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Molekulare Phytomedizin

Karlrobert-Kreiten-Str. 13

D-53115 Bonn


0049 (0)228 73-1670


0049 (0)228 73-2432


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Basic research for the further development of plant protection and plant breeding

Plants infested by pathogens or pests often suffer from highly pronounced losses in crop yield and quality. It is decisive for our agriculture to reduce these losses in an environmentally safe and effective manner. Plant protection and plant breeding offer helpful contributions but novel strategies are needed to meet all the increasing demands. Considering this objective it is of great importance to perform basic research aiming at developing the basis for future practical applications. Molecular phytomedicine focus on the analysis of processes at the level of molecules such as DNA, proteins and metabolites in the cell, in plant tissues or the whole plant.  Per se this kind of research is basic but all problems are related to practical farming and should eventually deliver the basis for new solutions in practical farming.


Susceptible or resistant – interactions between pathogens and their host plants

Our research projects focus on the interaction between soil borne pathogens, first of all nematodes, and their hosts plants. We also try to reveal the role of plant associated microorganisms in increasing the resistance to biotic and abiotic stress. Susceptible plants often lose control of the affected tissue, whereas in other cases plants are able to initiate certain defence pathways that may render them resistant against pathogens.

The aim of our research is to unravel the molecular and cellular mechanisms that lead to these different responses.


Plant parasitic nematodes – small animals with huge effects

Most plant parasitic nematodes are smaller than 1 mm and consist only of about 1000 cells. However, many of them pose an important threat to various crops. Feeding activity and subsequent plant responses cause severe damages. In crops such as tomato, banana, and soy bean nematodes are major problems. In Central Europe, nematodes are important pathogens in vegetable, sugar beet, potato, tree nursery and ornamentals. Recently, a nematode species was imported accidently to Southern Europe where it starts to endanger pine tree production. In the Near East and other arid or semi-arid areas wheat and barley production is heavily affected by nematodes. World wide losses due to nematodes are estimated to hundreds of million Euro.


Plant associated microorganisms

The outer and presumably also the inner surface of plants are inhabited by bacteria and fungi. Many of these plant associated microorganisms modulate plant responses to pathogens or abiotic stress in a way that renders them more resistant or tolerant thus reducing the induced losses. In our experiments we focus on a selection of fungi that live in roots or in the surrounding rhizosphere without inducing obvious disease symptoms. The presence of the fungi induce increased defence against nematodes and higher levels of drought tolerance. Although intriguing, knowledge about the underlying mechanisms and signals involved in this phenomenon is still very limited.




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