The Botanist Kölreuter discovered in plants the laws of genetics (around a century before Mendel and long before the foundation of the university). But still the Botanical Garden is absolutely essential for research at the KIT:
Model plants: Using the model plants thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), Rice (Oryza sativa), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and grapevine (Vitis vinifera), we can study the function of genes. Our collections of mutants and transgenic lines help to get insight into the molecular base of development, growth and metabolism. This has also impact for applciation - the function of human breast cancer genes can be more easily studied in Arabidopsis, rice genes for breeding of drought-resistant varieties can be found, or grape genes help to improve plant immunity.
Wild Grapevine Collection: Nature is innovative and has developed for numerous Problems already sustainable solutions that had been optimised over millions of years. We can analyse those solutions and make use of them for the sustainable agriculture of the future. The Wild Grapevine Collection built up in the Botanical Garden over the years, is unique in Europe and serves as important genetic resource to breed new grape varieties that are immune against diseases. These grapes play a central role in several national and international research projects.
Reference Collection for Molecular Authentication: Globalisation does not spare the food sector. We have developed new methods to safeguard consumers against adulteration. For this purpose we have built up a collection of reference plants in the garden that have been identified often with support of international experts and act as "Gold standard" in several industrial projects on quality management, but also as source to mine for novel active compounds. Of special interest: our collection of plants used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Gene Bank Crop Wild Relatives: On demand of the Ministry for Agriculture wild ancestors of our crop plants were collected all over Germany to secure important gene variants that later can become useful for the breeding of new varieties with better resilience against environmental stress.