OPTIMA will integrate an ambitious biology system approach for perennial grasses such as switchgrass, miscanthus and giant reed in the Mediterranean environment. Moreover the perennial species cardoon, which has been proven to be particularly adapted to the Mediterranean climate, will be used as a control species.
The main objective of the OPTIMA project is to identify high-yielding perennial grasses for the Mediterranean area, within optimized production chain that will provide stable source for both biomass and new plant derived bio-products. OPTIMA will explore the potentialities of perennial grasses on underutilized or abandoned marginal lands.
An interdisciplinary approach involving physiology, biotechnology, and agronomy, socio-economical and environmental analysis at different scale levels will be undertaken with the aim at tackling specific bottlenecks of perennial grasses in the Mediterranean area and to create alternative end-use chains. OPTIMA approach has been to link the research proposed here by including industrial end-users in the project. This should allow the output of this research to develop in a commercial context as rapidly as possible the new findings.
The major goals of this multidisciplinary network are to evaluate the existing genotypes; to characterize and deliver novel species; to deliver sustainable crop management practices (sowing/planting strategies to reduce the use of pesticide and increase biomass on the first year establishment, cultivation under salinity conditions and/or water deficit, reducing losses during harvest); to evaluate the industrial production of bioenergy and added value bio-products; to assess the environmental impact through an integrated assessment of sustainability criteria, to disseminate the achieved findings at different level (local, regional, national, international).
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