Suboptimal growth conditions caused by drought, temperature, salt and pathogen-related stress are leading to worldwide yield losses in cultivated crops. This, together with the ongoing climatic changes, has encouraged the development of appropriate breeding strategies targeting adaptation and has made crop stress tolerance a major objective in plant biotechnology research.
Different abiotic stress factors often lead to oxidative stress, which in turn can cause not only yield loss but also plant cell death. Understanding these processes at a molecular level will provide us with ability to significantly increase stress tolerance, minimizing crop losses during unfavorable environmental conditions and increasing yield production. The research group oxidative stress and cell death has a long standing experience in the field of oxidative stress signal transduction. Over the years, they identified several genes that confer abiotic and biotic stress tolerance.
The group systems biology of yield approaches the question how plants cope with abiotic stress from another perspective. Here, plants with high yield under stress conditions (especially drought stress) are selected, and the molecular networks that orchestrate growth under these conditions are deciphered.
As an alternative way to better understand how plants react on stress conditions, the organ growth regulation and the chromatin and growth control groups investigate how plant organ formation is affected by stresses, and what are the underlying biological mechanisms.
These complementary approaches will give novel insights in how plants cope with stress, and novel opportunities to engineer them for increased performance under these adverse conditions.