The department of Biochemistry of Plant Interactions (BPI) investigates interactions in, of, and with plants, which guarantee the survival, growth, and yield of plants even under unfavourable environmental conditions or infestation by pathogenic microorganisms or herbivores. At the molecular level, we investigate the interactions of proteins that play crucial roles in plant development or the regulation of intracellular signaling cascades in response to environmental stress.
Our key focus area is in folding and post-translational modifications of protein domains that define protein function or enzyme activity. At the cellular level, we investigate the interactions of proteins that are responsible for signal relay of environmental cues from the level of receptor recognition to transcriptional reprogramming in the nucleus, and how these signal cascades contribute to establishment of stress tolerance or pathogen resistance. This involves mechanisms within the nucleus, where interactions between proteins and DNA regulate transcriptional activity of distinct stress responsive genes, thereby shaping the plant metabolome to accommodate stressful environments. Specialized plant-derived chemical metabolites and their specific secretory pathways underlie the interaction of plants with their abiotic and biotic environments. On the one hand, specialized metabolites define the host range of (unsuccessfully) attacking pathogenic microorganisms, whereas on the other hand, they contribute to the growth and spread of plants in a defined environment.
Central aim of the BPI department is to unravel the biochemical mechanisms of stress tolerance and resistance. Typically, proof-of-concept studies are established in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and subsequently tested for a possible extension to crops plants including potato and cereals. In particular, the current societal challenges of ensuring food security and sustainability under conditions of a changing climate are taken into account.
The BPI department, with its four interactive research groups, strengthens the IPB research profiles Molecular Interactions and Chemical Mediators.