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Improving the resistance of legume crops to combined abiotic and biotic stress (ABSTRESS)
Start date: Jan 1, 2012, End date: Dec 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

ABSTRESS applies combined, integrated systems biology and comparative genomics approaches to conduct a comprehensive study of the gene networks implicated in the interaction of drought stress and Fusarium infection in legumes. It uses Medicago truncatula as a model to rapidly identify characteristics for introgression into elite pea varieties and a field test of their performance against existing commercial varieties. The project will demonstrate the advantages of applying advanced phenotyping methods for the generation of improved varieties of a commercial crop. Legumes have been chosen as the preferred study crop because they are susceptible to a combination of abiotic and biotic stresses. By increasing their cultivation, they offer the greatest opportunity to reduce the generation of greenhouse gases from agriculture and hence contribute to the efforts to control climate change. Therefore ABSTRESS aligns with the European Strategic Research Agenda 2025. ABSTRESS will achieve a step change in “sustainability in agriculture” by undertaking breeding research that seeks to develop varieties having improved resistance to a combination of biotic and abiotic stresses. The novelty of the project is demonstrated by the generation, identification and understanding new genetic materials; addressing commercial requirements for the development of a successful new crop variety by using SME expertise; testing new in a range of growing conditions; addressing impact on Fusarium in other crops; have application to crop breeding generally; incorporating drought stress which is likely to be a major factor for climate change; developing high throughput molecular phenotyping, to gain a step change in the speed of the breeding cycle. Thus, this well structured, innovative research can lead to ground breaking achievements in plant breeding. These will help to ameliorate climate change and develop the tools to mitigate their effects on a sustainable food /feed supply chain.

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