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Research Themes

Selected topics

IBG-2: Plant Sciences at Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH is part of the Helmholtz Association (HGF). Within HGF, research activities are organized in research fields and programs (program-oriented funding, POF). Programs run for five years and are evaluated regularly.

Besides POF related research, IBG-2 successfully applies for third-party funding to undertake additonal and complementary research activities to further develop its research and technology portfolio.

IBG-2 research activities are part of the research field Key Technologies and is working on topics within the program Key Technologies for the Bioeconomy.

The concept of a sustainable bioeconomy gains increasing relevance with respect to the elementary challenges of today's societies. It strives to implement 'a natural cycle-oriented. sustainable bio-based economy that carries the promise of global food supplies that are both ample and healthy and of high quality products from renewable resources' (National Research Strategy BIOECONOMY 2030, BMBF 2011).

Within this framework, IBG-2 is focusing on 'sustainable plant production and the optimisation of biomass'.


Federal Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF) (2011), National Research Strategy BIOECONOMY 2030.

Focus research themes of IBG-2

Sustainable Bioeconomy

Plants as basis for food, renewable raw material and energy

Plants and plant production play very important roles in a future bioeconomy because they are: (i) central elements of production systems determining inputs such as water, nutrients or enery effciency; (ii) provide renewable biomass for the use as food or feed as raw materials for chemicals, for direct use or for bioenergy; and (iii) are essential elements in production systems to close (nutrient) cycles, which are vital for developing a sustainable bioeconomy.


Plant Phenotyping

Key technologies for plant breeding and functional genome analysis

Phenotyping means the quantitative analysis of plant structures and functions. After plant biology being dominated by molecular and genome research for decades, there is an increasing international acceptance for quantitative analyses of plant structure and function which play a key role in plant biology. Quantitative knowledge of structure and function enables the transfer of basic research findings to practical agriculture and ecological research. Phenotyping currently is the prime bottleneck to gain knowledge in function genome research.

The Jülich Plant Phenotyping Center (JPPC) at IBG-2 has a unique infrastructure especially for non-invasive methods in quantifying plant properties. JPPC has competence in the development of novel measuring methods and long-term experience in applied plant phenotyping. Therefore, it takes an internationally leading role in characterizing crop and model plants in the context of basic research and ecology alike.


Sustainable Plant Production

Improved resource use efficency and performance

Plant breeding and production are exposed to significant challenges that need to be urgently addressed. With less agricultural land and increasing economic pressures on input due to limited availability of, for example, water and nutrients, sustainable intensification requires plants and production systems with increased productivity per area as well as per unit of input (water, nutrients).


Adaptation of Plants to Changing Environmental Conditions

From the efficiency of the use of water, light and nutrients

Environmental changes (e.g. climate change) have a strong impact on plant production. This comprises the hampering of plant growth by extreme weather events, the occurence of novel diseases and increasing production due to elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide.Work at IBG-2 aims at strengthening plant resistance to abiotic stresses such as drought, heat and excessive light but also biotic impairments.
For this issue, researchers at IBG-2 carry out fundamental analyses on stress physiology and photosynthesis research.


Alternative Biomass Sources

New biomass as an alternative to food crops

A central limitation for the development of bioeconomy beyond food crops is the competition for land resources. Therefore, in addition to contributions to a sustainable intensification of food production, IBG-2 seeks to develop alternative biomass resources that can be used for non-food purposes.This includes specific crops that can grow on marginal or degraded land with little input and algae as a hitherto underdeveloped biomass source with a wide range of potential applications.


Integrated Systems for Bioproduction

Innovative approaches

The development of sustainable plant production has to take the technical systems into account, in which plants are produced and with which agronomic management is carried out. Via this, marked increases of resurce-use efficiency of the single plant and of plant systems (e.g. energy consumption of plant stands) can be achieved and the yield of valuable compounds can be increased.
IBG-2 develops, runs and optimises novel technical solutions and introduces them into practical application.


Technology and Knowledge Transfer

From basic research to practice and from practice to research

Among the variety of scientific questions, it is important to identify those which are promising for innovation, thus practical application. Therefore it is necessary to markedly improve the communication between application and research. IBG-2 started initiatives to encourage a bilateral transfer of knowlegde and open questions between application and research.
The competence centre for horticulture (Kompetenzzentrum Gartenbau, KoGa) is a joint facility of the University Bonn, the horticultural service of the government of Rhineland-Palatinate and of Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH. KoGa brings together basic research, field trials and practical consulting in an unprecedented manner. Yet, prior to the official merger of FZJ with KoGa, intensive cooperations were initiated to optimise horticultural approaches.

Gewächshaus AgroHort-Phäno mit Zugang zur FreiflächeGewächshaus AgroHort-Phäno mit Zugang zur Freifläche