Thermo convective instabilities in horizontal fluid layers are discussed with emphasis on the Rayleigh-Bernard model problem. Steady solutions and time-dependent phenomena (relaxation oscillations and transition to turbulence) are studied within the nonlinear Boussinesq-Oberbeck approximation. Homogeneous steady solutions, limit cycles, and inhomogeneous (ordered) spatial structures are also studied in simple reaction-diffusion systems. Lastly, the non-periodic attractor that appears at large Rayleigh numbers in the truncated Boussinesq-Oberbeck model of Lorenz, is constructed, and a discussion of turbulent behavior is given. (Author) 105 refs.