CropsForChange; Tackling the global warming effects in crops

Scientific abstract
Global warming has a direct impact on agriculture: in general, low water availability and supra-optimal temperatures negatively affect the plant reproductive processes and therefore hamper the normal fruit or seeds development, thus limiting both crop yields and quality of fruit/grain production.

The C4C project aims to face the impact of heat and drought stress, in two important botanical families for human food supply: solanaceae and cereals, using eggplant, rice and wheat as target systems. The genomes of these three species have been sequenced, thus allowing the establishment of genomics-driven breeding programs and of reference-guided resequencing approaches to study genetic variation for specific traits. The large amount of germplasm available constitute a great source of variability and will be explored to highlight the genomic regions underlying key genes, some of them already discovered within C4C consortium, and factors involved in plant adaptation and for crop breeding. Moreover, the transfer of the genomic information gained from studies in other species will be explored: to this purpose, the orthologs sequences of key genetic factors related to heat and drought stress adaptation already identified by the C4C partners will be isolated in the other species under study and then submitted to deep functional characterization, including genome editing in rice and eggplant.

The integration of genetic resources and emerging chemical analytical approaches such as cell wall profiling and metabolomics can contribute to a more convicting identification in various mapping populations of the chromosomal regions underlying QTLs and moreover, to assist the functional characterization of key genes involved in the response to stresses. All this information will set the basis to transfer the acquired knowledge in breeding processes which will lead to the development of lines with an improved adaptation to adverse conditions caused by global warming and water shortage.