Climate change will lead to great and unpredictable variations in weather conditions on a year to year basis. This, together with a transition in Europe towards a more agro-ecological way of farming, means that plant varieties must be adapted to more varied agicultural practices, and that their value and performance must be assessed in relation to both of these changes.
Different methods are being tested for the characterization of biotic and abiotic stresses, plus associated varietal responses. It is also necessary to develop statistical tools for the analysis of genotype x environment (GxE) interaction, and modelling to evaluate varietal behaviour. In order to optimise the use of data collected, the sharing of variety and environmental data will require appropriate storage and dissemination-consultation methods.
Within the context of significant reduction in the use of pesticides, the sustainability of resistance to pests and diseases must become a key issue in variety evaluation. This gradual decrease in the use of pesticides, together with climate change has lead, and will continue to lead, to the rapid emergence of certain pathogens. GEVES intends to remain reactive to the fast changing needs for resistance tests and the identification of the tolerance of varieties to pests and diseases.
GEVES is currently carrying out research to evaluate the technological quality of varieties, in particular through the use of NIRS and NMR, which are analytical techniques for the qualitative and quantitative measurement of biochemical constituents. In addition to this, GEVES aims to acquire techniques to establish chemical profiles determining the organoleptic composition of plant organs. Human health should also be taken into account when registering new varieties of cereals. To this end, GEVES is planning a research project on varietal resistance to mycotoxin accumulation in cereals.
Advances are being made in routine phenotyping methods (in field and/or controlled conditions). Research is being carried out on imaging tools to measure coverage, plant architecture and disease resistance under different growing conditions (optimal, stress). Work, using multi- or hyperspectral equipments, is also being done to further develop field phenotyping tools to quantify pests and diseases. Molecular biology tools, using predictive markers for agronomic and/or technological traits of varieties, have been developed, particularly for characteristics with simple genetic determinism (proteins of technological interest, resistance genes, etc.).