Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology

The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology is engaged in the study of plant cells, tissues and organs. The researchers want to find out how the uptake of substances interacts with the build-up, storage, transport and mobilization of plant metabolites. Furthermore, the institute's research focuses on the interactions between the genomes of mitochondria and chloroplasts and the one of the cell nucleus, as well as on the investigation of epigenetic processes in plant reproduction. The researchers also aim to understand the influence of environmental factors on plant growth and development.


Am Mühlenberg 1
14476 Potsdam-Golm
Phone: +49 331 567-80
Fax: +49 331 567-8408

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):

IMPRS for Molecular Plant Science

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Department Organelle Biology, Biotechnology and Molecular Ecophysiology


Department Plant Reproductive Biology and Epigenetics


Department Root Biology and Symbiosis


Scientists discover key regulators of seed development in a parental stalemate


Foods enriched with micronutrients can improve people's nutrition

Yew tree with fruits. Paclitaxel and its precursors are produced in the needles and bark of various trees in the genus Taxus.

Researchers have identified the steps for the biosynthesis of the chemotherapeutic agent for cancer therapy

mersitem with and without RDR1

Salicylic acid and RNA interference confer stem cell immunity to pathogens


Under cold conditions, not only the mother plant but also the father plant can pass on its chloroplasts to the offspring

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Max Planck researchers are currently collaborating with partners in over 120 countries. In the following article they talk about their personal experiences and impressions. Alban Mariette from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam is researching how plants construct their cell walls. He is currently spending two years in Australia as part of the Melbourne-Potsdam PhD Program (MelPoPP). Here, he shares details of his experiences during the lockdown period and about his work-life balance as a PhD student. He also waxes lyrical about the awesome Australian scenery.

Drought, heat, and glaring sun. A desert habitat is one of punishing extremes. If a plant is to survive here, it must be able to endure a lot. This is especially true for algae. Together with Mark Stitt and his team at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm near Potsdam, Haim Treves is investigating how the alga Chlorella ohadii has adapted to the extreme living conditions of the desert.

Factories of the future will be growing in fields – at least according to Ralph Bock and his team at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm. The researchers are hoping to turn plants into production sites for substances that would otherwise be difficult and expensive to produce. One plant that has recently been somewhat scorned could experience an unexpected renaissance in pursuit of this goal.

The profiler

MaxPlanckResearch SP/2020 Scientist & Entrepreneur

Lothar Willmitzer, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam, had never thought about the commercial application of his research. Nevertheless, he founded three companies during his career. He is particularly pleased that his research has also been able to benefit humans.

When plant pollen fertilizes an ovum, the genetic material in the nucleus and the chloroplasts must harmonize. Stephan Greiner from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm, near Potsdam, would like to find out which factors in the chloroplasts prevent the interbreeding of plant species. To do this, he works with a model plant that’s not too particular when it comes to the species boundary: the evening primrose.

2 Postdocs (m/f/d) | Root Biology and Mycorrhiza

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Potsdam-Golm July 08, 2024

Building a plant cell wall

2023 Sampathkumar, Arun 

Cell Biology Physiology Plant Research Structural Biology

Plant cells are under pressure. Cell walls encase plant cells and enable them to withstand this internal pressure, called turgor. The mechanical properties of cell walls are constantly remodeled to either promote or restrict turgor driven growth. My team and I investigate how plants sense mechanical forces that affect them and how they modulate the physical properties of their cell walls to regulate their growth in response to these forces. Since most biomass on earth is composed of cell walls and their properties determine plant growth, this is an area of substantial practical importance.


How plants defy climate change with their "solar power plants"

2022 Gao, Yang; Zoschke, Reimo

Physiology Plant Research

Plants need to face the elements in the places they grow. However, increasingly extreme heat waves and cold snaps are now pushing even the most robust plants to their limits. We investigate how chloroplasts, the plant‘s micro solar panels, help plants to survive such extreme temperature fluctuations. In doing so, we unravel the complex interactions taking place in plant cells between the genetic material of the nucleus and of the chloroplasts. Our findings provide the foundation for breeding crops that are well equipped to cope with the coming climate changes.


The balance of holding on or letting grow in plants

2021 Caldana, Camila; Calderan-Rodrigues, Maria Juliana

Cell Biology Physiology Plant Research

Due to climate changes and the increasing demand for food and other high-value products there is a critical need for understanding the basic mechanisms controlling plant growth for crop improvement. By using a combination of genetics, systems biology approaches, high-throughput imaging and mathematical modelling, we have identified molecular key players involved in controlling plant growth in response to a fluctuating environment as a promising means to improve plant performance.


Why do genders fight?

2020 Greiner, Stephan

Cell Biology Plant Research

Mothers pass more genetic information to their offspring than fathers, since females transmit the cell organelles, chloroplasts and mitochondria, which contain their own genes. In the evening primrose (genus Oenothera) chloroplasts and their genes can be transmitted by the pollen of the father. By this, a conflict between the sexes becomes evident that is about whose genes succeed in transmission. By the identification of an enzyme of the fatty acid metabolism we could show for the first time how the “battle of sexes” is fought.


Why some offspring are inferior to their parents?

2019 Laitinen, Roosa

Physiology Plant Research

Understanding poor performance of offspring in comparison to their parents, known as hybrid incompatibility, gives knowledge of the first steps towards reproductive isolation and speciation. Using modern methods of genomic research, we studied three new hybrid incompatibility cases in Arabidopsis thaliana. Our results have highlighted that in addition to rapidly evolving genes, genes involved in conserved processes may underlie hybrid incompatibilities. In future, we will study how the different hybrid incompatibility genes function and what role they have in local adaptation and evolution.

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