Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Hans-Henning Kunz

Hans-Henning Kunz

Field of Study: Plant Metabolism and Physiology
Title: Assistant Professor
Degrees: Ph.D., Botany, University of Cologne
Homepage: Homepage/Lab Web Site Link
Google Scholar:  Google Scholar
Office: Eastlick 395
Phone: 509-335-7698
Fax: 509-335-3184
Mailing Address: School of Biological Sciences
Washington State University
PO Box 644236
Pullman,WA 99164-4236


Chloroplast ion homeostasis – a plant cell hub to sense and respond to environmental cues.

Plants are sessile life forms and cannot escape from adverse environmental conditions. Therefore, they have evolved a myriad of molecular pathways that aid in sensing and responding to a broad variety of stress signals. These stress signals appear on very different time scales forcing the cell to respond accordingly.
My lab is researching the role of the chloroplast, a semi-autonomous plant cell organelle, in abiotic stress responses. The chloroplasts is not only the site of plant photosynthesis but it is also functions as a major stress sensing hub. Our work focuses on deciphering the transport proteins which facilitate the flux of ions such as K+ and Cl- across the different chloroplast membranes. My lab has established a number of new genetic and analytic tools that we hope will aid in the discovery of yet unknown plastid ion carriers and channels.
By studying respective ion transport gain or loss of function mutants in great detail we try to dissect the relevance of each gene of interest for photosynthetic efficiency, organellar function, and plant productivity under adverse environmental conditions. In our newest efforts we also try to shine light on the regulation of the known chloroplast ion transport proteins.
In our daily work me routinely apply a variety of cutting edge methods such as forward and reverse genetics, genetic mapping, transcriptomics, molecular cloning, various microscopic imaging techniques, genetic encoded sensors, elemental analysis using total reflection X-ray fluorescence (TXRF) spectrometry, and protein biochemistry.

My lab has been engaged in the DAAD Rise program to help facilitate international undergraduate student research. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in a plant science internship abroad.

Hans-Henning Kunz is a Human Frontier Science Program and an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Lynen alumni. As a proud Humboldtian, he welcomes the opportunity to host Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Feodor Lynen Fellows at WSU.

Representative Publications:

  • Daumann M, Hickl D, Zimmer D, DeTar RA, Kunz HH*, M√∂hlmann T*. Characterization of filament-forming CTP synthases from Arabidopsis thaliana Plant J. 2018 Oct;96(2):316-328. DOI: 10.1111/tpj.14032. PMID: 30030857
  • Armbruster U, Correa Galvis V, Kunz HH, Strand DD. The regulation of the chloroplast proton motive force plays a key role for photosynthesis in fluctuating light. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2017 Apr 17;37:56-62. PMID: 28426975
  • Hoehner R, Tabatabaei S, Kunz HH*, Fittschen UE* A Rapid Total Reflection X-ray Fluorescence Protocol for Micro Analyses of Ion Profiles in Arabidopsis thaliana. Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy 125, 159-167. DOI 10.1016/j.sab.2016.09.013
  • Stephan AB, Kunz HH, Yang E, Schroeder JI. Rapid hyperosmotic-induced Ca2+ responses in Arabidopsis thaliana exhibit sensory potentiation and involvement of plastidial KEA transporters. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Aug 15. pii: 201519555. PMID: 27528686
  • Hoehner R, Aboukila A, Kunz HH *, Venema K* Proton gradients and proton-dependent transporter processes in the chloroplast, Front. Plant Sci. 2016
  • Kunz HH, Zamani-Nour S, Haeusler RE, Ludewig K, Schroeder JI, Malinova I, Fettke J, Fluegge UI, Gierth M. Loss of Cytosolic Phosphoglucose Isomerase (cPGI) affects carbohydrate metabolism in leaves and is essential for fertility of Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiol. 2014 Oct;166(2):753-65. PMID: 25104722
  • Kunz HH, Gierth M, Herdean A, Satoh-Cruz M, Kramer DM, Spetea C, Schroeder JI. Plastidial transporters KEA1, -2, and -3 are essential for chloroplast osmoregulation, integrity, and pH regulation in Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 May 20;111(20):7480-5. PMID: 24794527
  • Mueller M, Kunz HH, Schroeder JI, Kemp G, Young HS, Neuhaus HE. Decreased capacity for sodium export out of Arabidopsis chloroplasts impairs salt tolerance, photosynthesis and plant performance. Plant J. 2014 May;78(4):646-58. PMID: 24617758
  • Kim TH, Kunz HH, Bhattacharjee S, Hauser F, Park J, Engineer C, Liu A, Ha T, Parker JE, Gassmann W, Schroeder JI. Natural variation in small molecule-induced TIR-NB-LRR signaling induces root growth arrest via EDS1- and PAD4-complexed R protein VICTR in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2012 Dec;24(12):5177-92
  • Kunz HH, Scharnewski M, Feussner K, Feussner I, Fluegge UI, Fulda M, Gierth M. The ABC transporter PXA1 and peroxisomal beta-oxidation are vital for metabolism in mature leaves of Arabidopsis during extended darkness. Plant Cell. 2009 Sep;21(9):2733-49. PubMed: 19794119