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Plant Nutrition 2019

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2019

1 October 2019
Welcome (again), Nico!

Today, Nico Rössner started his PhD within the DFG Research Training Group 2498, which focuses on plant organellar interactions. Nico has just obtained his MSc in Crop Science, where he worked on calcium transport proteins in leguminous root nodules. In his PhD project, Nico will uncover how vesicular compartments impact on cellular calcium dynamics and signalling. Exciting times ahead!

25-27 September 2019
Participation (and another poster price!) at Plant Nutrition conference

Nine of us went to this year's International Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition at Berlin. Stefanie Höller gave a talk covering our work on manganese transporters, and we also presented four posters. The poster "A Golgi-localized cation transporter crucial for plant performance under limiting manganese supply" by Jie He, Bastian Meier, Stefanie Höller, Jane Gohlisch, Anja Janssen, Tina Peiter-Volk, and Edgar Peiter won the third prize at the posters awards. Congratulations to Jie for her second hit!

31 July 2019
Good bye (for now), Heidrun!

Today, Dr. Heidrun Beschow entered her well-deserved retirement from her position as Lecturer ("wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin") in our group. Heidrun started her work in our lab, then called the Institute of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition and led by the late Prof. Günther Schilling, in 1984. She intially worked on plant growth regulators, nitrogen fixation, and source-sink relationships, and later led the establishment of plant transformation techniques in our lab. Her undergraduate and graduate courses contributed very significantly to the teaching portfolio of our group and were in great demand by students of both agriculture and nutrition. Heidrun took care of the safety in the lab, she was in charge of analytical techniques, and she enthusiastically organized local and international conferences. We thank Heidrun wholeheartedly for her great dedication and enduring helpfulness that helped to create our supportive lab atmosphere, and we wish her all the very best for the future. Last but not least, we and the students are very happy that Heidrun will continue to support us as associated lecturer.

7-12 July 2019
Participation (and a poster price!) at Plant Membrane Biology conference

We presented three posters at the 18th International Workshop on Plant Membrane Biology (IWPMB 2019), which was held at Glasgow (UK). Our poster "A Golgi-localized cation transporter crucial for plant performance under limiting manganese supply" by Jie He, Bastian Meier, Stefanie Höller, Jane Gohlisch, Anja Janssen, Tina Peiter-Volk, and Edgar Peiter was awarded a prize of the best posters. Congratulations to Jie for her very catchy presentation of the exciting data!

4 July 2019
Welcome, Julia!

Today, Julia Rödiger started as our new office administrator. She has just successfully completed her apprenticeship and already organized our next lab outing :-). Julia will be in charge of finances, personnel, purchasing, and many other organizational matters that are all indispensable to keep the lab up and running.

31 May 2019
Good bye, Marion!
Today, Marion Müller entered her well-deserved retirement from her position as secretary of our group. Marion joined the Plant Nutrition Lab in 2008 and played a central part in running the group and in all organizational matters. In her very supportive and passionate manner, she always managed to find a way through the jungle of increasingly complicated formalities imposed by administration and funding agencies. Her office was an inexhaustible source of everything ever needed. We thank Marion wholeheartedly for her great dedication and perpetual helpfulness. We wish her all the very best for the future and a happy retirement.

13 May 2019
Congratulations, Dr Rissel!

Today Dagmar Rissel very successfully defended her comprehensive PhD thesis on the functional characterization of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases in stress responses and seed germination. Dagmar is now active at the Julius Kühn Institute at Braunschweig, where she established a molecular biology lab in the herbology department. We wish her all the very best for the future and say a big Thank You for all her contributions to our lab.

12 April 2019
Participation at Tri-National Arabidopsis Meeting

Stefanie Höller and Bastian Meier presented two posters at the 11th Tri-National Arabidopsis Meeting, which was held in Zurich (Switzerland).

02 April 2019
Review on Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases in plants

Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs) are proteins that transfer ADP-ribose units onto target proteins to activate DNA damage responses and other cellular processes. In plants, PARPs have been linked to abiotic and biotic stress responses. However, reports have been inconsistent, and the effects of PARP inhibitors appear to be more robust than the genetic abolition of PARP gene expression. In a comprehensive review article published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, we critically summarize our current understanding of poly(ADP-ribosylation) and PARP proteins in plants. We highlight similarities and differences to human PARPs, areas of controversy, and requirements for future studies. The review is based on the dissertation of Dagmar Rissel, a finalising PhD student in our lab. It is available online and can be accessed here   .

1 April 2019
Welcome again, Bastian!

Today, Dr. Bastian Meier was appointed as Lecturer ("wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter") in our group. Bastian obtained his PhD on manganese transport in plants, and recently worked on calcium signalling in nitrogen nutrition. Bastian will be establish undergraduate and graduate teaching programmes, conduct and supervise research projects, and act as lab manager.

31 March 2019
Good bye, Wolfgang!

Today, Dr. Wolfgang Gans entered his well-deserved retirement from his position as Lecturer ("wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter") in our group. Wolfgang started his work in our lab, then called the Institute of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition and led by the late Prof. Günther Schilling, in 1986. He initially worked on plant growth regulators and later extended his focus to problems of trace gas emissions from agricultural soils and to the long-term fertilization experiments of our lab. His undergraduate and graduate courses contributed very significantly to the teaching portfolio of our group and were in great demand by the students. Besides teaching and research, Wolfgang was in charge of many administrative and organisational matters, and he was central to the (re-)establishment and functioning of the lab. We thank Wolfgang wholeheartedly for his great dedication and enduring helpfulness that helped to create our supportive lab atmosphere, and we wish him all the very best for the future.

