Mineral nutrient use efficiency is crucial for plant growth and biomass production and fertilization practices are becoming limited in a sustainable agricultural system. We utilize plant model systems to identify novel gene functions for the uptake and distribution of mineral nutrients in plants. We focus on metal and in particular iron homeostasis. Iron plays a fundamental role in many redox reactions and electron transport processes such as photosynthesis, whereby free iron can be toxic and cause oxidative stress. Iron is often not readily bio-available. Our research therefore centers on the acquisition of iron through the root, the signals for uptake, storage and transport and the gene and protein networks for coordination of events also with regard to environmental aspects. Our research results find an application in the area of novel plant growth practices and breeding to increase the mineral use efficiency of plants in the rhizosphere but also with regard to an improved nutritional quality of plant-derived products.
To investigate mineral plant use efficiency and regulation of mineral homeostasis we utilise different procedures for controlled plant growth and we analyze plant development and responses to mineral deficiencies at morphological, physiological and molecular level. We identify and characterize novel gene functions by combining genetic, molecular, cell biological and biochemical methods.