Access to genetic resources in proper sanitary conditions guarantees the maintenance of biodiversity and the success of the genetic improvement attempts and are, thus, a basic pillar in food security and sustainable development. This research group manages and maintains collections of germplasm of the most important fruit tree species of Aragon, which include the stone fruit species: apricot, almond, cherry, plum, and peach; and the pome fruit species: apple and pear. These genetic resources are the basis for the characterization and evaluation of new commercial varieties and the development of innovative projects and research lines; it is the material from which variety and rootstock breeding programs are based on, along with the study of the genetic regulation and the evaluation of physiological mechanisms of the characters of interest for fruit production.
- Description, characterization, conservation, documentation and management of the tree collections.
- Study genetic diversity using genetic and phenotypic markers
- Evaluation, identification and selection of production, post-harvest, commercialization and consumption characters of interest.
The breeding of new fruit tree material, from rootstock genotypes to varieties for improved production, or varieties that respond to the market demands, aims at resolving the remarkable deficiencies of the material currently available. The breeding programs developed at this research group focus on the identification and selection of genes of interest for the use in the genetic improvement pipeline. The techniques of Next-gen sequencing, genomics, and bioinformatics support breeding programs and preliminary selections of characteristics of interest.
- Breeding of new varieties and rootstocks.
- Study and selection of characters of interest: pollen-pistil self-incompatibility, scion/rootstock incompatibility, scion/rootstock induced vigor, tree architecture, resistance to diseases, tolerance to abiotic stresses, fruit quality traits (firmness, size, and color), postharvest potential, fruit sensory quality, chilling requirements, blooming date and ripening.
- Development of genetic, genomic and bioinformatics strategies to improve the characterization of traits of interest.
To optimize the production of fruit it is necessary to know the best possible conditions for tree development and fruit formation. Our research group studies the fundamental aspects of fruit production and post-harvest changes with the final objective of improving tree fruit productivity:
Prevention of physiological alterations of the fruit
Interaction of the rootstock and the graft variety,
Resistance to diseases
Response to environmental stresses like waterlogging or drought
Along with the need to meet current market demands, it is necessary to study and improve the organoleptic and nutritional quality of the fruit required by the consumer. All these objectives must be pursued without forgetting the breeding and maintenance of healthy disease free plant material and its diffusion to nurseries to produce certified plants.
- Physiological basis of the improvement of production: Responses to stresses, interaction of rootstock and grafted variety, reproductive biology, pollination requirements, chilling and heat requirements, fruit set, fruit development, vigor and tree architecture.
- Analysis of fruit nutritional and sensory quality.
- Healthy uninfected selection.
- Adaptation of fruit trees to climate change: Responses to environmental stresses, heat, cold, drought, chilling requirements and winter dormancy.
- Method development for propagation of rootstock and graft varieties of fruit tree species.