The institute develops breeding strategies to improve crop quality and increase yield (link NWG). At the same time, plant tolerance to factors of abiotic stress and resistance to biotic stress are being improved. Selected new genetic resources are used for this purpose (link DGZ). The latest findings in genome and metabolome research are helping to make conventional plant breeding methods more effective for the respective horticultural crop.
Current projects are aimed to establishing adapted hybridization techniques in different plant species. For this purpose, the existing variability of traits in the primary or secondary gene pools is used. This new variability is generated by different techniques. Thus, intra-specific, inter-specific, and intergeneric hybridization can provide a valuable extension of genetic variability in crop plants. In addition, mutations can be induced by physical or chemical mutagens.
We aim to use new genotypes to enable faster and more targeted-oriented combinations of involved genes for pre-breeding. In doing so, we achieve significant progress by developing biological systems for fertilization control (e.g. male sterility and self-incompatibility). For this, the inbreeding behavior, combination suitability and heterosis of plant genotypes must be elucidated.
In order to localize desired traits, we compare their distribution in a population with that of genetic markers. By linking trait and marker, young plants can already be tested to determine whether they will express a certain trait. This eliminates the need for labor-intensive and time-consuming testing of the plants (marker-assisted selection). To identify quantitatively inherited traits, the institute uses quantitative trait loci (QTL) analyses and genetic association studies. In addition to genome-wide genetic mapping of target genes, candidate gene approaches are increasingly used to develop functional markers. These are based on new scientific findings from phytopathology, resistance research, metabolome analysis, biochemistry and plant physiology.