Natural variation, underlying molecular basis and ecological role of metal hyperaccumulation in Arabidopsis halleri

Project code: MU 1829/11-2

The species Arabidopsis halleri contains different chemicals potentially acting as defense against antagonists. As organic defenses, it accumulates glucosinolates in its tissues, which is typical for all Brassicaceae. Moreover, in contrast to most other Brassicaceae, this plant species is a metal hyperaccumulator and thus able to accumulate extraordinary high concentrations of inorganic Zn and Cd from the soil. The accumulation of heavy metals seems to be highly plastic in this species. We use herbivore feeding assays to determine whether and at which concentrations the heavy metals act detrimental on various herbivorous insect species. This will give evidence on the ecological role of metal hyperaccumulation. Furthermore, we investigate the plasticity of both organic and inorganic defenses in response to feeding. From other Brassicaceae it is known that glucosinolates are induced by feeding. It will be tested to what degree this is also the case in A. halleri and whether there is a certain trade-off between organic and inorganic defenses. The molecular basis of metal hyperaccumulation is studied in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Ute Krämer (Bochum) and Prof. Dr. Stephan Clemens (Bayreuth).

Publications related to the project

  • Stolpe C, Krämer U, Müller C (2017) Heavy metal (hyper)accumulation in leaves of Arabidopsis halleri is accompanied by a reduced performance of herbivores and shifts in leaf glucosinolate and element concentrations. Environmental and Experimental Botany 133: 78-86;  Weblink
  • Stolpe C, Giehren F, Krämer U, Müller C (2017) Both heavy metal-amendment of soil and aphid-infestation increase Cd and Zn concentrations in phloem exudates of a metal-hyperaccumulating plant. Phytochemistry 139: 109-117   Weblink Weblink 
  • Stolpe C, Müller C (2016) Effects of single and combined heavy metals and their chelators on aphid performance and preferences. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 35: 3023-3030  Weblink Weblink
  • Kazemi-Dinan A, Sauer J, Stein RJ, Krämer U, Müller C (2015) Is there a trade-off between glucosinolate-based organic and inorganic defences in a metal-hyperaccumulator in the field? Oecologia 178: 369-3780.  Weblink Weblink
  • Kazemi-Dinan A, Barwinski A, Stein RJ, Krämer U, Müller C (2015) Metal hyperaccumulation in Brassicaceae mediates defense against herbivores in the field and improves growth. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 157: 3-100.  Weblink
  • Kazemi-Dinan A, Thomaschky S, Stein RJ, Krämer U, Müller C. (2014) Zinc and cadmium hyperaccumulation act as deterrents towards specialist herbivores and impede the performance of a generalist herbivore. New Phytol. 2014 Apr;202(2):628-39.  Weblink Weblink



  • Caroline Müller
    Prof. Dr. Caroline Müller
    Principal Investigator
    Bielefeld University
    Office: +49 (0)521 / 106-5524
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  • Clemens Stolpe, Ph. D. student
    Researcher in SPP1529
    Office: +49 (0)521 / 106-5522 (W1-138)
    Lab: +49 (0)521 / 106-12822 (W2-211)
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  • Lisa-Johanna Tewes, Ph. D. student
    Researcher in SPP1529
    Office: +49 (0)521 / 106-5536  (W1-133)
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