Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Biology


We study sensory photoreceptors which enable diverse organisms to sense light and to respond with essential adaptations of behavior, metabolism and development. Our research falls into two principal subject areas: 1) molecular understanding of structure, dynamics and function of photoreceptors; 2) engineering of novel photoreceptors, i.e. light-regulated molecules with custom-tailored function.

Within area 1), we investigate the molecular architecture of photoreceptors and initial processes upon photon absorption. Accordingly, we employ a wide arsenal of molecular-biological, biochemical and biophysical methods.

Within area 2), we exploit our understanding of the structure and mechanism of natural photoreceptors to engineer novel photoreceptors with custom-tailored light-regulated activity. On the one hand, the successful engineering serves as a crucial touchstone for our understanding of photorecetors; on the other hand, novel photoreceptors could be deployed in optogenetics which denotes the use of light-controlled agents, i.e. photoreceptors, inside living cells and organisms to regulate by light their metabolism and behavior in non-invasive, reversible and spatiotemporally precise manner.

See below for a current and interactive example of our work. Click for details.
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