Biotechnology can be used to modify plants and improve their agronomic properties, e.g. increased pathogen and stress resistance. The same techniques can be used to modulate metabolic pathways so that defined secondary metabolites are either enriched or depleted in the plant tissues. This allows the production of specific plant metabolites in large quantities, and can improve the nutritional value of foods.
Plants and plant cell cultures can also be used as biofactories to produce technical enzymes or pharmaceutical proteins in large amounts. This technique, “molecular farming“, could be developed as an alternative production system for recombinant proteins, as demonstrated by numerous reports of plant-derived pharmaceutical products, such as antibodies, blood substitutes, vaccines and enzymes.
A further focus of our research activities is the establishment of new strategies to increase the production and stability of recombinant proteins in plant cells through novel molecular biology approaches, improved cultivation conditions and high-content screening of plant lines. In this context, an important aspect of our activities is the elucidation of molecular and cellular mechanisms affecting protein production using transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics.
Finally, the department focuses on the establishment of novel techniques for enhancing plant growth and exploiting plant biomass.