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 “complementarity effects” in genetically diverse populations in order to refine evolutionary plant breeding strategies in organic bread wheat.
As a result of being selected under – and thus adapted to – uniform high chemical input conditions, European modern wheat cultivars are ever less resilient to climatic variability and poorly adapted to organic cropping. The use of genetically diverse populations and evolutionary plant breeding strategies appears to provide promising results in that regard, reaching good yield levels in low-input environments and displaying high yield stability.
However, those bring new complexity to breeding strategies and much remains to be investigated concerning the ecological mechanisms underlying population behaviour in the field.For instance, intraspecific functional trait diversity could enhance plant-plant interactions and thereby have beneficial effects on the whole crop. These effects, termed “complementarity effects”, and how they could be accounted for in evolutionary plant breeding strategies in organic bread wheat,are the main focus of my doctoral research.
Through field trials in collaboration with the CRA-W (Dr. Emmanuelle Escarnot), we investigate these in several aspects. First, as plant density affects the intensity of plant-plant interactions, we investigate its impacts on genetically-diverse populations under organic cropping conditions. Second, we perform detailed measures and analysis of on-field functional diversity in order to investigate the traits and ecological mechanisms involved in complementarity effects. Then, because they may affect functional diversity over time, we aim to assess natural and mass selection impacts on phenotypic diversity for relevant functional traits.
Besides, this research is complemented by a participatory breeding project for the creation and follow-up of Walloon CCPs, involving a peasant cereal seed network (Li Mestère), the Walloon organic agriculture organisation (Biowallonie), the CRA-W and the Agroecology Lab.
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): 450-459. doi: 10.5091/plecevo.2019.1575