General Aim of the Project
The Italian apple chain, from production to consumers, operates in a context of international competition. Among the main pressing factors are the high cost of production (Italy cannot compete with the production costs of non-western countries) and the need of a more sustainable agriculture in terms of environmental impacts. Additionally, the consumers appear sensitive to a higher fruit quality not only in sensorial terms (which however must remain at the highest standard) but also regarding nutritional and health-related (functional) properties. To respond to these challenges, this project will address the study and the improvement of the apple fruit quality using a global perspective at three main levels:
A) KNOWLEDGE and TOOLS. By developing fundamental technological genetic/genomics tools for apple breeding and technologies and tools for non-invasive fruit quality assessment; by elucidating the main structure of the apple fruit metabolome and its relationship with standard fruit quality parameters to improve the knowledge about the molecular bases of fruit quality with emphasis on nutritional and health-related properties.
B) APPLICATIONS FOR GLOBAL IMPROVEMENT OF FRUIT QUALITY. By applying the above powerful molecular genetics tools and knowledge to molecular breeding and to the production chain in order to a) improve apple resistance to pathogens, b) enhance fruit quality (mainly in terms of nutritional aspects), c) reduce environmental impacts and increase sustainability, and d) optimize the production chain.
C) SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE. The transfer of the information to all the relevant apple chain stakeholders and to the scientific community will pursued by dedicated initiatives, events and publications.