New DFG research unit for TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) successfully participates in a new research unit in the molecular and digital life sciences. Prof. Kay Schneitz, Associate Professor of Plant Developmental Biology at the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, will be the vice-speaker of the research unit „Computational Morphodynamics of Plants“ (FOR 2581) which is supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with approximately 2,8 million Euros for the next three years. Currently, the senate of the DFG granted four research units and two centres for advanced studies in the humanities and social sciences.

Prof. Kay Schneitz, Associate Professor of Plant Developmental Biology at the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan (Photo: Schneitz Lab / TUM)

Prof. Kay Schneitz, Associate Professor of Plant Developmental Biology at the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan (Photo: Schneitz Lab / TUM)

The lab of Prof. Schneitz investigates the molecular and cellular basis of morphogenesis (the development of the size and shape or the Gestalt of an organ or organism) using the crucifer Arabidopsis thaliana as model system. Basic cellular properties determine the behaviour of cell populations and and organs and thus eventually tissue morphogenesis. In plants, the situation is complicated as cells are glued to each other by their semi-rigid cell walls. In a growing tissue, such as the developing flower, it thus is a necessity to coordinate their relative behaviour in a continuous fashion. The resulting high level of complexity is one reason why the control mechanisms underlying plant morphogenesis are not yet fully understood, despite impressive progress in recent years.

To address this fundamental problem the DFG supports the research unit „Computational Morphodynamics of Plants“. An interdisciplinary group of plant cell and developmental geneticists, computer scientists and physicists will apply advanced imaging techniques combined with computer-based modelling to obtain an integrated and quantitative understanding of tissue morphogenesis in plants.

The main research interests of Prof. Schneitz focus on the interplay between cell wall remodelling and intercellular communication in plant organs.