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Breeding for Resilient, Efficient and Sustainable Organic Vegetable production

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BRESOV (Breeding for Resilient, Efficient and Sustainable Organic Vegetable production)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-10-31

BRESOV deals with the urgent need to provide climate-resilient cultivars addressed to organic vegetable production systems. These new cultivars will benefit organic growers and the organic seed industry, providing much needed security under current and future scenarios of climate change. BRESOV will exploit the genetic variation of brassica, bean and tomato for enhanced productivity, by exploiting up-to-date knowledge of genome structure and function. This work will be enhanced by the active involvement of farmers, advisory services, research institutes, breeding companies and food processors from diverse geographical/climatic contexts in Europe and non-EU countries. The selection of pre-breeding/breeding lines for the three species will be undertaken in organic vegetable farming systems utilizing an annual crop rotation scheme. New cultivars will be selected for efficiency when grown under water, temperature, and nitrogen stress, for resistance to pests and diseases, for desirable product quality traits such as taste, visual appearance, post-harvest performance. Crop genetic diversity will be broad as we utilize several landraces (LRs) and crops wild relatives (CWRs) provided by partners for the pre-breeding and breeding activities. We will adopt an innovative approach, where plant traits related to the roots-zone, root-growth and architecture that enable better interaction with organic soil and its microbiome are sought to benefit end-users. This approach will ensure that the available genetic resources and bred-germplasm combined with the best on-farm management practices will enhance efficient resource use and productivity. The germplasm from this project will pump-prime the production of new seed for the organic growing sector and will serve as a model for the enhancement of other crops.
BRESOV provides structured support for developing organic farming and produce, providing new breeding lines resilient, efficient and selected for sustainable production, and improving agronomic techniques for increasing the yield and quality for vegetable supply chains. Several elite breeding lines resistant to specific biotic and abiotic stresses for broccoli, snap bean and tomato are ready to be provided to seed companies, organic growers, associations, and to all our BRESOV stakeholders in order to evaluate them on-farm. The great diversity of these crops, mainly represented by landraces and crop wild relatives, is evaluated to identify elite plant genotypes resistant to biotic (drought, salinity, flooding, high temperature) and abiotic stresses (plant diseases), and also to associate them to genetic changes in broccoli, snap bean and tomato. Improving knowledge on the genome diversity of the three crops will simplify the identification of genes and molecular markers, including the use of innovative approaches such as Genome Wide Association Studies useful for marker-assisted selection that will speed up the genetic improvement of the three BRESOV target vegetables. The phenotyping data provided by BRESOV is of great interest for GWAS studies and speeds up the identification of the agronomic, organoleptic, and nutraceutical traits of interest for the consumers of organic produce. The breeding lines obtained by the use of the elite genotypes identified by the pre-breeding activities will be used to develop mapping populations for studying specific QTLS and genes, and for using them to set up new cultivars for organic farming. The new breeding lines will be evaluated in multi-climate conditions by several partners in the EU and for high quality seed production including the evaluation of biocontrol agents and natural compounds to control the main seed-borne diseases of broccoli, snap bean and tomato. Both BCAs and NCs will improve the soil fertility by implementing the soil microbiome. BRESOV supports friendly organic farming, providing additional eco-services by exploiting and enlarging the agrobiodiversity on farms, mitigating soil and water pollution by pesticides, and improving and diversifying organic vegetable produce and the related food supply chains.
The aim of BRESOV is to improve the competitiveness of three of the most economically important vegetables in organic farming systems by informing growers about new genetic materials and technical tools for improving the interaction plant-soil microbiome and achieving a sustainable yield. BRESOV will release additional breeding materials represented by improved breeding lines and organic heterogeneous materials starting from the LRs of the CC for establishing dynamic populations and composite cross populations as foreseen by the new organic regulations (EU) 2018/848. For these new materials the interaction with the environmental conditions of several European countries will be evaluated, allowing the improvement of crop agronomic performances and the quality of the produce. The knowledge acquired by the GWAS technologies on the broad genetic base analyzed allows selection of germplasm better adapted to growth in limiting or changing agro-climatic conditions (e.g. by enhancing resilience through use of the adaptive traits such as root size and architecture, interaction with the soil microbiome). The GWAS technologies will help to identify genes and related molecular markers for MAS for providing new breeding lines and OHMs useful for improving yield stability, stress tolerance and human health benefits, and in general the final quality of the produce and its post-harvest performance in different organic vegetable farming systems. At the same time, BRESOV will provide new tools for improving the quality and the quantity of organic seed available for the growers of different European geographic/climatic conditions by increasing the the availability of organic seed of high quality, a very important goal to implement the accessibility and the confidence in current and future organic agriculture systems within the EU. The project has also the ambition to enlarge the adaptability of the broccoli, snap bean and tomato crops in organic vegetable farming systems and to improve the interaction between the new cultivars and the soil microbiome. All BRESOV field activities are carried out under organic growing conditions for developing tools and support systems for breeders to facilitate the selection of varieties with enhanced resilience to organic and low-input agriculture. BRESOV is devising protocols for obtaining high quality organic seeds in cooperation with breeding companies and farmers, and establishing methodologies to multiply and quality-test seed from new lines produced during the project. BRESOV has established partnerships with the breeding, farming and research sector (multi-actor approach), organizing open days, seminars and workshops with stakeholders in order to identify resilient and sustainable candidate varieties of brassicas, snap bean and tomato for innovating organic vegetable farming and increasing the yield, organoleptic, and nutraceutic value of the products. BRESOV collaborates with its H2020 sister projects, LIVESEEDS and ECOBREED, and is supporting several joint events as such as the OrgHort2020 Symposium and the EUCARPIA Organic and Low-Input Agriculture Symposium, which will disseminate the results of the three projects.