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Evolutionary strategy for plant breeding

Objective

"Large proportions of eukaryotic genomes consist of transposable elements (TEs), predominantly of retrotransposons. They are generally considered as intra-chromosomal parasites. However, their periodical activity bursts influenced organization of host genomes and contributed to beneficial traits. Remarkably, number of transposon generated phenotypic innovations was subsequently selected by humans during plant domestication and breeding. Therefore, retrotransposons could be also considered as attractive endogenous source of genetic variation. Unfortunately so far there is no experimental/technological means to exploit this potential in a controlled fashion.

Recently my laboratory revealed surprisingly selective epigenetic, environmental and developmental mechanisms controlling retrotransposition in Arabidopsis. Here, I intend to build on this knowledge and establish well controlled retrotransposition system a crop plant to liberate its innate genetic diversity buried in silenced TEs.

To achieve this, I propose a stepwise strategy with the following three objectives:

1. Deeper understanding of molecular mechanisms and environmental cues controlling retrotransposition in Arabidopsis thaliana and use this model plant to develop universal methodology for detection of retrotransposition.
2. Transfer the knowledge and methodologies to non model plant. I propose to use Arabidopsis lyrata as close relative of A. thaliana, however with 50% enlarged genome due to expansion of retrotransposon populations.
3. Using methodologies and experimental conditions developed for A. thaliana and A. lyrata we will apply them to maize where we can also take advantage of genetic resources (mutants in epigenetic regulation) in conjunction with responses to selected abiotic stresses.

If the progress towards above listed objectives was swift, I will initiate collaboration with a corn breeding company to create EVOBREED generated population for evaluation of its phenotypic diversity."
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Principal Investigator

Jerzy Paszkowski (Prof.)

Host institution

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

Address

Trinity Lane The Old Schools
Cb2 1tn Cambridge

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 2 497 062

Principal Investigator

Jerzy Paszkowski (Prof.)

Administrative Contact

Renata Schaeffer (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (1)

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THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 2 497 062

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 322621

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 October 2013

  • End date

    30 September 2018

Funded under:

FP7-IDEAS-ERC

  • Overall budget:

    € 2 497 061,99

  • EU contribution

    € 2 497 061,99

Hosted by:

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

United Kingdom