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 and metabolite patterns. The investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying this course of events is the main topic of the department of Stress and Developmental Biology. Among biotic environmental factors, the interaction of plants with microorganisms plays a major role. The work of several research groups of the department focuses on the analysis of recognition, signal transduction, gene activation and metabolic processes in plant-microbe interactions.