History of the Department

In the College of Horticulture and Viticulture teaching of plant physiology was introduced in 1954. It was started by a team of four (Dr. László Martos, Dr. Vera Moskovics, Péterné Tétényi és Dr. Ilona Molnár) faculty within the Department of Plant Hereditolgy and Breeding. Research projects dealt with applications of plant hormones in horticulture. The connection between gibberellins and flowering of grape was studied mainly. Associate professor Dr István Tamássy was assigned as Head of Department.

A major change in the profile of research happened in the 60’s when projects ran about plant breeding and applied plant physiology, such as drought and freezing tolerance of grape and apricot. From 1964 on under the leadership of professor Dr István Tamássy, DSc, Head of Department a research group was founded sponsored by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The activity of this group aimed at resistance breeding as well as at drought tolerance and flowering biology of certain fruit species. It was this time when Dr József Szalai joined the research group of the Department as assistant lecturer. Together with the Academy experiments were initiated at Szigetcsép to study photosynthesis and its products in relation to freezing and drought stresses.

  Dr. József Szalai

In 1968 the University of Horticultural was established. Under the supervision of Prof István Tamássy, that time member of the Academy, the group of Plant Physiology expanded to count eight members lead by Dr Vera Martos. Retired professor Dr István Szalai took a big part in teaching the theory of plant physiology. Photosynthesis and hormonal actions were studied, as well as the physological aspects of peroxidase, catalase, polyphenol oxidase and dehydrogenase enzyme functions. These enzymes are involved in browning of fruit flesh and also in freezing and drought tolerance of plants. From 1977 on associate professor Dr József Szalai was assigned as head of the group of Plant Physiology. At this time new teachers joined the Department (Magdolna Jánosi, Vera Lebovics és Dr. Jánosné Egyed). Students had to take lectures of plant physiology for 4 semesters together with practicals for 2 semesters. A new laboratory was established and a practical manual was written for the students.

In 1982 associate professor Dr Ákos Máthé took over the leadership of the Plant Physiology group, which was responsible for teaching this course. In 1989 a Biotechnological Laboratory was established at Kamaraerdő, lead by Dr József Szalai, where four research units operated (dendrology, fruit research, genetics, plant pathology) with 24 people working there. They applied successfully micropropagation techniques to produce virus-free clones of important horticultural plants. 

 Dr. Gábor Horváth

In July 1st 1992 the group of Plant Physiology span off the Department of Plant Genetics and Plant Breeding and formed the first independent Department of Plant Physiology lead by Prof. Dr. Gábor Horváth, who came from the Biological Research Center, Szeged. Then renovation of all laboratories of the Department started as well as development of a new spacious two floor laboratory for both education and research. It was constructed with supplementary facilities such as cold room, darkroom, fitotrons. A new glasshouse was also built beside our building. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences funded and sponsored a research group lead by Dr Gábor Horváth within the Department. By 1995 the Department was fully reorganized, new research projects were launched. The main research area was the effects of heavy metals and other stressors on plants. Studies of inhibitors of the photosynthetic electron transport chain were lead by Dr. Magdolna Droppa (Dr. Horváth Gáborné). The effects of heavy metals on enzymatic systems were studied by Dr Sára Erdei's group.

 Dr. Judit Kissimon

Dr Judit Kissimon lead experiments regarding instrumental analysis of thermoluminescense. In 1996 Dr. Annamária Mészáros took over research into micropropagation techniques. She brought practical knowledge from her previous place of work, Meriklón Ltd to the Department. Lectures with new spirit attracted more students to the Department, a lot of thesis and TDK (Scientific Students' Associations - "TDK" which stands for 'Tudományos Diákkör' in Hungarian) dissertations were born in these times. In this same period PhD training was launched, where Dr. Gábor Horváth was a leader of a thematic group establishing operational frameworks of the Doctoral School and also guiding research activities of the students. The Department took on organizing international scientific conferences, e.g. Workshop on Stress Synergism in Plants (held at Tata, 1998), a meeting about Abiotic and Biotic Stress in Photosynthesis and the FESPP Conference at Budapest in 2000.

After the integration of the University of Horticulture and Food Industry in 1999, the Department was renamed to Department of Molecular Plant Biology. Prof Gábor Horváth deceased in 2000. Since September 1st, 2001 the Department has been lead by professor Dr Noémi Lukács. Under her leadership the Department has attained its present educational and research profile.

In 2004 our Department was renamed to Department of Plant Physiology and Plant Biochemistry.