For the public
What are we doing?
Life is not always easy. There are two ways to respond to that: run away or adapt. To put it bluntly: Animals run away, plants adapt. To secure their survival, they change metabolism, development and shape. We try to understand and to valorise this ability for change. We think that only things, we have thoroughly understood, are ready for meaningful applications.
Individual plant cells can generate an entire new organism. For us, this works only with fertilised eggs. How can a single cell create an ordered whole that is able to resist an everchanging environment? How did plants evolve this huge variety of survival strategies?
This is, what we want to understand.
But, we do not only want to understand, we want also to apply that what we have understood:
Can we use our knowledge about plant biodiversity to find new solutions for pertinent problems, for instance to safeguard consumer protection or to valorise biodiversity?
A cooperation of our colleague Dr. Adnan Kanbar with the Institute for Technical Chemistry demonstrated that an ancient Syrian landrace of Sorghum bicolor can mobilise phosphorous and silicates from marginal soils. By pyrolysis the straw can then be transformed into plant fertiliser. more...
Can we use our knowledge on the adaptability of plant cells to render crop plants more resilient to climate change through breeding or specific treatments?
Our colleague Dr. Islam Khattab identified in our collection of the highly endangered European Wild Grape (the ancestor of our domesticated Grapevine) types that are resistant to climate-born fungal diseases, because they are more efficient in activating their immune system. more...
Can we use our knowledge on plant cells to make them produce valuable medical compounds? For instance, by creating an articial chip technically mimicking a plant tissue.
Our colleague Dr. Kunxi Zhang succeeded to find the long searched, but so far elusive enzyme that can de-tyrosinate plant microtubules and, thus, marks them as "highways" for the movement of motor proteins. more...