• PROCROP (Plant Reproduction for Crop Improvement)

    The PROCROP project focuses on building a network of collaborations between expert laboratories in plant reproductive biology and modern sequencing to investigate asexual reproduction through seeds, or apomixis. Using both sexual model systems (Arabidopsis, rice and maize) and, sub-tropical and tropical apomictic grass species (Poa pratensis, Paspalum notatum, Eragrostis curvula, Tripsacum dactyloides), we will combine tools of molecular and cellular biology to decipher the fundamental mechanisms required for reshaping sexual plants transcriptomic landscapes towards the establishment of apomixis in major food crops. Therefore, we believe that PROCROP will contribute significantly to the establishment of major technology platforms for crop improvement and to innovative agricultural practices.


PROCROP is funded by a European H2020-Marie Skłodowska-Curie RISE (Research and Innovation Staff Exchange) Action that primarily aims at promoting “international and inter-sector collaboration through research and innovation staff exchanges, and sharing of knowledge and ideas from research to market (and vice-versa) for the advancement of science and the development of innovation.”


Being a RISE project, PROCROP is based on a number of scientific objectives and deliverables implemented through international and intersectoral staff exchange (secondments), thus maximising the impact of the action for knowledge sharing, skills development and long-term research collaboration.


Thanks to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), Small and Medium-sized enterprises can now collaborate with academic research organisations, have access to their facilities and integrate some of their highly skilled researchers within the research projects of the company.

Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available in the years 2014 to 2020 – in addition to the private investment it will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.


Increasing crop productivity through genetic improvement of plants has significantly impacted world agriculture and wealth and food security of human populations. Domestication, first, and selection and breeding strategies have allowed genetic improvement by using either natural genetic variation or bioengineering approaches and led to new cultivars with improved performances for yield and adaptation. Unfortunately, many important agricultural traits are typically polygenic, making the maintenance and multiplication of elite genotypes, i. e. the best allelic assortments, a difficult task because of chromosome mixing during sexual reproduction. The fixation of any given genotype occurs naturally in species that form seeds carrying embryos genetically identical to the mother plant.

Such asexual mode of reproduction, or apomixis, does not occur naturally in major crops with few exceptions (Citrus, mango and mangosteen), but its use would enable the instantaneous fixation of the best genotypes. Furthermore, coupled with male-sterility systems, apomictic reproduction could help in addressing issues related to transgene escape from GM crops to organic or conventional crops, and thereby allow for better coexistence of different agricultural practices. This trait by itself is highly valuable for agriculture, but despite many efforts it has never been possible to introduce it into the domesticated crop species of today. The financial and economic impacts of the development of apomixis technology and its application to major crops are amazing (€1800-2300 million per annum per crop).

The overall goal of the proposal is to establish synergies between inter-related European and international expertise to decipher the as-yet-unknown cellular and molecular mechanisms promoting apomictic in plants. Therefore, the novel knowledge gained by PROCROP will reproduction facilitate the development of new approaches for plant breeding and agriculturetowards the much needed increase in productivity .

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