Increasing crop resilience – new project Root2Res was launched
19 October 2022, France: Funded by the Horizon Europe program, the project Root2Res “Root phenotyping and genetic improvement for rotational crops resilient to environmental change” started on September 1, 2022. The project was launched during its kick-off meeting held in France from September 14 to 16, 2022. At this event, all 22 partners from Europe and Africa, coordinated by ARVALIS – Institut du végétal and the James Hutton Institute, laid the foundations of an ambitious project aiming to design, develop and evaluate new root-based cultivars able to help breeders and farmers to make the agricultural systems more resilient to climate change.
As agricultural systems face more and more constraints due to climate change, identifying and developing new crop cultivars able to make production more resilient is a priority. In this context, root systems play a major role as an essential component of the tolerance against abiotic stress -water deficit or excess, nutrition deficiency- and for their contribution to carbon storage in soils. Addressing root traits for breeders, geneticists and agronomists is a real challenge that needs efficient tools: root phenotyping tools both in the field and in controlled conditions, genetic tools with a set of relevant markers and genetic resources, and modelling tools to extrapolate the results in other environments and agricultural contexts. This is exactly the ambition of Root2Res: to develop such tools and use them to define and test innovative genotype ideotypes that enhance the tolerance to abiotic stress and carbon sequestration in soils.
To achieve these objectives, Root2Res gathers an interdisciplinary team of 22 partners and will work for five years on cereals (barley, wheat), potato, legumes (faba bean, pea, lentils) and sweet potato. Researchers at FiBL will characterise rhizosphere microbiome composition and functional traits of selected species and genotypes. Additionally, they will identify new candidate genes and markers connected to desired root traits on the basis of genotypic data for peas, and conduct field trials with peas. Beyond the deep scientific investigations, Root2Res also includes strong links with breeders, farmers, and policymakers, among other stakeholders. It utilises FiBL’s extensive knowledge in communication and dissemination of research results and follows an ambitious dissemination and exploitation plan for the benefits of all end users of the results produced: most notably breeders, researchers and farmers.
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