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.