Italian Agricultural Research Council
Rome, Italy
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Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CPCSA | Phase: INFRA-2011-1.2.2. | Award Amount: 4.48M | Year: 2011

agINFRA is an Integrated Infrastructure Initiative (I3) project that will try to introduce the agricultural scientific communities into the vision of open and participatory data-intensive science. In particular, agINFRA aims to design and develop a scientific data infrastructure for agricultural sciences that will facilitate the development of policies and the deployment of services that will promote sharing of data among agricultural scientists and develop trust within and among their communities. agINFRA will try to remove existing obstacles concerning the open access to scientific information and data in agriculture, as well as improve the preparedness of agricultural scientific communities to face, manage and exploit the abundance of relevant data that is (or will be) available and can support agricultural research.\n\nUltimately, agINFRA will demonstrate how a data infrastructure for agricultural scientific communities can be set up to facilitate data generation, provenance, quality assessment, certification, curation, annotation, navigation and management.

Mazzola M.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | Manici L.M.,Italian Agricultural Research Council
Annual Review of Phytopathology | Year: 2012

Replant disease of apple is common to all major apple growing regions of the world. Difficulties in defining disease etiology, which can be exacerbated by abiotic factors, have limited progress toward developing alternatives to soil fumigation for disease control. However, the preponderance of data derived from studies of orchard soil biology employing multidisciplinary approaches has defined a complex of pathogens/parasites as causal agents of the disease. Approaches to manipulate microbial resources endemic to the orchard soil system have been proposed to induce a state of general soil pressiveness to replant disease. Such a long-term strategy may benefit the existing orchard through extending the period of economic viability and reduce overall disease pressure to which young trees are exposed during establishment of successive plantings on the site. Alternatively, more near-term methods have been devised to achieve specific quantitative and qualitative changes in soil biology during the period of orchard renovation that may lead to effective disease pression. © 2012 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

University of Milan and Italian Agricultural Research Council | Date: 2011-06-29

The present invention concerns the inducting of recoverable male sterility in plants through the introduction into the plant genome of a genic construct comprising a blocking construct, which blocks the activity of a gene involved into the pollen formation and a rescue construct, which is able to restore fertility under suitable conditions.

The present study illustrates an indicator of self-contained urban growth derived from official statistics with the aim of verifying if a shift from compactness towards settlement diffusion has occurred in cities with different socioeconomic and morphological characteristics. According to this approach, changes in settlement's distribution and density were assessed in four Mediterranean cities (Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome, and Athens) during 80 years between 1919 and 2001. Results indicated that settlement distribution, building density and self-contained urban growth diverged in the four regions since the early 1980s. However, cities with a compact form showed an higher self-contained growth rate than cities with dispersed form. These findings contrast with the similarity in settlement characteristics, population trends, and spatial organization of economic activities observed during the 'compact growth' phase (1950-1980) in all examined regions. Comparative analyses of exurban development through morphological indicators may inform strategies promoting self-contained urban growth. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Giraffa G.,Italian Agricultural Research Council
Engineering in Life Sciences | Year: 2012

Probiotics are defined as "live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host." Probiotic-containing foods can be categorized as functional foods and, along with prebiotics, represent the largest segment of the functional food market around the world. Fermented foods are the main vehicle of administration of probiotic organisms and, among them, dairy products are by far the most widely used. Many probiotic strains, which most often belong to the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are already applied in commercial probiotic fermented milks throughout the world. Nonetheless, the market of biofunctional dairy products, including probiotics, is continuously asking for diversifying the range of available products. To this regard, there is a growing need to identify new biofunctional strains, new strategies to assure survival of these cultures, and different sources from which to isolate strains. Before a probiotic can benefit human health, it must fulfill several criteria. Because the range of target functions and technological applications is wide, the selection and evaluation of potential probiotic candidates require a multistep approach. This review will give a general overview of main criteria and methods that have to be taken into consideration in the selection process of probiotic strains. © 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Lanza B.,Italian Agricultural Research Council
Frontiers in Microbiology | Year: 2013

The process of transformation of table olives from tree to table is the result of complex biochemical reactions that are determined by the interactions between the indigenous microflora of the olives, together with a variety of contaminating microrganisms from different sources [fiber-glass fermenters, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tanks, pipelines, pumps, and water], with the compositional characteristics of the fruit. One of the most important aspects of improving the quality of table olives is the use of selected microorganisms to drive the fermentation. These can supplant the indigenous microflora and, in particular, the complementary microflora that are responsible for spoilage of canned olives. In this context, from a technological point of view, a well-characterized collection of microrganisms (lactic acid bacteria, yeast) that can be isolated from the matrix to be processed (the olive fruit) will provide the basis for the development of starter culture systems. These cultures can be fully compatible with the typical products and will guarantee high quality standards. Inoculation of the brine with such selected starter cultures will reduce the probability of spoilage, and help to achieve an improved and more predictable fermentation process. Control of the fermentation processes can thus occur through chemical, chemico-physical and microbiological approaches, and since 2008, also through organoleptic evaluation (COI/OT/MO/Doc. No 1. Method for the sensory analysis of table olives). This last has established the necessary criteria and procedures for sensory analysis of the negative, gustatory and kinaesthetic sensations of table olives, which can also be attributed to abnormal proliferation of microrganisms. It also sets out the system for commercial classification, through assessment of the median of the defect predominantly perceived. © 2013 Lanza.

