Department Breeding Research
Plant breeding plays a key role in ensuring food security for the growing world population. The Breeding Research Department generates knowledge and studies innovative approaches to harness crop genetic diversity for future breeding progress. Research is conducted along the entire breeding cycle: the creation of genetic variation, the fixation of variety parents and the selection of superior genotypes as well as maintenance breeding.
Since genetic advance is achieved by recombination, followed by the fixation of favourable alleles, and since both of these processes are dependent on the organisation, regulation and distribution of genetic information at the chromosomal level, a major research focus is placed on characterising the regulation and evolution of cell division and on the identification of key chromosomal regions. The knowledge gained through these studies is used to drive the development of more efficient breeding strategies.
In recent years, the various ‘omics technologies have significantly increased both data quantity and quality. In order to make such data usable for breeding, innovative approaches are being sought to enable their storage and to facilitate their analysis. At the same time, methods for predicting plant performance are being developed.
Exploration of the genetic architecture of agriculturally significant traits depends typically on the implementation of advanced statistical methods. The identification, validation and characterisation of candidate genes responsible for variation in key traits such as seed/ grain size, yield and pathogen resistance represent an important component of the department’s research.
Research activities within the Breeding Research Department take place in the Quantitative Genetics (QG), Bioinformatics and Information Technology (BIT), Chromosome Structure and Function (CSF), Kinetochore Biology (KB), Biotrophy and Immunity (BIM) and Plant Architecture (PBP) research groups.