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.
Research in the Department of Plant Microbe Interactions engages in fundamental molecular processes underlying interactions between plants and pathogenic or beneficial microorganisms. The plant innate immune system, mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis and principles determining the assembly and functions of beneficial plant-associated microbial communities have a central role in our discovery programme.
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.