Research topics


Botany and Environmental Ecology


Cytomorphology and motility of organelles

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.

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Stress reactions of plant cells to biotic and abiotic stress

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.

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Carnivorous plants and their ecological environment

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.

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Production of films for research and teaching

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.

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Structural and Functional Plant Cell Biology


The structural aspect of water loss

Climate change is threatening agriculture and drought stress is therefore a critical factor for crop plants. Plants grow by water uptake from the roots which, at the cellular level, is used as turgor pressure of the vacuole enabling cell expansion.

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Ecological aspects of heavy metal stress in bryophytes

Evolutionary situated between green algae and seed plants, bryophytes were among the first land plants. Unlike seed plants, mosses do not possess a sophisticated root and vascular system.

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Zoology and Biomaterials


Biological Adhesives: gland morphology, composition of the secretory products, mechanical properties

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 prey capture (Nautilus, Arachnocampa), defence (Plethodon), camouflage (Idiosepius) but also to permanently fasten sessile organisms as cirripeds. We investigate the morphology and development of the adhesive glands, the chemical nature of the glues, its functionality and biomechanics. Beside the biological impact, potential scopes for sustainable and nontoxic glues for medical and technical applications arise throughout the projects.

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Developmental studies : Embryonic development, gland physiology, cell division, programmed cell death

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.

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Impact of sample preparation on Ultrastructure


´State of the Art´ Cryopreparation of Model Organisms

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.

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