ASEEDS: protecting wheat and maize crops sustainably
An ambitious collaborative project
Aseeds for alternative seeds aims to find natural products to protect cereals against seed borne diseases but also repellents against birds or biostimulants to maintain field emergence when early sowing practices are carried out to escape drought at flowering. Over the past five years, 12 partners, industrials and public institutes (Tab.1) have collaborated with the shared goal of helping cereal farmers to meet the double challenge of pesticide reductions and climate change.
The project was funded by a unique national fund (FUI) and by the region Pays de la Loire. It was supported by three competitive clusters, two of which have just merged to become the Global Plant Cluster for the 2019-2022 period.
Private and public partners (depatment number) from the French consortium ASEEDS 2012-2018
Arvalis – Institut du Végétal
Bayer Cropscience France
Agrauxine – Lesaffre Plant Care
Lallemand Plant Care
UMR INRA-UCA 1095 GDEC
UMR CNRS-UL 5557 EM
UMR Sorbonne Université 7622 LBD
90 biological solutions (natural extracts or micro-organisms) have been screened in lab for protecting cereals against seed borne disease, repelling crows or stimulating germination and seedling growth in early sowing conditions (wet and cold).
Two biocontrol and one repulsive solution have been validated by the project in both controlled and field conditions, and a second repulsive agent has been selected in controlled conditions. The four solutions now have to be processed for seed treatment. Six candidates for maize biostimulation under cold and wet sowing conditions have been also identified in controlled conditions. They still need to be validated in field.
The phytopathology lab provided 4 fungi among the 6 seed borne disease vectors useful for the project (Fusarium graminearum, Fusarium culmorum, Microdochium nivale, Pythium sp., Stagonospora nodorum et Fusarium verticillioïdes) and carried out 5 pathotests (3 on wheat and 2 on maize). One of these validated the two last solutions for biocontrol efficacy (T. caries). The lab has analysed seed health from all material provided during the project (Fig.1) and had to artificially contaminate certain seed lots when the level of natural seed borne disease was too low.
Figure 1 : seed health analyses for a maize sample (a) and a wheat sample without seed disinfection (b) or with seed disinfection (c)
The germination laboratory has developed a cold test for maize which allowed to follow shoot growth (seedling emergence rate) and root system in the growing medium using image analysis (Fig.2). It took two years to standardise testing conditions and the lab hosted two students during their two-year advanced technician’s degree.
Figure 2 : Illustrations of the measurements carried out for the germination test of maize seeds in binding conditions before the final evaluation of seedling growth in accordance with ISTA standards.
The root development followed by image analysis could replace time consuming and destructive biomass measurements to screen 30 candidates for biostimulation on several seedlots produced in 2013 and 2016 from five maize cultivars having different flowering precocity. A promising relationship was obtained between the two criteria on two cultivars with different root systems (Fig.3).
Figure 3 : Linear correlation between root dveloppement index measured by image analysis and root biomass on the same seedlings obtained with differents seed lots or test conditions for two maize cultivars V11 and V19.
This active public-private partnership has laid the foundations for screening new solutions for sustainable crop protection. The forthcoming trade of seed lots treated with anti-fungi and crow repellent solutions will be a concrete result for cereal farmers.