Research Group Biochemical Ecology and Molecular Evolution


The group Biochemical Ecology & Molecular Evolution studies a specific product of plant secondary metabolism: the pyrrolizidine alkaloids, toxins produced by plants as defense against herbivores. In Germany and, specifically, in the Schleswig-Holstein, these toxins are well-known as they occur on Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) and might be dangerous for cattle if they become part of hay. Also in honey these toxins are occasionally detectable. Until today, it is not understood, how these compounds are produced by the plants. This is a central research topic of the group. Further projects cover the fascinating adaptations of specific insects to these toxins. Also, the evolution of the genes that enable the plants to produce pyrrolizidine alkaloids are studied.