The project BARISTA (Advanced tools for breeding BARley for Intensive and SusTainable Agriculture under climate change scenarios) is funded by the ERA-NET Cofund activity SusCrop (Sustainable Crop Production), under the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change: FACCE-JPI (https://www.faccejpi.com/). The project started on 1st April 2019 and will last three years.

Taking barley both as a target and a model, BARISTA will deliver new breeding strategies and toolkits for boosting crop improvement, leading to new, high-yielding varieties selected to cope with anticipated future climatic conditions. Acceleration of conventional breeding through a combination of high-precision phenotyping, detailed genomic information, high density genetic maps, bioinformatics, and genetic modelling and crop growth simulation methods can provide the quantum leap improvement needed for improving barley under a rapidly changing global climate.

BARISTA is built on extensive phenotypic and genotypic data generated in previous projects and on current understanding of the genetics of ideotype traits for biotic and abiotic stress resilience. This germplasm and data resource will drive genomic prediction (GP) and crop simulation models (CSMs) in combination to improve current predictive breeding tools and methods, focusing on phenological adaptation to the different European agro-climatic zones, resilience to climate change factors and disease resistance. In addition, we will dissect traits relevant for barley sustainability and resilience (e.g., water- and nitrogen-use efficiency, culm architecture, disease resistance, flowering time) by using state of the art phenotyping, genetics, and genomics methodologies. Physiological performance of barley varieties and of ABA-related mutants will be evaluated together with their agronomic performance under different growth conditions, ambient and elevated [CO2], and used to improve the models. Sets of barley lines stacking candidate genes conferring quantitative resistance against barley pathogens will be genotyped and tested in relevant environments.

New populations carrying sustainability-related traits will be developed as breeding resources, thus contributing to food security for a growing population under climate change and pressure on natural resources. BARISTA will predict which new combinations of alleles are required for future climate scenarios in different target environments, validate models and provide a toolkit for breeding for climate change, and design optimal cross combinations to enhance breeding for specific target environments.

The uniquely combined materials and approaches place the BARISTA consortium in an ideal position to develop new strategies and toolkits for plant breeding including advanced crop models and new breeding populations that incorporate novel traits conferring resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses.

The Consortium

Thirteen partners from eight countries will contribute complementary scientific and technological expertise to BARISTA. The partners have internationally recognised experience in crop modelling, plant genomics, plant physiology, barley pre-breeding and breeding, environmental sciences and agricultural advisory services. The impact will be assured through the involvement of private companies (KWS, DE; ISEA, IT; APSOV, IT; Boreal, FI; Agromonegros, ES; DANKO, PL) and agricultural advisory services or public breeding stations (SEGES, DK; ECRI, EE; ICARDA, MA), as partners, subcontractors, and members of the Stakeholder Advisory Board. They will help to deploy the results of the project in commercial breeding programs and disseminate the project results to the seed and processing industries, farmers and other stakeholders.

P1 (Coordinator): Dr. Luigi Cattivelli, CREA, Research centre for genomics and bioinformatics, Fiorenzuola d’Arda, Italy. E-mail: luigi.cattivelli@crea.gov.it

P2: Prof Laura Rossini, Università degli Studi di Milano, Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences – Production, Landscape, Agroenergy (DiSAA), Milano, Italy

P3: Prof Alan Schulman, Luonnonvarakeskus (Luke), Production Systems, Helsinki, Finland

P4: Dr Ana Casas, Estación Experimental Aula Dei-CSIC, Department of Genetics and Plant Production, Zaragoza, Spain

P5: Prof Klaus Pillen, Martin-Luther-University Halle/Wittenberg Institute of Agricultural and Nutrional Sciences, Halle, Germany

P6: Prof Reimund P Roetter, University of Goettingen Department of Crop Sciences, Goettingen, Germany

P7: Prof Soren K. Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Frederiksberg, Denmark

P8: Prof Robbie Waugh, James Hutton Institute, Dundee, United Kingdom

P9: Prof Hannes Kollist, University of Tartu, Institute of Technology, Tartu, Estonia

P10: Dr Agata Daszkowska-Golec, University of Silesia in Katowice, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Institute of Biology, Biotechnology and Environmental Protection, Katowice, Poland

P11: Dr Leif Knudsen, SEGES Landbrug & Fødevarer F.m.b.A., Aarhus, Denmark

P12: Dr Ülle Tamm, Estonian Crop Research Institute, Jõgeva, Estonia

P13: Prof Alan Schulman, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland