VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

Science director Dirk Inzé

Genomics has fundamentally altered the way in which we view plant biology. The pre-genomics reductionist view is being superseded by the emerging new ability to have a global view on cellular processes. The entire genome sequence of Arabidopsis and rice is now available, and for a number of other plant species (Poplar, Medicago, Lotus) such sequence will become available soon. In addition, large scale cDNA sequencing projects are rapidly documenting the expressed genes in many species including corn, wheat, soybean, Medicago, sugercane, banana, poplar, Physcomitrella and others.

The big question to solve now is, “What is the function of all these genes?”. Functional genomics addresses this question at a large scale and advanced computational biology integrates data in networks that ultimately will allow us to understand the functioning of whole biological systems.

The biological systems studied in the center, such as cell cycle, lateral root development, cell death, lignification, bud dormancy, leaf development, plant-microbe interactions, a.o. are all highly complex and will benefit considerably from the integration in a systems biology approach. Biologists now have the tools at hand to view the global behaviour of their preferred model systems and to better select the genes that are likely to play key roles in the regulation of entire processes. Furthermore, new developments in the cloning of open reading frames, promoters and the making of constructs to perturb gene expression will considerably help to functionally analyse the genes of interest.

Systems biology requires the integration of three disciplines: bioinformatics and computational biology to model networks; functional genomics to develop and implement tools for the high-throughput analysis of biological systems; and last but not least biologists to ask the relevant questions and to develop the right material to answer them. These three disciplines need to go hand in hand in order to fulfil our mission to become a center of excellence in systems biology.

Dirk Inzé explains his strategy




VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

Scientists & research:

  • Tom Beeckman Lab
    root development - phytohormones - cell cycle - functional genomics - plant transgenesis and phenotyping
  • Wout Boerjan Lab
    lignin wood - seasonal growth - metabolomics - gene expression profiling - plant transgenesis and phenotyping
  • Geert De Jaeger Lab
    interactomics - protein complex - tandem affinity purification (TAP) - plant growth
  • Bert De Rybel Lab
    plant vascular development - auxin/cytokinin - lateral growth - oriented cell divisions in plants
  • Ive De Smet Lab
    plant growth - phosphoproteomics - small signaling peptides - (receptor) kinases - assymetric cell division
  • Lieven De Veylder Lab
    cell cycle - endoreduplication - plant development - E2F - functional genomics
  • Sofie Goormachtig Lab
    strigolactones - signalling networks - tandem affinity purification
  • Alain Goossens Lab
    plant secondary metabolism - metabolic engineering - jasmonates - pharmaceuticals - transcript profiling
  • Dirk Inzé Lab
    systems biology - yield - biomass - Arabidopsis
  • Thomas Jacobs Lab
    targeted plant genome editing - gene editing - CRISPR - genetic engineering - mutagenesis
  • Steven Maere Lab
    modeling - computational biology - lateral roots - genome duplication - genetic networks
  • Moritz Nowack Lab
    seed development - cell death - endosperm - Arabidopsis thaliana - Brachypodium distachyon
  • Jenny Russinova Lab
    brassinosteroids - cell division - cell expansion - BRI1 - endocytosis
  • Frank Van Breusegem Lab
    oxidative stress - transcriptional regulatory networks - abiotic stress tolerance metacaspases
  • Daniël Van Damme Lab
    plant cell biology - live cell imaging - division plane determination - cytokinesis - endocytosis
  • Yves Van de Peer Lab
    comparative genomics - gene prediction and annotation - gene and genome evolution - algorithm and software development - database
  • Klaas Vandepoele Lab
    network biology - data integration - comparative genomics - algorithm - database development


VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology
UGent-VIB Research Building FSVM Technologiepark 71  9052 GENT BELGIUM
+32 9 331 36 00
+32 9 331 38 09


Click here for an overview of  the supporting staff


Hosting: VIB Screening Core

If you are looking for screening of compound, peptide or siRNA libraries, then robust screening assays, high-quality screening libraries, advanced liquid handling systems and the availability of a range of detection technologies are the key to success. The VIB Screening Core has built up considerable scientific expertise, equipment and resources to complete these tasks with fast and reliable results. For more information:

VIB Screening Core


Hosting: VIB Metabolomics Core

Metabolomics provides a functional readout of the cells biochemistry. It holds great potential to link the observed differences in the phenotype to the underlying biochemical and molecular mechanisms.

The Metabolomics Core at VIB consists of two platform sites, located in Ghent and Leuven. Both sites provide contemporary mass spectrometry (MS) based metabolomic services and offer customized solutions for your experimental setup if requested.

The site in Ghent is embedded in the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology and specializes in secondary metabolism. By constructing a unique in house library with over 5000 secondary metabolites, the team developed a high throughput pipeline for comparative metabolic profiling. The introduction of Ion Mobility Mass Spectrometry and the use of advanced data processing software (including basic statistics) ensures a straightforward and high quality data output. Additional characterization of unknown compounds through CSPP (Candidate Substrate Product Pairs) network analysis or compound purification are also available, but optional.

VIB Metabolomics Core