Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

CRC 648 : Molecular mechanisms of information processing in plants

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Overall goal and research program

Plant development, growth and differentiation are largely modulated by biotic and abiotic environmental factors. In this way, developmental programs are adapted to specific local conditions and protective as well as defense reactions are initiated during stress situations. This is advantageous for sedentary living plants and has contribuated to the evolution of efficient mechanisms of adaptation and defense. Plants specifically perceive different biotic and abiotic environmental factors. Complex cellular and systemic signal transduction networks link signal perception with the overall response. Signals generated by different invidual rocognition events are evaluated and integrated, thereby allowing the best possible adaptation to the respective environmental conditions.

The molecular mechanisms of information processing during this course of events are the central research topic of the CRC 648. In particular, the CRC aims at further elucidation of the mechanisms underlying : (A) the interaction of plants with phytopathogenic microorganisms; (B) the intracellular signaling networks; and (C) the signal processing events involved. Therefore, the research activities focus on mechanisms of information transfer within plant cells and between plants and pathogens during phases of recognition, virulence and defense.

The research program of the CRC 648 is based on the progress made during two previous funding periods.

Project area A : Plant pathogen interaction

In project A different communication processes between plants and pathogens are being investigated in the context of pathogen virulence and plant defense. Functional characterization of microbial effectors is a major topic. The comparative analysis of several virulence factors that affect different plant species (potato, paprika, tomato) should reveal common infection strategies and signaling pathways involved in plant-pathogen interactions.


A1 : Analysis of the virulence function of type III effector proteins from Xanthomonas

Prof. Dr. Ulla Bonas, Institute of Biology, Department of Plant Genetics


A2 : Functional characterization of the effector protein AvrBs3 from Xanthomonas

Prof. Dr. Ulla Bonas, Institut of Biology, Department of Pant Genetics


A4 : PAMP-mediated pathogen defense in Solanum tuberosum

Prof. Dr. Sabine Rosahl   , IPB Halle, Department Stress and developmental Biology


A7 : Viral replication and antiviral immune response in a plant in vitro system

Prof. Dr. Sven-Erik Behrens, Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Department of Microbial Biotechnology


A8 : Control of type III effector protein transport in the plant pathogenic bacterium Xanthomonas

Dr. Daniela Büttner, Institute of Biology, Department of Plant Genetics


A9 : Factors important for growth of Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria in the plant apoplast

Prof. Dr. Gary Sawers, Institute of Biology, Department of General Microbiology



Project area B : Intracellular networks

Project area B aims at the identification and functional characterization of intracellular signal transduction elements that are involved in linking perception of extracellular signals with the respective cellular response. Examples of signaling networks to be studied include mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascades and phosphoinositides in plant immune signaling, the regulation of terpene biosynthesis during  herbivore and pathogen attack, the role of inositol polyphosphates in hormone perception,  the elongator complex, as well as the role of chloroplasts and of IQD proteins in cellular Ca2+ signaling networks.


B1 : Functional analysis of MAP-kinase cascades in plant immunity response

Dr. Justin Lee /Prof. Dr. Dierk Scheel   , IPB Halle, Department Stress and Developmental Biologie


B2 : Role of the Elongator complex in tRNA anticodon modification and intracellular stress signalling

Prof. Dr. Karin Breunig, Institute of Biology, Department of Molecular Genetics


B7 : Regulation of plant terpene biosynthesis by herbivores and pathogens

Prof. Dr. Jörg Degenhardt, Institute of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Biology and Pharmacology


B10 : The role of phosphoinositides in plant-pathogen-interactions

Prof. Dr. Ingo Heilmann, Institut of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Department of Cellular Biochemistry


B11 : Integration of chloroplasts in the cellular Ca2+ signalling network

Prof. Dr. Sacha Baginsky, Institut of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Department of Plant Biochemistry


B12 : Function of IQD1, founding member of the Arabidopsis IQD protein family

Dr. Katharina Bürstenbinder / Prof. Dr. Steffen Abel   , IPB Halle, Department of Molecular Signal Processing


B13 : The balance of inositol polyphosphates as a regulator of auxin and jasmonate perception in Arabidopsis thaliana

Prof. Dr. Ingo Heilmann, Institut of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Department of Cellular Biochemistry



Project area C : Signal processing

Epigenetic control mechanisms that affect gene chromatin structure are the focus in projekt area C. They control gene expression during plant development and in response to biotic and abiotic factors. Modification of histone and DNA during an epigenetic processe are investigated in Arabidopsis and in an pathogenic fungus.


C3 : Heterochromatic gene silencing and epigenetic programming in Arabidopsis thaliana

Prof. Dr. Gunter Reuter, Institute of Biology, Department of Developmental Genetics


C7 : Histone phosphorylation status and the control of cell division in Arabidopsis thaliana

Dr. Andreas Houben   , IPK Gatersleben, Department of Cytogenetics and Genome Analysis


C8 : Epigenetic control of heterochromatic gene silencing and pathogenesis of Colletotrichum graminicola

Prof. Dr. Holger Deising, Institute of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Department of Plant Sciences
Prof. Dr. Gunter Reuter, Institute of Biology, Department of Developmental Genetics



Project area Z : Service projects


Z1 : Investigation of the cellular substructure and localization of biologically relevant molecules

Dr. Gerd Hause, Biocenter


Z2 : Central management

Prof. Dr. Ulla Bonas, Institute of Biology, Department of Plant Genetics


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