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FP7: WATBIO Development of improved perennial non food biomass and bioproduct crops for water stress

Project: Funded ProjectResearch

1/11/12 → …

The goal of WATBIO is to use the power of next generation sequencing to develop an accelerated route for
producing new germplasm with enhanced drought tolerance whilst maintaining biomass productivity and quality
in water scarce, marginal environments unsuitable for food crops.
This will be achieved for three non-food crops (Populus, Miscanthus and Arundo), suitable for growth on water
scarce, marginal lands, through a 5-year translational research project. Populus and Miscanthus germplasm
with increased drought tolerance will be produced within WATBIO whilst for Arundo its genetic diversity will be
assessed and breeding tools developed.
Twenty-two multidisciplinary partners (14 academics, and 7 SMEs) spanning the whole value chain for crop
production will collectively achieve this innovation by 1) identifying key molecular, cellular and physiological
traits for the maintenance of biomass production, lignocellulosic quality and water use efficiency in water-scarce
environments; 2) linking these traits through modelling to underlying key genes, proteins and metabolite
networks; 3) utilising a wide range of germplasm for screening in phenotyping platforms and field measurements
at multiple sites to test importance of genotype x environment interactions in determining traits; 4) using
sequence based gene expression data, identify 40 genes related to drought tolerance for testing proof of concept
using GM approach; and 5) using sequence-based data for genome wide association and genetical genomic
approaches, link physiology to traits of high heritability and to underlying genes.