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Ralf Reski (born 18 November 1958 in Gelsenkirchen) is a German Professor of Plant Biotechnology and former Dean of the Faculty of Biology of the University of Freiburg.

Prof. Ralf Reski



Ralf Reski studied Biology, Chemistry and the Theory and Practice of Education at the Universities of Giessen and Hamburg. He was awarded his doctorate in Genetics in 1990 at the University of Hamburg and received his postdoctoral lecture qualification in Botany in 1994. From 1996 until 1999 he was a Heisenberg-Fellow of the German Research Foundation. After various offers from universities within Germany and abroad he was appointed Full Professor at the University of Freiburg and became Head of the newly established Department of Plant Biotechnology. Since 2001 he is Director Plant Biotechnology of the Centre for Applied Biosciences (ZAB). In 2004 he became a member of the International Moss Genome Consortium. He is Principal Investigator (PI) of the Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine (SGBM) and the Centre for Biological Signalling Studies (bioss), both funded within the German Universities Excellence Initiative. Further, Reski is PI in the Freiburg Initiative for Systems Biology (FRISYS) funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research(BMBF).

Ralf Reski is a member of the Supervisory Board of BioPro GmbH since 2003, an enterprise of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. In 2009 he was asked by the State Minister for Finance Willi Stächele to stay on the Supervisory Board for a second term of office. In 2007 Günther Oettinger, State Premier of Baden-Württemberg, asked Reski to join the newly instated Innovation Think-Tank of the state of Baden-Württemberg. In March 2008 Reski was voted President of the Deutsches Nationalkomitee Biologie (DNK), which is the German National Committee of the IUBS and IUMS within the International Council for Science (ICSU).


Ralf Reski's main area of research deals with genetics, proteins, metabolism and particularities in the cell development of moss plants, using the very efficient technique of homologous recombination for creating knockout mosses by gene targeting in an reverse genetics approach [1]. With over 150 scientific publications to date [2] he has contributed significantly towards mosses becoming a model plant in biological research on a worldwide scale. Just recently in December 2007 the complete genome of the moss Physcomitrella patens was deciphered [3]. This research was financed substantially by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) [4] and the German National Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG).

As biotechnologists Reski and his co-workers have identified hitherto unknown genes and their functions for agriculture and forestry. The cultivation of moss cells and their use in pharmaceutical industry is also a main focal point of his research [5 ]. This field of biotechnology is often referred to as "Molecular Farming". Here the Reski lab relies increasingly on methods from the area of bioinformatics and systems biology, as implemented in the FORSYS Program funded by the German Federal Ministry of Science.

In 1998 Reski and coworkers published the first scientific publication about using a knockout moss for the identification of a hitherto unknown gene. They deleted the ftsZ-gene and thus functionally identified the first gene pivotal for the division of an organelle in any eukaryote. [6]

In 2000 Ralf Reski coined the term "plastoskeleton", analogous to the term "cytoskeleton" and presented a new concept in cell biology of how chloroplasts, the green cell organelles of plants change shape and divide [7][8 ][9]

In 1999 the chemical company BASF invested more than 30 Mio. DM in a four year cooperation project with Reski to identify new genes which will be able to make crop plants for example more resistant to drought, cold and attack by pests. Also plants with improved nutrional value (vitamins or polyunsaturated fatty acids) have been in the research focus of their collaboration. [10]

Ralf Reski founded greenovation Biotech GmbH in Freiburg with colleagues in 1999, a biotechnology company which has developed a moss bioreactor for the production of pharmaceuticals, thereby presenting a safe and inexpensive alternative to other production systems in the field of molecular farming.


Editorial board member of scientific journals

  • 2002 - to date Plant Cell Reports [11]
  • 2004 - 2005 Plant Biology (Guest-Editor)
  • 2008 - to date Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology [12]


  1. ^ Reski, R. (1998): Physcomitrella and Arabidopsis: the David and Goliath of reverse genetics. Trends in Plant Science 3, 209-210 [1]
  2. ^ ReskiLab publications [2]
  3. ^ Rensing et al. (2008): The Physcomitrella Genome Reveals Evolutionary Insights into the Conquest of Land by Plants. Science 319, 64-69. doi:10.1126/science.1150646
  4. ^ Doe Joint Genome Institute: Why sequence Physcomitrella patens?
  5. ^ Reski, R., W. Frank (2005): Moss (Physcomitrella patens) functional genomics - Gene discovery and tool development with implications for crop plants and human health. Briefings in Functional Genomics & Proteomics 4, 48-57 [3]
  6. ^ Strepp et al. (1998): Plant nuclear gene knockout reveals a role in plastid division for the homolog of the bacterial cell division protein FtsZ, an ancestral tubulin. Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Science USA 95: 4368–4373. [4]
  7. ^ Kiessling, J., S. Kruse, S.A. Rensing, K. Harter, E.L. Decker, R. Reski (2000): Visualization of a cytoskeleton-like FtsZ network in chloroplasts. Journal of Cell Biology 151, 945-950. [5]
  8. ^ McFadden, G.I. (2000): Comment: Skeleton in the closet: How do chloroplasts stay in shape?. Journal of Cell Biology 151, F19-F21. [6]
  9. ^ Reski, R. (2002): Rings and networks: the amazing complexity of FtsZ in chloroplasts. Trends in Plant Science 7, 103-105. [7]
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^

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