Initiative for long-term research program Plant-RX
Sustainable agriculture is of fundamental importance for our future on this planet. An important cornerstone is the use of resilient crop varieties that are able to continue productivity even when challenged with unfavorable and fluctuating environmental conditions or plant diseases. Whereas plants in natural ecosystems have evolved to be resilient, crops have lost resilience traits as a result of selection and breeding on production. Changing climate, decreasing fertilizer inputs, reducing chemical crop protection, and increasing disease pressures make the need for resilient crop varieties urgent.
Fundamental knowledge on the complexity of plant resilience and its optimal predictable use in breeding crops is very limited and asks for a powerful new scientific approach to unravel the underlying mechanisms and traits.
The challenge is the translation of big data obtained in large-scale experiments to understanding the biology of resilience, a major gap that Plant-RX envisions to close. Plant-RX will focus on several model species and crops and a broad range of stressors and resilience responses. These will be analyzed using a novel systems approach combining bioinformatics/AI and modeling.
The consortium provides an ideal ecosystem in the Netherlands for the synergistic collaboration between plant scientists at research universities and breeders. The aim is to invest in strengthening pre-competitive next generation research on plant resilience delivering future knowledge, researchers and tools to efficiently design futureproof crops for the benefit of society at large. This ensures that the Netherlands stays at the forefront of plant research and commercial breeding in the coming decades.