Research lines

Molecular Plant Physiology

(Scientific Staff: Prof Titti Mariani, Dr. Janny L. Peters, Dr Ivo Rieu)

We aim to understand how plants adapt to stressful environments in the short and long term. Plants continuously have to cope with changing or unfavourable environmental conditions. In our research, we try to discover the genetic, molecular and physiological processes that underlie the adaptation to such stress factors and thus confer resistance or tolerance. Particular focus is on members of the Solanaceae family, including studies on heat tolerance in pollen of tomato and adaptive root formation under flooding in Solanum dulcamara.

Molecular Interaction Ecology

(Scientific staff: Prof Nicole M. van Dam)

Our research focuses on molecular, physiological and chemical plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses that commonly occur in natural environments. We analyse these plant responses, and the cross-talk between them, on the molecular, physiological and phenotypic level using metabolomic and transcriptomic approaches. These analyses are combined with experimental assessments of plant and herbivore performance. Our knowledge contributes to the development of sustainable practices in agriculture as well as may help to forecast how plants adapt to climate change.

Plant Stress Ecology

(Scientific staff: Dr Eric J.W. Visser, Dr Heidrun Huber, Prof Hans de Kroon)

Plants have a variety of mechanisms to cope with abiotic and biotic stresses, including an array of physiological, genetic and morphological responses. We are interested in these responses, as well as their interactions and trade-offs, and how they influence plant growth and fitness. We thus study the consequences of stress adaptations, with focus on the flooding – drought gradient in combination with nutrient responses. We are well equipped to study root responses and work with grassland species, members of the Solanaceae family, and increasingly with crop species such as maize.

Population and community ecology

(Scientific staff: Prof Hans de Kroon, Dr Eric J.W. Visser)

Many plant communities contain a large number of plant species and how these species coexist is one of the central questions in ecology. We approach this question by studying the responses of plant individuals in different abiotic and biotic settings, and how they influence population performance in different plant communities. Particular attention is on belowground interactions, disentangling the complexity of effects of nutrients, plant competition and soil biota. We are set up for experiments at different scales, but also employ modelling to shed light on biodiversity mechanisms. Our insights are applied in agroecosystems and managed grasslands with multi-species communities.

B'sweet Initiative

(Scientific staff: Prof Titti Mariani, Dr. Janny L. Peters, Prof Nicole M. van Dam, Dr Eric J.W. Visser, Dr Heidrun Huber, Dr Ivo Rieu)

B'sweet is a collaborative research effort between the departments of Experimental Plant Ecology, Molecular Plant Physiology, Molecular Interaction Ecology, as well as the Experimental Garden and Genebank of the Institute for Water and Wetland Research (IWWR). Our research focuses on Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet Nightshade) and closely related solanaceous species. Our main aim is to unravel how S. dulcamara responds to abiotic and biotic stresses that commonly occur in its natural habitat. Learn more about the B'sweet Initiative.