Small grain cereals (mainly barley and bread and durum wheat) are the most important staple crops in Europe and in the Mediterranean region. Over the past century, breeding has been able to provide the highest yield increase ever seen, although now in many regions a yield plateau is evident.
Climate change may be the single unifying, and chronic issue that will affect everyone and every aspect of the economy. Changes in weather patterns and variability, as well as differential combinations of effects in different parts of Europe and the Mediterranean region are expected. The North will see warmer and wetter weather, whereas the South will experience more frequent and severe droughts and heat waves, and in both cases there will be a shifting pattern of incidence of pests and diseases.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models predict that average yields of cereals will fall due to drought, insect predation and diseases, whilst the demand for food will rise significantly due to population growth. The identification of new varieties adapted to the expected climatic conditions requires the accurate prediction of the new scenarios and the efficient use of genetic resources and advanced genomic tools. The recent progress in plant genomics and phenotyping offers the opportunity for a next generation breeding era to overcome the limitations of traditional breeding.
The course will present, using a multidisciplinary approach, the most recent research for an advanced knowledge-based breeding to cope with climate uncertainty. The aims of the course are to raise awareness of the extra challenges imposed by climate change to food security and cereal breeding; to give guidance on the impact and uses of recent advances on genomics, phenomics and modelling for cereal breeding; and to provide an integrated overview of the strategies that must be considered to increase breeding effectiveness.
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