Professor Heinz Rennenberg’s team contributes to both, the biological and the ecological objectives of PRO-BIOPA:
In a molecular biological approach we plan to improve the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of poplar plants. Nitrogen is one of the most important plant nutrients. Improved NUE would allow more economical nitrogen fertilisation of plantations thereby reducing the emissions of one of the most important greenhouse gases, N2O. To improve NUE, the expression of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) will be increased. PEPC is a key enzyme connecting carbon and nitrogen metabolism. In C3 plants, it has an anaplerotic function as 2-ketoglutarate is synthesized which is the primary carbon acceptor of anorganic nitrogen. Plants with increased PEPC activity therefore are expected to have higher amino acid levels which might be translated into higher biomass production. Moreover, PEPC activity determines the cellular abundance of phosphoenolpyruvate, a direct precursor of plant volatiles. PEPC activity therefore also influences the emission of volatile organic compounds from plant leaves. The nitrogen metabolism and the emission of volatile organic compounds of the poplar trees with enhanced PEPC expression will be characterised under simulated field site conditions in the greenhouse.
The Chair of Tree Physiology also contributes to the ecological studies in the poplar plantation. In an approach together with IMK-IFU the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from poplar leaves is characterised. The effects of watering and fertilisation on VOC emissions will be studied. This work will contribute to the assessment of the ecological effects of poplar plantations.
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