The combined effects of climate change and farmer request for high-performance cultivars have contributed to a great reduction of the cultivated wheat genetic diversity and the loss of the cultivation of old grains. Legumes, particularly lentil and chickpea, are also traditional Mediterranean crops as well as the best option for rotation/consociation with wheat. They are consumed as staple foods by large proportion of the population mainly in developing countries, and their use in diet is increasing worldwide. Lentil and chickpea are part of cereal-based crop systems in many countries. They contribute to sustainable farming thanks to their ability to fix nitrogen in soils. In this context, CerealMed proposes the valorisation and rediscovery of landraces and domesticated relatives of tetraploid (i.e. Triticum turgidum ssp turgidum, ssp. turanicum, ssp. polonicum) wheat for cultivation in specific farming systems. Furthermore, other not yet domesticated wild species (i.e. T. turgidum ssp dicoccoides, Aegilops species) represent a remarkable reservoir of genes and alleles for resistance to pests and diseases, tolerance to various abiotic pressures and good nutritional values. Likewise, lentil and chickpea landraces and wild relatives such as Lens orientalis could be used in pre-breeding activities to enhance the genetic base for developing varieties with improved biotic and abiotic stress resistance/tolerance.
1. Biodiversity restoration through the evaluation and use of wide cereal and legume diversity collections including crop relatives; 2. Creation of new biodiversity through inter-generic and interspecific crosses; 3. New agronomic strategies for soil fertility restoration; 4. Valorisation of genotypes for biomass production into high added value compounds; 5. Environmental and economic assessment of the different biodiversity-based wheat farming options;
CerealMed will focus on the valorization of diverse wheat germoplasm, including landraces, local genotypes, domesticated wheat relatives, besides with the identification of lentil and chickpea genotypes to be used for soil fertility restoration though crop rotation and consociation. CerealMed will capitalize the immense knowledge, genomic resources and phenotypic data produced for these crops by the research institutions of the Mediterranean countries involved in the project.
Success in this initiative will open the door to a new cereal farming system in the Mediterranean countries. Outputs of the project will provide impact at different levels as requested by the call. In the longer term, CerealMed will increase the efficiency of business activities of agro-farm through the transfer and implementation of innovative systems and proper tools allowing them to increase the performance of their final products
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