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Development of Benaki Phytopathological Institute as a Centre of Excellence in Plant Health and Crop Protection

Final Report Summary - BPI PLANTHEAL (Development of Benaki Phytopathological Institute as a Centre of Excellence in Plant Health and Crop Protection)

Executive Summary:
The basic concept of BPI Plant-Heal was to reinforce the Benaki Phytopathological Institute (BPI), scientifically and technologically. This would allow BPI’s expansion from a high-quality National Research Institute into a European Crop Protection Research Centre, utilizing the latest biotechnological methods in Integrated Pest Management and sustainable crop production.
In order to achieve the goals of BPI Plant-Heal – in particular, the construction and operation of a highly sophisticated P2/P3 Greenhouse and knowledge transfer to the Institute - BPI developed strategic partnerships with three EU Research Centres of Excellence, namely Newcastle University, UK (UNEW), INRA with Avignon Station de Pathologie Vegetale and Dijon Joint Research Unit Agroécologie, France and Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA), Spain.
A state-of-the-art containment facility was constructed in the premises of the Institute as a result of close collaboration of a Spanish expert and Greek engineers. Two-way training secondments were completed. The project offered to BPI staff the opportunity to accomplish an intensive course of knowledge-transfer through:
• Short-term visits and long-term secondments of scientists from the collaborating Research Centres of Excellence to BPI,
• In-house training at BPI by the experts recruited under the project, and by the BPI researchers that had been seconded to the collaborating Centres of Excellence in UK, France and Spain.

Disseminating the research activities of BPI to the scientific community and stakeholders in Greece and Europe was accomplished through a series of workshops, open-day events, publication of results in scientific journals and congresses, articles in the popular press, fliers and frequent updates of the project website. The impact of the project at national, regional and EU level was significant. The workshops served as a tool not only to disseminate knowledge but also to integrate opinions expressed by different stakeholders differing in their perspectives on the different subjects. The capacity-building was advertised in mass media (websites and press). The project benefits were communicated to regulators (Greek and foreign) offering short and long term collaborations between BPI and organizations in China, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, EU and the US.
All necessary administrative actions have been performed with success by the different Committees and the administration Board of the Institute. Technical support was officially provided by the Region of Attica for the construction of the Greenhouse. An external indicator report and a financial audit were submitted to the EC.
Thanks to BPI Plant-Heal, the Institute achieved the envisioned reinforcement of its scientific and technological potential and significantly improved its infrastructure and knowledge-base. These benefits are now ready to be used to address scientific challenges raised by the use of biotechnology, having a guaranteed positive effect on the socio-economic status of the country, and better integrating BPI with European research efforts and best practice.

Project Context and Objectives:
The basic concept of BPI Plant-Heal was to reinforce the Benaki Phytopathological Institute (BPI), scientifically and technologically. This would allow BPI’s expansion from a high-quality National Research Institute into a European Plant Health Research Centre, utilizing the latest biotechnological methods in Integrated Pest Management and sustainable crop production. Better comprehension of molecular interactions between plants and plant pathogens, insects and weeds, at the genomic and at the post-genomic level, offers innovative approaches for the development of highly-efficient research strategies for crop protection with acceptable risk assessment outcomes according to EU and international guidance. Research performed in the frame of BPI Plant-Heal addressed scientific challenges rising from the use of biotechnology in a safe manner and with care and sensitivity with regards to public concerns.

The main objectives of Plant-Heal were therefore:
1. Improvement of the greenhouse infrastructure at BPI
2. Training of BPI staff on novel technologies and techniques
3. Transfer of advanced know-how from the European Centers of Excellence
4. Dissemination of acquired knowledge regarding the benefits of biotechnological tools to NGOs, Hellenic Mandated Bodies, Regional Research Organizations

The Strategy followed for achieving the aforementioned objectives consisted of three key elements: i) construction of a state-of-the-art P2/P3 Containment greenhouse, ii) utilization of newly-acquired equipment of BPI for “omics” studies and iii) allocation of human resources to the project for training and research.

Project Results:
The project’s foreground consisted of 4 elements:

1. Acquisition and development of research infrastructures and related equipment.
The P2/P3 greenhouse construction process required the definition of the technical characteristics and an outline plan of the greenhouse, generation of a total cost analysis report and performance of a proclamation, evaluation of the offers and selection of the best financial quote that satisfied the specifications demanded.

