INCREASE โ€“ Intelligent Collections of Food Legumes Genetic Resources for European Agrofood Systems

Public conference "Agrobiodiversity for healthy and sustainable diets" on 12th September 2022

On Monday, September 12, from 2:30 to 6:30 pm CEST, at the Mole Vanvitelliana Auditorium, ANCONA (Italy), a public conference will be held on the topic: "๐€๐ ๐ซ๐จ๐›๐ข๐จ๐๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ก๐ž๐š๐ฅ๐ญ๐ฒ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ข๐ง๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐๐ข๐ž๐ญ๐ฌ": ๐…๐จ๐จ๐ ๐ฅ๐ž๐ ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ, ๐ฉ๐š๐ซ๐ญ๐ข๐œ๐ข๐ฉ๐š๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ฌ๐œ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž, ๐Ÿ๐จ๐จ๐ ๐ฌ๐ž๐œ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ง๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐š๐ฅ ๐œ๐จ๐จ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง", opening the annual meeting of the INCREASE EU-Horizon 2020 project, which will take place from September 12 to 15, 2022.


Roberto Papa, Professor of Agricultural Genetics at the Polytechnic University of the Marche (UNIVPM) and coordinator of the INCREASE project, says, โ€œIn the face of the climate change crisis, the conservation and valorization of Agrobiodiversity and Plant Genetic Resources are crucial to ensure nutritious food and a healthy diet for all. We need to utilize and valorize the great diversity that exists in gene banks. To do this, we need to expand, compared to the current situation, the access to genetic resources and the production and knowledge sharing by the engagement of experts (scientists, farmers, and stakeholders) but also all citizens. We need a new strategy for the conservation of agrobiodiversity and genetic resources in Europe and worldwide. This can be achieved by establishing a decentralized genetic resources conservation system. In this context, we believe that the EU and its member states need to step up their efforts on this aspect and renew agrobiodiversity conservation strategies by incorporating decentralized approaches that use participatory science and cutting-edge technologies.โ€

The INCREASE project aims to promote agrobiodiversity and support the conservation and use of food legumes as common bean, chickpea, lentil and lupin for the development of sustainable agricultural systems leading to the production of innovative food products, with the purpose of facilitating the food transition towards plant-based diets rooted in the agricultural and food tradition of European and Mediterranean countries. At the same time, INCREASE deals with studying innovative methods to facilitate the conservation and sustainable use of all genetic resources, focusing on innovative strategies that can facilitate the access and use of genetic resources while promoting the sharing of benefits, between peoples and countries.

The meeting will open with a welcome by Valeria Mancinelli, the Mayor of Ancona, Gian Luca Gregori, the Rector of the Polytechnic University of Marche and Kent Nnadozie, Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Roberto Papa will describe in his introduction an innovative and decentralized conservation approach based on participatory science and cutting-edge technologies. The decentralized conservation approach, which could complement the unique and irreplaceable function of gene banks, has been developed and tested in the INCREASE project through an innovative Citizen Science Experiment, complemented by building a Stakeholders Consortium. The decentralized conservation system that we propose would have the ability to significantly improve the enhancement and use of the diversity present in germplasm banks. Finally, decentralized conservation could favor integration and promote synergies between static (ex situ) and dynamic (in situ / on farm) forms of conservation.

The introduction given by Roberto Papa will be followed by contributions from INCREASE partners as well as genetic resources experts such as Paola De Santis (Bioversity International) and Lorenzo Maggioni (European Cooperation Program for Plant Genetic Resources, ECPGR). Aspects of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program for the conservation and use of plant genetic resources will be explained by Gisela Quaglia (European Commission, DG Agriculture and Rural Development). Marco Giungi (Head of the Unit for Global Multilateral Strategies and Processes for Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MAECI) will present the activities of Italian international cooperation in the field of rural development and agrobiodiversity. Maurizio Martina (Deputy Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO) and Marina Sereni (Italian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MAECI) will close the meeting.

INCREASE is developing an infrastructure for future projects and initiatives. This infrastructure is based on fundamental and applied knowledge and on a large number of germplasm accessions that have been thoroughly genotyped using advanced genomic technologies, including platinum genome assembly and pangenome reconstruction. Deep and massive phenotyping for important traits (e.g., yield, flowering traits, nutritional quality) is performed under a variety of environmental conditions (e.g., drought and heat) and conditions (e.g., field and controlled greenhouse conditions). Different approaches will be used, from morpho-agronomic characterization to molecular phenotype analysis using multi-omic technologies (transcriptomics and metabolomics) to describe many nutritional and quality traits. In addition, INCREASE will share progress with the network of stakeholders and citizens so that they are able to actively participate.

Simultaneous translations in English and Italian will be provided as also the opportunity to follow the event in streaming. The event is free and open to everyone with no registration needed for participation in presence. To access the streaming, a registration link will be provided soon on INCREASE social media channels.