About RLP Agroscience
The RLP AgroScience GmbH is a non-profit limited liability company with the federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate as only shareholder. The AgroScience consists of two divisions/in-stitutes, the AlPlanta – Institute for Plant Research (AlPlanta) and the Institute for AgroEcology (IFA). The following profile only represents AlPlanta.
Research priority programs of AlPlanta focus on Grapevine Biotechnology, Fruit Diseases as well as Epigenetics. Grapevine Biotechnology deals with combating grapevine diseases including the establishment of genetically modified plants with e.g. resistance against virus diseases. More over, AlPlanta tries to improve the biotic and abiotic stress tolerance of grapevine and rapeseed plants by recombinantly overexpressing RLKs (receptor-like kinases). Applying genetic engineering methods we also analyzed the effect of transcription factors on early flowering phenotypes in transgenic rapeseed lines.
In the field of pomiculture we try to establish recombinant virus resistance in plum but also establish management strategies for phytoplasma diseases. In the frame of several projects comprehensive epidemiological research was done concerning the economically most important phytoplasma diseases in pome and stone fruit, apple proliferation and European stone fruit yellowing. Insects transmitting the apple proliferation disease in Germany were for the first time identified and their biological cycle elucidated. A breeding program including Malus x domestica genotypes and Malus sieboldii was started at AlPlanta to develop apple proliferation resistant rootstock of agronomic value, exploring the ´Ca. P. mali´ tolerance/ resistance of some M. sieboldii genotypes and the pomological characteristics of M. domes-tica genotypes. The progeny of the breeding program was tested by in vitro grafting, new genotypes of interest are transferred to field evaluation.
Moreover we try to identify interactions of phytoplasma membrane proteins with proteins of the hosts (plants, insect).
Our epigenetics work deals with reversible inactivation mechanisms of gene functions which can be transmitted to the progeny. Thereby the progeny shows epigenetic but not genetic modifications. These events are frequently accompanied by hypomethylation of affected genes. With genetic and biochemical methods we aim to elucidate the interplay between RNA-mediated gene regulation mechanisms (RNA interference (RNAi)) and epigenetic gene regulation.
As an application of our basic research in the field of epigenetics we developed a plant expression platform for the recombinant expression of proteins, peptides and metabolites of pharmaceutical or technical interest with a high titer. We focus on the production of antibodies and antibody fragments as well as insulin. Moreover we develop clinical disease markers. A high number of eukaryotic genes are regulated by RNA molecules. A group of these endogenous regulatory RNAs the micro RNAs (miRNAs), is of crucial importance in the context of the development of diseases, including cancer, diabetes and neurological disorders. The disease-associated changes in miRNA profiles are often very specific opening new diagnostic possibilities. Based on certain proteins of plant viruses which are able to specifically sequester small RNAs we intend to develop a new method for the establishment of molecular disease markers.
Recently AlPlanta became active in nanobiotechnology by developing virus particles as tools for this field of research/application: It would be of interest for technical applications, if complex nano- and microstructures could be produced by selfassembly to reduce production time and costs. Therefore AlPlanta investigates the selfassembly of genetically engineered plant viruses. The surface properties of plant viruses can be modified to a large extent and they show good crystallization properties. On the surface of recombinant viral capsids, we present molecules which show specific interactions with e.g. metals or metal ions, such as His-tags with Co and Ni ions or cysteins with Au and Ag. Currently we try new functionalizations of the outer capsid surface and systems for the loading of the capsid with different compounds will be established.
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