Old and modern cultivated plants (varieties, landraces) as well as crop wild relatives are valuable genetic resources, which may carry a particular resistance to individual pests or tolerance to abiotic stresses. Therefore, we evaluate national and international collections as well as breeding collections for their resistance and tolerance traits. Our focus is on wheat, barley and rapeseed. In addition, we are currently also investigating faba beans, lupines, sunflowers and sorghum.
In order to assess the potential of genetic resources, we are developing methods to detect and evaluate plant response to biotic (e.g. fungi, viruses and insects) and abiotic stresses (e.g. drought or extreme temperatures). These include, for example:
- the optimization of inoculation methods and growth conditions for pathogens,
- the use of a robotic imaging and handling platform to determine the degree of fungal infestations in cereals,
- the adaptation of a video tracking system that determines the sucking behavior of virus-carrying insects on different crop species,
- the Plant-Array, which can be used to generate high-resolution transpiration profiles,
- the simulation of an environment with elevated CO2 concentration.
We are evaluating resistances to various phytopathogenic fungi in wheat (e.g., leaf and stripe rust, Fusarium, and Septoria tritici blotch) and in barley (e.g., leaf rust, net blotch, powdery mildew). In the area of viruses and animal pests, important viroses (e.g. wheat mosaic virus, wheat dwarf virus, yellow dwarf virus) and their animal vectors, such as aphids and cicadas, and other pests on wheat, barley, lupine and rapeseed are studied. For bacterial diseases, we focus on fire blight of apple and pear as well as on angular leaf spot of strawberry.
The efficiency how crops use water and nutrients determines the productivity and sustainability of our agricultural system. This is especially important in the context of climate change and associated changes in temperature and precipitation. Therefore, we investigate wheat, barley and rapeseed genotypes of diverse geographical origins for its response to nutrient deficiency, heat, drought and cold stress. In addition to morphological and physiological traits, the effects on yield and quality parameters are also analyzed.