Genome and selection (GS)

Presentation

Last update: 24 August 2016

The Genome and Selection team undertakes research upstream of or directly connected with the genetic improvement of five agroindustrial plants (cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber, oil palm) and of plantation forest trees in tropical and Mediterranean zones (genera: Eucalyptus, Pinus, Acacia, Tectona), focusing on adaptation to environmental and social constraints, on market expectations and on optimizing breeding methods.

Context and issues

Genetics and genomics lie at the heart of the team’s work, in support of the genetic improvement of these plants which are of considerable importance, be it for small-scale or large-scale growers. In addition to yields per unit area, our research covers disease and pest resistance, progress in quality, adaptation to industrial requirements, and genetic adaptation to agronomic constraints, including climate change. The research strategy is based on strong partnerships in the countries were the plants are grown and on the integration of different genetic, genomic or more widely multidisciplinary approaches for detecting genes of interest, characterizing and making optimum use of genetic resources and genomic selection. Use of new molecular, bioinformatics and modelling tools is a major asset for optimizing variety innovation strategies, by bringing into play the exponentially growing data on the genomes of these crops and on model plants. 

Objectives

  • Understand the genetic and molecular bases of breeding traits of major interest for the cultivation of tropical tree crops (cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber, oil palm) and of plantation forest crops (Eucalyptus, Pinus, Acacia, Tectona).
  • Implement marker assisted selection (MAS) for those traits in collaboration with breeders.
  • Optimize genetic resource use.

Research activities

  • Flavour qualities of cocoa and construction of durable disease resistance.
  • Coffee yield qualities and tolerance of biotic and abiotic stresses.
  • Genetic bases of fibre quality and abiotic stress resistance in cotton.
  • Latex yield and biotic stress resistance in natural rubber.
  • Genetic and molecular bases of yield traits, palm oil quality and disease resistance in the oil palm.
  • Wood quality and adaptation to abiotic stress in plantation forest species.

Looking ahead, our activities seek to propose solutions for using planting material in novel cropping systems, which are both productive and environment-friendly. They will be undertaken in a wider agro-ecology context aiming at eco-conscious exploitation through agroforestry systems, combining genetics and genomics approaches with agronomy and ecophysiology approaches, in order to study how the plant interacts with its environment and adapts to abiotic stress and climate change.

The team also assesses the opportunity of extending forest species studies to native species of use in restoring degraded forest environments, as part of the efforts initiated by the United Nations (UN declaration on forests, New York 2014; COP21, Paris 2015; etc.), in the fight against climate change and to fix CO2. In this case, by using native species, it is possible to respond to the fixation and production challenges for the timber supply chain, while protecting the local biodiversity of the main species, along with the associated biological organisms. The team also targets the understanding and use of natural biodiversity to improve wood yield and quality by adapting plantation material to abiotic stress situations (mainly water stress).

Last update: 24 August 2016

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