Work plan
Our ambition for the next three years is:

• First, to set the conceptual bases for a mechanistic understanding of the relationships between metabolism and development in a range of different developmental contexts. EcTop members have accumulated data suggesting that the metabolic status of an organism is a potent determinant of its development potential. Building on these results, the goal will now be to uncover the causal relationships between metabolic state and development.

• Second, to foster the development of new tools and methodologies. This aim is absolutely essential and cannot be disentangled from the first one. Methodological development fuels conceptual advances which reciprocally drive the development or improvement of tools and methods.


During the EcTop funding period, each sub-project of the EcTop will establish (1) sufficient preliminary data, (2) collaborations among subprojects, and (3) drive, as an ensemble, the development of new tools and methodologies. Altogether, these elements will allow the emergence of an highly competitive local community brought together by a common interest in the metabolic control of development. To the best of our knowledge this will put us in a unique position within the life sciences in Germany that we are dedicated to use for a joint SFB/CRC application to the DFG in 2017.


In order to understand the mechanistic relationships between metabolism and development in a collaborative and interdisciplinary effort we have assembled groups with complementary expertise including the genetic analysis of signalling pathways (Boutros, Greb, I. Lohmann), metabolic control of cell behaviour (Aulehla, J. Lohmann, Maizel, Radlwimmer, Teleman), and biochemical analysis of metabolites (Gaquerel, Hell), as well as their visualization using fluorescent nanosensors and reporter genes (Aulehla, Dickmeis, Grossmann, Schumacher) and the modelling of metabolic pathways (Kummer). All members of the EcTop have been limited in their current research by a lack of tools and knowledge concerning either development or metabolism. In the discussions leading up to this proposal, the urgent need for an integrative approach aiming at a mechanistic understanding of the coordination of metabolism and development became apparent. With the recently established Metabolomics Core Technology Platform (MCTP) and the available expertise with genetically-encoded fluorescent nanosensors, the consortium is in a unique position to tackle the challenges described above. The consortium will also rely strongly on support and expertise available on campus including the Lipidomics facility, the MathClinic, the Deep Sequencing facility as well as the Nikon Imaging Center. In turn, the advanced methods for metabolite imaging and metabolomics to be developed within the EcTop will expand the portfolio of the facilities and will thus further strengthen the Heidelberg Molecular Life Science campus.