Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Manganese and iron distribution in plant seed.

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Research

The subject of plant nutrition deals with the functions and dynamics of mineral elements in plants, soils, and ecosystems. Plant nutrition thus connects many disciplines, ranging from agronomy, ecology and soil science to plant physiology, cell biology and biochemistry. In this truely interdisciplinary field, our lab focuses primarily on a fundamental question: How are mineral elements translocated into and within the plant and what roles do they play? We currently concentrate on two elements, calcium and manganese. In all higher organisms (not only in plants!), calcium plays a central role as second messenger, meaning it transduces environmental stimuli (such as drought stress or pathogen attack) into an appropriate response (such as drought resistance or pathogen defence). Manganese is a constitutent of many enzymes and essential for oxygen generation in photosynthesis, but often toxic at higher concentrations. For both elements, we are trying to identify the mechanisms that keep cellular concentrations at the right level. From our work on calcium signalling, we also got interested in how plants can better tolerate drought conditions, an area of research that is gaining importance in a changing climate. To answer our questions, we do not only work on crop plants, but also make use of model species, such as Arabidopsis thaliana and yeast, which are molecularly more tractable. Knowledge gained from such studies can then be transferred to improve traits of crop plants.

In addition to our work on fundamental aspects of plant nutrition, we are concerned with more applied problems. The lab has a long history in the analysis of assimilate translocation and yield formation in cereals and legumes. Furthermore, a number of projects have made use of a local long-term fertilization trial and a current line of research investigates possibilies to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses from organic fertilization.

To learn more about our achievements and publications so far, please have a look at the lab members’ individual sites.

Our work is currently supported by:

- The Federal State of Sachsen-Anhalt   

- The Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV)   

- The German Research Foundation (DFG)   

- SKW Stickstoffwerke Piesteritz GmbH   

- K&S Kali GmbH   

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