Plants, microbes and animals are essential components of our natural environment and their interactions play a key role in the sustainability of life on Earth. Our interdisciplinary research programme is focused on the biological mechanisms that determine how plants, microbes and animals interact with each other and how they are able to adapt to their constantly changing and often harmful environment. Inspired by nature, the Institute of Environmental Biology aims to contribute to the development of sustainable solutions for urgent societal problems such as future food security, ecological consequences of climate change, and protection of our natural resources.
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We focus on physiological and molecular mechanisms that enable plants to cope with flooding stress and/or dense, competitive environments. These stress conditions induce changes in plant growth and metabolism, helping plants to adapt to high water levels or to outcompete neighbors in dense vegetations.
We aim to unravel at the molecular level how the plant immune system orchestrates interactions with beneficial microbes, pathogens and insects. This provides a rational basis for developing sustainable strategies for disease resistance in next-generation crops that produce more with less input of fertilizers or pesticides.