IMPRS Faculty

Currently, 20 group leaders are members of our IMPRS faculty. Doctoral research projects can be pursued in the groups of these scientists. They are affiliated with the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP), the Institute of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Potsdam (UP), or the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ).

To find out more about our faculty members and their groups, please click on their names. The link will lead you to their websites where you can learn more about their research, find publications etc.

In the application for our IMPRS, you are asked to name faculty members in whose groups you would like to do a PhD project. It is not required to contact these faculty members before you submit your application, but you may do so. If you do contact them by email, please inform yourself about their research beforehand, and indicate in your email that you plan to apply for the IMPRS. Please note that not all faculty members may be available for supervising doctoral researchers and their PhD projects in a given year.

Application call 2022/2023
The following 17 IMPRS faculty members are available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023:

Isabel Bäurle | Ralph Bock | Alisdair Fernie | Duarte Figueiredo | Markus Grebe | Caroline Gutjahr | Claudia Köhler | Joachim Kopka | Friedrich Kragler | Michael Lenhard | Bernd Mueller-Roeber | Zoran Nikoloski Arun SampathkumarRené Schneider | Dirk Walther | Philip Wigge | Reimo Zoschke


Not available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Regulation of Photosynthesis
In nature, light availability for photosynthesis can fluctuate strongly. By using spectroscopic plant phenotyping, genetics, molecular biology, protein biochemistry and biophysics, we to seek to define the molecular requirements for dynamic photosynthesis and interactions with environmental stresses.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Plant Stress and Epigenetics
Plants can "remember" past exposure to stress, such that development or tolerance to recurring stress is modified. Using genetic, molecular and other tools, we study the long-term adaptation of plants to abiotic stress and the roles of epigenetic and chromatin regulation in this process.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Organelle Biology, Biotechnology, Molecular Ecophysiology
We study the biology of chloroplasts and mitochondria in seed plants, the expression of their genomes, their biogenesis and their communication with the nucleus. We develop transgenic technologies to engineer organellar genomes and facilitate new applications in biotechnology and synthetic biology. In addition, we have research programs in experimental evolution (reconstructing endosymbiotic gene transfer and horizontal gene transfer) and systems biology in the green algal model Chlamydomonas and the red algal model Porphyridium.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Central Metabolism
Central (energy) metabolism and its coordination. Integration of primary metabolism with intermediary and secondary metabolism. Genetics of metabolic regulation.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Seed Development and Apomixis
Our group studies the genetic and epigenetic regulation of seed development in flowering plants. In particular we are focused on the development of the endosperm, which acts as nourishment for the developing embryo, and of the seed coat, which surrounds and protects the embryo and the endosperm. Additionally, we are interested in how different tissues in the seed communicate with each other. Finally, we have a strong focus on understanding apomixis, which is the formation of seeds without fertilization. 
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Establishment of Plant Cell and Tissue Polarity
We investigate how cell and tissue polarity is established in epidermal cells of Arabidopsis thaliana roots. We look at, for example, root hair positioning (planar polarity) and establishment of outer lateral membrane polarity. To understand how one end of the cell becomes different from another one at the molecular level and how this may be coordinated within the tissue context, we combine a variety of genetic, molecular and cell biology methods, including state-of-the-art microscopy.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023
Note: Professor Gutjahr will move her lab to the MPI-MP in February 2023. Additional information about her research and publications can be found on her website at TUM.