14 March 2019
Paper on biofortification of barley grains

Diets based mainly on cereal grains are inherently low in mineral elements essential for human nutrition, such as iron or zinc. Globally, this causes the so-called hidden hunger in large populations, particularly in poorer countries. Increasing grain yields further lead to a reduction of mineral nutrient concentrations. In collaboration with the James Hutton Institute (UK), M. Wiegmann, A. Maurer, and K. Pillen of the Plant Breeding group used a nested association mapping population to assess the potential of wild barley as genetic ressource for biofortification. Generally, the study revealed negative correlations between yield and nutrient concentrations in this material, and wild alleles were frequently associated with higher nutrient concentrations. The targeted introgression of wild barley alleles may enable biofortification in future barley breeding. We contributed our expertise to this promising study, which is published in the Journal Plant Science. It is available online and can be accessed here   .

12 March 2019
Talk in York (UK)

Edgar Peiter presented a seminar on our work on calcium transport and signalling in the departmental seminar of the Biology Department at the University of York (UK).

07 March 2019
Paper on pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Senecio vulgaris

The contamination of phytopharmaceuticals and herbal teas with toxic plants is an increasing problem. Senecio vulgaris is a particularly noxious weed in agricultural and horticultural crops due to its content of toxic and carcinogenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). The occurrence of PAs in this plant as related to the plant's developmental stage and the season was analysed in a systematic field-plot study. This showed that PA concentrations are fairly stable. Hence, the total PA amounts increased strongly during development due to increasing plant biomass, and even small numbers of S. vulgaris may cause critical contaminations as defined by the maximal permitted daily intake levels recommended by the European Food Safety Authority. The study was carried out within the MSc Thesis project of Jens Flade and jointly supervised by Heidrun Beschow and Wim Wätjen (Biofunctionality of Secondary Plant Compounds group at the Institute). The paper is published in the Journal Plants. It is available online and can be accessed here   .

01 March 2019
New Equipment: MP-AES

Today a Microwave Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscope has been installed in our lab, which will strengthen our capabilities to determine elemental concentrations in plant and soil samples with high throughput.

25 February 2019
Congratulations, Dr Meier!

Today Bastian Meier very successfully defended his comprehensive PhD thesis on the functional characterization of a Cation Diffusion Facilitator in Arabidopsis. We thank Bastian for this nice piece of work, and for all his support and cheerfulness that truely shape our lab. We wish Bastian all the very best for the future (not only) in plant nutrition!


2018

28 November 2018
Talk in Cardiff (UK)

Edgar Peiter presented a seminar on our work on calcium transport and signalling in the departmental seminar of the School of Biosciences at the University of Cardiff (UK).

5 November 2018
Congratulations, Dr Happeck!

Today Ricardo Happeck very successfully defended his dogma-changing PhD thesis "Funktionelle Charakterisierung von Mitgliedern einer Süßgras-spezifischen Familie von Kationentransportern aus Weizen und Gerste". We are very grateful for the great efforts Ricardo invested in his project and for his involvement in the lab, and we wish him all the very best for the future!

13-14 September 2018
Participation at Plant Nutrition Conference

We presented four posters at this year's Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition, which was held at Osnabrück (Germany). The poster "A CDF transporter determines metal translocation and redistribution in Arabidopsis thaliana under deficiency and resupply" by Stefanie Höller, Bastian Meier, Ana Mijovilovich, Hendrik Küpper, and Edgar Peiter was awarded the prize of the best poster. Congratulations!

13 September 2018
New chairman and managing director of German Society of Plant Nutrition [Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pflanzenernährung, DPG   ]

At its annual general assembly, the German Society of Plant Nutrition (www.pflanzenernaehrung.org/homeenglish.html   ) elected Edgar Peiter, head of the Halle Plant Nutrition Laboratory, as chairman from 1 January 2019. Stefanie Höller, member of the Peiter lab, has been elected as the upcoming managing director of the Society. In times of intensive and often uninformed public and political debates on issues of agricultural plant nutrition, such as nitrate contaminations, greenhouse gas emissions, and biotechnologial crop improvement, the German Society of Plant Nutrition faces the important task to inform about scientific facts and misconceptions, as well as to connect scientists in the field and to foster the upcoming generation of plant nutritionists.

5 September 2018
Paper on calcium transporters in chloroplast

Photosynthesis, taking place in the chloroplasts of plants, is the process which enables plants to convert solar energy into organic matter and which produces the oxygen that supports aerobic life on earth. Calcium has been known to regulate numerous chloroplast proteins and is hence likely to govern photosynthetic reactions. However, neither the mechanisms that generate changes in chloroplast calcium concentrations nor their implications have been understood. In collaboration with Sacha Baginsky (Plant Biochemistry at MLU), we have identified calcium transporters that act in chloroplast membranes and show that they mediate the generation of calcium signals in chloroplasts. Plants lacking those transporters are severely defective in photosynthesis and consequently in growth. The bulk of experiments of this study was performed by Julia Frank (who constantly commuted between our and Sacha's labs ;-)). The group of Pierre Morsomme (UCL Louvain-la-Neuve) and Gerd Hause (Biocentre of the University), as well as members of our groups contributed essential experiments to this work, which is published in New Phytologist and which can be accessed here   .

A press release by the University (in German) can be found here.

24 August 2018
Paper on soil phosphate analysis

The application of the optimum amount of phosphate (P) to fields is important to avoid over-fertilization and eutrophication, while ensuring crop yield and quality. For this purpose, the P status of farmer's soils is regularly analysed, on which the fertilization requirement is based. Two different standard extraction procedures are employed in different regions of Germany, but there has not been a validated transformation procedure. This uncertainty has impeded a direct comparison of the P fertility status and P fertilizer recommendations across Germany. In a study led by Michael van Laak and Uwe Buczko at the University of Rostock, the comparability of both extraction methods was assessed, and regression equations to transform results of both methods were derived. We contributed data sets from a long-term field experiment on P fertilization that has been running since 1949 to this study, which is published in the Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science. It is available online and can be accessed here   .

