Lab equipment. © INRA, William Beaucardet

Green biotechnologies: paving new paths for agriculture

Partnerships and programmes

The development of biotechnologies requires a significant amount of research, bringing together the public and private sectors. That is why INRA is committed to forging new partnerships, not only to pool resources, but also to spur innovation and thus better  respond to the needs of society and promote an open and concerted approach to  making progress in genetics.

A unifying national programme in plant genetics

INRA coordinates the Scientific Interest Group “Green Biotechnologies”, which replaced “Genoplante” in 2011, with an expanded partnership. The new Group brings together players from all over the agricultural production sector, from upstream to downstream: biotech firms, seed providers, harvesting and primary processing cooperatives, industrial groups, technical institutes, inter-professional organisations, and several competitive clusters.

The French scientific community in plant genetics was previously structured by the Scientific Interest Group Genoplante, founded in 1999. The community included more than 300 researchers from the public sector (INRA, CNRS, Cirad, IRD) and private sector (Biogemma and associate seed providers, Vilmorin & Cie, Euralis and RAGT, Sofiprotéol, Arvalis agricultural institute).

Thanks to Genoplante, studies on crop plant genomes (wheat, maize, rice, peas, rapeseed, sunflower) were financed, as were studies on the model genome for the Arabidopsis species.

Genoplante consisted of:

- 350 projects in functional genomics, of which 45 in bi- or tri-lateral collaboration with Spain and Germany.

- 350 high-level publications.

- some 40 patent applications, of which 15 at international level.

- 35 software programs and databases submitted to the Agency for the Protection of Programs (APP).


 Large-scale projects and infrastructures

INRA pilots or collaborates on several large-scale projects and national infrastructures within the framework of Stimulus Initiative Projects, launched in 2010.

The nine thematic projects piloted by INRA are (see map):

-      Breedwheat and Amaizing: create new bread, wheat and maize varieties for sustainable production.

-      AKER: increase sugar yield of beets with new varieties.

-      Peamust: stabilise yield and quality of high-protein peas.

-      Rapsodyn: optimisation of the RAPeSeed Oil content anD Yield under low Nitrogen input.

-      Sunrise: SUNflower Genetic Resources Enabling oil Yield stability improvement under limited water supply.

-      GENIUS: technological developments in plant selection for sustainable agriculture

-      BFF:biomass for the future.

-      Pro-bio3: biocatalytic production of high-lipid bio-products from renewable raw materials.

Stimulus Initiative Projects. © INRA
Stimulus Initiative Projects © INRA


INRA also pilots:

-          1 national infrastructure (Phenome: French centre for phenomics)

-          1 IEED (GreenStars)

-          1 Carnot Institute (3BCAR: bioenergy, biomolecules and biomaterials from renewable carbon).

INRA’s partnerships:

-          1 Equipex (Morphoscope: Imaging and multi-scale reconstruction of morphogenesis)

-          2 national infrastructures (FRANCE GENOMIQUE: Genomic analysis and high-speed bioinformatics network. TEFOR: Transgenesis for functional studies on model organisms)

-          3 thematic projects (BIORARE: Bioelectrosynthesis for treating residual waste.Idealg:Recovering marine biomass and benefitting from its diversity, especially by developing algae biology and genomics.Synthacs: Synthetic Biology for the synthesis of chemicals with high added-value from renewable carbon resources)

-          1 bioinformatics project (IBC:Institute of Bio-Computing)

-          4 Laboratories of Excellence (Labex) (AGRO: Agronomy and Sustainable Development. SIGNALIFE: Innovation Network for Signalling Pathways in Life Sciences, SPS: Saclay Plant Science, TULIP: Towards a unified theory of biotic interaction: the role of environmental disturbances)

-          2 IEEDs  (PIVERT: Picardy Plant Innovation, Teaching and Technological Research, IFMAS: French Institute for Agrosourced Materials)