Institute for Molecular Bio Science



There are currently eleven working groups at the Institute; they investigate a wide variety of molecular aspects of life. This research primarily focuses on microorganisms and plants. Membrane Biology is traditionally one of the strongest areas at the Institute. In this context, the focal point is the analysis of the structure and function of membrane-bound proteins, as well as their regulation and participation in intracellular signalling cascades. In the field of Biotechnology, work is being conducted on the development of microbial cell factories using both classical and recombinant methods to bring about overproduction of a range of enzymes and chemicals. Another new aspect of this field is the identification, characterisation and application of new metabolites from the secondary metabolism of entomopathogenic microbes. Metabolic pathways are selectively altered, e.g. to produce biofuels or to develop therapeutic methods of improving cellular defence.

In Microbial Physiology the emphasis is on metabolic physiology, specifically on its regulation and genetic basis in the Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota. The results of this study form the basis of analysis by membrane biologists and biotechnologists, leading to close networking both within the faculty and beyond. Research topics in Molecular Plant Physiology are the energy metabolism of photosynthetic organisms and its underlying organelle interactions. Physiological, structural, biochemical and genetic investigation all play an important part in this research.

Degenerative Processes and Molecular Stress focuses on the investigation of molecular aging mechanisms, especially the role of mitochondria in the aging process, as well as the analysis of cellular responses to heat and light stress. The groups working on Protective Functions of Carotenoids are investigating the molecular mechanism of carotenoid function in strong light conditions, as well as in protection from reactive oxygen species and membrane damage caused by external factors. In the field of Regulatory RNAs, the research focuses on structural and functional analysis of regulatory non-coding RNAs and their interactions with proteins, as well as their biological functions and cellular regulation.


Resarch Objects



First Name


Biology and Genetics of Procaryotes




Natural Product Genomics




Merck-Stiftungsprofessur Molecular Biotechnology




Molecular Developmental Biology


Heinz Dieter


Molecular Microbiology and Bioenergetics




Molecular Microbiology and Bioenergetics




Molecular Cell Biology of Plants




mRNA-based gene regulation




Plant Cell Physiology




Physiology and Genetics of Lower Eukaryotes




RNA Regulation in Higher Eukaryotes




RNA Structural Biology






The Institute is involved the Bachelor's Programmes in Biological Sciences, Biophysics and Bioinformatics as well as in Teacher Education in Biological Sciences and in the biological training of medical science students. In addition, it offers two master's programmes, Molecular Biological Sciences and Molecular Biotechnology, as well as participating in interdisciplinary master's programmes.



The talks starts at 17:15 

Campus Rieberg, Biocenter, Section of the Building 260 Room 3.13

Talks already held:

Di 12.04.2022


Dr. Fragkostefanakis

Orchestration of plant heat stress response and thermotolerance by transcription factors and splicing regulators
Dr. Sotirios Fragkostefanais, Goethe Universität Frankfurt

Plants are often exposed to heat stress conditions during the warmer period of the year. Their survival depends on the activation of heat stress response, which comprises the induction of hundreds of genes including the essential for thermotolerance, heat shock proteins (HSPs). Heat stress transcription factors (HSFs) are the core regulators of heat stress response. Using tomato as a model, we have characterized four HSFs which control the major phases of the stress response: activation, acclimation and attenuation. In addition to transcription, high temperatures affect the pre-mRNA splicing profile of many genes, including several HSFs. In the case of HsfA2 and HsfA7, alternative splicing leads to the generation of protein isoforms with distinct properties and contribution to stress response, suggesting that next to transcription factors, splicing regulators have an important role in heat stress response. We have identified two plant-specific splicing regulators belonging to the Serine/Arginine-rich protein family, that mediate a major fraction of temperature-sensitive alternative splicing events and consequently thermotolerance. Our results show that the coordinated activity of transcription factors and splicing regulators mediate the plasticity of plants to respond to different stress regimes.

