The Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research conducts basic molecular biological research on plants with the goal of developing more efficient breeding techniques and environmentally sound plant protection strategies for industrial crops.
Plants spend their life in one position, and thrive in locations where they are exposed to a wide variety of environmental conditions. This versatility is possible because plants continuously monitor and respond to environmental stimuli such as light, temperature and the availability of nutrients. Such responses alter the growth habit and form of the plant adapting it to its particular environment.
The genetic diversity between plant species is huge as observed by the large differences in many traits. However also within species substantial genetic variation is present in nature or has been generated by breeders and researchers.
Research in the department of Plant Microbe Interactions engages in fundamental molecular processes underlying interactions between plants and pathogens. The innate immune system of plants and mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis have a central role in our discovery program.
Research in the Department of Comparative Development and Genetics aims to attain a predictive understanding of how biological forms develop and diversify, by using a combination of genetics, biological imaging, genomics and computational modelling. To empower their work scientists in the Department developed Cardamine hirsuta- a small crucifer related to the reference plant Arabidopsis thaliana- into a powerful genetic system. Comparative studies between these two species and other seed plants aids them in uncovering the mechanistic basis for plant diversity and helps them formulate general hypotheses about how morphology evolves.