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Plant Breeding and Phytopathology
Plant diseases cause 10-16% of global agricultural production losses, costing the global economy ≈$220 billion per year. Climate change is expected to exacerbate unfavorable environmental conditions caused by abiotic (drought, flooding, salinity) and biotic (pests, diseases) stress factors, resulting in sharp reductions in average crop yields. On the other hand, societal demand for environmentally friendly farming practices with low inputs supports the need for new improved varieties tolerant to harsh environmental constraints and innovative biocontrol/biostimulant solutions. Understanding plant responses and adaptation mechanisms to extreme stress conditions is therefore critical to the genetic improvement of economically important crops.
industrial competencies

Whole genome-assisted plant breeding. Whole-genome approaches are implemented to characterize the genetic architecture and molecular regulation of key agronomical and adaptive traits, such as plant development or response to biotic and abiotic stresses. Candidate genes which can be promising targets for breeding of improved varieties are identified using integrative functional approach combining high-throughput genetics and genomics. For traits with complex architecture algorithms, phenotype prediction from whole-genome data such as genomic selection are developed. 

Phytopathology & plant response to combined stresses. Experimental assays are developed to reveal early plant responses to stressors at the physiological and molecular levels using accurate cutting-edge technologies such as AI with multispectral imagery or quantitative molecular approaches. 

Development of innovative solutions for disease biocontrol, biopesticides and biofertilization. Beneficial microbes and bioactive compounds are identified as promising biocontrol / biostimulant agents in agri-food industry, by combining microbiological, biochemical and metagenomics approaches. 

Plant biotechnology. Methods of functional biotechnology (genome editing, insertional mutants…) are used to validate the role of the key candidate genes, as a prerequisite to the development of tools and resources helpful for plant selection, such as molecular markers for assisted selection (MAS), or targets for gene editing (if legally authorized).

Seed sector, industry & technology. Breeding seeds with better genetics is not enough: there is a need to produce seeds of quality. Seed production in the field, Seed industry technologies, Seed certifications & phytosanitary regulations, Intellectual Property (Patents, Plant Breeder Rights), regulations of seed exchanges, organization of the seed sector (global scale, incl. international authorities).