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CEPLAS - Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences

The growing world population, the increasing demand for food as well as anthropogenic climate change pose an enormous challenge for sustainable food production and ecosystem conservation, which is the focus of the Cluster of Excellence CEPLAS.

  • Funded since 2012
  • Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • Key Profile Area “Plant Sciences"
  • Doctoral researchers (2024): 58, of which 17 from University of Cologne
  • Professors recruited in the current funding period: 5 (3 University of Cologne and 2 Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
  • Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): Zero hunger (SDG 2), Climate Action (SDG 13), Life on Land (SDG 15)

The scientific goal of CEPLAS is to investigate the basis and interplay of complex plant traits that have an impact on adaptation to limited resources and yield.

The knowledge gained serves as a basis for the development and breeding of (crop) plants that can respond predictably to future challenges ("SMART plants").

In addition to excellent research, CEPLAS is breaking new ground in the training of early-career researchers.

CEPLAS combines the resources of the Universities of Düsseldorf and Cologne, the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research Cologne and Forschungszentrum Jülich to establish a leading international center for plant research.


Prof. Dr. Bart Thomma
Research leader (University of Cologne)
Phone: +49 221 470 89261

Dr. Céline Hönl
Coordinator (Central CEPLAS office)
Phone: +49 211 8111996

Dr. Cordula Jörgens
Projektmanagement (University of Cologne)
Tel.: +49 221 470 1025