The Centre has six experimental farms:
• S. Salvatore - Acireale (CT) of 4ha
The farm, which lies in an area suited for lemon production, is used for maintaining a collection of citrus fruits, and several tests of agronomic evaluation based on lemon selections and trials of fertilization are also hosted.
• Palazzelli - Lentini (SR) of 25ha
The company falls into one of the most suited areas for the production of citrus fruits, in particular, to sweet orange. On the contrary it seems to be no well suited to lemon cultivation. Various plots were planted with different citrus varieties, the subject of countless experimental tests carried out in over 40 years. In a total of 11 plots, about 12,000 citrus trees are allocated.
• San Gregorio - Reggio Calabria of 4ha
Several tests on sweet oranges, mandarin, bergamot and cedar were perfomed. A pot is used as storing and evaluation of indicated varieties germplasm. An orientation field of the main avocado and Annona varieties is also there.
• Fonti Ciane – Siracusa of 28ha
The farm, acquired in the 1974, in later years has been the subject of land improvement. It is located in a place suited for lemon, and it is used for experimental tests based on lemon and for progeny crosses, with the aim to identify alternative rootstocks to sour orange.
• S. Giovanni Arcimusa – Lentini (SR) with 34ha
The farm, acquired by the Centre in 2002, many years hosting tests on autumn-winter cereals and fields propagating ancient Sicilian populations of durum wheat. Various accessions, grafted on different rootstocks, derived from crosses to improve resistance to major physiological diseases added to varieties belonging to the olive germplasm (from the table and oil) in Sicily have been recently planted.
• Libertinia – Ramacca (CT) with 22ha
It is situated in a particularly representative area of Mediterranean cerealicolture. The experimental activities set in the farm are considered a long-term reference for national networks of tests conducted on autumn-winter cereals.
Collection of germplasm
At the farms Palazzelli, San Salvatore and San Gregorio is present one of the most important and comprehensive collections of germplasm of citrus in the Mediterranean basin. The Centre also has a large collection of germplasm of durum and bred wheat , in particular of ancient Sicilian populations and accessions introduced from other countries, but also of minor cereals (barley, oats, etc..). This collection is maintained and multiplied each year at the farms Arcimusa and Libertinia In Arcimusa farm has been established by recent, still under implementation, an extensive collection of olive trees.
It 'contains over 40 000 volumes, of which over 6 000 published between 1585 and 1900, invaluable historical, cultural, and scientific illustrations.
The center has several laboratories commonly used for various scientific areas, and other research aimed at specific sectors:
• a laboratory of Pomology, with the main equipment (precision balances, refractometer, automatic titrator and colorimeter, etc.);
• a laboratory for in vitro culture with culture chamber, climatic chamber, two autoclaves, balances, vending machine of culture media, pH meter, two laminar flow hoods, two binocular stereo microscope and flow cytometer;
• a laboratory of molecular biology, genomics and transcriptomics, equipped with all the basic equipment, thermocyclers, a sequencer to 8 capillaries of various schemes for quantitative PCR;
• a virology laboratory with fume hood, vertical laminar flow hood, a UV-VIS spectrophotometer, an ELISA plate reader, a thermal cycler, an incubator, centrifuges, balances and autoclave;
• a laboratory for agricultural chemistry autoanalyser equipped for the estimation of mineral nitrogen holes for determination of total nitrose, plasma spectrometer ICP-OES for the determination of macro and micro elements, mass isotope (IRMS), UV- VIS spectrophotometer,
• a laboratory analysis of juices and essential oils has the following scientific equipment: No 2 gas chromatographs-mass spectrometers; No 2 multi-detector gas chromatographs; No 5 multidetector HPLC; No 1 HPLC-mass spectrometer, No. 1 NIR Spectrophotometer, No. 1 Spectrophotometers UV-Vis, No.1ICP optical, No.1 Spectrofluorimeter; No 1 isotope ratio mass spectrometer interfaced to a No.1gas chromatograph;
• fresh cut laboratory whith no 2 peelers, No 1-sealer heat sealer, no 1 laminar flow hood. • a technology pavilion with No 1 extractor with supercritical CO2, No 1 four-stage centrifugal extractor liquid-liquid, no 1 plant resin extraction of polyphenols from vegetable matrices;
• a laboratory Entomology for microscopes and stereo microscopes that have one equipped for the photomicrographs, equipment installation and preservation of insects for the determination and entomological collections; • a pathology laboratory and post-harvest fruit quality equipped with a laminar flow hood, an electron microscope with built-in camera, two optical microscopes, equipment for counting CFU, an incubator of a spiral planter, of an analyzer frame (Zwick / Roell DO-FBO STS model 2002). In addition, an area is marked with a line for the processing of citrus fruit, an ozone generator in the water and four cold storage rooms;
• a Cereals technology, rheology and quality laboratory supplied with: colorimeters to determine the colorimetric parameters of semolina andbread, mixograph Nebraska, alveograph of Chopin, farinograph of Brabender to determine the technological characteristics of dough, apparatus for determining gluten quality and quantity (Glutomatic 2200, Centrifuge 2015, Glutork 2020), two microscopes, flour sieve.
