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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-01-01 - 2025-01-08

Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is the fourth most produced cereal crop worldwide, and plays an essential role in human and animal nutrition as well as in the brewing industry. In recent decades the growing world population and consumption demanded an increased barley yield production that has to be combined with superior malting quality. Malting quality, as a principal factor in brewing, and grain yield have a complex genetic architecture and are expensive to measure rendering both of them challenging targets in barley breeding programs. Current malting barley varieties suffer however from a lower grain yield in comparison to feeding barley. Massive changes in climate patterns and milder winters, have triggered farmers to more and more substitute spring barley, which is an initial source of malt, by winter barley. Hence, developing winter type malting barley via extensive crossing with spring barley is becoming a key objective in barley breeding programs. Longer periods of warm temperatures during autumn and winter are furthermore resulting in an increasing growth of pest populations. This leads to a higher frequency of virus-based diseases such as Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), which is vector-transmitted by aphids. Since the common plant protection measure of neonicotinoid seed treatment was prohibited by new regulations from the European Commission, the most effective and sustainable approach to prevent yield losses by BYDV is the development of new resistant/tolerant varieties. The main goal for barley breeders is thus the simultaneous improvement of grain yield, malting quality and disease resistance to develop varieties that optimally pyramid the plethora of these agronomic characteristics. This poses a severe challenge to breeders due to the quantitative and multigenic inheritance of these traits, which are furthermore strongly influenced by different environmental and agronomical conditions. In this project, we aim to address this challenge by merging several omics-based breeding methods to accelerate the genetic improvement of winter malting barley. For this purpose, phenotypic data from multi-location grain yield, virus resistance, and micro-malting trials will serve as the basis to establish an omics-based breeding pipeline in an applied barley breeding program. This pipeline will facilitate a routine selection for virus resistance and superior yielding winter malting barley after completion of the project. The project will be carried out in a close collaborative work between the academic partner University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) and several industrial partners.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-09-01 - 2025-08-31

Agrobiodiversity is a vital subset of biodiversity and is the result of the interaction between the environment, genetic resources and management systems used by culturally diverse people. It is a crucial prerequisite for ecologically and economically sustainable agricultural systems and is an important tool for ecological intensification. The aim of CROPDIVA is to reinforce agrobiodiversity on different levels and along distinct geographic and socio-economic areas. The activities of CROPDIVA are clustered around five connected research work packages and three pillars, each with a set of specific objectives: i) promotion of six key underutilised arable crops: oats, hull-less barley, triticale, buckwheat, faba bean and lupin; ii) creation of value chains for selected underutilised crops; and iii) study of the socio-economic impact of project results. The concept of CROPDIVA is an innovative challenge driven approach based on the promotion of underutilised crops in sustainable cropping systems and new regional value chains. Project activities will focus on the following major challenges: improved resilience of cropping systems, alignment of the economic and social needs of farmers with ecological goals as well as marketing of new food/non-food products meeting consumer demands. The results gathered in CROPDIVA will not be descriptive, but will be used for innovative solutions along the entire food and non-food chain to enable biodiversity management on all levels, including diversifying the use of genetic resources, crop production systems, new food/non-food products, market opportunities while satisfying producers and investigated consumer requirements.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-11-01 - 2022-12-31

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.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations