Biology Centre will strengthen plant research
A research centre of excellence focused on the molecular life of plants will be established at the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Thanks to a European grant in the ERA Chair program, the Biology Centre will establish two new research groups in plant molecular biology, strengthen plant research and appoint a six-member International advisory board led by the renowned plant biologist Jiří Friml. The project called MOLIPEC will start in January 2023, but the centre is already calling for candidates for research group leaders.
Plant biology is one of the cornerstones of the natural sciences and provides, among others, essential knowledge about mechanisms underlying plant development and adaptation, which is critical for efficient and sustainable agriculture. At present, when society is facing unprecedented challenges such as climate change and environmental pollution, as well as the rapid growth of the human population, the importance of plant research is growing significantly. "If we want to improve the crop performance in the face of declining and decreasing quality of arable land and increasingly adverse environmental conditions, we cannot do without knowledge of the basic molecular mechanisms of plant adaptation to a changing environment. I am convinced that this prestigious European grant to the Biology Centre with the involvement of Professor Friml, plant science at the Czech Academy of Sciences will be enhanced to bring new knowledge about the molecular life of plants, which will be an essential tool for sustainable agriculture in the future," says Eva Zažímalová, president of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
The European grant from the ERA Chair program goes to the Institute of Plant Molecular Biology of the Biology Centre CAS; it will last for 5 years from 2023 to 2027 and is financed by more than 2.5 million Euros. Thanks to the MOLIPEC project, two new research groups selected in an international selection process will be established and will focus on modern approaches for answering current questions in the molecular biology of plants. Service and core facilities for growing plants in controlled conditions as well as confocal microscopy enabling monitoring of processes within plant cells will be strengthened. Researchers and students will share their experience in mentoring programs and foreign internships. The results of plant research will be systematically shared with the professional and lay public. Last but not least, a six-member International advisory board of leading experts will be established, who will strengthen the excellent plant research at Biology Centre. Its chairman will be Professor Jiří Friml.
Plant biologist Jiří Friml is one of the most cited Czech scientists in the world. He is the holder of important research grants and has received numerous European and American awards for his scientific contributions, including being on the list of The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds. He led a research group focused on plant molecular biology at the University of Tübingen, Germany, was a professor in Ghent, Belgium, and now works at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria. Jiří Friml has been a member of the International Advisory Board of the Biology Centre since 2019. The MOLIPEC project will expand Jiří Friml's managerial and mentoring activities in the Czech research area.
„We are very happy about the project of the prestigious European ERA Chair program led by prof. Jiří Friml. It will enable us to strengthen even more the international character of the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the perception of advanced scientific research in České Budějovice by the scientific community abroad,“ says Libor Grubhofer, director of the Biology Centre CAS.
The ERA Chair grant call is a part of the prestigious Horizon Europe program aimed at funding research and innovation. In the last six years, only 9 projects from the Czech Republic have succeeded in this European competition. This year, four Czech institutions received the grant. Besides the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, it is the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Masaryk University and Palacky University in Olomouc.
The Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences based in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, with its five research institutes and more than 800 employees, is one of the largest Czech scientific institutions. It focuses on evolutionary and developmental trends in biology and ecology that respond to problems of global importance and sustainability of life on Earth. One of the research facilities of the Biology Centre is the Institute of Plant Molecular Biology, whose current six research groups focus on molecular cytogenetics, biophysics and biochemistry, epigenetics, molecular signalling, virology and photosynthesis.
Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences.