"The goal of WATBIO is to use the power of next generation sequencing to develop an accelerated route for producing new germplasm with enhanced drought tolerance whilst maintaining biomass productivity and quality in water scarce, marginal environments unsuitable for food crops.
This will be achieved for three non-food crops (Populus, Miscanthus and Arundo), suitable for growth on water scarce, marginal lands, through a 5-year translational research project. Populus and Miscanthus germplasm with increased drought tolerance will be produced within WATBIO whilst for Arundo its genetic diversity will be assessed and breeding tools developed.
Twenty-two multidisciplinary partners (14 academics, and 7 SMEs) spanning the whole value chain for crop production will collectively achieve this innovation by 1) identifying key molecular, cellular and physiological traits for the maintenance of biomass production, lignocellulosic quality and water use efficiency in water-scarce environments; 2) linking these traits through modelling to underlying key genes, proteins and metabolite networks; 3) utilising a wide range of germplasm for screening in phenotyping platforms and field measurements at multiple sites to test importance of genotype x environment interactions in determining traits; 4) using sequence based gene expression data, identify 40 genes related to drought tolerance for testing proof of concept using GM approach; and 5) using sequence-based data for genome wide association and genetical genomic approaches, link physiology to traits of high heritability and to underlying genes.
WATBIO will transfer knowledge of commercial significance using its industrial partners and stakeholders enabling the deployment of biotechnology to boost European competitiveness, without the necessity of GM. Through workshops, seminars and exchanges, WATBIO will train the next generation of multi-disciplinary professionals in the area of biomass crop production on marginal lands."
Fields of science
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call