Copper (Cu) is a vital micronutrient acting as a double-edged sword in living beings because it is an essential redox-active cofactor in biological processes but is toxic when in excess. In humans, Cu is acquired by diet and its deficiency or excess causes important diseases. Plants are also sensitive to Cu bioavailability in soil and their nutritional deficiencies or excesses are transferred to consumers. Therefore, deciphering the regulatory mechanisms underlying Cu uptake and distribution to edible products is crucial to prevent deficient or toxic Cu levels in horticultural crops that may ultimately affect human health. Furthermore, in Europe, around 20% of the arable land is classified as Cu deficient, which has been compensated by using Cu-enriched fertilizers. However, the EU warns that this practice implies high environmental costs and compromises food security for consumers.
TOMACOP will study the effects of Cu deficiency on plant growth and development and on fruit nutritional status and quality by using tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), one of the most important crops worldwide. The characterization of Cu homeostasis components and the identification of tissue-specificities in the molecular mechanisms regulating Cu uptake will provide important clues for future biotechnological improvements aimed to solve the challenge facing EU agriculture.
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