Abiotic Stress Genomics

Head: [link]Dr. Markus Kuhlmann 

Publications: [link]Link



Tel: +49 (0)39482 5837
Fax: +49 (0)39482 5758


The junior research group is mainly funded by the Ministry of Science and Economics of Saxony-Anhalt in the frame of the [link]Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Nutzpflanzenforschung (IZN). There is a strong connection to the [link]Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg.


Research areas


Terminal drought can have severe impact on crop production. Especially, the reproductive stages are highly sensitive causing severe yield losses. Our lab is interested to reveal the molecular mechanisms contributing to stable yield  in barley under drought mainly by addressing the research topics (a) [link]altered grain number and (b) [link]seed filling efficiency.  

We use integrative genomics approaches to derive gene regulatory networks as well to identify the key regulatory targets during the spike meristem differentiation and seed development from the well defined genetic material: 

  • Non-GMO (Naturation genetic variation):  By studying the mapping population created from selected breeding lines exhibiting stay-green and remobilization characters under drought.

  • GMO: Genetically modified plants for achieving ABA homeostasis using drought-induced promoters that are active during the generative phase. 

The above said genetic material has been used to understand the mechanisms of spikelet fertility influencing grain number as well to study uncompromised seed quality during grain filling under drought stress. We are studying the role of small RNA regulation and DNA methylation under terminal drought condition.  For further details refer the [link]RESEARCH PROJECTS.









Research Strategies

Following strategies are undertaken to address the basic question of yield stability and seed quality under drought: 


(i) Exploiting the untapped genetic reserves of crop plants for identifying genetic networks controlling agronomically relevant seed traits under drought by OMICS technologies. 


(ii) Investigation of small non coding RNA (siRNA and miRNA) and DNA methylation related gene regulation under drought conditions.


(iii) The molecular knowledge is used to generate transgenic plants with improved seed yield under challenging environments. 


(iv) For the proof of concept, gene-pyramiding strategies are undertaken to attain hormonal homeostasis in reproductive tissues by genetic engineering.  


(v) Implementing top-down systems approaches to derive gene regulatory networks contributing to enhance the yield stability under drought/heat.