Symposium “Seed Production in Times of Climate Change”


The organisers have obviously hit the right nerve with this topic. 202 participants from 32 countries and six continents have registered for the lecture event "Seed Production in Times of Climate Change", which will take place on March 9-10.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Börner Photo: IPK/ Andreas Bähring

"We are naturally very pleased about this large, international response," affirms Prof. Dr. Andreas Börner, head of the Seed and Variety Working Group of the Gesellschaften für Pflanzenzüchtung (GPZ) und Pflanzenbauwissenschaften (GPW). For the first time, a lecture event of the working group, in which Ulrike Lohwasser, Manuela Nagel and Hardy Rolletschek from the IPK are participating in addition to Andreas Börner, is taking place as a virtual meeting. 

"One of the central questions here is how drought affects the quality of the seed," explains Andreas Börner, head of the Resource Genetics and Reproduction research group at the IPK Leibniz Institute. The focus is on yield, but also on aspects such as germination and storage capacity. Heat tolerance, nutrient supply and a shortening of the vegetation period will also be discussed. The two plenary speakers are Prof. Hugh W. Pritchard from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Great Britain and Prof. Ilse Kranner from the University of Innsbruck (Austria).

For Hugh W. Pitchard it is clear that sustainable seed production is becoming increasingly difficult due to the uncertainties brought about by climate change. This is true for cultivated plants as well as for wild species. Declining seed production for crops would have a direct impact on the food supply for people. In the case of wild species, on the other hand, one would have to reckon with negative effects on the ecosystem. The challenge, however, is the same in both cases: how to produce sufficient seed with optimal properties for the respective purposes and environmental conditions. Hugh W. Pitchard is convinced that research on wild species will benefit from improved access to reference genomes in the future and advocates an even more intensive exchange between the fields.

For Ilse Kranner, seeds are the key to agricultural productivity, food security and plant protection. However, the effects of changing environmental conditions on the development and quality of seeds are far from being comprehensively researched. Ilse Kranner reports on a study performed in the frame of an EU project (EcoSeed) for which Arabidopsis, barley, sunflower and cabbage were exposed to abiotic stress factors that are expected to occur more frequently in climate change scenarios. Specifically, the study looked at how heat and drought affect seed quality.