To this aim, genetic and physiological traits providing tolerance and resilience to drought, heat, and salinity will be characterized; crop management systems adapted to tolerant/resilient varieties will be optimized; new stress-adapted genotypes will be profiled and/or developed by exploiting local genetic diversity as well as novel genotypes and hybrids.
VEG-ADAPT takes as case studies three major Mediterranean vegetable crops, namely tomato, pepper, and melon, which will be characterized for adaptation to single and multiple stress and tested in the field for tolerance and resilience under different management systems. Research will be focused on phenotype- and genotype-driven selection of adapted genotypes, on discovery of novel molecular processes, on genetic traits and quantitative trait loci (QTLs) linked to tolerance, on optimization of soil amendments, and on development of tolerant rootstocks. Fruit quality, and tolerance to pathogens and pests of the selected genotypes will be taken into account.
The project will deliver environmentally sustainable and cost-effective tangible outputs, such as new genotypes adapted to climate change (efficient in using limited resources/productive in Mediterranean area), and crop management practices suitable for local varieties. These solutions will be developed under conventional agriculture conditions, but their nature (novel genotypes, organic amendments) will make them potentially usable also for integrated and organic systems. The uptake of these results will be enabled through demonstration in Mediterranean farms, and will contribute to mitigation of risks posed by climate-change to food security, health, and social well-being in the Mediterranean basin and beyond.