iGRAD-Plant Research (IRTG 2466)

IRTG 2466: Network, exchange, and training program to understand plant resource allocation (NEXTplant)

The sessile lifestyle of plants requires extraordinary plasticity. A given plant genotype allows for a broad range of phenotypes that are determined by complex interactions between environment and genotype. It is currently not possible to ab initio predict a plant’s phenotype from its genotype for a given environment. Resolving the genotype-phenotype relationship represents an important fundamental problem in biology and the development of models that predict phenotypes for given environments from genotypes denotes an important challenge, both for fundamental as well as for applied science.

The International Research Training Group 2466 (NEXTplant) will focus on developing models that predict resource allocation to structure and growth, defense and stress response, nutrient acquisition, and reproduction in photosynthetic organisms, at the levels of individual cells, organs, and whole organisms. The resource allocation phenotype will be addressed from multiple angles and environmental contexts, in a small set of genetically tractable and well-characterized organisms that generate their carbon resources by photosynthesis. The experimental design of the doctoral projects follows a simulate/learn-design-build-test-cycle that depends on close interactions between experimental and computational biologists. Hence, projects are led by teams of theoretical and experimental biologists. This interdisciplinary approach brings together an international group of computational, theoretical, and wet-lab biologists and that builds on extensive resources, platforms, and complementary expertise of the contributing partner institutions, Heinrich Heine University (HHU), Jülich Research Center (FZJ, undefinedIGB-2 Plant Sciences), and Michigan State University (undefinedMSU). These include outstanding whole-plant and micro-algae phenotyping setups at MSU and FZJ as well as physiological, metabolomics, transcriptomics, and quantitative cell biological phenotyping systems at HHU.


iGRAD-Plant Research (IRTG 1525, 2009 - 2018)

IRTG 1525: The Dynamic Response of Plants to a Changing Environment (2009 - 2018)

In contrast to most animals and microorganisms, plants are sessile organisms, and thus are not able to evade unfavorable environmental change by migration or flight. Instead, plants have evolved multiple complex mechanisms to cope with environmental change. These range from the production of dormant stages such as seeds, which enable plants to outlast adversarial growth conditions through the seed bank and distribution over long distances to explore new terrain, to rapid responses at the cellular level, such as the hypersensitive response to pathogen attack or production of antioxidants to cope with oxidative stress. In addition, due to allelic variation, many genetic traits show considerable plasticity in natural populations, thus defining a broad reaction norm (coping range) within which selection can operate to enable the fittest to survive. Consequently, the study of plant adaptation to changing environments is a broad field, ranging from population dynamics to cell biology. Within this broad context, the specific focus of iGRAD-Plant is on the dynamic molecular changes in response to environmental cues at the cellular and tissue levels, such as signal transduction pathways, metabolic and physiological responses, and biochemical adaptation. This focused approach is complemented by exploring the effects of allelic variation on specific cellular traits, such as the antioxidant defense system and by a comprehensive set of non-invasive and destructive phenotyping tools that have been developed and contributed by our partners at the Jülich Research Center (undefinedIBG-2: Plant Science) and at undefinedMichigan State University. The iGRAD-Plant faculty consists of 15 junior and senior faculty members at HHU and the Jülich Research Center, and 20 faculty members at MSU, one of the strongest plant research groups in the United States. Under the umbrella of the common research theme, the scaffold of iGRAD-Plant is build by two parallel and complementary research thrusts.

iGRAD-Plant Coordinator

Dr. Petra Fackendahl

Institute of Plant Biochemistry
Universitätsstr. 1
Gebäude: 26.13.
Etage/Raum: U1.78
40225 Düsseldorf
Tel.: +49 211 81-10588


Mo-Do 9.00-17.00

Verantwortlich für den Inhalt: E-Mail sendenDr. Petra Fackendahl