Plant Cell Biology Department

The staff of the Plant Cell Biology Department study the sexual reproduction and development processes of cereals and various model plants, interactions between plant cells and their environment, and ways of using gametes for biotechnological purposes.

Head of department: 

The primary objective when establishing the research structure of the Plant Cell Biology Department was to focus on basic research topics related to international trends and public demand, integrating state-of-the-art molecular biological research with classical plant biology. A further important consideration was that the results achieved should be suitable for practical use in plant breeding. The main strength of the department is the wide-ranging, internationally recognised experience accumulated in relation to the cell and reproduction biology and biotechnology of cereals, ranging from the investigation of subcellular processes to analysis at the whole plant level, in a search for connections between structure and function. At present, work is underway in a number of research fields.

The effects of simultaneous heat and drought stress on plant gametes and organs are studied in order to discover the components decisive for abiotic stress adaptation in cereals. A complex approach is applied, involving cytological, histological and physiological analyses, transcriptome sequencing and proteomic analysis. In the course of this work organ-specific and stress-induced genes and proteins are identified. The aim is to pinpoint the biological basis of tolerance to drought or combined heat and drought, so that this can be used in plant breeding for the development of new cultivars. Using efficient haploid induction methods, factors inducing the in vitro embryogenesis of microspores are investigated. Wheat × barley intergeneric hybrids are developed and studies are made on the cooperation between parental genomes and the regulatory role of the centromere in chromosome stability, in order to prevent the loss of chromosomes. Experiments are performed on the effect of heat stress during wheat microsporogenesis on the meiotic cell division giving rise to gametes and on the eventual fertility of these gametes.

Effect of water withholding and heat stress on the starch accumulation in the grain and on gene expression.

Effect of water withholding during grain filling and of combined water withholding and heat stress on the accumulation of starch in the endosperm (A) and on the expression of genes involved in the carbohydrate metabolism (B). Bar = 20 µm.

Three-dimensional reconstruction of a wheat powdery mildew fungus colony using a confocal laser scanning microscope.

Three-dimensional reconstruction of a wheat powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis f.sp. tritici) fungus colony originating from a previously unknown type of ascospore infection using a confocal laser scanning microscope. Bar = 20 µm.

Desynapsis in microspore mother cells of hexaploid wheat

Synapse degeneration during late prophase (diplotene) in hexaploid wheat. When the synapse degenerates the lateral element of the synaptonemal complex becomes visible again (white signal). The separation can first be seen for the chromosome arms, while the centromeres are still connected by the protein of the central element (purple strands). The centromeric region is labelled in red.

Selected publications: 

Ricroch A, Harwood W, Svobodová Z, Sági L, Hundleby P, Badea EM, Rosca I, Cruz G, Salema Fevereiro MP, Marfà Riera et al. (2015) Challenges facing European agriculture and possible biotechnological solutions. Crit Rev Biotech 1:1-9. DOI: 10.3109/07388551.2015.1055707

Fábián A, Földesiné Füredi PK, Ambrus H, Jäger K, Szabó L, Barnabás B (2015) Effect of n-butanol and cold pretreatment on the cytoskeleton and the ultrastructure of maize microspores when cultured in vitro. Plant Cell Tiss Org 123: 257-271. DOI 10.1007/s11240-015-0829-9

Jankovics T, Komáromi J, Fábián A, Jäger K, Vida G, Kiss L (2015) New insights into the life cycle of the wheat powdery mildew: direct observation of ascosporic infection in Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici. Phytopathology 105: 797-804. DOI: 10.1094/PHYTO-10-14-0268-R.

Jäger K, Miskó A, Fábián A, Deák C, Eitel G, Szabó L, Barnabás B, Papp I (2014) A morpho-physiological approach differentiates bread wheat cultivars of contrasting tolerance under cyclic water stress. J Plant Physiol 171: 1256-1266. Doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2014.04.013

Polgári D, Cseh A, Szakács É, Jäger K, Molnár-Láng M, Sági L (2014) High-frequency generation and characterization of intergeneric hybrids and haploids from new wheat–barley crosses. Plant Cell Rep 33: 1323-1331. Doi: 10.1007/s00299-014-1618-3

Dóczi R, Ökrész L, Romero AE, Paccanaro A, Bögre L (2012) Exploring the evolutionary path of plant MAPK networks. Trends Plant Sci 17: 518-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2012.05.009

Fábián A, Jäger K, Rakszegi M, Barnabás B (2011) Embryo and endosperm development in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) kernels subjected to drought stress. Plant Cell Rep 30: 551-563. Doi: 10.1007/s00299-010-0966-x

Jäger K, Fábián A, Tompa G, Deák C, Höhn M, Olmedilla A, Barnabás B, Papp I (2011) New phenotypes of the drought-tolerant cbp20 Arabidopsis thaliana mutant have changed pidermal morphology. Plant Biology, 13: 78-84. Doi: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2010.00343.x

Szűcs A, Jäger K, Jurca ME, Fábián A, Bottka S, Zvara A, Barnabás B, Fehér A (2010) Histological and microarray analysis of the direct effect of water shortage alone or combined with heat on early grain development in wheat (Triticum aestivum). Physiol Plantarum, 140: 174-188. Doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3054.2010.01394.x

Darkó E, Ambrus H, Stefanovits-Bányai E, Fodor J, Bakos F, Barnabas B (2004) Aluminium toxicity, Al tolerance and oxidative stress in an Al-sensitive wheat genotype and in Al-tolerant lines developed by in vitro microspore selection. Plant Sci 166:583-591. DOI: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2003.10.023

Cooperation with Hungarian and international partners: 

Cooperation within Hungary:

Department of Plant Physiology and Plant Biochemistry, Faculty of Horticultural Sciences, Szent István University; Dr István Papp: plant physiological and molecular biological analyses related to stress adaptation.

Department of Plant Anatomy, Institute of Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University; Dr Gábor M. Kovács: electron microscope analysis.

Plant Protection Institute, Centre for Agricultural Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA ATK); Dr Levente Kiss: analysis of pathogen localisation.

Department of Applied Genomics, Agricultural Institute, MTA ATK: analysis of the dynamics of storage protein accumulation.

Department of Plant Genetic Resources, Agricultural Institute, MTA ATK: analysis of wheat × barley hybrids.

International cooperation:

Dr Trude Schwarzacher and Prof. Pat Heslop-Harrison, University of Leicester, UK.

Research professor: 
Scientific assistant: 
Agricultural technician: 
Lab support: