Project: Delivering novel maize genotypes with improved resilience and PROductivity through the application of predictive breeding technologies to modulate STRIGolactone levels

Acronym PROSTRIG (Reference Number: 66)
Duration 03/06/2019 - 03/06/2022
Project Topic PROSTRIG employs novel breeding technologies, specifically precise Genome Editing using CRISPR.cas9 technology to create maize (corn) varieties with higher productivity while simultaneously minimizing environmental impact directly because the novel maize varieties will require much less application of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers. Modulation of the plant hormones strigolactones provides this opportunity. A novel approach using tunable modulation of two carotenoid cleavage dioxygenase enzymes (CCD7 and CCD8) specifically involved in the biosynthesis of these compounds can modulate strigolactone content and composition and will potentially result in a complete new root architecture simultaneously encouraging stimulation of hyphal branching in fungal symbionts that form arbuscular mycorrhizae. Consequently less fertilizer will be required due to the improved uptake efficiency of nitrogen and phosphorus as a result of this symbiosis. These properties will enable greater crop intensification in a highly sustainable manner thus delivering the paramount objective of the SUSCROP call in a manner entirely congruent with the call for proposals. A further direct impact is the generation of novel phenotypes which can be commercialized directly as these do not fall under GMO regulations at least outside the EU. The recent decision of the EU court to subject GE crops to GMO regulations complicates their commercialization in Europe and will further exacerbate the divide between the EU and the rest of the world in terms of trade and implementation of the international GATT agreement (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade). In this context a further direct impact of PROSTRIG will be to provide experimental evidence and outputs in the form of scientific and white papers, and popular articles in the press to explain why GE crops should not be treated as GMOs on a purely scientific basis. The project will establish a technology platform which will be open to all EU companies interested in taking advantage of the potential commercial outcomes of the project in terms of knowhow, technology, IP and tangible outputs including experimental data including safety and efficacy data form animal feeding trials, optimized expression vectors, germplasm and lead plant lines characterized fully also under field conditions, all complemented by a full Life Cycle Assessment and a comprehensive Techno-economic Analysis. PROSTRIG contributes directly to European competitiveness because it focuses on a major industrial European and global food security crop, important as a commercial product and also as a relevant biological system to answer fundamental questions in development, physiology, genetics and metabolism. The project is also important because of its direct translational value and potential for generating IP which will be protected and leveraged to encourage innovation in academia as well as in the commercial sector.
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Network SusCrop
Call 1st Transnational Joint Call on Sustainable Crop Production

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Lleida Coordinator Spain
2 Royal Holloway University of London Partner United Kingdom
3 Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology Partner Germany