Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Grain varieties under climate stress: new research network examines conditions for greater food security


As a result of climate change, cereal crops will undoubtedly be exposed to longer and more frequent periods of drought. How well they survive this depends on their interaction with water, nutrients, bacteria, and fungi in the soil. The new research network "RhizoTraits", coordinated by the University of Bayreuth, is now seeking to get to the bottom of the varying resilience of cereal varieties. The results are to be incorporated into bio-economic concepts for strengthening food security. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the project initially for four years to the tune of 1,9 million Euro, one million of which will go to the University of Bayreuth.

Cooperation partners in the new research network are the Technical University of Munich, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Bavarian State Institute for Agriculture. The name "RhizoTraits" derives from the rhizosphere, the soil zone in which plant roots search for nutrients and water, and where they interact with a wide variety of microorganisms.

Insight into the rhizosphere. Longitudinal section through the root network of barley.

Photo: Maire Holz

"These underground processes are the key to the adaptability and resistance of cereal plants to climate change. That is why we need to know more about which specific properties of the rhizosphere benefit or harm plants in times of drought. The differences between various cereal varieties must also be taken into account. This is the only way to make our agricultural ecosystems more robust in the long term," explains junior professor Dr. Johanna Pausch, coordinator of the research association.

She heads the agroecology working group at the University of Bayreuth and is a member of the Bayreuth Centre of Ecology & Environmental Research (BayCEER).

Food security in times of climate change

The more precisely and comprehensively the interactions within the rhizosphere are understood, the more reliably the consequences of climate change for agriculture can be predicted. But the research partners of "RhizoTrait" are not just concerned with forecasts. More important are agricultural and food policy measures that anticipate these foreseeable consequences of climate change.

"Based on our joint research results, we hope to propose innovative concepts aimed at ensuring agricultural yields keep pace with the needs of a growing world population despite changing climatic conditions. We see these recommendations for action as a contribution to a bio-economy in which sustainability and food security are closely linked," says Pausch.

Old crops: a valuable source of information

One special feature of the planned research work is that old crops, hardly relevant for agriculture today, are included in its investigations. Most of the cereal varieties cultivated today have been bred in the last 50 years. The focus has been on increasing yields, while sufficient supplies of water and nutrients have been taken for granted. The question of whether these plants can adapt to climate-related shortages of water and nutrients has therefore been largely ignored.

In the course of this development, however, certain genes that are important for the resilience of cereal plants may have been lost. They enable plants to influence soil conditions to their own advantage. For example, the roots can secrete substances that promote the establishment of colonies of fungi and bacteria in the immediate vicinity.

Symbioses with fungi that supply nutrients or symbioses with bacteria that can bind nitrogen from the air make plants less susceptible to the consequences of drought or other extreme events. Old crop varieties can show whether the genetic basis for such self-protection has been changed by purely yield-oriented breeding. In addition, they may contain further indications as to which rhizosphere characteristics can enhance the stress tolerance of plants.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Junior-Prof. Dr. Johanna Pausch
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-2292

Christian Wißler | Universität Bayreuth
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel
06.08.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht Tellurium makes the difference
06.08.2020 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>