Improve sunflower oil production in a sustainable manner
The world oilseed production will be faced to an increasing demand in the next thirty years, catapulted by a combination of factors, including an additional demand of edible oil, particularly in emerging countries, and the needs for green energy and chemistry. The sunflower crop represents one of the answers able to face these needs.
World leading seed companies and SME are based in France and are creating there a wide range of employments, from molecular breeders to farmers involved in seed production, while ensuring a continuous genetic progress in integrating the new technologies in their breeding programs (high throughput genome sequencing and phenotyping, bioinformatics,…).
During the past fifteen years, the sunflower yield increase through genetic advance has been slower than before, suggesting that the current resources and breeding methods might not bring solutions in a context of climate change. In order to face the challenges of delivering safe and high-quality food and feed in a sustainable manner while maintaining yield and stability across different environments, a paradigm shift is needed in sunflower breeding.
The near availability of the genome sequences of Helianthus annuus together with the breakthrough created by the new technologies is offering a favorable context to reinforce, through an optimization of the hybrid breeding process, the competitiveness of the French seed industry.
As the result of climate changes, more variability is expected from location to location in the timing and quantity of water availability for crop production. On the long term period, the competitiveness of sunflower chain - seeds, farmers, coops, oil seed industry,... - is highly depending on the stability of oil yield across years and locations. In an unprecedented effort - 7 years and 4 months project, 16 partners including 9 public laboratories with a specific investment of INRA, 6 companies involved in sunflower breeding and the technical institute in charge of oil crops in France (CETIOM) -, SUNRISE offers unique opportunities to accelerate the implementation of the genomic prediction of ideotypes.
Moreover, SUNRISE will combine this approach with the improvement of the sunflower hybrid breeding process: it aims to identify the loci which are the most involved in homeostasis, depending on the parental alleles, and then build new gene pools exhibiting between themselves the better specific combining ability for homeostasis, i.e. yield stability.