The studies in this field shall improve our understanding for the role of the cytoplasm, its organelles and the cytoskeleton during cell wall formation and tip growth.
Here, we investigate the reactions of living cells to mechanical injury, to various biotic and abiotic chemicals, to heavy metals and to osmotic stress. The results shall improve our understanding of cell signalling, cell-to-cell communication and stress defense on the cellular level.
One of our main research topics is focused on ecological aspects of wetlands and moors. Due to the deficiency of nutrients, many plants in this habitat have developed mechanisms to extract proteins from animals and insects. Leaves have been transformed into special traps but the mechanisms of nutrient uptake and transport in the plant remain to be clarified. In Drosera sp., we have developed a method to describe the uptake of animal protein (endocytosis, membrane permeation). Now, we are able to investigate other carnivorous plants in this respect. Furthermore, diploma and PhD students investigate additional ecological aspects like the interaction of fauna and flora within the physical-geochemical conditions of moors.
This topic combines methodological development directly with ultrastructural studies of biological relevance. The acceleration of the automatized freeze substitution (FS) of cryofixed samples by means of agitation is a potential source for improvement in the ultrastructural preservation. We develop agitation module prototypes for freeze substitution and apply them to challenging model organisms. To study the development of brine shrimps, Artemia franciscana, we prepare reproductive organs and shell-developing eggs. Our test of the agtiation modules for mosses, Physcomitrella patens, aims on ecological studies by optimizing the preparation for element analysis in cryoimmobilized plant substructures.
Many processes in animals and plants and their cells can only be analysed in motion pictures. In our lab, we use film and video techniques as a scientific tool and we are well equipped to routinely record and edit macroscopical to microscopical material. The results are published as scientific films for reseach and teaching.
The characterization of biological adhesive systems and their glues in marine and terrestrial animals is the focus of several projects in our department. Bonding mechanisms have various functions as pray capture (Nautilus, Glowworm), defense (Plethodon), camouflage (Idiosepius) but also to permanently fasten sessile organisms as cirripeds or mussels, or to provide temporary adhesion as in interstitial and benthopelagic species to counteract water drift and tidal rise. We investigate the morphology and development of the respective adhesive glands, the chemical nature of the glues and the genetical background. Beside the biological impact, potential scopes for sustainable and nontoxic glues for medical and technical applications arise.
This section concerns with issues of cell alterations during developmental processes (embryonic development, cyclic tissue degradation) and with the high diversity of several overlapping, genetically triggered developmental cell death strategies in diverse animal groups.