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» FP 1: Enhanced genetic resources
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» FP 4: Nutritious food and added value
» FP 5: Improved livelihoods at scale

Flagship Project 1: Discovery research for enhanced utilization of RTB genetic resources

The objective of Flagship Project 1 (FP1) is to develop and apply leading-edge science toward faster and more precise development of user-demanded varieties and to support the long-term conservation and use of genetic diversity. New varieties have the potential to respond to a wide range of development and environmental challenges, and are typically near the top of the list of production technology components requested by farmers. The characteristics of these varieties have impact throughout the value chain – from production to processing to consumer acceptance in the marketplace. Higher productivity, resilience and high quality in intensified, sustainable systems can be the main avenue not only for raising incomes and nutritional status of small-scale farmers but also reducing the expansion of crops into fragile ecosystems. We are becoming more aware of variety traits that have the potential especially to meet the needs and opportunities for women, e.g. traits related to crop management, processing efficiency, nutrient content, and physical-chemical traits of consumed products.

The ability of RTB to meet these demands is being greatly enhanced by new tools and methods to accelerate genetic gains, by access to broader and better-defined genetic diversity, and by working together more effectively to exploit synergies and share common resources across RTB crops.

The clonally propagated RTB crops have unique challenges to overcome in order to move faster and more precisely toward user-prioritized breeding goals, whether with traditional or new tools and methods. At the same time, vegetative propagation has advantages unavailable to grain crops: any trait can be fixed and propagated indefinitely.

Clusters of activity

    • DI1.1 RTB Breeding Community of Practice
      Will establish a decentralized, integrated and cross-cutting community of practice to orient and support accelerated breeding gains.  The BCoP creates greater efficiencies by effective two-way communication about breeding targets, methods, and processes, pipeline products (populations and varieties), and competencies within RTB and with NARES, the private sector, and other users. The cluster will be the space for defining targets, metrics and M&L across the Discovery and the breeding-oriented Delivery clusters.
    • DI1.2 Next generation breeding for RTB crops
      Develops and demonstrates the added value of next generation tools, methods and information, for adoption and routine use by breeders. Provides breeders with next generation tools, methods and information, including trait-linked DNA markers, genome-wide association studies, genomic selection. Develops advanced tools, methods, models, and systems to improve accuracy and scale of breeding and shorten selection cycles. DI1.2 develops efficient, high-throughput-omics tools and methods for trait and gene discovery and deployment. Analytical genetic and biometric tools and biostatistical models support proof-of-concept breeding research (e.g., genomic selection, genome-wide association studies, and use of RTB inbred lines in innovative breeding systems).
    • DI1.3 RTB varieties with game-changing traits
      Develop prototypes and products that allow the introduction of new traits, without disturbing any other traits and characteristics of the original genotype. The cluster will lead breakthroughs to accelerate genetic improvement of existing superior varieties, especially for traits that are intractable through conventional methods. The techniques directly introduce genes (i.e., transgenic, intragenic, cisgenic) to change the expression of endogenous genes (RNAi, silencing, editing) and to swap nucleotide sequences transcription activator-like effector nucleases, CRISPR).
  • DI1.4 Tapping into RTB genetic diversity
    Develops and promotes an integrated and complementary conservation and use system for RTB genetic diversity on farm, in wild habitats and in genebanks. The cluster will support sustaining farm production systems and rural livelihoods through the conservation of local genetic resources to meet future demands of farming and sustainable development. DI1.4 will develop a global network for in-situ conservation of RTB crops and some crop wild relatives (CWR), with best practices and monitoring systems, functional policies, and incentive systems. The diversity conserved in the ex-situ RTB collections is the foundation for achieving the goals in this flagship.

Key target outcomes for Flagship 1 include (by 2022)

  • RTB crops high-yielding (yield increase from 2 – 3% per year) and resistant (major biotic and abiotic stresses) populations adapted to target environments.
  • 100% of new populations integrating user-preferred traits (e.g. starch quality, micronutrient content) of which are least one third and women’s preferences, included in national breeding programs.
  • Conservation status of wild relatives and landraces of at least three RTB crops improved in five key hotspots.
  • At least 25% of populations of banana, cassava, potato and sweetpotato with drought-tolerance considered for inclusion in breeding programs.

Questions to guide your feedback

  1. What do you consider are the most important and relevant elements in this flagship?
  2. Which elements do you think need strengthening?
  3. How could your organization improve its collaboration with this flagship?

Please leave your feedback as a comment below, specifying the question number you are responding to. Any additional comments are welcome too.