Department of Bioorganic Chemistry

In the department of Bioorganic Chemistry we study defense mechanisms of plants and insects and their interaction on various levels. Modern analytical and molecular methods are employed to identify signals from herbivores and microorganisms and initiated events related to stress recognition by the plant e.g interactions in the network of phytohormones. Novel methods of Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry are used to study the induction of pathways during infection and herbivore damage. The studies are supported by synthetic approaches towards signaling compounds and their analogs. The production of defensive secretions of leaf beetles is studied to gain information on the biosynthesis, regulation and evolution of these defensive strategies. We focus on the analysis of the molecular basis of the uptake of plant-derived precursors and their transformation into compounds for the insects communication and defense. The biosynthetic potential of insects is probably strongly enhanced by their commensal gut bacteria or by endosymbionts. A new research focus addresses insect-typical biosynthesis of plant-defense elicitors or the detoxification of plant toxins with special emphasis on the participation of gut bacteria.

Prof. Wilhelm Boland


Director: Prof. Wilhelm Boland

+49 (0) 3641 57 1200
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Department Assistant:
Grit Winnefeld
+49 (0) 3641 57 1201
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Project Groups in the Department of Bioorganic Chemistry

Chrysomela lapponica

Dr. Antje Burse

The beetle species Coleoptera is threatened by a lot of different animals like mammals, birds and other insects, and have developed different mechanical and chemical strategies to defend themselves. We are interested in how larvae could develop new chemical defensive compounds. We try to explain the consequences of de novo synthesis and sequestration of these compounds. more »

Spodoptera littoralis

PD Dr. Axel Mithöfer

The interaction of plants with deleterious organisms such as herbivorous insects is the main topic of this group. The plants' recognition of the aggressor, subsequent signal transduction, and initiation of direct and indirect defences are investigated on molecular, biochemical, and physiological levels. The analysis of the digestion fluid in carnivorous plants is another topic under investigation. more »

Volkswagen Foundation Research Group:

Dr. Christian Kost

The main research focus of our group is to understand the dynamic processes underlying adaptive evolution of organisms to their biotic and abiotic environment. Tractable microbial laboratory populations are used to study evolution experimentally on both a genetic and phenotypic level. more »