9-13 July 2018
Participation at International Symposium on Iron Nutrition and Interactions in Plants

Edgar Peiter gave a talk on our work on manganese transport and manganese-iron interactions at the 19th ISINIP conference, which was held in Taipei (Taiwan).

28 June 2018
Lab outing

A day of archeology instead of plants: Today we explored some of the amazing history of Sachsen-Anhalt – the Nebra Sky Disk excavation site and the castle of Querfurt.

01 June 2018
Modifying phytohormone signalling to improve sugarcane yield

Sugarcane contributes more than 70% of sugar production worldwide and is a main source for renewable energy. However, despite extensive breeding, progress in improving cane yield and sugar content have been very slow. A new study tested an approach to modify signalling proteins of the phytohormone gibberellin. Transgenic sugar cane plants were strongly altered in growth , development, and metabolites, which demonstrates the  potential of this approach to increase yields. The study was led by Rafael Tavares in the lab of Marcelo Menossi (University of Campinas, Brasil), who has worked as visiting PhD student in our lab. The work is published in the Journal of Experimental Botany and can be accessed here   .

01 June 2018
Tomatoes feel the heat

High temperature is stressful for plants and a serious threat for crop production. It is therefore important to understand how plants adapt to high-temperature stress. A new study on tomato identified a MAP kinase as crucial regulator of responses to heat and pointed to its mode of action. The study was led by Haidong Ding at Yangzhou University (China), who has worked as a visiting research fellow in our lab, with major contributions by Jie He, who is now a PhD student in our lab. The work is published in Plant Physiology and can be accessed here   .

25 May 2018
Talks in China

In the last two weeks, Edgar Peiter presented our work at Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU), China Agricultural University (CAU, Beijing), and Northwest A&F University (NWAFU, Yangling).

02 May 2018
স্বাগতম (Welcome) Kabir!
Today Kabir has arrived from Bangladesh. He will work with us for three months on mechanisms of manganese efficiency in plants.

05 March 2018
Arabidopsis meets long-term experiments: Paper on  responses of root microbial populations to phosphorus fertilization
Plant roots harbour a rich microbial population, which can improve the ability of the plant to acquire nutrients, in particular phosphate. This provokes the question how the nutrient availability alters the root-associated microbiome. Our lab operates a long-term field experiment on phosphorus fertilization that has been running since 1949. A team at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research has grown Arabidopsis plants in soil from this field experiment and examined the microbial populations in roots, rhizosphere, and bulk soil at different phosphorus supply levels. Interestingly, both bacterial and fungal communities remained unexpectedly unaffected by phosphate fertilization, and only minor changes were observed in root-associated microbes. These findings demonstrate a resilience of soil microbiomes and contrast earlier studies that did not take into account long-term effects of phosphorus availability. The study was led by Chanz Robbins and Stijn Spaepen in the lab of Paul Schulze-Lefert at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research and is published in Phytobiomes. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

14 February 2018
Review on trace metal metabolism in plants

Trace metals (copper, iron, manganese, nickel, zinc) play many essential roles in plants, but are toxic at high concentrations. Hence, suboptimal or excessive availabilitiy lead to deficiency or toxicity symptoms, respectively, and both conditions cause a decreased plant growth. We have contributed to a comprehensive overview of this vast and important research field, which is now published as Darwin Review in the Journal of Experimental Botany. The review, which is led by our colleague Hendrik Küpper (Ceske Budejowice, CZ), covers uptake, transport, and functions of metals, as well as strategies against non-optimal metal nutrition. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

09-10 February 2018
Talks at Plant Physiology Meeting

Bastian Meier and Santiago Alejandro presented talks on nitrogen-calcium interactions and on manganese transport at the 16th Central German Plant Physiology Conference at Dresden.

06 February 2018
Talk at University of Jena

Edgar Peiter gave a talk on our research on cation transporters at the Botanical Colloquium of the University of Jena.

02 January 2018
Xin chào Minh!
Today Minh Hoang has started as postdoc in our lab. Her project will focus on cation transporters in chloroplasts. Minh has worked before on ascorbate transport and iron nutrition of plants at Montpellier.


2017

20 November 2017
Paper on yield responses to phosphorus fertilization

Phosphorus (P) is a limited resource, and excessive P fertilization can lead to environmental problems. Our lab operates a long-term field experiment on phosphorus fertilization that has been running since 1949. We contributed data sets from this experiment to a large-scale meta analysis that identifed soil parameters determining the effectiveness of P fertilization. The study was led by Uwe Buczko and Michael van Laak at the Department of Landscape Ecology and Site Evaluation of the University of Rostock and is published in Ambio. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

23 October 2017
Congratulations Dr Khan!
Today Nufaid Khan successfully defended his PhD thesis "Polyamines and Calcium Signalling in Drought Tolerance of Arabidopsis and Barley". Nufaid will return to Pakistan in November to continue his scientific carrer. We wish him all the best for the future!

5-7 September 2017
Participation at Plant Calcium Signalling conference

Edgar Peiter gave a talk on calcium signalling in biotic interactions at the PCS 2017 conference, which was held in Norwich (UK).

