The Plant Biotechnology group aims at deciphering molecular mechanisms of environmental stress responses in order to develop biotechnological applications to improve the stress resilience of crop plants in the context of climate change.
Previous and Current Research
Plant as sessile organisms rely on effective adaptation strategies at the transcript, protein, metabolic and physiological level in order to withstand an ever-changing environment. The recently observed world-wide increase in weather extremes demands for approaches to improve crop plant adaptation to stress. In the previous years, we have studied the role of transcription factors in transcriptional reprogramming under flooding stress in Arabidopsis thaliana and salt stress in Oryza sativa using a wide range of molecular biology-related techniques. Flooding creates a severe energy crisis in plant tissues as a result of oxygen constraints. Among others, we discovered a mechanism under flooding-induced hypoxia involving ERFVII transcription factors, which allows the integration of the energy status in the transcriptional response to hypoxia. In addition, in Oryza sativa, transcription factors participating in ROS-dependent signaling and early branching under salt stress or having a growth-regulating role to stimulate biomass production under stress- but also non-stress conditions have been identified.
Future Projects and Aims
Our research focus at the CeBiTec is the development and use of biotechnological approaches to improve the stress tolerance of European crops - especially cereal crops such as barley. In particular, we investigate molecular players and their participation in plant signaling pathways and tolerance mechanisms under environmentally caused oxygen constraints. Special emphasis is placed on the functional characterization of endogenous oxygen sensors, repressors and activators and the evaluation of their potential for future biotechnological strategies. In addition, we investigate how stress-induced reprogramming at the transcript level translates to metabolic adaptation.