We investigate sugar-, light- and high temperature-mediated signal transduction mechanisms and how this controls growth, in plants. In addition, we study carbon metabolism. Sugars activate signaling systems that lead to altered gene expression and a variety of plant responses that include resource allocation and growth. Similarly light and high temperatures have profound effects on plant gene expression, architecture and floral transition. These processes are investigated using molecular, genetical and physiological methods in the model system Arabidopsis and crops. In addition, we study the potential of the aquatic fern Azolla for the bio-based economy (movie).
Sugars are essential in metabolism but are signaling molecules as well and this function is comparable to the signaling function of hormones. Sugar receptors perceive the presence of sugar and initiate downstream signaling events. We are investigating how sugar signals affect gene expression, metabolism and development in plants.
Translation, the synthesis of proteins using mRNA as template, is the most energy consuming process of the cell. Interestingly, it is highly regulated in response to changes in energy availability and tightly linked to the regulation of growth. We study this process since it bears promise for future crop yield improvement.
A striking feature of plants is the huge variety of plant forms that can be found in nature. Plant architecture can be retraced to changes in activity and/or size of the shoot apical meristem. We study how meristem activity is regulated by temperature, light and plant sugar status.
The precursor of trehalose biosynthesis, trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P), is essential for development and controls carbon utilization in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. Furthermore, T6P accumulation in the absence of available carbon causes growth arrest when Arabidopsis seedlings are supplied with 100 mM trehalose. But what are the mechanisms involved?
Aquatic ferns from the genus Azolla constitute a symbiosis with cyanobacteria superseding the productivity of our crop plants whilst requiring no nitrogen fertilizer input. Their domestication is the subject of our investigations exploring dissemination and storage, breeding, yields of particular components such as protein, polyphenolics and lipids, and agro-system development to mine phosphate or palliate submergence of soils.
Even a small increase in ambient temperature considerably hampers growth and productivity of many plants species including crops.
We investigate the molecular and epigenetic networks underlying growth adaptation in response to high ambient temperatures (thermomorphogenesis) to generate future crops that can withstand the impact of projected global warming.
Fungal physiology is the basis of biotope and global dispersion of fungal species. Special professor Ronald de Vries and his team studies fungal physiology in relation to natural substrates and addresses aspects including production of extracellular enzymes, metabolic pathways and regulators controlling the fungal response to the substrates present in the environment.