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FREECLIMB (2019-2022)

The project targets major fruit tree species with the aim of improving the availability of breeding and germplasm material adapted to limited external resources and future climatic scenarios.

The FREECLIMB project is build to match objective 1 of the PRIMA framework in developing smart and sustainable farming systems to maintain natural resources and to increase production efficiency.  The project targets major fruit tree species with the aim of  improving the availability of breeding and germplasm material adapted to limited external resources (input) and future climatic scenarios in the Mediterranean area, through the characterization and exploitation of local biodiversity. This target will be particularly relevant for Mediterranean agriculture where cropping systems have to cope with preservation (or restoration) of the natural resources in a very constrained environmental context (climate change, water scarcity). The project will focus on key ideotypes elaborated in collaboration with Fruit Farming Actors (FFAs, breeders, nurseries, growers) with the core objective of providing diverse germplasm, tools and methods to accelerate exploitation, breeding and selection of resilient varieties in key traditional fruit crops of Mediterranean agriculture (stone fruits such as peach, apricot and almond; Citrus spp.; grape; olive).

To these ends, the project will pursue the following specific objectives:

  1. developing and applying protocols (e.g. phenotyping methods) and integrated tools (e.g. genotyping methods, data analysis) to support the characterization, exploitation and selection of varieties adapted to a range of agro-ecological and management conditions;
  2. dissecting the genetic bases of traits/processes linked to sustainability and plant resilience to biotic and abiotic stress, with particular focus on disentangling genotype x environment x management interaction (GxExM);
  3. unravelling the molecular, biochemical and physiological basis of plant adaptation to different environmental (soil and climate) and agronomic conditions (water and fertilizer management) and to biotic/abiotic (single or multiple) stresses;
  4. developing and applying genomics-based breeding tools to improve  introgression and selection efficiency;
  5. devising adaptation strategies to cope with the combined effects of multiple stresses occurring under field conditions (e.g heat and drought, pests and diseases);
  6. exploiting germplasm resources, by identifying and characterizing spontaneous and domesticated sources of biodiversity;
  7. transferring project results through training and dissemination activities dedicated especially to breeders, nurseries and growers, particularly in those countries where fruit production is less developed.

Considering southern countries prefigure climate change scenarios predicted for northern ones, FREECLIMB will strongly benefit from collaboration between the south and north Mediterranean shores: for each species targeted by the project at least two countries are involved one from the north and one from the south. The balanced composition of the consortium ensures an equal footing approach with particular attention to co-ownership of results, mutual interest, and shared benefits.

Modification date: 21 June 2023 | Publication date: 18 April 2019 | By: FB