The findings of the research confirm the viability of organic production of berry fruit, and lowering the amount of fertilisers and plant protectants used. Biotisation is a new biotechnological approach to plant breeding.

What problem does the project solve?

The findings of the research confirm the viability of organic production of berry fruit, and lowering the amount of fertilisers and plant protectants used. Commercial cultivation to date, while disregarding the need to protect the environment, exerts a negative impact on soil microbial diversity and worsens the taste and nutritional value of the fruit, and thus affects the health of consumers. Growing concerns related to the threat posed by the climate change, including the occurring periods of drought, result in an increased interest in the possibility of applying micro-organisms to restore microbial diversity of soil and plant microbiota. In the forthcoming decades, climate change will cause increasing water deficits and soil salinity. Our findings show a significant potential of symbiotic consortia selected for their quality, crop health, yield, and the potential to reduce various types of stresses (drought, soil toxicity, etc.) and to lower the use of fertilisers and plant protectants. The application of symbiotic microorganisms targeted at specific crops is the future of agriculture and horticulture as well as the sign of hope for improving food quality.

The task of the new technology will be to increase production efficiencies and health‑related benefits of berry fruit

The results obtained and further work carried out in this direction give hope for the future in terms of the new possibilities for improving both the food quality and quantity, despite the depletion of raw resources to produce fertilisers. An appropriate selection of microorganisms should increase the plants’ resistance to drought and reduce the irrigation applied. Since symbiotic microorganisms can also potentially protect plants against pathogens, this points towards a reduction of chemical plant protectants as they contribute to the lowered food safety. Available vaccines usually cover single types of microorganisms and are dedicated to broad groups of plants. We propose to use consortia tailored to specific plant species, which bring together microorganisms from different groups and present a diversified and comprehensive potential for action. Farmers, fruit growers and, above all, consumers are going to benefit from it.

Applications: plant cultivation, horticulture and plant protection

Effects of applying the technology:

  • Better rooting and stimulation of seedlings growth
  • Positive effect on photosynthesis processes
  • Increased resistance of seedlings to negative environmental conditions and better plants survival rates.
  • Reduced need to use fertilisers and chemical plant protection products

The biggest challenges in the project

The biggest challenge in the project was to select the suitable substrate for plant cultivation as most of the available substrates (despite lack of information) were over fertilised. Symbiotic fungi do not develop well in such substrates. Also, it will take some work to raise awareness among farmers and consumers as knowledge of symbiotic microorganisms, especially mycorrhizal and endophytic fungi, still does not make part of teaching curricula.

The project “Development of biotisation technology for commercial organic berry fruit production” was carried out between June 2015 and February 2018, within the TANGO programme, the TANGO1 competition.

Beneficiary of the programme: The Jagiellonian University

Composition of the research team: prof. dr hab. Katarzyna Turnau from the Faculty of Biology of the Jagiellonian University, dr hab. Piotr Rozpądek, and Dr. Rafał Ważny from the Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University.

Prof. dr hab. Katarzyna Turnau

Dr hab. Piotr Rozpądek

Dr. Rafał Ważny

TANGO is a joint undertaking of the National Centre for Research and Development and the National Science Centre in Poland, which addresses the need of spanning the gap between the basic research and industrial research and development works. TANGO competitions are aimed at scientific units and scientific-industrial consortia which carry out conceptual work, industrial research, and development works based on results of basic research previously financed by the National Science Centre.