At the locations of Berlin and Quedlinburg, the Institute’s three departments conduct applied research, are entrusted with sovereign functions and deliver scientific policy advice for inquiries of the federal government. The department “Ecological chemistry and Ecotoxicology” investigates the transport, fate and degradation of agrochemicals in agro-ecosystems as well as their impact on organisms. The department “Phytochemistry/Plant analysis” is focused on research topics that include the diversity of plant compounds and their role in plant quality, resistance and stress tolerance. The research focus of the department “Stored Product Protection” is the protection of stored products against pest infestation including methods of prevention, early detection and non-chemical control.
The Institute is dedicated to chemical and biological research, for example, on the behaviour of plant protection products and other agro-relevant substances in the environment (i.e. transport, fate and degradation of chemicals) and their impact on non-target organisms in terrestrial and aquatic agro-ecosystems. Appropriate measures are identified for the responsible use of agrochemicals on the basis of good plant protection practice that can further minimize the risks of their application.
The Institute characterizes the diversity of plant substances in various wild and cultivated plant species, which are relevant for breeding. It evaluates these substances mainly with regard to their quality (i.e. health benefit and taste), stress tolerance and resistance to viruses, bacteria, fungi and harmful animals. At the cellular scale it studies the metabolism of the selected plants and the changes in their metabolite profile under varying genetic and environmental conditions. Furthermore, the researchers develop detection methods for naturally occurring toxins in crops as well as strategies for their reduction in food and feed.
The department of stored product protection evaluates existing pest control methods and develops new sustainable control methods. In its research it focuses on preventive and non-chemical methods investigating the biology of relevant pests and their antagonists.
To support registration of plant protection products, the Institute evaluates their effects on beneficial organisms, such as predatory mites, aphid parasitoids, or ladybirds and proposes appropriate labels according to their degree of harmfulness.
For the registration of plant protection and biocidal products in the stored product protection sector the Institute evaluates these products with respect to a) their biological activities against pests, b) the risk of resistance, and c) the impact on the quality of plant products.
For policy advice, the Institute fulfils tasks based on the National Action Plan on Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products (NAP), in particular for the protection of ponds, for the availability of plant protection products, and to improve the situation in the stored product protection sector.