Professor Violeta Velikova, PhD

Bldg. 21, Office 109
Phone: +359-2-9792683

Personal Page


The structural organization and the mechanisms of functioning of the photosynthetic apparatus in response to different environmental stresses (high and low temperatures, increased CO2 concentration, drought, salinity, heavy metals, UV-radiation) with a focus on the mechanisms of adaptation and defense, represent the major field of research in the Department of Photosynthesis – activity and regulation. Investigations have been conducted on the impact of changing climatic factors on primary and secondary plant metabolism. The physiological role of volatile and non-volatile isoprenoids, lipid and fatty acid composition, as well as other metabolites involved in plant defense are also studied. We are applying modern imaging techniques like chlorophyll fluorescence and thermal imaging, photosynthetic gas exchange, thermoluminescence, PCR and qPCR, SDS – PAGE, Blue Native PAGE, Western blot and analyses of various markers of oxidative stress.

The investigations conducted in our Department are related to major physiological processes in plants as well as to the national priority directive “Ecology, environmental protection and quality of life”.

Physiological phenotyping. Primary and secondary plant metabolism under unfavorable abiotic factors. Plant plasticity in changing environment

Our research efforts are focused on the impact of changing climatic factors and anthropogenic pollution on photosynthesis. Based on analyses of CO2 and H2O exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence parameters we have been studying the limiting steps leading to decreased photosynthetic productivity under adverse conditions. Our research group is also studying phenotypic differences between plant populations from contrasting environments for identification of putative stress-responsive metabolites and understanding mechanisms of plant adaptation to stress conditions. In parallel with the primary metabolism we have been studying the changes in the secondary metabolism of plants with a focus on biogenic volatile organic compounds. Exploring the relationship biogenic emissions – environment we aim at selecting the most environmentally friendly plant species to be used for landscape architecture and afforestation of areas with different levels of pollution, which in turn is related to air quality. Through innovative technology we aim to develop more sustainable plant genotypes with increased levels of natural secondary metabolites, which are an important raw material for the food and pharmaceutical industries. A wide range of research approaches are applying, including modern imaging methodologies (fluorescence and thermal imaging) widely used in plant phenotyping.

Mechanisms of desiccation tolerance of plants under changing environmental conditions

The resurrection plant Haberlea rhodopensis Friv. (Gesneriaceae) is used as a model system for elucidation of the mechanisms of desiccation tolerance under changing environmental conditions.  We have been investigating the acclimation mechanisms at different levels of organization of the photosynthetic apparatus (whole leaf, isolated chloroplasts) using physiological, biophysical and biochemical approaches. Special attention is focused on the relationship between the extent of stress treatment and the level of some stress markers, activity of antioxidant defense system, the synthesis of stress-induced proteins (HSPs, DSPs), the changes in pigment-protein complexes, the main PSI and PSII proteins, and the expression of specific genes upon stress treatments.

Primary photosynthetic reactions, abiotic stress and the role of biologically active substances (polyamines, salicylic acid, ABA, nitric oxide)

Our efforts are emphasized on the interrelation between structural organization and functional activity of the photosynthetic apparatus, regulation of photosynthetic electron and proton transport under optimal and stress conditions (drought, including extreme drought, salinity, changes in the light spectral composition, UV-B radiation effects, heavy metal pollution, etc.). Different crops and medicinal plants of great economic importance as well as plants and microalgae tolerant to a certain type of abiotic stress have been used as model systems. The effects of some biologically active compounds (polyamines, salicylic acid, ABA and nitric oxide) in the process of adaptation of crop plants to abiotic stresses are also studied. Various biophysical and biochemical approaches have been applied in our research, including chlorophyll fluorescence, thermoluminescence, redox kinetics of Р700, oxygen evolution, pigment content, changes in some enzymatic and non-enzymatic components of plant antioxidant defense system.



ESA contract №4000122781/18/NL/SC. Design and development of Space Greenhouse Microgravity Specific ENvironment Simulating Equipment (SG µg-SENSE).
PI: Iliana Ilieva – Space Research and Technology Institute – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
IPPG PI: Prof. V. Velikova

EU FP7 – № 282910 Effects of Climate Change on Air Pollution Impacts and Response Strategies for European Ecosystems (ECLAIRE).
2011 – 2015
PI: Mark Sutton NERC, UK
BG PI: Prof. Violeta Velikova.

COST Action CA15226. Climate-Smart Forestry in Mountain Regions.
Grant Holder: Molise University, Italy.

COST Action FP1204. Forests, their Products and Services “Green Infrastructure approach: linking environment with social aspects in studying and managing urban forests”.
2012 – 2016
Grant Holder: Institute of Agriculture and Forest Biology, CNR, Italy.

COST Action FA1204. Vegetable grafting to improve yield and fruit quality under biotic and abiotic stress conditions.
2012 – 2016
Grant Holder: Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie per l’Agricoltura, le Foreste, la Natura e l’Energia (DAFNE), Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy.

COST Action TD1102. Photosynthetic proteins for technological applications: biosensors and biochips.
2011 – 2015
Grant Holder: Crystallography Institute, CNR, Italy.


