Department of Physiology and Cell Biology
Research in the department focusses on transport, metabolic and developmental processes in plants and yeast cells, which improve their stress tolerance, resource efficiency or their adaptation to agricultural or biotechnological production systems. These research goals are achieved by the establishment and steady improvement of analytical and technical platforms with related competences in physiology, biochemistry, cell biology and biotechnology. They not only foster interdisciplinary approaches within the department but also serve to complement research lines in the other departments.
Firmly committed to sustainable and resource-efficient plant production, departmental research strives for the improvement of agronomically relevant traits in crops. Physiological, biochemical and molecular investigations mostly start from phenotypic differences uncovered in mutants or mapping populations from the IPK Gene Bank and build on growth studies coupled with spatio-temporal transcript profiling, functional protein assays and advanced analytical techniques. The latter include MS-based determination of mineral elements, isotopes, and the discovery or quantification of metabolites, with an emphasis on stress-related secondary metabolites and phytohormones. While investigations are primarily devoted to crop species, Arabidopsis serves as a model for gene functionality and translational approaches. Additionally, advanced biotechnological research is oriented towards yeast and plants. In particular yeast strains with modified biochemical pathways or newly expressed sensing properties are designed for food technology, pharmacy and environmental health monitoring.
In cereal crop improvement, method development includes haploid formation, biolistic and Agrobacterium-mediated transformation as well as genome editing to provide key biotechnological tools required to elucidate gene functions or improve plant traits. Morphological and structural trait investigations mostly expand into cell biology employing light and electron microscopic techniques that are accompanied by diverse sample preparation or staining techniques.