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dr. S.A. (Steven) Arisz

Faculty of Science
Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences

Visiting address
  • Science Park 904
  • Room number: 207
Postal address
  • Postbus 1210
    1000 BE Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Research

    Research Interest

    One of the most striking aspects of plant life is the evolved ability to cope with continuous changes in environmental conditions. Drought, soil salinity and temperature extremes impose severe stresses to which plants respond with changes in metabolism and development. Resilience in the face of environmental challenges is essential for survival in wide-ranging environments. Lipids, which form the structural basis of all membranes play key roles under stress conditions, making up the structures and regulating the functions of membranes, fine-tuning metabolic balance, and acting as cellular signals. Through such diverse functions, lipids help plants to cope with environmental stress [1].


    Theme 1:

    Under stress conditions lipids act as signals through interactions with proteins

    An important class of molecules that coordinate stress responses at the cellular level are specialized membrane lipids such as phosphoinositides and phosphatidic acids (PA). The formation of these lipids is rapidly triggered upon perception of the stress condition and they are believed to act as cellular signals to regulate the stress response. However, it is generally not well understood how they function.

    One emerging paradigm is that they act by binding to specific proteins which are thus altered in subcellular localization and/or activity. Aided by advances in mass spectrometry-based proteomics, an increasing number of protein targets have been discovered in plants, including protein kinases and phosphatases, transcription factors, cytoskeletal elements and metabolic enzymes. How lipid-protein interactions, in conjunction with other signaling pathways, regulate physiological responses to generate stress-tolerance, has become a central topic in plant science, and one of my major research interests [2].


    Theme 2:

    Cold Acclimation: How Changes in Lipids Help Plants to Survive Frost

    When plants experience a period of cold (0°C-8°C), they can become more tolerant to freezing. This phenomenon, commonly known as cold acclimation, involves extensive changes in the plant, ranging from accumulations of sugars and antifreeze proteins to adjustments in growth and development. Cold acclimation is essential to survival at temperate latitudes and as such has been a long-studied subject in basic plant physiology. Membranes are important in this process since they are particularly vulnerable cellular structures when freezing occurs. Their integrity is jeopardized by the formation of ice crystals and the loss of liquid water from cells which causes severe dehydration. Little is known however about the mechanisms that confer resilience to plant membranes under such adverse conditions.

    Recently, we identified a novel component of freezing tolerance in the wild Arabidopsis relative Boechera stricta which lives in diverse habitats at high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains [3]. From quantitative trait locus analysis of seedling freezing stress tolerance, a locus emerged containing the gene encoding Acyl-CoA:Diacylglycerol Acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1), a well-studied enzyme known to be responsible for seed oil biosynthesis. At freezing temperatures the enzyme was shown to produce oil (triacylglycerol) in leaves and to confer tolerance. Comprehensive analysis of lipids suggested that in the same process also sugar-rich lipids (oligogalactosyl-diacylglycerols) were formed which had previously been found to stabilize chloroplast membranes. Consistently with the proposed function for DGAT1 under freezing conditions, Arabidopsis plants overexpressing DGAT1 showed greater survival of freezing.

    In light of our discovery of DGAT1 as determinant of freezing tolerance, it will be interesting to further investigate how DGAT1 activity is regulated at low temperatures and how it imparts tolerance to plants.

    These questions are subject of my current research at the Munnik lab/ Plant Cell Biology.



    [1] Hou et al. (2016) Plant Cell Env 39, 1029–1048

    [2] McLoughlin et al. (2013) Biochem J 450, 573-581

    [3] Arisz et al. (2018) Plant Physiol 177, 1410-1424


  • CV

    Steven Arisz works as senior postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam (NL) research group Plant Cell Biology (Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences). He has studied biology at the UvA (1990-1996, cum laude) and continued as PhD-student in plant physiology, studying lipid metabolism in abiotic stress signaling of green algae and plants. This resulted in a dissertation entitled “Plant Phosphatidic Acid Metabolism in Response to Environmental Stress” (2010). After this, he did a postdoc at the lab of prof. Christa Testerink studying, among other things, lipid-protein interactions in response to salt stress (2011-2018). As of 2018, he continued as senior postdoc in the lab of dr. Teun Munnik (Plant Cell Biology, UvA). In collaboration with prof. Eric Schranz (Biosystematics group, Wageningen University), dr. Jae-Yun Heo (Gangneung-Wonju National University, Korea) and prof. Tom Mitchell-Olds (Duke University, Durham, US), he is conducting a research project on natural variation in freezing tolerance of Boechera stricta. Steven has given presentations at international symposia, is lead author of well-cited research and review articles and several book chapters, and functions frequently as peer reviewer for leading scientific journals in plant science. Moreover, he enjoys teaching and helping students. Apart from his scientific work, Steven contributes to raising awareness of inclusiveness and accessibility for people with disabilities at the university.

