Head: Dr. Hans-Peter Mock
The Applied Biochemistry group aims at the identification of mechanisms regulating plant secondary metabolism.
Secondary metabolites significantly contribute to the interaction of plants with their environment, e.g. by acting as defence compounds. Plants synthesize a plethora of secondary compounds in response to stresses, and the accumulated substances can show anti-microbial properties, contribute to protection against UV and high light and act as antioxidants or signalling molecules.
The role of secondary compounds as part of the human nutrition is another important aspect. In cooperation with external partners the beneficial health effects of flavonoids as part of the human diet are investigated.
To identify regulatory factors which control the allocation of resources into different branches of secondary metabolism, the research group particularly uses metabolite profiling as well as proteome and transcriptome approaches. The functions of specific metabolites and proteins in the defence of abiotic or biotic stresses are investigated by using transgenic plants and mutants. Research is performed using the model plant Arabidopsis as well as barley, wheat and Solanaceous species. The spatial distribution of metabolites is visualized using MS-based approaches (MALDI-MS-Imaging).
A primary focus are the cellular responses of plants upon cold stress, which are analysed by metabolite analysis and molecular characterization of candidate genes. Techniques for metabolite profiling are also used to characterize accessions from the IPK seed collection. Further research aims at the characterization of candidate genes related to drought tolerance and N-efficiency in potato on the protein level.
The group has introduced techniques of proteome analysis as part of a functional genomics platform. They are based on the separation and mass spectrometrical detection of peptides after tryptic digestion of protein extracts. Proteome analysis includes post-translational modifications, e.g. phosphorylation. Data analysis is performed in close collaboration with bio-informatics groups.