Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
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Developmental Physiology

Prof. Dr. Thomas Greb

Prof. Dr. Thomas Greb
Prof. Dr. Thomas Greb
Im Neuenheimer Feld 230
69120 Heidelberg
Fon +49 6221 54-5524
Fax +49 6221 54-6424
ed.grebledieh-inu.soc TEA berg.samoht

Lateral growth of plant shoots and roots is essential for the formation of wood and of large plant bodies, and thus for the creation of biomass on earth. Our lab uses this process as an example to reveal principles of growth and cell fate regulation in multicellular organisms.



Multi-cellularity is a fundamental concept of life on our planet. This concept of single cells taking over special functions in interaction with other cells in a multicellular body is striking and requires a very complex system of cell-to-cell communication during growth and activity of organisms. Elucidating comprehensive concepts of the development and function of multicellular systems is therefore challenging, but also essential to understand their functionality. Lateral growth of plant shoots and roots is based on the tissue-forming properties of a group of stem cells called the cambium, the activity of which leads to the production of secondary vascular tissue (wood and bast). Considering its function as a stem cell niche that is essential for the constant production of new tissues, as well as its dependence on environmental cues, the cambium represents an ideal model for addressing questions concerning the regulation of cell identity and how growth processes are aligned with endogenous and exogenous requirements. Given these attractive properties, our laboratory investigates lateral plant growth in order to reveal general concepts of development and physiology of multicellular organisms.


Cross sections through the stem of a dicotyledonous plant, in this case Arabidopsis thaliana. The initiation of cambium activity (red) between primary vascular bundles (i.e. interfascicular regions) transforms primary stem anatomy (A) into secondary stem anatomy (B). This process is essential for the establishment of a closed cambial cylinder which produces bast (phloem, assimilate and signalling molecule transporting tissue, yellow) towards the outside and wood (xylem, water transporting tissue, blue) towards the centre of the shoot axis, resulting in an increase of shoot diameter.


Selected Publications

Wallner ES, et al. (2017) Strigolactone and karrikin-independent SMXL proteins are central regulators of phloem formation. Curr Biol 27(8):1241–1247.

Greb T, et al. (2016) Plant Stem Cells. Curr Biol 26(17):R816-R821.

Gursanscky N, et al. (2016) MOL1 is required for cambium homeostasis in Arabidopsis. Plant J 86(3):210–220.

Agusti J, et al. (2011) Strigolactone signaling is required for auxin-dependent stimulation of secondary growth in plants. PNAS USA 108:20242-20247.

Agusti J, et al. (2011) Characterization of transcriptome remodeling during cambium formation identifies MOL1 and RUL1 as opposing regulators of secondary growth. PLoS Genet 7:e1001312.

Suer S, et al. (2011) WOX4 imparts auxin responsiveness to cambium cells in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 23:3247-3259.

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