Plant diseases cause major production and economic losses in agriculture worldwide by reducing yields, lowering quality and decreasing nutritional value. Monitoring health and diseases in plants is critical for sustainable agriculture aiming at providing an adequate supply of food, feed and fiber. Loss reduction is a high priority for European Agriculture, being a pillar of the new H2020 program. Plants possess several complex, highly effective defense mechanisms, to detect and counter invading organisms and stop them before causing extensive damage. These mechanisms must be understood and applied to ensure our food supply and develop highly disease-resistant crops. This understanding will facilitate crop improvement efforts and will reduce considerably the use of chemical products, largely known for their negative impact in health and environment. Breed4Future will exploit the growing number of genome sequences resulting from high throughput DNA sequencing (i) to identify casual genes conferring disease resistance in Compositae and Rosaceae, increasing our fundamental knowledge which will be applied to achieve durable resistance in other species and (ii) to investigate how allelic variation is distributed in genepools of an inbreeding crop and its wild relatives. Thus, a variety of approaches such as NGS, comparative genomics, genome-wide association studies, expression analyses, genetic mapping and bioinformatics will be undertaken. My outgoing host (Genome Center of UC Davis, USA) is a leading genome center in the USA, pioneering the application of genomics approaches to diseases in plants, field which is largely unexplored at CITA (return host, Spain). Consequently, this project fits well with the new competences demanded by the European Research Area of Sustainable Agriculture. Thus, I will definitely enhance and advance my possibilities to pursue my career at CITA for a permanent position at an excellence-based European plant breeding research group.
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