Research plan

multi-location approach to research & innovation

VIRTIGATION’s overall research plan seeks to ensure durable solutions to emerging viral diseases in cucurbits and tomato production in Europe, Morocco, Israel and India.

VIRTIGATION’s research plan is built on the following 3 pillars: firstly, a detailed study of virus biology and transmission under climate change conditions; secondly, the development of classical solutions (IPM and natural resistance) to control viral diseases with two distinct modes of transmission; and thirdly, 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, VIRTIGATION‘s multi-actor approach (the VIRTIGATION network), involving stakeholders such as extension services, commercial companies and growers, will help co-design research activities and mitigation strategies from the onset of the project.

Thanks to its development of advanced diagnostics tools and its investigation of virus diversity in their centres of emergence, the VIRTIGATION project will provide plant health services with adapted tools and measures to prevent future outbreaks. The project’s models will also help predict future problems arising from climate change and the spread of viruses from, to and within Europe.

Multi-Actor Approach
The main aim of the multi-actor approach is to ensure the creation of an effective multi-actor approach network (the VIRTIGATION network) to co-create and share knowledge with relevant stakeholders in the project’s focus countries on emerging plant viruses, with specific focus on begomoviruses and tobamoviruses in tomato and cucurbits.
Viral genome sequencing and monitor virus outbreaks
The main aim of this research focus is to develop new methods for high-throughput sequencing of full viral genome and virus sequence analysis web platforms that can be instrumental to better characterize natural resistance mechanisms, identify emerging and fast spreading virus threats, and design isolates for cross-protection.
Plant-virus-vector interactions

The main aim of this research focus is to enhance the understanding of interactions between plant viruses and their plant hosts, especially tomato and cucurbits. It will concentrate in this regard in particular on the tobamovirus Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) and on the begomovirus Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV) with its associated DNA satellites.

Spread of emerging viral diseases under climate change

The main aim of this research focus is to investigate both biotic and abiotic factors contributing to the development and spread of viral disease epidemics in Europe, with a particular concentration on how future climatic conditions would affect the introduction and spread of viral diseases.

Integrated virus and vector management
The main aim of this research focus is to develop an integrated virus and vector (especially targeting whiteflies such as Bemisia tabaci) management strategy in order to reduce the incidence of begomoviruses (such as ToLCNDV) and tobamoviruses (such as ToBRFV) infections.
Dissemination, exploitation and communication
The main aim of the project’s dissemination, exploitation and communication strategy is to enhance the innovation capacity and prepare the market entry of new products and strategies, with the purpose to maximize VIRTIGATION’s impact.
Consortium coordination and project management

The main aim is to guarantee the targeted and efficient implementation of the VIRTIGATION project towards all its objectives, as well as the overall administration and management of the project throughout its lifetime.

Ethics requirements
The main aim is to ensure compliance with all ethics requirements that the VIRTIGATION project must follow throughout its duration.