Florian is a plant physiologist with a focus on studying physiological mechanisms related to photosynthesis. His research is guided by his interest in understanding on a mechanistic level how plants utilize available resources, such as light, water, CO2, and nutrients, and how they convert these resources to carbohydrates and ultimately plant biomass. This is not only interesting from the perspective of pure knowledge gain, but also has important consequences for society, which relies on harvested plant biomass for their food supply. In this field, his main focus of research is linking the biophysical processes of light harvesting and the properties of leaf-level CO2 diffusion with the biochemical processes of CO2 and nitrogen assimilation.
Work done in the Busch lab is based on two pillars: describing our current understanding of plant function by mathematical models and testing these models experimentally. In combination, they are a powerful tool to identify where our understanding is incomplete and to generate new hypotheses that help fill the gaps in our knowledge. While empirical models may yield accurate predictions of the magnitude of an effect, mechanistic models can be used to elucidate the drivers of an observed effect and can help answer the question why a plant behaves the way it does. The goal of our research is to deepen our understanding of how plant productivity relates to environmental factors and stresses. This understanding is an essential prerequisite to improving crop productivity in the face of population growth and global change.
To achieve this goal, Florian has developed novel measurement techniques (e.g. one to measure the notoriously difficult-to-estimate flux of photorespiration), designed and refined tools to analyze and experimental data (e.g. a new model to interpret carbon isotope discrimination signatures) and developed new mathematical models connecting biochemical processes in the leaf (e.g. linking photorespiration with nitrogen assimilation).