Plant breeding will contribute significantly to future crop production systems because new cultivars must have an increased resistance to bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes and viruses, improved weed competition, more efficient nutrient and water uptake, and appropriate produce quality to meet the various demands of end-users.
Plant genetic resources with variation in various characteristics are key for plant breeding. The characterization and utilization of these crop genetic resources will be crucial to cope with agricultural problems in the future. Understanding the genetic variation and inheritance of important attributes in different crops will help to develop knowledge-led plant breeding-by-design methods, which will accelerate the pace of crop improvement in this 21st Century.
Section Plant Breeding Agriculture does research on gaining insights on crop biodiversity and trait inheritance, mapping genetic variation of crop characteristics, and producing new crop germplasm for further use in plant breeding. The research agenda target various characteristics such as host plant resistance to pathogens and pests, weed competition, nutrient uptake, adaptation to northern latitude climates, and quality of produce for wheat, barley, potato and apple. Our researchers also work on the domestication and genetic enhancement of new crops (e.g. Lepidium for oil) for environmentally friendly farming systems. Likewise, we are training graduate students and building national research capacity (especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and Latin America) on plant genetic resources characterization and breeding for maize, rice, sorghum, wheat, tef, among cereals, pulses such as common bean and pea, noug –an oil crop in Ethiopia, coffee, banana, avocado and fescue. Our undertakings vary in nature: from basic research such as molecular characterization of genetic variation to more applied research, e.g. breeding late blight resistant potato cultivars for Sweden and Nordic region of Europe. Most of our work uses various plant breeding methods, genomic tools, protocols for precise phenotyping (especially for allelopathy and root systems), chemical analyses for assessing quality of the produce, greenhouse/growth chamber screening and field trials.