Viral diseases can cause severe losses to vegetable crop production which has an estimated annual value of 34,5 billion EUR in Europe. Therefore several billions are lost every year due to the prominence of viral diseases and the emergence of new viruses in European fields and greenhouses. Importantly viral diseases also lead to the extensive use of pesticides, thereby exposing European growers and consumers to pesticide residues.
In relation to the work programme, the project aims at developing rapid and lasting solutions to emerging viral diseases caused by begomoviruses (whitefly-transmitted) and tobamoviruses (mechanically transmitted) on cucurbits and tomato in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean Basin as well as at increasing knowledge to better control and manage the viral diseases.
The project is structured in 6 objectives :
1. Knowledge sharing and engagement of stakeholders in research activities (Short term impact)
2. Develop robust diagnostic tests, quarantine measures and identify ecological factors driving disease outbreaks (Short term impact)
3. Understand plant-virus(es)-vector interactions (Medium term impact)
4. Develop IPM solutions (Medium term impact)
5. Pyramidize natural resistance (Long term impact)
6. Train the value chain (Medium term impact)
The objectives will build on 1) detailed study of virus biology and transmission under climate change conditions; 2) development of classical solutions (IPM and natural resistance) to control viral diseases with two distinct modes of transmission; 3) testing novel approaches (biopesticides, biological control, cross-protection) to mitigate viral diseases and to reduce pesticide usage.
In order to take into account the diversity of vegetable cropping systems and viral diseases, focus groups involving extension services, commercial companies and growers will help co-designing research activities and mitigation strategies from the onset of the project.