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SPS - Saclay Plant Sciences

The SPS Network

50 research teams specialized in plant sciences within 5 institutes, 700 staff members

Arabidopsis thaliana

Key figures


  • 9 institutions : INRA, CNRS, UPSud, AgroParisTech, UEVE, UVSQ, Université Paris Diderot, CEA, Université Paris-Saclay
  • Teams from 5 plant sciences laboratories in the Paris area: IPS2, IJPB, I2BC, GQE-Le Moulon, BIOGER

Technical and Financial Resources

  • 14 scientific platforms
  • 5000 m² of greenhouses (S1, S2, S3)
  • About 100 growth chambers (S1, S2, S3)
  • SPS Project : 12 million euros / 9 years (2011-2019) then 16 million euros / 10 years (2018-2027)

Human Resources

  • About 50 research teams
  • About 700 staff members, including 400 permanent positions and 140 post-docs and PhD students.


  • About 200 publications per year
  • More than 100 ongoing contracts, including about 20 with private partners

For  a “sustainable intensification” of agriculture

In the current context of population growth and limitation of arable lands and fossil resources, global food security is still a major challenge worldwide. In addition, there is an ever growing interest in and need for increasing the quantity and improving the quality of plant biomass for green chemistry and energy. Simultaneously, the limitation of natural resources, such as water and fossil resources, climate change and the importance of preserving the environment and biodiversity make the sustainability of agriculture another key challenge. Therefore, “sustainable intensification” of agriculture is crucial for the future.


Towards a more predictive biology…


© Laurent Villeret / Scic Picturetank

Improving production and use of plants for food, feed, human health, environment or industry in a sustainable way will require creative plant biology research. Various traits associated with the genetic, physiologic and environmental controls of plant growth can have a significant impact on the sustainable intensification of plant production. In order to meet these challenges, an in-depth understanding of the underlying molecular processes and new tools for transferring this knowledge to the crop varieties used in agriculture are required. Given the inherent complexity of living organisms and the unprecedented increase in the power of analytical tools, a major challenge for biologists is the application of more mathematics and informatics to describe and model this complexity and make biology more predictive.

… by understanding the plant’s basic biological mechanisms

Nevertheless, the predictive value of the knowledge relies on, and is strengthened by, the understanding of basic processes involved in the regulation of plant physiology and development. It should be noted that the development of efficient engineering tools for research and development (e.g. translation to plant breeding) and the mechanistic understanding of plant development and physiology are tightly linked.

Drawing of the plant's life cycle in its environment

The studies conducted by the SPS research teams address many aspects of the plant’s life cycle and of the interactions with its environment.
© INRA - M. Ménez - "Innovation and Partnerships" Working group - SPS


3 scientific challenges

Therefore, taking into account the current socio-economic and scientific contexts we have identified three strategic, complementary and interconnected scientific challenges that consist of :

  1. moving towards a more predictive biology,
  2. understanding basic mechanisms that control plant development and physiology,
  3. developing tools and biotechnology for research, innovation and valorisation.

A state-of-the-art research moving towards innovation

To address these challenges, the strategy of the SPS network is to support the best academic research, teaching and training that is necessary for innovations over the long term and to ensure that academic excellence is accompanied by relevant thematic priorities, dissemination and valorisation of research and training activities, based on scientific and socio-economic issues.

The SPS network provides a unique opportunity to consolidate all these aspects, excellence, valorisation of the results and overall attractiveness in the area of plant sciences and biotechnology. Indeed, SPS is one of the largest consortia of research, teaching and training, focused on plant biology in Europe, with the highest impact in this field in France.

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