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Contact Info

Björn Usadel.
Worringer Weg 1
52062 Aachen
Email: usadel /ta/
usadel /ta/

Phone: +49 241 80 26767
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Group Members

Current Members

Björn Usadel

usadel picDr. Björn Usadel studied Biochemistry in Berlin and New York where he worked in Prof Ulrike Gaul's lab on the development of the visual system of Drosophila. During this time he got interested in Bioinformatics and then went on to Golm where he did his PhD in the group of Dr. Markus Pauly on the identification and characterization of novel cell wall genes. He then worked as a Postdoc in Prof. Mark Stitt's lab on the visualization and evaluation of high throughput data. He was offered his own group at the Max Planck Institute in 2007/8 and since then worked on data visualization, analysis as well as sugar status and cell wall biosynthesis. Since 2011 he is a full pofessor at the RWTH Aachen university and a co-director at the Forschungszentrum Jülich.


Dr. Björn Usadel has (co)authored more than 80 publications, has been cited more than 4000 times and has an h-index of 37 (ISI). Publicly available bibliometric information can be found on Google scholar .


Senior Scientists

Dr. Alexandra Wormit studied biology at the Universiy of Kaiserslautern, Germany. She did her Diploma thesis in the group Plant Physiology of Prof. E. Neuhaus, working on the identification and characterization of nucleoside transporters in A. thaliana. For her PhD she focused on a novel group of monosaccharide transporters and identified the first tonoplast-localized transporters involved in abiotic stress response.

In 2007 she joined the Lab of Dr. T. Hamann at Imperial College London working on cell wall integrity mechanism in plants. She received a European Marie-Curie Fellowship in 2009 to work on the sugar based signaling processes coordinating plant cell wall, primary metabolism and photosynthesis.

In 2011 she started working as a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Björn Usadel to work on cell wall genes, their annotation, high-throughput data analysis.  She is interested in the connection of carbon and cell wall metabolism and is leading a subgroup dedicated to this task since 2012.

Dr Markus Günl obtained a masters degree from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, were he worked on genes required for flowering time control in Arabidopsis, he obtained a Marie-Curie Fellowship to study the role of transcription factors in shoot apical meristem development at INRA Versailles.

In 2007 he joined the Pauly lab as PhD student at Michigan State University and later moved with the lab to the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. During is PhD he studied Arabidopsis mutants that are affected in apoplastic metabolism of the hemicellulose xyloglucan. Upon completion of his PhD he started to work as a research associate in the Usadel lab at the Forschungszentrum Jülich. He is now focusing on the analyses of Arabidopsis mutants and barley varieties to identify genes and traits that affect cell wall composition. For his work he is using a broad range of molecular and analytical techniques (e.g. map-based cloning, GC-MS and HPAEC).



Dr. Rainer Schwacke works on databases

Aleksandar Vasilevski works at the Forschungszentrum Jülich since September 2012 and is working on identification and characterization of novel cell wall synthesis and modification mutants.

Aleksandar earned his Diploma in 2004 at the University "St. Cyril and Methodius" in Macedonia. During his studies he took training courses at the DIfE and ILT in Germany and S.A. Nikas in Greece. After completing his studies he worked at FARMAHEM DOO as a project and product manager on application of new products and marketing and training.

Latter, in 2008, he joined to the group of Prof. Usadel at MPI-MP in Golm, Germany for his PhD thesis. Aleksandar employed forward and reverse genetic approaches to uncover and investigate novel genes involved in the mucilage synthesis and mucilage modifications. He submitted his Doctoral thesis at Potsdam University where it was accepted and currently is reviewed.


Holger Klose works on biofuels.


Scientific Software Developers



PhD Students

Anthony Bolger studied computer science in Dublin City University, graduating in 1997. He worked briefly as a consultant before founding his own consultancy company in 2000. He later returned to academia as a scientific programmer before beginning a PhD in sequence bioinformatics at the MPI-MP in Golm. He relocated with the Usadel lab to RWTH in 2012. His primary focus is the development of novel approaches and algorithms for processing next-generation sequence data.

Marie Bolger studied Biomedical Science at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. As part of her degree she investigated the plasma micronutrient content in preterm infants in Thailand under the supervision of Prof. David Thurnham. After completion of her degree, she took a masters in Computing and Information Systems. After 8 years working as a software engineer in Dublin and Madrid, she returned to the natural sciences starting a Phd with Dr. Björn Usadel at the Max Planck institute for molecular plant physiology. She is investigating cell wall differences in an Introgression line of Solanum pennelliI in Solanum lycopersicum. She hopes to isolate the cause of any differences with the help of both genomes which are currently been sequenced and assembled as part of the group. She is currently based in RWTH Aachen where she is continuing her Phd with Prof. Usadel.

Fu Lanbao is interested in identifying candidate genes for cell wall synthesis.

Mehtap Oksaksin studied Biology at the Hacettepe University in Ankara and at the RWTH Aachen university. For her diploma thesis (MSc) she worked on transferring the CO2 concentration mechanism from CAM plants in the C3 plant Arabidopsis in the group molecular genetics at the RWTH. After finishing her diploma thesis she worked for one year as a research assistant, participating in a histone modification project. Currently, she is doing her PhD at the RWTH Aachen, working on nitrogen fixation in E.coli and plants.

