What we do


Welcome in the Nick-Lab

Molecular Cell Biology (Prof. Dr. Peter Nick)

Fritz-Haber-Weg, Gbd. 30.43 (Biology Tower), 5. floor. e-mail. How to find us

 

Secretary

 

the journal with the longest tradition in cell biology (Springer-Nature). We publish it. more...

 

Get Viticulture Climate-Resilient

October 1, 2022 our new Interreg-Upper Rhine project Kliwiresse has been launched. A research net, coordinated by the Botanical Institute with partners from three countries in the region works to adapt viticulture to climate change. In many places, new vineyards can be laid down only with artificial irrigation, leading to conflicts with the supply of drinking water. We ask the ancestor of our grapevine, the almost extinct European Wild Grapevine, for help. Here, we search for genes that help to cope with heat, UV and drought stress, to cross them into cultivated grapevine. We will employ cutting edge technologies such as automised microscopy, non-targeted metabolomics, or double haploidisation. Goal are ´KliWi-Grapes (for Klima-Widerstandsfähig, climate resilient) that are supposed to continue the success story of the PiWi-Grapes (for Pilz-Widerstandsfähig, fungal resistant) that had also been developed in our region. At the same time, for the rootstock and fruit grapes relevant in our region, we will develop knowledge based predictors of their climate resilience, to help winegrowers to adapt to climate change by adjusting their selections. The project runs for three years and will cost 2.8 million €, whereby 1.6 million € will be covered by Interreg Upper Rhine.

 

Tumour Drug From a Living Fossil

The Hainan Head Yew (Cephalotaxus hainanensis) is a living fossil that has survived only on the Chinese island Hainin. In the resin ducts of its barks, the valuable harringtonine accumulates, so far the most potent mean against leucemia. The few remaining specimens of this precious tree must be guarded to prevent that the costly bark is stolen, because the bark is traded with eight times the price of gold. In a cooperation with the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agriculture the first part of harringtonine formation could be elucidated. This is now published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of the USA (PNAS). A core finding of this work were the results from Dr. Huapeng Sun, who, during a two year research stay at the KIT, funded by the Helmholtz-OCPC programme, succeeded to identify the decisive enzyme, which forms the template for harringtonins. This paves the way for rebuilding the pathway biotechnologically in tobacco cells. Biotechnology might help, therefore, to rescue this tree from extinction. PRESS RELEASE OF THE KIT.

 

 

 

 

Anti-microtubular

 

The new "Strasburger"

127 years ago Eduard Strasburger founded the textbook of botany, which appeared now in the 38. edition - this makes the "Strasburger" the biology textbook with the longest history. Peter Nick contributed a couple of 100 pages to the topics structure and function of the plant body and plant development. The "Strasburger" pursues the goal to depict the entire knowledge on plants, comprehensively, up-to-date, and at the same time filtered. Even though it had never been easier to acquire information, the problem is progressively to filter relevant from irrelevant. Textbooks are, therefore, not outdated, but more important than ever. more...

FKI

The State Teaching Award 2015 was given to Peter Nick and Mathias Gutmann. The money was used to found the Forum. Beyond faculties and disciplines, we debate here on controversial topics.

The topic in the next semester will be: "Darwin's Legacy". more...

 

 

 

 

What is New? Plant Thermometre found

Climate change is more than hot and dry summers, it is also a blurred border between season. A warm March, followed by a frosty April mean often huge losses in orchards and vineyards. How can plants sense cold and respond rapidly? We have now found a very exotic thermometre - a motor protein that in the warm walks along microtubules, but, when microtubules decay in the cold, moves into the nucleus and works as gene switch activating genes that lead to cold hardening. Can we use this thermometre to make plants defend themselves more rapidly against frost?

Publication Xu et al. (2022)

In addition to this motor protein, also the gen switch Cold Box Factor 4 is imported to the nucleus in response to cold, as we could show for grapevine. This work will appear soon in the International Journal of Molecular Science.

What is New: How Climate Stress Sickens Plants

Esca & Co is actually a stress-induced disease. The responsible fungi can live in the wood for many years without causing symptoms. However, when plants are exposed to climate stress they kill their host. The outbreak of Esca & Co is, therefore, steered by chemical signals. In a cooperation between the Institute for Biologically Active Compounds (IBWF) in Kaiserslautern we succeeded to clear up two of these signals. Under stress, ferulic acid accumulates in the wood of the grapevine trunk, because this precursor of lignin cannot be any longer converted. The fungus Neofusicoccum parvum has "learnt", to sense ferulic acid as signal for the ensuing crisis of its host and to respond by secretion of Fusicoccin A. Also Fusicoccin A is a signal. It evokes in grapevine programmed cell death, a type of cellular suicide that is actually meant for defence against biotrophic pathogens. We succeeded now to elucidate this sophisticated manipulation by chemical signals and publish this in the journal Plant Cell & Environment.

Khattab I, Fischer J, Kazmierczak A, Thines E, Nick P (2022) Hunting the plant surrender signal activating apoplexy in grapevines after Neofusicoccum parvum infection. Plant Cell Environment doi.org/10.1111/pce.14468 - pdf

BEITRAG CAMPUSRADIO

 

 

What is New?  Wild Grapevine Combats Salt Stress

An often neglected consequece of climate change is the increase of soil salinity - rising sea levels, but also artificial irrigation make more and more soild go lost. A joint project funded by the German and the Tunisian Ministry of Science investigated this for grapevine. During a comparative study, we could show that a wild grapevine that had been found in the Atlas mountains, can grow even under severe salinity, although it takes up the salt and transfers it to the leaves. A very robust system of antioxidants helps to buffer against the dangerous oxygen radicals. By a comparison of salt-induced genes in the root, we can explain this by the accumulation of flavonoids and the reprogramming of sugar metabolism. This work appeared now in Frontiers of Plant Sciences.

Publication:

191. Daldoul S, Hanzouli F, Hamdi Z, Chenenaoui S, Wetzel T, Nick P, Mliki A, Gargouri M (2022) The root transcriptome dynamics reveals new valuable insights in the salt-resilience mechanism of Mediterranean wild grapevine (Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris). Front Plant Sci 13, 1077710 - pdf

 

 

 

What our research is about

Life is not easy. There are two ways to cope – animals run away, plants adapt. We want to understand, how. The key are plant cells, since they mediate shape, adaptation and the enormous diversity of plants.

 

 

 

Evolution solves problems in a sustainable, highly diverse manner. Can we valorise this diversity? We work to protect and use diversity. We develop methods, to safeguard consumer protections in times of globalisation. more... Amaranth, the Superfood of the Inka, as functional food. Wir try to raise the content of Omega-3-Fatty Acids, to develop a vegan alternative for sea fish (EU-CORNET, 2020-2022) together with the University of Hohenheim and partners from Peru. more...
Plants are masters of adaptation. How do they overcome stress? We work on jasmonic acid, the plant "adrenalin", but also about the immune system of grapevine. more.. Ecosystem on chip for sustainable plant protection (Interreg Science Offensive, 2019-2022). more...
Plant cells can self organise without a "Big Brother". The ability of each individual cells to acquire its own direction, is central. How does this work? more... Cold resistance of strawberries (BMBF, 2018-2020)