Context / challenge
Climate change is dramatically impacting the Mediterranean region and solutions are needed to adapt agricultural farming systems practices to rising temperatures, drought and soil salinity. The adoption of mixed cropping systems as agroforestry can counteract loss of agro-biodiversity and the reduction of soil fertility.
The fig tree (Ficus carica L.) has a great potential for expansion thanks to valuable nutritional and nutraceutical characteristics, combined with the ability to adapt to dry, calcareous and saline environments, making this species extremely interesting for sustainable commercial production in the Mediterranean region, also in relation to climate change.
This project aims to evaluate performances and genetic variability of fig varieties integrating new knowledge and technologies in assessing biodiversity with knowledge coming from local farmers and stakeholders. This will be obtained: a) exploring, valorising and evaluating genetic variability of fig genotypes on available Spanish, Tunisian and Turkish fig collections using a genotyping by sequencing approach; b) phenotyping fig genotypes to identify plants with traits wanted by stakeholders and most suitable to be cultivated in drought/salt conditions; c) identifying genomic loci linked to yield and drought/salt adaptation performing Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) d) disseminating project’s products and results to stakeholders to maximize project impact.
Selected genotypes will be the best adapted to environmental conditions coming from climate changes and will be introduced within traditional agricultural systems to obtain mixing cropping systems as agroforestry.
FIGGEN impacts on valorisation and conservation of biodiversity analysing 300 genotypes of fig germplasm including neglected or under-utilized cultivars from countries that are the main producers of figs in the Mediterranean region.
The introduction in agricultural systems of new fig cultivars better adapted to drought/salt conditions will help fig sustainable production of the future. This will contribute to implement biodiversity-based agriculture, more resilient to climate uncertainties, and more sustainable, producing beneficial effects in terms of conservation of natural resources including above and below ground biodiversity, soil and water conservation, poor soil valorisation and, consequently, better ecosystem services.
FIGGEN results will have a positive impact both on well-being and income of farmers, on agro-ecosystem and fig production allowing to invert the decreasing trend of fig production in Mediterranean area recorded in the last years.
Concerning scientific impact, the identification of genes or molecular markers linked to yield and drought/salt condition adaptation developed through GWAS will contribute to the genetic improvement of this species developing knowledge on genetics and physiology of plant under abiotic stresses and new varieties better adapted to a changing climate.