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Descrizione del progetto
Agriculture will have to feed an increasing world population, using a decreasing arable land surface. This is all the more challenging, since the quality of some of our best soils is under threat. Salinity is an increasing problem, in particular in coastal or irrigated areas. Due to
climate change, these traditionally fertile areas suffer from increases in soil salinity, reaching concentrations higher than tolerated by current cultivation practices. In the near future these areas will no longer be suitable for cultivating food unless we adopt novel production
practices, including the use of novel resilient plant varieties and/or treating plants with natural agents that make them more resilient.
For plants to be resilient to abiotic stresses like salinity and drought, the root system is of vital importance. Roots are the primary organs that adapt their architecture and physiology to drought and salt stress. Their performance is key to the ability of the whole plant to recruit nutrients and water. However, we have limited knowledge of how the root functions and this translates into a limited capability to control plant resilience to abiotic stress.
In recent years we have started to discover the role and importance of root architecture, stress QTLs and the interaction of plant roots with mycorrhiza. Novel developments in biostimulants show that it is possible to affect root functioning and resilience towards abiotic stress such as high-salinity. However, despite the potential for agriculture, there is very limited knowledge on the mechanisms through which biostimulants act.
The goal of ROOT is firstly to provide fundamental knowledge on how to improve the resilience of crop root systems towards salinity stress.
We will focus on tomato because it is an important field crop in European areas threatened by salinization, and it has many well-organized resources (well-annotated genome, genetic resources).