CropXR: Resilient Crops for Sustainable Agriculture

Photo courtesy of CropXR.org

 This project seeks to combine biological and computational science and technologies to create, optimise and utilize a revolutionary 'smart-data-breeding' concept to breed climate-resilient crops.

The global food system has to meet a growing demand for affordable agricultural products, and simultaneously adapt to the effects of climate change as well as new limits on the use of agrochemicals. Therefore, more resilient crops need to be bred that can withstand extreme circumstances like droughts, heat waves, and diseases, while being less reliant on help from fertilizers and pesticides.

However, crop resilience is a highly complex trait.  Multiple genes and biological processes interact simultaneously or over time, a process which involves involving many trade-offs. Even the most advanced plant breeding techniques available today lack the ability to efficiently select for resilient traits. Current plant breeding techniques cannot effectively enhance highly complex traits like resilience.

To breed a generation of more resilient crops, therefore, a new generation of breeding tools is needed that can help effectively and efficiently. CropXR will combine biological and computational science and technologies to create, optimise and utilize a revolutionary ‘smart-data breeding’ concept. With that, breeders will be better able to develop ‘extra-resilient’ (XR), more sustainable crops.

CropXR is a research institute involving several universities, including Utrecht University, over two dozen companies and more than100 scientists. More information can be found on the institute's website.

This project is funded by NWO-LTP and the National Growth Fund and runs from 2023 to 2033.

Project leaders at Copernicus Institute