The research group of the Department of Biology concentrates on application-oriented basic science in the field of plant growth and development as well as aspects of synthetic biology. Plant growth is depended on internal and external factors and it has been proposed that climate change represents the major challenge for food production in the near future. Therefore, we analyze the molecular basis of plant adaptations to periods of heat and drought to make them resilient to climate change. To increase productivity of crop plants such as potato and cassava we use biotechnology to improve assimilate production, allocation and utilization. In synthetic biology we apply targeted protein-protein interactions to reprogram plant metabolism to be better adapted to future climate conditions. One focus of this work is the use of sequence specific, intermolecular isopeptide bridges, which allows the design of artificial protein complexes in in vitro and in plant cells.  

Role in Photoboost

The FAU will coordinate the work package, focusing on the detailed biochemical analysis of transgenic plants, and will also be involved in the potato transformation work. The FAU will also provide data for modelling photosynthetic metabolism and analyse transformed potato plants in the greenhouse.  


Uwe Sonnewald
Selected publications

Lehretz G, Sonnewald S, Hornyik C, Corral JM, Sonnewald U (2019) Post-transcriptional regulation of FLOWERING LOCUS T modulates heat-dependent source–sink development in potato. Current Biology 29, 1614–1624.e3.

Abelenda JA, Bergonzi S, Oortwijn M, Sonnewald S, Visser RGF, Sonnewald U, Bachem CWB (2019) Source–sink regulation is mediated by interaction of an FT homolog with a SWEET protein in potato. Current Biology 29, 1178–1186.e6.

Hastilestari BR, Lorenz J, Reid S, Hofmann J, Pscheidt D, Sonnewald U, Sonnewald S (2018) Deciphering source and sink responses of potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L.) to elevated temperatures. Plant Cell and Environment 41, 2600–2616.

Sonnewald U, Fernie A (2018) Next-generation strategies for understanding and influencing source–sink relations in crop plants. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 43, 63–70.

Jonik C, Sonnewald U, Hajirezaei MR, Flügge UI, Ludewig F (2012) Simultaneous boosting of source and sink capacities doubles tuber starch yield of potato plants.

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