Plant cells differ in several aspects from animal cells, with the most obvious ones being the presence of cell walls, plastids and large vacuoles. Vacuoles represent the main storage compartment, and thus a structure of enormous agricultural and economical importance. In most plants, the central vacuole occupies up to 90 % of the total cell volume. This fact, in conjunction with the structural- and functional diversities of compounds stored in vacuoles identifies this plant organelle as a core structure of cell morphology, biochemistry and physiology. Therefore, vacuoles are of superior importance for processes like cellular energy management, accumulation of reserves and nutrients, stress tolerance, turgor regulation, detoxification and ecological interactions between plants and other organisms.
Our Research Unit aims to decompose the biochemical, biophysical and cell biological mechanisms governing the vacuolar dynamic processes into the nature of the individual solute and tonoplast transport protein, their thermodynamics, and putative effectors of transporters and associated regulatory networks. We will also focus on processes connected to stress induced alterations of vacuolar carbohydrate metabolism.