Background and activities


I am a chemical biologist by education now working at the intersection of biology and physics in the Functional Plant Biology group led by Thorsten Hamann

The Hamann group is studying cell wall integrity (CWI) maintenance in plants exemplified by the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant CWI maintenance describes a network of proteins and singaling events with origin at/in the continuum of the plant cell wall and the adjacent plasma membrane to monitor the state of the cell wall at all times. The cell wall is the entity surrounding each single cell and it is stiff enough to contain the turgor pressure build up by the vacuole inside the cell. It is also the first physical barrier towards the environment and especially vulnerable to environmental challenges. The CWI maintenance mechanism ensures the functional integrity of each cell and the whole plant organism upon cell wall damage or cell wall stress by sensing external stimuli, relaying these stress related signals and initiating adaptive responses. Relevant, naturally or man-made occurring stressors can e.g. be pathogen attack, temperature changes, soil pH, drought or herbicides. In the lab, we use the chemical isoxaben that inhibits the biosynthesis of cellulose, the main component of cell walls. Typical adaptive responses are the release of plant hormones, gene up- or down regulation or the structural re-composition of the cell wall to compensate for the weakened cell wall. 

This research field has been constantly growing for more than a decade and more and more details of this complex network of mechanisms are brought to light. While many studies so far focused on molecular studies, the aspect of mechanical stimuli playing a role in the initiation of responses is relatively new.  

This is what my project is focusing on. I am investigating changes in plant cell turgor pressure occuring as a response to different types of cell wall damage/stress in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. An important part of my work is the development of a genetically encoded fluorescent tool together with other reporters that will allow to visualize the change of turgor pressure and other responses with improved temporal and spatial resolution. The knowledge created will contribute to our general understanding of the plant CWI maintenance mechanism.



As a PhD student I am also involved in teaching and lab course supervision in the following courses:

BI2012 - Cell biology 

BI2015 - Molecular bioligy 

BI1007 - Plant structure and function


Other activities:

2019 - today:         Board member(treasurer) Norwegian Biochemical Society (NBS), Div Trondheim 

07/2019 -07/2020: PhD representant in the PhD program board at the NTNU Biology department



05/2017    M.Sc. Chemical Biology; Technische Universitaet Dortmund, DE

08/2015 - 12/2015     Study abroad/ERASMUS+; Universitetet i Bergen, NO

08/2014    B.Sc. Chemical Biology; Technische Universitaet Dortmund, DE


Scientific, academic and artistic work

Journal publications


  • Schulz, Julia. (2019) Cell wall signalling: Cell wall integrity (CWI) maintenance mechanism in plants. PhD course: Plant Cell Walls . Doctoral Program in Plant Sciences, University of Helsinki; University of Helsinki. 2019-02-18 - 2019-02-22.
  • Schulz, Julia; Hamann, Thorsten. (2019) A biomechanical perspective on cell wall integrity (CWI) maintenance in Arabidopsis thaliana. PhD course . Doctoral Program in Plant Sciences, University of Helsinki; University of Helsinki. 2019-02-18 - 2019-02-22.