Economic, social, and climatic changes pose challenges to modern agriculture and require new ideas, approaches, and methods. This includes the cultivation of previously unused or newly bred crops and varieties. These must be tested for their suitability for cultivation under regional conditions and examined for their impact on the environment. This includes, for example, unintentional outcrossing with native plant species or the risk of invasiveness.
Furthermore, responsible use of increasingly scarce natural resources such as soil or water also requires the development of new cultivation systems. However, the varieties currently used in conventional agriculture are strongly adapted to established cultivation methods, and comprehensively optimized cultivation systems require plants and varieties adapted to them. Anticipatory studies should exclude both negative effects on the environment and a negative influence on neighboring cultivation systems (coexistence).
Plants grow stationary and are in close contact with their environment. In addition to interactions with pathogenic organisms, this includes symbiotic communities providing benefits to the plant. These can be of critical importance to the host plant, as they influence stress tolerance and thus increase the plant's overall fitness. In times of increased pressure to adapt due to climate change, these interactions are becoming increasingly important. The communication pathways between plant and symbiont are very complex. A large number of organisms live in the plant's rhizosphere, all of which can influence each other via smallest molecules and signaling substances. The plant also plays a major role in shaping the soil microbiome. Many of these communication pathways are not yet understood. The aim of our work is therefore to unravel these signaling pathways at the molecular level, in order to consider these processes more specifically in breeding and for cultivation. For these studies, we use conventionally bred model plants as well as modern biotechnological approaches to elucidate gene functions.