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Prof. Dr. Burkhard Becker

Adjunct Professor


Prof. Dr. Burkhard Becker

Contact Details



4.502 (Office)

4.414 (Laboratory)


University of Cologne

Cologne Biocentrum

Zülpicher Straße 47b

50674 Cologne



+49 (0) 221 - 470 - 7022 (Office)

+49 (0) 221 - 470 - 3795 (Laboratory)



Social Media



Research Interest


I started my research career in algal cell biology. I was fascinated by the production of algal scales in the Golgi complex of scaly green flagellates. I have worked for several years on the mechanism of intra-Golgi transport and the secretory pathway of scaly green flagellates.

Through these studies, the cisternal maturation model of intra-Golgi transport was revived (Becker et al. 1995). However, over the years I have become more and more interested in the cell biological, physiological and ecological aspects of the evolution of the embryophyte plant cell from a freshwater green flagellate (Marin and Becker 2009, Wodniok et al. 2011, Becker 2013). These interests have led to my current major research topics: Osmoregulation and desiccation tolerance in green algae. As molecular tools and genetics are cornerstones of modern experimental biology, molecular genetics of green algae has also become more and more important for my research. 


Short Curriculum Vitae


1991Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D.), University of Cologne, Germany
1991 - 1997Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Cologne, Germany
1997 - 1998Guest Professor, McGill University, Canada
1998 - 2001Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Cologne, Germany
2001Habilitation (Botany), University of Cologne, Germany
2001 - 2014Senor Faculty, University of Cologne, Germany
Since 2014Adjunct Professor of Botany, University of Cologne, Germany



2020 Burkhard Becker, Xuehuan Feng, Yanbin Yin, Andreas Holzinger, Desiccation tolerance in streptophyte algae and the algae to land plant transition: evolution of LEA and MIP protein families within the Viridiplantae, Journal of Experimental Botany, Volume 71, Issue 11, 11 June 2020, Pages 3270–3278, https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/eraa105

Rippin, M., Pichrtová, M., Arc, E., Kranner, I., Becker, B. and Holzinger, A. (2019), Metatranscriptomic and metabolite profiling reveals vertical heterogeneity within a Zygnema green algal mat from Svalbard (High Arctic). Environtal Microbiology, 21: 4283-4299. https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14788

Rippin M, Borchhardt N, Karsten U and Becker B (2019) Cold Acclimation Improves the Desiccation Stress Resilience of Polar Strains of Klebsormidium (Streptophyta). Front. Microbiol. 10:1730. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01730

Karsten, U. , Schaub, I. , Woelfel, J. , Sevilgen, D. S. , Schlie, C. , Becker, B. , Wulff, A. , Graeve, M. and Wagner, H. (2019): Living on Cold Substrata: New Insights and Approaches in the Study of Microphytobenthos Ecophysiology and Ecology in Kongsfjorden / H. Hop and C. Wiencke (editors) , In: Advances in Polar Ecology 2, The Ecosystem of Kongsfjorden, Svalbard, Switzerland, Springer Nature . doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-46425-1_8


Rippin, M., Lange, S., Sausen, N., Becker, B. (2018). Biodiversity of biological soil crusts from the Polar Regions revealed by metabarcoding. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 94, fiy036.

Rippin, M., Borchhardt, N., Williams, L., Colesie, C., Jung, P., Büdel, B., Karsten, U., Becker, B. (2018). Genus richness of microalgae and Cyanobacteria in biological soil crusts from Svalbard and Livingston Island: morphological versus molecular approaches. Polar Biology.


Fiore-Donno, A.M., Rixen, C., Rippin, M., Glaser, K., Samolov, E., Karsten, U., Becker, B., Bonkowski, M. (2017). New barcoded primers for efficient retrieval of cercozoan sequences in high-throughput environmental diversity surveys, with emphasis on worldwide biological soil crusts. Molecular Ecology Resources 18, 229-239.

Rippin, M., Becker, B., Holzinger, A. (2017). Enhanced Desiccation Tolerance in Mature Cultures of the Streptophytic Green Alga Zygnema circumcarinatum Revealed by Transcriptomics. Plant & Cell Physiology 58, 2067-2084.

Williams, L., Borchardt, N., Colesie, C., Baum, C., Komsic-Buchmann, K., Rippin, M., Becker, B., Karsten, U., Büdel, B. (2017). Biological soil crusts of Arctic Svalbard and of Livingston Island, Antarctica. Polar Biology 40, 399-411.


Rippin, M., Komsic-Buchmann, K., Becker, B. (2016). RNA isolation from biological soil crusts: methodological aspects. Algological Studies 151-152, 21-37.


Komsic-Buchmann, K., Nagler, K., Becker, B. (2015). Brefeldin A affects the system of contractile vacuoles in Mesostigma viride (Streptophyta). Algological Studies 149, 79-94.

Holzinger, A., Becker, B. (2015). Desiccation tolerance in the streptophyte green alga Klebsormidium: The role of phytohormones. Commun Integr Biol 8, e1059978.

