Crop protection research, education and infrastructure at Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

The mission of the plant protection research at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at University of Copenhagen is to enhance our understanding and management of weeds, diseases and insect pests, to optimize crop production of foods, fibres and fuels, without compromising environmental qualities within and outside agricultural areas.

Through science-based research, we unravel complex problems that threaten sustainable land use and food production. We educate students regarding stewardship of integrated plant protection and prepare them for fulfilling private- and public-sector employment. We communicate our research findings through scholarly publications and relevant outreach programmes and collaborate with companies and the public sector to improve sustainable crop production.

At the department we conduct research within chemical, microbiological and macrobiological control, induced resistance, resistance breeding and mechanical crop protection strategies. Our goal is to understand biological effects of different strategies, ranging from molecular signalling in target and non-target organisms, to effects in the field and adjacent ecosystems.

Our expertise within molecular plant biology, microbiology, plant pathology, entomology, applied ecology, precision breeding, RNAi technology, crop and weed science, phenotyping, environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology enables the best possible integrated approach to develop new tools for Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Our research focus on sustainable crop protection is divided into four main topics:

Chemical pesticides
Focus on understanding the biological Mode of Action (MoA), including resistance induction and growth stimulation, field efficacy and environmental fate and effects of chemical pesticides, embracing also microbially produced compounds and plant extracts; the so called “biopesticides”. 

Biological control
Focus on the complex interactions between insect pests, plant pathogens and weeds and beneficial organisms (fungi, bacteria, predators, parasitoids), and the potential use of these organisms for biological control. Research range from discovery of organisms to ecology, mechanisms and efficacy studies.

RNAi technologies
Focus on their potential in weed and pest management, and their possible environmental effect, when applied either as part of plants, as sprays or added to baits and/or through the use of microbes as vectors to facilitate organism uptake. 

Field level monitoring
Focus on mapping and measuring crop and weed growth in the field, and on monitoring the dynamics and profiling the communities of microbes and insects. We use remote sensing technologies and integrated system analysis.


Sustainable Crop Protection is taught at all levels (B.Sc., M.Sc. and PhD) as part of a number of study programme curricula at the University of Copenhagen (Biology, Biochemistry, Biology-biotechnology, Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Natural resources). The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences also offers excellent international research environments for post-doctoral fellows. The overall goal is to produce highly qualified candidates that fulfil the needs at all levels of the plant protection, agriculture, horticulture, and forestry industries.

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences houses state of the art plant research facilities ranging from molecular breeding laboratories to greenhouses and agricultural fields. The newly established Copenhagen Plant Science Centre will further support the manifestation of the department’s position at the forefront of international plant research. The department also manages a large number of advanced technological platforms, such as PhenoLab for detailed phenomics, RadiMax where roots are included in crop selection criteria, Center for Advanced Bioimaging (CAB) and the Research Center for Advanced Analytical Chemistry (RACCE).