2. Know-how transfer and recruitment of experienced researchers.
The project envisioned two-way short-term (1-3 weeks) and long-term (1-6 months) secondments for BPI researchers to be trained in the collaborating European Organizations, namely UNEW, IVIA and INRA, as well as for established researchers from the aforementioned organizations to participate in transfer of know-how activities. The knowledge transfer was supplemented by recruitment of 4 post-doctoral researchers with experience on the applications of the new-‘omics’ technologies and biotechnology innovations. The integration of knowledge between externals and internal BPI scientists was expected to create a multidisciplinary network able to address and develop novel strategies and tools for crop protection.

3. Integration of activities at the European level/dissemination of scientific skills and knowledge to the academic community and industry across the EU.
Dissemination activities to all scientists working in the study of agriculture in the region and widely in Southeast Europe were to be conducted through the organization of 3 workshops with different subjects and topics. A one-day event on biotechnology was also planned, along with other activities addressing issues of interest for various social stakeholders.

4. Management, monitoring and control of various activities within different work packages, tasks.
Project management was to be performed through three established committees, namely (1) the Project Management Board (PMB), (2) the Steering Committee (SC) and (3) the Technical Committee (TC), which were to be responsible for the effective management of the project, providing decision-making, clear external and internal communication, as well as effective administrative and technical control of the project. The financial management was undertaken by BPI staff and external auditors.

More specifically:
1. Acquisition and development of research infrastructure and equipment
In collaboration with the Attica Prefecture, BPI constructed a highly sophisticated P2/P3 Containment Greenhouse on the premises of the Institute. Unique at the regional level, the greenhouse is now in operation and under surveillance. Members of BPI staff have been trained to operate it and the Standard Operating Procedures have been produced. The greenhouse is already scheduled to be used for research and studies carried out within the frame of EU-funded research projects.

1.1 Design of P2/P3 greenhouse and definition of necessary equipment (WP1-DL 1.1)
Prof. J. Ballester-Olmos was selected through a market search to set the specifications of the greenhouse, on account of his great experience in setting P2/P3 greenhouse specifications from the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia. He visited the Institute in order to make a preliminary presentation of his drawings and technical specifications, to explain and answer questions of the BPI Technical Committee. The final technical study for the P2/P3 greenhouse was received.

1.2 Market Research (WP1-DL 1.2)
Market research was carried out and a list was compiled of national and international companies capable of constructing a P2/P3 greenhouse.

1.3 Proclamation (WP1-DL 1.3)
In order to proceed to the proclamations the following steps and legal actions were necessary:
a) Technical study and technical editions according to the requirements of Greek Laws
The bidder PAVLIDES ASSSOSIATES SA prepared the final technical editions, necessary for the proclamation of the greenhouse which was evaluated by both the Technical Committee and external experts (engineers). This evaluation resulted in necessary amendments and modifications. In parallel, an Official Request had been submitted by BPI to the Prefecture of Attica (Technical Services Division) to supervise the construction project. This was required by the Greek Law due to the fact that this greenhouse fell into the category of Public Works.
b) Proclamation
The proclamation was carried out by Attica Region. On 25/10/2012 the contract was signed between the constructor of the project “KYRIAKAKIS CHRISTOS & Co” and the Prefecture for a total budget of € 418.767,18 + VAT (€96,316.45) with 25/12/2012 being the date of the completion of the construction works.

1.4 Construction Supervision (WP1-DL 1.4)
The contractor notified the Prefecture (Region) that construction works (from his side) were completed on 15/02/2013 (two months reasoned delay). During this period weekly on-site meetings took place with the involved parties of the project. Upon completion of the works the necessary tests and commissioning were carried out. The contractor had complied with the remarks made by the Prefecture’s Engineers and Mr. A. Alevridis (representing BPI) by July, 2013 and hence the Provisional Acceptance Certificate was signed by the involved parties in July 2013. During the various stages of the works, the Contractor submitted 2 statements. The 2nd statement of the works performed of a total amount of € 515.076,51.