1 September 2017
Welcome (again) Claudia!

Today Claudia Schlindwein started her PhD project in which she aims to improve our understanding of systemic calcium signalling in plants. Claudia got an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and graduated in Crop Science at Halle. She recently finished her MSc thesis in our lab on calcium transporters in root nodules. Her PhD project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

19-24 August 2017
Participation at International Plant Nutrition Colloquium

Stefanie Höller presented a poster on manganese and iron allocation in seeds at the 18th IPNC, which was held in Copenhagen (Denmark). Edgar Peiter gave a talk  on the role of CDF proteins in manganese transport at the Manganese  Satellite Meeting of the conference.

10 August 2017
Talk at Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

Edgar Peiter gave a talk on calcium signalling in biotic interactions at the Institute Seminar of the MPI-CE in Jena.

29 June 2017
Paper on manganese and iron in seeds

Metal accumulation in seeds is important for their germination, but also for the supply of micronutrients to humans. However, the mechanisms by which manganese and iron are stored in seeds are still not fully understood. We found that the metal transporter MTP8, for which we identified before a pivotal role in roots of iron-deficient plants (see news of 15 December 2015), is also highly expressed in developing seeds. A combination of metal localization by synchrotron micro X-ray fluorescence and histochemical methods, expression of the gene in yeast, and physiological assays revealed that MTP8 determines the allocation of manganese to a sub-epidermal cell layer in the embryo, a function that is essential for germination if the mother plant suffers manganese deficiency. We further found that MTP8 also transports iron besides manganese, and that this function is required for iron reallocation during seed germination. Taken together, MTP8 is a major player in manganese and iron accumulation in seeds, and thus a promising tool in crop improvement. The study was a collaboration led by Nico von Wirén, Seckin Eroglu, and Ricardo Giehl at the IPK Gatersleben, with Hendrik Küpper and Elisa Andresen at the Czech Academy of Sciences, with Michiko Takahashi at Usunomiya University (Japan), with Yasuko Terada at the Spring-8 Synchrotron (Japan), and with Konstantin Ignatyev at the Diamond Syncrotron (UK). In our lab, Bastian Meier contributed to the exciting findings, which are published in the July issue of Plant Physiology. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

01 June 2017
Bienvenido Santiago!
Today Santiago Alejandro Martinez has started as postdoc in our lab. His project, which is part of a State Research Focus programme on the application of molecular biosciences, will focus on manganese efficiency of sugar beet. Santiago has previously worked on various aspects of plant signalling and transport at Valencia, Zurich, Montpellier, and Paris.

05-06 May 2017
Participation at Plant Nutrition Conference

Stefanie Höller gave a well-received talk on the role of the vacuolar metal transporter MTP8 in the allocation of iron and manganese in seeds at this year's Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition, which was held at Giessen (Germany). Isabel Diercks and Bastian Meier presented a poster on calcium signalling in nitrogen nutrition, which won the second price at the poster awards. Congratulations!

18 April 2017
Paper on method to characterize PARP proteins and inhibitors

Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs) have been implicated in responses of plants to DNA damage and numerous stresses, whereby the mechanistic basis of the interference is often unclear (see News on 6 February 2017). Therefore, the identification of specific inhibitors and potential interactors of plant PARPs is desirable. For this purpose, our PhD student Dagmar Rissel established an assay based on heterologous expression of PARP genes from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana in yeast. This assay provides a fast and simple means to identify target proteins and pharmacological inhibitors of AtPARP1. The paper is available online in Analytical Biochemistry and can be accessed here   .

06 February 2017
Paper on PARP genes and stress tolerance

Abiotic and biotic stress can have a detrimental impact on plant growth and productivity. Hence, there is a substantial demand for key factors of stress responses to improve yield stability of crops. Members of the poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (PARP) protein family, which post-translationally modify (PARylate) nuclear proteins, have previously been suggested as such universal determinants of plant stress responses. We tested this notion by subjecting mutant plants devoid of parp genes to drought, osmotic, salt, and oxidative stress. Surprisingly, parp mutant plants did not differ from wild type plants in any of these stress experiments. The parp mutant was also analyzed for callose formation in response to flagellin peptide, which signals the presence of a pathogen. Unexpectedly, callose formation was also unaltered in the mutant, albeit pharmacological PARP inhibition robustly blocked this immune response. Evidently, pharmacological inhibition appears to be more robust than the abolition of all PARP genes, indicating the presence of so-far undescribed proteins with PARP activity. This was supported by the finding that protein PARylation was not absent, but even increased in the parp mutant. Candidates for novel PARP-inhibitor targets may be found in the SRO protein family. These proteins harbor a catalytic PARP-like domain and are centrally involved in stress responses. Molecular modeling analyses indeed indicated a capability of two SRO proteins to bind PARP inhibitors. Collectively, the results of our study suggest that the stress-related phenotypes of parp mutants are highly conditional, and they call for a reconsideration of PARP inhibitor effects. The study was a collaboration with Peter Paul Heym and Wolfgang Brand at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, who performed the molecular modelling analysis. In our lab, PhD student Dagmar Rissel conducted the experiments. The work was co-funded by the Federal State of Sachsen-Anhalt and Agrochemisches Institut Piesteritz. The paper is published in Frontiers in Plant Science and can be accessed here   .


2016

28 November 2016
Congratulations Dr Lange!

Today, Mario Lange defended his PhD thesis "Calcium signal generation and Transient Receptor Potential channel homologues in the fungal pathogen Colletotrichum graminicola" with great success. Mario has already started a new position in molecular diagnostics. We wish him all the best for the future and say a big Thank You for his enthusiastic contributions to the lab.

