In collaboration with researchers from Oslo University, Michael Hothorn’s team has analyzed the activation mechanism of two plant membrane receptor kinases, a steroid hormone receptor controlling plant growth, and a peptide hormone receptor controlling leave shedding. Both receptors rely on the same helper protein for activation. The helper uses two different areas to contact the respective receptor and to specifically read out the chemically diverse ligands. The researchers understand the underlying mechanisms in sufficient detail to lego-build functional receptor chimera that now allow to induce leave shedding by applying the plant steroid hormone normally triggering growth. These findings were published on March 12, 2018 in PNAS.