TUM – Technical University of Munich Menü

Prof. Dr. J. Philipp Benz


Wood Bioprocesses

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. 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 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. Professor Benz has been an assistant professor (tenure track) at TUM since August 2014.


  • Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2011-2012)
  • Graduate Student Fellowship, German National Academic Foundation

Key Publications (all publications)

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.


Ranger CM, Biedermann PH, Phuntumart V, Beligala GU, Ghosh S, Palmquist DE, Mueller R, Barnett J, Schultz PB, Reding ME, Benz JP: "Symbiont selection via alcohol benefits fungus farming by ambrosia beetles". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2018; 115(17): 4447-4452.


Hassan L, Reppke MJ, Thieme N, Schweizer SA, Mueller CW, Benz JP: "Comparing the physicochemical parameters of three celluloses reveals new insights into substrate suitability for fungal enzyme production". Fungal Biology and Biotechnology. 2017; 4:10.


Thieme N, Wu VW, Dietschmann A, Salamov AA, Wang M, Johnson J, Singan VR, Grigoriev IV, Glass NL, Somerville CR, Benz JP: "The transcription factor PDR-1 is a multi-functional regulator and key component of pectin deconstruction and catabolism in Neurospora crassa". Biotechnology for Biofuels. 2017; 10:149.


Benz JP, Chau BH, Zheng D, Bauer S, Glass NL, Somerville CR: “A comparative systems analysis of polysaccharide-elicited responses in Neurospora crassa reveals carbon source-specific cellular adaptations”. Molecular Microbiology. 2013; 91(2): 275-299.