MiDiVine project aimed at developing knowledge, tools and integrated approaches based on grapevine genetic resources and agricultural practices promoting functional microbial diversity (FMD) to better improve grapevine production and resistance against the main foliar and trunk diseases (grey mold, downy mildew and esca) under drought stress conditions. The project will focus on the characterization of FMD and the identification of beneficial microbes from traditional cultivated/elite with different practices and indigenous vines for improving grapevine health and productivity in open vineyards under water shortage conditions. MiDiVine project will analyse the impact of plant genotype, soil type and agricultural practices, including the use of covers and service plants, on FMD and beneficial microbes against diseases under stress conditions. In addition, the environmental footprint for each of the proposed practices will be determined (e.g. C sequestration due to cover crops and reduced tillage). The proposal will therefore provide innovative and sustainable solution to improve agroecosystem services by managing soil microbiome and intercropping in Mediterranean countries in order to reduce dependency on agro-chemical pesticides in vineyards.

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Period of Implementation

Jun 1, 2021 - May 31, 2024
Total Budget

EUR 819,714.04



The general goal of the proposal is to achieve an economically and environmentally sustainable viticulture under agro-ecological conditions in Mediterranean regions by combining optimal use efficiency of genetic resources, increased functional microbial biodiversity with adapted practices (including covers and service plants), optimisation of water use efficiency, lower chemical inputs, and production stability. These can collectively sustain grapevine resilience and profitability which also are pivotal for healthy food and job security.


• Valorization of local/elite grapevine genotypes and indigenous varieties to characterize FMD to increase sustainability and resilience of farming systems, particularly regarding the environmental and social dimensions. • Evaluation of agricultural practices such as soil management, fertilization, covers, and service plants along with adaptation of grape varieties on microbial diversity as related to disease resistance. • Monitoring the degree of biotic and abiotic stress in plants treated with most effective microbial consortia on plant adaptive and immune responses against drought stress and damaging pathogens. • Understanding the genetic and physiological bases of grapevine adaptation to abiotic stress and resistance to pathogenic oomycete and fungi and development of new protection strategies through multi-factorial approaches, based mainly on the promotion of beneficial microbes. • Introduction of selected microbial consortia and management of FMD in vineyard systems as an innovative strategy for restoring soil functionality, avoiding water scarcity, ensuring sustainable grapevine protection against diseases, and thus improving profitability. • Determination of the environmental footprint (e.g. GHG emissions, water footprint, energy intensity, ecotoxicity) for the management practices tested, using the UE environmental footprints methodology. • Dissemination of practical experiences and animation of local actors within Mediterranean regions with local cultural practices in which the actors will develop, test and validate the new tools and strategies integrating FMD for effective resilience to drought as well as integrated disease management in new farming systems.

Problems and Needs Analysis

The current changes in climatic conditions including recurrent droughts, become a huge threat to the sustainability of grape production, food security and farmers’ incomes in Mediterranean region. These climatic changes will also affect the plant diseases, altering more fruit yield and quality, as well as processing . Grey mold, downy mildew and esca are among the most threatening diseases in Mediterranean vineyards. Their control is generally achieved by widespread applications of chemical pesticides, which become major concerns given their negative impact on human health and the environment. These negative impacts have sparked increasing interest in developing safer innovative strategies, while maintaining, or even increasing levels of agricultural production, the quality of harvesting products, and the economic profitability of farms and agricultural value chains. Success will necessarily involve the use of combinations and integrations of many levers, ranging from varietal selection to changes in farming practices and systems. MiDiVine will promote the environmental protection by reducing chemical treatments in vineyards, safeguarding soil functionalities, biodiversity and human health and responding to customer inquiries and stakeholder demands in order to promote high sustainability in viticulture under stressful climate change in Mediterranean areas. The main idea of MiDiVine project is based on the use of grapevine-associated functional microbial diversity (FMD) to improve water use efficiency (WUE) and disease resistance (biocontrol) by exploiting the innate drought response mechanisms or immune resistance traits of grapevine genotypes. . The project will focus on microbial networks from cross-sectional data associated to a large set of environmental conditions. The aim will be to identify FMD likely to be associated to stress tolerant cultivars or to interact with most destructive pathogens.

Intervention Strategy(ies)

MiDiVine will deliver innovation in the use of FMD and genetic resources of grapevine as alternative natural strategy to improve grapevine production and tolerance to water shortage and diseases in farming systems. The project will comprise these main components: • Diversify grapevine varieties with regards to desirable adaptive traits building on tools and knowledge developed through genomic tools, • Identify or generate stress conditions in the field, then isolate and profile the plant and soil microbial communities from rhizospheric soil and roots of healthy and stress-affected plants. The isolation chip/selective media, and metagenomics combined with metabolomics and culture-dependent communities’ approaches will be used. • Characterize FMD with benefit for plant tolerance to water deficit and to the main foliar and trunk diseases. The culturable microbes will provide defined consortia of reduced complexity that enable investigations into plant tolerance/resistance to stress. • Identify a set of cover and service plants and environmental factors (soils parameters, practices, microclimate, etc) to improve the microbiota assignment in terms of functionality and to conserve biodiversity in vineyards. • In silico screening and validation of the efficient microbial consortia taking account different scenari including genotype, cover and pathogen to increase the performance and robustness of the FMD. • Unravel the interactions between plant defense systems, FMD, and environmental factors for understanding genotype-associated microbes and immune modulation shifts of FMD under environmental conditions and pathogen challenge. • Improve and design agricultural practices aimed at maximizing FMD, durable resistance to diseases, adaptation to environmental stress (drought) and environmental footprint mitigation. Environmental factors and viticultural practices that can influence soil microbial function and composition should be considered when using the omics tools and selected microbial consortia. • Design, develop and test innovative agronomic systems integrating new agricultural practices and taking into account the variability of constraints met by Mediterranean vineyards under environmental stress. The project will combine short, medium, and long-term approaches to conceive innovative vineyard systems, design and test novel biocontrol strategies and agronomic practices, and exploit the genetic diversity of grapevine that all together will ensure a progress towards sustainable viticulture. The project consortium is composed of research institutions, research centers and institutes in collaboration with Stakeholder (companies and farmers) in the Mediterranean regions.

Impact Pathway

MiDiVine project will provide advanced knowledge by improving biodiversity in vineyards, reducing imputs and environmental impacts whilst increasing environmental quality in agrosystem, grapevine resilience to climate change and diseases in a sustainable way and taking into account Regional specificities. By combining selection process, genomics approaches, microbial diversity, agronomic practices with specific covers and service plants, precision viticulture tools, physio-molecular analysis, biocontrol strategy and disease management, MiDiVine expects to generate the following impacts: • Improving research and innovation potential within Mediterranean regions and worldwide - The potential contribution of MiDiVine to the improvement of the R&D potential within Mediterranean areas and/or worldwide is anticipated to be at both national and international levels. The interaction between academic and private partners from different countries although with different goals has a common theme. The project is in line with the European objectives for research on vine and grape in HORIZON 2020 Program, it has a strong accent on multidisciplinary, on the development of innovating tool/equipment and on translation research results into applications. • Increasing the scientific level - Understanding the genetic, physiological and molecular bases of grapevine adaptation to abiotic stress and resistance to fungal diseases and develop new protection strategies through multi-factorial approaches, based mainly on use and management of functional microbial biodiversity. • - Understanding the relationship between the acquisition of tolerance/resistance triggered by functional microbiome and the expression of plant immunity under fluctuating environmental conditions. - Training, co-supervision and mobility events (horizontal actions) improving the expertise of involved personnel and annual meetings. The projected outcomes will provide a paradigm for various stress scenarios determination, identification of beneficial microbes and pathogens and verification of microbe-free material. This paradigm can be easily extended to other plant species/conditions providing a general platform for direct exploitation by various research actors. I• mproving vineyard management and practices - Integrating functional microbial biodiversity into technical itineraries of farming systems of different geographical locations involved in grape production in Mediterranean countries. This will provide a good source for adaptation of grape cultivars and management practices to changing climate. - Strengthening the sustainability of production systems through reduction of chemical inputs, while minimizing environmental impact, improving water use efficiency and preserving biodiversity. - Adaptation of biocontrol strategies to different terroir of Mediterranean environment and improving management of typical products and rural development. - Access to novel biological material to be screened for possible adaptations and identification of tolerant ones and the responsible genes/mechanisms in future studies (either from nurseries or from academic participants with field access-mostly academic participants) - Transfer of knowledge and tools (new protocols for defining threats to plant’s health and monitoring early stress responses, diagnostic methods, etc) among partners. • Expected impacts at the socio-economic level - The achievement of an economically and environmentally sustainable agroecosystem should combine optimal use efficiency of natural resources, lower external inputs, increased biodiversity and production stability that collectively sustain crop resilience, crop profitability and optimisation of water use efficiency under climate change, all would result in reduction of grape production costs. - Improving product quality, food security, transition to a biobased economy, knowledge to support for decision making process and increase of competitiveness through innovations are also pivotal for progress in societal challenges in terms of future food and job security. - It is anticipated that private Company and farmers will directly benefit from the activities of MiDiVine. More specifically, protocols for early monitoring and defining threats to plant’s health (early symptoms, identification of novel strains or even species) are of immediate and high interest to partners and nurseries. - In addition, there are planned, direct collaborations between partners with the aim of producing beneficial microbes from selected functional diversity that will be commercialized and thus reach end-users. The development of these beneficial microbes will rely on relevant patents on this technology. Besides, climate change repercussions on viticulture are being markedly sensed due to soil salinization, water shortage and increased temperatures which affect growth, development, and yield of grapevine as well as grape organoleptic and aromatic quality.

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