Tobias Erb receives ERC Advanced Grant

The Marburg microbiologist receives prestigious research grant from the European Research Council for research into the past and future of photosynthesis

April 11, 2024

Today, the European Research Council (ERC) announced the winners of its call for proposals for the Advanced Grants 2024. Prof Tobias Erb, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, receives funding of 2.8 Million Euros for his project "pro2neo-RUBISCO".

Photosynthesis is the most important process for life on earth. Through photosynthesis, plants and microorganisms capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and bind it into biomass, which we use in our everyday lives in the form of food ( f. e., grains), building materials and recyclables (like cellulose or cotton) or as energy sources (like wood or crude oil). Photosynthesis is therefore not only a natural CO2 filter, but also plays a key role in feeding the world's population and in the transformation to a bio-based economy by converting the greenhouse gas directly into usable raw materials.

"Despite billions of years of evolution, photosynthesis is still trapped in a corner," explains Tobias Erb. "The central step in photosynthesis, the conversion of CO2 by the enzyme Rubisco, is slow and prone to errors. This limits the efficiency of photosynthesis, which means dramatic losses for agricultural yields." In the pro2neo-RUBISCO project, Tobias Erb and his team want to study the evolutionary history of Rubisco, elucidate the molecular mechanism of the enzyme and use synthetic biology to design new alternatives to the enzyme in order to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis in the long term.

Tobias Erb received his doctorate in microbiology from the University of Freiburg in 2009. After research stays in the USA and Switzerland, he was appointed Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Synthetic Metabolism in 2014 and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in 2017. He is also a professor at the University of Marburg since 2018. Erb was elected as a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in 2022 and has been a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina since 2023. Tobias Erb was included in the list of the 'Talented 12' by the American Chemical Society in 2015 and honoured with the Heinz-Maier Leibnitz Young Investigator Award of the DFG in 2016. He was awarded the Otto Bayer Prize in 2019, the Jean-Marie Lehn Forcheurs Prize in 2021 and the Merck Future Insight Prize in 2022, among others. This year he was also honoured with the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation.

The European Research Council, ERC, was established by the European Union in 2007 and is the first European funding organisation for outstanding research. Each year, the ERC selects and funds outstanding researchers of all nationalities and ages to carry out their projects in Europe. The ERC awards four types of grants: the "Starter Grant", the "Consolidator Grant", the "Synergy Grant" and the "Advanced Grant". The Advanced Grant funds visionary projects by established scientists who are leaders in their respective fields of research.

Other Interesting Articles

Go to Editor View