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Interdisciplinary research on sustainable use of natural resources

Only sustainable use of natural resources will ensure sufficient, healthy food and an environment fit for human beings. We are dependent on biological systems whose complexity is not yet sufficiently known, let alone controllable. iFZ research is working to identify risks to our environmental systems and to find ways to use limited resources more efficiently.

Climate impact research in a unique field experiment

Climate impact research is the core topic of the "Free AirCarbon Dioxide Enrichment" (FACE) plant ecology facility at the Environmental Monitoring and Climate Impact Research Station in Linden, which has been running continuously since 1998. The facility was developed in close cooperation with the Hessian State Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology (HLNUG) and is one of the longest running facilities of its kind in the world. The close cooperation with the HLNUG ensures the continuity of the research infrastructure, the direct transfer of knowledge to the environmental authorities and enables broad-based public relations work. Thus, the experimental station became a visitor magnet in the heat summer of 2019.

Basic research for sustainable agricultural production

In the field of crop protection, the use of highly specific RNA molecules to control diseases and parasites is coming into focus. In 2020, the German Research Foundation (DFG)-funded research group Communication in Host-Plant-Microbe Interaction by exRNA: a Systems Analytical Approach to Investigate Molecular Mechanisms and Agronomic Application (FOR 5116) started. The potential of basic knowledge-guided RNA research has been impressively demonstrated by the breakthrough in the development of an RNA-based corona vaccine.

Innovative research field of insect biotechnology

In the innovative research field of insect biotechnology developed out of the iFZ, biotechnological methods are researched and applied to make insects or molecules, cells, organs and associated microorganisms derived from them usable as products or services. With this consistently translational research approach, the Bioresources Division of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) was established in Giessen. The Fraunhofer Project Group Bioresources served as the nucleus in 2009, then the LOEWE focus Insect Biotechnology was acquired and, after successful evaluation, expanded to become the LOEWE Center for Insect Biotechnology and Bioresources (LOEWE-ZIB). The objectives of the LOEWE-ZIB included the establishment of close cooperation in translational life sciences between the JLU and the Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen (THM) as well as the establishment of the master's degree program Insect Biotechnology and Bioresources, for which two professorships were also created at the iFZ. The director of the Institute of Insect Biotechnology is also project leader in the LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversity Genomics under the auspices of the Senckenberg Society (SGN). Within the framework of this research network, two further professorships funded by the SGN have been established at the iFZ.

Sustainable development goals in international networks

The holistic development of scientific foundations for sustainable development goals is only possible in an international and transdisciplinary context. For this reason, international research projects are initiated from the iFZ in addition to national ones.
One example is the research network ColombiaCONNECT: Fair and Sustainable Use of Bioresources in a Post-Conflict Society, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and began in the fall of 2020. One of the aims of this network is to link the two DAAD centers of excellence CAPAZ and CEMarin, which are coordinated by JLU, in the strategic JLU partner region of Colombia.