Department of Molecular Ecology

Nicotiana attenuata plant

 

The overarching objective of the research in the department is to manipulate ecological interactions in nature to identify traits that are demonstrably important for an organism’s Darwinian fitness in the complexity of interactions that occur in nature.  We focus on plant-mediated interactions and have developed ecological expression systems with two native plants that have a rich suite of ecological interactions, Wild Tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata) and Black Nightshade (Solanum nigrum), as well as the herbivores that feed on them, the fungi and bacteria that interact with their roots, and their floral visitors. We have developed molecular (transformation systems, VIGs silencing, cDNA and genomic libraries, cDNA and oligo microarrays, real time RT-PCR, microsatellites, SAGE, SSH, DD-RTPCR display ), analytical (high throughput HPLC and UPLC--MS (DAD, ion trap, TOF, triple Quad), GC-MS (quad,ion trap) and GCxGC-TOF, z-Nose) and ecological (field stations in Utah and Jena, insect cultures, and natural history expertise) tools to rigorously manipulate the genetic basis for ecological sophistication in these two plant systems.

 

Prof. Ian T. Baldwin


Director:
Prof. Dr. Ian T. Baldwin
+49 (0) 3641 57 1100
E-mail

Evelyn Claußen


Department Assistant:
Evelyn Claußen
+49 (0) 3641 57 1101
E-mail


7 Project Group Leaders

Dr. Emmanuel Gaquerel’s group is part of the ERC-funded CLOCKWORK GREEN project. Obtaining the broadest overview of biochemical changes that occur during ecological interactions is essential for an understanding of the molecular organization of plant responses to environmental signals. more>>

 

Project group: Belowground signaling

Dr. Sang Gyu Kim’s group is the central part of the ERC-funded CLOCKWORK GREEN project.  Ecological performance is all about timing, and the endogenous clock of plants that entrains metabolic and behavioral rhythms and allows plants to anticipate fitness-determining events is rapidly being characterized. more »

Dr. Stefan Meldau  Dr. Stefan Meldau is part of the ERC-funded CLOCKWORK GREEN project and the biodiversity project group is funded by the MPG and the Department of Molecular Ecology of the MPI-CE and is part of the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research more>>

Plutella xylostella © MPI CE / H. Vogel

Dr. Karin Groten

A variety of fungi from the phylum Glomeromycota, so-called arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, establish symbiotic relationships with most herbaceous plants in ecosystems all over the world. more »

Dr. Sagar Pandit's group studies the ecology of responses of Lepidopteran herbivore larvae to N. attenuata’s specialized metabolites (nicotine and chlorogenic acid) using Manduca sexta as a specialist herbivore model and Heliothis virescens as a generalist herbivore model. more »

Dr. Shuqing Xu’s group is working with on-going Nicotiana attenuata genome sequencing project to understanding the genetic and genomic mechanisms of how N. attenuata evolved its remarkable adaptations more>>

Project group: Plant Volatiles

Dr. Meredith Schuman is part of the ERC-funded CLOCKWORK GREEN project. Meredith studies ecological roles of plant volatiles, and how circadian and diurnal rhythms regulate the emission of plant volatiles and shape their ecological functions more>>