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WAGENINGEN, Netherlands

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2011-1.1.8. | Award Amount: 7.16M | Year: 2012

The ability to quantitatively analyze plant phenotypic traits (from single cells to plant and stand level) and their dynamic responses to the environment is an essential requirement for genetic and physiological research, and the cornerstone for enabling applications of scientific findings to bioeconomy. Whereas molecular profiling technologies allow today the generation of a large amount of data with decreasing costs largely due to automation and robotics, the understanding of the link between genotype and phenotype has progressed more slowly. Insufficient technical and conceptual capacity of the plant scientific community to probe existing genetic resources and unravel environmental effects limits faster progress in this field. The development of robust and standardized phenotyping applications depends on the availability of specialised infrastructure, technologies and protocols. Europe has become a key driver in defining innovative solutions in academic and industrial settings. However, the existing initiatives at the local or member-state level represent a fragmented research landscape with similar goals. The aim of this project is to create synergies between the leading plant phenotyping institutions in Europe as a nucleus for the development of a strong European Plant Phenotyping Network (EPPN). The project fosters the development of an effective European infrastructure including human resources, expertise and communication needed to support transnational access to user communities. Joint research activities will adapt and develop novel sensors and methods for application in plant phenotyping. Innovative phenotyping concepts integrating mechanistic, medium- and high throughput as well as field phenotyping will be developed and made available to the community. This project will strengthen Europes leading role in plant phenotyping research and application through the creation of a community of research institutes, universities, industry and SMEs.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2007-3-1-06 | Award Amount: 7.77M | Year: 2008

Natural rubber is a widely used raw material essential to industry, medicine, transportation and defence, whose major source, the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis, is currently both sustainable and environmentally beneficial. However, increased worldwide demand for natural rubber and latex means that alternative sustainable sources are urgently required. In order to meet this challenge, we propose to create a Network that links all stakeholders involved in the development and sustainable use of Parthenium argentatum (guayule) and Taraxacum koksaghyz (Russian dandelion) as alternative rubber and latex sources in the EU. To guarantee the sustainable development and exploitation of both crops throughout the value creation chain, the project includes research into the collection and creation of new germplasm, biochemistry and genetics, breeding, agronomy, processing, and product development. The entire rubber biosynthetic pathway will be analysed, and potential bottlenecks will be identified and bypassed through targeted conventional breeding. Genes involved in rubber biosynthesis will be mapped, helping to accelerate breeding strategies in order to generate plants with commercially-viable rubber yields. Such plants will be tested for efficient growth and rubber production in the field under different climatic and edaphic conditions in Europe. The technical performance and economic potential of rubber extracted from these plants will be evaluated by producing specific prototypes, such as surgical gloves and tires. The envisaged consortium will create a collaborative network of European research organisations and industrial participants, with the necessary scientific and administrative expertise and cross-disciplinary experience to meet the project objectives, and the motivation and determination to produce the deliverables and achieve the project milestones as outlined in the proposal.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: KBBE-2009-3-1-02 | Award Amount: 4.16M | Year: 2010

Jatropha curcas shows a big promise towards sustainable and affordable biofuels. Several groups are working independently towards development of both agrosystems and high quality germplasm of Jatropha, and downstream processing and biodiesel markets. The challenges are to make the big promises come true: high oil yield, low competition with food crops, use in various agrosystems from monoculture plantations, to mixed cropping and use in hedges around agricultural fields. JATROPT aims at linking high quality research groups and companies that are now operating in different continents in order to achieve a large synergy in research and development of jatropha as a biofuel crop. In five Workpackages (Breeding, Genetic tools, Sustainable Agrosystems, Demonstrating and Dissemination), the following aims are pursued: 1) Achieve a world wide germplasm collection of Jatropha curcas, molecularly characterised in order to classify the collection into groups with similar genetic backgrounds; evaluation of elite germplasm of this collection in Asia, Africa and Latin-America; linking segregating population based on parents from different parts of the world and creating a global Jatropha linkage map. 2) Develop genetic information and marker tools (genetics of toxic/low toxic trait, branching patterns; disease resistance) to speed up the breeding process. 3) Develop agrosystems that yield sustainable and affordable biofuels - and interesting uses of the co-products (biomass/protein residues after oil extraction), with a focus on Pro Poor development and on designing systems in which competion for food and fuel can be minimised; 4) Demonstration of the potential of local/regional use of produced biofuels to increase agricultural and general economic productivity will be investigated. 5) Achieve dissemination of knowledge on quality of germplasm, on genetics and sustainable agrosystems setting up distribution of combined packages of agronomic guidelines and germplasm.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CPCSA | Phase: INFRA-2011-1.2.2. | Award Amount: 5.51M | Year: 2011

Food and energy security are major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades. The falling costs of nucleotide sequencing are opening up significant opportunities for crop improvement through plant breeding and increased understanding of plant biology; in particular through interpreting the growing volume of plant genomics data in the context of phenotype. However, at present, there is no adequare infrastructre for plant genomic data. transPLANT will develop a new infrastructure for this data, leveraging the experience of medical informatics while addressing the particular challenges and opportunities of plant genomics.\n\nCompared with vertebrate genomes, plant genomes may be large and have complex evolutinary histories, which makes their analysis a hard problem (both in terms of theory, and in terms of the compute resources required for data storage and analysis). Issues include genome size, polyploidy, and the quantity, diversity and dispersed nature of data in need of integration.\n\nTo address these problems, transPLANT will develop distributed solutions, exploiting the expertise of the project partners in particular species and problems to provide a seamless set of computational and interactive services to the plant research community. These services will be developed on top of the outputs of RTD activities designed to build new repositories and develop new algorithms, and with the input from the plant science and other related communities garnered through extensive networking activities. A series of training workshops will educate the community in the use of transPLANT tools and data.\n\ntransPLANT will be built on standard technologies for data exchange and representation, service provision, virtual compute infrastructure, and interface development; where such standards are currently lacking (as in phenotype description), they will be developed in the context of the project.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2008-1-1-01 | Award Amount: 4.17M | Year: 2009

Successful and efficient plant breeding depends on rapid recombination of advantageous traits to form new crop varieties. In recent years new breeding techniques have been introduced which rely on transgenic alteration of somatic cells and regeneration into plants with novel properties. The precision and effectiveness of both strategies rely upon homologous recombination (HR). The objective of this proposal is to provide plant breeders with new tools allowing better control over HR in both somatic and meiotic cells. The expected outcomes of the proposed research are efficient gene targeting (GT) technologies for precise engineering of plant genomes and control of rates of meiotic recombination between homologous or homeologous chromosomes in classical breeding. The major components of the HR machinery are common to somatic and meiotic cells, enabling us to address both processes in a synergistic way. HR can be divided into different steps: initiation by formation of a DNA double-strand break (DSB); recognition and invasion of an homologous DNA sequence; resolution of recombination structures. Each stage contains a bottleneck for both GT and meiotic HR that we will address. Work package 1 (WP1) aims at enhancing HR through targeted DSB induction. DSBs will be induced by Zinc-finger nucleases that can be custom-designed for target sequences anywhere in the genome. In WP2, we will test the influence of HR factors affecting homologue invasion and heteroduplex formation, such as RAD51 and its paralogues, the RAD52 homologue, genes that affect cytosine methylation in DNA, and mismatch repair. In WP3 we will concentrate on proteins involved in resolution and crossing-over. WP4 will test combinations of those approaches found in the first three WPs to build optimal strategies for application. Most experiments will be performed in the model plant Arabidopsis and implemented into crops such as tomato and maize to guarantee quick applicability for breeding.

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