27 partners across Europe from various sec- tors ranging from research, breeding, DUS examination to performance testing for both conventional and organic farming participate in INVITE. Over a period of five years, the partners will be able to spend 8 million euros to achieve their goals, and the coordination of the INVITE project lies with the French research organization INRA. The project addresses DUS and performance testing in a balanced way and intends to maximize syner- gies between them through related activities based on phenotyping, genotyping, modelling and data- base management. INVITE will focus on 10 crops (wheat, soybean, perennial ryegrass, tomato, sun- flower, maize, potato, apple, lucerne, oilseed rape). One expected impact is the introduction of plant traits into the testing protocols that respond to new challenges and demands in the conventional and organic sectors, while also taking into account the economic return of growers. “The project follows a call under the EU’s Horizon 2020 program. Simply said, it is about improving variety testing as a basis for variety list- ing and for plant variety protection (PVP),” says Christoph Herrlinger at NPZ, one of the seed indus- try partners, what he felt about this project. Herrlinger states there are many new approaches and methods to describe plants. First and foremost, there are molecular biological meth- ods that can be used to describe the genetic con- stitution of plants in a simpler, faster and more precise way. In addition, there are the new methods of so-called digital phenotyping, which can improve WHY IT MATTERS Another one of the projects that was awarded in the Horizon 2020 program is INVITE (INnovations in plant VarIety Testing in Europe). The project aims at improving efficiency of variety testing and availability of information to stakeholders on variety performance under diversified production conditions and on biotic and abiotic stresses. But how does the seed sector feel about this project? HOW DOES THE SEED INDUSTRY FEEL ABOUT THE INVITE PROJECT? BY: MARCEL BRUINS the determination of traits. However, not everything that is suitable for describing a plant is also suitable for describing varieties. “The project aims to gain insights into which new approaches will be useful in the future for the system of variety description. It is important that this is not purely technology-driven,” he says. “It should only be implemented what is considered sen- sible, taking into account the interests of all stake- holders. In this way, INVITE should contribute to making the system of variety description simpler, more effective and faster and to making it future- proof overall.” CAN VARIETY TESTING BE IMPROVED? EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 21 Christoph Herrlinger