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Research focus

Research in Green Life Sciences aims at establishing the impact of environmental changes to plant diversity and understanding in molecular detail how plants react to the changing environment.

By studying the natural variation among and within species we can determine the flexibility that plants express when coping with the challenges. Our research also includes the effects of pathogens and pests, since the distribution and evolution of plant enemies is also affected by environmental change.

From species to molecules

The next - essential - step is to establish which genes and molecules are crucial in the way plants cope with new environments. Then it becomes feasible to predict how plants will respond, paving the way for sustainable solutions to conserve earth’s biodiversity, as well as for innovations towards sustainable food production.

Therefore, the key research questions are 

  • How do plants and pests and pathogens perceive, integrate and process stress signals?
  • How do physiological and genetic alterations translate into changes of the interaction between these organisms in green ecosystems?
  • How do plant and pest and pathogens genomes (co-)evolve as a result of environmental changes? 

Crop improvement and pest control

The unique expertise of the Green Life Sciences cluster will provide insights into the role of large-scale chromosomal changes and will establish the patterns of gene retention and gene loss leading to diversification of plants and their pests and pathogens. This genome-wide knowledge will be used to identify the variation in genes and signal molecules that allow individual plants to cope with stress and to counteract pests and pathogens.

Scientifically, breakthroughs are expected in the fields of pathogenomics, phospholipid signalling, genome evolution and plant stress physiology. In addition, the study of the co-evolutionary arms race between the primary producers and their enemies will facilitate the discovery of key-molecules and genes that can be used in applied crop improvement projects and pest control.