Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria

CREA works on agronomic (open field, greenhouse and soilless including), plant pathology, microbiology (in particular on soil and fresh-cut leafy vegetables microbiology), biochemical and molecular topics.

Agronomic research is carried out in two experimental farms, located in Pontecagnano and Battipaglia (Salerno District), as well as in several external field farms. It is focused mainly on horticultural species such as tomato, eggplant, pepper, onion, grain legumes (bean, chickpea, lentil, grass pea, pea, faba bean, lupine), artichoke, thistle, medicinal plants etc.. Topics of agricultural research are: comparisons of vegetable varieties, use of agronomic techniques with low environmental impact, such as the use of organic amendments (compost, seed meals from biodiesel production byproducts, slow-release nitrogen fertilizers etc.), use of microorganisms (rhizobia, PGPR, microbial antagonists), use of natural substances against plant pathogens (essential oils, tea- compost, glucosinolates etc.) and characterization of local horticultural species.

Phytopathological activities concern bacteriology (molecular detection by PCR, molecular characterization by analysis of DNA polymorphisms of bacterial populations, study of bacterial effectors, pest management with natural substances), mycology (molecular analysis of fungal populations, biological control through the use of antagonistic bacteria, natural substances and composts) and virology (serological diagnosis of viruses of the main horticultural species).

Regarding the microbiology topics, CREA carried out studies on some soil microbial groups (mainly Bacillus and Pseudomonas), on determination of some indices of microbial activity (respiration) and enzyme activity (dehydrogenase, total hydrolase  and phosphatase activities, etc.) in soils under different organic amendments.

About fresh-cut leafy vegetables, CREA is involved in the research of human pathogens for the human safety.

The activities on the biochemical topics concern the study, about the proteome, of the interaction among fungi and plants (in particular between Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. melongenae and eggplant), determination of nutraceutical substances in horticulture products, performed to assist breeding programs for enrichment in antioxidant compounds (eg carotenoids in tomato fruits). Genetics and biotechnology topics, involved the characterization of microorganisms and horticulture species (principally local varieties and lines); moreover, studies to improve production, quality and the development of resistant lines to pathogens in vegetable crops (peppers, arugula) are performed. These activities are related to the use of genetic biodiversity in order to achieve breeding programs assisted by molecular markers, to the development of genetic maps for the detection of agronomic traits of interest, to the identification of alleles useful in germplasm collections, and to increase in vitro culture techniques useful for the genetic improvement.

In the CREA there is also a bioinformatic unit  which supports scientific research of the Centre through the analysis and the management of biological data, derived from both laboratory experiments and in silico study. Its main activities are to develop strategies, methods and tools for the analysis, management, reconciliation and integration of 'omics' data. In the Research Center, there is a calculation structure (High Performance Computing Cluster) deals with the analysis of NGS data (targeted re-sequencing, RNA-Seq, small RNA-seq, organelle genome sequencing) and the annotation of structural and functional genomic sequences.