Over the next five years the DataPLANT consortium will receive a total of about eleven million euros from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for the development of a service and data infrastructure designed to record and deliver large data volumes for modern crop research. Headed by the University of Freiburg, the consortium is one of nine in the Nationale Forschungsdateninfrastruktur [national research data infrastructure (NFDI)] initiative. Freiburg’s partners in the initiative are the University of Tübingen, the Jülich Research Center and the University of Kaiserslautern.
Modern crop research investigates the molecular principles of plant life that determine aspects such as growth, crop yield and biomass production, for example. It also makes a significant contribution to securing food supplies worldwide in the face of growing demand and changing environmental conditions. Researchers from different disciplines are working together in order to establish how and why plants function in the way they do, and analyzing amongst other things the natural genetic diversity and evolution of plants. “One goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of how agricultural crops can be altered genetically and biochemically in order to help them be resilient and productive even in times of climate change and with a growing global population,” explains Ralf Reski, Professor of Plant Biotechnology at the University of Freiburg and member of the board of DataPLANT. The state-of-the-art measuring methods used generate complex and massive volumes of data, that have to be processed and interpreted by means of computers.
This research means scientists increasingly rely on efficient management of research data – that is the collection, exchange and processing of research data. “For want of a national infrastructure we have until now faced a significant barrier to making maximum use of the full potential of crop research in Europe,” Reski declares. The DataPLANT consortium aims to fill this gap and develop a service and data infrastructure for modern crop research. In this way it will enable the exchange of interdisciplinary expertise and linking up of different analytical results – and thus contribute to the democratization of research data.