The Proceedings of the Evolutionary Breeding Symposium, held in Birmingham this January, are now published on organic e-prints
The citation as given on organic e-prints is: Döring, Thomas F.; Howlett, S. A.; Winkler, Louisa and Wolfe, Martin (Eds.) (2013) International Symposium on Evolutionary Breeding in Cereals. The Organic Research Centre, Hamstead Marshall, UK, 22 pp.
Evolutionary plant breeding has a long history, but has so far not become part of mainstream breeding
research, nor has it been implemented in practice to any substantial degree.
However, over the last decade, research in evolutionary plant breeding has markedly intensified. For
example, there are currently major research projects on-going in this area, including the EU funded
project SOLIBAM, the Wheat Breeding LINK project in the UK, and the Danish Biobreed project.
Also, a new 3-year international research project called COBRA on this topic is due to start in March
2013. Funded by the CORE Organic 2 Eranet the project brings together over 40 partner organizations
from 18 European countries.
In addition, interest in evolutionary plant breeding is growing among farmers, breeders and policy
makers. In fact, there are currently encouraging developments in the imminent revision of seed
legislation in Europe that could lead to more room for evolutionary plant breeding approaches in the
This renewed interest in evolutionary plant breeding is partly due to the recognition that mainstream
plant breeding is limited in terms of its engagement with end users, i.e. farmers and growers. More
urgently however, effects of climate change on agricultural production have become more noticeable
and there is also a growing awareness of increasing resource constraints; together, these will create
more stressful growing conditions for agricultural crops. With this background, it is now being
recognized that crops need to be able to cope with more variable, contrasting, fluctuating, and
generally more unpredictable growing conditions.
To be able to deal with this large and increasing environmental variability, plant breeding needs to
become more decentralized and diversified. Evolutionary plant breeding offers great potential in this
respect. The contributions collated from this symposium explore this potential as well as the
limitations of evolutionary plant breeding. While they only show a part of the on-going research
activities in Europe, we hope that these proceedings provide inspiration both for further research and
for implementation in practice.
Thomas Döring and Martin Wolfe
Hamstead Marshall & Fressingfield, March 2013
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