C4FUTURE will:

Develop novel climate resilient ideotypes and breeding technologies to significantly sustain cereal productivity and value chains in Europe.

C4FUTURE will:

Demonstrate about one third productivity increase, which in five-year perspective means more than a double annual growth rate (USDA). This is possible through technologies implemented within the project, and the improved productivity in other cropping systems owing to the technologies transferred from C4FUTURE.

Project facts



Project title

Fortifying and Enhancing Resilience in C4 Crops for Current and Future Climate Change Adversities

Project duration

36 Months ( 04 / 2021 to 03 / 2024 )



Topic area

Enhancement of new and/or predictive breeding technologies and the development of new genotypes leading to new phenotypes towards the release of improved crop varieties that are capable to adapt to future changes in environmental and climatic conditions. Projects could also target improvement of variety selection processes to support agroecological practices.

Additional topic area

Improvement of resource-use efficiency of cropping systems by agroecological approaches to increase the efficiency of nutrient, water and energy utilisation. This could include the use of improved crops.

Key words

Cereals, Mineral nutrition, Natural variation, Resource Use Efficiency, Root system architecture

Project structure

Work package 1

Phenotyping crop plants at an early development stage in controlled environments.

Work package 2

Testing crop resilience towards resource stress in field conditions for adaptative plasticity breeding purpose.

Work package 3

Uncovering genetic variation and integration of whole-genome marker information into prebreeding for plant resilience to resource stress.

Work package 4

Co-innovative preparation, stakeholder engagement, communication, dissemination and outreach.


The project structure is divided into four levels of management and organization

  1. General Assembly
  2. Management Committee 
  3. Workpackage leaders’ team 
  4. Advisory board 

Contribution towards the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

The potential impact of the C4FUTURE project involves direct contribution towards the following five out of 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • SDG 2 - Zero hunger:
    • C4FUTURE will sustainably and responsibly increase yields of maize and sorghum to produce healthpromoting foods and other products for human consumption, targeting specialized and niche markets to improve incomes to foster community resilience and food security
  • SDG 3 - Good health and well-being:
    • Maize and sorghum can be used to produce fortified foods capable of combating degenerative afflictions in humans
  • SDG 12 - Responsible consumption and production:
    • C4FUTURE will develop new breeding technologies and plant ideotypes that expedite and cut costs to the development of climate change resilient cultivars requiring low inputs and hence, reduced environmental load
  • SDG 13 - Climate action:
    • C4FUTURE will implement genomic, phenomic, and next generation technologies in crop physiology to develop modern cultivars requiring less inputs and hence, adapting to and mitigating climate change
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships to achieve the goals:
    • C4FUTURE involves partners with complementary expertise and whose work on this project will foster durable partnerships and ultimately sustainable development.

Expected Key Performance Indicators include:

  • > Two hundreds, each, maize and sorghum genotypes characterized for climate change resilience and fortified nutritional qualities.
  • Two comprehensive atlases of genes, proteins, antioxidants and metabolites expressed in cereals in response to nitrogen and water stress.
  • Identification of hundred stress-adaptive and antioxidant meta-QTL.
  • Novel genomic selection models developed to predict yields and other climate change resilience traits.
  • Twenty stress-adaptive and antioxidant alleles/genes identified and validated.
  • Twenty profiles of maize and sorghum ideotypes adapted to projected climatic scenarios.
  • Cutting breeding cycle costs and duration, (viii) novel phenotyping protocols (e.g. capturing root morphology, probing photosynthesis) adaptable in other crop species.
  • Forty prototype lines, of which ten expected to improve maize and sorghum productivity under nitrogen and water stress by 30%.