Research Lines

Abiotic Stress

Mechanisms of Stress Responses in Plants

The research in this subline is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the cellular response to a variety of abiotic challenges, namely ion, cold, chemical and osmotic stress, as well as nutrient starvation. A combination of biochemical, genetic, and genomic methods is used to identify molecular determinants and regulatory circuits, which allow the adaptation to the adverse conditions. The knowledge of these determinants and their regulatory interactions will provide the tools to improve the tolerance of crops to salt, osmotic, temperature, and chemical stress.

The general approach of this research subline is the use of the yeast Saccharomyces cervisiae and the higher plantArabidopsis thaliana as model organisms to define the response to abiotic stresses at the molecular level::

  • using the yeast model, we aim to elucidate components of the complex adaptive response to hyperosmotic and ion stress, which involves changes in chromatin structure and subsequent transcriptional regulation, the modulation of the stability and activity of transport proteins, and the regulation of mitochondrial functions. The yeast system is also used to define the regulatory circuits underlying drug resistance (chemical stress).
  • in the Arabidopsis system, the experimental approaches focus on identifying the molecular determinants of tolerance to ion, cold, and drought stress and to characterize their function in gene regulation, mRNA processing and specific ion transport capacity and ion homeostasis.

As a complementary approach, naturally stress resistant plants (such as halophytes or xerophytes) are used to investigate abiotic stress responses under natural conditions and to isolate determinants of stress tolerance with potential biotechnological applications.

Research groups