Hiroshi A Maeda

Position title: Professor of Botany

Email: maeda2@wisc.edu

Website: Maeda Lab website

Phone: 608-262-5833

B215 Birge Hall

Ph.D. (2006) Michigan State University
Research Interests
Plant Biochemistry and Physiology—aromatic amino acid biosynthesis and its regulation; nitrogen metabolism, enzyme evolution, plant metabolic engineering
Hiroshi Maeda


The Maeda lab at UW-Madison is unlocking the mysteries of plant metabolism and developing innovative solutions for combating climate change.

Plants use CO2 and sunlight energy to generate thousands of chemical compounds via the process of plant metabolism. The Maeda lab studies the evolution of complex plant metabolic pathways across different plant species, as well as how plants regulate the conversion of CO2 into diverse chemicals. We apply these fundamental discoveries to engineer plant metabolism and enhance the production of beneficial compounds. Our research particularly centers on the shikimate and aromatic amino acid pathways, which direct up to 30% of the carbon fixed through photosynthesis to produce a broad range of aromatic plant natural products, such as flavonoids, alkaloids, and lignin, which are crucial components of our food, energy, material, and medicine.

We combine biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, analytical chemistry, and synthetic biology to investigate how:

  • plants control the shikimate pathway and aromatic amino acid biosynthesis.
  • different plants regulate biosynthesis of tyrosine and tyrosine-derived natural products
  • plants transfer nitrogen (N) across N metabolic network via aminotransferase enzymes.
  • plant synthetic biology can improve aromatic production from CO2.

read more…

Evolutionary Biochemistry and Synthetic Biology figure

Teaching and Mentoring:

General Botany (BOT130, every spring semester)

Plant Biochemistry (BOT621, fall semester, odd-numbered years, 2021, 2023, ..)

Plant Physiology Seminar (BOT960)

FIG (First year Interest Group) INTER-LS101 “Harnessing Plant Chemistry for Sustainable Society”

Mentoring: Maeda lab provides a research environment for all levels of junior scientists (undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral associates) to learn various techniques (e.g. in biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, analytical chemistry) and also develop critical scientific thinking skills, which are required to succeed in both academic and non-academic careers. If you are interested in studying plant metabolism in our lab, please read more and contact me at maeda2@wisc.edu


Maeda lab presents outreach events, called “Pigment-Art”, where children enjoy painting with natural pigments that we extract from various plants. While children appreciate the colorful pigments and their interesting chemical properties, we share information with their parents and older children on the use of plant natural resources in our food, medicine, and many other aspects of human life.   Please come and join us at Science Night and UW Science Expeditionread more…

Selected Recent Publications: (For a complete list of publications, click here)

soybean image

Yokoyama R.#de Oliveira M.V.V.#Takeda-Kimura Y., Ishihara H., Alseekh S., Arrivault S., Kukshal V., Jez JM, Stitt M., Fernie A.R., Maeda H.A.* (2022) Point mutations that boost aromatic amino acid production and CO2 assimilation in plants Science Adv. online

Yokoyama R.*Kleven B.Gupta A.Wang Y.Maeda H.A.* (2022) 3-Deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate 7-phosphate synthase as the gatekeeper of plant aromatic natural product biosynthesis (2022) Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. online

Lopez-Nieves S.El-Azaz J.Men Y., Holland C.K., Feng T., Brockington S.F., Jez J.M., Maeda H.A.* (2021) Two independently evolved natural mutations additively deregulate TyrA enzymes and boost tyrosine production in plantaPlant J 109, 844-855

Maeda H.A.* and Fernie A.R.* (2021) Evolutionary History of Plant Metabolism Ann. Rev. Plant Biol. 72, 185-216

Yokoyama R., de Oliveira V.V.M., Kleven B., Maeda H.A.* (2021) The Entry Reaction of the Plant Shikimate Pathway is Subjected to Highly Complex Metabolite-Mediated Regulation Plant Cell online

Schenck C.A., Westphal J., Jayaraman D., Garcia K., Wen J., Mysore K.S., Ané J.M., Sumner L.W., Maeda H.A.*<(2020) Role of Cytosolic, Tyrosine-Insensitive Prephenate Dehydrogenase in Medicago truncatula. Plant Direct 4: e00218

Maeda H.A.* (2019b) Harnessing Evolutionary Diversification of Primary Metabolism forPlant Synthetic Biology  J. Biol. Chem., 294, 16549-16566.

Maeda H.A.* (2019a) Evolutionary Diversification of Primary Metabolism and its Contribution to Plant Chemical Diversity  Front. Plant Sci., 10 July 2019

Wang M., Toda K., Block A., Maeda H.A.* (2019) TAT1 and TAT2 tyrosine aminotransferases have both distinct and shared functions in tyrosine metabolism and degradation in Arabidopsis thaliana. J. Biol. Chem. 294, 3563-3576.

Lopez-Nieves S.*, Pringle A., Maeda H.A. (2019) Biochemical characterization of TyrA dehydrogenases from Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Ascomycota) and Pleurotus ostreatus (Basidiomycota) Arch Biochem Biophys. doi: 10.1016/j.abb.2019.02.005. [Epub ahead of print]

de Oliveira M.V.V., Jin X., Chen X., Griffith D., Batchu S., Maeda H.A.* (2019). Imbalance of tyrosine by modulating TyrA arogenate dehydrogenases impacts growth and development of Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant J. 97, 901-922.

