The Centre of Excellence for Plant-Environment Interactions (CEPEI) announces the result of its first call for collaborative research projects

CEPEI is a joint research and innovation initiative between three centres of excellence: Spain’s CBGP (UPM-INIA), and the Chinese Academy of Science’s IGDB and PSC. In this first CEPEI call, five projects (EoIs) have been granted to develop joint, collaborative initiatives between researchers from CBGP (UPM-INIA) located in Madrid (Spain) and IGDB based in Beijing and PSC operating from Shanghai (China).


CEPEI is an international research centre created to maximize the synergies between the Plant Biotechnology and Genomics Centre (CBGP, UPM-INIA) of Madrid (Spain), the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of Beijing (IGDB) China, and the Shanghai Centre for Plant Stress Biology (PSC) China, two Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) centres.


CEPEI will support five Spanish Research Agency four-year researcher (PhD student) training contracts funded by Severo Ochoa (SO) grants. The collaborative projects are part of the three different Transversal Scientific Programs (TSP1-TSP3) within the CBGP-SO Strategic Plan, and will be executed in close cooperation between researchers from CBGP, IGDB and PSC. The research projects titles and principal investigators are listed below.


The UPM Vicerrector for International Affairs indicates that “CEPEI is a paradigm of the new generation of research and innovation initiatives launched by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Technical University of Madrid, UPM) in its 20-year track history in China. It aims at world-class, balanced and institutionally ingrained cooperation between Spain and China, able to jointly address global challenges”.


Prof. Jian-Kang Zhu, director of PSC said that “The excellent collaborative research projects granted in this first call are a clear illustration of the enormous potential of this joint venture between Chinese and Spanish researchers”. He added that “we believe that the synergistic environment of CEPEI will not only favor the development of outstanding scientific research to tackle global needs in agriculture, but will also enable unparalleled international training for the next generation of scientists”.


Prof. Weicai Yang, Director of IGDB said "The outstanding collaborative research projects granted in this first call combine excellence of world class experts from China and Spain to tackle key problems in agriculture". "We are excited to see the three-way collaboration materializes in forms of highly competitive projects and we look forward to seeing fruitful outcome", He added. "We hope CEPEI will become an excellent sino-spain model of academic cooperation. "


Prof. Antonio Molina, Director of CBGP (UPM-INIA) and Scientific Director of CBGP-SO program, declares that “CEPEI initiative and these collaborative research projects granted are examples of the firm commitment of CBGP (UPM-INIA) for enhancing the international collaboration and science of excellence, and the innovation and translational biology, which are the key axes of our program of excellence CBGP-SO”. Dr. Molina acknowledges “the excellent collaboration of the IGDB and PSC Directors and researchers in launching this ambitious CEPEI program, and the collaboration of the UPM Asia Delegation in Shangai”.



Deciphering novel molecular mechanisms of Plant Immune Signalling regulation mediated by Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)
CBGP: Antonio Molina and Miguel Ángel Torres
IGDB: Jian-Min Zhou and Guozhi Bi
PSC: Alberto Macho



Deciphering the role of CERES in response to light and photosynthesis
CBGP: María del Mar Castellano and Mark Wilkinson
PSC: Chanhong Kim
An integrative analysis of root adaptation to multi-variant environmental soil conditions
CBGP: Monica Pernas and Juan Carlos del Pozo
IGDB: Qi Xie
PSC: Mingguang Lei
Understanding 4D organ geometries under a dynamic environment
CBGP: Krzysztof Wabnik and Mariano Perales
IGDB: Yuling Jiao and Jun Xiao



Hormonal coordination between plant growth and nutrients assimilation in response to temperature
CBGP: Luis Oñate-Sánchez
IGDB: Xiangdong Fu
PSC: Chao-Feng Huang



The Centre of Excellence for Plant-Environment Interactions (CEPEI) is an international research centre set up to maximize the synergies between Spain’s Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (CBGP, UPM-INIA), and China’s Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of Beijing (IGDB) and the Shanghai Centre for Plant Stress Biology (PSC). This initiative brings together three world-leading plant research institutes to tackle the global challenge of producing enough food for the world population by generating science of excellence and developing technologies for sustainable agriculture.



The Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (CBGP) is a joint research centre of the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) and the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INIA). The CBGP (UPM-INIA) is accredited as Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence. The strategic objectives of CBGP (UPM-INIA) are to generate fundamental knowledge on the genetic and molecular bases of key biological and physiological processes in plants and plant-interacting organisms, and on genomics of plants and plant-interacting organisms. The CBGP also aims to develop new computational biology technologies for the functional analysis of plants/microorganisms. CBGP researchers are grouped according to four research areas/themes: Plant Development, Interactions of Plants with Environment omputational/systems Biology and Genomics, and the recently created Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering . The centre’s Translational Biology activity within the innovation ecosystem of the International Campus of Excellence of Montegancedo-UPM is outstanding, and has resulted in the creation of four CBGP-based spin-off enterprises and the development of new products/processes for the bioeconomy sectors.


About IGDB

The Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) was founded in 2001, through a merger of three institutes: the Institute of Genetics, the Institute of Developmental Biology, and the Shijiazhuang Institute of Agricultural Modernization. The merger led to a thriving, modern Chinese institution of scientific research, with about 90 principal investigators and more than 360 researchers and technical staff. IGDB uses research on plant and animal models to help solve major challenges in China, such as food security and human health, or crippling water shortages for its vast population of more than one billion people. The institute has five research centers in the fields of genome biology, molecular agrobiology, developmental biology, molecular systems biology and agro-resources, respectively. The institute is also home to three state key laboratories including the State Key Laboratory of Plant Genomics, the State Key Laboratory of Plant Cell and Chromosome Engineering, and the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Developmental Biology. Institute researchers have achieved breakthroughs in crop genomics, wide hybridization, molecular breeding, and regenerative medicine. It also has relationships with institutes and universities around the world to tackle the global challenges of food security and sustainable healthcare. In 2018, IGDB, together with 10 other CAS institutes, established the College of Advanced Agricultural Sciences at the CAS University and has also been working on the establishment of the CAS Innovative Academy for Seed Design (INASEED), which includes members from 19 other CAS institutes, to support the national seed industry.

About PSC

The Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology (PSC) was created in 2012 as a of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) research unit, with funding from CAS. With 16 principal investigators and more than 250 researchers and staff members, PSC aims to become a leading international center for plant research, focusing on the study of plant responses to environmental stresses, plant nutrition, epigenetics, and genome editing. It fosters innovative, vibrant, and interactive research groups synergized by a battery of state-of-the-art core facilities, including genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, microscopy, and transformation facilities. PSC strives to develop fundamental and applied knowledge to achieve sustainable solutions to protect plants from environmental challenges.