Tandem Project

Teaming Up Crop Genomics Research in Arab and German Institutions

Research Exchange

AGYA members Salma Balazadeh and Henda Mahmoudi explore possible ways of cooperation to contribute to the global research activities of improving the tolerance of crops against adverse environmental stress.

Growth and yield of plants are critical to farming, food and biomass energy production. However, plant growth is strongly affected by changes in the environment and in many ways negatively impacted by climate change. Understanding how plants – vegetables, crops, trees and ornamental plants – react to changes in the environment and manage to cope with abiotic and biotic stresses, and using this knowledge for securing healthy plant growth under unfavourable conditions is key to global food and feed security. Environmental parameters that strongly impair plant growth and yield formation are, besides others, water scarcity, salinity, or high temperature. These stresses often act jointly on plants, and often in combination with biotic stresses.

The two AGYA members teaming up here both study how plants cope with environmental stresses. Notably, the partners have strongly complementary expertise: while Henda Mahmoudi from the International Center of Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai, UAE, studies yield characteristics of various crops, including chickpea, lentils and tomato, under conditions of limiting water supply and during salinity stress (on-farm studies), Salma Balazadeh from the University of Potsdam (UP) and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP), Potsdam, Germany, is an expert in cutting-edge genome technologies to unravel the cellular networks that allow plants to respond to abiotic stresses and better cope with them.


The two AGYA members wish to explore possible ways of cooperation within the above mentioned research field to contribute to the global research activities for improving the resilience of crops against adverse environmental stresses, which is of highest societal importance.

Members in Charge

Salma Balazadeh

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology

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Henda Mahmoudi

International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA)

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Date and venue of the project

Henda Mahmoudi visited Salma Balazadeh´s Lab in August 2016 and met with her team and Prof. Dr. Bernd Müller-Röber to discuss joint research interests and possible areas of collaboration between the two institutions in Germany and the UAE.

Salma Balazadeh and Prof. Müller-Röber visited ICBA in November 2016 to explore the collaboration further, design joint experiments, and meet with ICBA researchers and management staff.

In December 2016, both AGYA members traveled to Tunisia and met with Ahmed Debez and his team at the Center of Biotechnology of Borj Cedria. Further collaborations are planned for 2017.

Photos by AGYA, MPI-MP

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