12 November 2016
Paper on spore formation by mycorrhizal fungus and new method of mycorrhizal inoculum production

Mycorrhizal fungi can contribute to the nutrient supply of plants, in particular with phosphate. To increase mycorrhizal colonization of agricultural and horticultural crops, plants can be inoculated with spores and hyphae of the mycorrhizal fungus. However, production of the inoculum is often inefficient, and separation of the fungus from the mineral growth substrate is difficult. Experiments conducted by former external PhD student Anja Müller at the Leibniz-Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops revealed that mycorrhizal fungi deposit large amounts of spores and vesicles in dead root material ("trap roots"), which provides a means to generate fungal inoculum free of mineral substrates. Such trap root mats are available from large-scale hydroponic cultures that are common in horticulture. The paper, which is published in Mycorrhiza, is available online and can be accessed here   .

1 November 2016
Welcome Steffi!

Today Stefanie Höller has started as postdoc in our lab. Stefanie has previously worked at the University of Bonn where she did a PhD on zinc deficiency and ascorbate metabolism in rice in the group of Michael Frei.

24 October 2016
Ni hao Jie He!

Today Jie He (aka. Tiffany) has arrived from Yangzhou, China. She will join us for four years to pursue a PhD on novel calcium transporters in plants.

28-30 September 2016
Participation at Plant Nutrition Conference

We presented six posters at this year's Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition, which was held at Hohenheim (Germany). The poster "Genome-wide identification of the CPK gene family in Medicago truncatula and its expression in nodules" by Claudia Schlindwein, Lisa Bischoff, Joachim Schulze, and Edgar Peiter was awarded a prize of the three best posters. Congratulations!

31 August 2016
Commentary on calcium and ROS waves in plants
Not only animals, but also plants operate rapid systemic signalling mechanisms that convey information about a localized stress or attack to other, yet unaffected, parts of the plant, so that they can prepare for the potential spread of the challenge. In the current issue of Plant Physiology, Edgar Peiter comments on an elegant study of the Gilroy and Morris labs, who combined wet-lab research and mathematical modelling to demonstrate an inherent linkage of two second messengers, calcium and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in this "systemic signalling" machinery. The commentary is available online and can be accessed here   .

30 June 2016
Paper on calcium channels in fungi

Calcium is a central component in the response of all organisms to their environment. Calcium signals in the cytosol, i.e. the cell sap, are initiated by the activation of calcium channel proteins in the outer cell membrane and/or in endomembranes. The model organism yeast contains a calcium-permeable channel of the TRP family, TRPY1, which is localized in the vacuolar membrane and contributes to cytosolic calcium elevations, for example in response to osmotic upshock. A TRPY1 homologue in the rice blast fungus is known to be important for growth and pathogenicity. To determine the role of the TRP channel family in the devastating maize pathogen Colletotrichum graminicola, proteins homologous to TRPY1 were searched. This identified not one, but four genes in the C. graminicola genome, which we named CgTRPFs, and which were all expressed throughout the infection of maize. Like TRPY1, all TRPF proteins of C. graminicola were localized intracellularly. Deletion strains for the CgTRPF genes were not altered in processes thought to involve calcium release from internal stores, i.e. spore germination, the utilization of complex carbon sources, and the generation of tip-focussed calcium spikes (see news on 13 April 2016). Heterologous expression of the CgTRPFs in a yeast mutant revealed that none of the channels mediated the release of calcium in response to osmotic upshock. Accordingly, calcium measurements of C. graminicola showed that in this fungus, osmotic upshock-triggered calcium elevations were generated entirely by influx of calcium from the extracellular space. Cgtrpf mutants did not show pathogenicity defects in leaf infection assays. In summary, our study reveals major differences between different fungi in the contribution of TRP channels to calcium-mediated signal transduction. The experiments were performed by our PhD student Mario Lange in collaboration with our neighbours, the phytopathology lab; the project was part of a DFG Research Group (FOR666). The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

13 April 2016
Paper on calcium and growth of fungi
Regulation fluctuations in cytosolic free calcium are decisive for tip growth of certain plant cells, such as pollen tubes and root hairs. As hyphae of filamentous fungi also grow at their tip, we were interested in whether growth of these organisms is also determined by calcium oscillations. Determinations of calcium concentrations on single-hypha and on whole-colony level in combination with growth assays and a pharmacological survey showed that this is not the case. Instead irregular calcium spikes were observed, which are likely a response to micro-environmental parameters, such as the physical properties of the surface. The experiments were performed by our PhD student Mario Lange; the project was part of a DFG Research Group (FOR666). The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

15 February 2016
Paper on potassium and water shortage in long-term experiment

Both, potassium (K) deficiency and limited water supply can cause substantial yield losses. Albeit it is believed that an ample K nutrition alleviates the severity of drought stress, this relationship has not been studied extensively in the field. We analysed a long-term field experiment with K availability ranging from deficient to superfluous for the interaction between K supply and yield loss of five crop species (potato, wheat, barley, beet, maize) by water shortage. On the low-K plots, crops suffered yield depressions of nearly all main harvest products. A comparison of four year-pairs with differing levels of precipitation showed an average water shortage-induced depression of dry matter yields by 20%. Interestingly, the severity of this yield depression was not mitigated by elevated K supply, with the exception of beet leaves, where the dry matter production was stabilized by high K supply. In beet, the reduction of storage-root yield was associated with a decrease in harvest index and was therefore obviously caused by an inhibition of assimilate translocation from the leaves into these organs, in contrast to cereals, where water shortage primarily affected dry matter production in vegetative organs. It is concluded that the physiological causes of yield reduction by drought stress differ between plant species and that the possibilites to ameliorate drought effects by K supply are limited. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

13 January 2016
Paper on calcium signalling in yeast
Yeast is an excellent model organism which, like animals and plants, employs calcium as second messenger. A team of laboratories led by Linghuo Jiang (Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China) has now identified a novel regulator of cytosolic calcium homeostasis in yeast. In our lab, Ricardo Happeck and Tina Peiter-Volk contributed to this major advance, which has just been published in the European Journal of Cell Biology. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .


