Funded by the Horizon Europe program, the project Root2Res, Root phenotyping and genetic improvement for rotational crops resilient to environmental change, started on 1st September 2022. The project was launched during its Kick-Off Meeting held in France from September 14th to 16th 2022. At this event, all 22 partners from Europe and Africa, coordinated by ARVALIS-Institut du végétal and the James Hutton Institute, laid the foundations of an ambitious project aiming to design, develop and evaluate new root-based cultivars that help breeders and farmers to make agricultural systems that thrive in future environments while mitigating climate change.

Learn about Root2Res objectives and partnership

Aside from getting to know each other in person, the Kick-Off Meeting allowed the partners to start the path towards the tools and resources required for defining the unique traits of the roots linked to plasticity and heritability, developing and monitoring cultivars, and engaging end-users at the field sites. The process was greatly aided by the presence of relevant guests, namely Gisela Quaglia, Policy Officer of the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI); Arantza Uriarte, Project Officer from the European Research Executive Agency (REA); and Amrit Nanda, Executive Manager of the European Technology Platform Plants for the Future, the central representative of breeders, and also part of the Stakeholder Advisory Board of Root2Res.

Although it is a project beyond the state of the art, Root2Res is at the same time part of a network of 33 projects related to genetic resources and breeding that have been funded by the same instrument since 2014. In its ambition, this initiative not only contributes to the Biodiversity Destination call, but also to the Farm to Fork strategy and the Soil Deal for Europe. Besides, the consortium members have manifested their intention to create ties with ongoing projects under the same call, potentially adding value and avoiding duplicities in their research.

The three-day encounter was held in different locations managed by ARVALIS, in its headquarters at Paris, its main research station at Boigneville, and the Beauce La Romaine site, which is home to the Phenofield platform. This high-throughput phenotyping infrastructure provides more frequent and non-destructive measurements with 5000 m2 of sheltered trialing capacity, and is equipped with multiple sensors that target climate change adaptation for up to 350 genotypes and up to 17 different irrigation regimes, measuring radiation, nitrogen and water. This ecosystem of expert researchers in agronomy, crop physiology robotics, biophysics and bio-informatics is an example of the unique contributions of the Root2Res partnership.

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