Plants are fundamental to life on our planet. It is generally acknowledged that global changes in temperature, rainfall, soil fertility and air quality are becoming a major problem for agriculture and the provision of natural resources. It is a central scientific goal to understand the impact of these changes and how plants react to environmental change.
This requires studying natural variation among and within species, so that we can determine which flexibility plants express when coping with these challenges. This also includes effects that result from the interaction with pathogens and pests, as the distribution and evolution of a plant’s enemies is also affected by environmental change.
Feasible to predict
If we know which genes and molecules are essential to cope with new environments it becomes feasible to predict how plants will respond, paving the way for sustainable solutions to conserve earth’s biodiversity, as well as for innovations towards sustainable food production.
The joint expertise within the Swammerdam Institute of Life Sciences and the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in combination with external partners (VU, plant breeding industry) forms an ideal cluster to tackle these issues.