Award for RWTH Professor Uwe Conrath
RWTH Professor Uwe Conrath was honored for his innovative, scientific achievements with the Wissenschaftspreis from the German Phytomedical Society. The prize was awarded for the first time, endowed by the society on the occassion of its 85 year anniversary.
Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Uwe Conrath - Professor of Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at RWTH Aachen since 2004 - researches plants' defense systems."A plant can only successfully defend against a pathogen if its defense reaction is quickly turned on after infection, " says Conrath.
He and his team investigate how plants manage to more quickly activate their defense systems than plants that are becoming sick. Priming is an identified mechanism that plays an important role. Conrath was a pioneer in understanding the mechanism. The award honors his work in this field.
For example, an initial infection can protect plants from a second occurrence. A plant can correspondingly build up its immune system. After an initial infection it synthesizes protein molecules necessary for defense against pathogens. It also makes changes in the genotype to save information about the initial infection.
"Priming is also a good alternative and a sensible supplement to poisonous chemicals. Our research work is also important in human medicine, since priming also occurs in humans and vertebrates. However, it has hardly been researched in these areas so far," explained Conrath.