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AG Schmülling – Molekulare Entwicklungsbiologie der Pflanzen / Angewandte Genetik



Willkommen! Welcome!

The research group of Thomas Schmülling explores basic as well as applied aspects of plant development. The focus of the lab is the hormone cytokinin, which is a powerful regulator of plant development and has also functions in the defense to stress. We investigate the genes regulating biosynthesis and metabolism of cytokinin, cytokinin signal perception and signal transduction primarily in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Some of our research questions are: Which developmental processes are under control of cytokinin, and which genes are involved? What are the individual functions of cytokinin-related genes? What are the cellular responses to cytokinin? Which genes are activated by the hormone? How are these cytokinin activities linked to other cellular signaling pathways?

Several results of our basic research have led to applied projects and the study of different crop plants. Cytokinin regulates yield in crop plants, which is an extremely important trait. Cytokinin is a negative regulator of root growth and promotes the secondary growth of trees. We are studying the use of cytokinin genes to engineer plants with improved traits in oilseed rape, barley, and poplar.

Finally, cytokinin regulates responses to stress. We have discovered a novel type of abiotic stress, which is caused by a prolonged light phase and which we have named photoperiod stress. Surprisingly, photoperiod stress protects plants against pathogen attacks, which opens an exciting perspective to develop sustainable plant protection methods in horticulture. The stress project is led by Anne Cortleven.

Learn more about what we do and the current research focus by exploring the web pages.

Below are three selected reviews – for more reviews and the research publications see our publication list.

Werner, T., Schmülling, T. (2009) Cytokinin action in plant development. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 12, 527-538. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2009.07.002.

Cortleven, A., Leuendorf, J.E., Frank, M., Bolt, S., Pezzetta, D., Schmülling, T. (2019) Cytokinin action in response to abiotic and biotic stresses in plants. Plant Cell Environm. 42, 998-1018. https://doi.org/10.1111/pce.13494

Nitschke, S., Cortleven, A., Schmülling, T. (2017) Novel stress in plants by altering the photoperiod. Trends in Plant Sci. 22, 913-916. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2017.09.005 

Member of Dahlem Research School
Member of Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences
Member of CRC 973