Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski and his team from the University of Freiburg switched off the PAH gene in the moss Physcomitrella patens using a method known as gene targeting in order to study gene function in the moss. As expected, these knockout mosses accumulated phenylalanine. In contrast to humans with phenylketonuria, however, the elevated concentration of amino acids had no negative effect on the development of the moss.
The research group led by Prof. Ralf Reski is a moss specialist and has now, for the first time, succeeded in producing a human protein in a moss bioreactor – the complement factor H. The lack of this protein leads to age-related macular degeneration in about 50 million people worldwide. The complement factor H has been assigned ‘orphan drug’ status by the respective EU authorities.
Plants can be genetically modified in a way that enables them to produce pharmaceutically active proteins for various indications. The small moss Physcomitrella patens is able to produce more complex molecules than bacteria. Moreover, moss is less expensive to grow and less susceptible to pathogenic contaminants than Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. greenovation Biotech GmbH, which has its headquarters in Heilbronn and a branch in Freiburg, uses its proprietary bryotechnology to produce and commercialise antibodies, enzymes and coagulation factors “made from moss”.
No standards are available on the proper storage and documentation of sample material areas in which every research group does what suits it best. However in February 2010 the International Moss Stock Centre IMSC was established at the University of Freiburg and is rapidly changing this situation. Researchers led by Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski have developed a method that enables them to store biological material in a cryobank for an indefinite period of time and thaw it when needed.
The biologist Prof. Dr. Stefan Rensing from the University of Freiburg has been involved in introducing the use of computers to the life sciences from the very beginning. His analyses of the moss genomes now help to close an important gap in evolutionary research how did algae become land plants?
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a human protein hormone that is predominantly produced in kidneys. Scientists from the Chair of Plant Biotechnology of the University of Freiburg, Germany, around Dr. Eva Decker and Professor Ralf Reski and from the Freiburg-based biotech company greenovation have genetically engineered the moss Physcomitrella patens in such a way that it now produces recombinant human asialo-EPO in the moss bioreactor. The researchers published their results in the current online-version of the Plant Biotechnology Journal.
The moss Physcomitrella patens has long since been one of several popular model organisms used in research. The Physcomitrella patens genome was sequenced in 2007. Comparative analyses with other plant species show why the relatives of the moss were able to colonise land approximately 500 million years ago the moss relatives developed a large number of mechanisms to protect them against drought and other stress factors which made them real survivalists.
Mosses are a great source of molecules that offer protection against microorganisms dehydration and other stress factors but it is a potential that has yet to be fully exploited. Freiburg-based Emcid Biotech GmbH is developing a platform for the identification development and industrial production of natural substances and enzymes of lower plants in particular those of mosses.
As in previous years, BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH participated in this year’s Hannover Messe, the world’s biggest industrial fair. With the USA as partner country and the lead theme ”Integrated Industry – Discover Solutions”, the 2016 trade fair attracted more than 190,000 visitors from around the world. From 25th to 29th April, visitors to hall 2 were able to discover biobased products and experience an economy that runs without fossil resources.
The 2014 Hannover Messe was held from 7th to 11th April and 5,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries attracted around 180,000 visitors. The joint bioeconomy showcase "View on Biobased Economy - Bioeconomy" organized by BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH was once again present this year at the IndustrialGreenTec trade show, which provided insights into current bioeconomy research as well as visionary insights into the bioeconomy as it could be in 2030.
Continuous monitoring of environmental air quality has been mandatory in the EU since 1996. However, state-of-the-art technical measurement systems are expensive and lack mobility. A European consortium led by biologist Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski has developed a new system that uses peat moss in so-called ”MOSSpheres” for monitoring air pollution. The project MOSSclone started in April 2012 and funding ended in March 2015.
At present plastics are produced from crude oil or gas. The research group of Professor Dr. Stefan Mecking chair of chemical materials sciences at the University of Constance has found a way to produce plastics from plant oil a regenerative resource.
Prof. Ralf Reski and his team of scientists at the University of Freiburg have been dealing with the function of moss for many years. The plant biologist has now uncovered impressive evidence of the relationship between mosses and other organisms.
Scientists from Freiburg have made a significant contribution to deciphering the moss genome. The challenging sequencing job was accomplished using state-of-the-art bioinformatics methods under the leadership of the Freiburg scientist Dr. Stefan Rensing.
Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski and his team at the University of Freiburg have made considerable contributions to the analysis of the genome of the moss Physcomitrella patens. However the researchers are aware that the base pair sequence still has many gaps and errors. But how do the researchers manage to navigate around the chaos of millions of letters base pairs and sentence fragments DNA fragments?
Agricultural land on Earth is limited. However, the increased need for food and feed coupled with the increasing use of biomass feedstocks leads to areas of conflict such as intensive farming, biodiversity loss, land grabbing and indirect land use change. Governments are faced with the major challenge of having to deal with and shape the bioeconomy while taking equally into account the ecological, economic and ethical concerns and integrating them in sustainable solutions.
During evolution plants had to learn to cope with stress factors such as drought or high salt concentrations in soil. Biologists working with Professor Dr. Ralf Reski and Dr. Wolfgang Frank at the University of Freiburg in cooperation with British researchers have discovered a protein involved in the transfer of information about environmental stress to the nucleus. It appears that this protein has an important role to play in the plants ability to recognise stress and initiate counter measures.
Researchers led by Prof. Dr. Jan C. Behrends and Dr. Gerhard Baaken from the University of Freiburg have developed a chip the size of a fingertip containing biological nanopores that determine molecule mass with great precision. Developing this new system which is a combination of biological and micro-technical components involved a great deal of technical skill. The system has the same level of sensitivity as a chromatography device but is much easier to handle and is also cheaper than the large devices. The chip has also the potential to be used for sequencing genes and for analysing other molecule classes.
In comparison to other plants, algae grow quickly and produce large quantities of biomass. They generate a much greater mass per square metre than other energy plants. In addition, almost all algal biomass can be used as raw material for the pharmaceutical industry, amongst others. Therefore, a technology that is able to effectively produce microalgae on an industrial scale could make a considerable contribution to the energy and material industry as well as to climate protection. A company called GICON uses a photobioreactor based on the “Christmas tree” principle to successfully minimise the formation of biofilm, which inhibits the productivity of the algae.
The database contains information that is important for plastics manufacturers. The database also includes data about commerically available biopolymers with the raw materials and practical value of the biopolymers being the most important factors.