Mette Clausen – University of Copenhagen

Mette Clausen

PhD student

Section for Plant Biochemistry
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Faculty of Science

My research focuses on the plethora of specialized metabolites contained in Eucalyptus trees, and how this plays a role in its interaction with the environment.

The project comprises two main research topics: (1) a study of cyanogenic glucoside biosynthetic pathway at its regulation by tracking the cyanogenic glucoside content during plant ontogeny and leaf ontogeny and correlate the cyanogenic glucoside content with gene expression levels and (2) profiling the “cocktail” of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) constantly emitted from Eucalyptus leaves and flowers that interact with the surroundings incl. nearby standing trees, herbivore insects, pollinators and koalas feeding on the trees.

Eucalyptus trees in front of Melbourne University campus

Evidence suggests that Eucalyptus is a great model for studying the regulation of specialized metabolites in plants. This allows us to pursue the genes behind regulation and to learn more about the difference between plant species. 

Collecting sample material

Studying VOCs in this manner will help to fill the knowledge-gap within the biochemical composition of Eucalyptus trees by revealing information about how a changing climate will affect Eucalyptus trees and other plant species. This is important information as plants are sessile organisms that cannot escape potentia

Since I started on the project we have succeed in making a collection of Eucalyptusin Copenhagen with more than 30 different species that have been analyzed in different projects. Half of my project is thus carried out in the glasshouse in Copenhagen, and the other half is carried out in Australia in collaboration with University of Melbourne. The project is great to me because it allows me to combine studying the small details e.g. on gene level as well as the bigger picture on tree or even ecosystem level.l enemies and thus are forced to defend themselves at site.

I collaborate with:

The collaboration enables me to obtain knowledge outside my main field of research and to advance my research profile.

Ros Gleadow, Mette Clausen and Cecilia Blomstedt looking at eucalypts


  • Sep 2010 - Jan 2013
    M.Sc. in Biology-Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen.
    Title of Master’s thesis: “Oxime metabolism in Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench, Which P450, CYP79A1 or CYP71E1, is responsible for catalyzing the rearrangement reaction of p- hydroxyphenylacetaldoxime?”
  • Sep 2007 - Jul 2010
    B.Sc. in Natural resources, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen.
    Title of Bachelor’s thesis: “Leaf senescence and cytokinins effect on this process” 

    link to long CV


The bifurcation of the cyanogenic glucoside and glucosinolate biosynthetic pathways. Clausen M, Kannangara RM, Olsen CE, Blomstedt CK, Gleadow RM, Jørgensen K, Bak S, Motawie MS, Møller BL. Plant Journal 2015 Nov;84(3):558-73. doi: 10.1111/tpj.13023.