Our model systems include cereals (wild and cultivated barley, millets of C3 and C4 photosynthesis type) and forest trees (European evergreen and deciduous oaks). We chose species of economic relevance, which are prone to challenges by climate change, i.e. cereals from drought-exposed Mediterranean/North African origin, and oaks from Central and Southern Europe, which have the potential for replacing present-day forest species in the future.

South Hesse Oak Project (SHOP/FUTUREOAKS)

Current climate change scenarios for Central Europe not only project increasing average temperatures, but also an increase of frequencies of very hot and dry summers like in 2003 or 2015 during the next 50-100 years. Communities and individual organisms, especially long-lived trees, will have to adapt to the predicted climate change. One approach to ensure future silvicultural land use of climatically threatened areas is the propagation of Mediterranean tree species. While the common beech (Fagus sylvatica) will continue to grow well on soils with sufficient water supply, oak forests established on dry stands will face more and more problems in the near future. In the "South Hesse Oak Project (SHOP)", Mediterranean oak species are tested in different locations to assess their potential for planting as alternative forest trees on dry sites in Central Europe.

In a model plantation at the Biologicum of the Goethe University (GU) Frankfurt, the southern-European species Quercus ilex and Q. pubescens are growing in competition with Pedunculate Oak (Q. robur). These trees are tested for their drought tolerance under different water regimes and for the expression profiles of genes related to drought tolerance.

On three forest sites in southern Hesse, plantations have been established in existing forests to compare different methods of plantation. In one section of the State Forest of Hesse near Lampertheim, the Nordwestdeutsche Forstliche Versuchsanstalt (NW-FVA) is coordinating a scientific forestry plantation with juvenile plants on forest clearings, where tree establishment (NW-FVA) and physiological fitness (our group) are monitored. The Mediterranean oaks are here compared with forest trees typically planted in this region. In the communal forests of Rüsselsheim and Frankfurt, other growth concepts are tested, i.e. planting both juvenile trees in small groups under pine shielding. Here we monitor tree establishment and photosynthesis parameters of the newly planted trees as well as water consumption (sap flow analysis) of established oaks. In the FUTUREOAKS project, replicate Common Gardens with Greek and Italian accessions of Q. ilex, Q. frainetto and Q. pubescens are currently established in six sites with different macro- and microclimates in Germany, Greece and Italy for comparative physiological and gene expression studies on a European scale (funded by BMBF).

Our cooperation partners in these projects are: Senckenbergische Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Hessen-Forst, Nordwestdeutsche Forstliche Versuchsanstalt (NW-FVA, Göttingen), Hessisches Landesamt für Naturschutz, Umwelt und Geologie (HLNUG, Wiesbaden), Hessenwasser, the cities of Frankfurt und Rüsselsheim, Democritus University of Thrace (GR) and the University of Florence (I).


Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang Brüggemann

Ökophysiologie der Pflanzen

Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität

Biologicum (Flügel D, 1. OG, Raum 1.420)
Campus Riedberg
Max-von-Laue-Straße 13
60438 Frankfurt am Main


Tel.: +49.(0)69.798.42192
Fax.: +49.(0)69.798.42001