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Our research focusses on different fields of plant biochemistry and molecular biology, e.g. phloem loading in plants, regulation of nectar composition, sugar and amino acid metabolism in crops.


1. Phloem loading in trees

Little is known about transport sugars in the phloem of trees. Also the possible mechanisms of phloem loading have hardly been explored in woody plants. Therefore these two questions will be investigated in a research project including diverse deciduous trees (e.g. Quercus robur, Fraxinus excelsior) and different gymnosperm tree species. In these tree species it has been shown so far that phloem loading has to be an active process due to the existence of a high concentration gradient of transport sugars between mesophyll cells and the phloem. Active phloem loading is mediated by proton-sucrose symporters (SUTs). Furthermore, the influence of family affiliation and different environmental conditions is investigated.


2. Regulation of the nectar composition

The evolutionary success of the flowering plants is often attributed to their numerous mutualistic relationships with their pollinators. Plant species and their particular pollinators are often highly adapted to each other. From all attraction mechanisms floral nectar seems to be the most impotant one. Different ecological, physiological, co-evolutionary and phylogentical factors that affect the nectar composition are examined especially in the families of Bromeliaceae, Onagraceae and the genus Nicotiana. Additionally to the „big three“ (Sucrose, Glucose and Fructose) many more compounds are analysed. Furthermore to origin of the nectar compounds is studied, e.g. by comparing the compounds of the phloem with the nectar.


3. Botanical and zoological identification of honeydew honey (BoogIH)

In this project we analyse the botanical and zoological origin of honeydew honey.

We focus on 3 areas:

1. Location: Influence of the location (environment, host, honeydew producer) on the composition of honeydew. Gather authentic honeydew directly from the honeydew producers.

2. Honeydew: Analysis and identification of different honeydew ingredients. The bees influence on the honeydew. Determination of the melezitose level that is relevant for the crystallization process.

3. Honeydew honey: Harvest, charcterization and differentiation of different honeydew honeys from different regions and countries. Differentiation of the origin based on scientific evidence.

4. Sugar and amino acid metabolism

Numerous demands are made on crops: among other things they have to be profitable and adapted to biotic and abiotic stresses. Therefore the change in characteristics of crops is an on-going process. In this context different aspects need to be examined: Which organic carbon and nitrogen compounds are transported via phloem and how much is this process influenced by environmental factors? What is the correlation between the glucosinolate content and the sugar metabolism in different rape genotypes? What role do sucrose transporters play for the phloem loading in corn?


5. Co-teaching of pre-service teachers as preparation for inclusive education

Inclusive education is a complex system with multiple challenges for teachers. This requires adequate preparation of future teachers.

Bi-professional co-teaching facilitates instruction in inclusive classes, as these challenges can be met together. Difficulties and problems can be discussed coming from different directions and solutions can be sought. However, co-teaching must be initiated and learnt, and this requires formal learning opportunities.

These formal learning opportunities are made possible for teacher trainees for regular education and teacher trainees for special educational needs. Already in the first phase of teacher training, teacher trainees of both professions jointly attend an academic seminar and conduct lessons in inclusive classes for one semester.

During this course there is an assessment of the effect of this experience on teacher trainees’ attitude towards and concepts of inclusive education. Both qualitative (e.g. learning diaries, concept-maps) and quantitative (e.g. questionnaire) research methods are used to investigate these questions.

The research project is part of the project “Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung” [quality campaign for teacher training] of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.