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our research

Chloroplasts call for help

Chloroplasts are the powerplants of the plant cell and produce energy from light and air. These organelles are extremely sensitive to the environment: abiotic factors such as light and salinity have strong impact on the development and function of the chloroplasts.

Luckily, stressed chloroplasts can call for help from the nucleus via so-called retrograde signals. These signals adjust nuclear gene expression to help restore the chloroplast, but also to adjust whole plant development.


We aim to investigate how chloroplasts contribute to the perception of and the adaptation to changing environments, and how this helps plants to tolerate abiotic stresses.

We have different projects ongoing:

  • The effect of salinity on plastid development, and how this indirectly affects whole-plant development.

  • The role of chloroplast development and retrograde signals during seedling photomorphogenesis, and how this interferes with photoreceptor-steered development.

  • The role of epigenetic modifications in nuclear gene expression changes induced by chloroplast-derived retrograde signals.

  • The interplay between intracellular (retrograde) signals and intercellular communication (collaboration with the 'De Keijzer' group at WUR).

We use a variety of physiological, molecular and bioinformatics tools to address these questions, and collaborate closely with our colleagues in the Plant Physiology department, within the Plant Science Group at Wageningen University & Research, and in laboratories within and outside of The Netherlands. 

Our current projects are funded by the Dutch Science Organisation (NWO), by the graduate school for Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS) and the Plant Science Group at WUR.

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