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Agronomy Webinar | Evolutionary Plant Breeding: Exploiting Diversity to Cope with Uncertainty

11 Jan 2023, 15:00 (CET)

Climate Change, Biodiversity, Adaptation, Mitigation, Plant Breeding, Evolution
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Welcome from the Chair

3rd Agronomy Webinar

Evolutionary Plant Breeding: Exploiting Diversity to Cope with Uncertainty

Evidence from ecological theory, genetic research, and agronomic practice shows that evolutionary populations and dynamic mixtures represent a dynamic response to the complexity of climate change not only in its physical characteristics (temperature and rainfall) but also in its biotic aspects and in its location specificity. Evolutionary populations and dynamic mixtures, with their capacity to evolve in response to both biotic and abiotic stresses, as long as they maintain sufficient genetic diversity, appear to be the quickest, most cost-effective, and evolving solution to such a complex and evolving problem. They have the additional advantage of increasing yield gains resulting from a combination of natural and artificial selection and genetic recombination.

They are also able to control pests, which makes them particularly suited to organic systems, representing an ecological solution to pest control; they do not create a selection pressure favoring the evolution of resistance as uniform varieties do. Therefore, EPs and mixtures will fill an important gap represented by the scarce availability of varieties specifically adapted to organic conditions.

Because of their evolutionary capability and their ability to control pests, they represent at the same time a mitigation and an adaptation strategy to cope with climate change. They represent a mitigation strategy because they reduce considerably the use of chemical inputs, and they represent an adaptation strategy associated with their ability to continuously evolve to adapt to new combinations of biotic and abiotic stresses.

Finally, as they evolve, they generate a continuous flow of novel, cultivated agro biodiversity even within the same crop, which will be beneficial in increasing diet diversity and ultimately human health.

Therefore, evolutionary plant breeding is capable of reversing the trend of modern plant breeding towards uniformity and to reconcile plant breeding with the overwhelming scientific evidence of the importance of biodiversity.

Date: 11 January 2023

Time: 3:00 pm CET | 9:00 am EST | 10:00 pm CST Asia | 5:00 pm EAT (Eastern Africa Time) | 5:30 pm IRST (Iran Time)

Webinar ID: 859 4777 4191

Webinar Secretariat:


Independent Researcher, Ascoli Piceno, Italy

Salvatore Ceccarelli has been a full Professor of Agricultural Genetics at the University of Perugia, Italy until 1987. From 1980 he conducted research at ICARDA (the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Environments, Aleppo, Syria) until 2006, and served the Centre as a consultant until 2014. He left Syria in 2011, moving first to France and then to India until 2016. He is currently a freelance consultant for various national and international organizations. During his career, he has supervised over 25 master's and PhD students, conducted training courses for researchers in many countries (China, Australia, South Africa, Philippines, Yemen, Jordan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India and Bhutan) and published over 300 scientific papers; he has been a speaker at many international conferences. He works on participatory breeding and evolutionary genetic improvement in various crops, and on the relationships between biodiversity, climate change, food and health.

Invited Speakers

Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT-Africa Hub, Kenya Regional Office, Duduville Campus, Kenya

Carlo Fadda has a PhD in evolutionary biology and zoology from the Sapienza University of Rome, Itly, and he is currently, Research Director, Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture. He has managed projects in China, Ecuador, Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, and Tanzania, among others. In 2015, Carlo moved to Ethiopia to establish Bioversity’s office in the country. From 2016, he represented all Bioversity's country offices. For the last six years, he led the ‘Seeds for Needs’ research team, which matches genetic diversity to farmers' needs and brings material from genebanks back into production systems. His work centres on the understanding that conservation and use of genetic resources cannot be decoupled from rural development, livelihoods, and economics.

Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Uganda Office, Uganda

Rose Nankya is a Conservation Biologist holding an MSc. In Environment Science of Makerere University, Uganda. She has over twenty years’ experience in agrobiodiversity research, multistakeholder processes involving Non Government Organizations, Government Institutions and Donor Agencies in sustainable natural resources management. She manages projects focusing on using agrobiodiversity for improving agricultural systems productivity and resilience. She is a Fellow of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development.

University of Kassel, Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, Section Ecological Plant Protection, Germany

Maria Finckh, PhD in Botany and Plant Pathology, 1991, Oregon State University, USA. She worked in the Philippines, Switzerland and Denmark and is Professor of Ecological Plant Protection, University of Kassel, Germany, since 1999. She has been doing research on the effects of diversification strategies on plant pathogens since 1986. Her academic interests are to understand population genetic and population ecological processes in plant-pathogen co-evolution. Of specific interest are the interrelations of the different levels of diversity from the microbial diversity of the rhizosphere, phyllosphere and endosphere up to intra-and interspecific diversity of plants and landscape aspects. A specific focus is on approaches to breeding for diversity and the effects of the agricultural system as a whole and specifically aspects of plant nutrition on host-pathogen interactions. This has resulted in the overall concept of agroecological plant protection. She has published close to 100 scientific papers and co-edited and partially written the first text book on “Plant Diseases and Their Management in Organic Agriculture” (APS Press, 2015).

Center for Sustainable Development and Environment (CENESTA), Teheran, Iran

Maedeh Salimi is a Ph.D. student in agroecology. She is a member of the Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment (CENESTA) board and works as the program manager and community facilitator. She is experienced in participatory-evolutionary plant breeding, the Revival of crop genetic diversity in farmers' fields, food and seed sovereignty, agroecology, and agricultural heritage systems, and has worked in these fields for 17 years. She is currently involved in the project "Use of Genetic Diversity and Evolutionary Plant Breeding for Enhanced Farmers Resilience to Climate Change, Sustainable Crop Productivity, and Nutrition under Rainfed Conditions" as the project manager in Iran.

Webinar Content

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Time in CET

Chair Dr. Salvatore Ceccarelli

Chair Introduction

3:00 - 3:10 pm

Dr. Carlo Fadda

The Experience With Evolutionary Populations in Ethiopia

3:10 - 3:30 pm

Ms Rose Nankya

Bean Mixtures as a Strategy to Cope With Pests in Uganda

3:30 - 3:50 pm

Prof. Maria R. Finckh

Twenty Years Evolutionary Wheat Populations in Europe: Resilience, Adaptation to Species Mixtures, Plant Protection and Baking Quality

3:50 - 4:10 pm

Ms. Maedeh Salimi

Evolutionary Populations and Short Supply Chains in Iran

4:10 - 4:30 pm


4:30 - 4:45 pm

Journal Introduction or Special Issue Promotion

4:45 - 4:55 pm

Closing of Webinar

Chair Dr. Salvatore Ceccarelli

4:55 - 5:00 pm

Relevant SI

Evolutionary Plant Breeding: Exploiting Diversity to Cope with Uncertainty
Guest Editor: Dr. Salvatore Ceccarelli
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 May 2023

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