WP4 Organization of training courses and a conference related to climate change for researchers, breeders, crop producers and managers

Coordinator: Dr. Ervin Balzs

The aim of this work package is to organise theoretical and practical training sessions to prepare researchers and plant breeders for the challenges represented by climate change.

Task 4.1. Climate change: facts and fictions
The aim of this training session will be to review the technical arsenal now available to agrometeorology, to introduce various components of climate change, and to discuss risk analysis and strategic questions of risk prevention. Practical training on agrometeorological measurements. Use of databases. Application of statistical processing methods.

Task 4.2. Climate change: a challenge for crop production
The aim of this training session is to learn how to draw conclusions from long-term experiments and how these can be utilised in the production of crops exposed to extreme weather conditions. Plant responses to environmental stress, limiting environmental factors and how to overcome them, reduction of negative effects. An introduction to various production methods. Sustainable agricultural systems. Planning of field experiments and the use of various up-to-date methods of statistical evaluation.

Task 4.3. The high added value of conventional breeding
The aim of this training session is to demonstrate how conventional breeding methods can be applied to develop resistance to the biotic and abiotic stress factors induced by climate change. Importance of the gene bank in preserving agronomic traits and in exploiting the biodiversity of various crops. Fundamental breeding techniques and the importance of modern gene pyramiding. Special selection techniques. Theory and practice of abiotic stress resistance. Theory and practice of biotic stress resistance. Modern practice of maintenance breeding.

Task 4.4. Communication between plants and the environment
The aim of this training session is to give detailed information on the effect of abiotic stress factors, including the effects of extreme temperatures, frost and drought on yields. Theory and practice of the genomic analysis of plants, and the mapping and characterisation of genes involved in stress responses. Description of physiological changes and methods for their characterisation and measurement. Laboratory sessions to learn the most up-to-date techniques in molecular and gene technology.

Task 4.5. Drought and yield, the role of high temperature on plant gametes
The aim of this training session is to acquaint the participants with fundamental aspects of the interaction between plants and their environment, starting from the responses of the whole organism, down to the cell and molecular level, including the reproductive phases of individual plant development and the cell biology background of double fertilisation. The effect of heat and drought stress on the plant development of major cereal species in the light of phytotron experiments. Effect of water deficiency and high temperature on the functioning of male and female gametes. Cell biological and genomic analysis of the effect of high temperature and drought during various phases of flowering and grain filling on the yield of wheat. Molecular genetic background of heat and drought tolerance mechanisms during the flowering of wheat. Analysis of genes expressed during grain filling. During laboratory sessions the participants will be taught techniques for manipulating male and female gametophytes and will learn methods at the cell and molecular level for tracing changes in gene expression during early embryogenesis.

Task 4.6. Final Conference on Climate change: a challenge for plant breeding, the way forward
Due to the interactive nature of the training sessions, the results and experience gained during the series of courses will be summarised at a scientific conference, where the keynote speakers will be the leading experts involved in the training sessions.
Together with the lectures and practical manuals written for the training sessions, the complete proceedings of the final conference will be made available not only on the project website, but also on disc and in printed form. The most important data will also be distributed as fact sheets.

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