BOOSTER aims to develop maize drought tolerant genotypes by improving current breeding strategies, specifically focusing on revealing the potential of natural variation located within cis regulatory elements (CREs), which represents a large fraction of the quantitative trait locis associated with drought.
CREs are bound by transcriptomic factors (TFs) that regulate a plethora of down-stream target genes, thus concomitantly affecting many genes whose function is involved in drought responsive mechanisms. The information produced by BOOSTER will be used in breeding programs that simultaneously target different CREs, selected based on their higher relevance for drought response. Thus, the features of BOOSTER strategy will significantly increase the chances to achieve drought-tolerant genotypes (DTGs), via classical breeding or new breeding technologies, with relevant increase of drought resilience compared to those currently available.
Furthermore, the development of novel and more efficient biostimulants represents an additional eco-friendly weapon for reducing negative effects of drought on maize.
The combination of novel DTGs and biostimulants treatment is expected to act synergistically for reducing drought-induced yield losses.