2015

15 December 2015
Paper on iron-manganese interactions

It has been known for a long time that iron nutrition in plants is antagonistically affected by manganese, but the processes which are sensible to manganese and the way by which plants address this problem have remained unknown. In this paper, we identifiy iron chelate reduction as a critical manganese-sensitive step and the CDF transporter MTP8 as essential component mitigating the adverse effects of manganese on iron nutrition. We identified this pivotal role of MTP8 in iron nutrition by employing a new forward genetic screening approach that mimicked the conditions of low iron availability in calcareous soils. We further elucidated the causal relationships between iron nutrition and MTP8-mediated manganese sequestration by employing a broad range of molecular, cell biological, and analytical tools. This allowed us to define the primary function of MTP8, namely the safeguarding of the iron acquisition machinery under iron-limiting conditions in the presence of manganese, rather than the detoxification of manganese under conditions of absolute manganese toxicity. The general relevance of this mechanism is underlined by the hypersensitivity of mtp8 mutants to Fe deficiency chlorosis also on calcareous soil. Our findings are of broad interest to plant biologists, as we provide here a novel mechanistic view on how the management of an antagonistic element (Mn) warrants the tolerance to deficiency of another nutrient (Fe). Moreover, this study will also raise interest to researchers from the agricultural sector as it addresses a problem frequently reported in field studies. The study was a collaboration with Nico von Wirén (IPK Gatersleben) and his PhD student Seckin Eroglu, who first identifed the role of MTP8 in iron nutrition. In our lab, Bastian Meier contributed to the exciting findings, which are published in Plant Physiology. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

01-02 December 2015
Participation at Indo-German Workshop

Edgar Peiter participated at the workshop "Novel approaches to investigate signals and defenses in plant-biotic interactions" at New Delhi (India) which was jointly organized by NIPGR (Delhi) and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. He presented a talk entitled "Coding the message: Generation and kinetics of calcium signals in biotic interactions".

17-18 September 2015
Participation at Plant Nutrition Conference

We presented three posters at this year's Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition, which was held at Göttingen (Germany). The poster "Phytoeffectors - the rescue from abiotic stress conditions?" by Victoria Kiep, Dagmar Rissel, Tina Peiter-Volk, Anja Janssen, and Edgar Peiter was awarded the prize for the best poster. Congratulations!

30 August - 03 September 2015
Participation at the Conference of the German Botanical Society

We presented a talk and two posters at the Conference of the German Botanical Society, which was held in Freising-Weihenstephan (Germany).

21 May 2015
Paper on systemic calcium signals after wounding and herbivory
Insect herbivory triggers an intricate signalling network in the plant that ultimately leads to the launch of defense responses. It is known that "calcium signals", i.e. the transient elevation of cytosolic free calcium, is a very early and essential response of the attacked plant. By monitoring cytosolic free calcium elevations in entire Arabidopsis rosettes using a high-resolution photon-counting camera system, we found that wounding and herbivory by caterpillars induced calcium signals not only in the attacked leaf, but also in non-attacked, "systemic" leaves. Systemic calcium signals were found predominantly in adjacent leaves with direct vascular connections to the treated leaf and appeared with a delay of 1 to 2 min. This systemic [Ca2+]cyt response was suppressed by the presence of insect-derived oral secretions as well as in a mutant of the vacuolar cation channel Two Pore Channel 1 (TPC1). The systemic calcium signal could play an important signalling role in systemic plant defense. The study was a collaboration with the group of Axel Mithöfer (MPI for Chemical Ecology, Jena). In our lab, Victoria Kiep, Justus Lattke, and Jan-Peter Maaß contributed to those exciting findings, which are published in the New Phytologist. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .


2014

04 November 2014
A very warm Welcome to Linghuo!
Today Prof. Linghuo Jiang has arrived in our lab. Linghuo is an expert in yeast biotechnology and signalling at the School of Biotechnology of Jiangnan University in Wuxi (China). For the next three weeks, Linghuo will work on a novel regulator of calcium homeostasis that his lab has identified. In addition, we will elucidate further fields of collaboration between our institutions.

04 November 2014
Commentary in the New Phytologist
Our paper on the PAMP-triggered calcium signature (see 22 September 2014) is subject of a commentary by Prof. Allan Downie (JIC Norwich), which can be accessed here   .

22 September 2014
Paper on PAMP-induced calcium signals in stomatal guard cells published

Changes in cytosolic free calcium are an early and essential element of signalling networks activated by the perception of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), such as flg22. The flg22-induced calcium signal has been described on whole-plant, but not on single-cell scale so far. Also, the calcium sources and channels contributing to its generation are still obscure. Ratiometric fluorescence imaging employing the calcium reporter Yellow Cameleon 3.6 was performed to analyse the flg22-induced calcium signature in single guard cells of Arabidopsis thaliana. Calcium stores and channel types involved in its generation were determined by a pharmacological approach. In contrast to the calcium signal determined on whole-plant level, the signature on single-cell level is not characterized by one sustained response, but by oscillations in cytosolic free calcium. Our analyses suggest that the response observed on whole-plant level is the summary of oscillations occurring in single cells. Parallel to external calcium, influx via channels located at internal stores contributes to the signal. The study was conducted by our senior postdoc Kathrin Thor and is published in New Phytologist. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

10-12 September 2014
International Conference organized - Plant Nutrition 2014
From 10 to 12 September, the biannual International Conference of the German Society of Plant Nutrition was held on the Heide-Süd Campus of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The German Society of Plant Nutrition (DGP) is the professional organization in Germany that brings together scientists from all areas of Plant Nutrition. This scope is reflected in the International Conference series of the DGP. This year's meeting aimed to forge a bridge from basic research on molecular and physiological mechanisms, as well as plant-soil interactions, to practical applications in crop improvement and fertilization. Topical sessions focussed on root development and function, nutrient and stress signalling, micronutrients, soil fertility and fertilization, and plant senescence and nutrient retranslocation. The meeting was framed by opening and closing lectures that provided perspectives on current and future challenges in plant nutrition research. The conference would not have been possible without the enthusiastic commitment of the local organizing committee members and the generous support of our donors, to all of whom we are very grateful.

