Chloroplast retrograde signaling

Chloroplasts are the powerplants of the plant cell and produce energy from light and air.

Group leaders: Charlotte Gommers and Christa Testerink

Our work focusses on the role of chloroplast-to-nucleus retrograde signals during abiotic stress signaling in plants. We study the effect of environmental factors such as soil salinity and light quality on the development and function of chloroplasts, how this affects chloroplast-to-nucleus signals and ultimately, the consequences for plant development and stress tolerance.

Questions we aim to address:

  • How is chloroplast development affected by abiotic stresses such as soil salinity?
  • Which stress-induced changes in nuclear gene expression depend on chloroplast-derived signals?
  • Which chloroplast-localized proteins are involved in the stress-induced changes in nuclear gene expression?
  • How do chloroplast-derived signals affect different stages of plant development?
  • How do tolerant species manage to maintain chloroplast development and photosynthesis even under extreme conditions?

To answer these questions, we combine various techniques, such as phenotypic screening of different species and genotypes, microscopy for cellular protein localization and organelle development, transcriptomics and molecular tools for stable transformation and protein function.


Model plants: Arabidopsis, salt-loving S. parvula and more applied models coming up.