1.5 Operation surveillance (WP1-DL 1.5)
The drafting of the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) of the Greenhouse was assigned to Professor Ballester-Olmos, the Spanish expert who set its specifications. The SOPs were delivered. BPI has today the capacity to perform remote surveillance and tuning of the state-of-the-art, greenhouse equipment. The Institute’s staff has been familiarized with the sophisticated equipment/systems and the full operation of the greenhouse according to its SOPs is on track.

2. Know-how transfer and recruitment of experienced researchers
(WP2-DL 2.1 DL 2.2 DL 2.3 DL 2.4 DL 2.5)
The scientific output of the staff exchange scheme has been significant. The wide-range of research subjects addressed during BPI Plant-Heal boosted Institute’s capacity to tackle important issues in crop protection at national and EU level. Several scientific publications have been produced, demonstrating the effectiveness of the exchange scheme. The improvement in BPI researchers’ know-how, as well as the new greenhouse infrastructure, have helped the Institute in obtaining or applying for several research, training, scientific dissemination or demonstration projects. As foreseen in the DoW, BPI recruited an entomologist, a biochemist, a plant virologist and an agronomist. The search for those experts was based on their expertise and capacity to address a broad range of subjects within their specialisations that would support BPI groups to achieve the pre-set targets. BPI followed an internal procedure for the preparation, selection and follow-up of the secondments. The procedure involved assessment of potential benefits and dissemination of the acquired know-how internally to BPI scientific groups by the seconded researcher. Extensive presentations were carried out in-house and abroad, presenting research topics of interest. These were aimed at disseminating acquired knowledge to other staff of BPI or at illustrating, to audiences from the collaborating Institutes/University, the research carried out within the Departments of BPI. In total, eleven outgoing and three incoming long-term secondments and one outgoing and three incoming short term visits were carried out, all successfully. Thematically, the knowledge transfer was in line with the original research objectives and targets. The cooperation topics were, in most cases, in accordance to the initial DoW.

The road-map of research accomplishments is the following:

1. Molecular interactions between plants and pests
Role of RNA silencing key proteins in plant-pathogen interactions
- Adaptation of Potato virus Y to pepper
Induction of resistance after the use of plant extracts
- Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) in tomato and pepper against bacterial speck and bacterial spot
- Cucumber and zucchini SAR against powdery mildews

2. Study of the biology and ecology of harmful organisms through molecular approaches
Detection and identification methods of quarantine and non-quarantine pathogenic bacteria, fungi and viruses
• Development of new, accurate and rapid methods for detection and identification of harmful organisms. Model pathosystems investigated:
- Pear – Erwinia amylovora (pear blight) and other pathogenic Erwinia species
- Citrus - Guinardia citricarpa and Citrus- Colletotrichum spp.
- Citrus tristeza virus
• Characterization methods for the study of genetic variability:
• Marchalina hellenica population genetics
• SSRs (microsatellites) development for genetic diversity studies in Papaver rhoeas L.
• Molecular typing of E. amylovora isolates of different geographic origin, using DNA markers
Functional genomics for the study of herbicide resistance mechanisms
• ALS target-site mutation detection in Papaver rhoeas using derived Cleaved Amplified Polymorphic Sequence (dCAPS) assays
• Gene expression analysis with RT-PCR in Conyza canadensis, resistant to EPSPS inhibitors
Gene expression
• Culex pipiens
Novel pest control methods
• Recombinant Fusion-Based Biopesticides
• Effect of fusion proteins on target pests & non-target beneficial arthropods

3. Evaluation of the potential human risks associated with chemicals
• Heavy metal toxicity and implications for hepatobiliary diseases
• Evaluation of potential protection effects of plant extracts under conditions of oxidative stress using human hepatocarcinoma cells
The collaboration established was extremely beneficial for BPI’s research and official activities, given its role as a Public Body responsible for implementing a series of EU Directives and Regulations. A brief description of research achievements and scientists involved will illustrate the broad spectrum of subjects addressed, mainly during the three last years.

1) Elucidation of the molecular interactions between plants and microbes with a view to the development of new control strategies. Specifically, BPI scientists in collaboration with a recruited experienced researcher investigated the effect of RNAi during viral/viroid, bacterial or fungal infection in plants. In collaboration with scientists from INRA (Avignon) BPI scientists worked on Potato virus Y (PVY) pathogenicity mechanisms and interactions with pepper plants. In the field of induction of plant resistance and in collaboration with UNEW, molecular markers were developed in neglected plant-microbe interaction systems.
Scientists involved: Dr N. Vassilakos, Dr A. Boutla, Dr B. Moury.

