Dr. Sylvie Herrmann

Contact / Address

Dr. Sylvie Herrmann
Guest Scientist

Department of Soil Ecology
Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research - UFZ
Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4 | 06120 Halle (Saale)


0345 558 5412
0345 558 5449

Dr. Sylvie Herrmann

Research topics

    - Plant morphogenesis
    - Endogenous rhythmic growth
    - Rhizogenesis
    - in vitro
    - Plant symbiosis
    - Ectomycorrhizas
    - Gene transcription and regulation
    - Multitrophic interactions

Ectomycorrhizal symbiosis and gene regulation

Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) is a foundation forest tree species in the whole Northern hemisphere. Consecutively to forest degradation and after important storms, a reforestation research program was initiated in south of Germany in the 90s, with the goal to optimize the production of performing oak and beech saplings by replacing intensive fertilization in nurseries by inoculation with selected strains of symbiotic ectomycorrhizal fungi. In this frame Sylvie Herrmann started to work with the oak clone DF159 in 1990 to get a continuous production of saplings by micropropagation in order to rationalize comparative performance tests of mycorrhizal fungal strains.

Photo: Sylvie Herrmann/UFZ
Petri-dish system
Petri dish system,
Photo: Sylvie Herrmann/UFZ
Piloderma croceum
Piloderma croceum,
Photo: Sylvie Herrmann/UFZ

The preliminary established Petri dish model system enabled us to investigate the interplays between mycorrhizal symbiosis and the expression of the endogenous rhythmic growth (ERG), a developmental trait characteristic of oak trees characterized by alternating shoot and root growth flushes. Based on the observation that inoculation of DF159 oak microcuttings with the ectomycorrhizal fungus (EMF) Piloderma croceum markedly triggers plant growth already before the onset of mycorrhiza formation, this dual model system was selected to study the regulation of photosynthesis and differential expression of plant genes at early stages of mycorrhizal symbiosis in the frame of the DFG Research Unit MolMyk (1084).

Impact of endogenous rhythmic growth (ERG) on multitrophic interactions under controlled conditions – development of an oak phytometer

In the frame of the DFG research consortium TrophinOak , we adapted the microcosm system with in vitro propagated plants of the oak clone DF159 to study the impact of endogenous rhythmic growth (ERG) on the interplay between plant development and above- or below-ground multitrophic interactions. Transcriptome analyses and pulse labelling with stable isotopes enabled us to compare the effects of beneficial and detrimental organisms interacting with the oaks at different phases of the ERG in mycorrhizal versus non-mycorrhizal plants. The results of such lab analyses constitute a baseline for the RU PhytOakmeter, but also to monitor the behavior of clonal oaks after their field release in tree biodiversity experiments (MyDiv) or under various climatic and land use conditions in TERENO sites and across Europe.

Oak micropropagation
Oak micropropagation, Photo: Sylvie Herrmann/UFZ
rooted microcuttings
Rooted microcuttings, Photo: Sylvie Herrmann/UFZ

TrophinOak/PhytOakmeter platform

These works done in particular in the frame of the DFG Research Unit MolMyk (1084) and the TrophinOak consortium led to the Oak Group that Sylvie Herrmann implemented at the UFZ in 2005 to develop the oak experimental platform until her retirement in September 2022 - TrophinOak/PhytOakmeter Logo TrophinOak and PhytOakmeter
The group was responsible for the “Oak DF159 micropropagation unit” and delivers all clonal oak microcutting and saplings used for lab and field experimentations in the frame of the TrophinOak/PhytOakmeter projects until 2022.

Completed Research projects

Completed projects
PlastOak - Adaption of oaks to abiotic and biotic pressure: iDiv flexpool grant in cooperation with Prof. Nicole van Dam
How do trees adapt to changing abiotic and biotic pressure during their long life? Using the endogenous rhythmic growth trait of oak trees to disentangle interplays between morphological, genetic and defense-metabolic plasticity.

Microbiome associated to roots of a clonal oak tree: DAAD supported grant
Molecular characterization of the microbiome in the root zone of a clonal oak tree used as an indicator system across different field sites in central Germany and Europe.
OakMycEvo - Ectomycorrhizal interactions with oak trees
Cross comparing molecular and physiological regulation in ectomycorrhizal interactions of different fungi with oak trees: a way to understand biodiversity emergence in symbioses.

TrophinOak - Multitrophic interactions with oaks
Gene regulation and resource allocation in oaks during multitrophic interactions.

Current Position

since September

Guest Scientist
Department of Soil Ecology (BOOEK)
at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ

Previous positions

2005 - 2022

Senior Scientist
Department of Soil Ecology (BOOEK)
Department of Community Ecology (BZF)
at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ

2003 - 2005

Senior Scientist, University of Leipzig (Department of Terrestrial Ecology)

1999 - 2003

Senior Scientist, Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena (Department of Environmental Sciences, Institute of Ecology)

1996 - 1999

Scientist, Technical University of Braunschweig (Institute of Microbiology) (Germany)

1993 - 1996

Scientist, Federal Research Center of Agriculture in Braunschweig (Institute of Soil Biology) (Germany)

1990 - 1992

Scientist, University of Tübingen (Department of Botany/Mycology) (Germany)

Degrees / Formation

1982 - 1986

Doctoral thesis in plant biology, University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg (F)
Contribution to the study of morphogenetical potentialities along the inflorescence of Phalaenopsis sp.: elaboration of an in vitro progagation procedure for Phalaenopsis orchids.

1998 - 1990

Postdoctoral fellowship "Marie Curie" EU , stage at the Department of Plant Chemistry of the University of Tübingen (D)
Characterization of plant regeneration stages from protoplasts for different potato lines (Solanum tuberosum L.) with isoenzymes, DNA methylation, and proteins. Use of RFLP techniques for identification of the regenerated potato lines



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Artikel in ISI-gelisteten Zeitschriften (25)

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Herrmann, S., Oelmüller, R., Buscot, F. (2004):
Manipulation of the, onset of ectomycorrhiza formation by indole-3-acetic acid, activated charcoal or relative humidity in the association between oak microcuttings and Piloderma croceum: influence on plant development and photosynthesis
J. Plant Physiol. 161 (5), 509 - 517 EM formation with IAA, activated charcoal and relative humidity (153.4 KB)

Krüger, A., Peškan-Berghöfer, T., Frettinger, P., Herrmann, S., Buscot, F., Oelmüller, R. (2004):
Identification of premycorrhiza-related plant genes in the association between Quercus robur and Piloderma croceum
New Phytol. 163 (1), 149 - 157 Premycorrhiza-related plant genes Quercus-Piloderma (335.4 KB)

Buscot F., Herrmann S. (2004):
At the frontier between basidiomycotes and plants: reciprocal interactions between mycorrhiza formation and root development in an in vitro system with oaks and hymenomycetes
In: R. Agerer, M. Piepenbring & P. Blanz (eds.) Frontiers in Basidiomycote Mycology. IHW-Verlag. Eching, pp. 361-376 root ramification patterns and ectomycorrhization (864.6 KB)

Herrmann S., J.-C. Munch & F. Buscot (1998):
A gnotobiotic culture sytem with oak microcuttings to study specific effects of mycobionts on plant morphology before, and in the early stage of, ectomycorrhiza formation by Paxillus involutus and Piloderma croceum
New Phytologist 138, 203-212.

Caloin M., B. Clement & S. Herrmann (1991):
Regrowth kinetics of Dactylis glomerata following root excision
Annals of Botany 68, 435-440 Root regrowth kinetiks in Dactylis glomerata (449 KB)