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Bjørn Panyella Pedersen receives prestigious grant from the European Research Council

Associate Professor Bjørn Panyella Pedersen from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University receives an ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council for research in plant growth. The amount awarded is EUR 2.0 million and runs over five years.

2020.12.09 | Lisbeth Heilesen

Bjørn Panyella Pedersen (photo: Anders Trærup, Aarhus University)

Bjørn Panyella Pedersen previous held an ERC Starting Grant to establish his research group. To get a second ERC grant in direct continuation is exceptional, and a unique recognition of Bjørn Panyella Pedersen's international level, and it was indeed a proud and happy researcher who received the news about the grant:

"After having worked in the states for several years, I returned to Aarhus in 2014 with an AIAS fellowship. Shortly after this, I received an ERC Starting Grant to establish my research group. When this grant was nearing its end, I wanted to try something different. I have always been fond of the complicated nature of plants, so I decided to focus on plant biology. Of course, I was in great doubt as to whether I would succeed with such a move in a new direction, so therefore I was extremely happy when I got the news,” says Bjørn Panyella Pedersen.

"With the new grant, I will be able to expand my group and hire the best researchers working in the cross-field of plant molecular biology and structural biology. This will be a significant boost for us to obtain the goal we have set," concludes Bjørn Panyella Pedersen.

MUM-GROW: Plant growth through the lens of structural biology

The goal for the new grant is ambitious. Growth in the plant kingdom is controlled by a selective distribution of sugar and the plant hormone auxin, but but there is still surprisingly little known about the molecular details of this essential part of plant metabolism. With the new project 'MUM-GROW', Bjørn Panyella Pedersen and his research group will elucidate the molecular mechanism of sugar and auxin transmembrane transport in plants with an aim to characterize molecular mechanisms that lies behind something as fundamental as plant growth.

MUM-GROW intends to leverage the unique knowledge obtained as a result of Bjørn Panyella Pedersen's ERC Starting Grant. It will employ a complementary set of methods founded in structural biology to determine 3-dimensional structures of transport systems involved in sugar and auxin distribution. Jointly with international collaborators, these results are then combined with biochemical characterization and in vivo studies on whole plants.

"The dream behind MUM-GROW is to obtain a deep and comprehensive understanding of how sugar and auxin are transported in plants. This will give us a new and unique tool to predict, adjust and support plant growth. Controlled growth is a primary response to changes in environment, and there is a strong need to improve our knowledge of this process," says Bjørn Panyella Pedersen, and continues “The vision is that our work here can help create a solid foundation to understand plant growth on a molecular level. Environmental impact and resource exploitation is a global balancing act, and I believe we are facing tremendous challenges in maintaining a sustainable balance. It is my hope that our work can help with this.”


For further information, please contact

Associate Professor Bjørn Panyella Pedersen
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University
bpp@mbg.au.dk – +45 2972 3499  

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