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1.5 million euros to anticipate the effects of climate change on plants

Timac Agro and the University create a Chair to promote sustainable models of environmental development

15/10/15 11:00 Laura Juampérez

Timac Agro (group Roullier) and the University of Navarra have signed the agreement for the creation of Chair Timac Agro-University of Navarra, which will involve an investment of 1.5 million euros in research to anticipate the effects of climate change on plants, as well as to promote sustainable models of environmental development .

The work of the new unit at research will focus on three key areas: the optimization of mineral nutrition of plants, the improvement of development of crops under stress conditions, and the recycling of urban and agricultural waste. In the first case, scientists are already working on highly efficient nitrogen fertilizers for use in horticultural and cereal crops, in order to increase final production and minimize negative impacts: "If we are able to increase the efficiency of nitrogen use within the plant , we can reduce nitrates in leaves and fruits, while increasing proteins and the nutritional value of the plant," says the team's director and Full Professor of Chemistry Agricultural and Soil Science José María García-Mina.

Another project his team is developing is aimed at using the genes involved in the natural responses of plants to stress situations that may be aggravated by climate change - such as drought or increased salinity of irrigation water - that can affect agricultural production. "Having already identified the genes that protect the plant, and their role in stress situations, our goal, together with Timac Agro, is to identify the natural molecules capable of modulating these genes," explains director at Chair.

Citrus fruit falls by 40% this summer

"The environmental conditions are so decisive that this summer in the Spanish Levante region , the increase in temperatures has caused a reduction of between 30 and 40% in citrus production, and between 10 and 20% in the cereal areas of high performing in our country as a whole", the expert recalls.

The researchers of the new Chair Timac Agro-University of Navarra have filed more than 45 patents in the area environment and agricultural Chemistry throughout their careers, as well as published more than 120 articles in specialized journals. "The goal is to add the knowledge in the subject of a European business committed to investment in research and development, as is the group Roullier, with all the synergies that can be created in the University and its various centers and Departments", stresses the Full Professor José María García-Mina.

The duration of this agreement is five years, automatically extendable, and includes funding for a scholarship from doctorate and the invitation of leading experts for the training of the researchers.