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sunflower capitulum. © INRA, Florence Carreras, CARRERAS Florence

INRA inaugurates its Sunflower Agrigenomics research centre in Toulouse

On 21 February 2013, François Houllier, President of INRA, inaugurated the new Sunflower Agrigenomics centre at INRA’s Auzeville site. Also in attendance were Henri Michel Comet, Prefect of the Midi-Pyrénées region; Martin Malvy, former minister and current President of the Midi-Pyrénées region; and François-Régis Valette, President of the Communauté d’agglomération du SICOVAL.

Updated on 06/14/2013
Published on 02/21/2013

As part of a multi-disciplinary initiative (agricultural sciences, phytopathology, ecophysio¬logy, genetics, and genomics) and a privileged partnership between regional socioeconomic players, the “Sunflower Agrigenomics” centre features cutting-edge genomic technologies as part of its efforts to exploit a vast collection of genetic resources. The project aims to improve economic competitiveness by contributing to the varietal prototyping of sunflowers that are adapted to cropping systems requiring fewer inputs and which better preserve resources. It will also strengthen the competitiveness of breeding companies in the Midi-Pyrénées region, global leaders in the field of sunflower genetics.

This European centre brings together more than twenty scientists, teacher-researchers, and technicians specialised in sunflower agrigenomics. Three different research units work together here with onsite platforms for sequencing, phenotyping and modelling. The centre is supported by INRA’s Plant Biology and Breeding, Environment and Agronomy, and Plant Health and Environment divisions, as well as the CNRS. It receives additional financing from a Stimulus Initiative project in biotechnologies and bioresources, SUNRISE, with €7 million in funding from ANR over eight years. The goal of the SUNRISE project is to improve oil production from hybrid sunflower crops under conditions of reduced water availability, and capitalises on the wide range of expertise of its 17 partners. Six of those are industrial partners who are also members of the Green Biotechnologies Scientific Interest Group and CETIOM. This project helps strengthen public and private partnerships, from identifying strategic areas to speeding up knowledge transfer of field results.

The Sunflower Agrigenomics centre received €3.6 million in overall funding as part of the French state-regional contract programme for 2007-2013 (59% from INRA, 35% from the Midi-Pyrénées region, 3.5% from the French Ministry for Research and 2.5% from SICOVAL). With this funding, INRA was able to construct 920 m² of laboratories and office spaces, several crop cultivating rooms and a cold room to conserve sunflower genetic resources. Strategic equipment for high throughput sequencing and bioinformatics was also acquired.

Download Press Kit (in French) : Pôle agrogenomique du tournesol  

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