Heinrich Heine University

Heinrich Heine University (UDUS) is a mid-sized university located in Düsseldorf, the state capital of North-Rhine Westphalia. UDUS is currently home to 365 professorships and approx. 32,000 students 11 % of whom are from abroad. Five key research areas currently shape the research profile of UDUS: Plant Sciences, Membrane Biology, Cardiovascular Sciences, Hepatology and Language Studies.  UDUS is home to the Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences “SMART Plants for Tomorrow’s Needs”, the only plant cluster funded in the framework of the German Excellence Initiative.

  • Prof. Andreas P.M. Weber
  • Dr. Urte Schlueter
  • Dr. Goetz Hensel
  • Dr. Nagaveni Budhagatapalli
  • Prof. Benjamin Stich
  • Dr. Venkatasuresh Bonthala
  • Prof. Oliver Ebenhöh
  • Prof. Peter Westhoff

UDUS is the initiator and coordinator of the G4C proposal. UDUS has designed synthetic photorespiration bypasses that served as conceptual frameworks for engineering of model crops with increase biomass production. UDUS pioneered comparative transcriptomics approaches between C3, C3-C4, and C4 plant species that led to the discovery of pathway components and regulators. UDUS has discovered cell-specific promoters and cis-regulatory elements that drive specific expression in leaf bundle-sheath cells.   In G4C, UDUS will develop and use comparative genomic resources for the discovery of C3-C4 enablers, validate these in Arabidopsis, and develop metabolic models of natural and synthetic pathways leading to increased photosynthetic efficiency.

Relevant Expertise

Oliver Ebenhöh’s team studies plant energy metabolism with mathematical and theoretical approaches in order to identify common design principles and to make predictions supporting experimental design. His models describing photosynthesis as a supply-demand system help rationalizing regulatory mechanisms through optimality principles.

Benjamin Stich’s team develops tools and methods to predict quantitative traits from *omic information in order to facilitate plant breeding. This includes works on sequence related bioinformatic approaches but also linking genomic and phenotypic information in an optimal manner.

Andreas P.M. Weber’s team studies the evolution of C3-C4 intermediate and C4 plant species from C3 ancestors and the role of photorespiration in photosynthetic efficiency. He has contributed to the design and implementation of synthetic glycolate-decarboxylating photorespiratory bypasses that are now becoming widely used in crop species.

Prof Peter Westhoff’s team studies the molecular evolution of C4 plants with a focus on the Asteraceae genus Flaveria and the cis- and trans-regulatory mechanisms for cell-specific gene expression. The team has also devised a genetic screen to search for factors regulating inner leaf anatomy aiming to improve the photosynthetic output of leaves.