The flowering plants may be the key of the food security.

The European Commission has fund the project BLOOM-NET for 1,3 million euro, the project will study the flowering plants.

The ability to determine when a plant flowers can be of enormous benefit to the planet’s food production, since much of what we consume (from the feed given to livestock to products bought off the supermarket shelf) originates in some form from flowering plants.

In a world of diminishing and strained food sources, the issue of the sustainability of the food supply is a major concern, particularly as the global population continues to grow. Research conducted by a team from Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Israel (representing both flowering research experts and technology pioneers) may spawn a highly anticipated solution to this problem.

BLOOM-NET (’The meristematic regulatory network controlling the floral transition’) is one of 12 projects selected under ERA-NET (European Research Area-Network) Plant Genomics, supported by the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The ERA-NET scheme plays an important role in improving the coordination and cooperation of national and regional research programmes on a given subject area - in this case, plant genomics.

Since flowers are the reproductive organs of a plant, according to Professor Davies, it is absolutely necessary for farmers and breeders to know when flowering will take place, and that this be reflected in their breeding programmes and scheduled harvests. By improving on our knowledge and applying this insight, farmers could expect more effective and productive output.

Professor Davies pointed out that plant growers have been trying for centuries to determine when flowering will take place, by looking at weather patterns, changing light levels or other means. ‘But we can now improve on these predictions by adding in other factors, such as minute changes in genetic make-up.

The team will collaborate with computer modelling specialists to create a model that will eventually have the capacity to predict the effects of changes in the genetic structure of a small but important group of cells. This tissue, known as shoot apical meristem, is responsible for the growth of both the flower and the rest of the plant. As well as the internal signals, the digital model will also have the ability to determine the impact of other external forces, such as climate, on the flowering process.

The project is coordinated by Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands. In addition to the University of Leeds, project participants include Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Plant Breeding Research (Germany), MPI Tuebingen (Germany), and the University of Tel-Aviv (Israel).

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