"There is an urgent need for an agricultural revolution to generate climate-smart cultivars, which combine proven qualities with novel traits that adapt crop plants to extremes, including severe heat and drought periods. Novel breeding technologies can make the difference to enable farmers to achieve high yields with resilient crops and thus secure the nutrition for the world population. In the framework of the ERC Consolidator Grant ""Building and bypassing polyspermy barriers"" we have discovered that plant egg cells can fuse with two sperm to give rise to offspring with three instead of two parents, one mother and two fathers. Our unprecedented result is a game changer in the field of plant reproduction. It can lead to a new plant breeding strategy with economic benefits expected to positively affect the social welfare of farmers as well as upstream and downstream industries related to the agricultural value chain. Three-parent crosses can transform plant breeding at different levels: First, the inheritance of genetic material from three rather than two parents allows to instantly combine beneficial traits of three cultivars thereby tremendously speeding up breeding processes. Second, three-parent crosses bypass a hybridization barrier (2), which constitutes a major limitation for regular plant breeding approaches. Third, three-parent crosses can be used to increase the number of chromosomes, a process referred to as polyploidization. Natural or technically-induced polyploidizations constitute a major factor for yield increase. The translation of three-parent crosses from the model plant Arabidopsis to crop plants using sugar beet as an experimental prototype at the premises of a breeder, and the transfer of this new breeding technology into commercial exploitation are two goals of the project TriVolve.
Field of science
- /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/agriculture/plant breeding
Call for proposal
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