Molecular studies of mosses reveal the evolution and synthesis of protective lipid polymer barrierse in plants.

MossPlants have no legs or wings. Rather, they are attached to the surface, or rooted into the ground and cannot move to find a more suitable environment or run away from dangers. When plants colonized land for about 500 million years ago, they instead developed an outstanding capacity for the synthesis of complex molecules and biopolymers to use for protection against various threats, such as water loss or pathogen attacks. For instance, plants are synthesizing several very complex lipid based biopolymers, such as sporopollenin, cutin och suberin, that form waterproof protective layers on leaves, seeds, pollen, spores and in roots.

In my research I investigate the evolution and synthesis of the lipid-based polymers. For the investigations I mainly use the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha as the model system. Marchantia has many advantages as a model organism, such as its’ small size, it is easy to culture and genetically manipulate. Further, the Marchantia genome has been completely sequenced and comparisons between Marchantia and flowering plants opens up for an evolutionary perspective on plant development and physiology. There is also an active and expanding community of researchers using Marchantia in their laboratories, which allow for a rapid development of new techniques and tools.

In particular, I am interested to pinpoint the role of non-specific lipid transfer proteins (LTPs) in the synthesis of the lipid based biopolymers. The LTPs are abundant, secreted, soluble, cysteine-rich and small proteins with a molecular size usually below 10 kDa. LTPs are expressed in all investigated land plants, but have not been detected in any other organisms. The biological role of the LTPs remains rather obscure. However, there are data accumulating which suggest that these proteins are required for the deposition and function of wax and lipid-based polymers.

Research collaborations

My research is conducted in collaboration with:

  • Magnus Eklund (Uppsala University)
  • Tiina Salminen (Åbo Akademi University)
  • Daniel P. Matton (Université de Montreal)
  • Valentin Joly (Université de Montreal)
  • Jeroen Nieuwland (University of South Wales)
  • Bingsong Zheng (Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University).


Cell, cuticleI am the main teacher and examinator for the following courses:

  • Molecular Genetics (NBIC52)
  • Genes and Gene Expression (NBIC47)
  • Laboratory Techniques in Experimental Biosciences (8MEA06)
  • and the B. Sc. projects in Biotechnology (TFBI24)

I am also active as a lecturer or supervisor in the courses:

  • Botany: Systematics and Function of Plants
  • Botany: Algae, Fungus and the Biology of Photosynthesis
  • Cellbiology and Sustainable Development.


Johan Edqvist at Researchgate



Tiina A. Salminen, D. Magnus Eklund, Valentin Joly, Kristina Blomqvist, Daniel P. Matton, Johan Edqvist

Deciphering the evolution and development of the cuticle by studying lipid transfer proteins in mosses and liverworts.

In Plants

Article, review/survey

RM Saravana Kumar, Liu Xiao Gao, Hu Wei Yuan, Dong Bin Xu, Zhao Liang, Shen Chen Tao, Wen Bin Guo, Dao Liang Yan, Bing Song Zheng, Johan Edqvist

Auxin enhances grafting success in Carya cathayensis (Chinese hickory)

In Planta

Article in journal


Tiina A Salminen, Kristina Blomqvist, Johan Edqvist

Lipid transfer proteins: classification, nomenclature, structure, and function.

In Planta

Article, review/survey


Monika Malmbecker Edstam, Johan Edqvist

Involvement of GPI-anchored lipid transfer proteins in the development of seed coats and pollen in Arabidopsis thaliana

In Physiologia Plantarum

Article in journal

Monika M. Edstam, Maiju Laurila, Andrey Höglund, Amitha Raman, Käthe M. Dahlström, Tiina A. Salminen, Johan Edqvist, Kristina Blomqvist

Characterization of GPI-anchored lipid transfer proteins in Physcomitrella patens

In Plant physiology and biochemistry (Paris)

Article in journal


Monika M. Edstam, Kristina Blomqvist, Anna Eklöf, Uno Wennergren, Johan Edqvist

Coexpression patterns indicate that GPI-anchored non-specific lipid transfer proteins are involved in accumulation of cuticular wax, suberin and sporopollenin

In Plant Molecular Biology

Article in journal


Monika M. Edstam, Lenita Viitanen, Tiina A. Salminen, Johan Edqvist

Evolutionary History of the Non-Specific Lipid Transfer Proteins


Article in journal


Matti Leino, Johan Edqvist

Germination of 151-year old Acacia spp. seeds

In Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

Article in journal


Matti W. Leijon, Jenny Hagenblad, Johan Edqvist, Else-Marie Karlsson Strese

DNA preservation and utility of a historic seed collection

In Seed Science Research

Article in journal


Gun West, Lenita Viitanen, Christina Alm, Peter Mattjus, Tiina A. Salminen, Johan Edqvist

Identification of a glycosphingolipid transfer protein GLTP1 in Arabidopsis thaliana

In The FEBS Journal

Article in journal

Bing Song Zheng, Elin Rönnberg, Lenita Viitanen, Tiina A. Salminen, Krister Lundgren, Thomas Moritz, Johan Edqvist

Arabidopsis sterol carrier protein-2 is required for normal development of seeds and seedlings

In Journal of Experimental Botany

Article in journal


Lenita Viitanen, Matts Nylund, D. Magnus Eklund, Christina Alm, Ann-Katrin Eriksson, Jessica Tuuf, Tiina A. Salminen, Peter Mattjus, Johan Edqvist

Characterization of SCP-2 from Euphorbia lagascae reveals that a single Leu/Met exchange enhances sterol transfer activity

In The FEBS Journal

Article in journal


Monika M. Edstam, Johan Edqvist

GPI-anchored lipid transfer proteins are involved in the development of seed coats and pollen in Arabidopsis

Manuscript (preprint)