The Proteomes that Feed the World

How much do we cur­rently know about the pro­teins in our food crops? The an­swer is: sur­pris­ingly little. Con­sider­ing that these pro­teins sus­tain all com­plex life on earth, and inter­est in plant-based diets con­tinues to grow due to envi­ron­men­tal, ethi­cal and health con­cerns, deep­er re­search into crop pro­teins is of ut­most im­portance. This pro­gram brings to­gether inter­na­tional doc­toral can­di­dates to work to­gether and fill this knowledge gap, there­by eluci­dating “The Pro­teo­mes that Feed the World”.

The International Doctorate Program at a glance

Duration of studyFour years
Place of studyFreising
Admission requirementsMaster's degree in a Life Science or Bioinformatics
Application deadline31.03.2022
HeadProf. Dr. Bernhard Küster
Prof. Dr. Brigitte Poppenberger
CoordinatorSarah Brajkovic
Contact the coordinator
Further informationWebsite "Proteomes that Feed the World"

Training Future Industry, Academic and Civic Leaders

The Inter­na­tional Doc­torate Pro­gram "Leadership Re­search Train­ing Net­work: The Pro­teo­mes that Feed the World" (LTRN360), fund­ed by the Elite Net­work of Ba­varia, gives the par­tici­pating doc­toral can­di­dates (DCs) the op­por­tunity to obtain their doc­toral de­grees with­in a cross-disci­pli­nary ma­trix-style or­gani­zation that works to­wards a com­mon goal: to create a pro­teome atlas for the 100 most im­portant crops for hu­man nutri­tion. While work­ing on their indi­vidual re­search pro­jects, which span a di­verse range of top­ics, from bioin­for­mat­ics to plant breeding to food chem­istry, our DCs will ex­pand their breadth of knowledge and de­velop com­muni­cati­on, col­la­bora­tion and pro­ject man­age­ment skills through their con­tribu­tions to the pro­teome atlas, and par­tici­pation in regu­lar work­shops and mini sym­posia.

This high­ly inter­na­tion­al, col­la­bora­tive doc­toral pro­gram also aims to culti­vate the DC’s inter­per­sonal and inter­cul­tural com­pe­tence – both essen­tial char­acter­istics of effec­tive lead­ers.

Fur­ther­more, our DCs work to em­body the goals of the Ba­varian re­search land­scape: to pro­duce inno­vative tech­nolo­gies and ground­breaking dis­cov­eries with worldwide reach and high soci­o-eco­nomic im­pact.

Portrait picture of Prof. Dr. Bernhard Küster.

While crop genomes are increasingly being elucidated, little is known about the proteomes of these plants. Proteomes are the set of proteins that carry out and control almost every aspect of life.

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Küster

Using Proteomics and Plant Science to Address Global Challenges

Prote­omics is a stead­ily evolving inter­disci­pli­nary field that is con­cerned with the study of pro­teins at a range of scales, from single cells to entire or­gan­isms. Mass-spec­trom­etry is the work­horse of large-scale pro­te­om­ics, which iden­tifies, local­izes and quan­tifies the pro­teins pre­sent in entire or­gan­isms, mak­ing it a core com­po­nent of the crop-proteo­me en­gine. Fur­ther study of the inter­ac­tions be­tween dif­ferent pro­teins with­in the pro­teo­me, and the changes in pro­tein ex­pres­sion and/or modi­fica­tion levels in re­sponse to stresses and dif­ferent con­di­tions pro­vide deep­er in­sights into bio­logi­cal pro­cesses in plants. Plant scien­tists will con­trib­ute their ex­per­tise in plant breeding, sourc­ing and sam­ple prep­ara­tion, and col­la­borate with mass spec­trom­etry spe­cial­ists to gen­erate the raw pro­teo­mic data for all 100 crop spe­cies, which will be ana­lyzed with the help of bioin­for­mati­cians. As the re­sulting crop pro­teome atlas will be made pub­licly avail­able, the im­pact this work will make on the food and pharmaceutical indus­tries, as well as the global scien­tific com­muni­ty can­not be un­der­stat­ed. In addi­tion, our DCs will work on their own indi­vidual pro­jects, many of which are relat­ed to coun­ter­acting the dev­astat­ing ef­fects of cli­mate change, pests and mi­crobi­al infec­tions on crop yield and quali­ty, and un­der­stand­ing how plants adapt to their envi­ron­ments.