Di 03.05.2022


Prof. Helfrich

Natural Product Biosynthesis off the Beaten Path: Machine Learning-based Discovery of Non-Canonical Natural Products
Prof. Eric Helfrich, Goethe Universität Frankfurt

Around 50% of all approved drugs over the last 40 years have either been natural products, natural product-derived, or at least inspired by natural products. The pace of the discovery of truly novel bioactive metabolites, however, has slowed down significantly as traditional bioactivity-guided screening approaches frequently result in the rediscovery of known metabolites. To circumvent the rediscovery problem in the post-genomics era, a new approach for the targeted identification of novel natural products has been developed: Genome mining is an in-silico natural product discovery strategy that uses genome sequence information to assess the natural product biosynthetic potential of an organism. Several generations of highly sophisticated genome mining pipelines have been developed identify and annotate of natural product biosynthetic gene clusters and predict the structures of the associated metabolites. These bioinformatic tools are, however, limited when it comes to the identification of biosynthetic gene clusters of natural products that are modified beyond recognition by spontaneous, non-enzymatic transformations or if their biosynthesis deviates significantly from the beaten path. Moreover, current genome mining pipelines cannot predict natural products structures of metabolites associated with poorly studied natural product classes. We are studying these non-canonical biosynthetic pathways and develop machine learning-based genome mining algorithms to chart the biosynthetic dark matter that is currently overlooked by state-of-the-art genome mining platforms. Our studies aim at expanding natural product chemical space and lead to the characterization of cryptic biosynthetic transformations.

Di 17.05.2022


Dr. Fragkostefanakis

A Role for Plant Linker of Nucleoskeleton and Cytoskeleton (LINC) Complexes in Male Fertility and Drought Response
Prof. Iris Meier, Ohio State University

Unlike usually depicted in text-book figures, the nucleus is not a passive organelle resting at the center of the cell. Nuclei change shape and are actively transported and positioned within the cell. In animals, this is crucial for several developmental processes and physiological situations. Linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC) complexes connect the cytoskeleton through the double membranes of the nuclear envelope to the nucleoplasm and are involved in anchoring and moving the nucleus, mechanical signal transduction, nuclear morphology, and chromatin-nuclear envelope association. Plants share the inner nuclear membrane component of LINC complexes with animals and fungi but have acquired during evolution unique outer nuclear envelope components. Arabidopsis LINC complexes are involved in nuclear movement and positioning in several cell types, including pollen tubes, guard cells, and root hairs. A specific plant LINC complex is essential for nuclear migration during pollen tube growth. Lossoffunction mutations result in impaired pollen nuclear movement and defects in pollen tube reception and thus ultimately plant male fertility. Another LINC complex modulates stomatal dynamics during abiotic stress, involving calcium signaling and an actinremodeling event, relevant for plant drought tolerance.  We are investigating structure-function relationships of plant LINC complexes in these different contexts with a specific focus on plant-unique functions.

Di 21.06.2022
Prof. Soppa

New players in archaeal cell division

Prof. Sonja Albers, Universität Freiburg

In archaea two fundamental different cell division systems are found: the FtsZ-based and the ESCRT III-based division machinery. In contrast to bacteria most archaea which employ the FtsZ-based system harbor two instead of one FtsZ homologue. They have been shown to have indeed different functions during cell division in Haloferax volcanii. We have shown that SepF, a homologue from the bacterial SepF, is essential in H. volcanii and anchors FtsZ to the membrane. Further, no homologues of bacterial cell division are present in archaea. Using pulldown experiments, we have now identified a new, essential player in FtsZ-based cell division in archaea. I will discuss the biochemical characterization and the impact of this protein on cell division in H. volcanii.

Di 05.07.2022


Prof. Böhmer

Plants in the Anthropocene: from climate change to outer space
Prof. Maik Böhmer, Goethe Universität Frankfurt


Institute for Moelcular Bio Science

Campus Riedberg

Building N210-207
Post office box 6
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9
D-60438 Frankfurt

T +49 69 798-29603
F +49 69 798-29600

Managing Director:
Prof. Dr. Jens Wöhnert

Assis. Managing Director:
Prof. Dr. Michaela Müller-McNicoll

Further information: eMail
Dr. Markus Fauth
Tel: 069 798 29603
Dr. Matthias Rose
Tel: 069 798 29529

Secretary: Brunhilde Schönberger

Campus Riedberg
Biozentrum N250 0.05
Max-von-Laue-Straße 9
60438 Frankfurt
Tel: 069 798 29558