Context and Issues
Extreme and variable climate conditions are expected to be more frequent worldwide in the near future. These climatic fluctuations will have serious effects on crop productivity that will be mediated by alterations in different plant developmental processes. European agriculture is facing the crucial challenge of adapting crop productivity to climate change and will need the development of crops with increased resilience to abiotic stress factors triggered by climate change. Crop yield stability is dependent on the response of key developmental programs to stress conditions. Delayed or accelerated flowering time, alteration of root architecture and growth, and disruption of pod-shattering are common responses displayed by crops exposed to high temperature or drought associated to climate change.
SYBRACLIM aims at evaluating the impact of these environmental factors on developmental processes directly influencing crop yield and shedding light on the genetic and molecular bases of the tolerance of different varieties of Europe’s premium oilseed crop, oilseed rape (Brassica napus) to increasing growth temperature and water stress.
Rapeseed is one of the world’s most important sources of high-quality vegetable oils for human nutrition and biofuels, and particularly in Europe is also a major contributor to vegetable protein diets of ruminant livestock. Because these high value traits are contributed by the seeds, any abiotic stresses that impact flowering, fertilization, biosynthesis of seed storage compounds during maturation, or loss of seeds before/during harvest, have a high impact on oil and/or protein yields and a substantial economic relevance.
SYBRACLIM will implement a multidisciplinary and innovative approach to characterize the phenotypic changes related to flowering time, root development and pod shattering in response to increased average temperature and drought and to analyse the productivity (yield and oil and protein content) in varieties of rapeseed.We will also use genomics-assisted selection of stress-tolerance traits in controlled environments and field trials. The relationship between performance and variability of the studied developmental processes will allow us to identify new genetic traits associated with adaptation and use them to design stress tolerant rapeseed crops by complementary plant breeding and biotechnology strategies. Finally, we will integrate all these environmental, phenotypic and productivity data in models that will assess the performance of the rapeseed varieties across different climate conditions.
These models are also intended to predict the optimal crops available to respond to changing climate and provide information about their expected performance in several agricultural scenarios. Because breeders need decades to develop new varieties, this approach could enable anticipatory breeding for early development of germplasm carrying the necessary genetic variation to cope with future climatic changes. Since SYBRACLIM will also introduce changes in crop management in the models (e.g. changes in sowing date and fertilization), we will provide vital information that could be used by farmers to design the better strategies to adapt their agricultural systems to climate conditions and contribute to secure yield of Brassica crops.
The SYBRACLIM consortium is multidisciplinary and intersectorial, and includes both commercial breeding companies and leading research groups with high complementarities that cover the fields of genetics, genomics, physiology and breeding in Brassica crops along with climatic modeling of crop performance.
- INIA, Syngenta and Euralis: plant growth facilities (2000 m2); Rapeseed elite varieties and hybrids; Yield data of varieties in a range of environmental conditions (Monica Pernas Ochoa, Coord.).
- JIC-Limagrain: Rapeseed TILLING platform and mapping populations (Lars Ostregaard).
- JLU Giessen: Segregating plant populations; 60k SNP Brassica napus genotyping array; extensive field data; large-container system for stress phenotyping under controlled but “field-like” conditions (Rod Snowdon).
- NPZ Innovation GmbH: Elite breeding varieties and hybrids, field trial network covering diverse climatic scenarios (Gunhil Leckband).
- AU: regional variety trial data; crop models; access to climate change scenarios (Jorgen Olesen).
- INRA: segregating plant populations complementary to Giessen; plant growth controlled conditions and in “field-like” conditions equipment; metabolomic profiling (Alain Bouchereau, Nathalie Nesi)
- GCRC: crop modelling, rapaseed database (including high-quality weather data and soil and water use dataset under field conditions) (Miroslav Trnka).
Funding and Support
Funding by Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR)