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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-11-01 - 2022-10-31

Genomic Selection (GS) has become a promising tool for enhancing gain by selection in plant and animal breeding. Still unsolved challenges remain, particularly to deal with disease resistance traits that are simultaneously governed by large effect, often epistatic genes and small effect, additive genes. Standard GS handles additive effects well, but has difficulties with epistatic gene effects. That is the core idea behind this project. By taking wheat as a case, we will apply our concept of intelligent genomic selection to two of the most devastating plant diseases affecting European wheat production - FHB and stripe rust. An interdisciplinary research environment will be sought by combining world-leading expertise in statistical modeling with leading groups in plant genomics and plant pathology and active collaboration with plant breeding companies. The project will as well provide training of postdocs and PhD students.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-12-01 - 2022-11-30

The main research aim in this project is to develop a genomic-assisted breeding scheme for the introgression of common bunt resistance alleles from non-adapted (‘exotic’) donor lines into regionally adapted germplasm. Time and resources needed for such a breeding goal shall be optimized by combining marker-assisted selection and genomic selection methods, utilizing extensive genetic fingerprinting data. Possibilities for future improvement will be identified by evaluation via an associated in silico simulation study.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2017-06-01 - 2021-05-31

The application of biologic soil additives based on beneficial microbes is an interesting and durable alternative to existing fertilizing methods. A mixture of beneficial microbes will be developed, optimized to control the fungal genus Fusarium. Fusarium diseases on small grain cereals (Fusarium head blight, FHB) and on maize (Fusarium ear rot, FER) are one of the most relevant problems in agriculture. FHB and FER induce yield losses but of main concern are quality losses due to contamination of the grain with mycotoxins that are harmful to humans and animals. Maximum toxin content in food is worldwide regulated. To date, no effective control of FHB/FER is possible: an integrated approach with proper soil preparation, crop rotation, use of fungicides and resistant plant varieties is advised but innovative control strategies are urgently needed. Fusarium causing FHB and FER can only survive in intact infected crop debris on which the fungus produces spores in the next spring. The spores can reach the flowering cereal or maize ear where infection can occur. The development of a preventive microbial soil or plant additive reducing the production of spores on crop debris or increasing plant resistance is a promising approach to control Fusarium. By reducing inoculum, infection pressure and probability of toxin contamination will be reduced. We follow 4 complementary strategies to reach our goal. We will select microbes that: 1) are specialised in fast decay of the crop debris. Fusarium cannot survive in the soil and uses colonized crop debris as a refugium. 2) show an antagonistic activity against Fusarium, inhibiting growth and sporulation on the crop debris. 3) induce systemic induced resistance: this strategy activates the natural plant defence mechanisms. 4) We will apply Ca2+, Mg2+ and Si3+. These cations enforce plant wall strength and Mg2+ inhibits mycotoxin production. 5) A mixture of microbes acting via mechanism of 1-3 plus 4, resulting in additive effect on Fusarium. To reach our goals we follow an approach of selection of microbes in the lab and greenhouse, in small field plots and in field experiments. The result will be a new product composed of a mixture of several microbes controlling Fusarium via complementary mechanisms. A company will be founded to commercialise the innovative product. The product will reduce the risk for toxin contaminated grains used for food and feed and will in the end contribute to public health.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations