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.
Central research questions are whether and how the establishment of the symbiosis is influenced by environmental factors and which molecules play a crucial role in this process. Professor Gutjahr not only plans to study the molecular processes in plants, but also to analyze fungi, which have hardly been studied so far, in more detail. Furthermore, the department is looking into whether the molecular knowledge can be used to breed mycorrhiza-optimized crops that could contribute to sustainability in agriculture.
Other research topics in her department include the study of mechanisms controlling plant growth (AG Caldana), the metabolism of the macronutrient sulfur in plants (AG Höfgen), and the identification of factors involved in the regulation of primary metabolism in photosynthetic and heterotrophic tissues (AG Fernie). In addition, a project group (Saleh Alseekh) is working on the identification of genes involved in plant secondary metabolites.
Director of Department 1: Root Biology and Symbiosis
To improve nutrient uptake, most land plants form symbioses with root-colonizing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. The main focus of the research in the group "Mycorrhiza and Root Biology" led by Prof. Dr. Caroline Gutjahr
is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the formation of an arbuscular mycorrhiza.
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. 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.
The project group of Dr. Saleh Alseekh
focuses on the identification of genes involved in plant specialized metabolites. The group uses quantitative genetic approaches and metabolomics techniques to assess the chemical diversity across a wide range of natural accessions and mapping populations of crop plants.