Objective of the course is to provide students with knowledge of multidisciplinary approaches to design and breed new crop ideotypes to improve quantity, quality, efficiency and sustainability of agricultural production for different end-uses. Integrating genetics, genomics and modeling, the course is centered on ideotype breeding with special focus on cereals and other cultivated plants as case studies.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge of the principles of ideotype breeding. Understanding of genetic and molecular mechanisms controlling plant architecture and development and how their manipulation can be applied to crop breeding. Connecting understanding of plant gene function and genetic diversity to traits and field performance. Use of biophysical models to design ideotypes targeting current climate and future projections.
Lesson period: Second semester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
Ideotype concept. General principles of plant growth and development. Genetic control of plant height - Green Revolution genes. Developmental plasticity and plant height submergence tolerance in rice. Genetic control of plant architecture - shoot branching and tillering. Genetic and environmental control of flowering in cereals. Genetics of inflorescence architecture and grain yield. Genetic basis of plant organ size. Phenotyping and genetic mapping of morphological traits in barley. Biophysical models to analyze G × E × M interaction. Defining ideotype profiles using biophysical models. Climate change scenarios for mid-term ideotyping strategies.
Prerequisites for admission
Students are expected to have a good knowledge of: plant cell biology, morphology and reproduction; genetics, crop physiology and statistics. Basic knowledge of molecular biology and associated techniques including PCR, molecular markers is also desirable.
The course is held entirely in English and consists of a series of lectures and is completed by practical sessions where students will get hands-on experience with collection of phenotypic data on a barley crossing population, analysis and interpretation of trait segregation and formulation of hereditary models, use of appropriate software packages for construction of a molecular linkage map and mapping of genetic loci underpinning both Mendelian and quantitative traits. A case study of co-segregation analysis between a gene-based marker and a morphological trait will also be included.
The exam involves (1) an in depth presentation of a specific topic previously defined with the lecturer, (2) an oral exam with questions on the rest of the course programme. Regarding (1), interested students can collaborate on the organization of a workshop on a common central topic, in which each student will give a presentation on an original research article (journal club format) and answer questions from the audience including other students, teachers, PhD students and post-docs.