Functional Plant Biology

Programme Area “Functional plant biology” (PA FUNCT) aims to obtain a mechanistic understanding of regulatory networks that enable plants to adapt to their environment. 

Environmental stresses are a major cause of crop losses, and these will be exacerbated by climate change. To mitigate the vulnerability of horticulture to climate variation and associated environmental constraints we will need crop varieties, species or rootstocks with improved tolerance to stress conditions. In order to accelerate plant breeding, and the rational engineering of more resilient crop varieties, it is necessary to understand the molecular pathways underlying plant adaptation.

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Head of PA FUNCT

Prof. Dr. Philip Wigge


Head of PA FUNCT


There are two Research Groups within the PA: RG FUNCT.1 “Temperature sensing in plants” and RG FUNCT.2 “Plant metabolism”. Each of tthem contributes its individual strong research profile to the overall direction of the PA, there are overarching themes and unifying approaches to understand plant processes on a mechanistic level.

Plant adaptation is a broad area, and work in the department is focussed on two key aspects: (1) How do plants sense and integrate temperature information into their development? (2) What is the role of metabolism in responding to biotic and abiotic stress? Work is interdisciplinary, using a wide-range of approaches including induced genetic screens, natural variation, proteomics, gene expression analysis and bioinformatics. We have in-house next generation sequencing capability, which greatly facilitates genome-wide analysis of transcription factor binding and gene expression programmes. We welcome applications from graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who are interested in joining the department.


Temperature sensing in plants


Plant metabolism


Stress and Developmental Integration

Former research groups