Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - MAX-CROP (Max-imising the potential of CROP researchers)

Max-CROP will train five early career stage researchers, leading to a PhD degree, in areas of science that impact on crop production. The training provided will maximise the potential of the next-generation of crop researchers, producing individuals that understand the problems facing the agricultural industry, including crop breeding, agronomy and production, but able to apply advanced scientific understanding and modern technologies to solve these problems. Five ESRs will receive an in-depth training in our current understanding in crop genomics and biology, crop pathology and biostatistics, providing knowledge that will enable them to make significant contributions to crop production in their subsequent careers. The research projects will cover four crops, wheat, barley, oil seed rape and potato and a biostatistical analysis applicable across crop species. A broader understanding of the problems facing agriculture and crop production in Europe will be delivered through network workshops, and stakeholder and public outreach activities. Additional complementary and transferable skills, including an appreciation of company policy and entrepreneurship, will be delivered through network activities and courses provided by the graduate school of the academic partner. Max-CROP will make careers in agriculture an attractive choice for a new generation of researchers, opening up new opportunities and improving career prospects. Max-CROP will deliver an extensive training, enabling the young researchers to access job opportunities in private companies, academic public institutes and government organisations. The training network builds new and extends existing collaborations between the SME, National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) Trading Ltd, Cambridge, UK and the academic partner, Wageningen University (WU), The Netherlands.

All five ESR positions have been filled, the last ESR taking up their position in October 2014. The five ESR research projects address problems within the food and feed supply chain and genetic innovations in crop plants relevant to European agriculture. Each ESR has been given a 3-year employment contract with NIAB Trading. All five ESRs are registered with graduate schools at the University of Wageningen, Netherlands.

ESR Project 1: “Would non-host resistance in barley prove a source of durable, race-nonspecific resistance for wheat”
Highlights, achievements and milestones
• T1 families of wheat, cv. Fielder transgenic lines over-expressing barley RLK genes implicated in powdery mildew non-host resistance are now available for testing with Bgt.
• The genetic regions of three barley rust non-host resistance QTL have been considerably reduced in size. These regions are now sufficiently small to proceed to the screening of barley BACs to identify the underlying genes responsible for the non-host resistance.

ESR Project 2: “Development of wheat varieties with reduced gluten toxicity, increasing safety for celiac disease patients”
Highlights, achievements and milestones
• A clear understanding of alpha-gliadin epitope alignments and immunogenic patterns has now been established.
• Creation of transgenic hexaploid wheat T0 plants containing the first CRISPR/Cas9 gRNA construct targeted against alpha-gliadins.

ESR Project 3: “Evaluation and development of statistical methods for the analysis of a Multiparent Advanced Generation Inter-Cross (MAGIC) in wheat genetics and breeding”
Highlights, achievements and milestones
• Significant insights into the genetic structure of the MAGIC population have been achieved through the reconstruction of ancestral haplotype blocks with the RABBIT-algorithm.

ESR Project 4: “Population and pathogenicity dynamics of the Brassica pathogen Verticillium longisporum”
Highlights, achievements and milestones
• An international collection of V. longisporum isolates has been established.
• Initial diversity studies indicate limited genetic variation in the isolates so far tested.
• Possible introduction routes of V. longisporum into the UK have been identified.
• Resistance towards V. longisporum has been identified in oilseed rape cultivars.
• The host range pathogenicity of British V. longisporum isolates is being uncovered.
• Three potential pathogenicity V. longisporum genes identified.

ESR Project 5: “Emerging plant diseases: reducing the impact of Alternaria species on potato production”
Highlights, achievements and milestones
• Potato field trials designed to (i) test multiple cultivars for field resistance against Alternaria solani and A. alternata and (ii) to monitor the dispersal of inoculum inside the field of a single cultivar

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United Kingdom


Life Sciences
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