Dr. Michaela Dippold

In the coming decades, food shortages on the African continent will continue to intensify, especially in the dry sub-Saharan regions. Dr. Michaela Dippold, Robert Bosch Junior Professor 2017, wants to identify the adaptation mechanisms of older plant varieties looking at the small contact zones between the roots and soil. Her results are to be used as a basis for a new generation of high-yield varieties.
Robert Bosch Stiftung | March 2017

As a Robert Bosch Junior Professor, Dr. Michaela Dippold will devote the next few years to researching how the water and nutrient intake of crops can be improved so that farmers can achieve stable yields even with nutrient-poor soils.

In the coming decades, food shortages on the African continent will continue to intensify, especially in the dry sub-Saharan regions. One reason for this is stagnating crop yields. High-yield varieties could provide a remedy. Such varieties have contributed to the fact that agricultural yields have more than tripled in industrialized countries over the past decades. However, planting high-yield varieties is not yet possible in many developing countries because these varieties depend on the optimal supply of high-performance farming practices.

In her work, Michaela Dippold wants to identify the adaptation mechanisms of older plant varieties that have been lost through breeding. To this end, she is examining varieties in sub-Saharan Africa that are often only found locally and provide little yield, but have adapted over the years to local water and nutrient scarcity. Particularly important are the subterranean plant characteristics and the properties of the surrounding rhizosphere – the small contact zones between the roots and soil. The research results are to be used as a basis for a new generation of high-yield varieties.