Major Research Interests

Molecular Ecophysiology of Stress Adaptation and Seasonality in Trees

We investigate molecular and physiological responses of trees to stress and to globally changing environmental conditions. The major model is Populus, whose genome has been sequenced. Other tree species or Arabidopsis are also used as models. Molecular and physiological networks involved in defence responses (salt, heavy metals) and nutrition (nitrogen, carbon, and other nutritional elements) are studied by expressional profiling and functional characterization. To improve wood properties, we employ tree biotechnology.

Biotic Interactions and Diversity

Temperate forest tree species generally form symbiotic associations with ectomycorrhizal fungi, which provide water and nutrients to the trees and obtain in exchange carbohydrates for their own growth. Fungal diversity is investigated at the molecular level and linked with tree diversity. Stable isotope labeling, physiological studies in axenic fungus-plant systems and molecular physiology are employed to unravel functional biodiversity.

Whole Tree Architecture and Tree Adaptation to Environmental Influences

The research is focused upon basic morphological features and development during ontogenesis of root systems, stem growth (cambial activity) and crown structure (branching systems) and the reaction ability and capacity of these tree elements (tree units) of important tree species for assessing tree vigour/vitality and adaptation strategies, which is important for Forest Management and Tree Care. The main investigated tree species are Picea abies and Fagus sylvatica but also Abies alba, Psutotsuga menziesii, Larix decidua. In the future other, and especially some foreign, tree species will be researched