Research Group Biochemical Ecology and Molecular Evolution

Research

in our group „Biochemical Ecology and Molecular Evolution“ we focus on research and teaching. Using the system of pyrrolizidine alkaloids as model, we study the origin of these often toxic natural compounds of plants. In our region in northern Germany this class of alkaloids is well-known for their occurrence in common ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris, Syn. Senecio jacobaea). In the case that they become part of the food chain for example in salad, honey or herbal teas, they may have negative effects on livestock and humans.

We know already that plants have invented the ability to produce these toxins several times independently in evolution. However, until today not all steps of the pathway have been elucidated. Where the genes come from that encode parts of the pathway? How is the pathway regulated? And how specific insects have been able to adapt to this chemical defense of the plant?

In addition to these central research questions it is our mission to educate young scientists. By studying a complex biological system, in our case the plant with all its interaction partners from plant-feeding insects, via fungi, to bacteria we teach how to ask research questions so you will be able to understand the answer of the biological system. Good knowledge of the organisms involved (and not only of “model organisms”) and a wide array of methods in molecular biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, microscopy, and analytics will qualify you for your further career in research, teaching, or industry.

We regard it as our responsibility to offer you a research environment that provides the resources, techniques, space, and expertise for your scientific development. Our group is closely linked to the Botanic Gardens Kiel that provides further support for your research. If you are a good and reliable team player with enthusiasm for science and the willingness to integrate into our team, we are looking forward to get in touch with you.