NEIKER will coordinate a biotechnology network of the Ibero-American Program of Science and Technology for Development (CYTED)

GuatemalaPaloma Moncaleán, researcher at the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, NEIKER-Tecnalia, will coordinate the “Biotechnology to strengthen programs for the improvement of species of socio-economic interest” within the Ibero-American Program of Science and Technology for Development (CYTED) .

The network brings together 79 researchers from 12 research centers from 9 Ibero-American countries (Costa Rica, Ecuador, Portugal, Guatemala, Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico and Spain) and 3 companies from the productive sector. It also includes professionals interested in the development and application of quantitative, physiological and molecular tools for plant breeding of species of food interest.

The general objective is the creation and consolidation of an interdisciplinary space of exchange of scientific knowledge and experiences for the increase of the productivity of the programs of improvement of Musa spp. and Theobroma cacao in quantitative and qualitative terms, using new biotechnological tools (especially the -omic ones) to meet the challenge of population growth and food demand in the current scenario of climate change.

This improvement will be carried out through the exploration of their genomes (Next Generation Sequencing), the fortification of their products, the development of methods of early diagnosis of their main pathogens using techniques of phenotyping, physiological and metabolomics and obtaining indicators of resistance to the main biotic and abiotic stresses.

The network will drive work on improving species of food interest such as bananas and cacao. Doing it in parallel and even proposing the establishment of combined agricultural systems can produce a synergy in the achievement of results and increase their applicability in the Ibero-American countries that integrate the proposal. The species to be studied within the network provide fruits of high nutritional, social and economic importance for developing countries.

The participation of companies and production associations ensures the transfer of results as well as the development of projects that raise real needs.

The work will be carried out through research, training, exchange of information between multidisciplinary groups experts in different fields, education and social awareness, actions that will be carried out meeting the needs of the present generations, without endangering That of future generations.

The first meeting of the network will take place from July 3 to 7 in Vitoria-Gasteiz.