The Institute of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology, Plant Science and Biotechnology Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences has been created and constituted for research on topical issues in genetics and biotechnology of higher plants. Its scientific focus, professional profiling and methodological orientation contributes significantly to the complex development of plant genetics and molecular biology. The institute uses methods of plant biotechnology with an emphasis on genomics, proteomics, gene engineering and the most advanced scientific knowledge and methods comparable to the level of major scientific institutions in the world. At the institute, methods of tissue cultures and classical breeding are also used, e.g. artificial hybridization and mutation breeding, which are an integral part of breeding programmes.
IPGB PSBC SAS is the only Institute within the frame of the Section II „Life, Chemical, Medical and Environmental Sciences” with main orientation to study genetics, plant growth and development patterns as well as plant biotechnology with the aim to increase the plant production and adaptation to changing environmental conditions.
In the area of population genetics and breeding, the Institute – as one of the few institutions in Europe dealing also with dendrology – conducts research on the genetic polymorphism and biodiversity of selected forest tree species (Pinus sylvestris, P. mugo) by molecular markers as well as interspecific hybridization and hybridological relations of the Abies alba. To increase the resistance potential of above species is the main goal of these activities. Permanent research plots established in several regions of Slovakia extended already existing gene pool of Abies species, which offer the possibility of their further use for the research or breeding practice.
In the field of genetic engineering, the research activities are focused on genome modification of agronomically important crops, forest and fruit trees with the aim to improve their utility properties and to increase resistance against the pathogens. A part of that research are isolation and characterization of suitable candidate genes for the transfer into the plants, the analyses of transgene expression, factors influencing transgene expression as well as GMO safety issues, especially preventing their release into environment.
An integral part of scientific activities of IPGB is study of plant growth and development under in vitro conditions and use of tissue cultures in genetic transformations, regeneration and micropropagation of selected economically important forest trees, fruit species and agricultural crops. In this relation, also the development of techniques for a long-term conservation of genetic resources of forest and fruit trees including embryogenic tissue of studied species using cryopreservation techniques is connected.
Owing to the worsening environment conditions, the emphasis is laid on the study of negative impacts of environmental factors on plant reproduction and nature protection. The Institute focuses on the utilisation of functional genomics and proteomics, namely during the process of plant embryo development (both zygotic and somatic embryogenesis) as well as in study of plant response to different types of abiotic and biotic stresses. This involves also study of the cytological, morphological, biochemical and molecular aspects which play crucial role in these processes. Quantitative proteomic methods (both 2-D and gel-free approach) are developed and used for the determination of various protein components.
The Institute addresses also the long-term research on mutation breeding and selection of amaranth (Amaranthus sp.) mutant lines for food processing. This effort led to the registration and the Breeder’s Certificate granting on two new amaranth cultivars ´Pribina´ and ´Zobor´, as the first amaranth cultivars bred in Slovakia.
A broad scale of approaches is used in current research activities involving molecular biology, genetic engineering, in vitro techniques and different -omics technologies. The knowledge obtained so far is implemented in introduction of new genetic and biotechnological processes for agricultural plant production improvement. In case of forest trees, an increase of their tolerance towards environmental stresses and better growth performance is achieved by producing new hybrids.
The scientific policy of the Institute is preferentially oriented towards
- scietific research and professional growth of staff
- PhD. education and other pedagogical activities
- transfer of results into practice
Scietific research and professional growth of staff
The first area is focused on the research activities, i.e., on gaining of new scientific information, publishing of the obtained results in the international scientific journals and on further improving of publication quality expressed by journal IF and citation response to the published papers. In this way, the Institute is seeking not only for professional reputation, but is also streaming to the development of active international cooperation with related scientific institutions in Slovakia and abroad. As a consequence, such cooperation leads to the acquisition of international grant funding contributing to the improvement of scientific outputs. The quality of scientific work is closely related to the personnel policy of the Institute – higher professional qualification of individual researchers means necessary new guarantees for the PhD studies, or advisers and project managers for the Institute.
PhD. education and other pedagogical activities
Increasing in professional qualification of scientific staff at the IPGB PSBC SAS brings another benefit for the Institute in the form of participation on the teaching activities at Slovak universities. These activities are carried out by supervising of student training courses, bachelor and diploma theses and, in particular, by supervising of PhD. students who are actively involved in the current projects solved at the Institute. The IPGB PSBC SAS is an external educational institution in scientific programmes genetics, plant physiology, biotechnology and agrobiotechnology. In the frame of the PhD. study, the IPGB PSBC SAS collaborates with Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra and University of Constantine The Philosopher in Nitra. The best PhD. students and post-doctoral researchers at the Institute are actively supported by the management of the Institute in obtaining postdoc. positions abroad to promote their further scientific and professional growth.
Transfer of results into practice
Although the principal activities of the Institute are focused on basic research and publishing in scientific journals the attention is also paid to the transfer of acquired knowledge into practice. At the IPGB, the transfer of scientific knowledge into practice is carried out via contractual cooperation with some enterprises of the economic sphere (e.g. Wellberry company, The Forests of the Slovak Republic – State enterprise) to which the improved plants obtained under laboratory conditions (hybrid firs, plants of small fruits) are provided for further evaluation and cultivation under natural conditions. Recently, a major output of the Institute for the practice was registration of the first new cultivars of amaranth in Slovakia and granting the Breeder’s Certificate on cultivars ´Pribina´ and ´Zobor´. Thanks to above breeder´s success the Minister of Agriculture awarded the Institute a “Golden sickle” on the International Exhibition “Agrokomplex 2015”.
The Institute has a potential to provide expertise and analytical services in the field of agricultural biotechnologies to ministries and other public authorities to ensure the healthy food production and determination of allergens in food using functional proteomics.
The Institute is a regular organizer of international symposia and conferences in the area of its research. The Certificate awarded by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic entitles the Institute to undertake retraining education under the title “Higher forms of education in plant biotechnology”.