Somatic hybridization means the combination of nuclear and cytoplasmic genetic information by fusion of somatic cells, and is a powerful technique to develop new crop varieties with improved qualitative and quantitative traits. The main requirement for application of somatic hybridization techniques is the availability of efficient protoplast regeneration systems. Especially in cereals, however, the routine plant regeneration from isolated protoplasts is still difficult due to the fast loss of regeneration capability of cell cultures used as source material for the protoplasts. In order to improve the regeneration protocols for cereal protoplast, we are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the regeneration potential of cereals. The aim of the project is to determine the role of epigenetic factors in plant regeneration via somatic embryogenesis of the crop plant barley. Furthermore, epigenetic drugs will be tested to examine their effects and to identify drugs enhancing regeneration. To achieve these goals collaborations will be implemented with the partners at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (Cologne, Germany), University of Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf, Germany), Institute of Plant Genetics PAS (Poznan, Poland), Biomol-Informatics S.L. (Madrid, Spain), Diagenode SA (Liege, Belgium) and KeyGene N.V. (Wageningen, The Netherlands).