2) Another research topic addressed by BPI scientists and those of IVIA was risk assessment/analysis of quarantine pests (PRA). Specifically, novel methods for the detection and identification of quarantine and non-quarantine plant pathogens were developed, and studies on dissecting aspects of the respective disease epidemiology were performed. Regarding plant pathogenic bacteria, molecular techniques for specific and sensitive detection and identification of Erwinia amylovora were optimized for laboratory or field application. Furthermore, genomics-informed design and application of molecular assays for detection and identification of other pear-pathogenic Erwinia species and molecular typing of E. amylovora isolates of different geographic origin using DNA markers were initiated and are ongoing. Citrus tristeza virus, a potentially severe CTV isolate occurring naturally in lemon trees in Greece, was fully sequenced by using the next generation sequencing (NGS) technology. Next generation sequencing is a very powerful technology, much faster and less costly than classical sequencing methods used for the characterization of known plant pathogens It also expedites the entire process of novel pathogen discovery, identification, genome sequencing and, subsequently, the development of detection assays for new plant pathogens. BPI scientists were also trained to use simplex and multiplex real-time PCR for the detection of very important quarantine (Guinardia citricarpa) or non-quarantine (Colletotrichum spp.) phytopathogenic fungi. Different novel methods were used during training sessions. Training on modern techniques is expected to contribute greatly to the advancement of the Laboratories of BPI towards more innovative methodologies for the detection, identification and characterization of phytopathogenic organisms especially those of quarantine importance.
Scientists involved: Dr C. Varveri, Dr M. Holeva, E. Kalogeropoulou MSc, Prof. M. Cambra, Prof. M. Lopez, Dr A. Olmos.

3) The effect of various compounds (including plant extracts) in tomato and pepper systemic acquired resistance (SAR) against bacterial speck and bacterial spot respectively, as well as cucumber and zucchini SAR against powdery mildews were assessed at the molecular level, as indicated by an increase on the abundance of transcripts of SAR-linked genes. The gene encoding for actin was used to normalize samples. Results in plants treated with Milsana and other plant extracts in different application schemes, before or after pathogen inoculation, were compared to control and mock plants. While there is much information on the metabolites involved in tomato defense, little is known on Cucurbitaceae plants’ defense as there is poor sequencing data available on genome and key defense genes/gene regulators. Therefore, a dataset of tomato, zucchini and cucumber molecular markers for defense induction was developed. To achieve this, known SAR-associated sequences of tobacco and tomato genes were used as probes to perform similarity searches (BLAST) against the non-redundant protein database from the National Centre for Biotechnology. Since most defense genes have not been identified yet in cucumber and zucchini, known sequences of other related species were used in order to design specific or degenerate primers.
Scientists involved: Dr N. Skandalis, Dr E. Markellou, Dr E. Tani, S. Stavroulakis (MSc and candidate for PhD).

4) In the field of entomology and zoology, joint research was carried out in UNEW and BPI on the biological activity of an omega/GNA fusion protein on noctuid and aphid pests and the non-target ectoparasitoid Eulophus pennicornis, under the scheme of knowledge transfer. Additional research performed by BPI staff and a scientist employed by the Project included development of a molecular key for citrus aphid identification and population genetics of Marchalina hellenica and M. hellenica endosymbiots. In the last case, a study was conducted aimed at elucidating the occurrence of bacteria such as Wolbachia and Cardinium species in a range of M. hellenica populations. In addition, occurrence of Wolbachia endosymbiots in another pest Trichogramma sp. was monitored.
Another very important subject of research for the country and EU was the mosquito threat to the health of European citizens. Experiments were conducted using Culex pipiens biotype molestus mosquitoes to study molecular aspects of the effects of the mosquito oviposition pheromone (MOP) on mosquito’s sex and mating.
Scientists involved: Dr F. Karamaouna, Dr Milonas, Dr A. Michaelakis, Dr D. Kontodimas, G. Partsinevelos MSc., Dr N. Fytrou, Prof. A. Gatehouse.