Root Biology and Mycorrhiza
We investigate the interaction of plants with beneficial, nutrient-delivering arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi. Our aim is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the colonization of plant roots by arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi and the formation of an arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM). We investigate molecular interconnections between the plant’s physiology and development and the establishment of AM symbiosis, including the role of plant hormone signaling pathways. Furthermore, we are interested in the role of hormone pathways and cytoskeletal elements in regulating root hair development. In our research, we use state of the art genetic, molecular, cell biological and biochemical methods.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Epigenetics, Plant Reproduction and Speciation
Our lab studies genetic and epigenetic mechanisms governing seed development and plant speciation. Our focus is on the seed endosperm, a major sink for photosynthetically fixed carbon in plants. We study the endosperm's role in supporting embryo growth and in establishing hybridization barriers, ultimately leading to speciation. Furthermore, we study the biogenesis and function of transposable element-derived small RNAs during reproduction, and the role of transposable elements in generating transcriptional networks.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Applied Metabolome Analysis
We explore technological and applied aspects of metabolome and fluxome analysis with a focus on gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) based technologies. Our biological questions range from stress physiology and biotechnology of plants and photosynthetic microorganisms, such as algae and cyanobacteria, to cytosolic plant ribosome biogenesis, heterogeneity and specialization. Our interest in plant ribosome biogenesis is curiosity-driven research that was sparked by the discovery of cold sensitive Arabidopsis ribosome biogenesis mutants.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Intercellular Macromolecular Transport
We study the mechanisms and regulation of (1) cell-to-cell transport of proteins and RNA molecules in plants via plasmodesmata and (2) long-distance transport of RNA molecules via the phloem. We use biochemical approaches combined with genomic techniques to understand these transport processes and to functionally characterize candidate molecules.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Control of Plant Organ Size
Identifying the molecular and genetic mechanisms that determine the sizes of leaves and flowers; understanding how these mechanisms have changed during evolution to alter plant organ size.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Plant Signalling
Coordination of plant responses to environmental stress through various signalling mechanisms involving transcriptional regulatory networks. Systems-oriented approaches for the analysis of leaf growth.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Computational Biology
We are interested in understanding the principles of operation of large-scale metabolic networks from uni- and multi-cellular organisms and their integration with protein-protein interaction and gene regulatory networks. Computational approaches developed in the group combine machine / deep learning with integration of heterogenous big data to predict complex traits from molecular readouts.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Plant Morphodynamics
Our lab studies how plants attain their specific shapes and modify their growth patterns in response to environmental and chemical signals. We focus on the importance of cell wall and cytoskeleton in such processes, an area of both fundamental and practical importance. We employ advanced microscopy, genetics, transcriptional regulation and computational approaches to identify and unravel the cellular machinery involved in morphogenesis.
Not available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Biophysics and Photosynthesis Research
We analyse the organization and regulation of the photosynthetic light reactions. Using spectroscopic techniques for the in vivo measurement of all its major components, we determine the response of the photosynthetic apparatus to changing metabolic ATP and NADPH demands, as caused, for example, by leaf development or abiotic stresses. Using transgenic approaches, we then specifically elucidate the function of those components, which show a strong response under one or several of the analyzed conditions.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Cell Biology of Water Transport
We are interested in how plants build their water-conducting vasculature - the so-called xylem. We use high-resolution microscopy and novel genetic systems to observe the formation of xylem cell walls in real time, and employ state-of-the-art image analysis, in-vitro reconstitution assays and computer simulations to uncover the cellular and molecular principles that govern the formation of this critical cell type.
Not available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Metabolic Networks
Systems-oriented approach on metabolic pathways involved in primary carbon and nitrogen metabolism. How primary and secondary metabolism are integrated and regulated, and how signals from central metabolism regulate plant growth and development.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Application and development of bioinformatics methods to discern biologically relevant relationships between molecules from complex OMICS data sets with a focus on computational genomics (comparative genomics, gene expression regulation etc.) and structural bioinformatics (sequence-structure-function relationships, post-translational modifications, interaction networks, compound-protein interactions).
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Temperature Sensing in Plants
We focus on how plants sense and integrate temperature signals into their development. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms of temperature perception (thermosensors), as well as how downstream signalling pathways and transcriptional regulatory networks control cellular responses. Our projects involve protein biochemistry, genetics, transcriptional regulation, epigenetics and bioinformatics. Our aim is to make fundamental advances in plant science that contribute to the breeding of plants resilient to climate change. We study Arabidopsis, tomato, rice, and other horticulturally relevant plants.
Available for supervision of PhD projects starting in 2023

Translational Regulation in Plants
Our lab has a research focus on translational regulation in plants. We are fascinated by translation as the interface between RNA and protein metabolism. Our research projects aim at an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of translational regulation in response to internal and external triggers. We use molecular biology, biochemical and genetic approaches to analyse translational regulation, identify the regulatory cis-elements and trans-factors involved, and unravel their molecular mode of action.
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