July 27, 2020

New greenhouse in Rosalind-Franklin-Straße put into operation

On Thursday, July 23, 2020, the new greenhouse in the southern part of Beutenberg Campus could go into service after the official handing over by the involved architects and companies in the presence of representatives of the Max Planck Society and our Managing Director Prof. David Heckel.

Research is subject to constant change due to new methods and results. Accordingly, the demands on the technology and equipment of the research institutions change. The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology has expanded its greenhouse area in order to be able to carry out more experiments with trees (Norway spruce, poplar) in the future. In order to be able to make statistically valid statements, as many repetitions as possible have to be performed; but trees need a lot of space and time to grow. The production and analysis of recombinant inbred lines is an important method for finding new genes that are relevant, for example, for plant defense. A single experimental approach with coyote tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata), in which this method is used, often involves more than 1000 plants. The new greenhouse is also needed because the range of species with which the Institute works has been expanded. One example is the Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), whose metabolites are used in cancer therapy.

A number of technical innovations have been made in the new greenhouse: In contrast to the old greenhouse, which is now called HANS, because of its location next to the institute in Hans-Knöll-Straße, the roof and walls of the new greenhouse - called ROSA because it located in the new Rosalind-Franklin-Straße - are made of a glass that allows most of the natural UV radiation to pass through. A roof shading system ensures that the temperatures in the greenhouse can be lowered during periods of hot weather, thus saving the energy that would be used for cooling. Moreover, in ROSA  a completely new kind of lamp distribution is used. "By applying this technique, lamps with a very large beam angle are distributed evenly in the cabin to create an optimum light distribution. As a result, fewer lamps are required than in HANS and the energy consumption is reduced," says greenhouse manager Danny Kessler. Another difference to HANS is the generation of humidity, which is achieved in ROSA by nozzles spraying mist from the roof area.

The new greenhouse ROSA in Rosalind-Franklin-Straße. Photo: Angela Overmeyer, MPI-CE
The new greenhouse ROSA in Rosalind-Franklin-Straße. Photo: Angela Overmeyer, MPI-CE
The new greenhouse will be used for experiments with poplar trees. Photo: Danny Kessler, MPI-CE
Plants which produce natural products for potential medicinal application, such as Madagascar periwinkle Catharanthus roseus, will also be cultivated in the new greenhouse. Photo: Danny Kessler, MPI-CE