Becker, B. (2015) Milestones of Plant Evolution. Trend Ecol Evol 30, 383.

Becker, B., Doan, J. M., Wustman, B., Carpenter, E. J., Chen, L., Zhang, Y., Wong, G. K.-S. and Melkonian, M. (2015). The Origin and Evolution of the Plant Cell Surface: Algal Integrin-Associated Proteins and a New Family of Integrin-Like Cytoskeleton-ECM Linker Proteins. Genome Biol Evol 7, 1580-1589.


Holzinger, A., Kaplan, F., Blaas, K., Zechmann, B., Komsic-Buchmann, K. and Becker, B. (2014) Transcriptomics of Desiccation Tolerance in the Streptophyte Green Alga Klebsormidium Reveal a Land Plant-Like Defense Reaction. PLOS ONE 9, e110630.

Komsic-Buchmann, K., Wöstehof, L. and Becker, B. (2014). The contractile vacuole as a key regulator of cellular water flow in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Eukaryot. Cell 13, 1421-1430.


Becker, B. (2013). Snow ball earth and the split of Streptophyta and Chlorophyta. Trends in Plant Science 18, 180–183.

Komsic-Buchmann, K. and Becker, B. (2013). Contractile vacuoles in green algae - structure and function. In Advances in Algal Cell Biology (ed. Katsaros, K. H. and C.), 123-142. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.

Becker, B. and Hoef-Emden, K. (2013) Evolution of vacuolar targeting in algae. In Advances in Algal Cell Biology (eds. K. Heimann and C. Katsaros), de Gruyter, Berlin, 105 – 122.


Karsten, U., Schlie, C., Woelfel, J. and Becker, B. (2012). Benthic diatoms in Arctic waters – ecological functions and adaptations. Polarforschung 81, 77- 84.

Komsic-Buchmann, K., Stephan, L. M. and Becker, B. (2012). The SEC6 protein is required for contractile vacuole function in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. J. Cell Sci. 125, 2885-95.


Wodniok, S., Brinkmann, H., Glöckner, G., Heidel, A. J., Philippe, H., Melkonian, M. and Becker, B. (2011). Origin of land plants: Do conjugating green algae hold the key? BMC Evolutionary Biology 11, 104.


Buchmann, K. and Becker, B. (2009). The System of contractile vacuoles in the green alga Mesostigma viride (Streptophyta). Protist 160, 427-443.

Becker, B. and Hoef-Emden, K. (2009). Evolution of vacuolar sorting in algae. Botanica marina 52, 117-128.

Becker, B. and Marin, B. (2009) Streptophyte algae and the origin of land plants. Annals of Botany 103, 999-1004.


Becker, B., Hoef-Emden, K. and Melkonian, M. (2008). Chlamydial genes shed light on the evolution of photoautotrophic eukaryotes. BMC Evolutionary Biology 8, 203.


Becker, B. (2007). Function and evolution of the vacuolar compartment in green algae and land plants (Viridiplantae). International Review in Cytology 264, 1-24.

Wodniok, S., Simon, A., Glöckner, G. and Becker, B. (2007). Gain and loss of a polyadenylation signal in green algae. BMC Evolutionary Biology 7, 65.

Rodríguez-Ezpeleta, N., Philippe, H., Brinkmann, H., Becker, B. and Melkonian, M. (2007). Phylogenetic analyses of nuclear, mitochondrial and plastid multi-gene datasets support the placement of Mesostigma in the Streptophyta. Molecular Biology and Evolution 24, 723-731.


Petersen, J., Teich, R., Becker, B., Cerff, R. and Brinkmann, H. (2006). The GapA/B gene duplication marks the origin of Streptophyta (Charophytes and Land Plants). Molecular Biology and Evolution 23, 1109-1118.

Simon, A., Glöckner, G., Felder, M., Melkonian, M. and Becker, B. (2006). EST analysis of the scaly green flagellate Mesostigma viride (Streptophyta): Implications for the evolution of green plants (Viridiplantae). BMC Plant Biology 6, 2.


Becker, B. and Hickisch, A. (2005). Inhibition of contractile vacuole function by brefeldin A. Plant Cell Physiology 46, 201-212.


Vierkotten, L., Simon, A. and Becker, B. (2004) Preparation and characterization of protoplasts from the prasinophyte Scherffelia dubia. Journal of Phycology 40, 1106-1111.

Wustman, B. A., Melkonian, M., and Becker, B. (2004) A study of cell wall and flagella formation during cell division in the scaly green alga, Scherffelia dubia (Chlorophyta). Journal of Phycology 40, 895-910.


Becker, B., and Rüsing, M. (2003). Structure of N-glycosidic carbohydrates of Tetrahymena thermophila. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 50, 235-239.


Becker, B., Feja, N., and Melkonian, M. (2001). Analysis of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from the scaly green flagellate Scherffelia dubia Pascher emend. Melkonian et Preisig. Protist 152, 139-147.


