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Collaboration between IBG-2 Plant Sciences and KWS SAAT AG

The Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG-2 Plant Sciences at Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH and KWS SAAT AG enter a research collaboration agreement to discover root traits associated with improved productivity.

In June 2014 the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG2 Plant Sciences at Forschungszentrum Jülich and KWS SAAT AG entered a research collaboration agreement for phenotyping of root architecture in maize and sugar beet. The two-and-a-half year research program encompasses experiments using phenotyping systems both in controlled environmental conditions and field trials. In this project IBG2 and KWS are using complementary expertise in plant physiology, non-invasive plant phenotyping methods and plant breeding.

In many agricultural systems crop productivity is limited by water and nutrient availability. The placement of the root system in the soil is crucial for the acquisition of these resources. Optimizing root system architecture can increase abiotic stress tolerance at low-N and limited water availability, and also contribute to yield potential and stability. Little is currently known about the genetic basis and the plasticity of root architectural traits in maize and sugar beet. Maize breeding has considered root traits only indirectly by selection for yield under stress conditions or by improving lodging resistance. In sugar beet breeding has mainly been restricted to the characterization of the tap root at the time of harvest. The characterization of root traits in diversity and elite panels is crucial to prove the potential for introduction into breeding programs and to improve the selection gain for drought tolerance and nutrient use efficiency.

However, the phenotypic characterization of root systems at high-throughput remains challenging. To tackle this bottleneck, different options for the evaluation of root traits will be compared in this project towards the design of screening systems for an easy assessment of highly heritable root traits that will be important for future product development.

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, part of the Helmholtz Association, is one of the largest multi-disciplinary research centers in Europe with over 5000 employees. The Institute of Bio- and Geosciences, IBG2 Plant Sciences focuses on plant trait discovery and phenotypic screening for improved resource use efficiency above- and below-ground

KWS is one of the world's leading plant breeding companies. More than 4,400 employees in 70 countries generated net sales of over €1.1 billion in fiscal 2012/2013. For more than 150 years KWS has operated as an independent company with a tradition of family ownership. Its main areas of work lie in the breeding of varieties and the production and sale of seed for corn, sugar beet, cereals, potatoes, oil-seed rape and sunflower. The company invests 13 percent of its annual net sales in research and development. KWS uses state-of-the-art plant breeding methods and technologies to continuously improve variety yields and resistances to diseases, pests and abiotic stress. Further information: