Plants shape our planet since the conquest of land by the first ancestors of land plants about 450-500 million years ago. They form the basis of most terrestrial ecosystems and human nutrition by harvesting the energy of the sun and assimilating carbon dioxide.
On land, plants are exposed to changing environmental conditions such as fluctuating light intensities, frost, heat, flooding and drought. To balance metabolism, growth and development plants have evolved sophisticated redox networks inside cells. Each subcellular compartment features its own redox machinery, while information on local stresses is integrated by the cell nucleus to coordinate gene expression.
We are particularly interested in the energy-generating endosymbiont-derived organelles plastids and mitochondria. Our research investigates local redox processes and seeks to understand specificity of signaling between cell compartments as well as acclimation during diverse environmental stresses in different plant model systems.
In the plant ecology research branch, we work on higher levels of biological organization from plant individuals to communities and ecosystems. Our main interests include the relationships between vascular plants and herbivores, the impacts of anthropogenic environmental changes on these interactions, and the diverse feedbacks on biodiversity, ecosystem stability and function.