Dr. Peter Dörmann
New position: Head of the Department of Molecular Biotechnology, University Bonn
The group is interested in membranes - the interface between cells and organelles and their external and internal environments. They generate and analyse transgenic and mutant plants affected in genes involved in membrane lipid metabolism. These genes are also heterologously expressed and their products characterised. The group focuses primarily on chloroplast-specific galactolipid biosynthesis in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and phospholipid metabolism in the moss Physcomitrella patens.
All cells and organelles are surrounded by membranes composed of continuous lipid bilayers into which an assortment of proteins are embedded. Membranes provide cells and organelles with the interface at which molecules enter and exit and at which membrane-associated protein complexes interact. Membrane proteins also act as sensors to internal and external signals. Lipid compositions may differ between inner and outer monolayers and among organelles. Chloroplasts, the photosynthesising organelles of plants, contain an internal system of thylakoid membranes into which photosynthetic complexes are embedded. Our group is working to elucidate the functional significance of thylakoid and other membrane lipid compositions, focusing on galactolipids, tocopherols and phospholipids. In order to elucidate these lipid biosynthetic pathways, we are generating and analysing transgenic and mutant plants that under and over express genes involved in lipid metabolism. We are also heterologously expressing these genes in E. coli to enable characterisation of their products. Arabidopsis thaliana is used as model organisms.