- Written by Ivan Dulgerov
CPSBB joins an international network aiming to develop novel natural products for plant protection
Two of the leading European plant research centers – VIB-Plant Systems Biology from Ghent, Belgium (VIB-PSB) and The James Hutton Institute (JHI) from UK – will join academic institutions from Central Europe (Mendel University in Brno (MENDELU) and Biology Center of the Czech Academy of Sciences (BC CAS) and Eastern Europe (Center of Plant Systems Biology and Biotechnology (CPSBB) to create a pan European network. Together with an Irish industrial partner – the biotechnological company BioAtlantis, the network will develop novel natural products for plant protection allowing effective flow of information and expertise through EU member states and sectors.
Other two non-EU partners (University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology of Rosario (IBR-CONICET) will expand the network on three continents (Europe, Africa, and South America) and ensure access to unique expertise and global impact of the planned research.
The initiative is part of the new CropPrime project – a consortium that brings together a scientific expertise aiming to develop and commercialize innovative and environmentally friendly tools to protect plants from abiotic and biotic stresses. The project is funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Staff Exchange programme (MSCA-SE), which realizes research activities through staff mobility and transfer of know-how between institutions.
CropPrime has four main scientific objectives:
Discovery of novel natural products with biostimulant and/or antifungal properties.
The project will use the expertise and resources related to the characterization of plant extracts and a unique phytophthora collection available in the consortium.
Knowledge-guided improvement of commercial seaweed-based biostimulants against abiotic stress.
А commercial biostimulant derived from the brown alga Ascophyllum nodosum which is produced by the industrial partner in the consortium can protect a number of model and crop species against drought and salinity. Special emphasis will be placed on characterizing the molecular responses elicited by discrete bioactive molecules isolated from seaweed extracts.
Knowledge-guided improvement of seaweed-based biostimulants and/or biopesticides against biotic stress.
The expertise in the consortium will be channeled to optimize the current formulation to reach a disease control efficacy higher than 90% that is statistically equivalent to synthetic fungicides.
Development of dsRNA-based fungicide.
The consortium will embark on developing a novel biofungicide based on dsRNA silencing. The product will target at least 90% reduction in pathogenic infection and will be residue-free, biodegradable, and have no (eco)toxicological effects.