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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology

About us

The Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (IPMB) focuses on research and teaching of genetic, molecular, biochemical, developmental, evolutionary, and cellular aspects of plants and their interactions with other organisms, as well as on limnology, aquatic ecology, microbial evolution and ecology, and microbiology. At the end of 2018, IPMB had five Full, two Associate, and two Assistant Professors: Leo Eberl (Microbiology), Ueli Grossniklaus (Plant Developmental Genetics), Beat Keller (Plant Molecular Biology/Phytopathology), Jakob Pernthaler (Limnology), Cyril Zipfel (Molecular and Cellular Plant Physiology) Rolf Kümmerli (Microbial Evolutionary Ecology, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation [SNSF] and the European Research Council [ERC]), Marcel van der Heijden (Agroecology and Plant Microbiome Interactions), Anne Roulin (Plant Evolutionary Genomics, funded by URPP Evolution in Action), and Joop Vermeer (Plant Cell Biology, funded by SNSF). Notably, IPMB manages the Botanical Museum of UZH, consisting of 35'000 specimens that represents a cultural heritage of international importance.

IPMB conducts fundamental and applied research in modern biology and is highly visible at the international level, as mirrored by numerous collaborations across the globe and almost 941 publications since 2009 (94 in 2018), regularly including papers in top-level journals such as Science and Nature. Over the years, several IPMB researchers have been (repeatedly) named Highly Cited Researchers in the Plant & Animal Science and Cross-Field categories by Clarivate Analytics. A key feature of our research is the complementation of molecular genetics with emerging technologies, allowing the exploration of fundamental questions in novel, interdisciplinary ways that often breach traditional biological disciplines and blur the barrier between basic and applied science - be it towards mathematical modeling, chemistry, agricultural breeding and biotechnology, or micromechanical engineering.

The second focus of IPMB, high-quality teaching, is pursued with dedication and skill. IPMB’s involvement in courses at all levels covers a broad range of topics that include the latest technological developments. Importantly, IPMB also engages in communicating both fundamental and applied aspects of its research to society, administration, and politics, e.g. by participating in working groups of the Swiss Academy of Science, by lecturing at schools, or through reports in the media.