Life Cycle Shortening: The key towards sustainable tulip production


There is hardly a more Dutch icon to be found than the tulip. Economically, with an annual production value of €600M, the Dutch bulbous sector is flourishing. Despite, the sector is facing serious threats, such as increasing disease pressure and incessant pesticide usage. Although genetic resources for disease resistance are available, development of new cultivars through “breeding by design”, as is common practice for many crops, is seriously hampered by the lengthy breeding cycle in tulip. Main drawbacks are the long juvenile period, the strictly one-year-life cycle of full-grown adult bulbs, and the low vegetative propagation rate. Consequently, starting from seeds, it takes 3-7 years before first flowering, 10 years for hybrid selection, and then another 10 years for production of bulbs for commercial release.
The main goal of this project is to enable tulip ‘life cycle shortening’ (LCS) and ‘flowering-on-demand’ during breeding and initial propagation of plant material. We hypothesize that the long breeding cycle can be shortened by intervening in sink-source relationships and by precocious activation of key flowering time integrators. Research will focus on evolutionary conserved regulatory components involved in juvenile-to-adult transition, floral induction, resource allocation and usage, and bulbing. In collaboration with the private partner, the knowledge gained from this fundamental research will be translated into new breeding tools for tulip LCS. Ultimately, this will provide the opportunity for a paradigm shift in tulip production and the introduction of a sustainable ‘tulips from seed’ concept, comprising rapid trait integration and true F1-hybrids.





Prof. dr. ir. R.G.H. Immink

Verbonden aan

Wageningen University & Research, Plantenwetenschappen, Laboratorium voor Moleculaire Biologie (MOB)


Mr. M. Aguirre Bolaños, Ir. F. Bellinazzo, Ir. J. Busscher-Lange


16/08/2018 tot 02/01/2022