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DROPS develops a novel strategy of breeding, based on the premise that drought tolerance and water-use efficiency have such a high genotype x environment interaction that knowledge-based breeding involving several disciplines is necessary.

 Field experiments play an essential role in the project strategy but, due to the large variability of drought scenarios, traits measured in the field cannot be linked in a simple way to alleles of genes, to abundance of transcripts or to the performances of genotypes in standard conditions.

 DROPS therefore relies on a close interaction between field studies, accurate phenotyping in high-throughput platforms, novel genetic methods, "omics" measurements, statistical meta-analyses and modelling.

The DROPS project requires that the genetic and environmental variabilities of yield and water-use efficiency are dissected using the three methodological progress :

  • phenotyping methods
  • genetic approaches
  • modelling

DROPS concentrates on four target traits which (i) have an essential effect on yield under water deficit and on water-use efficiency, (ii) can be considered as "primary" plant characteristics, which do not depend essentially on traits determined earlier in the crop cycle, (iii) can be analysed across species and are sufficiently well known to allow a substantial progress during the timeframe of the project :

  • abortion rate / early seed development
  • maintenance of vegetative growth
  • constitutive architecture of the root system governing its efficiency
  • transpiration efficiency
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This project is supported by the European Commission under the
7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development