Breeding for MH-independent onion cultivars – models and markers for sprouting stability in onion.

Breeding for MH-independent onion cultivars – models and markers for sprouting stability in onion.


WR-cap TU




Landbouw, Water, Voedsel>Sleuteltechnologieën LWV>Biotechnologie en Veredeling






Onion is an important horticultural crop that is cultivated all over the world. The aim of the project is to contribute to the development of a more sustainable onion production by breeding for MH-independent onion cultivars. This project addresses an urgent problem in onion cultivation and storage and has a clear economic, scientific and societal impact. Onion is a biennial crop that forms a bulb in the first year, remains dormant for a while and flowers in the second year. As the induction of sprouting and transition to flowering is highly sensitive to abiotic stresses and physical damage, the harvest of the crop requires extreme care in handling procedures. Storability of onions can be defined as the period during which the bulbs remain firm and healthy while not producing sprouts. To prevent the sprouting of bulbs during storage, approximately two weeks before harvest plants are treated with a chemical agent called MH (maleic hydrazide). The Dutch government intends to reduce the application of this chemical compound, if possible, cease treatment by 2030. That means that other innovative solutions are required to improve the storability of onion bulbs. Designing selection tools for breeding onion bulbs with longer dormancy during storage is therefore a high priority. In that way the project contributes to ST2 and MMIP A2.

Doel van het project

The project will contribute to the development and/or application of biotechnology and/or breeding for crops, contributing to one or multiple missions. The project will make use or develop genome technology and phenotyping.

Relatie met missie (Motivatie)

Contribution to ST2
Contribution to MMIP A2
• On the long term the project contributes to MMIP A2, as it supports the development of an environmentally sustainable and chemical-free agriculture and food production. The project also contributes to MMIP D2 as it aims at the reduction of food waste and year-round availability of high quality onions.

Geplande acties

 Knowledge on candidate key regulatory genes controlling sprouting (2020-2021)
 Knowledge on phenotyping, expression studies and metabolomics (2020-2024)
 Knowledge on functional analyses for onion candidate genes (2022-2024)
 Scientific papers and a PhD thesis (2024)

Naam projectleider

Olga Scholten