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Research findings in optogenetics by Jens Timmer

  • 07.10.2020 | Other

    By using a new optogenetic tool, it is now possible to control light processes in plants precisely.

    Optogenetics is an extremely important research tool in biology. By activating specific sections of the genome, the behavior of biological cells can be controlled with optical switches. The use of targeted light activation enables to control, e.g., signal and metabolic processes.

    Many publications on optogenetics are dealing with cells in mammals, yeasts and bacteria. In contrast, works from the field of plant research are far less common. This can be explained by the absence of suitable optical switches that can be used in plant cells and switched there in a targeted manner. Since plants themselves need light for their growth, these switches would be constantly active.

    Within the research program Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences (CEPLAS) of the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) researchers have now succeeded in developing an optogenetic switch tailored for plants. The CEPLAS researchers collaborated with the Cluster of Excellence CIBSS - Center for Integrative Biological Signaling Studies at the University of Freiburg headed by Prof. Dr. Thomas Ott, Prof. Dr. Wilfried Weber and Hector Fellow Prof. Dr. Jens Timmer as well as Ben Miller at the University of East-Anglia-Norwich. The team of researchers developed a tool called PULSE (Plant Usable Light-Switch Elements) which is suitable for plants in the normal day / night cycle. It is activated by targeted irradiation with red light in a very narrowly limited wavelength and resets with normal white light.

    To the press release.