Prof. Franken is not only head of the Professorship for Molecular Phytopathology at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, he also leads the Erfurt Research Center for Horticultural Crops (FGK)External link in Erfurt (Kühnhäuserstraße 101, D-99090 Erfurt).
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The Erfurt Research Center for Horticultural Crops (FGK) is engaged in questions which result from current and future challenges of the horticultural practice. These research questions are treated with approaches and methods of modern biosciences. Through cooperation with other research institutions the FGK is involved in national and international research networks. Located at the Faculty of Landscape Architecture, Horticulture and Forestry of the University of Applied Sciences, the FGK is closely connected to the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena by a cooperation contract. In this way, the center is also a place for high-quality formation of students and offers excellent possibilities for career development of scientists.
Horticultural practice faces the challenge to conduct production processes more and more on a sustainable basis. This is especially demanding considering the high diversity of plants used in horticulture. The mostly middle-sized enterprises of breeding and production depend on a permanent renewal of their assortments and on the adaptation of their management practice to the challenges of sustainable crop production. In order to support such enterprises, it needs innovation-oriented basic research activities. For this support, four research groups are active at the FGK funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and by the Thuringian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society. These research groups are working on the following topics:
- Plant-microbe interactions in sustainable crop production
- Epigenetic processes in plant propagation
- Molecular principles of plant breeding
- Control of growth and development in horticultural plant production
The work of these research groups is supported by particular FGK units for infrastructure and administration.