Moritz K. Nowack - ProCellDeath

Moritz K. Nowack


Moritz Nowack was born in Marburg, Germany, in 1976, and grew up in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Moving back to his native town to study Biology in 1996, he received a degree in Biology from Marburg University in 2002, and a PhD in Botany from the University of Cologne in 2007. After a postdoctoral project at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, he joined Ghent University as an EMBO long-term fellow in 2009. Currently, Moritz Nowack holds a group leader position at the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, and a tenure-track research professorship at Ghent University.

Moritz Nowack’s research focuses on the molecular regulation of programmed cell death processes occurring during plant development. In 2015, he received an ERC starting grant (PROCELLDEATH) to investigate cell death regulation in plants. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed research articles.





Unraveling the regulatory network of developmental programmed cell death in plants (ProCellDeath)

ProCellDeathProgrammed cell death (PCD) is an umbrella term for genetically encoded processes that lead to an a tightly regulated cellular suicide. In plants, diverse PCD processes are important for growth and reproduction, as well as for the reaction to the biotic and abiotic environment. Despite the undisputed importance of PCD for plant life, we still know comparatively little about the molecular mechanisms that control PCD in plants.

Over the past years, we have developed the root cap of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana into a powerful model system to study developmentally controlled programmed cell death (dPCD) in plants. The root cap is situated at the very tip of the growing plant root, protecting the delicate root tip and guiding the growing root by sensing gravity, water and nutrients. In contrast to other plant organs, the root cap shows a constant cellular turnover, in which generation and degeneration of cells have to be tightly balanced to maintain root cap organ size.

We are exploiting this system of developmentally controlled PCD to address fundamental questions on plant cell death regulation: How do differentiating plant cells prepare for cell death? How is cell death triggered precisely at the correct time and place? Which mechanisms do plant cells employ to terminate their vital functions in a controlled way?

With a combination of genetics, cell biological, cell physiological and modelling approaches, we strive to obtain answers to these intriguing fundamental questions of plant biology.