Plant - environment interaction

Crop productivity is the most vulnerable factor under climate change. Diverse abiotic stresses such as drought, flooding, waterlogging, high salinity, extreme temperatures, mineral deficiency, and heavy metals reduce crop yield. In this context, researchers at PSB are focusing on the precise elucidation of physiological and molecular mechanisms that contribute to stress tolerance in plants at different developmental stages and in different organs including leaves, roots as well as the microbiome that interacts with roots. An important future aspect of this focus area is the study of the interaction of different stress factors. Whereas the interaction of some stress factors, e.g., drought and heat, are well documented, others are much less. For example, it is of interest to study how water deficiency affects nutrient uptake by roots and the associated microbiome. Another interesting aspect is intercropping in which different plant species are grown together resulting in higher yields and a better protection to environmental stress. PSB will further explore collaborations to develop and test equipment for measuring the effects of stress on overall plant physiology. Results of this focus area are not only of importance for understanding the molecular basis of stress responses in plants, but they can also be used as a basis to develop new strategies for improving sustainability and climate resilience of crop productivity.