Crag News

FRUITDIV and COUSIN: two new European projects designed to recover genetic variability and promote sustainable agriculture

Researchers from CRAG will participate in two new European projects, FRUITDIV and COUSIN, two projects granted in this call of the Horizon Europe program.
  • The projects aim to utilize and preserve the genetic variability of crop wild relatives and transfer the knowledge acquired to the public.
  • The goal of these initiatives is to generate knowledge and solutions for the transition towards a more sustainable agriculture.

Two research teams from CRAG will participate in two new European projects under the Horizon Europe research and innovation program, from the call resolved in November 2023. Among the participants, the team led by María José Aranzana and Iban Eduardo, IRTA researchers at CRAG, will work on the FRUITDIV project, and the team led by Laura Botigué, and Raúl Castanera, IRTA researcher at CRAG, will participate on the COUSIN project. These two projects, although granted independently, will have the common objective of researching, utilizing, and preserving the genetic variability resources from various crop wild relatives (CWRs) for the transition towards more sustainable agriculture.

foto cousin

cousinThe project "Crop Wild Relatives utilisation and conservation for sustainable agriculture" (COUSIN) has a particular focus on the concept of crop wild relatives as "cousins" of traditional domesticated crops. In this way, its objective is to utilize CWRs as a valuable resource of agronomic interest, to promote a transition towards a more sustainable agriculture. Specifically, at CRAG, researchers will work on sequencing and pangenome analysis (collection of multiple genomes) of plants from the family of cabbage, wheat, barley, pea, and lettuce. Additionally, through the social initiative iNaturalist, the COUSIN project aims to disseminate the future results to the public.


logoOn the other hand, the project "Exploiting the Untapped potential of Fruit tree Wild DIVersity for Sustainable Agriculture" (FRUITDIV) has the aim of monitoring, characterizing, utilizing, and conserving the diversity of CWR fruit trees, from the families of apple, pear, and cherry trees. In this context, tools of floristics, ethnogeography, and population genomics will be used to develop new breeding techniques based on multiomics. The FRUITDIV project also aims to develop a European online platform with genomics and phenomics data of these CWRs, and to promote the creation of a network between farmers and associations to facilitate the use of these crops for agriculture.

Currently, it is estimated that 75% of food crops come from only twelve plant species. Due to the disuse of local varieties, 75% of the existing genetic diversity has been lost since 1990. The creation of projects like FRUITDIV and COUSIN represents progress in addressing current issues and towards a more sustainable agriculture. Both projects have started in January 2024 and will have a duration of five years. The two projects will involve active collaboration with other centers and entities. The FRUITDIV project counts with 29 partners from 14 countries, while COUSIN counts with a total of 25 partners from 12 countries.

Other information about the projects: The projects showcased are "Exploiting the Untapped potential of Fruit tree Wild DIVersity for Sustainable Agriculture" (FRUITDIV) with code #101135314 and "Crop Wild Relatives utilisation and conservation for sustainable agriculture" (COUSIN)  with code #101133964. Both projects have been granted in the call HORIZON-CL6-2023-BIODIV-01, by the European Union.  Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the European Union nor REA can be held responsible for them.