Molecular Physiology

The research within Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. 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.

Research groups

Amino Acid and Sulfur Metabolism (Dr. Rainer Hoefgen)
Applied Metabolome Analysis (Dr. Joachim Kopka)
Central Metabolism (Dr. Alisdair Fernie)
Small-Molecule Signalling (Dr. Aleksandra Skirycz)
Stress Control Networks (Dr. Salma Balazadeh)
Metabolic regulation of Plant Growth (Dr. Camila Caldana)
The Genetics of Crop Metabolism (Dr. Saleh Alseekh)

Plant Reproductive Biology and Epigenetics

The department of Prof. Dr. Claudia Köhler studies genetic and epigenetic processes regulating flowering plant reproduction and their impact on plant speciation. The main focus is to understand processes regulating seed formation, seed growth and the establishment of hybridization barriers.

Research groups

Epigenetic Mechanisms of Plant Reproduction (Prof. Dr. Claudia Köhler)
Seed Development and Apomixis (Dr. Duarte Figueiredo)
Intercellular Macromolecular Transport (Dr. Fritz Kragler)
Metabolism and Development (Dr. Vanessa Wahl)

Organelle Biology, Biotechnology and Molecular Ecophysiology

Prof. Dr. Ralph Bock and his department focus on plant cell organelles (plastids and mitochondria), their physiology and gene expression as well as their metabolic and genetic interactions with the nucleo-cytosolic compartment.

Research groups

Organelle Biology and Biotechnology (Prof. Dr. Ralph Bock)
Algal Biomineralization (Dr. André Scheffel)
Cytoplasmic and Evolutionary Genetics (Dr. Stephan Greiner)
Biophysics and Photosynthesis Research (Dr. Mark Aurel Schöttler)
Regulation of Photosynthesis (Dr. Ute Armbruster)
Translational Regulation in Plants (Dr. Reimo Zoschke)

Department-Independent Research Groups

Current News

Press releases

The molecular memory of plants

July 26, 2021

How a plant grows depends on its genetic blueprint on the one hand, and on how the environment influences molecular and physiological processes on the other. Of particular importance are the so-called meristems, those divisible tissues that contain ...

Dipetides to the rescue

June 22, 2021

A team of scientists led by Dr. Aleksandra Skirycz, until recently a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, now a professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in the USA, has investigated and described in a recent ...

Sun light heats up plant evolution

June 10, 2021

How do different species actually develop? So far, we know that in many living organisms there is an incompatibility between the actual genetic material in the cell nucleus and the genetic material of the individual cell organelles, the powerhouse of ...

Recent Research Highlights

Journal Article (20)

Olas, J. J., Apelt, F., Annunziata, M. G., John, S., Richard, S. I., Gupta, S., Kragler, F., Balazadeh, S. & Mueller-Roeber, B. Primary carbohydrate metabolism genes participate in heat stress memory at the shoot apical meristem of Arabidopsis thaliana. Molecular Plant 14, 1508–1524 (2021).
Orsi, E., Claassens, N. J., Nikel, P. I. & Lindner, S. N. Growth-coupled selection of synthetic modules to accelerate cell factory development. Nature Communications 12, (2021).
Zhang, Y. J., Scossa, Federico, F. & Fernie, A. R. The genomes of Taxus species unveil novel candidates in the biosynthesis of taxoids. Molecular Plant (2021). doi:10.1016/j.molp.2021.08.017
Zhu, F. & Fernie, A. R. Plants upcycle gene functions to suit their roots. Trends in Plant Science 26, 996–998 (2021).
Alseekh, S., Aharoni, A., Brotman, Y., Contrepois, K., D’Auria, J., Ewald, J., C. Ewald, J., Fraser, P. D., Giavalisco, P., Hall, R. D., Heinemann, M., Link, H., Luo, J., Neumann, S., Nielsen, J., de Souza, L. P., Saito, K., Sauer, U., Schroeder, F. C., Schuster, S., Siuzdak, G., Skirycz, A., Sumner, L. W., Snyder, M. P., Tang, H., Tohge, T., Wang, Y., Wen, W., Wu, S., Xu, G., Zamboni, N. & Fernie, A. R. Mass spectrometry-based metabolomics: a guide for annotation, quantification and best reporting practices. Nature Methods 18, 747–756 (2021).

How to join MPI-MP

IMPRS and PhD programme

University graduates who are interested in modern plant research can work on their doctorate at our institute. Our doctoral programme is open to students from all countries. The doctoral research is done under the guidance of our directors, group leaders and senior scientists. We work closely with the Faculty of Science at the University of Potsdam where most of our doctoral researchers are registered and enrolled during their doctorate. The doctoral thesis is submitted and defended at the University, which also confers the doctoral degree.

Further Information


Those who want to visit the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology and want to learn more about the research at the institute can do so in various ways. The institute takes part in a number of events every year and also organizes events itself.

Media Library

Scientists of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology are are well-known experts in their field of study. In the movies shown here, which are either excerpts from TV shows or short individual productions, they give you an insight into their work.

Flyer and Brochures

On the following pages you will find various brochures of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology. You can also download the documents as PDF files.
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