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CREA - Via Po, 14 - 00198 ROMA
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Centro di ricerca per l'agrumicoltura e le colture mediterranee (ACM)

Headquarter - ACIREALE
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Centro di ricerca per l'agrumicoltura e le colture mediterranee (ACM)
Corso Savoia 190
95024 - ACIREALE
Tel: +39-095-7653111 - Fax: +39-095-7653113

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In December 23rd, 1866, in the early years after the Italy Unification, it was formed the “Comizio Agrario del Cicondario di Acireale”, which, recognized as a public utility plant became a non-profit organization and had its headquarters at the “former Capuchin Convent”. For over forty years at the Institute were conducted experiments on several areas: (citrus, fruit, viticulture and enology) and many other crops (wheat, potato, sugarcane, tobacco, etc.) as well as on farms (bug silk, mule and horse, and others). It continued to operate on these functions until July 7th, 1907, when it was founded the “Experimental Station of Fruit and Citrus in Acireale” which, in 1929, as every experimental station, was equated to University Scientific Institutes. The research station was started by its first director, Professor Luigi Savastano, former Professor of Arboriculture and Plant Pathology applied in the Royal Agricultural College at Portici, who directed the institute from 1910 to 1931. In 1967, following the reform of research Institutes affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which brought together various and composite structures in IRSA (Institute of Agricultural Research and Experimentation), it was established the Experimental Institute for Citrus cultivation in Acireale. This reform implied substantial changes in the mandate as limited to only the citrus business. There were established three operational sections: “Genetic Improvement”, “Cultivation Techniques”, “Biology and Defense” and a Device Operations Section based in Reggio Calabria, “Improvement and Propagation, bergamot and cedar”. The Institute had 4 experimental farms, “S. Salvatore” (Acireale) enclosed to the head office, “Palazzelli” "(Lentini - SR), “Fonti Ciane” (Siracusa), “S. Gregorio” (Reggio Calabria), where Device Operations Section and laboratories was located. After Savastano, the following directors came after: D. Casella (1932-1935), Ajon (1936-1938), V. Carrante (1938-1947), G. Ruggieri (1948-1965), Di Martino (1965-1972), P. Spina (1972-1991), Giorgio Terranova (1991-2003). Current director is F. Intrigliolo.

In 1999 IRSA joined the Council for Research and Experimentation in Agriculture (CRA). In 2007, following the rationalization plan of the research facilities of CRA, it was established the Research Center for the Citrus crops and the Mediterranean (CRA-ACM), which brings together the expertise of some structures of the former IRSA: ISAGRU Acireale (CT), ISAGRU, peripheral operational section of Reggio Calabria, ISOL – peripheral operational section of Palermo and ISC – peripheral operational section of Catania, which was established by Presidential Decree 1318/1967 and continued, in Sicily, the activities of Experimental Station of Catania Granicoltura, founded by Royal Decree No 2034 August 12, 1927, to “solve problems of open field cultivation in hot and dry climate, with particular reference to cereals”. Currently, the areas of scientific interest of the Centre are mainly citrus, grain cultivation and tableware olive colture.


The current restructuring plan of the CRA provides that the centre will focus on genetic, breeding, propagation techniques, conservation, selection and constitution of new varieties of typical crops in the Mediterranean area, in particular citrus, olives and cereals. In addition the CRA-ACM focused its research on cultivation techniques to develop methods for sustainable and economically efficient growing, research on quality and healthy fruits and products addressed on fresh consumption and industrial transformation. Finally, another field is based on the resistance to adverse factors in pre and post-harvest, biological, chemical and integrated fight and in relation to infectious diseases.


Structural Equipment

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.

Other activities

Among the Centre’s activities there is also the production of certified class and CAC  citrus propagation material. The Center supervises distribution of citrus base propagation material  and monitoring of varietal and phytosanitary compliance of mother plants citrus orchards implanted in different Italian regions.

Starting from 1991, is annually produced the "Monitoring the quality of durum wheat grown in Sicily" whose results are quickly widespread by the Internet and specialized press to operators and industry companies

The grains sector of the Centre, also edited an annual epidemiological monitoring concerning major fungal diseases affecting wheat and durum wheat.

The Centre shall ensure the dissemination of results through the organization of exhibitions and guided visits in its farms for  technicians, farmers and students, and by mean of the specialized press. The researchers are also involved in updating activities and play roles as co-tutors for students (undergraduate and graduate students) that are hosted at the Centre.

It shall also include a virological diagnostic service for private and public companies.



TACLE is a triploid hybrid obtained in 1980 from the cross of Monreal clementine and Tarocco tetraploid orange (European Patent No. 20010156).

CLARA is a triploid hybrid obtained in 1980 from the cross of Monreal clementine and Tarocco tetraploid orange (European Patent No. 20010157).

REAL is a triploid hybrid obtained in 1987 from the cross of Monreal clementine and tetraploid Fortunella hinds (European Patent No. 20010158).

MANDARED is a triploid hybrid obtained in 1985 from the cross of Nules clementine and Tarocco tetraploid orange (European Patent No. 20040072).

LEMOX is triploid hybrid obtained in 1986 by crossing the hybrid 1952-36B-69 (Femminello lemon X Pera del Commendatore) and Doppio Lentini tetraploid lemon (European Patent No 20040073).

MANDALATE is a triploid hybrid obtained in 1989 from the cross of Fortune mandarin and Avana tetraploid mandarin (European Patent No. 20040074).

ALKANTARA is a triploid hybrid obtained in 1986 from the cross of Oroval clementine and Tarocco tetraploid orange (European Patent No. 20040075).



Durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.)

BRONTE: cross of Berillo x Latino, entered on the National Register of plant varieties with DM of 28/10/1996; No NV/98 1013 patent filing.

SANT’AGATA: cross of the Adamello x Simeto, entered  on the National Register of plant varieties with DM of 29/09/2004, Patent No. 2386 of 12/02/2009.

CICLOPE: cross of two lines of durum wheat (CTA 155 x CTA 110) entered in the National Register of plant varieties with DM , 09/11/2006; is in progress the technical examination relating to European patent application.

Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) ACI: cross [ Alpha (Alpha x Sonja )] x [ Capri x( Okos x 273 CAT)], entered in the National Register of plant varieties in 1995.


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