Molecular Nutrition and Biochemistry of Plants
Plant growth is constrained by the availability of mineral nutrients in the soil. Especially nitrogen and phosphate are often limiting factors for plant biomass production. For the efficient use of nutrients, plants have evolved effective mechanisms for nutrient uptake and biochemical pathways for nutrient recycling. The recycling pathways allow plants to mobilize nutrients from senescent tissues for the supply of developing tissues and storage organs. The molecular details of this remobilization are still poorly investigated.
During germination the plant is initially unable to take up nutrients and therefore remobilization from seed tissue is crucial for survival at this developmental stage. Nutrient remobilization is also particularly important during senescence when nutrients are recycled from vegetative tissues (leaves, stems) to reproductive or storage organs (flowers, seeds, tubers).
In recent years many new genes were discovered and whole genome sequences for many organisms, including plants, have become readily available. However, the functional and physiological characterization of the proteins encoded by these genes is lagging behind gene discovery.
The focus of our work is to understand the physiological function of genes/proteins involved in nutrient remobilization. In an integrative approach combining approaches from bioinformatics, biochemistry, plant physiology, genetics and cell biology we are investigating the molecular details of nutrient remobilization.
The aim is to generate a deeper molecular understanding of remobilization processes in plants paving the ground for the development of plants with increased nutrient efficiency. Such plants shall produce high yields with moderate fertilizer consumption, thereby limiting the negative impact of intense agriculture on the environment.