– The NatGenCrop project has two major goals, one is socio-economic while the other one is scientific. It is one of the first three Bulgarian projects funded by the ERA Chairs program, which aims at supporting universities and research organizations to increase their capacity by attracting high-profile scientists (ERA Chair holders) who can establish a new team. Under the guidance and leadership of these ERA Chair holders, the respective organizations conduct ambitious research projects striving to accomplish high achievements. In this aspect, a well-known specialist in plant metabolomics from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology , Dr. Saleh Alseekh, was employed by CPSBB, where he headed a new department – “Crop Quantitative Genetics”. His novel group consists of young and ambitious researchers who will increase the scientific productivity of CPSBB in this area, which is of both fundamental and great practical importance.
From a research perspective, the NatGenCrop team will rely mainly on the study of the natural genetic variation of hundreds of lines of vegetables (tomato and pepper) with diverse characteristics. The ultimate goal is to improve their nutritional properties and resilience to stress by applying several complementary scientific approaches. This makes the project truly large-scale – both in terms of scope and potential for agricultural development.