Functional Plant Biology
The plant cell wall forms an exoskeleton like structure surrounding all plant cells and provides both structural support during plant growth and protection from environmental stress (drought) and infection by pathogens.
The ability to protect plant cells influences yield of food crops, while cell wall components like cellulose form raw materials that can be used for sustainable bioenergy production. To perform the different roles the functional integrity of the cell wall has to be maintained. Plants have evolved a mechanism to monitor and maintain integrity by initiating changes in cell wall and cellular metabolism upon cell wall damage.
The research group is studying the plant cell wall integrity maintenance mechanism in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The short-term aim being the analysis of the mode of action and the long-term aim being the application of this knowledge to facilitate sustainable bioenergy production and improve food crop performance. To study the mechanism an experimental system using Arabidopsis seedlings grown in liquid culture in combination with a cellulose biosynthesis inhibitor is being used. This setup allows to limit unspecific environmental effects and to study cellulose metabolism, which gives rise to the most abundant biopolymer on earth.
Areas of research