• an experimental bread-making laboratory supplied with: experimental Swanson type mixer, artisan mixer, moulder, airy and ventilated fermentation cabinet, airy and ventilated oven, bread volume meter; image acquisition system for the evaluation of the crumb;
• a cereals biochemistry laboratory supplied with: apparatus for Kjeldahl protein determination; No 4 devices for the determination of electrophoretic bands gliadin and glutenin, transilluminator and two image acquisition systems for the acquisition of reading and gels.
• a cereals sanitation laboratory supplied with an HPLC and an apparatus ELISA spectrophotometer;
• a laboratory for seed processing equipped with: two Infratec instrument (NIT) to determine protein, total gluten, moisture and test weight of grain and semolina; device GAC to determine the moisture and test weight of cereals, legumes, etc.;
Main research interests:
•identification of new accessions of citrus fruit, table olives and cereals;
•setting up new hybrids by crossing triploid mandarin-like;
•constitution of new rootstocks for the detection of subjects alternative to bitter orange;
• constitution of varieties and rootstocks for ornamental citrus nurseries;
•remediation of all genotypes, in order controll genetic material from the point of view of health and sure varietal conformity;
•in vitro culture of unfertilised ovules developed to the formation of embryogenic callus to be used for studies on nucellar embryogenesis, for the isolation of nucellar embryos;
•use of molecular markers to assistance to systematic, taxonomy and Citrus mapping;
•study on the anthocyanin biosynthesis of pigmented orange, to identify the sequences of structural and regulatory genes involved in pigment formation;
•study of virus diseases, viroids and virus-like and serological and / or molecular diagnosis on the disease agents;
•identification of new test techniques (molecular) to increase the sensibility of diagnostic tests in order to determine the recovery of the different accessions occurred;
•validation and development of alternative molecular diagnostic methods, identification, and molecular and biological characterization of new pathogens of citrus.
•research on physiology, nutrition, pruning and irrigation of citrus;
•research in the field of recycling of organic biomass, in order to obtain quality compost;
•study of tree cropping systems with low environmental impact;
•study on quality of fruits and citrus juices, cereal quality and table olives quality, experimentation with innovative equipment and methods to contrast key phytophagous;
•study of biocaenosis in citrus orchards, biological, chemical and integrated control key pests found on citrus, olive and cereals;
• Improvement and / or maintaining fruit quality in pre-and post-harvest;
•pre-harvest action in procrastinating the process of fruit senescence;
•reduction of fungal diseases through classic defence systems, biological and integrated;
•isolation of fungal agents and maintenance in culture of isolates;
•genetic improvement of durum wheat, with particular indication to the adaptability to the hot-arid Mediterranean environments and its technological quality;
•quality of durum wheat with particular reference to the attitude to bread-making;
•agricultural techniques for grain cultivation and study on farming systems with low environmental impact aimed to develop a sustainable agriculture;
•use of genetic resources and enhancement of biodiversity of cereal;
•genetic improvement of wheat and minor cereals (barley and oat) for Southern Italy;
•qualitative, varietal and agronomic aspects for development of durum wheat and minor cereals in the Mediterranean environments;
•evaluation and characterization of productive and qualitative performances of new genotypes of durum wheat, bred wheat, barley, oat and spelt in Mediterranean environments.