Plant development, although genetically determined, is largely modulated by biotic and abiotic environmental factors. In this way, developmental programs are adapted to specific local conditions and protective as well as defense reactions are initiated during stress situations - an advantageous situation for sedentary living plants.
The basis for those processes is the ability of plants to perceive environmental factors and initiate signal transduction networks that modify gene expression patterns. The investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying this course of events is the main topic of the department of Stress and Developmental Biology.
Plant pathogens play a major role in biotic stress. The work of several research groups of the department focuses on the analysis of recognition, signal transduction and gene activation processes in plant-pathogen interactions.