Research at the Matthias Schleiden Institute is done in the spirit of Schleiden: with a focus on cells, in an interdisciplinary way and questioning dogmas.
In the areas of General and Molecular Botany, research at the institute is done on light-regulated processes and the circadian clock in the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and on the secondary metabolism of algae and their interactions with bacteria, among other topics. In Plant physiology, the symbiosis between plants and fungi under normal and stress conditions are in the focus. Genetic research in the institute deals with transcription factors controlling flower development, with mechanisms of gene regulation in Bacillus subtilis and other topics. Bioinformatics studies include mathematical modelling and computer simulation of biological processes such as metabolism and host-pathogen interactions.
Numerous projects have an interdisciplinary character, for example, the mathematical description of the complexity of fatty acids and polyketides, computer simulation of circadian rhythms and of the nitrogen metabolism in algae or the application of game theory in molecular and cell biology.
Three main topics are investigated at the professorship for plant physiology: a) interaction of plants with microorganisms, b) vascular biology and c) biogenesis of chloroplasts. Besides direct research on these topics, we try to understand how these research fields are connected. Newly identified non-pathogenic root-colonizing fungi mediate stress resistances in plants. The information will be transported systemically to the whole plant via the vascular system. Plastid-derived signals, metabolites and phytohormone precursor play crucial roles in the decision of the plant to invest in either growth or defence/stress responses. Molecular biology techniques, biochemistry, diverse microscopical techniques and methods, genetic studies on model organisms, modern analytic and –omics approaches are used to investigate the physiological, genetic and chemical background of plant stress adaptation and associated developmental processes.
Our research focuses on algal metabolism and the interactions of microalgae with other microorganisms. Available genome sequences from algae are exploited to find hints for yet unknown metabolites, and to identify biosynthetic routes to known compounds. In the laboratory, we are combining genetic strategies with biochemical and analytical methods to elucidate the benefit of specific compounds and enzymes for the algal cell. We hope that our research will provide ecological insights into algal lifestyle and improve our understanding of how algae interact with their environment and other organisms. In addition, the investigation of algal metabolism may lead to the discovery of pharmaceutically or biotechnologically useful compounds.