Metalloid Transport

Head: [link]Gerd Patrick Bienert, PhD

Phone: +49 (0) 39 48 2 - 53 85

Research Topics

The main objective of our Emmy Noether research group is to elucidate functions, biochemical reactions and transport pathways of metalloids in crop plants as well a their adaptive responses to metalloid deficiency and toxicity. We focus on the essential plant nutrient boron and on the highly toxic and carcinogenic element arsenic. To this aim, a combination of detailed physiological measurements, elemental analyses, exhaustive transcriptomic and metabolomic profiling, transport studies and targeted molecular analyses are employed, both in plants as well as in heterologous expression systems. Plant species subjected to investigation are the agronomically important oilseed Brassica napus, its close relative the genetic and molecular model plant Arabidopsis thaliana as well as cereals.


„Mechanisms regulating the boron nutritional status in rapeseed and Arabidopsis and their implications for the development of boron-efficient genotypes“

Boron (B) is an essential microelement for plants. Despite the use of modern fertilization methods, B deficiency still causes losses in agricultural plant production. The project investigates how the B deficiency-sensitive Brassica crop plants process and regulate their B status during vegetative and reproductive growth. In this context, the project aims at identifying the mode of action of B in mechanisms regulating the B status itself and uncovering those mechanisms contributing to B efficiency in different genotypes. A detailed understanding of mechanisms controlling B uptake and allocation from the level of the whole plant down to the cellular level will be established. A special focus is on the identification of B deficiency-sensitive transport processes to and within the highly B-demanding reproductive organs. Nodulin26-like Intrinsic Proteins (NIPs) are essential for plant B uptake and distribution. The systematic focus on the molecular and physiological characterization of B. napus NIPs will clarify their role in the B response network. To further resolve the mostly unknown impact of the B nutritional status on gene regulation and metabolism, a transcript and metabolite profile of B-sufficient and B-deficient oilseed plants will be generated.

Boron (in form of boric acid) and arsenite (As) share the same NIP-mediated transport pathways. To assess the consequences of this dual transport pathway the so far unstudied impact of the plant’s B nutritional status on the accumulation and distribution of As will be investigated in B. napus. Moreover, the current dimension of the As contamination of Brassica-based food products, to which consumers are exposed to, will be analyzed.

This project contributes to the improvement of B management in the field, the optimization of agronomically relevant plant traits and the development of B deficiency-tolerant genotypes which are low in toxic As levels.

This Emmy Noether Group is mainly financed by the [link]German Research Foundation (DFG).