About the Institute
“Can plant breeding be transformed into a rational, predictive science?” This is the question that motivates all research programmes at the Institute. We wish to determine how a detailed understanding of molecular mechanisms defined in model plant species can be used to predictively manipulate selected traits in crop plants.The last years have seen a tremendous increase in our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms underlying plant biology. This progress has come largely from studies on model species, principally Arabidopsis thaliana. However, the deeper knowledge of the regulatory components and mechanisms controlling plant traits that has resulted has not yet had a sustained impact on plant breeding. The aim of all work at the Institute is to find ways of utilizing this knowledge to develop rational approaches to making desirable changes in selected traits in crop plants. This also requires the study of biological processes in crop plants, with particular emphasis on understanding the variation present within each species. Genetic variation is the raw material with which plant breeders work. Greater knowledge of the processes and genes that control trait variation will allow much more efficient breeding, using either marker-assisted selection or direct transfer of useful genes to crop plants.