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A look back at 10 years of research on sunflowers: Toulouse, the “Sun Valley” of sunflowers?

Close to 130 scientists, seed companies, sector professionals, farmers, and industrial players gathered in Toulouse on 28 and 29 June to discuss the findings and perspectives of research on sunflowers. The event proved that sunflowers are a fine model for putting partners in touch and allowing different disciplines to see common ground.

Two days of discussions on sunflowers. © INRA
Updated on 09/15/2016
Published on 07/12/2016

The “Sunflower” Joint Technology Unit was created in 2006 at the initiative of INRA and Terres Inovia (formerly CETIOM) to carry out targeted research on the agronomy of sunflowers. Financed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry, it celebrated its 10th anniversary on 28 and 29 June at INP-ENSAT and at INRA in Toulouse. The occasion provided an opportunity to present and discuss the bulk of research carried out on sunflowers in the joint unit and at INRA’s Toulouse centre.

The programme focused on:

  • research on sunflowers’ drought tolerance and resistance to pests such as mildew, broomrape, verticillium and phoma.
  • tools for genotyping, phenotyping and remote sensing.
  • the stumbling blocks and drivers of innovation for a sustainable sector and improving the competitive edge of sunflowers thanks to hulling.
Contact(s)
Scientific contact(s):

Tournesol. © INRA

The sunflower genome has been decoded

INRA scientists have just completed the sunflower reference genome sequence. This achievement comes as part of the SUNRISE project in collaboration with the International sunflower genome consortium. This major advancement will help improve varietal sunflower breeding programs, a very promising area of research which has proven to be an environmental asset for future agricultural systems. It will provide farmers with new varieties that are better adapted to production methods, food production and industrial uses, while also responding to the sector's economic challenges. The results will be made public during the “days exchanges on sunflower” conference taking place June 28 and 29, 2016 in Toulouse (France).

> See the press release (28 June 2016)

Patrick Vincourt reçoit le prix Pustovoit pour sa carrière au service de la génétique et de la génomique du Tournesol. © INRA

Patrick Vincourt receives the Pustovoit Award for a career that focuses on the genetics and genomics of sunflowers

Patrick Vincourt is an important contributor to private and public research on sunflowers. He forecast the evolution of techniques in molecular biology and genomics, putting them at the service of the scientific community both in France and abroad. That is why his peers presented him with the Pustovoit Award at the International Sunflower Association’s conference. The award is the highest honour conferred to individuals making contributions to advances in research on sunflowers.

> find out more about Patrick Vincourt (in French)

Uninfected (3 on the left) and infected (3 on the right) sunflower plants susceptible to broomrape.The plants were grown in a S2 confinement glasshouse. The broomrape seeds were harvested on 9 September 2015 in an infected field in Bourret (Tarn et Garonne, France). © INRA

New ways to improve genetic resistance against sunflower broomrape

For many decades, sunflower broomrape has been damaging crops in Europe. It appeared in 2009 in France since when more regions have become infested. As members of a project funded by Promosol, INRA scientists in Toulouse and their partners are exploring the interactions between sunflower and broomrape in order to improve management of the risk induced by this parasitic weed.

> Find out more about INRA research on sunflower broomrape