Breeding of tropical and Mediterranean crops: a diversity of contexts and strategies

Modern agriculture is challenged by global/societal issues (match between demographic projections and agriculture performance, human development, climate change, agro-ecology, agrobiodiversity and genetic resources, etc…). In this context, breeding superior cultivars (cultivated varieties) may offer simple and affordable solutions for farmers/producers and end-users to tackle these issues. At the same time the activity of plant breeding have evolved from traditional empirical approaches to more elaborated strategies (using molecular markers and comprehensive genomic records, precise phenotyping and model-based ideotype definition).

The crops plants cultivated in the tropical and Mediterranean regions are representing a diverse range of situations, depending on the plant biological/reproduction system, the cultural status (perennial/annuals), the agricultural/agrosystem context (level of intensification, capacity for innovation), and value chain (subsistence/cash-industrial).

The community of scientists and crop specialists in Agropolis has accumulated an important experience and specialized skills in their various respective crops/products, including through applied breeding programs. All these crops represent as many “case studies”, all illustrative to demonstrate to students how modern scientific and methodological advances, can be translated into modern breeding approaches.

The CultiVar module (15 hrs) is integral part of a larger teaching unit (25 hrs) of the master (M1) "Plant Biology" of university of Montpellier, in which the bases of plant genetics and plant breeding are taught to students. A series of seminars, or "crop monographs", related to some chosen important commodities are proposed representing the spectrum of diversity among different cultivated crops, products and chains.

Specifically the module is scheduled over 5 half-days in november and december 2018. It will consider different case examples illustrating the breeding strategies deployed in some important Mediterranean and tropical crops, such as banana, citrus, cotton, grapewine, rice, sorghum, and sugarcane.

It is coordinated by Fabrice Varoquaux (University Montpellier) and Jean-Marc Lacape (unit Agap, team GS), other contributors are from unit Agap (team GIV: Cécile Grenier and Gilles Trouche, team GABA: Frédéric Bakry, team DDSE: Jean Christophe Glaszmann, team DAAV: Patrice This and team SEAPAG: Franck Curk).

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