5) In the field of crop protection/weed management, one of the subjects studied was the mechanisms of herbicide resistance of Conyza canadensis, an important weed. Evolution of resistance is an important subject today at EU and global level. Specifically, the molecular base of glyphosate resistance was studied in two Greek C. canadensis biotypes by determining (i) the expression levels of EPSPS, (ii) the expression levels of four putative ABC-transporter genes under normal environmental conditions and (iii) the expression levels of the aforementioned genes under various environmental conditions. This research was carried out by a scientist employed by the project. In addition, mechanisms of herbicide resistance in another important weed, Papaver rhoeas (corn poppy) were also studied, regarding the Acetolactate synthase-inhibiting (ALS) herbicides and auxinic herbicides. The mechanism of resistance to ALS inhibitors in Papaver rhoeas was elucidated during the training of a BPI weed researcher at INRA Dijon, with the enzymatic digestion method dCAPS (Derived Cleaved Amplified Polymorphic Sequences), used for the genetic analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Resistance-endowing ALS gene mutations were identified in five putative resistant populations of P. rhoeas, originating from central and northern Greece. The experience gained on this subject allows further studies in collaboration with INRA researchers, shedding light on a more elusive aspect of herbicide resistance: that of resistance evolution. The mechanism of resistance to auxinic herbicides is not yet fully understood. In an attempt to unravel this mechanism BPI researchers focused on the isolation of a TIR-like gene from corn poppy in order to study its expression profile in a resistant and a susceptible population. This work is ongoing. Furthermore, an additional subject of training of a BPI researcher at INRA involved microsatellite markers (SSRs) design and characterization, to be used for genetic variability and gene flow studies in weed populations. This collaboration resulted in the development of polymorphic microsatellite markers for the weed species P. rhoeas, for which such information was lacking. The abovementioned achievements illustrate both the added value of the know-how transfer gained through the training of the BPI researcher at INRA and through the recruitment of experienced personnel.
Scientists involved: Dr V. Kati, Dr D. Chachalis, Dr E. Tani, Dr. C. Délye, Dr V.L. Corre, S. Michel, Dr H. Darmency.

6) In the field of human toxicology, research was carried out in collaboration with UNEW investigating the implications of heavy metal toxicity on human health and more specifically hepatobiliary diseases. For this purpose, and with the objective of knowledge transfer to BPI, quantitative PCR arrays were employed to identify the profile of genes, expressing drug transporters, which are involved in metal toxicity in a human cholangiocyte cell line (H69, patent pending). In parallel, transcriptional modulation of the genes was estimated following dosing of the cholangiocytes with various metal salts. Functional studies were carried out as well as MTT and Comet assay to determine cytotoxicity and DNA damage, respectively.
Research was also performed by BPI staff related to the evaluation of the potential protective effects of plant extracts under conditions of oxidative stress. Specifically, oleuropein, (a natural compound found in the leaves of olive tree) was assessed for its potential antioxidant and cytoprotective properties in vitro using human hepatocarcinoma cells (HepG2). The effects of oleuropein were investigated with regard to cell viability (MTT assay) and DNA damage attributed to oxidative stress, by using conventional and modified Comet assay. Furthermore, superoxide anion levels were ascertained by the NBT assay and lipid peroxidation was measured using the TBARS assay. The abovementioned work was awarded with the 1st award of the Athens Medical Society.
Scientists involved: Dr K. Machera, Dr E. Katsanou, Dr K. Kyriakopoulou, Dr E. Katsoulieris, Dr E. Mutch.

The lists of scientists involved with each topic mentioned above are not exhaustive. A large number of other scientists and technicians were also involved, as indicated in the publications and congress presentations.

In this section, the considerable diversity of subjects addressed in the course of BPI Plant-Heal is more than clear. As such, the Institute has been able to broaden the subjects of research into different disciplines of plant health, modern crop protection, human health and safety, and protection of the environment.

4. Dissemination of knowledge and promotional activities
The acquired knowledge and transferred know-how was disseminated through the organization of three workshops, an open-day, participation in conferences and exhibitions, publication of results, articles in the popular press, fliers and various other promotional activities involving regional stakeholders in Greece and in other south-eastern European countries.

