Recognizing Plant Physiology first authors: Jan Gunther

Jan Gunther, first author of Separate pathways contribute to the herbivore-induced formation of 2-phenylethanol in Populus trichocarpa

Current Position: PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

Education: Master of Science in Biochemistry (Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena), Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry/ Molecular Biology (Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena)

Non-scientific Interests: Climbing, football, traveling

Brief bio: I am interested in the formation of plant specialized metabolites and the evolution of the complex biosynthetic networks we encounter in nature. The lab of Prof. Jonathan Gershenzon and the direct supervision of Dr. Tobias G. Köllner provided a perfect research environment to study these biosynthetic networks in plants.

In my doctoral studies I focused on the biosynthesis of phenylalanine-derived herbivore-induced volatiles that are emitted by the western balsam-poplar upon herbivore attack. We found out that the same specialized metabolites are biosynthesized via different pathways in Populus trichocarpa. Even though the question of how plants biosynthesize one specialized metabolite in different ways has been answered in our case, the reason why they do remains enigmatic. For this reason I want to learn and understand how specialized metabolism works in general. I am very excited to see what future research will reveal about plant specialized metabolism.