A € 3.4 million EU-funded research programme that aims to increase crop productivity gets underway this month. The programme, Crop Life, coordinated by Karin Krupinska from the Botanical Institute at Kiel University, will finance 13 young doctoral and post-doctoral students across Europe.
Alongside Kiel University, seven universities and research institutes from Denmark, France, UK, Poland, Switzerland and Germany are participating in Crop Life. Plant breeding and food companies are also part of the network, allowing the scientists involved to get practical training.
The Crop Life project is inspired by the increasing worldwide need for plants as food and energy sources. Crop productivity depends on the life span of the leaves, which can be severely shortened under stressful conditions. The researchers will investigate the connection between life span and productivity of barley and ryegrass, and the results used to derive strategies for increasing the grain filling in cereals and the biomass of grasses. The plant breeding companies participating in Crop Life hope to implement the results in their breeding programmes.