Philip D. Bates

Nina Bell Suggs Professor



B.S.; Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of California, Davis (2002)

Ph.D.; Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Michigan State University (2008)

Post-Doc.; Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University (2008-2013)

Research Interests:

  • Plant Biochemistry
  • Biochemical pathway metabolic flux
  • Oil and membrane lipid production in plants and algae
  • Mechanisms producing oil diversity between plants
  • Engineering plants and algae for bio-fuel and industrial chemical production
  • Engineering plants to produce “healthy” fats and oils

Current Research:

Oil produced in the seeds of plants is the most energy-dense form of biological carbon storage and supplies humans with much of the calories and essential fatty acids required in our diet. Plant oils also represent a renewable carbon source that can replace petroleum for fuels and chemical feedstocks. However, not all plant oils are alike and the usefulness of each for food, bio-fuels or the chemical industry depends on the composition of the fatty acids within the oil. A major unknown limiting our ability to breed or engineer plants to produce oil with specific fatty acid compositions is how plants control the flux of fatty acids from the site of synthesis into various fatty acid modification and oil biosynthesis pathways.

The research group of Dr. Bates utilizes biochemical, genetic and molecular biology approaches to investigate how different plants or algae regulate fatty acid synthesis and control the flux of fatty acids through alternative metabolic pathways into oil biosynthesis. Our research involves a variety of experimental organisms such as the model plant species (Arabidopsis thaliana), common oilseed crops (soybean), and plants that make industrially useful oils (castor bean). Our long term goal is to enhance the understanding of plant lipid metabolism to generate new engineering strategies for production of designer vegetable oils to meet the nutritional, bio-fuel or industrial demands of the future.

Links to Current Publications:


Selected Publications:

  1. Bates PD, Johnson SR, Cao X, Li J, Nam J-W, Jaworski JG, Ohlrogge JB, Browse J (2014) Fatty acid synthesis is inhibited by inefficient utilization of unusual fatty acids for glycerolipid assembly. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111: 1204-1209
  2. Bates PD, Stymne S, Ohlrogge J (2013) Biochemical pathways in seed oil synthesis. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 16: 358-364
  3. Bates PD, Fatihi A, Snapp AR, Carlsson AS, Browse J, Lu C (2012) Acyl Editing and Headgroup Exchange Are the Major Mechanisms That Direct Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Flux into Triacylglycerols. Plant Physiology 160: 1530-1539
  4. Bates PD, Browse J (2012) The significance of different diacylgycerol synthesis pathways on plant oil composition and bioengineering. Frontiers in Plant Science 3: 147
  5. Bates PD, Browse J (2011) The Pathway of Triacylglycerol Synthesis Through Phosphatidylcholine in Arabidopsis Produces a Bottleneck for the Accumulation of Unusual Fatty Acids in Transgenic Seeds. The Plant Journal 68: 387-399
  6. Bates PD, Durrett TP, Ohlrogge JB, Pollard M (2009) Analysis of Acyl Fluxes through Multiple Pathways of Triacylglycerol Synthesis in Developing Soybean Embryos. Plant Physiology 150: 55-72
  7. Bates PD, Ohlrogge JB, Pollard M (2007) Incorporation of Newly Synthesized Fatty Acids into Cytosolic Glycerolipids in Pea Leaves Occurs via Acyl Editing. Journal of Biological Chemistry 282: 31206-31216