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Fast-tracking ROOTStock breeding in olive. (FROOTS)

Adaptation to environmental conditions is key to maximise crop productivity under limited water and other stresses related to climate impacts. Combining stress resistance with desired agronomic characteristics through regular plant breeding in fruit trees such as olive requires a huge amount of time and resources and might not be feasible by just using the current available genetic pool. However, the use of rootstocks could overcome some of these stresses that are challenging tree crops worldwide and allow to unlock the genetic potential of wild relatives of olive. The objective of FROlive is to speed up the rootstock breeding process in olive trees by developing accurate, fast phenotyping and grafting methodologies for the early selection of new olive rootstocks, in first instance for drought resistance. This will be done by using techniques that are known to the applicant due to his background in plant breeding and disease resistance screening and analysis techniques, in collaboration with the hosting group, which has a strong track record in the study of olive germplasm resources, genetics and breeding, as well as proven ability to train students and scientists. The approach and techniques used in FROlive will allow a faster development of rootstocks resilient to new challenging environments and pests, therefore reducing the environmental impact and future proofing our olive orchards. The training will allow the applicant to be trained as a fruit tree breeder, increasing the capability in this research area. The project presents a multidisciplinary approach as it brings together plant propagation, germplasm resources, genetics and statistics. It also represents a collaboration of five different partners, the University of Córdoba, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the University of Málaga, the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture and the company Plantas Continental, S.A., opening the possibility for further collaboration between the institutions.

Universidad de Córdoba

The EU-funded FROOTS project will build on the use of rootstocks to develop accurate, fast phenotyping and grafting methodologies for the early selection of new olive rootstocks. The ultimate aim is to speed up the rootstock breeding process in olive trees.

This project will be carried out in the University of Cordoba, where most of the activities will be conducted under the supervision of Prof. Barranco. The applicant will benefit from considerable local and surrounding expertise regarding drought resistance and plant phenotyping methods, in vitro plant propagation and rootstock-scion mechanisms and compatibility, and olive germplasm resources and breeding. In addition, the University of Cordoba will participate in the training of the applicant and the exploitation and dissemination of the results.



D1.1 Indicators of resistance to drought in grafted small plants.
D1.2 Differences among tested varieties and selection of a "susceptible check" variety.
D2.1 Development of the micrografting technique.
D2.2 Early assessment of compatibility reactions between a given scion and rootstock to use in WP3.
D3.1 Segregation and inheritance of drought resistance in olive.
D3.2 Sources of resistance to drought in wild relative species.
D3.3 Information of gene expression in the rootstock and scion parts.
D4.1 Publication: Review on rootstock breeding.
D4.2 Publication: Outcomes from WP1.
D4.3 Publication writing. Micrografting techniques and/or outcomes from WP3.
D4.4 MSCA fellowship final report.
D5.1. Training successfully completed (throughout the fellowship).
D5.2. Student surveys results.

The Project enhance the future career prospects of the researcher after the fellowship in these impacts:
- to improve of professional profile by increase of scientific skills;
- to establish a collaboration network beyond the host institution, including a strong collaboration network with the private sector, and provide international visibility and strength of network capacity;
- to increase of European R&I visibility;
- to generate an impact on the development and implementation of efficient breeding methods in fruit trees.


Code PAIDI: AGR-157

Diego Barranco Navero. Coordinador/Supervisor. 

Universidad de Córdoba

Budget of Andalusian group: € 172,932.48

Keywords: Drought resistance, Olea europaea, rootstock-scion interaction, grafting
Duration: 24 months. May, 1th 2021 to April, 30th 2023
Project cost: € 172,932.48