Enhancement of genetic resources of Mediterranean crops through approaches of metagenomics, transcriptomics and functional analysis for the characterization of indigenous germplasm, endophytes, biocontrol agents and plant pathogens.
The project aims at the identification and molecular characterization of endophytes (bacteria, fungi and mycorrhiza rizoplano), pests (nematodes, viruses) and biocontrol agents present on Mediterranean crops, through metagenomics, transcriptomics and functional analysis of the host-plant interaction. High-throughput sequencing techniques and genotyping of microorganisms and plant germplasm will be carried out in order to: 1) produce new knowledge on genomics of microorganisms or harmful agents present, to test the use of certain useful microorganisms, and identify harmful pests, 2) select specific markers for the disciplinary for phytosanitary certification or traceability. The crops of interest for Apulian food industry are: vegetables, grapes, olives, citrus. Thus, the goals of this project are: 1) to explore the metagenomics of endophytes, biocontrol agents and plant pathogens (nematodes, viruses and virus-like) in crops or native ecotypes by using high-throughput sequencing; 2) to identify new pathogenic (viruses, nematodes) or beneficial organisms (endophytes, biocontrol agents) not detectable with traditional techniques (viruses and virus-like); 3) to genotype viruses and plants (vines) with microarray and real time RT-PCR approaches aimed at the promotion of indigenous germplasm, according to the specifications of genetic and sanitary certification of propagating material; 4) training of competent staff in the production and analysis of data obtained by high-throughput sequencing technologies.