MED-BERRY - Developing new strategies to protect strawberry crop in the Mediterranean countries

About Us

Strawberry is fundamental crop for Mediterranean countries, the fruits have unique flavour and precious nutritional properties and their economic value is extremely high. Growing healthy strawberry using sustainable protection solutions that preserve the fruits quality and yield and respect human health and environment is a challenging task. In this project complementary expertise of researchers from academic institution and private companies from Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Israel and Morocco are joined in the effort to develop innovative tools, protocols and strategies suited to completely revise the pest control protocols in view of innovative concept of protection management where conventional instruments (e.g. traditional breeding programs made with local germplasm) are integrated with OGM-free modern biotech technologies effective against the most aggressive pathogens and adaptable to new phytosanitary emergences. The economic sustainability of the developed solution and their social acceptability across the Mediterranean countries will be evaluated to obtain realistic measure of the potential application of the new strategies. Large effort will be dedicated to disseminate results in different farming and industrial context and to share the newly achieved knowledge through the strawberry research network.

Period of Implementations

Sep 1, 2019 - Feb 28, 2023

Total Budget

EUR 1.176.743,00

OUR IMPACT

Goals

1: Resistant genes identification and exploitation. Local resistant germplasm will be used to develop resistant varieties against fungal diseases 2: Development of NBT protocols, and RNA interference molecules. Intragenesis protocols will be applied to study the role of key strawberry defense genes to increase fruit resistance. Specific dsRNA molecules will be designed to target pathogen key genes by topical application on plants (SIGS). 3. Socio-economic impact analysis. The economic sustainability of the developed solutions and their social acceptability across the Mediterranean countries will be evaluated to obtain realistic measure of the potential application of the new strategies. 4. Dissemination. Large effort will be put to disseminate results in different farming and industrial contexts and to share the newly achieved knowledge through the strawberry research network and the organization of training activities.

Objectives

1. To screen well-adapted Mediterranean cultivated strawberry germplasm and breeding selections to identify resistances to major fungal diseases: grey mold, anthracnose, powdery mildew mildew and possibly to local diseases. 2. To develop constructs/ protocol/plants for inducing GMO free-gene-intragenic technology disease resistance in strawberry 3. To develop new constructs/ protocols /products based on RNAi technology for inducing disease resistance in strawberry. 4. To carefully evaluate the attitude of consumers towards Med-Berry new products and to provide important information on their acceptability.

Impact Pathway

1) Control of the effects of climate change and the associated risks for plant and animal health (including existing and emerging diseases, and adaptation of livestock systems) The new strawberry varieties and the intragenic varieties, adapted to Mediterranean climate and with resistance traits against fungal diseases, and the RNA i-based solutions, will allow to limit the risk of increase in infection rate and severity of fungal diseases due to climate change. 2) Provision of integrated pest and diseases control/management solutions, for plants and animal systems. The project will allow to develop innovative, sustainable, and safe protection management practices and strategies, easily adaptable to future phytosanitary emergencies 3) Impacts on human health and environment The decreased demand in fungicide treatments due to application of the Med-Berry innovation will crucially impact also on human health and environments, since new strawberry varieties produced with these technologies will be free or will have very few fungicide residues, harmful for both humans and soil and water bodies. 4) Impacts on economic growth and competitiveness Med-Berry innovations will have a direct impact on cultivation systems and in general on the organization of strawberry industry of the Mediterranean area also with the creation of new products that can be scaled up at industrial levels, by SMEs involved in the project or even by other new companies (Spin-off) created by the group. The improvement of cultivation efficiency and increased commercial value of the fruit derived from Med-Berry activities will help to overcome the labor problems associated to this crop, by achieving more efficient production and higher prices by added value. 4)Impacts on innovation capacity New intragenic protocols and tools will allow to acquire more knowledge on strawberry new gene and promoter function. This will readily prompt new research and open new possibilities of applications in different fruit crop related field, e.g. to enhance fruit productivity, provide drought stress tolerance, other abiotic stress tolerance etc.

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