  • Publications


    • Arisz, S. A., Heo, J-Y., Koevoets, I. T., Zhao, T., van Egmond, P., Meyer, A. J., ... Testerink, C. (2018). DIACYLGLYCEROL ACYLTRANSFERASE1 Contributes to Freezing Tolerance. Plant Physiology, 177(4), 1410-1424. DOI: 10.1104/pp.18.00503 


    • Arisz, S. A., van Wijk, R., Roels, W., Zhu, J. K., Haring, M. A., & Munnik, T. (2013). Rapid phosphatidic acid accumulation in response to low temperature stress in Arabidopsis is generated through diacylglycerol kinase. Frontiers in Plant Science, 4(january), 1. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00001  [details] 
    • Arisz, S. A., & Munnik, T. (2013). Distinguishing phosphatidic acid pools from de novo synthesis, PLD, and DGK. In T. Munnik, & I. Heilmann (Eds.), Plant lipid signaling protocols (pp. 55-62). (Methods in molecular biology; No. 1009). New York: Humana Press. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-62703-401-2_6  [details] 
    • Arisz, S. A., & Munnik, T. (2013). Use of phospholipase A2 for the production of lysophospholipids. Methods in Molecular Biology, 1009, 63-68. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-62703-401-2_7  [details] 
    • McLoughlin, F., Arisz, S. A., Dekker, H. L., Kramer, G., de Koster, C. G., Haring, M. A., ... Testerink, C. (2013). Identification of novel candidate phosphatidic acid-binding proteins involved in the salt-stress response of Arabidopsis thaliana roots. Biochemical Journal, 450(3), 573-581. DOI: 10.1042/BJ20121639  [details] 


    • Arisz, S. A., & Munnik, T. (2011). The salt stress-induced LPA response in Chlamydomonas is produced via PLA(2) hydrolysis of DGK-generated phosphatidic acid. Journal of Lipid Research, 52(11), 2012-2020. DOI: 10.1194/jlr.M016873  [details] 


    • Arisz, S. A., & Munnik, T. (2010). Diacylglycerol kinase. In T. Munnik (Ed.), Lipid signaling in plants (pp. 107-114). (Plant cell monographs; No. 16). Heidelberg: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-03873-0_7  [details] 


    • Arisz, S. A., Testerink, C., & Munnik, T. (2009). Plant PA signaling via diacylglycerol kinase. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids, 1791(9), 869-875. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2009.04.006  [details] 


    • Arisz, S. A., Valianpour, F., van Gennip, A. H., & Munnik, T. (2003). Substrate preference of stress-activated phospholipase D in Chlamydomonas and its contribution to PA formation. Plant Journal, 34, 595-604. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-313X.2003.01750.x 


    • Meijer, H. J. G., Arisz, S. A., van Himbergen, J. A. J., Musgrave, A., & Munnik, T. (2001). Hyperosmotic stress rapidly generates lyso-phosphatidic acid in Chlamydomonas. Plant Journal, 25(5), 541-548. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2001.00990.x  [details] 



    • Munnik, T., Arisz, S. A., de Vrije, T., & Musgrave, A. (1995). G protein activation stimulates phospholipase D signalling in plants. The Plant Cell, 7, 2197-2210. DOI: 10.1105/tpc.7.12.2197  [details] 


    • Meijer, H. J. G., van Himbergen, J. A. J., Arisz, S. A., Munnik, T., & Musgrave, A. (1997). Calmidazolium and mastoparan activate plc, pld and deflagellation in Chlamydomonas. In Program and abstracts of the Advanced course on Lipid Signals Chieti (Italie): Consorzio Mario Imbaro. [details] 
    • Meijer, H. J. G., van Himbergen, J. A. J., Arisz, S. A., Munnik, T., & Musgrave, A. (1997). Relation between plc-, pld activity, deflagellation and calcium homeostasis in the green alga Chlamydomonas. In Abstracts of FEBS meeting on cell signalling mechanisms Amsterdam. [details] 


    • Munnik, T., Arisz, S. A., ter Riet, B., van Himbergen, J. A. J., Irvine, R. F., & Musgrave, A. (1996). Phosphoinositide signalling in plant cells; G-protein activated PtdOH-formation is generated through PLC and PLD and attenuated by a novel enzyme - phosphatidate kinase. In The role of phosphoinositides in cell signaling (pp. 54-54). Madison: University of Wisconsin. [details] 


    • Munnik, T., Brederoo, J., Arisz, S. A., Irvine, R. F., & Musgrave, A. (1994). Signs of phospholipase C, phospholipase D and phosphoinositide 3-kinase signalling in Chlamydomonas. In E. Harris, P. A. Lefebvre, R. Schmit, & R. Kamiya (Eds.), Program and abstracts volume. Sixth International Conference on the Cell and Molecular Biology of Chlamydomonas (pp. 39-39). Bethesda, USA: Genetics Society of America. [details] 


    • Arisz, S. A., Musgrave, A., & Munnik, T. (2000). Fatty acid fingerprinting reveals PLD's substrate during osmotic stress signalling in plants. Chemistry and physics of lipids, 107, 9-9. [details] 


    • Munnik, T., Meijer, H. J. G., ter Riet, B., van Himbergen, J. A. J., Arisz, S. A., den Hartog, M., ... Musgrave, A. (1999). Osmotic stress triggers distinct phospholipid-based signalling pathways in plant cells. Poster session presented at BioCentrum Fall Symposium, .
    • Munnik, T., Meijer, H. J. G., ter Riet, B., van Himbergen, J. A. J., Arisz, S. A., den Hartog, M., ... Musgrave, A. (1999). Osmotic stress triggers distinct phospholipid-based signalling pathways in plant cells. Poster session presented at Int. Congress on Cellular Responses to Oxidative and Osmotic Stress, .
    • Munnik, T., Meijer, H. J. G., ter Riet, B., van Himbergen, J. A. J., Arisz, S. A., den Hartog, M., ... Musgrave, A. (1999). Osmotic stress triggers distinct phospholipid-based signalling pathways in plant cells. Poster session presented at Int. Congress on Cellular Responses to Oxidative and Osmotic Stress, .
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library  or the Pure staff  of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure  to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool  to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    No known ancillary activities