Wittstock Lab

Research topics

Our research centers around plant specialized (or secondary) metabolites, that is the enormous number of compounds which make plants so special and diverse: pigments, fragrances, signalling compounds and poisons. Plants have been used as medicines, conservants, and  pesticides for centuries due to the biological activities of specialized metabolites. We focus on the following research questions:

  • Why do plants generate specialized metabolites and why do specialized metabolites exist which such a huge structural diversity?
  • How do plants synthesize and store specialized metabolites, how do they regulate their biosynthesis and breakdown /turnover, and how do they protect themselves from their own poisons?
  • How can we exploit the biosynthetic abilities of plants to produce chemically complex and biologically highly active substances using biotechnological approaches?

We are also interested in the analytics of plant specialized metabolites in the course of quality assessment of herbal medicines.

Our research projects are located at the intersection of Chemical Ecology, Plant Biochemistry and Plant Biotechnology. Most projects study the glucosinolate-myrosinase system of the Crucifers (Brassicaceae) and other families of the Brassicales as an example. But we have also studied other classes of specialized metabolites such as the polyynes (polyacetylenes).

The Wittstock Lab is composed of scientists and technicians from different fields, such as pharmacists, biologists, and chemists. The range of methods includes analytical, biochemical, molecular biological, and in silico techniques. If you are interested in a Bachelor, Master or PhD project, please contact u.wittstock[at]tu-bs.de.