Head: Dr. Björn Junker
The research group is investigating different biochemical and molecular biological aspects in plants by applying systems biology methods. The major scientific focus is the metabolism of plant seeds. The speciality of this work is the combination of the methods used: within one research group, mathematical models of metabolism are created, and the experimental data necessary for these models is generated. Thus, the work is divided approximately 50/50 into experimental methods for data generation and theoretical methods for data processing and prediction.
Research objects are members of the legume family, e.g. the crop plant pea (Pisum sativum) and the model plant barrel medic (Medicago truncatula), and furthermore barley (Hordeum vulgare), wheat (Triticum aestivum), and rice (Oryza sativa) representing monocotyledons. In these systems, different issues in primary metabolism are addressed, with a strong focus on processes during the storage product accumulation phase in seeds.
Theoretical methods applied in the group are mainly kinetic modeling of parts of plant metabolism, including parameter estimation and metabolic control analysis, as well as stoichiometric modeling of the entire central metabolism for the investigation of structural network properties and flux balance analysis. Die basis for these models are experiments, in which metabolite concentrations (by UPLC, GC-MS, and LC-MS/MS), enzyme activities (by robotized cycling assays), and metabolic fluxes (by stable isotope labelling, detection by GC-MS and LC-MS/MS) are measured.
The junior research group is mainly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the frame of the FORSYS-Partner program (systems biology research units). There is a strong connection to the FORSYS center GoForSys at Potsdam University and at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam-Golm