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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GoodBerry (Improving the stability of high-quality traits of berry in different environments and cultivation systems for the benefit of European farmers and consumers)

GoodBerry Report Summary

Project ID: 679303
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GoodBerry (Improving the stability of high-quality traits of berry in different environments and cultivation systems for the benefit of European farmers and consumers)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2017-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The quality of fruit and yield are considered to be an extremely complex matter and depend on many factors. It is difficult to define objectively what fruit quality is since it changes during fruit ripening. Moreover, consumer acceptance is related to specific perceived aspects such as appearance, fruit shape and/or colour. Organoleptic attributes like texture, sweetness and acidity combined with aroma and flavour are also important as well as health benefits, which are becoming even more ingrained into the consumer consciousness, and are therefore perceived as a required quality attribute.
It is now abundantly clear that climate change will inevitably impact the growth conditions of berry plants in different ways across various European regions and climatic zones. The research in GoodBerry is focused on improving berry production and fruit nutritional quality under climatic change scenarios, and thereby making production more controllable and resilient. The challenges of GoodBerry are to determine the variability of these health quality traits across the target fruits and the factors that have an impact - geographic locations, cultivations strategies, temperature, etc.
Although berries are grown in Europe itself, demand is much higher than European production capacity. Thus, the market relies on imports from developing countries (e.g. Morocco, Mexico, Peru) to fill the gap. Off-season supplies also come from countries in the southern hemisphere, most importantly New Zealand and Chile. Nowadays, berry production in the EU - representing 17% of the world production - is vital for maintaining activities in European rural areas, although those fruits can generally be considered as minor crops compared to other fruit species. Among berry fruits, strawberry is the most important crop in the EU and its production is widespread with varying intensity across all EU countries. In addition to the importance of strawberries for the EU berry production and market, the production of other berries, such as raspberry and black currant, has been gaining importance during the last years.
The fact that berry crops represent significant components of many rural economies within the EU makes it crucial for rural industries to have access to a range of varieties that are adapted to local conditions and can be grown in an efficient and sustainable manner. The improvement of cultivation efficiency and increased commercial value of the fruit will help to overcome the geographic labour cost discrepancies and achieve more efficient production and higher prices by added value. GoodBerry will thus extract and assemble the knowledge and skills necessary to seed a technology base for Europe and other berry producing regions that will secure and expand high quality production chains.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The overall strategy of the GoodBerry project has been delivered through the activities in five research and technological development work packages (WP) with additional dissemination/training and management WPs. In each WP, different tasks have been defined to reach clear objectives during this reporting period.
In WP1, different elite cultivars of strawberry, raspberry, and black currant are grown in different environments. The phenotypic evaluation for flowering and fruit quality together with modern genomic tools aim to identify genes determinants underlying plant adaptation and fruit quality. WP2 optimizes the integration of partner competences to develop new cultivation techniques reducing the input in berry production, extending plant adaptation to different and changing climatic conditions, expanding production season and optimizing berry quality. In WP3, the research project applies the most recent technical advances in evaluating, selecting and obtaining new genetic material (strawberry) with improved adaptability to cultivation systems and exhibiting higher fruit quality.
The focus of WP4 is to develop a set of tools to analyze and select fruits with optimized quality - organoleptic, nutritional and bioactive components. State of the art high-throughput metabolomic, gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) technologies for primary, secondary polar and volatiles compounds is used to maximise analytical data collation while minimising analysis time. The improvement of external fruit quality has been achieved for standard sensorial quality traits. WP5 provides the data management infrastructure and addresses data analysis and interpretation.
A dissemination plan has been developed in WP6 by considering a proper and logical integration of scientific, technical and public dissemination of results generated within the project. The overall management of the project in WP7 concerns all GoodBerry partners and research, administration and financial management, IP issues and outreach related to the whole project is overseen within this WP.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

GoodBerry will significantly advance the present state-of-the-art in the following areas:
- New cultivation techniques and development of adaptation strategies to climate changes. GoodBerry emphasizes the development of new and advanced technology and intellectual property to increase sustainable availability of fresh fruits with high yield and quality under the full range of climate change scenarios.
- Development of molecular tools to support an enhancement of berry breeding. It is important to study plant growth, fruit formation and cultivation techniques in different European regions to develop the berry production for future needs. Experiencing different climates supports the adaptation of production systems to changing climatic conditions.
- The knowledge and tools created will support productivity and stability of the agricultural sector in Europe but also beyond Europe since the GoodBerry initiative also includes partners located in third countries - Chile and China.
- Economic viability as the overall outcome of the GoodBerry project will be used in multiple ways and will feed into different user communities including researches, berry breeders and producers as well as consumers.
- Increasing confidence of consumers and markets in fresh berry fruits. The main task of the GoodBerry project to improve the berry fruit quality and productivity combined with the possibility of an extended cultivation at reduced costs within a range of environmental conditions.

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