Project: Development of novel breeding technology for improved root system, drought tolerance and sustainable plant productions

Acronym RootsPlus (Reference Number: A09521EC82DB14E0E0539A695E86C6C3)
Duration 01/04/2021 - 31/03/2024
Project Topic (1) Climate change in Europe will result in higher risks for drought spells and changes in precipitation with an earlier water deficit in summers and heavier precipitations during autumn and winter. Consequently, prolonged shortages in water supply will cause considerable yield losses.(2) Furthermore, chemical plant growth regulators are harmful for humans and the environment and it is expected that applications will be increasingly restricted and banned in the near future. Both issues are main problems for our European farmers and growers. In this project we intend to develop a sustainable solution for both problems by a novel breeding technology focusing on the roots. By enhancing root growth a better adaptation of plants to stress can be obtained by providing plants with improved capacity to exploit soil water resources and a higher tolerance to plant replant disease. Transfer of bacterial genes to crops in a natural way will also result in compact plants which can be produced with less agro-chemicals. In this project we focus on the development of a new approach using rhizogenic agrobacteria as a novel breeding technology. Natural rhizogenic strains of Rhizobium rhizogenes carry a unique plasmid (the root inducing (Ri) plasmid, containing a.o. the rol genes), which allow the DNA (T-DNA) located on the Ri plasmid to be transferred and integrated in the plant host nuclear genome. This will result in root formation (i.e., hairy roots). From these hairy roots, by tissue culture techniques whole plants can be regenerated, the so-called Ri plants. The presence of Ri T-DNA genes in such plants leads to marked changes in plant morphology. Traits often associated with the Ri phenotype include increased rooting ability and compact growth next to some changes to flower and/or leaf morphology. These Ri plants are pre-breeding material, i.e. the first step in a new breeding strategy where crosses of Ri plants, selection and molecular monitoring of the segregation of the rol genes go hand in hand to obtain a commercial variety or cultivar with a stronger root system and all qualitative standards.
Website visit project website
Network SusCrop
Call 2nd Transnational Joint Call on Sustainable Crop Production

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Eigen Vermogen of Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research Coordinator Belgium
2 University of Copenhagen Partner Denmark
3 Leibniz Universität Hannover Partner Germany
4 Paraty Partner Belgium
5 Nicolaus Copernicus University Partner Poland
6 Better3Fruit Partner Belgium
7 University of Agricultural Science and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca Partner Romania