Group leader prof. Michel Haring
Research within the ‘Plant Physiology' group is focused on signalling in plants at different organisational levels. Signal transduction cascades are studied that help plants cope with biological and environmental stress conditions: phospholipids signalling, the role of plant volatiles in plant-insect and plant-plant communication and the regulation of scent biosynthesis in tomato and petunia.
Plants have a unique ability to quickly and adequately respond to sudden changes in their environment, e.g. cold stress, salinity, and drought, or to an attack by pathogens or herbivores. As they are unable to walk away from the threat, a rapid activation of signaling cascades that eventually lead to the acclimatisation and survival of the plant is crucial.
One of the key events in the response of plants to many stress conditions is the formation of lipid second messengers. Within our department, there are two groups studying how, when and where these lipid signals are generated, and how they can modulate protein function and downstream plant responses on the molecular level. Another group works on plant volatile signalling. During flowering, for example, floral scents are produced to attract insect pollinators while during wounding, leaf volatiles can prime defense responses in neighbouring plants, but also repel herbivorous arthropods and/or attract predators of the latter. This group is particularly interested in the transcriptional networks underlying the regulation of plant volatile production and the mechanisms by which priming occurs.