The Dutch top sector Horticulture and Starting Materials granted two public-private partnerships in which researchers of the Institute of Environmental Biology (IEB) collaborate with industry. Both projects aim to make crops more resistant to pathogen infection.
Guido van den Ackerveken and Roeland Berendsen, both working in the research group Plant-Microbe Interactions, were granted 676,000 euros for their project. In leafy crops, like lettuce and spinach, downy mildews are the number one problem and new approaches for resistance breeding are desperately needed. The new innovative project will investigate the role of so-called pathogen-helper microbes in supporting infection by downy mildew pathogens. The goal is to understand the mechanisms by which pathogen helpers contribute to disease. This knowledge will form the basis for novel resistance breeding approaches and other methods to combat helpers. The project will be carried in collaboration with three partners from the plant breeding industry and DSM.
The second succesfull initiative concerns a project of Alexandre Jousset of the Ecology & Biodiversity research group. HeeHGH HGe was granted 260,000 euros to develop probiotic microbes that can eradicate the bacteria Ralstonia solanacearum, a pathogen causing severe damage to important crops. The research will be carried out in collaboration with several important partners from the Dutch plant breeding industry, DLO and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority.
Future Food Utrecht
These new projects fit seamlessly into the program of Future Food Utrecht (FFU), an interdisciplinary research focus from Utrecht University that aims to find new solutions for a sustainable and healthy food supply acceptable and accessible for the world population. FFU focusses on finding solutions that arise from understanding the fundamental mechanisms, and integrate knowledge and ideas from the full range of food-related disciplines. Future Food Utrecht scientists include botanists, pharmaceutical scientists, social scientists, urban geographers, medical scientists, ethicists, economists and veterinary researchers.