Friday Seminar; Combining Phenomics, modelling and genomic prediction for identifying ideotypes adapted to a changing climate

Our next Friday Seminar takes place in the Merton Auditorium at 11:30am on Friday 17 January.


Dr François Tardieu, INRA Montpellier, France


Combining Phenomics, modelling and genomic prediction for identifying ideotypes adapted to a changing climate


Seeking alleles for high yield in a variable environment poses a massive problem of time scales.

Yield involves feedbacks operating over months, whereas physiological mechanisms of acclimation operate over minutes, following the variability of environmental conditions. Phenomics needs to analyse the genetic variability at these different scales under a range of environmental conditions, with a suite of installations with different temporal definitions and measured traits. Multi-site field experiments show that a given allele, resulting in a given value for trait measurement in a given environment, can result in positive, negative or null effects on yield depending on environmental scenarios.

Breeders solved this difficulty by directly selecting for high and stable yield across environments. Retrospective analyses of the genetic progress suggest that, doing so, they selected for constitutive traits. The allelic diversity that governs adaptive traits was probably left largely unexploited because it results in positive or negative effects on yield depending on environmental scenarios.

We propose a probabilistic approach that estimates the benefits and risks of vectors of alleles/traits in the most likely environmental scenarios in each region, with current or future climates and different management practices. A combination of phenomics, modeling and genomic prediction allows one to identify which vectors of traits/alleles are most likely to be positive for yield in each region and each field over e.g. 30 years.

For that, we use phenotyping platforms in controlled conditions and multi-site field experiments to identify genotype-dependent parameters of models, in particular those driving the responses of grain number to temperature, intercepted light and soil water potential.

Those parameters can in turn be predicted based on allelic values for new genotypes. This ‘big data’ approach potentially allows one to model yield for hundreds of genotypes in hundreds of fields in current and future environmental conditions. It may allow exploiting new sources of allelic diversity for yield in drought-prone regions, by explicitly taking into account the alleles that optimise adaptive responses in expected environmental scenarios for each region.

Dr François Tardieu biography

Francois Tardieu is an Ecophysiologist at INRA Montpellier in France.

His research focuses on the adaptation of genotypes to drought scenarios, including those in 2050, via a combination of phenomics, modelling and genomic prediction.

He coordinates the French Phenomic infrastructure and a European project on phenomics. He is invited professor in the Nanjing Agricultural University. He got  awards by the French Academy, by the “laurier d’Excellence INRA” and by the Soil Science Society of America.


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