The MEICOM Network – Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Networks (ITN) H2020-MSCA-ITN-2017 Horizon 2020 Grant agreement number 765212 MEICOM
Ensuring Food Security over forthcoming years remains one of the key challenges confronting society. Factors such as population growth, urban development, mass migration and climate change necessitate sustained improvements in food production, storage and distribution.
Crop breeding has a pivotal role to play in delivering Food Security and in recent years the application of molecular plant breeding has had a transformative effect on crop breeding.
Members of the MEICOM consortium have made substantial contributions to our current knowledge. As a result, many components of the recombination machinery have been characterized, as have proteins that participate in the programmed remodelling of the chromosomes during prophase I, which is an essential feature of the meiotic pathway. While these studies provide an underpinning platform to enable modification of CO formation in crops, effective translation of current knowledge to crops remains problematic. This is due to the differences in the genomic architecture of crop species arising from genome size and in some instances ploidy relative to Arabidopsis, which constitute additional levels of complexity that influence CO formation in crops but are at present poorly understood. Thus, MEICOM is designed to achieve an understanding of the factors that influence the transitions from DSB formation to CO product in crops and evaluate the most effective approaches to manipulating this outcome by capitalizing on our expert knowledge of meiotic recombination in plants combined with cutting-edge methodological developments.
MEICOM will equip a cohort of early stage researchers with field-leading expertise in the control of meiotic recombination in crop plants. To achieve this, we have assembled a network of leading European plant meiosis research groups that possess a wide range of complementary research skills plus an excellent track record of synergistic interactions through collaborative research and training networks.
The training will benefit from close involvement of stakeholder breeding companies who will provide first-hand insight into the major challenges that confront the industry over the next decade, thus ensuring a strong intersectorial component that can be consolidated and further developed. Importantly, MEICOM will make a major contribution to ensuring a critical mass of highly trained early career scientists with skills that will be required to tackle this major global challenge.
International Training Networks aim to improve career perspectives of early-stage researchers in both public and private sectors, thereby making research careers more attractive to young people. They aim to work through trans-national networking through a partnership of public and private enterprises in the field. In particular, the networks aim to add to the employability of the recruited researchers through exposure to both academia and enterprise, thus extending the traditional academic research training setting and eliminating cultural and other barriers to mobility.