Former Projects



Novel knowledge-based abiotic stress regulators (STREG)
Project duration: 2009 - 2012; funded by PLANT-KBBE (in collaboration with BMBF/PtJ)
Coordinator: Reinhard Hehl (TU Braunschweig)
PI's: Bernd Weisshaar, Bruno Contreras-Moreira (CSIC Zaragoza), Loïc Lepiniec (INRA Versailles), Alrun Koller (BASF Plant Science)

Goal of this project is is identification of novel abiotic stress regulators that can be applied for generating abiotic stress tolerance in transgenic plants. The project has an application-oriented objective and is carried out in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Regulators were also tested in the crop plant rice (Oryza sativa). The proposed project should contribute significantly to a more sustainable agricultural system through increase of yield and yield stability. The project is a Franco-German-Spanish private/public partnership in plant genomics and plant biotechnology. Academic partners in the project are "Estación Experimental Aula Dei/CSIC" (Zaragoza, Spain), "Technical University of Braunschweig" (Germany), and "INRA" (Versailles, France). The industrial partner is "BASF Plant Science" (Ludwigshafen, Germany). The approach is interdisciplinary and involves methods of informatics, bioinformatics, molecular biology, and high throughput phenotypic screenings. MORE

Beet Physical Map (GABI-BPM)


Generation of a physical, BAC-based map of the sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) genome Project duration: 2004 - 2007; funded by BMBF/PtJ
Coordinator: Bernd Weisshaar (Bielefeld University)
PI's: Britta Schulz (KWS-AG Einbeck), Heinz Himmelbauer (MPI-MG Berlin), Thomas Schmidt (TU Dresden), Katharina Scheider (GSF München), Georg Koch (Strube-Dieckmann, Nienstädt)

A physical map of the sugar beet genome is of central strategic importance for marker assisted breeding, for straight-forward positional cloning of genes, and for the integration of molecular resources that have already been generated by sugar beet breeders. This cooperative project focusses on the generation of a BAC-based map for sugar beet that is stronly linked to the genetic map. The project part of the group in Bielefeld will focus on the generation of BAC end sequences and the detection of sequence polymorphisms for the development of genetic markers. MORE



A collection of Arabidopsis thaliana double mutants
Project duration: 2008 - 2011; funded by BMBF/PtJ
Coordinator: Dario Leister (LMU)
PI's: Bernd Weisshaar, Cordelia Bolle (LMU), Klaus Mayer (Helmholtz Centre)

In GABI-DUPLO a collection of Arabidopsis thaliana double mutants is generated, based upon the GABI-Kat and the SALK collection of T-DNA insertional mutants. The reason for this is, that a significant proportion of the genome of A. thaliana consists of paralogous gene pairs. The genes in such pairs often have overlapping or redundant functions, which complicates their functional characterisation by forward and reverse genetics using single mutant lines. In the project gene pairs are identified, which share high similarity in sequence and expression pattern, and have a large 'distance' to a potentially existing third related gene. If insertion alleles are available in the GABI-Kat and SALK collection, the alleles are confirmed and homozygous T2 plants are identified by genotyping. In the T3 generation homozygous plants are crossed to generate mutants heterozygous for both loci. In the following generation homozygous double mutants for both loci are identified. A visual phenotyping with respect to morphological/developmental characteristics of the double mutants is performed. The double mutants are made available to the scientific community by donation to NASC ("Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre"). Cooperation partners in the project are the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich and the Helmholtz Centre Munich. MORE (website of the project)



Establishment of a central platform for testing lead gene function in crops based on TILLING.
Project duration: 2004 - 2007 (GABI-Till) and 2007 - 2011 (GABI-Till-II)
Coordinator: Thomas Altmann (IPK Gatersleben)
PI's: Nils Stein (IPK Gatersleben), Christian Jung (CAU Kiel), Marc Stitt (MPI Golm), Bernd Weisshaar (Bielefeld)

TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) is a 'reverse genetics' approach relying on the detection of small mismatches in dsDNA. DNA from mutant and wildtype individuals is pooled, denatured and re-annealed. The mismatches formed are detected by CEL1 or a similar mismatch-specific endonuclease. This cooperative project focusses on the implementation of a technology platform to identify novel alleles for lead genes with high commercial value in Germany. Objects of investigation are A. thaliana and the crop species sugar beet, rapeseed and barley. The focus of the project part headed by B. Weisshaar is to set up a web-based LIMS (lab information managment system) specifically adopted to TILLING for documentation of TILLING results, a website for the project, and improved TILLING technology for increased throughput. MORE

SFB613 - D8

In planta-visualisation of a transcription factor complex in the translocation process from the cytoplasm into the nucleus (subproject D8 of SFB613: Physics of single-molecule processes and of molecular recognition in organic systems. Speaker: Ulrich Heinzmann).


The SFB613 concentrates on interdisciplinary research to identify and investigate the physical mechanisms which control single-molecule processes in complex organic-chemical and biological molecular systems. The goal of our subproject is the temporal and spatial analyses of formation and transport of plant transcription factor complexes. We study protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions in vitro and in vivo.

PIs: Bernd Weisshaar (faculty of biology) and Philip Tinnefeld (faculty of physics).

Project time period: 2004 - 2008




Contribution to the developmental series in AtGenExpress
Project duration: 2003 - 2004
Coordinators: Thomas Altmann (IPK Gatersleben), Lutz Nover (Goethe University Frankfurt), Detlef Weigel (MPI Tübingen),
Local PI: Bernd Weisshaar (many others also contributed to various AtGenExpress project parts)

We generated the biological material and extracted the RNA for the seed and silique samples of the developmental series. Labelling, hybridrisation and chip reading was done at the MPI in Tübingen (Detlef Weigels group). AtGenExpress is a multinational coordinated effort to uncover the transcriptome of the multicellular model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. The general initiative and the German contribution has been coordinated by Thomas Altmann, Lutz Nover and Detlef Weigel. MORE



Genome Analysis of Sugarbeet - a model species for root crops.
Project duration: 2000 - 2004
Coordinator: Christian Jung (CAU Kiel)
PI's: Martin Ganal (TraitGenetics, Gatersleben), Katharina Schneider and Bernd Weisshaar (MPIZ, Koeln), Britta Schulz (KWS AG, Einbeck), Georg Koch (Strube-Diekmann, Nienstaedt)

The GABI-BEET project was initiated by German sugar beet researchers and breeders to develop new molecular genetic tools to improve the analysis of genetic factors influencing agronomic traits in sugar beet. The project was funded in the context of the German plant genomics program GABI. The main aim of the project was to generate genomic and molecular data to support the development of superior sugar beet lines. The focus of the project part headed by B. Weisshaar was the generation of an EST collection of 10.000 non-redundant sugar beet cDNAs from different tissues. Basis for this task was a cDNA library that was enriched for unique clones by oligo fingerprinting. In addition, a LIMS (designated "Beetbase") was set up for use as a repository for the data produced. MORE


Establishment of high-efficiency SNP-based mapping tools and development for genome-wide mutation detection.


Traditionally, most genetic studies in A. thaliana involved crosses and mapping populations derived from the genetically distinct Columbia (Col-0) and Landsberg erecta (Ler) accessions. But the about 250 available accessions show very considerable diversity in adaptive traits such as resistance to biotic stresses (interactions with various pathogens) or abiotic parameters such as high or low temperatures, drought or salt conditions and different day length regimes. Genetic mapping approaches and, in addition, the map-based positional cloning of chemically induced mutants require large sets of genetic markers that are polymorphic between individuals or populations. As a class of markers SNPs have attracted much interest, because they are abundant in the genome and suitable for high-throughput genotyping. The GABI-MASC project, a collaboration of four institutes of the Max-Planck-Society (MPI of Chemical Ecology, Jena, MPI for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, MPI of Molecular Plant Physiology, Golm, MPI for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne), carried out a large-scale identification and characterization of a genome-wide set of SNP markers by sequencing from up to 12 accessions of the model plant A. thaliana. MASC SNPs were made publicly available as GABI-MASC DB (discontinued 2016).

Project time period: 2000 - 2003