Dr. Kasper van GelderenLight Signaling and Cell Biology

We investigate how plant light perception and signaling is organized in the cell nucleus. Plants create sugars from light energy, therefore, light perception and responses are essential for plant life. Plants have evolved photoreceptors to sense light (quality) and act upon it.

Phytochromes are the main red light sensors in plants and phytochromes form small (~500nm) subnuclear bodies, which also contain supporting cofactors and downstream transcription factors. These subnuclear structures are called photobodies and they play an important role in regulating light responses. Importantly, phytochromeB (phyB) is not only required for light-, but also for temperature-sensing, suggesting that photobodies also play an important role for plant responses to ambient temperature. Despite their importance, it remains unclear how the formation of photobodies aids phytochrome signaling, how output specificity is achieved in response to divergent stimuli and how this information influences plant developmental decisions. The formation of nuclear bodies is a general process in the eukaryotic nucleus, and lessons learned from photobodies may help us understand nuclear organization in general. To tackle these fundamental questions we investigate the formation and responses of photobodies to light and temperature using an integrated approach of high resolution live imaging and biochemistry.

Kasper van Gelderen - Light Signaling and Cell Biology
Model of phyB photobody formation

Our current projects

- Live Imaging of phyB photobodies

   - How do photobodies change over time?
   - Which cofactors provide specificity for light and temperature sensing?
   - What is the difference between small and large photobodies?

- phyB photobody biochemistry

   - What are photobodies made of?
   - How does liquid-liquid phase-separation help shape photobodies?
   - which molecular components drive phase separation?

- Development and phyB photobodies

   - Unpick the relation between phyB photobody signaling and development.
   - Can we disturb photobodies with new molecular biology (optogenetic) tools?

Open positions

We currently are hiring a technician:

Lab technician / Lab manager in molecular plant sciences (50%, 19,75 hrs/week)

Would you like to work on cutting-edge fundamental plant science in a highly regarded institute?

Dr. Kasper van Gelderen is recruiting a competent, enthusiastic technician to work within his newly funded Emmy Noether program group ‘Light Signaling and Cell Biology’ at the Centre of Organismal Studies – Heidelberg University. The group will investigate the basic cell biological principles of how plants perceive light. On offer is an exciting job in an academic environment with varied experimental techniques. You will have the opportunity to assist in setting up a new lab and develop exciting new techniques.

Light perception and responses are essential for plant life and how light can be converted into a biochemical signal is a fundamental question in biology. Phytochromes are the main red light sensors in plants and phytochromes form small (~40nm) subnuclear bodies, which also contain supporting cofactors and downstream transcription factors. The group will work on uncovering the formation and composition of Phytochrome-B photobodies.


- The technician will work on growing Arabidopsis thaliana in vitro and perform a chemical screen on Arabidopsis to discover new compounds impinging on light perception.

- They will construct transgenic lines starting from gene cloning to plant transformation and selection

- Assist in setting up and running the lab and helping lab members

Essential skills required:

- A BSc. as a skilled lab technician or MSc. In molecular plant sciences or equivalent.

- Experience with growing and culturing plants in vitro, preferable Arabidopsis thaliana,

- Experience with molecular cloning (and the use of cloning software)

- basic molecular and biochemical lab skills (PCR, western blot, basic microscopy).

- To work methodically and meticulously

- Work well with people from various cultures

- Good language skills in German and English

- Basic software skills (Excel, powerpoint)


The position comes with a salary according up to TV-L E9

Please apply by  email with a CV and a motivation letter: kasper.van.gelderen@cos.uni-heidelberg.de