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Latest Projects

Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2016-07-01 - 2017-09-30

The project “Berry Shrivel – an unsolved physiological disorder in grapevine” analyses the early changes during BS induction. The ripening disorder is of highly economic importance for winegrowers and especially in Austria the main red wine cultivar Zweigelt can show high incidence of BS in vineyards. The onset of BS induction starts at or short after Veraison, the start of grape berry ripening, and is leading to grapes of low quality with low sugar contents, high acidity, reduced anthocyanin content and strong off flavors. The processes and causes leading to BS induction and symptom development are still unclear. In the presented project we are following the hypothesis that BS is due to a reduced transport of assimilates towards grape berries. According to the current knowledge we are focusing on anatomical changes within the vascular system and we will establish an in vitro system to manipulate the carbohydrate support of single berries with the aim to artificially induce BS. Thereby different microscopic and molecular biological methods will be applied. Our approach is the first effort to analyze these early events during BS induction and will provide essential knowledge towards the unraveling of this complex ripening disorder affecting grape berries.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2017-05-01 - 2020-04-30

Soil-borne pathogens pose particular challenges in the field of plant protection. Apart from direct antagonistic effects of certain fungi and bacteria also beneficial microorganisms such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and fungal endophytes can increase the resistance of plants to soil-borne pathogens. Although fungal endophytes such as Sebacinales have originally been isolated from AMF spores there is hardly any information available about their putative interactions in tomato plant health. For this project two European species of Sebacinales will be used. Serendipita williamsii as well as Serendipita herbamans have not been investigated yet for their putative role in plant growth promotion and against soil-borne pathogens. Therefore, in the first objective the effects of selected Serendipita spp. alone and in combination with AMF on tomato plant growth and disease control will be investigated. In the second objective, the colonization process of tomato roots by S. herbamans and S. williamsii alone and in combination with F. oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici and AMF will be analyzed by different microscopic analyses. Finally, in the third objective systemic effects of Serendipita spp. in tomato on F. oxysporum and AMF will be analyzed in split-root systems. Since P. williamsii and S. herbamans will be investigated for the first time for their plant growth promotion and bioprotective effects in tomato this proposal offers great innovative potential and will give the applicants the opportunity to be among the first ones in this new emerging direction. To visualize the colonization process of the roots the two sebacinoid fungi will be transformed with plasmids containing yellow fluorescent protein (eYFP) and red fluorescent protein (mRFP1), respectively, and investigated under a fluorescent microscope. Furthermore, FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) will be used to investigate the interactions within the root tissue. Additionally, transmission electron microscopy will be performed. In order to investigate growth and bioprotective effects greenhouse experiments will be conducted. Disease incidence and severity will be assessed by visual rating and roots will be scanned and analyzed by the software WinRhizo®. Colonization of roots by sebacinoid and AM fungi will be quantified by qPCR. Furthermore, expression of defense-related genes will be estimated by real-time qPCR and selected secondary metabolites will be monitored by HTLC to investigate bioprotective effects in greater detail.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2013-09-01 - 2018-08-31

Consumers have increasing demands for healthy, nutritious, and innovative food produced sustainably. Minor cereals can address these points, as well as contributing to feed and non-food markets. However, they have been hardly developed as commercial varieties, with no major investment to exploit genetic diversity in breeding programmes, and have low yields. There has been little research to optimise agronomy, food processing and marketing. HealthyMinorCereals will apply state of the art methods for genetic characterisation and phenotyping of >800 genotypes of 5 minor cereal species (spelt, rye, oat, einkorn and emmer). The project will select traits related to yield, nutritional quality and disease resistance, especially targeting important and emerging crop diseases, to identify well characterised genotypes for development of minor cereal varieties and cross breeding. Field experiments in 4 contrasting climatic zones in Europe will optimise agronomy within the organic and low-input sector, addressing gene x environment interactions, fertilization and potential benefits of agronomic management suited to improve yields in each country, and culminating with innovative onfarm trials. The project will investigate variation in nutritional quality of selected genotypes and analyse biological effects of seed extracts in human cell lines. Parameters of grain important for food manufacture will be investigated with optimisation of milling and other processes to maximise nutritional quality. Food industry partners will use selected minor cereal grains to develop new food products that will be demonstrated with production trials, standardisation and sensory analysis. A study on market potential will investigate factors involved in the development of minor cereals in various European markets and develop a framework for enhancing this potential. The project consortium has a major involvement of SME partners involved in breeding, farming, and food production with minor cereals.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations