Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmülling

Professor (C4, W3) at the Institute of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, Chair of Molecular Developmental Biology of Plants.

Thomas Schmülling completed his doctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding in Cologne, Germany, where he was afterwards employed as a Postdoc. In 1991 he became Assitant Professor and Head of an Independent Research Group at the Institute of General Genetics, University of Tübingen; and in 1997 he also joined the Centre of Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP, University of Tübingen) as a Senior Scientist. Since 2001, Thomas Schmülling has been a Professor at the Institute of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin.

During his laureated career, Thomas Schmülling has made invaluable contributions to the field of plant physiology; with particular focus on cytokinin metabolism and signal transduction.



Keynote Lecture 5: New chapters from cytokinin action in development and stress defense


Thomas Schmülling [a]


[a] Institute of Biology/Applied Genetics, Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS), Freie Universität Berlin, Germany 


Different examples will illustrate recent results and ongoing research on the activity of the plant hormone cytokinin (CK).

1. Studies in Arabidopsis have shown that targeted manipulation of CK homeostasis may increase seed yield, enhance biomass formation or improve plant performance under stressful conditions. We have explored whether we can transfer the knowhow gained from Arabidopsis to crop plants for an eventual use in practical breeding. Mutation of CK-degrading CKX genes caused in Arabidopsis the formation of a larger and more active inflorescence meristem and increased yield considerably. We have shown that mutation of the orthologous CKX genes of the close relative oilseed rape causes similar effects demonstrating that gene functions are conserved. Enhanced expression of a CKX gene in roots of barley, maize and oilseed rape caused the formation of a larger root system, which made these plants less sensitive to drought stress. Surprisingly, the Zn content in aerial organs of all three species was increased and exceeded in barley seeds the limit set by the HarvestPlus program. Therefore, root enhancement could be a sustainable way to improve nutritional Zn supply which is often too low. At last, expression of the constitutively active CK receptor variant rock3 under control of a cambium-specific promoter in poplar enhanced stem growth and increased biomass formation. Taken together, proof of concept has been obtained in a number of crop plants that targeted manipulation of the CK system can be used to alter yield-related traits. The biological basis is the control of the exit of cells from meristems by CK.

2. The function of CK in regulating developmental transitions, including phyA-dependent seed germination in response to very low fluence rates, the juvenile-to-adult transition of leaves and flowering time, is poorly understood. In the case of flowering, CK acts in Arabidopsis as a positive regulator, particularly under non-inductive short-day conditions. The CK flowering pathway depends on two CK receptors (AHK2, AHK3) and the transcription factors ARR1, ARR10 and ARR12. Excitingly, CK may act locally or at a distance to regulate flowering time. The hormone is needed for full induction of FT and TSF and genetic analysis has shown that FT as well as SOC1 are required to mediate CK action. CK caused altered miR156/miR172 expression and genetic analysis showed that certain SPL genes, which are miR156 targets, are required for the induction of early flowering by CK under short-day conditions. Thus, this work has established a link between CK and the age pathway.  

3. At last, a novel role of CK will be described in the response to photoperiod stress which is caused by prolongation of the photoperiod. Photoperiod stress is particularly strong in CK-deficient plants and is characterized by the induction of stress and cell death marker genes, an increase in jasmonic acid (JA) content and the formation of apoplastic hydrogen peroxide. Mutation of the JA synthesis gene JAR1 strongly alleviated the stress phenotype in a CK-deficient background but introgression of a mutated AOS JA synthesis gene failed to do so. This pointed to a novel JA-independent function of JAR1. JAR1 was also required nightly formation of H2O2 in response to photoperiod stress. Apoplastic H2O2 formation, which otherwise is a hallmark of the response to biotic pathogens, was shown to be at least partly due to an increased activity of apoplastic peroxidases and decreased activity of apoplastic catalases. Photoperiod stress is modulated by light strength, specific wavelengths and wavelength ratio.




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9:00 - 17:00


11:00 - 11:15

Welcome address


Danuše Nerudová
Rector, Mendel University in Brno

11:15 - 12:15 Opening Lecture




Dirk Inzé

The pivotal role of Plant Biology in a rapidly changing world

12:15 - 13:15 Keynote Lecture 01




Philip Wigge

Plants in a warming world

13:15 - 14:45  Lunch break & Poster Viewing Sessions
14:45 - 15:15 Talk M01
  George Komis
Conditional and developmental rearrangements of the plant cytoskeleton
15:15 - 15:30 Talk M02
  Antonio Pompeiano
Photosynthetic and growth responses of Arundo donax L. plantlets under different oxygen deficiency stresses and reoxygenation
15:30 - 15:45 Talk M03
  Iva Pavlović
Early response of white cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) to increased salinity: transcriptomic, hormonal and metabolic status

15:45 - 16:00 Talk M04

Tereza Dobisová
Non-invasive in planta Monitoring of Chlorophyll Biosynthesis

16:00 - 16:30 Coffee break
16:30 - 17:30 Keynote Lecture 02



David Alabadí

Upstream and downstream events in DELLA-regulated growth and development

17:30 - 17:45 Talk M05
  Helene Robert Boisivon
Thermomorphogenesis during seed development In Arabidopsis and Brassica napus
17:45 - 18:00 Talk M06
  Sahu Pranav Pankaj 
Understanding the response of Arabidopsis under climate change scenarios
18:00 - 18:15 Talk M07
  Jozef Balla 
Auxin flow-mediated competition between axillary buds fine-tuned by other players
18:15 - 20:00   Welcome party, Poster and student talk session


9:30 - 10:15 Keynote Lecture 03



Peter Hedden

The role of gibberellin signaling in plant responses to abiotic stress

10:15 - 10:45 Talk T01
  Jan Hejátko

Cytokinins control xylem development via NAC SECONDARY WALL THICKENING PROMOTING FACTORs

10:45 - 11:15 Talk T02
  Marie-Theres Hauser
Metal ion sensing in cell walls
11:15 - 11:30 Talk T03
  Barbora Pařízková
iP & OEiP – a perfect couple to regulate plant development with high spatial resolution
11:30 - 12:00 Coffee break
12:00 - 13:00 Keynote Lecture 04



Miguel A. Blázquez

An ancestral mechanism for the coordination of transcriptional programs

13:00 - 13:30 Talk T04
  Tomáš Werner
Molecular mechanisms controlling cytokinin homeostasis in the endoplasmic reticulum
13:30 - 14:00 Talk T05
  Radomíra Vaňková
The role of cytokinins in optimal defense to abiotic and biotic stresses as well as pathogen attack strategy
14:00 - 15:30   Lunch break & Poster Viewing Sessions
15:30 - 16:30 Keynote Lecture 05



Thomas Schmülling

New chapters from cytokinin action in development and stress defense

16:30 - 17:30 Keynote Lecture 06



Karin Ljung

Auxin-cytokinin metabolism, transport and signaling during lateral root development

17:30 - 18:00 Coffee break
18:00 - 19:00 Keynote Lecture 07



Aaron Rashotte

Roles of Cytokinin Response Factors in different environmental stress responses

19:00 - 22:00

Conference dinner

9:00 - 10:00 Keynote Lecture 08



Mark Stitt

Budgeting carbon in a changing environment: Are plants better than bankers and politicians?


10:00 - 11:00 Keynote Lecture 09



Ondřej Novák

Phytohormone profiling at the cellular and subcellular levels


11:00 - 11:30

 Coffee break
11:30 - 11:45 Talk W01
  Hana Leontovyčová
Can actin depolymerization induce plant resistance?
11:45 - 12:00 Talk W02
  Parisa Rahimzadeh Karvansara

Sulfur metabolism in C4 and C3 plants, Similarities and differences

12:00 - 12:15 Talk W03
  Jan Skalák
Exploring natural variability in multistep phosphorelay for enhanced drought tolerance in plants
12:15 - 12:45 Talk W04
  Timothy O. Jobe

Plant mineral nutrition under changing environment

12:45 - 13:15 Talk W05
  Jozef Šamaj

Advanced microscopy for plant developmental and cell biology

13:15 - 13:45 Talk W06
  Miroslav Ovečka

Mitogen-activated protein kinases as developmental and stress-related modulators in plants

14:00 - 15:00 Lunch
15:00 - 16:00 Keynote Lecture 10



Ashverya Laxmi

Carbon control of shade avoidance responses in Arabidopsis

16:00 - 17:00 Keynote Lecture 11



Jutta Ludwig-Müller

Plant hormones in biotic interactions


Closing remarks

  Poster P01
Venkata Pardha S. Attuluri
Optimizing clearing methods for deeper imaging of fluorescent protein-expressing plant tissues
  Poster P02
  Kateřina Bělonožníková
The role of organic nitrogen source in plant nutrition
  Poster P03
  Miroslav Berka
Plant-pathogen interaction – proteomics and metabolomics analyses of Phytophthora infection in poplar
  Poster P04
  Hana Habánová
Seed quality under changing environmental conditions
  Poster P05
  Petra Hofmanová
Downregulation of PHOTOTROPIN 1 in Solanum lycopersicum L.
  Poster P06

Veronika Hýsková
Could heat shock or oomycete Pythium oligandrum treatment affect the course of viral infection in plants?

  Poster P07

Petra Jiroutová
Hormonal analysis of brassinosteroid biosynthetic mutant plants

  Poster P08
  Marek Klemš

Comparison of 14C-activity distribution after 14C-fluoranthene and 14C-glycine uptake by young pea plants

  Poster P09
  Markéta Luklová
A role of plant circadian rhythms as a regulator of plant hormone signaling and ROS signaling
  Poster P10
  Veronika Malých
Cytokinin modulates biotic interaction between Acremonium alternatum and Arabidopsis thaliana
  Poster P11
  Jana Oklešťková
Interactions between steroids in regulation of plant development
  Poster P12
  Helena  Ryšlavá 
What is the effect of seed treatment with Pythium oligandrum on the metabolism of rape plants?
  Poster P13
  Iñigo Saiz-Fernández 
Metabolomic response of Quercus variabilis during Phytophthora cinnamomi infection
  Poster P14
  Eva Nevrtalová
Whole transcriptome profiling of Silene vulgaris: molecular background of the copper tolerance in the non-model plant
  Poster P15
  Tereza Dobisová 
Seeding, the bottleneck of plant science
  Poster P16
  Archna Tiwari 
Carbon control of shade avoidance responses in Arabidopsis
  Poster P17
  Naghani Shekoufeh Ebrahimi 
Study of the involvement of light components pathway (PIF4 and PhyB) in high temperature response in inflorescence of Arabidopsis thaliana


  • Plant abiotic stress
  • Biotic interactions
  • Plant signalling
  • Phytohormones
  • Plant growth and development
  • Global change and sustainable agriculture


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