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Cereal and Industrial Crops

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Research Activities

Research Activities

The research activities of the Centre are aimed to: 
•    Exploit the opportunities offered by new disciplines (genomics, metabolomics, Big Data) for a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying and the factors limiting plant productivity in the context of cereal and industrial systems 
•    By using interdisciplinary approaches, turn acquired scientific knowledge into innovative tools for genetic improvement and sustainable innovation in the framework of cereal and industrial systems and related supply chains. 
Technology transfer of research results and other third mission activities with the involvement of stakeholders are directed to improve the competitiveness of agro-industrial supply chains, 
Target species include the main cereals (durum and common wheat, maize, rice, barley, sorghum, oat, emmer, triticale), pseudo-cereals (quinoa) and industrial plants (potato, hemp, bean, sunflower, flax, thistle/cardoon, protein-rich pea, tobacco, industrial tomato, sugarbeet, rapeseed/canola, rucola/arugula, Indian mustard). 
 

Genetic improvement of cereal and industrial crops

Genetic improvement of cereal and industrial crops
Environmental sustainability, climate change adaptation and supply chain diversification require new genotypes of cereal and industrial crops. CREA-CI is the Centre of choice to develop breeding and pre-breeding activities on these species, and to implement programs for innovative varietal improvement with interdisciplinary approaches and breeding programs based on plant genomics and phenomics.

Sustainable management of cereal and industrial crop systems

Sustainable management of cereal and industrial crop systems
In the near future it will be necessary to implement cereal and industrial crop systems capable of ensuring high productivity, efficiency, and biodiversity. Such systems, based on high performance closed-loop models for the use of matter (nutrients, organic matter etc.) and energy, should also be resilient and efficient in the exploitation of local resources. With an agro-ecological approach, the Centre studies the target crop systems and develops innovative solutions supporting productivityand securing environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

Biomass and bio-based molecules from cereal and industrial species

Biomass and bio-based molecules from cereal and industrial species
In the present scenario of deep reorganization of the industrial systems, it is of the upmost importance to develop agro-industrial supply chains capable of harnessing all biomass components/fractions in a prospective of circular economy. The Centre studies and promotes conventional and alternative crops, including biomass crops, tor a better sustainability of cereal and industrial systems, for the development of bio-refinery processes integrated in the local area and to produce raw materials, biomolecules, and energy from renewable sources.

Abiotic and biotic stress resistance and adaptation

Abiotic and biotic stress resistance and adaptation
Considering the on-going climate change and the impact of current and emerging pathogens and pests on cereal and industrial systems, it is important to understand the mechanisms underlying adaptation to those limiting factors (stress) to support genetic improvement and a sustainable system management. The Centre develops research aimed to disclose the genetic, physiologic and metabolomic basis of plant yield resilience to environmental stress, of water and nutrient use efficiency, especially nitrogen, and of plant-pathogen interaction.

Biodiversity preservation, exploration, and promotion

Biodiversity preservation, exploration, and promotion
Reaching a better adaptation of cereal and industrial crops to climate change, in balance with a sustainable use of resources, can also be achieved by taking advantage of existing and newly created biodiversity. The Centre hosts the widest biodiversity collection of arable crops within CREA. The management of such collection allows its conservation and accessibility and the analysis of the genetic variability, especially of primary and secondary metabolites, for food, feed and non-food uses.

Traditional and innovative foodstuff of high nutritional value and safety

Traditional and innovative foodstuff of high nutritional value and safety
A supply chain –oriented Centre should meet the demand of research and innovation from the seed to the end-product reaching the final consumer. The Centre implements programs of nutritional, biochemical, and molecular characterization of functional molecules in target species. It studies the development of new products and food chains with high added value based on cereals, pseudo-cereals, and industrial plants. It also addresses agri-food chain tracking and food safety (e.g., mycotoxins in maize and other cereal seeds and fodder; glycoalkaloids and acrylamide in potato).

Research programme 2018/2020 - Centre's objectives

Research programme 2018/2020 - Centre's objectives

Read the Research Objectives

Applied Genomics Laboratory

Metabolomics Laboratory

Food Technologies and Quality Laboratory

Laboratory of Biochemistry and characterization of Biomasses

Laboratory of Plant Pathology and Diagnostics of Mycotoxins

Soil and Plant Chemistry laboratory

Experimental farms

History

The history of the Centre

The CREA – Cereal and Industrial Crop Research Centre consists of four locations and two laboratories spread across the national territory that originated at the beginning of the 20th century as Institutes of agricultural research and experimentation, created to keep and preserve specific crops. The current administrative headquarters of Foggia was established in 1919 as “Plant protection station of Apulia" with the task of preserving the wheat varieties released by Prof. Nazareno Strampelli. Today it is a national reference point for cereal research. To solve the problems of open field cultivations in hot dry climate, the Cereal Experimental Station of Catania was founded, whose activity is still mainly focused on durum wheat. It was established soon after the unification of Italy as “Agricultural Committee of the District of Acireale" which had its headquarters at the local former Convent of the Capuchin Friars. The Maize Experimental Station in Bergamo, established in 1920 thanks to the contribution of several local authorities and institutions, has historically contributed to the development of Italian maize breeding, with the release of varieties adapted to the national pedoclimatic conditions and, in the immediate post-war period, the introduction and adaptation of maize hybrids. In 1908 the Experimental Station for Rice and Irrigated Crop Research was set up in Vercelli at the initiative of “Association of farmers from Novara and Vercelli" and “Association for irrigation of the territory west of the river Sesia". From the city of Vercelli, in 1932 the activity moved to Cascina Boraso. The Research Centre for Industrial Crops based in Bologna originated in 1910 with the foundation of the Royal Experimental Station for Beet Cultivation in Rovigo that joined the Plant Breeding Institute for Cereal Crops in Bologna in 1968, giving rise to the Experimental Institute for Industrial Crops with branches in Osimo and Battipaglia. Historically, the mission of the Centre was “to undertake studies and research for the improvement of species and varieties of industrial crops and of their breeding techniques”. Part of the staff from what in 1895 was established as The Royal Experimental Institute for the cultivation of Tobacco in Scafati  moved to the premises of CREA in Caserta, which today focuses its research activity on industrial crops.