Concept and project overwievs

Nowadays, one major field of international research is the determination of the likely effects of global climate change, many factors of which will have a considerable impact on agro-ecosystems.

The weather extremes experienced most frequently in Central and Eastern European countries are low or high temperature and a deficiency or excess of rainfall. Greater differences in the years can be observed in the climate of this region than in the western parts of Europe.

Climate change scenarios forecast significant decreases in plant productivity, surpassing even 20%, for a substantial part of Europe. The productivity loss will be coupled with a general decline in ecosystem stability in agriculture.

Food safety is one of the most important facets of adaptation to global climate change.

It is thus extremely important to train and prepare both researchers and producers to create new basic biological materials and to introduce production systems capable of adapting to new circumstances.

Currently research is underway on the following aspects of climate change in ARI HAS:

Study of stress tolerance using molecular genetic tools and cell biology

The application of molecular marker techniques has made it possible to scan the genome for the putative chromosomal regions involved in stress tolerance responses via molecular marker maps and QTL analyses. Association mapping is based on linkage disequilibrium (LD) or the non-independence of alleles in a population of various accessions, utilising all the recombinations that have occurred throughout the evolutionary history of the plant and, in the case of varieties, the recombinations induced and maintained in diverse breeding programmes under various ecological conditions.
Cell biologists work on the in situ hybridisation technique essential for the cell/tissue level detection of genes expressed during embryogenesis both in planta and in vitro, which are responsible for the responses of plants to abiotic stress.

Identification of candidate genes for stress tolerance by means of functional genomics

Using model plant species (Arabidopsis, rice) with fully sequenced genomes, several candidate genes for stress tolerance have been identified and the special response elements in the promoter structure that places the given gene within a special regulatory network have been revealed. One of the promising tools of reverse genetics used in ARI HAS is ecoTILLING, which makes it possible to explore and identify natural polymorphisms without the necessity of sequencing large numbers of genotypes.

Agro-ecological research

This work includes numerous elements of environment protection, which contribute directly or indirectly to the stabilisation of agricultural production and the spread of environment-friendly crop production techniques. The cultivation of new plant varieties is of decisive importance in agriculture. The breeding of such varieties has a direct effect on around two-thirds of the total area of Hungary. The agro-ecological and production technological research carried out by scientists in Martonvsr, and the answers provided to the problem of sustainable agriculture, will allow the achievement of an optimum relationship between the environment and agriculture even under changing climatic conditions.

Long-term crop production experiments

These experiments, which have been underway for over 45 years and are focussed on environment protection and the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on the environment, can be regarded as a field laboratory in which changes in the biotic and abiotic components of the environment over time and the long-term effects of production technologies are investigated, the stability of the production technologies is measured, and year effects and genotype environment interactions are analysed.

Phytotron research

An increasingly large proportion of the projects involve the study of the probable effects of global climate changes and the correlation between climatic extremes and the growth, development, chemical quality, and abiotic and biotic resistance of plants. The aim of these experiments is to determine the effects of probable climate changes on the development and yield of plant species. The consequences of the changes predicted for this region, such as an increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2, a rise in the mean temperature, a larger number of days with extremely high temperatures (heat shock) and a decline in rainfall quantities, are first investigated separately, after which the joint effect of changes in these environmental factors is evaluated. Increased importance is now attached to agro-ecological research, the study of extreme climatic effects, and crop production questions related to environment protection.

Breeding of field crops

The wheat varieties bred by the Martonvsr institute include frost- and drought-tolerant genotypes capable of producing significantly higher yields than the majority of varieties even in years with unusually cold winters or low rainfall. The continual breeding of such new varieties is essential if the damage caused by climate change is to be mitigated and reliable food supplies are to be ensured. If plant breeders are to rise to this challenge, there will be a need for extensive basic research, the investigation of abiotic stress factors, and technical developments designed to facilitate breeding. Wide-ranging international cooperation will be required to extend the genetic variability of breeding stocks and to improve adaptability.

Crop protection

One consequence of a change in climatic conditions is the appearance of new pathogens. The constant pressure from pathogens and pests, caused by intensive production, is already a constant challenge, answered by the breeding of resistant varieties using conventional and, more recently, biotechnological methods. As a result of global warming, experience shows that new plant pathogens, pests and weeds can be expected in some regions. These are more aggressive than their predecessors and are likely to occur in masses. As this is a relatively novel phenomenon, the significance of analysing resistance to pathogens and pests and the breeding of resistant varieties is on the increase. The cultivation of resistant varieties is also a basic requirement for biological environment protection and cost-saving production technology.

General objectives:

Based on its international recognition and accumulated knowledge, the institute aims to develop into a regional research centre capable of offering practical help to farmers in Central and Eastern Europe in countering the unfavourable effects of predicted climate change. An increase in research potential is envisaged through strategic partnerships based on existing international contacts, whereby young scientists could gain valuable know-how and experience abroad, while experienced colleagues would be invited to work at ARI HAS. Situated as it is in the centre of the Carpathian Basin, the Institute is ideally suited to become a RESEARCH, TRAINING and SERVICE CENTRE entrusted with countering the unfavourable effects of climate change in the region.

The professional competence accumulated in ARI HAS is thought to equip us to accomplish the appropriate goals, but the relatively low number of research staff could be an obstacle to international competitiveness. We thus plan to upgrade the RTD capacity by training research staff to deal with the effects of predicted climate change, thus improving the quality of the research carried out.

ARI HAS has one of the largest phytotrons in Europe, with 50 artificial plant growth chambers ideal for the simulation of global climate change, but due to other infrastructural inequalities, the institute is at a disadvantage in certain areas. It is thus planned to purchase equipment designed for research on environmental stress factors.

The institute was one of the first in the country to establish spin-off companies to exploit the research results. In addition, many knowledge-intensive agricultural enterprises also maintain regular contacts with ARI HAS. These will help us to satisfy increasing demands from growers for adaptable varieties and for production technologies better adapted to the altered environmental conditions.

It is planned to achieve the better integration of the research team in the ERA through partnership (including twinning), training and the dissemination of new knowledge all over Central Europe by strengthening international cooperation, particularly in the Central and Eastern European regions. This will also improve the capacity of ARI HAS to participate in FP7 projects aimed at investigating the effect of climate change on agriculture.

Honlapmodernizálás és Honlap felügyelet : dynamicLINE