Researchers at the Molecular Signal Processing Department investigate plant reactions to abiotic and biotic stress factors, e.g. nutrient deficiency and pathogens, and the role of plant hormones in related defense and protection mechanisms. The research focus lies on roots which respond to phosphate deficiency by changing their branching structure and release substances which decompose organic soil substances to exploit new phosphate sources.
In addition, at the department, synthesis and regulation of mustard oil glycosides are being explored. This group of substances provides the sharp taste characteristic to the cabbage family (Brassicaceae), e.g. mustard or horseradish, and protects them from insect feeding and microbial pathogens.
The Bioorganic Chemistry Department's scientists are searching for new constituent substances in plants and fungi which are capable of serving as lead structures for development of new pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or agrochemicals. Their work is not restricted to efficient isolation of active substance components from a plant but they are also searching for ways and means to produce identified substances in a test tube and optimize their efficacy. Theoretical chemists at the Computational Chemistry Research Group support the search for optimal active substances. By simulating the behavior of certain molecules with calculations on high-performance computers, they obtain information about chemical activity and pharmaceutical efficacy of substances of interest.
Plant responses to certain stress-inducing environmental factors are the central research topic of the Stress and Developmental Biology Department. In order to successfully combat pathogens, plants have to distinguish between 'Foreign' and 'Self'. The signal 'Enemy Alert!' is transported from outside into the cell interior through sophisticated reaction chains. Certain defense genes are then activated in the cell nucleus. This department's researchers are particularly interested in learning how this transfer of information is accomplished and which genes are involved in the immunity response.
Plants are producing a large variety of substances which do not appear to be critical for their survival at first glance. Such secondary metabolites include pigments, flavorings and fragrances, antibiotics and many biologically active substances with downright poisonous or curative effects. Researchers aim to understand how those substances are produced and what their biological functions for a plant are.
A further central topic for the Cell and Metabolic Biology Department is biochemistry and molecular biology of the so-called mycorrhiza – a symbiotic plant-fungus cohabitation which benefits both organisms.
A particular focus in the department’s research profile are the so-called glandular trichomes – fine glandular hairs on the epidermis of a plant which produce and store certain secondary products in high concentrations.
This page was last modified on 02.03.2017.