Klimakammer 360° Bild: ZAB

Facilities and Plant Resources

Our institute has almost 6000 square meters (65,000 square feet) of floor space. The extensive facilities and state of the art equipment housed here are vital to our research program.

State-of-the-art laboratories and plant cultivation facilities

We have an area of over 2000 square meters designated purely for research (i.e. bench space and equipment). Three rooms and three staff members are devoted exclusively to media and lab ware preparation.

The greenteam service runs plant cultivation on 1600 m² fully climate controlled greenhouse, 540 m² phytotrone area plus a summer greenhouse and a 5 ha field side. We routinely cultivate Arabidopsis thaliana, tobacco, tomato, potato, rice, maize, Cucurbitaceae, sugar cane, Medicago, Lotus, Oenothera and Thellunginella species 365 d per year. This includes controlled production of seeds e.g. for various Arabidopsis accession. The service includes the development of cultivation protocols for new species, including the establishment of hydroponics protocols. The service runs a successful integrated pest management system that controls pest predominantly by hygiene and biological control systems.


Since traditional biological approaches are combined here with techniques relevant to emerging disciplines such as functional genomics, our equipment resources are ample and diverse. For general molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology work the equipment available includes:

  • confocal and fluorescent microscopes
  • four high pressure- and one fast performance-liquid chromatography (HPLC and FPLC, respectively) units
  • an infrared (IR) gas analyser, several spectrophotometers and microtitre readers
  • phospho-imagers, numerous polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines (including a real time machine used to quantitated relative transcript levels)
  • a capillary electrophoresis unit for DNA fragment analysis
  • two capillary electrophoresis units for small sample analysis
  • several electrophysiology rigs for patch clamping
  • centrifuges for a full range of uses
  • robotic systems for generating high-density DNA arrays for large scale transcript profiling
  • a quadrupole time-of-flight spectrometer (Q-TOF, a liquid chromatography-coupled hybrid mass spectrometer), and a Q-Deca (a LC-coupled ion trap mass spectrometer) for protein sequencing and metabolite profiling
  • several gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) machines (one coupled ion trap, four quadrupole, and three time-of-flight) for metabolite profiling

Technical Support and Information Technology

Two technical service groups keep our institute running smoothly. The eight-member Technical Support team ensures that our buildings and instruments are maintained and constructs specifically required devices. The seven-member Information Technology team is responsible for network security and backup data security and maintains the computer network and all communication systems. In addition, they install software and provide support for all standard office computer applications - most staff members have computers for their exclusive use.

Central Building and Guest House

The central building of the Max Planck Campus has a large lecture hall, a seminar room, administrative offices and a cafeteria. A receptionist is present at all times to take care of arriving guests. The campus also has a guesthouse where visiting scientists can stay for periods of up to three months.

Our institute has two large, light filled tearooms where groups can meet and talk, and where all employees can sit and have a warm drink and something to eat whenever they like. During breaks, people often play table tennis or foosball in the corridors. Outdoors, a football field, cricket pitch, beach volleyball court and basketball court are used regularly.

Plant Cultivation and Transformation Facilities

The Plant Cultivation Facility provides services including development of plant cultivation protocols, practical assistance during experiments, biometric advice, and seed and seed potato production. Almost 3000 square meters of growth space is available in the facility (phytotrons plus greenhouse and glasshouse space). The Plant Transformation Facility offers assistance with Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation. You can find more information on the Green Team site.

Plant resources: Creating and investigating genetic diversity

We use five general approaches to create genetically diverse plants:

(1) Directed Transformation

Directed transformation of plants based on known gene sequence. We have hundreds of transgenic potato, tomato, tobacco, and Arabidopsis plant lines on hand and the transformation of rice and Lotus is established and routinely applied.

(2) Creation of Mutant Collections

Generation of large Arabidopsis mutant collections using T-DNA random insertion/activation lines or ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) mutagenesis. We currently have about 67,000 T-DNA-tagged lines and large stocks of EMS mutagenised Arabidopsis seed. These collections are used for forward screening.

(3) RILs and NILs

Generation of recombinant inbred lines and near isogenic lines. We have recombinant inbred lines (RILs) and near isogenic inbred lines (NILs) from about 350 homogenised naturally-occurring Arabidopsis accessions (ecotypes) and are currently generating four RIL and one NIL population(s). Tomato introgression lines are also in use. These lines make it easier to see the effect of a particular quantitative trait locus (QTL).

(4) Exploitation of Naturally Occuring Arabidopsis Ecotypes

Establishment of a marker system based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are relatively closely and evenly distributed over the Arabidopsis genome. A set of 112 evenly spaced polymorphic sites for various Arabidopsis ecotype crosses is now in place. This system speeds up genetic mapping and map-based gene cloning.

(5) Use of Tobacco Antisense Transformants

Generation of a large number of tobacco antisense transformants using an unbiased strategy. These transformants are used to identify interesting genes for which a moderate decrease in expression has a marked impact on visual appearance or growth.

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