Project: Development of lodging-resistant and climate-smart rye – a contribution to a sustainable cereal production in marginal environments

Acronym RYE-SUS (Reference Number: 84)
Duration 01/07/2019 - 30/06/2022
Project Topic European cereal production experiences an ongoing intensification and specialisation on wheat and barley at the expense of minor cereals including einkorn, emmer, oat, rye and spelt. This specialisation leads to continuous loss in agricultural biodiversity and marginalisation of traditional land management systems. A diversification of cropping systems by minor cereals offer benefits with respect to agronomic management, grain processing, nutritional quality, health promotion and numerous ecosystem services. Enhanced plant breeding efforts are of strategic importance to improve the competitiveness of minor cereals in European agriculture. Rye is the only cross-pollinated small-grain cereal, which results in a unique complexity concerning the genetic improvement of rye and underlines the need for rye-specific research concepts. Plant architectural traits are important breeding targets to improve crops yield potential and food security. The overall goal of RYE-SUS is to develop, test and model gibberellin-sensitive semi-dwarf rye genotypes with optimized harvest index, improved lodging resistance, high yield potential and drought tolerance as well as minimised risk of ergot infestation for a sustainable intensification also in marginal production environments. Currently, rye mainly contributes to crop species diversity in Europe, though rye is gaining increasing importance in Canada. Rye is a traditional food grain and a valuable source of energy and protein for livestock. Like other minor cereals, rye is mainly grown in marginal environments where climate and soil are unfavourable for wheat production. To improve rye competitiveness in European agriculture, RYE-SUS aims to i) make use of hybrid breeding as a cutting edge technology of crop improvement and genome-based precision breeding to increase target-specific selection efficiency and accelerate breeding processes in rye, ii) develop new genotypes leading to improved lodging and drought tolerance, iii) proof the practical potential of genotypes with a novel plant architecture in target environments, which challenge rye cultivation by potentially growth-limiting factors such as drought, frost, or nutrient deficiencies, iv) minimize the risk of extremely toxic ergot alkaloids in the harvest, v) exploit natural genetic diversity in adaptive traits and develop new molecular technologies which support niche range expansion of highly productive rye hybrids in cold climate ecosystems, and vi) develop and exploit a crop model to simulate the growth and development of rye under potentially growth-limiting factors as a tool to support novel integrated pest and crop management methods and practices. Research conducted in RYE-SUS complements genome-based strategies of genomic selection for harnessing the full yield potential of rye without the need of comparable high investments. While the technology of hybrid breeding enables to develop and evaluate prototypes of new rye genotypes within RYE-SUS, the knowledge gained is also applicable for the genetic improvement of open pollinating cultivars with simpler and less expensive breeding procedures and shorter development cycles. Active exchange of ideas, concepts, knowledge and technology between participants of RYE-SUS will improve coherence on marker assisted selection in European and Canadian rye breeding programs and generate synergies for more sustainable and resilient crop production through plant breeding. The collaborative research and activities within this transnational consortium develop and deliver unique opportunities for the European Research Area to increase and secure cereal production on finite arable land without increasing water and fertilizer use.
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Network SusCrop
Call 1st Transnational Joint Call on Sustainable Crop Production

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 HYBRO Saatzucht GmbH & Co. KG Coordinator Germany
2 Julius Kühn-Institut Partner Germany
3 University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna Partner Austria
4 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Partner Canada
5 Estonian Crop Research Institute Partner Estonia
6 Natural Resources Institute Finland Partner Finland
7 Danko Hodowla Roślin Sp. z o.o. Partner Poland
8 Saatzucht LFS Edelhof Partner Austria
9 Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research Partner Norway
10 Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd Partner Finland
11 University of Saskatchewan Partner Canada