Gianinetti A.,Italian Agricultural Research Council
Journal of Experimental Botany | Year: 2013

The hypothesis of genetic additivity states that the effects of different alleles, or different genes, add up to produce the phenotype. When considering the F1 progeny of a cross, the hypothesis of additivity of the genetic dosages provided by the parents is tested against the mid-parent value (MPV), which is the average of parental phenotypes and represents the reference value for genetic additivity. Non-additive effects (genetic interactions) are typically measured as deviations from MPV. Recently, however, the use of MPV has been directly transposed to the study of genetic additiv-ity in newly synthesized plant polyploids, assuming that they should as well display mid-parent expression patterns for additive traits. It is shown here that this direct transposition is incorrect. It is suggested that, in neo-polyploids, mid-parent expression has to be reconsidered in terms of reduced genetic additivity. Homeostatic mechanisms are deemed to be the obvious ones responsible for this effect. Genomes are therefore ruled by negative epistasis, and heterosis in allopolyploids is due to a decreased interaction of the parental repressive systems. It is contended that focalizing on the right perspective has relevant theoretical consequences and makes the studies of neo-polyploids very important for our understanding of how genomes work. © The Author 2013.

Salvati L.,Italian Agricultural Research Council
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2014

Climate changes, soil vulnerability, loss in biodiversity, and growing human pressure are threatening Mediterranean-type ecosystems which are increasingly considered as a desertification hotspot. In this region, land vulnerability to desertification strongly depends on the interplay between natural and anthropogenic factors. The present study proposes a multivariate exploratory analysis of the relationship between the spatial distribution of land vulnerability to desertification and the socioeconomic contexts found in three geographical divisions of Italy (north, center and south) based on statistical indicators. A total of 111 indicators describing different themes (demography, human settlements, labor market and human capital, rural development, income and wealth) were used to discriminate vulnerable from non-vulnerable areas. The resulting socioeconomic profile of vulnerable areas in northern and southern Italy diverged significantly, the importance of demographic and economic indicators being higher in southern Italy than in northern Italy. On the contrary, human settlement indicators were found more important to discriminate vulnerable and non-vulnerable areas in northern Italy, suggesting a role for peri-urbanization in shaping the future vulnerable areas. An in-depth knowledge of the socioeconomic characteristics of vulnerable land may contribute to scenarios' modeling and the development of more effective policies to combat desertification. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Servadio P.,Italian Agricultural Research Council
Soil and Tillage Research | Year: 2010

Due to the agricultural field traffic and to the soil tillage implements, soil compaction has been recognised as a severe problem in mechanized agriculture and has an influence on many soil properties and processes. In this paper, empirical methods originally developed by the different Authors at Waterways Experiment Station (WES) for predicting the performance of off-road vehicles were applied on agricultural soil. The models considered and based on soil-vehicles interaction were: clay-tire rubber track numeric (Nc,r), mobility index (MI), vehicle cone index (VCI), mean maximum pressure (MMP) and they included besides soil strength, the load carried by the tire or track, some technical characteristics of the tire or track of the vehicle, as well as the number of passes on the same track. These models have been validated with the tests results of a number of selected agricultural and forest vehicles over a range of soil in central Italy: Vertic Cambisol, Haplic Calcaric Cambisol and Eutric Cambisol. Significant correlations among the above indexes and among Nc,r and two tire-track performance parameters: traction coefficient and traction efficiency, have been found. In addition a correlation between the measured cone index values during field tests, and the predicted cone index values have been developed.Through the field data collected and the elaboration and validation of the indexes it was possible to frame in a coherent way, the performance of agricultural machinery of different mass and power, running gear system (wheels, tires with low aspect ratio, metal and rubber tracks, self-propelled for the harvest, transport and distribution of agricultural products), even though particular interpretative shrewdness was necessary in the application of such formulas in the cases of innovative machinery as with the rubber track system. The vehicles that have obtained the higher values of Nc,r (>20) have obtained the lowest values of both the MMP (<156kPa) and VCI (VCI1<110kPa; VCI4<269kPa). These vehicles have also obtained the higher values of traction coefficient (0.7-0.9) and of traction efficiency (0.74-0.8).Agricultural field traffic is an important aspect of soil management and such indexes, based on parameters that determine the impact of the agricultural mechanization on soil qualities, can usefully be considered in the management of the agricultural farm to reduce soil compaction due to both the traffic of machinery and to tillage implements particularly when considering the aspect of altered land use. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Barabaschi D.,Italian Agricultural Research Council
Molecular biotechnology | Year: 2012

Extensive insights into the genome composition, organization, and evolution have been gained from the plant genome sequencing and annotation ongoing projects. The analysis of crop genomes provided surprising evidences with important implications in plant origin and evolution: genome duplication, ancestral re-arrangements and unexpected polyploidization events opened new doors to address fundamental questions related to species proliferation, adaptation, and functional modulations. Detailed paleogenomic analysis led to many speculation on how chromosomes have been shaped over time in terms of gene content and order. The completion of the genome sequences of several major crops, prompted to a detailed identification and annotation of transposable elements: new hypothesis related to their composition, chromosomal distribution, insertion models, amplification rate, and evolution patterns are coming up. Availability of full genome sequence of several crop species as well as from many accessions within species is providing new keys for biodiversity exploitation and interpretation. Re-sequencing is enabling high-throughput genotyping to identify a wealth of SNP and afterward to produce haplotype maps necessary to accurately associate molecular variation to phenotype. Conservation genomics is emerging as a powerful tool to explain adaptation, genetic drift, natural selection, hybridization and to estimate genetic variation, fitness and population's viability.

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