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Breeding for Resilient, Efficient and Sustainable Organic Vegetable production

Title OriginalBreeding for Resilient, Efficient and Sustainable Organic Vegetable produc-tion

The project deals with the urgent need to provide climate-resilient cultivars addressed to organic vegetable production systems. These new cultivars will benefit organic growers, and the organic seed industry, providing much needed security both under current and future scenarios of climate change. In this project, we will exploit the genetic variation of broccoli, bean and tomato for enhanced productivity, by exploiting up-to-date knowledge of genome structure and function. This work will be enhanced by the active involvement of farmers, advisory services, research institutes, breeding companies and food processors from diverse geographical/ climatic contexts in Europe and Non-EU countries.

The selection of pre-breeding/ breeding lines for the three species will be undertaken in organic vegetable farming systems, utilizing an annual crop rotation scheme. New cultivars will be selected for efficiency when grown under water, temperature, and nitrogen stress, for resistance to some pests and diseases, for desirable product quality traits such as taste, visual appearance, post-harvest performance.

Project website
Detailed Description

The overall aim of the project is to improve the competitiveness of three of the most economically important vegetable crop families (Brassicaceae, Fabaceae, Solanaceae species) when grown in an organic production system; giving growers confidence that they will achieve a sustainable yield. This will be achieved by exploring these species genetic diversity with advanced genomic and phenomic approaches and applying novel markers and traits discovered in the selection of new breeding material for organic breeding.

We will create a pipeline for crop improvement that will accelerate breeding activities and production of high quality organic seed. The use of Brassicaceae, Fabaceae, Solanaceae landraces (LRs) and crop wild relatives (CWRs) will help to develop new breeding material with a broad genetic base, allowing selection of germplasm that is better suited to growth in limiting or changing agro-climatic conditions (e.g. by enhancing resilience through use of the adaptive traits such as root size and architecture, interaction with the soil microbiome) and therefore improving final quality of the produce and its post-harvest performance.

The project will provide the means for enhancing the use of Brassicaceae, Fabaceae, Solanaceae genetic resources in breeding vegetable types across Europe. In this context, the new genetic markers generated by this work will allow other researchers to map and select novel allelic variants from the assembled genetic resources. Breeders can quickly adapt germplasm into their organic breeding programmes. This includes the markers we develop that are associated with resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, and with higher productivity and quality. Therefore pre-breeding lines containing beneficial traits will be utilized for breeding activities of each crop for its better adaptation to organic vegetable farming systems. In the long term, the outputs from this project will allow the development of selected cultivars (open pollinated, hybrids), and the introduction of step-changes in the farming systems and practices adapted to organic agriculture based on selection and breeding of appropriate brassicas, snap bean and tomato germplasm with improved yield stability, stress tolerance and human health benefits.

Specific objectives will include:

  1. Establishing core collections of non-redundant genotypes for each species: B. oleracea, P. vulgaris and S. lycopersicum. These will be assembled using genotypic and phenotypic data of germplasm resources (LR, CWR, and breeding lines) already available by project partners. The core collection of each species (B. oleracea, P. vulgaris and S. lycopersicum) will be genotyped using next-generation sequencing approaches, and phenotyped for traits relevant to organic farming, facilitating the identification of specific genes/QTL underpinning phenotypic variation. This will enable marker-assisted-selection, which is an important goal for seed companies.
  2. Exploring the genetic basis of main traits for organic cultivation and develop molecular markers for assisted breeding of new cultivars (OP cultivars, inbred lines and hybrids) adapted to organic farming agro-systems. We will evaluate during the four years of the project, defined main plant descriptors related to biotic and abiotic stresses on several organic vegetable farming systems in different European and non-European locations, in view to reach the breeding goals indicated by BRESOV stakeholders. The pre-breeding and breeding lines, and new cultivars will be evaluated in annual rotation shift brassica, snap bean and tomato.
  3. Increase quality and quantity of organic vegetable seed available for the growers of different European geographic/climatic conditions by developing methodologies that ensure the availability of organic seed of high quality. Often growers complain about poor seed quality and reduced yields. Therefore, this is an important goal if we want to increase the accessibility, and confidence in current and future organic agriculture systems within the EU.
  4. Improve the adaptability of the target crops in organic vegetable farming systems and the interaction between the new cultivars and the soil microbiome. To maximise the performance of the new germplasm, selection will be performed under organic growing conditions.
  5. Demonstration/testing/training activities to disseminate the outcomes of the project in view to innovate vegetable organic farming to the BRESOV stakeholders. One of our primary goals is to make organic agriculture accessible to more growers, especially in those regions that do not currently practice these methods. This requires the transfer of knowledge and skills if attitudes are to change, especially where cultural barriers exist. Having a broad partner and stakeholder base, will help facilitate this.
Financing/ Donor
  • European Commission, Horizon 2020 – The EU Framework Programme for Research under the call H2020-SFS-2017-2 and the Grant Agreement no 774244
(Research) Program
  • European Commission, Horizon 2020
Project partners

Project Coordinator

  • Università degli Studi di Catania, Italy


  • European Seed Association, Belgium
  • Universidad de Almeria, Spain
  • Universidade de Tras-Os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal
  • Vyzkumny ustav rostlinne vyroby, v.v.i., Czech Republic
  • Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland
  • Università Politecnica delle Marche, Italy
  • Vegenov-BBV, France
  • The University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
  • Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Spain
  • Vegetable Research and Development Station Bacau, Romania
  • Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia Agraria (CREA), Italy
  • Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, China
  • Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
  • Universite de Tunis el Manar, Tunesia
  • Servicio Regional de Investigacion y Desarrollo Agroalimentario del Principado de Asturias (SERIDA), Spain
  • ProSpecieRara, Switzerland
  • Itaka Srl., Italy
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), France
  • Chungnam National University, Korea
  • Station Essais en Cultures Légumières du 22 (SECL), France
  • EURICE - European Research and Project Office GmbH, Germany
FiBL project leader/ contact
FiBL project staff (people who are not linked are former FiBL employees)
Role of FiBL

Work package leader (WP5), project partner

Research area
  • Cultivation Technique Vegetable Crops (Department of Crop Sciences)
FiBL project number 2505501 - 2505506
Date modified 12.11.2019