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versão On-line ISSN 2477-8850

Siembra vol.9  supl.3 Quito Out. 2022


Sesión 1: Conservación

INCREASE project: a new approach to improve conservation, characterization, and use of food legume genetic resources

Proyecto INCREASE: un nuevo enfoque para mejorar la conservación, caracterización y uso de los recursos genéticos de las leguminosas alimentarias

Elena Bitocchi1  *

1Università Politecnica delle Marche, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Ambientali (D3A). Italy

Keywords Genetic Resources; Legume crops; Intelligent Collections; Artificial Intelligence

Plant genetic resources play a crucial role in facing all the agriculture-related societal challenges, including climate change mitigation, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity conservation, food quality and security. The transition to plant-based diets could present major opportunities for adaptation and mitigation, as well as generate significant co-benefits for human health. In this context, food legumes are key crops being a very good source of proteins, as alternative to meat, and of other high quality nutritional compounds for human diets and, at the same time, being able to improve soil quality by nitrogen fixation through symbiosis with Rhizobia. INCREASE is a six-year project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program aimed to characterise, maintain and exploit food-legume genetic resources, to date largely unexploited, as the core development of both sustainable agriculture and a healthy food system. The focus is on four important food legumes (chickpea, common bean, lentil, lupin). INCREASE’s activities are based on four pillars: i) innovative data management solutions to develop gold standards for data sharing and integration into the central infrastructure, with decentralised data input, defined methodologies and best practices to exploit the novel information produced as well as the development of user-friendly visualization tools; ii) developing novel tools and principles for germplasm management, based on the development of “Intelligent Collections” as a set of nested core collections of different sizes representing the entire diversity of each crop; iii) adoption of cutting-edge technologies for genotyping and phenotyping combined with the potential of Artificial Intelligence focusing on traits of interest for users; iv) carrying out a citizen-science experiment, primarily aimed at dissemination of the project to stakeholders and citizens. Overall, INCREASE is aimed to strengthen the field of food legumes genetic resources and simultaneously it will represent an important model and tool for all crop genetic resources.


Associate Professor in Plant Genetics at Università Politecnica delle Marche, Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences in Italy, where she graduated with a thesis focused on genetic characterization of Italian tomato landraces, and she received her PhD with a thesis on evolutionary changes at genome level in maize landraces from central Italy after the introduction and cultivation of modern maize hybrid varieties. Her research activity is mainly focused on population genomics studies aimed to investigate the level and structure of genetic diversity of plant genetic resources and their evolutionary history, with a special focus on legumes; she was and is also involved in numerous national and international projects (e.g. NEXT-BEAN, BEAN-ADAPT, BRESOV H2020, INCREASE H2020) focused on i) identifying the genetic control of important traits such as adaptation, biotic and abiotic stress resistance/ tolerance, agronomic and nutritional quality traits, ii) characterizing and maintaining plant biodiversity, and iii) using such diversity in plant breeding.

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