On the 15th-16th of June 2021, the VIRTIGATION project held its kick-off meeting as a virtual meeting due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions imposed by national authorities across the globe. Although partners couldn’t meet personally, an international cooperation was successfully established in the virtual kick-off meeting, which 59 participants from the VIRTIGATION consortium attended.
The VIRTIGATION project, which is running for 4 years (June 2021 – May 2025), is coordinated by the Laboratory of Tropical Crop Improvement at the Department of Biosystems of KU Leuven (Belgium). With a secured EU contribution of nearly 7 Mio EUR, VIRTIGATION partners from Europe, Israel, Morocco and India are on a mission to develop innovative solutions to tackle emerging viral diseases caused by begomoviruses (whitefly-transmitted) and tobamoviruses (mechanically transmitted) on tomatoes and cucurbits in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean basin.
Specifically, the project seeks to protect tomatoes and cucurbits from the devastating begomoviruses called ToLCNDV (Tomato Leaf Curl New Delhi Virus) and TYLCV (Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus), as well as the tobamovirus known as ToBRFV (Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus). VIRTIGATION operates under the EU Horizon 2020 program to address new and emerging risks to plant health, thereby contributing to sustainable food security.
The project coordinator Hervé Vanderschuren (KU Leuven) facilitated the project’s kick-off meeting, which was attended by 59 participants from the VIRTIGATION consortium. Guido Guidetti, EU project officer from the Research Executive Agency, also attended the meeting and reminded VIRTIGATION partners of their contractual responsibilities and obligations in implementing the project under Grant Agreement No. 101000570.
Furthermore, Gisela Quaglia, Research Programme Officer in the EU Commission (EC) Directorate-General for Agriculture & Rural Development, presented the policy context and expectations for the VIRTIGATION project. Panagiota Mylona from the Plant Health Unit of the EC Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, concluded the presentations from EU officials by outlining the legislative background on the plant pests addressed by the project. All congratulated the VIRTIGATION members on successfully launching the project and wished for fruitful and productive collaboration.
In the remainder of the kick-off meeting, the Work Package leaders then presented the objectives, methodology and work to be carried out. After this successful virtual kick-off meeting, the VIRTIGATION members embark on their mission to be at the forefront of efforts to safeguard tomatoes and cucurbits as vital staple foods in European fields and greenhouses.
Additional Information about VIRTIGATION: Cordis – Project No. 101000570