Aragon plays a strategic role in the national fruit scenario, enhanced by the existence of valuable fruit germplasm conserved in the Germplasm Collections of Pome and Stone Fruit Species at CITA (ESP110). They are part of the National Program for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Phytogenetic Resources for Agriculture and Food, for which this group is responsible. The maintenance of these collections guarantees the conservation of the crop biodiversity and its use in genetic breeding programs for the development of varieties with better performance and quality, thus contributing to the strengthening of the sector in our autonomous community.
To promote the use of this germplasm, it is necessary to update and renew the collections, incorporating new plant material and maintaining them in the best conditions for their suitable phenotypic expression, supplying a good characterization of the accessions, which become essential for their optimal use in genetic improvement.
- Recovery of local cultivars at risk of extinction.
- Preservation and maintenance of collections.
- Molecular and phenotypic characterization of the collections.
- Evaluation of the genetic variability hold in the collections.
The breeding of new fruit tree material for improving the production or for obtaining varieties that meet the market demands, is aimed at fulfilling the remarkable deficiencies of the material currently available. The breeding programs developed by this research group focus on the identification and selection of genes of interest and the unveiling of the interaction between their genetic regulation and the environmental and growing conditions. For this, it is necessary to advance in the knowledge and analysis of the plant variability, and in the identification, evaluation, and genetic regulation of traits of interest. All this intends to optimize the processes of genetic improvement and to develop higher quality varieties, better adapted to the region, more efficient in the use of resources and resistant to diseases.
- Evaluation and selection of breeding material and obtaining new varieties and rootstocks.
- Elucidation of the molecular bases for the development of better adapted material. Genetic and genomic studies of traits of interest.
- Applications of digital tools and data science to breeding programs.
It is necessary to know the conditions for the best possible tree development and fruit set to optimize the fruit production. Our research group studies the fundamental aspects of fruit production and post-harvest changes with the final objective of improving tree fruit productivity. Some of them are the interaction between the rootstock and the graft variety, the reproductive biology, the pollination requirements, the chilling requirements, the resistance to diseases, and the response to environmental stresses like cold, 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, which is now in higher demand by consumers. All these objectives must be pursued without forgetting the breeding and maintenance of healthy disease-free plant material and its supply to nurseries to produce certified plants.
- Identification, adaptation, and mitigation of climate change effects.
- Study of the physiological mechanisms with impact on the harvest.
- Development and optimization of propagation methods and growing techniques.
- Sanitary selection of fruit trees and certification.