Universiteit Leiden

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Plant Sciences

The mission of the Plant Sciences cluster is to contribute to the sustainable production of high-quality crops, flowers and high-value bio-based products, and to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of biodiversity in natural ecosystems. This is realised by generating fundamental knowledge of basic biological processes related to the development of plants and by unravelling their interactions with the environment.

The Plant Sciences cluster of the IBL hosts scientists from diverse fields of expertise. On the one hand, molecular geneticists explore plant-microbe interactions to develop tools for the directed modification of the plant genome. On the other hand, plant ecologists investigate how microbiomes affect plant health, growth and community composition with a specific focus on the role of secondary metabolites in plant-microbe and plant-insect interactions. In addition, a combination of genetics, molecular cell biology and biochemistry is used to understand plant developmental processes with a focus on developmental switches and how plants adapt to environmental signals and stresses.

Plant Sciences contributes to the four IBL research themes in the following ways:

Bioactive molecules

Identify new plant bioactive molecules, and unravel their mechanisms of action in plant development or health, and the regulatory networks and (bio)synthetic pathways required for their production.

Development & Disease

Unravel the processes that allow plants to adapt to changing abiotic and biotic environmental conditions or stresses, with the aim to contribute to the sustainable production of food, flowers and bio-based products using crop plants that are more resilient to adverse growth conditions caused by the global climate change.

Evolution & Biodiversity

Understand what are the key drivers of plant biodiversity during evolution with a focus on plant life history and resilience traits and develop tools to restore and maintain plant biodiversity.

Host-Microbe Interactions

Dissect how microorganisms and microbiomes interact with the plant host and the insects on those plants, and how these insights may be harnessed to improve plant growth and health, by steering microbiome composition and in part by plant genome editing.

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Ir. T.M. Bezemer (Martijn)

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