Becker, B., Haggarty, A., Romero, P. A., Poon, T. and Herscovics, A. (2000). The transmembrane domain of murine α-mannosidase IB is the major determinant of Golgi localization. European Journal of Cell Biology 79, 986-992.

Gödel, S., Becker, B. and Melkonian, M. (2000) Flagellar membrane proteins of Tetraselmis striata Butcher (Chlorophyta). Protist 151, 147-159.

Becker, B. (2000) The cell surface of flagellates. In The Flagellates (eds. J. Green and B. Leadbeater), Taylor and Francis, London, 110-123.

Perasso, L., Grunow, A., Brüntrup, I. M., Bölinger, B., Melkonian, M. and Becker, B. (2000) The Golgi apparatus of the scaly green flagellate Scherffelia dubia: Uncoupling of polysaccharide and glycoprotein synthesis during flagellar regeneration. Planta 210, 551-562.


Grunow, A., Rüsing, M., Becker, B. and Melkonian, M. (1999) V-ATPase is a major component of the Golgi complex in the scaly green flagellate Scherffelia dubia. Protist 150, 265-281.


Rüsing, M., Melkonian, M. and Becker, B. (1998) Identification of a Putative Chloroplastic Fructose-1-6-Bisphosphate Aldolase (Accession No. AJ011516) of Scherffelia dubia (Chlorophyta). Plant Physiol. 118, 1533.

Becker, B., Melkonian, M. and Kamerling, J.P. (1998) The cell wall (theca) of Tetraselmis striata (Chlorophyta): Macromolecular composition and structural elements of the complex polysaccharides. Journal of Phycology 34, 779-787.


Heimann, K., Becker, B., Harnisch, H., Mukherjee, K. D. and Melkonian, M. (1997) Biochemical Characterization of Plasma Membrane Vesicles of Cyanophora paradoxa. Botanica Acta 110, 401-410.


Becker, B. and Melkonian, M. (1996) The secretory pathway of protists: Spatial and functional organization - evolution. Microbiology Reviews 60, 697-721.

Becker, B., Perasso, L., Kammann, A., Salzburg, M. and Melkonian, M. (1996) Scale-associated glycoproteins of Scherffelia dubia (Chlorophyta) form high-molecular-weight complexes between the scale layers and the flagellar membrane. Planta 199, 503-510.


Becker, B., Grunow, A., Perasso, L., Rüsing, P. and Melkonian, M. (1995) The secretory pathway of Scherffelia dubia. In Protistological Actualities - Proceedings of the Second European Congress of Protistology (eds. Brugerolle, G. and Mignot, J.-P.), Clermont-Ferrand, 163-165.

Becker, B., Lommerse, J., Melkonian, M., Kamerling, J.P., and Vliegenthart, J.F.G. (1995) The structure of an acidic trisaccharide component from a cell wall polysaccharide preparation of the green alga Tetraselmis striata Butcher. Carbohydrate Research 267, 313-321.

Becker, B. and Melkonian, M. (1995) Intra-Golgi transport mediated by vesicles? Botanica Acta 108, 172-173.

Becker, B., Bölinger, B. and Melkonian, M. (1995) Anterograde transport of algal scales through the Golgi complex is not mediated by vesicles. Trends Cell Biol. 5, 305-308.

Becker, B., Dreschers, S. and Melkonian, M. (1995) Lectin binding of flagellar scale-associated glycoproteins in different strains of Tetraselmis (Chlorophyta). European Journal of Phycology 30, 307-312.


Becker, B., Marin, B., and Melkonian, M. (1994) Structure, composition and biogenesis of prasinophyte cell coverings. Protoplasma 181, 233-244.


Grunow, A., Becker, B., and Melkonian, M. (1993). Isolation and characterization of the Golgi apparatus of a flagellate scaly green alga. European Journal of Cell Biology 61, 10-20.

Becker, B., Salzburg, M., and Melkonian, M. (1993). Blot analysis of glycoconjugates using digoxigenin-labeled lectins: An optimized procedure. BioTechniques 15, 232-235.


Becker, B., Becker, D., Kamerling, J.P., and Melkonian, M. (1991). 2-keto-sugar acids in green flagellates: A chemical marker for prasinophycean scales. Journal of Phycology 27, 498-504.

Melkonian, M., Becker, B., and Becker, D. (1991) Scale formation in algae. Journal of Electron Microscopic Techniques 12, 165-178.


Becker, D., Becker, B., Satir, P., and Melkonian, M. (1990). Isolation, purification, and characterization of flagellar scales from the green flagellate Tetraselmis striata (Prasinophyceae). Protoplasma 156, 103-112.


Becker, B., Hard, K., Melkonian, M., Kamerling, J. P., and Vliegenthart, J. F. G. (1989). Identification of 3-deoxy-manno-2-octulosonic acid, 3-deoxy-5-O-methyl-manno-2-octulosonic acid and 3-deoxy-lyxo-2-heptulosaric acid in the cell wall (theca) of Tetraselmis striata Butcher (Prasinophyceae). European Journal of Biochemistry 182, 153-160.