Specifically,
4.1 Organization of three Workshops (WP3-DL 3.1 DL 3.2 DL 3.3 respectively)
The 1st Workshop on “Harmful Organisms and the EU Plant Health Policy” took place in the GAIA Center, Goulandris Natural History Museum on the 27th May, 2010 and continued in BPI on the 28th. The workshop was attended by 120 delegates; all considered it as very successful. Invited speakers included distinguished scientists from Greek and EU academic organizations and research institutes, the European Food Safety Authority and the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food. A significant part of the audience consisted of Phytosanitary Inspectors of the Public Sector. The 2nd European Workshop on “Molecular A-Biotic Plant Interactions” was held in the Agricultural University of Athens, on 6th May 2011. 130 attendants participated. The topic of the workshop covered both the biotic and abiotic stress of plants, with an emphasis on plant mechanisms that help to overcome it. Twelve invited speakers gave oral presentations which focused on different aspects of the topic. Again, the workshop was considered by all involved to have been highly successful. Material distributed to the delegates included the BPI Plant-Heal two-sided brochure. Participants were asked to complete an evaluation form to provide feedback and suggestions about the quality of the workshop content, materials and organization. The 3rd European Workshop on “The Impact of Agricultural Biotechnology on organisms and the environment” was also held in the Agricultural University of Athens, on 11th December 2012, with 114 attendants participating. The topic of the workshop covered the impact of agricultural biotechnology on organisms and the environment, and addressed significant questions related to the associated risks. It also provided the opportunity to present the latest methodological approaches towards a safer use of biotechnology. Announcements, posters, the project brochure, photos from the all workshops and wrap up text can be seen on the project’s site in the events section. Presentations covered the very latest research and even some unpublished results, and therefore have not been uploaded at the website (following the speaker’s request).

4.2 Organisation of One-day Conference (WP3-DL 3.4)
A one-day conference in the form of an Open-Day event on “Biotechnology and Safety in Modern Agriculture” was organized and hosted by BPI on 17th December 2012. The Open-Day event aimed at disseminating the achievements of BPI Plant-Heal to the public (industry, NGO’s, and mandated bodies such as Ministries and Universities) and to other scientists (scientific societies, other research institutes, etc). The event, attended by 84 participants, was opened by Mr Maximos Charakopoulos, Deputy Minister of the Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food. In his opening address Mr Charakopoulos emphasized the need to support agricultural production by utilizing modern tools and methodologies based on the latest developments on biotechnology and molecular biology. The event proved an excellent opportunity for introducing the general public to the benefits and risks posed by modern biotechnological and molecular biology methods. Its success was reflected by the fruitful discussion at the end of the day.
Participation in international congresses and publications in scientific journals (WP3-DL 3.5)
Further dissemination of the project’s progress and results was carried out through participation in conferences, publication of results regarding regional stakeholders in Greece and in the neighboring south-eastern European countries. The list of publication and dissemination events is presented in following sections of this Report.

4.3 Brochure publication and web site upgrading (WP3-DL 3.6)
When the BPI Plant-Heal project was initiated, the Institute proceeded with the issue of a two-page brochure in Greek and English. This was delivered to various interested parties, including Ministry of Agriculture officials and companies. An updated version was published recently. At the time of writing, more than 1500 leaflets have been distributed to different stakeholders and more (now that the greenhouse is in operation) will be sent to inform national, regional and EU stakeholders on the new research and training capabilities of the Institute.
The construction of the website was completed, approved and uploaded. It continues to be updated with the most recent information concerning the project. The management of the content is done via a content management system which is integrated on the website. Currently, such actions are possible for the project coordinator and BPI’s IT-officer. The website will be updated at the end of the project with publications produced on the subjects mentioned available in the ‘know-how transfer’ section.

4.4 Dissemination to other stakeholders (WP3-DL 3.7)
Dissemination of knowledge and results was performed through a) the 3 workshops, the one day conference and b) participation of BPI in various promotional activities involving regional stakeholders in Greece and in the neighboring south-eastern European countries.

Project Management (WP4-DL 4.1 DL 4.2 DL 4.3 DL 4.4 DL 4.5)
Three management committees were established during the first meeting of the Project (7-5-2009) which ensured that all milestones of the project were achieved.

The Project Management Board (PMB) consisted of the coordinator, the deputy coordinator, BPI’s President (or members of the Institute’s Board), the Director and the Vice Director. It was directly involved with the implementation of the project management and met annually.

