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GVE
Growth, vigour, environment: Molecular breeding for plant growth and yield

Plant growth and crop yield are determined by the interaction of genotype with the environment, but little is known about the genes that control and contribute to growth, vigour and yield under different environmental conditions. The completed genome sequence of the model plant Arabidopsis, combined with innovative functional genomic strategies and detailed analysis of growth of different genotypes under limiting conditions, will allow identification and functional analysis of genes controlling and contributing to growth and vigour, and their interaction with the environment. Gene identification will use both unbiased approaches and targeted analysis of key signalling and hormone response pathways that link environmental sensing to growth control. The GVE project will provide a unique knowledge base for directed breeding programmes, and will be applied to delivery of agronomic improvements in rapeseed and rice.

Objectives
The overall aims are to develop an integrated understanding of growth responses to the environment, and to identify master genes controlling plant vigour. These genes and pathways will be functionally manipulated and validated in the model plant, Arabidopsis, and two model crops, rapeseed and rice. The specific objectives are:
1) to develop definitive methods of growth analysis under normal and limiting conditions, which will be used to assess the growth of different genotypes of Arabidopsis
2) to analyse gene expression, protein profiles, metabolites and hormone levels to identify genes involved in growth responses to environmental challenges
3) to identify vigour-related genes and pathways using a novel integrated approach
4) to assess candidate master regulators of growth responses and vigour in transgenic plants
5) to assess identified genes and information for application to breeding and/or transgenic strategies in rapeseed and rice.

Progress to Date
1) Growth measurement methods in Arabidopsis have been developed, along with automated methods for growth measurements, which have also been validated. This will allow the systematic and standardised screening for growth phenotypes across the consortium.
2) The growth rate measurements have been accomplished for the two populations of 100 RILs and the first crosses are already made to start a new RIL population.
3) The elucidation and publication of the whole Arabidopsis genome sequence has enabled the project to identify all gene members of the most important signalling pathways, potentially important for growth.
4) Novel plant transformation vectors have become available for the consortiums that use the GatewayR system and are, thus, compatible with high throughput cloning strategies.
5) One partner is in the forefront of the research on the role of auxin in plant growth, which brought breakthrough results and new understanding on how auxin regulates plant growth and development.
6) Another partner has uncovered a complex network of a sugar-signalling pathway and its role in plant growth.
7) Partners in the GVE are in a leading position to unravel growth-signalling pathways involving MAPKs, AGC kinases and PP2C phosphatases.
8) The project has accomplished the generation and characterisation of a T-DNA insertion mutant collection, which consists of 92 000 individual Arabidopsis lines.
9) Partner 3 has started a high throughput evaluation of engineered growth in rice.

Results
Novel and highly powerful technologies became available on model organisms, such as Arabidopsis, and allowed the global study and understanding of biological processes. Realising this progress, research has shifted a large proportion of plant science towards Arabidopsis, and it is without doubt that this basic understanding will help to design ways to improve crop plants.
Knowledge gained by the partners has been gathered to attain a powerful collection of methods, tools and expertise for molecular studies and, in this way, the project remained highly competitive with similar research in the United States and Japan.

Classified in CEREALS, ARABLE CROPS, GENOMICS, QUANTITATIVE APPROACHES AND MODELLING

Scientist responsible for the project

Dr LASZLO BOGRE
EGHAM HILL
TW20 OEX EGHAM
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 1784 443407
Fax: +44 1784 434326
E-mail: l.bogre@rhbnc.ac.uk

References

Project ID QLRT-2000-01871
Organisation ROYAL HOLLOWAY AND BEDFORD NEW COLLEGE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 September 2001
Duration (months) 42
Total cost 3 632 185 €
Total EC contribution   2 600 000 €
Status Completed

The partners

  • School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom (The) - GB
    l.bogre@rhul.ac.uk
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