International Representation

Integration and international visibility of the Research Unit

This RU was founded on the common interest of individual groups in the understanding Ca2+-dependent signaling networks in plants. Expertise in complementary methods including Ca2+ imaging, proteomics, genetics, biophysical characterization of transport protein function as well as in vitro and in vivo protein interaction analysis have been assembled in a multidisciplinary team allowing a qualitative and quantitative analysis of physiological processes and fundamental principles of signal transduction. This has enabled investigating Ca2+-mediated regulation- and information processes in an integrative approach that for the first time allowed researchers to jointly explore key aspects of Ca2+ signaling, which have so far only been investigated separately.

As it is documented in the individual proposals and exemplarily outlined in the achieved results described above, research during the last funding period proceeded in a highly collaborative manner that is already documented in several joint publications. Most importantly, our synergistic approach resulted in new research avenues, like for example the complex interplay of Ca2+ signaling and early hormone perception that are scientifically most innovative, interesting and important. In the following we summarize several approaches that supported this development. One important line of scientific exchange and project coordination was achieved by working visits during which scientists from one group visited another lab to perform experiments and that, therefore, usually lasted from one to four weeks. This form of exchange was complemented by short visits of one or two days for project coordination. This form of collaboration has been extensively used and, due to the increasing progress of collaborative projects, the frequency of such visits is currently further increasing. For example, during the first 24 months of funding the groups in Münster hosted altogether 12 visits from Berlin, Würzburg and Heidelberg, while the groups in Würzburg were visited 8 times from Münster, Berlin and Erlangen, respectively, and the groups in Munich received 10 visits from Erlangen, Münster, Berlin and Würzburg.

Of major importance for the scientific progress and coordination of this RU were the two-day RU workshops that took place in Münster (04. - 05. 02. 2009) and Heidelberg (08. – 09. 03. 2010). These workshops were attended by all members of the RU and by master and diploma students that are working in projects of the RU (more than 30 people) and proceeded in a very intense atmosphere of discussions and presentations. During the first day all projects presented their progress in oral presentations and while the first evening was used for personal discussions the second day was intensively filled with project discussions in which members from different labs in changing composition according the specific projects discussed details of these collaborative projects. Both workshops were scientifically most stimulating for all participants of the RU and most important for an effective coordination of all projects and for strategic decisions about the general research focus of the RU. All participants strongly expressed their enthusiasm about the spirit and the scientific value of these workshops.

A major achievement to foster the international scientific exchange in the field of this RU was the organization of the international meeting Plant Calcium Signaling 2010 that took place in Münster in the end of August 2010. This meeting brought  together 150 international participants from 17 countries. The scientific presentations will be provided by 26 international invited and selected speakers, 15 national speakers and around 60 poster presentations. The international visibility of this meeting is also documented by the fact that we could attract internationally leading scientists in the field of human neuronal calcium signaling and animal calcium channel regulation as speakers for this meeting.

The integration of additional young researchers working in the field of plant Ca2+ signaling into this Research Unit would be very desirable since it would provide them with an ideal environment to promote their scientific success and development. In this regard, Dr. Maik Böhmer, who is currently performing postdoctoral research in the group of Dr. Julian Schroeder (UC San Diego), would be an adequate young scientist to become associated with this Research Unit. Dr. Böhmer is currently performing research on the interconnection of ABA and jasmonate signaling and their interplay with Ca2+ and ROS signaling with special emphasis on the regulation of SnRK2s by phosphorylation and additional protein modifications. This research subject would fit perfectly with the central aims of our Research Unit. Dr. Böhmer established a junior research group at the Institute for Biology and Biotechnology of Plants at the University of Münster in 2011.

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