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Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

Mission

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Plants are directly exposed to the abiotic and biotic conditions of their immediate environment, which is why the state of health of a plant depends on its ability to continuously adapt to the environment and to tolerate stress. Plant health thus also determines ecological fitness and agricultural yields in terms of quantity and quality.

Many crops were selected for their external and internal characteristics of agricultural products, while plant characteristics that affect plant health received less consideration in breeding. Thus, for many crops, an optimal supply of water and nutrients, the survival of extreme temperatures (e.g. frost and heat) and the defense against biotic pathogens are usually only achieved through complex agronomic measures and these factors are often responsible for considerable crop failures. With anthropogenic climate change, environmental influences of an abiotic and biotic nature are changing more rapidly and climate extremes are increasing. As a result, new challenges arise for agriculture and natural ecosystems, especially in alpine surroundings, such as in South Tyrol, where agriculture has specialized in many different micro-climatic environmental conditions. In order to guarantee sustainable development of agriculture in the future, it is therefore particularly important to understand which mechanisms influence the state of health of plants and how they will behave in future environmental situations. It is also important to develop innovative technologies in order to better recognize stressful situations for the plants and to be able to use agronomic measures in a more targeted manner.

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