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BARISTA - Advanced tools for breeding Barley for Intensive and Sustainable Agriculture under climate change scenarios.
The EU produces ~40% of the world’s barley (~60 MT/year). The farming and industrial sector relying on that is at risk from climate change, disease shifts, future resource limitations, but must increase yield to match demand and meet SDGs. Improving the genetic potential of the seed through breeding is the most efficient and sustainable way to reach these goals. The development of novel cultivars carrying sustainability-related traits, which include resistance to pathogens, increased nutrient and water use efficiency, adaptation to elevated CO2, and a plant life-cycle resilient to future climatic conditions, will be based on identification, understanding, and use of genetic variation, complemented by new insights from modelling. The development of germplasm, strategies, and toolkits to efficiently incorporate sustainabilityrelated traits into new cultivars are key components of a secure future agriculture.
BARISTA focuses on the traits relevant for sustainable barley production and resilience under current and future environmental challenges: water use efficiency; response to water scarcity or waterlogging; resistance to biotrophic and necrotrophic pathogens; phenological adaptation and regulation of flowering time; culm architecture and lodging resistance; response to increased levels of atmospheric CO2, response to reduced nitrogen fertilizer input.
The project aims at identifying the physiological and genetic bases of these traits by making the best use of extensive phenotypic and genotypic data already available or collected here. Application of these findings will be driven by modelling tools including genomic prediction (GP), crop simulation models (CSMs) and integrated GP-CSM strategies through the improvement of current predictive breeding tools for barley, providing breeders with an innovative and efficient toolkit to increase sustainability and resilience of barley in the face of biotic and abiotic challenges of climate change to help meet the SDGs.

Partner HALLE will contribute to work packages WP1 to WP5 as specified below:

WP1, Modeling: The phenotype and genotype data collected in WP2 will be provided in WP1 to model pathogen resistance.

WP2, Genetic and physiological dissection of traits: In 2020 and 2021 resistance field testing of a set of ca.160 barley lines will be carried out by natural infection in four environments in Halle, Zaragoza, Helsinki and Fiorenzuola d'Arda to test resistance against the main barley pathogens leaf rust, yellow rust, net blotch, scald, powdery mildew and Fusarium. The study of field resistance will be accompanied by SNP genotyping and RNAseq analysis in Halle. The collected data will be used to identify effective pathogen resistance genes and to characterize their expression profile. WP3, New genotypes: The genetic material investigated in WP2 will be used to create new barley lines containing validated quantitative resistance genes from WP2 through backcrossing to a modern elite barley cultivar and their further advancement to generation BC1S3 through three rounds of speed breeding.
WP4, Validation: Newly developed barley backcross lines from WP3 will be characterized and selected using Marker- Assisted Selection (MAS), Genomic Prediction (GP) and Crop Simulation Modelling (CSM) and field tested in 2022.

WP5, Dissemination: Validated barley backcross lines from WP4 will be furnished to collaborating barley breeders in order to introgress the resistance genes into locally adapted elite barley germplasm and to select new barley cultivars with an increased resilience to barley diseases.

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