Discover Plant Sciences

Plants are an important basis for human life: they are an inherent part of our diet, they serve as feed and we use them for the production of energy, as raw material or also as valuable ingredients in medical products. But arable land, water and nutrients become scarce, while the climate is changing and the world’s population is further increasing. To ensure a sustainable supply with plant-based raw materials also for next generations, innovative strategies are needed to increase yield and quality of crops and at the same time preserving available resources and maintain nature and the environment.

The Cluster of Excellence CEPLAS therefore investigates how plants adapt to changing environmental conditions, how they are able to colonize almost every habitat on earth, and how these findings can be used for agriculture. The plant genome is the key to understanding this adaptability. Genes control plant growth and the conversion of light energy into chemical energy during photosynthesis. Furthermore, microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria also play an important role because they can influence plant growth both positively and negatively. Therefore, it is important to understand as many factors as possible that are involved in the plant's adaption to changing conditions. 

Thus, we aim to contribute to one of the grand global challenges: ensuring food security and a sustainable supply with plant-based raw materials.

CEPLAS focusses on sharing our research approaches and results with society. Therefore, we developed various formats to inform about the science that is going on in our cluster. In our monthly series „Planter’s Punch“ CEPLAS early career researchers present their research topics in easy words in small notes, comics or videos. 

The annual lecture series „Vom Urweizen der Steinzeit zu den Genpflanzen der Zukunft“ (available as podcast in German) provides a comprehensive overview ranging from the beginning of agriculture and the methods of plant breeding to the challenges of the future. 

Moreover, CEPLAS is currently establishing a competence field on „Food Security“ where topic-related aspects and questions will be approached in an interdisciplinary manner. 

Our media library offers several films about CEPLAS research topics and numerous press releases. 

Heinrich Heine University
University of Cologne
Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research
Forschungszentrum Jülich