Bo Yang studied agronomy and crop genetics and breeding in Huazhong Agricultural University. As part of his master thesis he worked on screening cell wall mutants of rice for energy crop breeding and analyzing the functions of glycosyl hydrolase 9 (GH9) family in rice. Now, his PhD project mainly focuses on identification and characterization of genes involved in mucilage metabolism.


Cătălin Voiniciuc (Günl) moved to NRW from Vancouver, Canada in December 2012, after completing a BSc (with distinction), and an MSc (Botany) in Dr. George Haughn’s lab at the University of British Columbia.  His MSc research focused on using Arabidopsis seed coat mutants with abnormal mucilage release to identify novel genes involved in cell wall biosynthesis. Cătălin is now analyzing natural variation in the cell wall structure of barley vegetative tissues at Forschungszentrum Jülich. His aim is to identify genetic elements that are associated with desirable cell wall changes for biofuel production.


Agnes Glowa (Wormit) studied Biology at the RWTH Aachen. She did her diploma thesis in the lab of Prof. Fritz Kreuzaler where she worked on the genetic modification and forward improvement of agricultural crops as part of a BioEnergie2021 project. Her study was focused on the generation of transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana mutants as model plants overexpressing value added building blocks for the chemical industry, e.g. D-lactate as well as on the enzymatic degradation of lignin.
She started her PhD in 2011 continuing working on enzymatic lignin degradation. Within the scope of this study she is trying to generate Arabidopsis mutants expressing a fungal ligninolytic enzyme in the apoplast and wants to characterize the mutants especially with regard to the lignin content in the cell walls.
After Prof. Usadel and Dr. Wormit joined the Institute of Biology 1 at the RWTH, Agnes broadened her studies and became a member of the Wormit Group, focusing on working on the functional characterization of primary metabolism genes related to cell wall stress in Arabidopsis thaliana, focussing on fructan endohydrolyases.

Sabine Schnell (Wormit) is working with sugar signalling

Julia Zenner is working on cool stuff in tomatoes

Alexander Vogel works on all kinds of genomes



Sonja Töpsch


Marc Teuffel

Former Members

Dr. Federico Giorgi

Dr. Federico Manuel Giorgi studied Biotechnology in Bologna and Amsterdam, where he worked in the lab of prof. Giuseppe Giaccone on the correlation between drug responsiveness and genotype in esophageal cancer. During his master thesis he joined Bionformatics through the group of Prof.Francesca Ciccarelli in Milan, where he worked on systems and network properties of cancer genes. He completed his PhD in the group of Dr. Bjoern Usadel in Golm, working on plant gene network reverse engineering and transcriptome behavior in cell wall and hypoxia. His PhD thesis is available here. His scientific goal is to understand the evolution of gene transcriptional networks. Federico is now working as a postdoc at the Califano Lab in New York. Email federico ^dot^ giorgi +ta+ gmail ^dot^ com


Dr. Heike Riegler
Dr. Heike Rieglerstudied Biochemistry at the Martin Luther University in Halle (Germany). She did her master thesis in the lab of Prof. Toni Kutchan at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry in Halle, where she investigated the biosynthesis of morphine in opium poppy.

For her PhD she joined the Nucleotides and Nucleotide Sugars group of Dr. Rita Zrenner at the MPI of Molecular Plant Physiology in 2006. Her focus within the group was on degradation and salvage of nucleosides and nucleobases in the model organism Arabidopsis.

In 2009 she started working as a Postdoc in the lab of Dr. Björn Usadel in Golm, where she is currently analyzing the cell wall composition of model and crop species and is also interested in the cell wall biosynthesis on a molecular level.

Her strengths are biochemical plant investigation, metabolite analysis and molecular biology as well as lab organization.


Malgorzata Ryngajllo

Maggie studied Biotechnology at Technical University of Lodz, Poland. Her early work in the lab focused on predicting subcellular localization of A. thaliana proteins using sequence and expression data from microarrays (Ryngajllo et al., 2011). Currently, the main focus of her PhD is trying to understand how tomato (S. lycopersicum) and other plants have adapted to changing day and night rhythms and, especially, how they react to diurnal fluctuations in carbon availability and to its depletion in an extended night. Maggie is also involved in S.pennellii genome sequencing project where she applies bioinformatic tools and transcript data from microarrays and next generation sequencing to predict position and structure of genes. Now she works at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research.

Dr. Thomas Herter is currently working at the Joint Bionergy Research Center in Emmeryville, California

Axel Nagel and Marc lohse have joined a start up company.

Diana Pese (now in AG Mutwill, MPI Golm)
Anja Lude (now studying Medicine at the Charité)
Florian Hetsch (now at Max Delbrück Center in Buch)
Benjamin Jaegle (now doing a PhD in Cologne)
Paulina Troc (now doing a PhD in Vienna)
Dr. Oliver Drechsel (now in Barcelona)
Alex Finck
Mareike Bernau
Jürgen Gremmels (now at the MPI Golm /AG Greenteam)
Kati Hohnschild (studying Biology at Potsdam Uni)
Ewelina Sokolowska (now pursuing her PhD at MPI Golm /AG Kragler)