Due to their sessile life style, an important ability of plants is to adjust their growth towards or away from environmental stimuli. Plant responses that involve directed movements are called tropisms. Among the best-known tropisms are phototropism, the response to light, and gravitropism, the response to gravity. Gravity is one of the major factors that govern root growth in plants. Since the emergence of land plants, gravitropism allowed plants to adjust root growth to maximize access to water and nutrients and shoots to explore and exploit space on and above the surface of the Earth.

Our line of research follows in the footsteps of naturalists and early botanists like Charles Darwin and Julius Sachs, the founder of experimental plant physiology. We combine their approaches and questions with tools of modern molecular biology, like gene expression analysis, proteomics (label free quantitative proteomics, phosphoproteomics), metabolomics, microfluidics and fluorescence microscopy (light sheet microscopy, structured illumination microscopy). A particular focus of the group is on the nature of the gravireceptor, the role of secondary messengers, hormones and the cytoskeleton.

Experiments in altered gravity are performed with the help clinostats, centrifuges and experimentation in the almost stimulus-free environment of microgravity provided by drop towers, parabolic flights of aircrafts (see a video of our 29th DLR parabolic flight mission) and rockets (see a video of our MAPHEUS 5 mission) and low earth orbit space stations, which are increasingly contributing to our understanding of plant gravity sensing and orientation.


Prof. Dr. Enrico Schleiff
Biozentrum, Campus Riedberg
Gebäudeteil N200, Raum 302
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9
60438 Frankfurt am Main

T +49 69 798-29287
F +49 69 798-29286

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