Helmholtz Zentrum München Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

Simone Rankl at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

My doctoral thesis project aims to investigate early plant responses to N-Acyl-homoserine-lactones (AHLs), a class of bacteria-derived quorum sensing (QS) molecules and will attempt to decipher the first signaling responses of barley seedlings to QS molecules.

In the summer of 2013, Professor Poschenrieder from the University of Barcelona (UAB) was invited to give a talk at our institute (AMP). Here, the basis was laid for my first four-month research stay (granted by a short term scientific mission (STSM) of the FA1103 Cost Action) in the Plant Physiology Laboratory of the Bioscience Faculty in the UAB. During this stay I learned to handle electrophysiological methods (ion flux measurement with the MIFE technique) and gained very interesting results that were regarded as pursuable. Therefore, I applied for a travel grant from HELENA to obtain another opportunity to continue my research in Spain.

This second stay was for three month (September 29, 2014 - December 21, 2014) in the same working group. I was well and warmly received to be back again and went right to work my research. It was really nice and satisfying to see that I could apply the learned method and also feeling secure in applying it again. Besides the ion flux measurements, I was able to perform various plant tissue staining methods and learned how to process the obtained data in a better way. Due to this second stay, the collaboration with the host institute could be strengthened and will result in a publication in the near future.

Apart from my lab work, I explored the cultural and gastronomic aspects of Barcelona, for example enjoying a great dinner with flamenco show in the city center. Also, the surrounding country side and the beach were attractive destinations for weekend trips.

Altogether, it was a great experience for me to learn a lot of new methods in a short time that provided good and interesting results and new insights for my doctoral thesis. Furthermore, I really appreciate having had the opportunity to integrate into a new research group.

This research stay abroad gave me the opportunity to perceive new situations and people and helped me to broaden my mind in my professional and private life. Thank you HELENA for supporting this lab exchange - I can just recommend lab exchanges to everyone! Take the chance and gain a lot of positive feedback.