, 163:533

Changes in the concept of genotype × environment interactions to fit agriculture diversification and decentralized participatory plant breeding: pluridisciplinary point of view

  • D. Desclaux
  • J. M. Nolot
  • Y. Chiffoleau
  • E. Gozé
  • C. Leclerc


The standardization of environments (E) encouraged by modern society and by the productivist model of agriculture has resulted in the standardization of genotypes (G) thereby reducing G × E interaction. New societal values call for the diversification of agriculture to fit contrasted environments. This process can be depicted by four models defined by two axes, one socio-economic (individual logics versus collective governance), and the other agro-ecological (reductionist versus systemic approaches). These models differ in (i) their objectives (from improvement in yield to the empowerment of farmers), (ii) their specific expectations with respect to genotypes (from inherited genetic resources to varieties that represent genetic, ethical and social progress), (iii) their specific representations of the environment (E) (from a simple interaction between the bio-physical environment (B) and the crop management (C), to a complex interaction including the competences of the actors (A), outlets (O), regulations (R), society (S)), (iv) their particular relations between G and E (from G × E to G × B × C × A under evolving constraints represented by R × O × S). Taking this diversity into account changes the way plant improvement is considered. Thus, depending on the model, the order, interest and status of the five classic stages of plant improvement (setting objectives, creating variability, selecting, evaluating and disseminating) may be called into question. Between the existing analytical model (Model I) and a holistic model (Model IV) which remains to be developed, lies the challenge of ensuring the sustainability, efficiency and acceptability of plant breeding and resulting innovations. From a simple “statistical parameter” that we, as plant breeders, attempt to reduce, the G × E interaction is becoming an “objective” that we try to predict and valorize. Structuring the different components of E, G and G × E, enables us to extend the basic concept of representivity to both the cultivation conditions and the relational socio-economic positions of the actors involved.


Plant breeding Sociotechnical approach Diversity of agricultural models Heterogeneous environments Representivity On-farm selection Ex-situ/in-situ 



Main actors (competences & resources)


Bio-physical environment


Crop management


Outlet, market





G × E

Genotype × environment interaction


Regulations, coordinating structures (public policies, public or private standards, etc.)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Desclaux
    • 1
  • J. M. Nolot
    • 2
  • Y. Chiffoleau
    • 3
  • E. Gozé
    • 4
  • C. Leclerc
    • 5
  1. 1.INRA, UMR 1097MontpellierFrance
  2. 2.INRA, UE 802Castanet-TolosanFrance
  3. 3.INRA, UMR 951MontpellierFrance
  4. 4.CIRAD, UPR 102MontpellierFrance
  5. 5.CIRAD, UMR DAPMontpellierFrance

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