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 Primary Metabolism and Plant Growth

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


Heat stress procures the capacity for remembering in plant cells


How small molecules help plants cope with stress


Climate change and ice ages bestow new species on evening primroses


New techniques allow live-observation of forming cell walls in the vascular tissue


A mathematical framework enables accurate characterization of shapes


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.

Plants have lived in close community with certain fungi for millions of years. The microorganisms provide them with vital mineral salts such as phosphate, and in return, they supply the fungi with carbohydrates. Franziska Krajinski from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm observes how these unequal partners establish contact with each other and exchange nutrients.

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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.


Networks of plant stress control

2018 Balazadeh, Salma

Cell Biology Physiology Plant Research

The elucidation of the cellular mechanisms that control plant stress tolerance is of considerable interest to the breeding of new crops, especially under the conditions of current climate change. Using modern methods of genome research, we identified several regulatory networks that control plant stress tolerance in model plants and selected crops. In the future, we want to expand our research to include previously underresearched crops like quinoa.


The prospects of understanding calcite formation in coccolithophorid algae

2017 Scheffel, André

Cell Biology Physiology Plant Research Structural Biology

Coccolithophores are single-celled marine algae that form intricately-shaped scales made of the mineral calcite. Such complex biominerals are interesting models for bioinspired materials chemistry. Biogenic calcite formation is an important component of the global carbon cycle and exerts major influence on our climate. Understanding calcite biomineralization in coccolithophores has the potential to revolutionize the synthesis of materials for nanotechnology and to improve our predictive models for the future of biogenic calcification, which is relevant for future life on our planet.


Mobile RNA - do plant cells send a double message?

2016 Kragler, Friedrich

Cell Biology Plant Research

Plant tissues exchange Protein-encoding RNA molecules. These mobile RNA molecules are evolutionary conserved and found in distantly related plant species. In target tissues mobile mRNAs are translated into proteins. The observed high number of mobile RNAs - approximately 20% transcribed genes produce mobile RNAs - questions the concept of cell autonomy and how we define signals in plant science.

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