Agroscope is the Swiss centre of excellence for research in the agriculture and food sector. It is a governmental institute affiliated with the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG). Its goals are a competitive and multifunctional agricultural sector, high-quality food for a healthy diet, and an intact environment. Agroscope research is organized in strategic research fields, one of them is “Breeding and offering efficient and marketable plant varieties”. The general aim of this field is to provide the Swiss agricultural sector with varieties and clones of cultivated plants which are healthy, adapted to Swiss conditions, make efficient use of natural resources, can cope with abiotic stress, and are resistant to or tolerant of pathogens and pests. Agroscope evaluates the opportunities and the risks associated with new breeding technologies (e.g. transgenensis and cisgenesis, RNAi, genome editing, etc.).

  • Dr. Andrea Patocchi
  • Dr. Susanne Brunner

Agroscope will write and submit an application to the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN for a field trial with up to four sunflower lines that were developed, molecularly characterized and partially phenotyped in the greenhouse within the project. If the permit for the field trial will be granted, Agroscope will run a two-year field trial according the requirements defined by FOEN.

Relevant Expertise

Andrea Patocchi’s team provides breeders with the knowledge, such as e.g. the identification of (new) sources of resistance, resistance mapping, the development of molecular markers for marker-assisted selection, and the understanding of resistance mechanisms. On the top of this, the group tests the opportunities and environmental risks posed by the prototypes of selected new breeding technologies in the laboratory, the greenhouse and in the field. Current research focuses on the test of the early flowing approach in apple and of cisgenic approaches in apple and potatoes. In addition, together with IPK Gatersleben, wheat lines with increased yield potential are being studied in the field.

As a service for researchers engaged in studies with genetically modified plants, Agroscope set up, to prevent the destruction of the trials through vandalism, a protected experimental field (‘Protected Site’) at the Agroscope Reckenholz site (canton of Zurich). As the operator of the Protected Site, the breeding research Group (Dr. Susanne Brunner) is responsible for the technical security of the facility, and ensures the technical and scientific coordination of the trials.