Academic Career and Research Areas
The research area of Professor Benz is the processes used by filamentous fungi to degrade biomass, with a focus on wood as a substrate. These are of particular interest for the biorefinery from wood as a renewable feedstock, but also for the development of novel fungicides. The central questions addressed by the research group are how fungi perceive the composition of the plant cell walls on a molecular level and how they adapt their metabolism to effectively degrade the substrate. The resulting insights are used for the rational design of biotechnologically used fungal strains by genetic engineering (e.g. for applications of renewable biomass within a circular bioeconomy). These issues are elucidated using state-of-the-art biochemistry and genetic techniques.
Professor Benz (b. 1977) studied biology at TU Braunschweig (2003). The research work for his thesis was done in the laboratory of Professor Crawford at UC San Diego (CA, USA). He subsequently acquired his PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) from LMU Munich, working in the research group of Professor Soll (Department of Biochemistry and Physiology of Plants) (2009). He then returned to the USA to become a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Somerville at the Energy Biosciences Institute (UC Berkeley, CA, USA) where he worked on filamentous fungi. Back in Germany, Professor Benz successfully passed the tenure track phase at TUM between 2014 and 2020 and was advanced to Associate Professor in August 2020.
- Supervisory Award of the Graduate Center Weihenstephan (2019)
- Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2011-2012)
- Graduate Student Fellowship, German National Academic Foundation
Key Publications (all publications)
Meyer V, Basenko EY, Benz JP, Braus GH, Caddick MX, Csukai M, de Vries RP, Endy D, Frisvad JC, Gunde-Cimerman N, Haarmann T, Hadar Y, Hansen K, Johnson RI, Keller NP, Kraševec N, Mortensen UH, Perez R, Ram AFJ, Record E, Ross P, Shapaval V, Steiniger C, van den Brink H, van Munster J, Yarden O, Wösten HAB. (2020) “Growing a circular economy with fungal biotechnology: a white pape”. Fungal Biology and Biotechnology. 2020; 7, 5.Abstract
Benz JP, Chen S, Dang S, Dieter M, Labelle ER, Liu G, Hou L, Mosandl RM, Pretzsch H, Pukall K, Richter K, Ridder R, Sun S, Song X, Wang Y, Xian H, Yan L, Yuan J, Zhang S, Fischer A: “Multifunctionality of Forests: A White Paper on Challenges and Opportunities in China and Germany”. Forests. 2020; 11(3):266.Abstract
Wu, VW, Thieme N, Huberman LB, Dietschmann A, Bleek E, Kowbel DJ, Lee J, Calhoun S, Singan V, Lipzen A, Xiong Y, Monti R, Blow MJ, O’Malley RC, Grigoriev IV, Benz JP, Glass NL.: “The regulatory and transcriptional landscape associated with carbon utilization in a filamentous fungus”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2020; 117 (11): 6003-6013.Abstract
Hassan L, Lin L, Sorek H, Sperl LE, Goudoulas T, Hagn F, Germann N, Tian C, Benz JP*.: “Cross-talk of cellulose and mannan perception pathways leads to inhibition of cellulase production in several filamentous fungi”. mBio. 2019; 10:e00277-19.Abstract
Protzko R, Latimer L, Ze Martinho, de Reus E, Seibert T, Benz JP, Dueber J: "Engineering Saccharomyces cerevisiae for co-utilization of D-galacturonic acid and D-glucose from citrus peel waste". Nature Communications. 2018; 9(1): 5059.Abstract