KP-06-N21/8. Mechanisms of recovery from drought and frost-induced desiccation: strategies for survival of the resurrection plant Haberlea rhodopensis.
PI: Prof. K. Georgieva
Partners: Institute of Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Agrobioinstitute – Agricultural Academy

DFNP-17-37. The role of polyamine putrescine in the regulation of water deficit tolerance in wheat.
PI: Asst. Prof. D. Doneva

BUL5014 „Screening of Cereal Germplasm Stress Response and Adaptation Potential by Advanced Nuclear, Omics and Physiological Approaches”
PI: Prof. L. Stoilov
Partners: IPPG-BAS, Agrobioinstitute, Joint Genomic Center, The Institute for Plant Genetic Resources “K. Malkov” – Sadovo

DFNI B02/8. Biogenic volatile organic compounds, global climate change, and plant adaptation potential to changing environment.
2014 – 2018
PI: Prof. Violeta Velikova
Partners: IPPG-BAS, Sofia University, University of Forestry

D01-168. Effects of climate change on air pollution impacts and response strategies for European ecosystems (ECLAIRE). Co-financed by the Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria.
2014 – 2016
PI: Prof. Violeta Velikova

DNTS 01/001. Protection mechanisms against excess light during desiccation of the resurrection plant Haberlea rhodopensis
2012 – 2016
PI: Prof. Katya Georgieva
Partners: Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Frankfurt, Germany

DNTS 01/10. Physiological and pathological effects of heavy metals at an early stage of cereal crop development and after complete maturity of grains. Protective role of nitric oxide.
PI: Asst. Prof.  R. Yordanova-Zlatanova
Partners: Department of biotechnology, Academy of State administration of Grain, Beijing, China

Bilateral cooperation

Physiological characteristics of frost resistance of plants with different desiccation tolerance 2016 – 2018
PI: Prof. Katya Georgieva
Partner: Institute of Plant Biology, Biological Research Centre, Szeged, HAS, Hungary

Polyamine metabolism and signaling in crop plants under stress conditions.
2016 -2019
PI: Asst. Prof.  Violeta Peeva
Partner: Centre for Agricultural Research, HAS, Hungary

Biochemical and physiological mechanisms of cold hardiness in the resurrection plant Haberlea rhodopensis Friv.
2016 – 2018
PI: Prof. Katya Georgieva
Partner: Institute of Biometeorology, IBIMET, CNR, Italy

Biogenic volatile organic compounds and their function in plant adaptation to changing environment
Срок: 2015-2017
PI: Prof. Violeta Velikova
Partner: Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia

Development of wheat germplasm resistant to some fungal diseases.
2015 – 2017
PI: Asst. Prof. Gergana Mihailova
Partner: Faculty of Agriculture, Latvia University of Agriculture, Latvia

Manipulation of light quality to optimize photosynthesis and production of secondary metabolites of interest for plant protection
PI: Prof. Violeta Velikova
Partner: Institute for Plant Protection, CNR, Италия

Low temperature tolerance mechanisms in a resurrection and a non-resurrection plant
PI: Prof. Katya Georgieva
Partner: Institute of Plant Biology, Biological Research Centre, Szeged, HAS, Hungary

Physiological effects of heavy metals and molecular aspects of acclimation processes in crop plants.
PI: Asst. Prof. R. Yordanova-Zlatanova
Partner: Agricultural Institute, Centre for Agricultural Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary

Scientific achievements

Scientific publications

Research Team

Violeta Velikova, Professor, PhD

Office 109, lab. 215
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26 83; (+359 2) 979 26 04
ResearcherID: J-8849-2016
Research Gate: Violeta Velikova
Professional interests: plant stress physiology, phenotyping, biogenic volatile organic compounds, photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence, metabolomics, proteomics, oxidative stress.

Katya Georgieva, Professor, PhD

Office 205, Lab. 116
Тел. (+359 2) 979 26-20, (+359 2) 979 26-88
Professional interests: abiotic stress, acclimation, resurrection plants, photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence, antioxidant enzymes, stress-induced proteins, gene expression
Research Gate:

Irena Grigorova, Assist. Prof., PhD

Office 209, lab. 116
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26 20; (+359 2) 979 26 88
Professional interests: UV-B stress, photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence, stress markers.

Violeta Peeva, Assist. Prof., PhD

Office 305, lab. 328
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26-36, (+359 2) 979 36-82
Professional interests: photosynthesis, photosynthetic electron transport, photosystem 1,  photosystem 2, thermoluminescence, oxygen evolution, desiccation, resurrection plants.

Liliana Brankova, Assist. Prof., PhD

Office 305, lab. 215
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26 36, (+359 2) 979 26-04
Professional interests: bioremediation, stress, plant defense system.

Gergana Mihailova, Assist. Prof., PhD

Office 305, Lab. 116
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26 36, (+359 2) 979 26 88
Professional interests: Photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence, resurrection plants, drought stress, high temperature, photoinhibition, antioxidant system, gene expression, protein synthesis.

Dilyana Doneva, Assist. Prof., PhD

Lab. 302
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26-33
Professional interests: photosynthetic gas exchange, oxidative stress, antioxidant enzymes, light quality effects on plant growth and development.

Vladimir Aleksandrov, Assistant, PhD

Lab. 215
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26 04
Research Gate:
Professional interests: phenotyping, photosynthesis, chlorophyll fluorescence, abiotic stress, photobiophysics, mathematical models of biological systems, nanobiology.

Velichka Baidanova, MSc

Lab. 302
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26 33
Professional interests: stress physiology, low temperatures.

Daniel Ilkov, MSc

Lab. #304
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26 33

Nikola Krastev, MSc

Lab. #116
Tel. (+359 2) 979 26 88

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Acad. G. Bonchev Street, Bldg. 21
1113 Sofia, Bulgaria

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Phone: +359 2 9792606
Phone: +359 2 8728170
Fax: +359 2 8739952