Our Plants


Duckweeds like Wolffia australiana can double every 48 hours. Although W. australiana is just a few millimetres in size, it is a highly evolved monocotyledonous plant with amazing properties:

  • An almost exclusively vegetative propagation prevents the outcrossing of desired properties.
  • The plant can be grown on solid media as well as in liquid culture.
  • The strongly reduced structure of the plant body distinguishes between two different forms:
    • the green "fronds" floating on the water surface are very rich in protein;
    • the "turions", which sink in winter and contain starch, are not coloured.
  • W. australiana can be used as food or feed.
  • Like other duckweeds, it can be used for the clarification of heavily nitrate- or phosphate-polluted waters.

We have recently sequenced and analysed both the genome [PRJNA427164] and the transcriptome of this fascinating plant.

Transgenic Wolffia plants that glow green due to the introduced protein GFP. The plants are only approx. 1 mm in size.


Microalgae can be kept in culture very well. They serve as a source of fatty acids or proteins and are relatively easy to transform. In contrast to duckweeds, they are unicellular organisms. A major difficulty is the very limited codon usage.

Therefore, almost all genes to be introduced into algae must be synthetically produced as codon-optimized variants.

Besides the model organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii [Kirchner 2016 et al.] we use the saltwater diatom Phaeodactylum as expression system.

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii cells expressing the fluorescing protein YFP. These cells are about 0,01 mm in size.