PROSPECT will use tomato, a crop globally cultivated and of remarkable economic importance for agriculture, particularly in Italy, as the experimental model plant to unravel the functional and metabolic bases underlying the network of trophic interactions among soil beneficial microbiota, plant, pests (phytophagous insects and plant pathogens), and pests’ antagonists. Using a wealth of cutting-edge technologies and interdisciplinary expertise, interactions will be analyzed from phenotypic down to the molecular level. In particular, mechanisms underpinning the microbial induction of plant defense barriers against pests are expected to generate novel information that will inspire the development of biologically-based pest control tools and strategies. This will significantly contribute to the reduction of pesticide use in agriculture, enforced by EU legislation, with positive impacts on agri-business economy, food safety and the environment.
Project Leader: Michelina Ruocco