Crop Physiology and Climate Change

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Postgraduate Course

Crop Physiology and Climate Change:
Understanding fundamental processes to counter the challenge

dates to be determined

Organised by
Wageningen University & University of Florida


aquatic-ecologyThe global food system is under stress. Crop yields are expected to decline due to increases in the frequencies of heat waves and prolonged periods of droughts. This course will explore the effects of elevated CO2, temperature and drought on crop physiology. Crop traits that can mitigate or even enhance yield under the stress of a changing world will be explored through a toolbox of options, modelling being a central one. We will be integrating the different physiological processes in relation to change using a systems approach, rather than studying them separately. Focus will be on selecting or breeding plant cultivars that are adapted to these stresses, drought in particular.

The toolbox in this course will be a variety of plant and crop models (e.g. Gene-based Modelling, Functional-Structural Plant Modelling, Dynamic Crop Growth Modelling, Decision Support Systems) that will be used to understand and address the fundamental challenges and questions. Moreover, we will not only see what these models have to offer but also whether they are state-of-the-art to support agronomic practice decisions in a current and future changing world.

Current models are poor in predicting response to extreme events and erratic conditions. We will address crop physiology at different scales of space (field to region and the globe), time (seconds to decades), and level of integration (gene to whole plant). The overall goal of this course is to understand the effects of temperature, light, CO2 or water on the carbon source-sink relationships of plants and to improve the underlying models.


The course is composed of:

1. Key-note / Introduction Lecture
The course starts off (Sunday afternoon before dinner) with an introductory lecture in which the birds-eye view of the current state of knowledge on crop physiology as it relates to climate change and uncertainty are presented and the challenges and opportunities are discussed.

2. Poster carousel
After dinner there will be a poster carousel from 19:00 – 21:15 in which participants present themselves, their research and interest in the course (5-10 minutes) followed by a 5-10 minute discussion. The duration of each session is 15 minutes with a 5-minute break between sessions. The carousel will involve 6 sessions where 5-6 posters will be presented per session. The carousel starts off with all participants standing at their poster with each participant briefly stating their name, where they are from and the title of their poster. Once this has been done the actual carousel starts. Based on the short introduction round, and the title as listed in the reader, participants select the poster they want to visit. Note that posters will be displayed on the walls of the course venue throughout the course.

3. Lectures and Discussion
Each morning starts with 3-4 lectures (30 minutes each), followed by a 30-minute discussion in which a group (approx. one third of the participants) will have prepared the discussion based on a paper, submitted by the speaker, which participants will receive prior to the onset of the course. Each day will focus on a specific topic:

  • Monday: Climate Change, Growth, and Development
  • Tuesday: Climate Change and Photosynthesis
  • Wednesday: Modelling Climate Change Responses / Afternoon Symposium
  • Thursday: Scaling and Integration
  • Friday: Group Presentations / Optional afternoon excursion

4. Working groups

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon will be spent on Group Work. There will be 7 groups of 5-6 members where each group focusses on how a specific changing climatic/abiotic factor will affect physiological processes. Starting point for the group work is existing knowledge/models. The groups must accordingly address what new insight/knowledge must be generated to be able to adapt our cropping systems to counter the changes at stake. The final output will be presented on Friday morning.

The selected factors are:

  • Elevated CO2 responses
  • Temperature responses
  • Drought responses
  • Flooding responses
  • Increased variability
  • Soil process responses
  • Climate change and resource use efficiency

Participants have been divided in the different sessions based on their preference.

5. Symposium and excursion (Wageningen University, Wednesday and Friday afternoon)
On Wednesday afternoon, after lunch,  all course members will travel by bus from Ede to Wageningen for a symposium on Resilience of Agroecosystems. After the symposium course members will be brought back to De Bosrand by bus.
After the presentations and lunch on Friday, courses members have the option of travelling to Wageningen University for an excursion.

Course Organisers
  • Jochem Evers (Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands)
  • Gerrit Hoogenboom (University of Florida, Gainesville, USA)
  • Hannah Schneider (Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands)  
  • Claudius van de Vijver (PE&RC, Wageningen, the Netherlands)
General information
Target Group The course is aimed at PhD candidates and other academics
Group Size Min. 20 / Max. 34 participants
Course duration 6 days
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Once every two years
Number of credits 2 ECTS
Prior knowledge Participants must have knowledge in crop/plant physiology and some knowledge in modelling and programming
Location Parkhotel 'De Bosrand', Ede, the Netherlands
More information

Dr. Claudius van de Vijver (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 485116

Registration of interest

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