Dr. Anna Podgórska: Searching for a Sustainable Fertilizer Solution

I was born in Warsaw (Poland) but I went to school in Hamburg (Germany). Then I moved back to Poland and received my PhD in Biology. After a few more years of work, I’m now back for a short visit in Germany where I’m getting to know Münster. The research group that welcomed me here is called “Plant Energy Biology” which is similar to my home laboratory called “Plant Bioenergetics” and therefore joining our powers together makes sense. These terms also reveal my research interests, which are based on the energy that drives metabolism including redox chemistry, oxidative stress and intracellular signaling. Here I can make use of specific biosensors to get insight into what is actually happening in vivo in plant tissues.

Let’s say I can trace what a plant is feeling or if it is stressed. Based on changes in redox state, I want to know what is the preferred source of nitrogen to feed to a plant. If a researcher is using the wrong nitrogen fertilizer, a lot can go wrong; its metabolic disturbances are is still not fully understood. False nitrate application causes a lot of ecological problems and can be dangerous for human health, while ammonium leads to plant growth suppression. In the end, everything comes down to maintaining sustainable agriculture.

Fun fact: I know how plant metabolism works on an organelle scale but I can’t help you with your Monstera turning yellow, and can’t make your tomatoes produce more fruits.