Principal Investigators

Prof. Dr. Thomas Laux

Prof. Dr. Thomas Laux


Prof. Dr. Thomas Laux
Institute of Biology III – Developmental Biology and Biotechnology of Plants (Faculty of Biology)
University of Freiburg

T +49 761 203 2943

Further Information


What makes a cell into what it is? We are addressing this fundamental question in biology by investigating the signaling mechanisms that keep a stem cell undifferentiated. We have chosen stem cells in the plants as our subject, because plant stem cells have unique properties that cannot be studied in the same way in animals: Robustness of stem cell regulation during the life span of a plant, which in some tree species can be several thousand years. Totipotency, thus the ability to form a complete new organism from a stem cell, which is the case for the stem cells in the shoot meristem, from which ultimately new embryos derive. The communication with and adaptation to the environment, from which plants cannot run away. In our CIBSS project, stem cell adaptation to the environment plays the main role. We investigate how the stem cells in the root receive environmental signals, such as heat, drought, or salt in the soil, and how they adapt to harsh challenges due to the climate change. Our focus is on the epigenetic changes environmental signals cause in the stem cells and how this contributes to the survival strategy of the plant.



stem cells, epigenetics, environment, climate change, adaptation

10 selected publications

  • Transcriptional integration of paternal and maternal factors in the Arabidopsis zygote.
    Ued M, Aichinger E, Gong W, Groot E, Verstraeten I, Dai Vu L, De Smet I, Higashiyama T, Umeda M, Laux T (2017).
    Genes Dev. 31, 617-627.
  • A molecular framework for the embryonic initiation of shoot meristem stem cells.
    Zhang Z, Tucker E, Hermann M, Laux T (2017).
    Dev Cell. 40, 264-277.
  • RETINOBLASTOMA RELATED1 mediates germline entry in Arabidopsis.
    Zhao X, Bramsiepe J, Van Durme M, Komaki S, Prusicki MA, Maruyama D, Forner J, Medzihradszky A, Wijnker E, Harashima H, Lu Y, Schmidt A, Guthörl D, Logroño RS, Guan Y, Pochon G, Grossniklaus U, Laux T, Higashiyama T, Lohmann JU, Nowack MK, Schnittger A.
    (2017) Science, 356.
  • Organizer-derived WOX5 signal maintains root columella stem cells through chromatin- ediated repression of CDF4 expression.
    Pi L, Aichinger E, van der Graaff E, Llavata-Peris CI, Weijers D, Hennig L, Groot E, Laux T (2015).
    Dev Cell. 33, 576-88.
  • A protodermal miR394 signal defines a region of stem cell competence in the Arabidopsis shoot meristem.
    Knauer S, Holt AL, Rubio-Somoza I, Tucker EJ, Hinze A, Pisch M, Javelle M, Timmermans MC, Tucker MR, Laux T (2013).
    Dev Cell. 24, 125-32.
  • Differential expression of WOX genes mediates apical-basal axis formation in the Arabidopsis embryo.
    Breuninger H, Rikirsch E, Hermann M, Ueda M, Laux T (2008).
    Dev Cell. 14, 867-76.
  • Conserved factors regulate signalling in Arabidopsis thaliana shoot and root stem cell organizers.
    Sarkar AK, Luijten M, Miyashima S, Lenhard M, Hashimoto T, Nakajima K, Scheres B, Heidstra R, Laux T (2007).
    Nature 446, 811-4.
  • The stem cell concept in plants: a matter of debate.
    Laux T (2003).
    Cell 113, 281-3.
  • Termination of stem cell maintenance in Arabidopsis floral meristems by interactions between WUSCHEL and AGAMOUS.
    Lenhard M, Bohnert A, Jürgens G, Laux T (2001).
    Cell 105, 805-14.
  • The stem cell population of Arabidopsis shoot meristems in maintained by a regulatory loop between the CLAVATA and WUSCHEL genes.
    Schoof H, Lenhard M, Haecker A, Mayer KF, Jürgens G, Laux T (2000).
    Cell 100, 635-44.