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Stress and Adaptation

During evolution, organisms had to cope with a plethora of environmental cues. “Stress” caused by this situation required a multiplicity of new adaptation processes that evolved on the basis of complex molecular signalling networks and changing metabolic activities. Today, organisms have to adapt very quickly to manmade environmental changes such as eutrophication of natural ecosystems, reduced biodiversity and global temperature rise. IFZ researches into these complex mutual effects between organisms and their environment, and explores concepts to manage the detrimental events like desertification of arable land and progression of pathogens.

The interdisciplinary approach is best exemplified by special research topics where IFZ scientists analyse response of microbes to environment, look at distribution and functional relations of microorganisms in diverse environmental niches, explore the mechanisms by which microbial parasites or symbionts interact with their hosts or search into the biochemistry of salt and drought stress tolerance in plants.

Since the IFZ concept is aiming for solutions to global food and feed production, many working groups cooperate on the question of how to reduce chemical input into the environment. Obviously, raised plant productivity in recent decades has been mainly achieved by a high chemical input, with detrimental effects on the environment. IFZ promotes sustainable solutions on the basis of biotechnological approaches, e. g. molecular breeding, tissue culturing, gene technology, and biological plant protection, with a considerable effort to understand and subsequently exploit interactions of crop plants with beneficial micro-organisms.