Plant Nutrition and Physiology

Plant Nutrition and Physiology

Major research focus of the plant nutrition and physiology group is to investigate micronutrient deficiencies and heavy metal toxicities in plants. Special attention is being paid to agronomic and genetic biofortification (enrichment) of cereal crops with micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, iodine and iron. Today, around 1/3 of world population suffer from micronutrient deficiencies (e.g., hidden hunger) with severe health consequences. Low dietary intake of micronutrients is the main reason for the global hidden hunger problem. By using number of genotypes, various cereal species (including modern wheat, rye, oat, spelt wheat and wild wheats) are also studied and characterized for the composition of nutritional compounds (i.e., protein, phytate, antioxidants, β-glucan, dietary fibers, and phenolic compounds).

Further research area of the group is to study stress mitigating role of mineral nutrition in crop plants. Major stress factors considered in currently ongoing research are drought, heat and high light intensity. Zinc, potassium and magnesium are the particular mineral nutrients examined for their role in alleviating detrimental effects of stress factors. Plant nutrition and physiology group is also investigating effect of novel fertilizer formulations on plant growth under marginal soil conditions. Changes in growth, yield and nutritional value of crop plants under elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide is an additional important research area of the group.