Short Description (Company/ Institute):

Advances in basic science have resulted in exciting research questions and new analytical techniques for advancing the understanding of plants and their interactions with the environment. IGZ contri¬butes to these advancements and uses them to help designing sustainable crop management systems in horticulture. IGZ strives for excellence in horticulture research and related areas and thus operates at the interface between plant biology and environmental sciences with the principles of plant utilization. IGZ has its focus on fundamental aspects of plant health and nutrition in horticulture, plant composition and quality, analysis of plant production systems, and the contribution of plants to food security and human nutrition.

Fields of activity, fields of research and development:

IGZ conducts its research, policy advice and training in four key research themes (Programme areas):

Functional Plant Biology: The focus of this Programme area is to advance the understanding of the regulation systems in horticultural crops.

Plant-Microbe Systems: This Programme area analyses how microorganisms impact on horticultural plants and how plants in turn systematically regulate the microbial activity in their environment.

Plant Quality and Food Security: The impact of plants and plant-based food on human nutrition and well-being critically depends on diversity, composition and quality of plants as well as on socio-economic factors. This Programme area studies this interaction and interdependencies from biological, environmental and socio-economic perspectives.

Next-Generation Horticultural Systems: This Programme area addresses the sustainable use of horticultural crops in cultivation systems, including the development of innovative management strategies for climate change adaptation and use of biological diversity

Main competences for international cooperation:

Plant system research at IGZ draws on our long-term, core expertise in horticultural research, combining scientific excellence across multiple disciplines to investigate how systems within plants, between plants and the natural or horticultural environment, and between plants and humans interact. In doing so, IGZ is uniquely positioned in the European research landscape to analyse the systemic, global challenges of biodiversity, climate change, urbanisation, and the triple burden of malnutrition. It delivers science-based recommendations for sustainable food systems and more maintainable relations to the public and to our stakeholders.

IGZ is a research institute with a focus on horticulture, a discipline that directly links humans with soils, biodiversity, environment and (healthy and nutritious) food and unique interdisciplinary research profile linking biology, plant physiology and molecular biology, environmental sciences,
microbiology, soil sciences, human nutrition, modelling and engineering as well as social sciences and economics.

The IGZ bridges cutting-edge basic science with a systems approach to sustainable horticultural systems under conditions of global change.

Main fields of interest for international cooperation:

Facing the rising global demand of healthy and sustainable nutrition and food production, overcoming environmental change driven problems (e.g. draughts, soil depletion, spreading diseases, climate change), the IGZ contributes in finding solutions, e.g. elevate the sustainable productivity of horticulture systems, increase stress tolerance and nutritional composition of cultivable plants and identifying potential new crops.

References / examples of most relevant products and services:

The IGZ is one of the few research institutions in Germany in plant science or agriculture where up-scaled experimental facilities – from growth cabinets, climate chambers, and variously equipped greenhouses under a controlled environment to completely open-field experiments – are available in one place.

This is supplemented by an analytical platform for plant metabolites and the corresponding analytical expertise is based in PA QUALITY and comprises a comprehensive platform for targeted (e.g. UHPLC-ToF; HPLC-IonTrap; HPLC-QQQ, GC-QQQ) as well as non-targeted approaches (UHPLC-QToF).

This leads to support of stakeholders in the horticultural/agricultural area:

  • The IGZ decision support system N-Expert 6 (open source software) provides guidance to practitioners to optimise their fertilisation with the objective of reducing the nutrient input in current farming practice.
  • The IGZ contributes to the development of modified laws and a new ordinance redefining best practice in the application of fertiliser (Düngegesetz 2017; Verordnung zur Neuordnung der guten fachlichen Praxis beim Düngen 20175).

Thus, the IGZ is coordinator or project head of several joint projects such as Food4Future, Agro-systems of the Future, DiControl, SeCondary UV and co-sharing EPSO Working groups (Horticulture, Nutritional Security). Considering the scientific expertise a variety of publications can be found on the institutional website.