French collaboration on horticultural adaptation

French collaboration on horticultural adaptation

Rebecca tasting the French apple variety ‘Charden’ PICCC researcher Dr Rebecca Darbyshire recently travelled to France on a study tour investigating global climate trends in apple flowering. Rebecca is chief investigator in the PICCC horticulture project focused on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies for the Australian fruit tree industry. The trip was undertaken through the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Science’s visiting scholar scheme.

She provided the following report about the tour:

I travelled to Montpellier, France, to work with hosts Dr Jean Michel Legave and Dr Isabelle Ferrera in Dr Evelyne Costes’ INRA laboratory [INRA is a major European agricultural research institute]. The primary purpose of my visit was to collaborate on a global study investigating historical apple flowering records in relation to temperature conditions collected from nine countries, including two datasets I had collected from Australia.

Some highlights of the trip included:

  • A workshop on flowering phenology model application, data management and sharing, and current research gaps, with scientists from INRA and CNRS (the French National Centre for Scientific Research).
  • Establishing a methodology for global analysis of flowering phenology records and producing some initial results; a paper on the analysis will be ready in April.
  • A meeting with Professor Jean Luc Regnard (SupAgro) to discuss his research on using remote sensing to detect apple water stress and applications for breeding outcomes.
  • Discussions about joint modelling efforts with INRA scientists Drs Benedicte Wenden and Jose Antonio Campoy.
  • Delivering presentations on climate adaptation in the Australian fruit tree industry to INRA staff.
  • Establishing a methodology for global analysis of flowering phenology records and producing some initial results; a paper on the analysis will be ready in early April.

The trip enabled me to showcase the capacity for horticultural research within the University, and initiate useful discussions on collaboration and data sharing. There are few high quality research institutes in the southern hemisphere, making the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Science well positioned to fill the data gap around horticultural adaptation in this half of the globe. Research opportunities for FVAS include exploring southern hemisphere analogues for northern hemisphere sites and testing of new plant materials in warmer, more extreme climates. Furthermore, testing of models in the southern hemisphere will highlight whether they are likely to be stable for future projection analyses or if there are deficiencies in physiological understandings – both of which are important for future industry planning.

As a starting point for this collaboration, the publication I’m preparing as a result of this visit will be global in scale and the first such exploration for apple and temperate perennial fruit. There are also opportunities for shared PhD supervision or hosting of a French PhD student – these options will be progressed in the coming months.

The trip was made possible through funding from the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Science and INRA.

To find out more about Rebecca’s research visit the the project webpage.