Methodology and associated work plan

Qualified scientists from the Agricultural Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences have been involved in a number of postgraduate (MSc, PhD) training programmes for a long time. Over the past few years they have participated as lecturers and laboratory demonstrators in several UNESCO and FAO training courses organised in the institute. The staff have also been involved in a number of bilateral and multilateral cooperative research ventures in Europe. Within the framework of these collaborations both the fundamental and applied aspects of plant–environment interactions have been studied in relation to global climate changes. The intellectual capital and special infrastructure (computer- controlled plant growth chambers, well-equipped laboratories) available in the institute have made a considerable contribution to the success of work carried out in international cooperation. Based on existing efficient inter-institutional relationships, it is hoped to exploit the possibilities latent in the present project to make the Martonvsr institute a centre for Central and Eastern Europe in the field of global climate change.

The standard of the equipment and instruments currently available in the institute can be classified as average, or in some cases poor. An important role will be played by the phytotron already operating in the institute. It is planned to establish a meteorological station for the collection and analysis of local data on meteorological changes. The construction and installation of an audiovisual lecture room will be required for the training sessions to be held as part of the project. It is hoped to purchase equipment for the determination of stress tolerance in cereals in laboratory and field experiments and for the collection and analysis of the data. New equipment, including microscopes, microtomes, and the hardware and software required for data processing and evaluation, will also be needed to analyse the effect of high temperature and drought on the sexual processes and development of plants. The bioinformatics basis for the tasks undertaken in the project will be improved through the construction of multiprocessor work stations, to be linked in a cluster.

As part of the present project, a new generation of plant breeders will need to attend training courses held by leading exponents in the various fields. Young plant breeders, crop producers, farmers and farm managers from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will be invited to attend a series of five training sessions each lasting 8–10 days and including both theory and practical work. The subject matter of each training course will build on that of the previous courses and will include the most important aspects of climate change, genetics, genomics, cell biology, conventional and molecular plant breeding, and field crop production.
One of the fundamental aims of the project is to make specialists and future specialists in agriculture and crop production aware of the possible effects of climate change on farming, after which they must be taught how to reduce or eliminate the unfavourable effects of these changes. The demonstration of the cause and effect relationships involved in climate change will help to change attitudes to environment protection. It is therefore essential to spread this knowledge to as wide a public as possible.

No great risks threaten the implementation of the tasks outlined in the project. However, the tasks envisaged in WP1, WP2 and WP4 depend on the active participation of individuals not directly involved in the management of the project. The possibility that, for various reasons, the institutes detailed in WP1 decide not to cooperate, that the scientists invited to return to Martonvsr decline to do so (WP2), or that the specified lecturers are unavailable (WP4) cannot be excluded. In this eventuality, replacements of a similar standard will be sought.

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