Department of Molecular Genetics
Detailed knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that govern plant performance traits is the essential prerequisite to devise and implement targeted genetic and epigenetic strategies for crop improvement.
The research in the department Molecular Genetics aims at the analysis and manipulation of plant performance manifested in biomass accumulation and seed production. The main goal is the thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms that control and regulate plant growth and development and the involved metabolic pathways. The gained knowledge will be transferred into applied research towards novel crop improvement solutions.
Currently, two interrelated research areas are addressed in the department:
Vegetative growth and metabolism under dynamically changing, field-like conditions are analyzed in the research area Growth Dynamics, while in the research area Seed Biology the focus is on processes which control and regulate the development of seeds as well as their filling and maturation.
In both areas, spatially and temporally highly resolved transcriptome and metabolome data are combined with non-invasive optical or NMR-based phenotyping data and metabolic models are developed, to identify essential factors and regulators. Such factors will then be modified using biotechnological approaches or natural variants to improve the performance capacity of crop plants.
To achieve these goals, unique plant phenotyping platforms are run in sophisticated controlled environment facilities such as the plant cultivation hall for simulating current and future field conditions. Innovative MRI technology for high-resolution, non-invasive analysis of structural and compositional features is established, operated and constantly developed further, as are the methods for image analysis and for network analysis and modelling which are essential for the evaluation of experimental data and their exploration and interpretation.