06-10 July 2014
Participation at International Meeting

We presented two posters at the 17th International Symposium on Iron Nutrition and Interactions in Plants (ISINIP), which was held on the campus of the Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics & Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Gatersleben (Germany).

22-26 June 2014
Participation at International Meeting

We presented a talk and four posters at the Plant Calcium Signaling conference (PCS 2014), which was held in Münster (Germany).

13 May 2014
Method featured in "Laborjournal"

Our recently published improvement in the cultivation of filamentous fungi (see 04 April 2014) is featured in this month's issue of the lab magazine Laborjournal. The article is freely available here   .

03 May 2014
New plasmid system for co-localization and bimolecular fluorescence complementation published
Today a paper describing a new system to transform fungi simultaneously with two tagged genes has been published in Current Genetics. The work is part of a DFG-funded project on calcium signalling in a fungal phytopathogen. The system was developed by our PhD student Mario Lange and adapted for BiFC by Ely Oliveira-Garcia of our Phytopathology lab. The paper is available online and can be accessed here     .

04 April 2014
New method to cultivate filamentous fungi published
Today a paper describing a new approach to cultivate filamentous fungi on solid media for RNA extraction and pharmacological analyses has been published in Analytical Biochemistry. The work is part of a DFG-funded project on calcium signalling in a fungal phytopathogen. The technique was developed by our PhD student Mario Lange and his MSc student Carolin Müller. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .

18 February 2014
Ni hao Haidong!

Dr Haidong Ding, a visiting scholar from Yangzhou University, China, has arrived today. Haidong obtained an Overseas Scholarship by the Jiangsu Provincial Government to do research in our lab for one year. He has previously worked in the areas of plant stress physiology and molecular biology and will join our efforts to unravel mechanisms of calcium signalling in plants.

17 February 2014
New publication on genome repair in seeds

Today a paper on the role of a nuclear protein, PARP3, in the agronomically important trait of seed storability has been published in Plant Biology. The experiments were conducted by our PhD student Dagmar Rissel with the support of her project student Judith Losch. The paper is available online and can be accessed here   .


2013

16 December 2013
Congratulations Xuefeng!

Today Xuefeng Gong successfully defended her PhD thesis "Characterization of putative RCK domain channel proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana". Xuefeng will return to China in January. We wish her all the best for her future endeavours. A big Thank You to everybody who has helped and supported Xuefeng throughout the four years that she worked in our lab.

18 October 2013
Newspaper article

Increasing the yield stability of crops through an enhanced stress resistance is an important goal of our research. Our work on stress tolerance of barley and Arabidopsis has been covered today in the newspaper "Mitteldeutsche Zeitung"   . The barley projects are part of the Interdisciplinary Centre of Crop Research (IZN); the Arabidopsis projects are funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)   .

17 October 2013
Review on potassium

A paper on the important role of potassium in agriculture has just been published in the Journal of Plant Physiology. The review summarizes factors determining the plant availability of soil potassium, the role of potassium in crop yield formation and product quality, and the dependence of crop stress resistance on potassium nutrition. The paper has been jointly written by Christian Zörb (University of Leipzig), Mehmet Senbayram (University of Göttingen) and Edgar Peiter (MLU Halle-Wittenberg). It is available online now and can be accessed here   .

22 August 2013
Participation and Poster Price at International Meeting

We presented three posters at the XVII International Plant Nutrition Colloquium (IPNC) which was held in Istanbul (Turkey):
Meier, B.
, Kirsten, A., Fierlbeck, L., Nies, D., Mustroph, A., Peiter, E.
A vascular manganese and iron transporter required for submergence tolerance of Arabidopsis.
Happeck,
R. , Köhler, K. , Rech, J. , Freitag, L. , von Wirén, N., Peiter, E.
A newly identified gene from barley alters calcium signals and increases the sensitivity of yeast to sodium and lithium .
Eroğlu
, S., Meier, B., von Wirén, N., Peiter, E.
Characterization of a Mn transporter essential for Fe efficiency in Arabidopsis thaliana.
The contribution of Eroğlu et al. was awarded one of the five best-poster prizes. Congratulations to Seckin and Bastian!

22 July 2013
Masterarbeit von Mathias Krebs ausgezeichnet

Im Wettbewerb "Meister und Macher 2013" der Zeitschrift "top agrar" wurde die Masterarbeit unseres Studenten Mathias Krebs mit dem zweiten Preis in der Kategorie Ackerbau und Grünland ausgezeichnet. Die Arbeit trägt den Titel „Auswirkung verschiedener Arten der Gärrestapplikation auf die  Ammoniakverluste, den Ertrag und den Deckungsbeitrag bei Winterroggen,  Mais und Grünland“ und wurde durch Dr. Friedhelm Herbst und Dr. Wolfgang Gans betreut. Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

23 April 2013
Paper on newly identified family of calcium transporters

Calcium is a ubiquitous and essential second messenger in all higher organisms; calcium signals are generated by the action of channels and transporters in cellular membranes. The contribution of internal calcium stores to this process is only poorly understood, in particular in non-animals. By identifying a novel transporter localized in the Golgi apparatus of yeast and humans as a regulator of calcium homeostasis, a team of laboratories led by Pierre Morsomme (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium) has now made a significant progress in this area. The study has appeared in PNAS today, and we are very happy to having been able to contribute some of our expertise to this work.

