ERC Synergy Grant for MPIB Director Wolfgang Baumeister

Communication processes between plant cells - Wolfgang Baumeister receives ERC Synergy Grant together with colleagues from Düsseldorf and Hohenheim

The professors Wolfgang Baumeister from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Martinsried, Wolf B. Frommer and Rüdiger Simon from the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and Professor Waltraud Schulze from the University of Hohenheim are jointly funded by the European Research Council (ERC). The "SymPore" project is now being implemented with over 10 million euros. The mission of this Synergy project is to elucidate the structure and function of the puzzling cell-cell connections of plants, the so-called plasmodesmata.

An organism consists of many differentiated cells, each of which has to perform different tasks. To do this, cells have to communicate with each other and exchange information. Only in this way they can coordinate their tasks for the benefit of the whole organism. In animals, this is partly done via protein complexes that form cell-connecting selective channels, so-called "gap junctions". In contrast, plasmodesmata in plants are much more complex: "Plasmodesmata are probably the most important and least studied organelles of a plant cell with immense significance for all aspects of the plant," says Wolf B. Frommer, head of the ERC project. "Plasmodesmata control both the exchange of nutrients and messenger nutrients, as well as the exchange of genetic information and even of proteins". Among other things, they prevent viral proteins or RNA from passing from one cell to the next.

Read more