Smith S.D.*, Angelovici R., Heyduk K., Maeda H.A., Moghe G.D., Pires J.C., Widhalm J.R., Wisecaver J.H. (2019). The Renaissance of Comparative Biochemistry. Am. J. Bot.. 106, 3-13. (non-corresponding authors are listed alphabetically)

Timoneda A., Sheehan H., Feng T., Lopez-Nieves S., Maeda H.A., Brockington S. (2018) Redirecting Primary Metabolism to Boost Production of Tyrosine-Derived Specialised Metabolites in Planta. Sci. Rep. 8; 17256

Lopez-Nieves S., Yang Y., Timoneda T., Wang M., Feng T., Smith S.A., Brockington S.F., Maeda H.A.* (2018) Relaxation of Tyrosine Pathway Regulation Underlies the Evolution of Betalain Pigmentation in Caryophyllales. New Phytologist 217, 896-908. Featured in the Cover and Commentary, Nature Plants, and NY Times.

Schenck C.A., Men Y. and Maeda H.A.* (2017) Conserved Molecular Mechanism of TyrA Dehydrogenase Substrate Specificity Underlying Alternative Tyrosine Biosynthetic Pathways in Plants and Microbes Frontiers Mol. Biosci. online

Schenck C.A., Holland C.K., Schneider M., Men Y., Lee S.G., Jez J. and Maeda H.A.* (2017) Molecular Basis of the Evolution of Alternative Tyrosine Biosynthetic Routes in Plants. Nature Chem. Biol. 13, 1029-1035. Featured in Nature Plants.

Wang M. and Maeda H.A.* (2017) Aromatic Amino Acid Aminotransferases in Plants. Phytochemistry Reviews, 1-29. DOI:10.1007/s11101-017-9520-6. Free view-only version

Wang M.Lopez-Nieves S., Goldman I., Maeda H.A.* (2017) Limited Tyrosine Utilization Explains Lower Betalain Contents in Yellow than Red Table Beet Genotypes. J Agric Food Chem. 65, 4305–4313.

Wang M., Toda K., Maeda H.A.* (2016) Biochemical Properties and Subcellular Localization of Tyrosine Aminotransferases from Arabidopsis thaliana. Phytochemistry, 132, 16–25

Maeda H.A.* (2016) Lignin biosynthesis: Tyrosine shortcut in grasses. Nature Plants 2, 16080 DOI: 10.1038/NPLANTS.2016.80

Schenck C.A.Chen S., Siehl D., Maeda H.A.* (2015) Non-plastidic, Tyrosine-Insensitive Prephenate Dehydrogenases from Legumes. Nature Chem. Biol. 11, 52-57 *Featured on the Cover.

Dornfeld C., Weisberg A.J., Dudareva N., Jelesko J.G., Maeda H.A.* (2014) Phylobiochemical Characterization of Prephenate Aminotransferases Reveals Evolution of the Plant Arogenate Phenylalanine Pathway. Plant Cell, 26, 3101-3114

Luby C., Maeda H., Goldman I.* (2014) Genetic and Phenological Variation of Tocochromanol (Vitamin E) Content in Wild (Daucus carota L. var. carota) and Domesticated Carrot (D. carota L. var. sativa) Horticulture Research 1:15

Maeda H., Song W., Sage T.L., DellaPenna D. (2014) Role of Callose Synthases in Transfer Cell Wall Development of Arabidopsis Tocopherol Deficient Mutants. Frontiers Plant Physiol. 5, 46

Yoo H., Widhalma J.R., Qiana Y., Maeda H., Cooperc B.R., Jannaschc A.S., Gondae I., Lewinsohne E., Rhodes D., Dudareva D. (2013) An Alternative Pathway Contributes to Phenylalanine Biosynthesis in Plants via a Cytosolic Tyrosine:Phenylpyruvate Aminotransferase. Nature Commun. 4:2833, doi:10.1038/ncomms3833

Maeda H and Dudareva N (2012) The Shikimate Pathway and Aromatic Amino Acid Biosynthesis in Plants. Ann. Rev. Plant Biol. Vol. 63

Maeda H, Yoo H, and Dudareva N (2011) Prephenate Aminotransferase Directs Plant Phenylalanine Biosynthesis via Arogenate. Nature Chem. Biol., DOI:10.1038/nchembio.485

Maeda H, Shasany AK, Schnepp J, Orlova I, Taguchi G, Cooper BR, Rhodes D, Pichersky E and Dudareva N (2010) RNAi Suppression of Arogenate Dehydratase 1 Reveals That Phenylalanine Is Synthesized Predominantly via the Arogenate Pathway in Petunia Petals. Plant Cell 22, 832-849 *Described as a Research Highlight in Nature Chemical Biology 6, 310

Maeda H
, Sage TL, Isaac G, Welti R, and DellaPenna D (2008) Tocopherols Modulate Extra-Plastidic Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Metabolism in Arabidopsis at Low Temperature. Plant Cell 20, 452-470 *Described in the Featured Article of the issue Plant Cell 20, 246

Maeda H and DellaPenna D (2007) Tocopherol Functions in Photosynthetic Organisms. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 10, 260-265

Maeda H
, Song W, Sage TL and DellaPenna D (2006) Tocopherols Play a Crucial Role in Low Temperature Adaptation and Phloem Loading in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 18, 2710-2732  *Highlighted on the Cover of the issue.

Maeda H
, Sakuragi Y, Bryant DA, and DellaPenna D (2005) Tocopherols Protect Synechocystis sp. Strain PCC 6803 from Lipid Peroxidation.Plant Physiol. 138, 1422-1435