PhD Student — Doctorant
Prof. Marjolein Visser's research group at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium.
Tel: +32 (0) 484 99 13 01
Profile & curriculum
MSc in Bioengineering - Agricultural Sciences (2012-2017)
Service engineer – ARVALIS : Institut du végétal (2018)
PhD student (2019-present)
Functional agrobiodiversity and its impacts on crop performance and ecosystem services, particularly at the intraspecific level
Evolutionary plant breeding and its potential for organic cropping and climate change resilience
Participatory plant breeding
Agroecological innovations and the evolution of alternative agricultural production systems
The main goal of my research is to investigate plant interactions within heterogeneous material and variety mixtures in order to refine evolutionary plant breeding strategies in organic bread wheat.
For decades, wheat breeding has mostly target conventional cropping systems – both as a result of rigid DHS and VCU criteria and the low economic attractivity of breeding for marginal alternative cropping systems. As a result, European modern wheat cultivars are ever less resilient to climatic variability and poorly adapted to organic cropping. In contrast, the use of heterogeneous material and evolutionary plant breeding strategies has been shown to provide promising results in that regard, reaching good yield levels in low-input environments and displaying high yield stability. So much so that as of 2022, EU regulations have opened the way towards such variety types: the so-called Organic Heterogeneous Material (OHM).
One of the reasons for the positive effects stemming from intra-crop diversity is the facilitative interactions it can foster within the crop. However, this brings whole new challenges to breeders and researchers: (i) to uncover the full potential of heterogeneous material, we need to gain a better understanding of the effects of diversity, in order to identify (un)favorable trait associations; (ii) besides, cropping practices may also have to be reevaluated and adapted to foster facilitative interactions within the crop. This may be particularly the case for sowing density.
We investigate these two research questions through field trials in collaboration with the Walloon Agricultural Research Centre (Dr. Dominique Mingeot). Besides, this research is complemented by a participatory breeding project for the creation and follow-up of a Walloon Cross Composite Population, involving a peasant cereal seed network (Li Mestère), the Walloon organic agriculture organisation (Biowallonie), the CRA-W and the Agroecology Lab.
Beaugendre A., Mingeot D. and Visser M. (2022) Complex plant interactions in heterogeneous material require the ecological rethinking of sowing density recommendations for bread wheat. A review, Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 42(9). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-021-00735-7
Visser M. & Beaugendre A. (2021) To bulk or not to bulk? Intense genetic differentiation of seed dormancy among Stipa lagascae (Poaceae) genotypes accessed and multiplied in arid Tunisia, Restoration Ecology, 29(6), https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.13350
Visser M. & Beaugendre A. (2019) Conditional dormancy of Stipa lagascae (Poaceae) bulk-harvested on seed increase plots in South Tunisia: a reassessment and a surprise, Plant Ecology and Evolution, 152(3), pp. 450-459. https://doi.org/10.5091/plecevo.2019.1575