The Steering Committee (SC) consisted of researchers/permanent staff of BPI and the coordinator and representatives of the collaborating organisations. This committee was responsible for reviewing the status of the project, assessing progress and difficulties in implementation, finalizing the deliverables and supporting the coordinator in her project management efforts.

The Technical Committee (TC) consisted of researchers/permanent staff of BPI and was supported by external experts (engineers and one attorney-at law) specializing in construction and associated legal matters. All the aforementioned individuals were tasked with the organization and supervision of the P2/P3 greenhouse construction project. The TC assembled several times and was attended by members of the other committees to discuss the plan and work progress.

Official correspondence and reports related to the greenhouse construction and/or the Project can also be found in DIAVGEIA (http://et.diavgeia.gov.gr) the official website upon which all official administration documents of BPI and other Governmental Organizations are published. Other managerial actions included correspondence with partners abroad and consultations in Greece. All documents, including the ones mentioned above, are available in the BPI archive.

Kick-off meeting-1st Meeting of the Steering Committee
The meeting was held in at BPI on the 29th and 30th June 2009. During the management sessions the partners reviewed the overall project, the work plan assignments and activities, the formal procedures for reporting.

Other Managerial Issues included Three Grand Agreement Amendments. Specifically, three amendments were requested by BPI and were accepted by the EC enabling all milestones of the project to be achieved.

Potential Impact:
BPI Plant-Heal is expected to:
At the level of the Institute:
- Strengthen fundamental research carried out in BPI on plant genomics, proteomics and other new and innovative technologies.
The impact of the project on the capacity of BPI staff to carry out fundamental research is today proved by several indicators such as new peer review publications, new FP7 , EFSA, Regional and national Projects.
- Enable research on sustainable pest management and use of biological resources through biotechnology and the convergence with other technologies, to provide new, safe, eco-efficient and competitive products from the southern European zone.
- Help scientists of BPI to collaborate with scientific networks of excellence of other European Institutes for the development and implementation of durable pest control strategies at regional and EU scale.
During the course of the Project, BPI has developed strategic collaborations with Academic Institutes and organizations of EU, US, China and Latin America along with Organizations like EFSA, EPPO aiming at developing new pest control strategies and means. BPI currently participates in networks of FP7 running Projects and is a candidate participant in Networks of Research Entities currently formed for Horizon 2020 submissions.
- Increase BPIs existing alliances with academia, government and agro-industry in order to integrate research, development and commercialization of potentially useful products.
BPI is currently implementing a series of industrial research oriented projects in collaboration with Hellenic Industrial Partners and International ones related to the development of novel practices and/or products.
- Increase BPIs potential in competing for national and international research funding.
BPI today is key partner in a significant the number of projects that were obtained following, and based on, BPI Plan-Heal 230010 accomplishments.

At National and European level:
- Provide scientific expertise and knowledge to national and EU policy makers.
BPI is the National Competent Authority for Pesticides and Biocides risk assessment, has the National Laboratories for harmful organisms of quarantine importance, is the National Centre for defining pesticide risk indicators for humans and the environment, Mandated Body for collaboration with EFSA for provision of scientific opinions and services on pesticides.
- Help national rural economy to achieve sustainable development through strategic collaborations.
BPI is today in close collaboration with Greek Industry, Regulators, Greek Growers and their Professional Unions.
- Promote research on biosafety and traceability of novel plants systems and products by monitoring and assessing the impacts on the environment.
This is a completely new horizon for the Institute and knowledge gained through BPI Plant-Heal is expected to have very significant impact in the coming years on the capacity of BPI to perform research on these subjects (in relation to EU and national Policies).
- Evaluate the impact of modern plant technologies and plants on human health.
BPI Plant-Heal was the first Project which enabled the Institute to learn techniques useful to address such state of the art topics in the coming years.
- Promote scientific knowledge for building and developing a European Knowledge Based Bio-Economy.
Current strategic established collaborations of BPI and new products /services currently under development will contribute to this objective.
- Contribute to the implementation and formulation of Community Policies and Regulations.
BPI implements/contributes to the implementation of a very broad range of Directives and Regulations on different topics (pesticides and other toxicants, water, plant health e.tc.)

List of Websites:

http://www.bpi-plantheal.gr/

Coordinator: E.Markellou@bpi.gr