The OVERALL GOAL of PROSIT is to characterize and harness the plant-associated microbial biodiversity in making typical Mediterranean agroecosystems more resilient to climate change. To this aim, a transdisciplinary approach which encompasses physiological, metagenomic, transcriptomic, metabolomics, and epigenomics, will be developed to unravel the microbiome-driven molecular pathways associated with plant droughtresilience, taking as case study the Grapevine, a major crop in all Mediterranean Countries. The project outcome will be the identification of beneficial endophyte consortia to be used in environmentally sustainable agricultural practices to support grapevine farming across the Mediterranean basin characterized by changing climate with an increasing water scarcity. In addition, PROSIT will determine the efficiency of natural microbiomes transferred from grapevine adapted to arid climate on drought tolerance to commonly cultivated grapevine cultivars, to test the efficiency of natural microbiomes on drought tolerance. This will be achieved using two different strategies: stem grafting and direct inoculation. Upon its completion PROSIT will deliver innovative and cost-effective tools as well as innovative farming systems to help maintaining grapevine productivity in a drier Mediterranean climate, and to expand its cultivation to semi-arid areas.
1. To identify, generate and multiply the starting grapevine material (WP1 – Material collection and selection) – MT: collection of at least 2 grapevine varieties for each partner Countries 2. To characterize the microbiome community present in the original grapevine material (WP2 – Identification and characterization of microbiomes) 3. To provide a comprehensive picture of the grapevine response to water stress in relation to the endophyte microbial composition using a multidisciplinary approach in standardized laboratory conditions, using grafted Pinot Noir as a model system (WP3 – Endophyte impact on plant response to drought) 4. To compare the efficiency of different endophyte inoculation methods i.e. grafting and the direct inoculation of selected culturable endophytic consortia on drought tolerance in standardized laboratory conditions using sanitized Pinot Noir (WP4 – Endophyte inoculation) 5. To develop crop management solutions which are less susceptible to climate-change induced stress (WP5 – In field technology validation) 6. To enhance networking, coordination and cooperation of the different institutions that share multidisciplinary expertise around the common programme of research (WP6 – Project Management)
PROSIT will bring direct benefits in terms of reduction of the workload associated with irrigation operations, reduction of costs for the construction and maintenance of water supply and distribution systems, replacement of senescent plants due to the impact of water stress and indirect benefits by creating new market segments and new job opportunities (development of biotech laboratories and specialized personnel for in field application of the new technologies). In addition, PROSIT outcomes will allow wine producers to valorize their products responding to the requests of consumers who are increasingly sensitive not only to the quality of wine but also to managing environmentally friendly vineyards. As part of PROSIT, the transfer of the project outcomes to the grapevine industry (nurseries, field technicians, farmers, wine consortia) is envisaged to provide guidance for the application in the field of the new technologies. The transition to more sustainable and resilient farming systems will be investigated by identifying and measuring appropriate socio-economic and ecological performance indicators, such as savings on irrigation costs and dedicated working hours, percentage of the wine-growing area reached by innovation and number of field technicians/farmers formed, number and dimension of private companies/start up involved in the development of new bacterial formulations, water savings in terms of quantity of water not removed from environmental resources measured both at the level of single companies and on regional scale (Sicily and Algeria). The implementation of the use of endophyte will open a new vision for the agriculture in order to optimize the benefic natural resources in order to set up an agrobiological system by optimizing natural resources available in site. The use of endophyte for stress management is a new way to optimize grapevine capacity to struggle drought, pest and diseases. PROSIT will contribute to sustainable development by involving partners with different expertise, and also located in different Mediterranean area with agriculture practices linked to the local culture/tradition PROSIT also involve local stakeholders such as growers, agronomists, oenologists, wineries, wine consortia and final consumers. Some of them have been contacted and endorsed PROSIT with letters of interest (attached to this document).