The Fodder and Dairy Productions Research Centre (CRA-FLC) of Lodi comes from the aggregation into one single institution of three experimental Institutes belonging to the Italian Ministry of Agriculture: the Experimental Institute for Fodder Crops (located in Lodi); the Experimental Institute for Dairy Products (located in Lodi); and the Experimental Institute for Dairy Livestock (located in Cremona). The origin of the ISCF dates back to 1923, when a group of local institutions and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture established in Lodi the Grassland Experimental Station. The Experimental Institute for Dairy Livestock originated from the Istituto Sperimentale Agrario Cremonese-Fondazione G. Robbiani established in Cremona on 1922 thanks to the contribution of different local subjects concerned with progress and social welfare in agriculture. The origin of the ISLC dates back to 1871, when it was established by Royal decree to join together science and practical cheese-making skills. In 1923 the Institute bought a farm to carry out research in the whole filer from milk to cheese.
The mission of CRA-FLC is focused on the zootechnical-dairy sector, especially on the breeding of the dairy cattle, with reference to the livestock and forage systems for the sustainable improvement of crops for animal feeding and to the breeding techniques and their effects on physiology and animal wellness. The mission is also addressed to the improvement of the quality and safety of milk and dairy products, the study of the industrial processing and the valorization of by-products and micro-organisms in the dairy industry.
The activity of CRA-FLC can be divided into three main areas: crop productions, dairy livestock, and dairy productions. Research work in the crop productions sector is aimed at investigating primary and secondary metabolites involved in quality aspects of forage plants, as well as natural compounds possessing anti-nutritional, toxic, nutraceutical, and pharmacological properties. Research is also targeted at: identifying and characterizing genes of interest in forage and feed grain legumes through the use of model species (e.g. Medicago truncatula); applying molecular and genetic engineering techniques; increasing the efficiency of breeding methods and genetic resources utilization; selecting forage and feed grain legume varieties with improved stress tolerance, quality and adaptation to Italian environments; improving the agronomic, economic, and environmental sustainability of cereal-forage cropping systems in the Po Valley. Concerning the activities of the other two scientific areas of the Centre, please consult the relative pages, under the section " peripheric operative structures".
Different microorganism and plant collections are maintained at CRA-FLC.
It is present a Sinorhizobium meliloti collection (1443 strains stored at –80°C) which is representative of the intraspecific variation in relation to ecogeographic and bioagronomic characteristics of the isolation environments and the genetic diversity of the host plant. It is also available a dairy bacteria collection, consisting mostly of lactic acid bacteria. Within the collection are also stored spoilage and food pathogenic bacteria of dairy interest, as well bacteriophages of lactic acid bacteria. This collection represents an important source of biodiversity because the strains have been isolated over the last 20 years from different traditional or industrial dairy products (raw milk, fermented milks, cheeses) coming from various geographical areas and production plants.
The Centre hosts about 4300 accessions of forage and grain legumes and forage and turf grasses belonging to 52 species, of which 60% represented by Italian landraces and natural populations, kept under long-term storage as dehydrated seed (7-8% moisture) in sealed bags at –18 °C.
Finally, a tilling collection of Medicago truncatula (estimated mutation rate of 1 mutation/kbp/400 plants) including about 2000 M2 plants for which DNA and M3 seed is available.
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