 - Highly Cited Researcher, Clarivate, Web of Science Group
* 2019 - MSU University Distinguished Professor
* 2018 - MSU Innovator of the Year Award shared with John Ohlrogge
* 2015 - Inaugural Member of the National Academy of Inventors/MSU Chapter
* 2015  - AAAS Fellow
* 2014  - MSU Foundation Professorship
* 2014 - Graduate Student Mentoring Award, MSU, College of Natural Science
* 2013 - Postdoctoral Mentoring Award, Michigan State University, College of Natural Science
* 2010  - Terry Galliard Medal, 19th International Symposium on Plant Lipids, Cairns Australia
* 2009 - Distinguished Faculty Award, Michigan State University, College of Natural Science
* 2009 - Distinguished Faculty Award, Michigan State University

## Links
* [Benning lab news](
* [Google Scholar Citations](
* [ASPB Legacy Society Founding Member Interview](


  • BMB 499: Senior Thesis (W)