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This book presents and discusses new directions in plant systems research to bridge knowledge from the gene to the plant, crop and agro-ecosystem levels and to assist in solving problems in production ecology and resource use by identifying and applying new research methods. Functional genomics, systems biology and ecophysiological modelling of crop growth and development provide powerful tools for identifying genes and genotypes of agronomic importance. Despite remarkable advances in basic knowledge of plant genes and gene networks, there has been relatively little impact on crop improvement from the application of genomics and recombinant-DNA technology. Novel directions in linking plant sciences to crop and systems research are needed to meet the growing demand for food in a sustainable way. The challenge is to produce more food on the limited available land through more efficient use of natural resources and external inputs.
Genetics of plant performance are discussed using examples of Arabidopsis thaliana and food crops. The concept of `crop system biology' is introduced. Within the theme `physiology and genetics' traits and mechanisms to improve crop adaptation are discussed. Furthermore, various approaches in modelling G x E interactions and crop performance are presented. Some chapters are dedicated to the role of diversity in optimizing resource use and crop performance. An outlook and dialogue on future directions in plant system research challenges readers with contrasting opinions on the way forward concerning this critical issue for the future of food production.
Preface: Genetics of plant performance: from molecular analysis to modeling: 1. Genetic and molecular analysis of growth responses to environmental factors using Arabidopsis thaliana natural Variation; M. Reymond et al.- 2. From QTLs to genes controlling root traits in maize; R. Tuberosa and S. Salvi.- 3. Multi-trait multi-environment QTL modelling for drought stress adaptation in maize; M. Malosetti et al .- 4. Accounting for variability in the detection and use of markers for simple and complex traits; S.C. Chapman et al.- 5. An integrated systems approach to crop improvement; G.L. Hammer and D.R. Jordan.- 6. Crop systems biology: an approach to connect functional genomics with crop modeling; X. Yin and P.C. Struik.- Modelling genotype Ao environment interactions: 7. A modelling approach to genotype Ao environment interaction:genetic analysis of the response of maize growth to environmental conditions; W. Sadok et al.- 8. Modelling genotype Ao environment Ao management interactions to improve yield, water use efficiency and grain protein in wheat; S. Asseng and N.C. Turner.- 9. Physiological processes to understand genotype Ao environment interactions in maize silking dynamics; L. Borras, M.E. Westgate and J.P. Astini.- 10. Modelling the genetic basis of response curves underlying genotype x environment interaction; F.A. van Eeuwijk, M. Malosetti and M.P. Boer.- Physiology and genetics of crop adaptation: 11. Physiological interventions in breeding for adaptation to abiotic stress; M.P. Reynolds and R.M. Trethowan.- 12. Physiological traits for improving wheat yield under a wide range of conditions; G.A. Slafer and J.L. Araus.- 13. Is plant growth driven by sink regulation? Implications for crop models, phenotyping approaches and ideotypes; M. Dingkuhn et al.- 14. Yield improvement associated with Lr19 translocation in wheat: which plant attributes are modified?; D.J. Miralles, E. Resnicoff and R. Carretero.- Physiology and modelling of crop adaptation: 15. Simulation analysis of physiological traits to improve yield, nitrogen use efficiency and grain protein concentration in wheat; P. Martre et al.- 16. An architectural approach to investigate maize response to low temperature; K. Chenu et al.- 17. Tillering in spring wheat: a 3D virtual plant-modelling study; J.B. Evers and J. Vos.- 18. Use of crop growth models to evaluate physiological traits in genotypes of horticultural crops; E. Heuvelink et al.- Diversity, resource use and crop performance: 19. Role of root clusters in phosphorus acquisition and increasing biological diversity in agriculture; H. Lambers and M.W. Shane.- 20. Prospects for genetic improvement to increase lowland rice yields with less water and nitrogen; S. Peng and B.A.M. Bouman.- 21. Exploiting diversity to manage weeds in agro-ecosystems; L. Bastiaans et al.- Outlook and dialogue: 22. When can intelligent design of crops by humans outperform natural selection?; R.F. Denison.- 23. Integrated assessment of agricultural systems at multiple scales; M.K. van Ittersum and J. Wery.- 24. A dialogue on interdisciplinary collaboration to bridge the gap between plant genomics and crop sciences; P.C. Struik et al.- List of reviewers