Demaegd D, Foulquier F, Colinet A-S, Gremillon L, Legrand D, Mariot P, Peiter E, van Schaftingen E, Matthijs G, Morsomme P (2013). A newly characterized Golgi-localized family of proteins is involved in calcium and pH homeostasis in yeast and human cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110, 6859-6864.

01 April 2013
Welcome Nufaid!

Our new PhD student Nufaid Khan has arrived today. Nufaid did his undergraduate studies in Plant Breeding and Genetics at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan, and subsequently obtained an MPhil in Biotechnology from Forman Christian College University, Lahore. He successfully applied for a HEC fellowship to carry out his PhD on the involvement of calcium signalling in abiotic stress tolerance of crops.

04 February 2013
Welcome Rafael!

Today Rafael Garcia Tavares, a visiting PhD student from the State University of Campinas at São Paulo, Brazil, arrived in our lab. Rafael's project is concerned with gibberellin signalling in sugarcane. In the next few months he will work on protein interactions and study responses of gibberellin mutants.


2012

01 December 2012
Welcome (again) Victoria!

Today Victoria Kiep started her PhD project which aims at the improvement of crop stress tolerance. Victoria got her undergraduate degree in Agricultural Sciences and graduated in Crop Science at Halle. She just finished her MSc thesis in our lab on calcium signalling in plants. Her PhD project is funded by the Agrochemisches Institut Piesteritz (AIP) and part of a collaborative effort of the Institute of Biology at the MLU, the Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB), SKW Piesteritz, and the Plant Nutrition Laboratory.


2011

03 August 2011
New BSc and MSc Modules

To intensify the practical training of undergraduate and graduate students in molecular techniques, we do now offer two additional research-focussed modules. A complete overview of our teaching programme can be found here.

01 April 2011
Congratulations and Welcome Jan!

Jan-Peter Maaß received a PhD scholarship funded by the State of Sachsen-Anhalt and has started his PhD project on calcium signalling in Arabidopsis today. Jan graduated in Agricultural Sciences at the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg.

11 March 2011
Review on vacuolar calcium signalling

A paper on the role of the plant vacuole as generator and decoder of calcium signals has been published in Cell Calcium. It is available online now and can be accessed here   .

1 January 2011
Welcome Martina!

Martina Fuhrmann has just joined our group as research technician supporting a BMELV-funded project on greenhouse gas release due to fermentation residue application.


2010

2 October 2010
Congratulations Bastian et al.!

The poster "Novel Manganese Transporters in Plants: Jacks of many trades" by Bastian Meier, Xi Chen, Annina Gwinner, Tina Peiter-Volk, Kristin Peter, and Edgar Peiter has won the 1st prize at the "Genetics of Plant Mineral Nutrition" Symposium at Hannover.

1 September 2010
Welcome Liane!

Liane Freitag has just joined our group as laboratory technician. Liane will support a range of practical teaching and research activities.

1 August 2010
Welcome Kristin!

Kristin Peter has just joined our group as research technician supporting a DFG-funded project on manganese homeostasis in plants.

01 June 2010
Welcome Nancy and Ricardo!
Ricardo Happeck and Nancy Nowak have just started their PhD projects on abiotic stress tolerance of barley. Their projects are carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Pharmacy (Prof B Dräger) and the IPK (Prof N von Wiren) and are part of the newly initatied Interdisciplinary Centre of Crop Research (IZN) funded by the State of Sachsen-Anhalt. Ricardo graduated in Biology at the Free University of Berlin; Nancy obtained her graduation in Biology from the Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg.

01 March 2010
Welcome (again) Bastian!

Bastian Meier has started his DFG-funded PhD project, which is concerned with the characterization of a family of plant manganese transporters. Bastian graduated in Agricultural Sciences at Halle and just finished his Diploma project on manganese transport.


2009

16 November 2009
Welcome Xuefeng!

Xuefeng Gong, a graduate from Northwest Agricultural University, Yangling (China), has just started her CSC-funded PhD project on a family of ion channels believed to be involved in the generation of calcium signals.

16 October 2009
We have moved!

A couple of weeks ago our lab has moved into new purpose-built facilities on a campus-style terrain. After some spectacular transfer of the heavy weight equipment and loads of boxes, the lab is up and running again. We are now sharing a building with the Phytopathology and Plant Breeding groups, and are much closer to other plant biology, biochemistry and microscopy labs, which will facilitate joint research activities and foster communication.

01 July 2009
Welcome Mario!

Mario Lange has just start his PhD on calcium signalling in phytopathogenic fungi. The project is part of the DFG research group 666 "Mechanisms of compatibility" and will be carried out in close collaboration with the Phytopathology group at the Institute. Mario graduated in Biochemistry at the University of Leipzig.

14 May 2009
New imaging system in the lab

We have just installed a Photek HRPCS4 high resolution photon-counting camera system for time-resolved imaging of luminescence with single-photon sensitivity. The camera is fitted to a dark box containing a Peltier heated/cooled stage. The system will be used for the detection of calcium signals by aequorin luminescence, but is also suitable for luciferase assays and HRP-based Western blot analysis.

28 April 2009
New High Speed Ratio Imaging Microscope

We have just installed a Zeiss CellObserver HS system for high-speed ratio imaging of living cells. The system is comprised of a Zeiss AxioObserver D1 motorised microscope, Colibri LED and XBO light sources, a DualCam twin-camera option, and is operated by Axiovision Physiology software. The system will be used for the determination of calcium concentrations in living cells by ratio-imaging fluorescence microscopy.

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