Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New EU-project to enhance seed quality led by the University of Innsbruck

07.02.2013
Each year massive economic losses are suffered by farmers and the seed trade alike due to poor seed quality.
These losses are partly due to inadequate storage conditions, and are predicted to be exacerbated by climate change. A team of European scientists has committed themselves to unravel how environmental stresses to the mother plant will impact upon seed quality, and if seed storage conditions prior to the next sowing can be improved to enhance seed quality. The €3 million project will be coordinated by the University of Innsbruck, Austria.

Every seed has a life of its own. Information received during its development on the mother plant determines its quality: how long a seed can be stored, if it will be dormant (see below), if it will germinate readily after storage and if it will grow into a healthy, vigorous new plant. Seed quality is further influenced by storage conditions, and is essentially important to agriculture and industry. It has been estimated that yield loss from major cereals due to rising temperatures between 1981 and 2002 was $5 billion per year. Importantly, seed wastage resulting from sub-optimal seed performance undermines food security and livelihoods. High-quality seed and a capability to store them adequately are also pivotal to safeguard the seeds of wild plant species required for the conservation of plant biodiversity.

“Seed quality is determined by highly complex interactions between biochemical, biophysical and molecular processes within the seed, which are only very poorly understood” explains Ilse Kranner, Professor of Plant Physiology at the Austrian University of Innsbruck, who is the coordinator of the EU-project EcoSeed. In this project, three crop species, barley, sunflower and cabbage will be studied together with the model plant Arabidopsis, to see how drought and elevated temperatures suffered by the mother plant, impact upon seed quality. As a next step, the scientists want to find out how changes in temperature, humidity and oxygen concentrations during storage further affect seed viability, storability, and seedling vigour.

The knowledge gained from the detailed study of the above four plant species will then be transferred to wild plant species to the benefit of conservation projects. Eleven renowned European teams participate in the EcoSeed project. Among them are the Seed Conservation Department of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, maintaining the largest ex situ genebank for wild plant species globally, and the Federal ex situ Genebank of Germany, the IPK Gatersleben, which is the largest crop genebank in the EU. “EcoSeed combines aspects of food security and conservation, and we are lucky to have top-class scientists in the consortium” says Ilse Kranner.

Signalling hubs that determine seed fate

Seed dormancy is an example for the highly complex processes that occur within seeds. Dormancy is the inability of a seed to germinate in spite of favourable conditions before certain environmental cues have been received. For example, in temperate European climates many seeds shed from the mother plant in the autumn will not germinate, even though the environmental conditions such as temperature and soil moisture are ideal, explains the scientist. Before it will germinate the seed needs to undergo an extended period of low temperature during the winter – it then “knows” that spring has arrived. This important seed trait – as well as other traits that define seed quality – is controlled by “signalling hubs” throughout the seed life cycle, from seed development on the mother plant, through processing, storage to germination. These complex signalling hubs comprise plant hormones and signalling compounds such as “reactive oxygen species”, which are of specific importance to the research area of the Innsbruck team and others in the consortium. The teams will apply the most recent state-of-the-art “omics” (transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics) and “post-omics” techniques to unravel factors that determine seed quality on different levels: they will study how genes within the seed are affected by stress, and how this influences the production of proteins and smaller compounds required for a healthy metabolism.

Facts and Figures

Funded by the 7th EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the project „Impacts of Environmental Conditions on Seed Quality“ (acronym „EcoSeed“) was awarded a rounded sum of €3 million. EcoSeed is a four year project running from the start of 2013 to the end of 2016. The project initiation meeting was held at the University of Innsbruck on the 4th of February. Apart from the University of Innsbruck (Austria) the following 10 institutions participate in the project: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (United Kingdom), Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung, Gatersleben (Germany), Université Pierre e Marie Curie (France), Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (Germany), Warwick University (United Kingdom), Institute National de la Recherche Agronomique (France), University of Leeds (United Kingdom), Universidad de Salamanca (Spain), Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (France) and Limagrain Europe (France). Within the 7th Framework a total of 10 projects are coordinated by Austrian research institutions.

Contact:

Ilse Kranner, PhD, MSc
Professor of Plant Biology
Institute of Botany
University of Innsbruck
Telephone: +43 512 507 51035
Ilse.Kranner@uibk.ac.at

Eva Fessler, MSc
Public Relations officer
University of Innsbruck
Telephone: +43 512 507 32020
Eva.Fessler@uibk.ac.at

Dr. Christian Flatz | Universität Innsbruck
Further information:
http://www.uibk.ac.at

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Sequencing of barley genome achieves new milestone
26.08.2015 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Entomologists sniff out new stink bug to help soybean farmers control damage
25.08.2015 | Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: OU astrophysicist and collaborators find supermassive black holes in quasar nearest Earth

A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...

Im Focus: What would a tsunami in the Mediterranean look like?

A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...

Im Focus: Self-healing landscape: landslides after earthquake

In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.

These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...

Im Focus: FIC Proteins Send Bacteria Into Hibernation

Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.

For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IPA develops prototype of intelligent care cart

It comes when called, bringing care utensils with it and recording how they are used: Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent care cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.

Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking conference in Heidelberg for outstanding mathematicians and computer scientists

20.08.2015 | Event News

Scientists meet in Münster for the world’s largest Chitin und Chitosan Conference

20.08.2015 | Event News

Large agribusiness management strategies

19.08.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Interstellar seeds could create oases of life

28.08.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

An ounce of prevention: Research advances on 'scourge' of transplant wards

28.08.2015 | Health and Medicine

Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May be Mediated by Gut Microbes

28.08.2015 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>