Plant Genetics and Engineering
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Tolerance to adverse growth conditions and improvement of yield are the two most important goals to be reached by the modern agriculture. Cereals represent the most widely bred crops all around the world, furnishing food for humans and animals or materials for biofuel, for example.
Our research activity is focused on barley and its improvement via plant transformation and use of the very specific and efficient CRISPR-Cas9 guided RNA methodology. Three approaches are under consideration. First, screening of landraces and ancestral barley species growing in adverse conditions provides knowledge which will be transferred to barley cultivars currently used in agriculture. Second, genes, known in other species to play a role in stress or yield will be investigated and characterized in barley. They will be either switched-off if triggering stress-susceptibility or switched-on if associated with stress tolerance. Third, we are studying the basis of root development in barley. Despite hidden, roots are of great importance, ensuring anchorage in the soil and predominantly the uptake of water and nutrients required for plant growth and development. Understanding the theory of root formation will help developing new barley cultivars with “super-roots” able to use more efficiently the natural soil resources.