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The Bucher Lab participates in the CEPLAS - Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences – from complex traits towards synthetic modules

The cluster of excellence CEPLAS – Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences – from complex traits towards synthetic modules is a joint effort of the University of Cologne, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ) and Research Institute Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ). Researchers of these institutions are pursuing inventive strategies for sustainable plant production. The goal of this cluster initiative is to develop state of the art methods for a second green revolution on the basis of innovative basic research and established know-how in plant research. CEPLAS focuses on cutting edge science as well as on the promotion of young scientists by novel study modules and individual training programmes. 

Natural variation in endophytic interactions in the Brassicaceae

The Bucher Lab studies the molecular basis of symbiotic plant-microbe interactions. Most of our work focuses on the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis (AMS) which is based on an intimate interaction between most vascular plants and soil fungi from the phylum Glomeromycota. A major benefit of AMS is the uptake of mineral nutrients, especially phosphate, which are delivered to the host plant by the fungus in exchange for photosynthetically fixed carbon. Our preferred host plants are the legume model Lotus japonicus and the crop plant Zea mays. We could show that mycorrhiza-specific phosphate transporters are important molecular components of this symbiosis and currently investigate their regulation and their function under controlied and field conditions. In a recent collaboration with research groups of the University of Cologne and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, we also investigate mycorrhiza-like interactions and the response to phosphate starvation in plant species of the Brassicaceae. In essence, we harvest natural populations of Brassicaceae species and study the structure and function of root-associated or endophytic fungal communities. A major interest is to identify key genes involved in the regulation of microbiome structure and function in plant roots. This research can be compared to the research on the microbiome of the human gut and will reveal a breathtaking amount of unexpected results.