Research project INnovations in plant VarIety Testing in Europe

Complete INVITE

INnovations in plant VarIety Testing in Europe to foster the introduction of new varieties better adapted to varying biotic and abiotic conditions and to more sustainable crop management practices

HYDRAS 260623 3 rainout shelteres

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Isabel Roldán-Ruiz

Isabel Roldán-Ruiz

Scientific director, ILVO Plant Sciences department


General introduction

The INVITE project aims for higher relevance to the system of official European variety lists and previous variety testing. ILVO is one of the knowledge centres that organizes - and optimizes - variety testing. Breeding companies (which produce new varieties) often strive in their candidate-new-varieties for more resilience of the plant against biotic and abiotic stress factors and high "resource use efficiency" (RUE). The researchers of INVITE therefore improve the tests (the variety trials) by assessing the candidate varieties under more diverse growth conditions. The aim is also to better communicate the results of the variety testing to stakeholders.

Research approach

As a test object, we choose various crops that are important within the EU for breeding, propagation, food and feed production. We identify the crop characteristics and bioindicators linked to RUE and with resilience regarding various challenging growth conditions. We develop new phenotyping and genotyping tools to study bio-indicators. We build crop models and statistical tools to estimate the performance of varieties under a wide range of agro-ecological growth conditions and management practices. We improve the existing test protocols for variety trials. We are proposing new networks for future variety trials. We formulate policy recommendations and communicate about the research results and new technologies developed.


In the primary food production system, it is practically impossible to meet the stack of demands made on new plant varieties: they must deliver higher yields (due to the growing world population and a dwindling agricultural area), have higher quality and in addition they must have the resilience to maintain (or even improve) under a situation of climate change and the negative impact of agriculture on the environment. For these challenges, and therefore for the breeding world, it is crucial to obtain new test sets, test methods and techniques that the current test approach of DUS (distinct, uniform, stable) and, for agricultural and fodder crops also make VCU (value for culture and use), more efficient and effective. In this way, new technologies can be put into use more quickly and contribute to innovation for farmers.


EU Horizon2020