Active Dynamics in Plants – the Physics of Chloroplast Motion

 When plant face different light conditions they have to adapt, sometimes the light is too strong and they get a “sun burn” which destroys the biochemical machinery for photosynthesis. If the light is too weak they “starve” because photosynthesis does not work well. Plants seem like very calm organisms, but if you zoom into their leaves (Figure b,c) there is a lot happening!
Chloroplasts, the photosynthetic organelles inside plant cells (Fig c) can actively move by consuming chemical energy. This so-called active matter can locally break energy conservation and therefore gives rise to astonishing new physics far from equilibrium. Additionally, chloroplasts move thought a complex fluctuating “living” environment and might impede themselves due to their dense packing.

Your Research

Combo of Experiments and Theory

You will discover the light-dependent dynamical phases and complex phase transitions of this unique system. For that you will learn and use advanced microscopy techniques, particle tracking and image processing and analyze your data on the base of statistical physics and complex fluid mechanics with potential development of mathematical models and simulations.


Methods involved

Experiments: Microscopy, Imaging, Image Processing

Theory: Molecular Dynamics Simulations