The research within Prof. Lothar Willmitzer's department is focused on metabolism in its broadest sense, primarily using reverse genetics to alter plants and functional genomic approaches to analyse the pleiotropic effects of these alterations.
Sulfur is together with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium a plant macronutrient and a crucial element affecting plant growth, plant performance and yield. The group of Dr. Rainer Hoefgen focuses on characterising the regulation of cysteine and methionine as a result of sulfate uptake and assimilation in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
The group of Dr. Joachim Kopka, formerly known as "Root Metabolism", has a bipartite mission, on one hand the development of enabling technologies for metabolome and fluxome analysis on the other hand the application of new technology to yet unsolved problems in root physiology.
The group of Dr. Alisdair Fernie focuses on identifying factors involved in metabolic regulation of primary metabolism within both photosynthetic and heterotrophic tissues. Particular focus is given to the role of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and its participation within various biological processes.
The research group of Dr Camila Caldana aims at understanding the regulatory mechanisms of plant metabolism to promote growth in response to energetic status/environmental signals. In particular, we are interested in dissecting the role of the Target Of Rapamycin (TOR) pathway, a central regulator coordinating those factors among eukaryotes. We use Arabidopsis thaliana as a model system to decipher the basis mechanism, but we are extending our knowledge to fast-growing species such as Setaria viridis and the crop sugarcane.
The research group of Dr. Salma Balazadeh aims to functionally characterise and identify the gene regulatory networks (GRNs) of transcription factors (TFs) involved in the adaptation of plant growth to environmental changes in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and transfer the knowledge obtained in Arabidopsis to crops such as tomato. The group also investigates the molecular machinery that underlies the memory and forgetfulness of stress by focusing on the role of autophagy for heat stress memory in Arabidopsis.