Root Biology and Symbiosis
Prof. Dr. Caroline Gutjahr's department studies the symbiosis between soil fungi and plant roots. This symbiosis is called mycorrhiza and is of great importance for the growth and health of plants.

Research groups

Mycorrhiza and Root Biology (Prof. Dr. Caroline Gutjahr)
Central Metabolism
(Dr. Alisdair Fernie)

Receptor structures at the plant-microbe interface (Dr. Alexander Förderer)
The Genetics of Crop Metabolism (Dr. Saleh Alseekh)
Plant Reproductive Biology and Epigenetics
The department of Prof. Dr. Claudia Köhler with three different research groups 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)
Organelle Biology, Biotechnology and Molecular Ecophysiology
Research of three research groups in the Department of Professor Dr. Ralph Bock focuses on the biology of the two DNA-containing cell organelles in plants, plastids (chloroplasts) and mitochondria, and their integration with the nucleocytosolic compartment.

Research groups

Organelle Biology and Biotechnology (Prof. Dr. Ralph Bock)
Biophysics and Photosynthesis Research (Dr. Mark Aurel Schöttler)
Translational Regulation in Plants (Dr. Reimo Zoschke)

Department-Independent Research Groups

Current News

Eliminating Hidden Hunger

Eliminating Hidden Hunger

January 05, 2024
Researchers from the John Innes Centre and the Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology are calling for biofortification to play an integrated role in food strategies to relieve the global problem of hidden hunger. 
Yew tree with fruits. Paclitaxel and its precursors are produced in the needles and bark of various trees in the genus Taxus.

Scientists discover how yew trees save lives

December 12, 2023
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology unravel the biosynthetic pathway of paclitaxel in Yew plants, a most successfully used chemotherapeutic for cancer treatment.
A root of the grass Brachypodium distachyon under the microscope. The fungal hyphae (colored blue) grow into the root cells and form branched structures, the arbuscules, which can almost completely fill the cells.

Potsdam researcher investigates underground relationships

December 12, 2023
Top researcher from Potsdam receives €2 million for research into an underground relationship between plants and fungi.

Recent Research Highlights

Journal Article (89)

Liu, F., Fernie, A. R. & Zhang, Y. J. Plant gene co-expression defines the biosynthetic pathway of neuroactive alkaloids. Molecular Plant (2024). doi:10.1016/j.molp.2024.02.002
Li, J., Martin, C. & Fernie, A. R. Biofortification’s contribution to mitigating micronutrient deficiencies. Nature Food 5, 19–27 (2024).
Zhang, Y. J., Wiese, L., Fang, H., Alseekh, S., de Souza, L. P., Scossa, F., Molloy, J., Christmann, M. & Fernie, A. R. Synthetic biology identifies the minimal gene set required for Paclitaxel biosynthesis in a plant chassis. Molecular Plant 16, 1951–1961 (2023).
Bulut, M., Nunes-Nesi, A., Fernie, A. R. & Alseekh, S. Characterization of PetM cytochrome b6f subunit 7 domain-containing protein in tomato. Horticulture Research 10, (2023).
Qiu, H., Zhang, X., Zhang, Y. J., Jiang, X., Ren, Y., Gao, D., Zhu, X., Usadel, B., Fernie, A. R. & Wen, W. Depicting the genetic and metabolic panorama of chemical diversity in the tea plant. Plant Biotechnology Journal (2023). doi:10.1111/pbi.14241


No events


How do individual subunits of conserved molecular complexes acquire novel functions?

Mar 15, 2024 02:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Local Time Germany)
Central Building, Room: Seminar Room

ROS-mediated receptor kinase signalling in plants

Mar 20, 2024 02:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Local Time Germany)
Central Building, Room: Seminar Room

A Pair of microRNAs Controls the Unique Pigmentation Shift in Developing Eggplant Fruit Skin

Apr 10, 2024 02:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Local Time Germany)
Central Building, Room: Seminar Room

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

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

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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