On January 25th, 1925 by the Royal Decree No. 129 the first Institution that deals exclusively with floriculture was founded in Italy. It was called the Experimental Station for Floriculture "Orazio Raimondo, " by the name of a famous citizen of Sanremo, Mayor and well-known criminal lawyer. Mario Calvino, (father of the writer Italo Calvino), was the first Director of the Experimental Station from 1925 until 1950. In 1953, with the donation by the administration of international aid "Villa Bel Respiro" the station acquires the present site. From 1950 to 1959 the Director was Mario Calvino's wife, Eva Mameli Calvino. From 1959 to 1979, the station was directed by Prof. Giuliano Puccini, currently the pro-tempore director is Dr. Barbara Ruffoni. In 1967 with the Presidential Decree N░ 1318 is set up the new Experimental Institute of Floriculture. Following the reform made by the CRA, from 2 August 2007 the Institute was transformed into a Research Unit for Floriculture and Ornamental Species (Ornamental Plants Research Unit CRA-FSO U 14).
The CRA-FSO deals with species of flowers, ornamental, medicinal, aromatic and essence with predominant activity in the areas of genetic improvement aimed at varietal innovation, defense, cultural techniques, propagation in vivo and in vitro, with particular reference to conservation and enhancement of the Mediterranean germplasm, quality and sustainability of crops.
The main lines of research are:
a) Diversification and improvement in quality of ornamental productions.
The ornamental sector is characterized by diversification and development of new species and cultivars, that is one of the most important strategy for competing in international markets. Oná new crops there is a need to obtain continuous production throughout the year, consistently high quality, and long post-harvest life. The objectives of the activity in this area can be summarized as follows:
- Development of new germplasm for ornamental, landscape and ecology purposes.
- Collection and preservation of genetic resources, their characterization.
- Protocolsá for cultivation of both traditional and innovative ornamental plants.
- Improving postharvest quality using advanced methods for ornamental species.
b) Biotechnology on ornamental species.
New horizons in the field of improving ornamental species are open from studies of molecular biology: cell culture, somaclonal variation, gene cloning, gene expression and regulation, control of metabolic pathways, control of cell differentiation, phylogenetic studies and molecular characterization.
The following research areas are included:
- Increase efficiency of propagation in ornamental species.
- Genetic control of flowering and reproduction in ornamental species.
- Methods for identification of genotypes using molecular markers of various kinds.
c) Innovations in production technology for reducing environmental impact.
Increasing attention is given to environmental protection. In this regard, it is time to act effectively in two ways: the soilless cultivation and integrated pest management. Soilless culture is a tool for a better use of water, fertilizers and pesticides, limiting their environmental dispersion. Fungal diseases and insect pests can now be addressed with molecules with low toxicity, sometimes of natural origin, as well as the use of alternativeá defense strategies. The issues tackled in this research are:
- Set up of soilless cultivation techniques.
- Search for molecules of plant origin used as a pesticide with low environmental impact.
- Use of antagonistic microorganisms and natural products for plant protection.
d) Biochemical aspects of intercellular interactions in disease processes.
It is a line of research that aims to increase knowledge about host-parasite relationships. Identification of new antifungal flavonoids and a new O-methyltransferase, was recently incorporated by the IUB classification as EC discovery associated with CRA-FSO.
For more details on ongoing research projects, please visit the CRA-FSO website at the following link: http://www.istflori.it/site/12635/default.aspx
The Unit disseminates its research results through publications on national and international journals and through the participation in outreach and educational initiatives. The Unit holds seminars and training courses in collaboration with Universities and other public or private institutions. It houses at its headquarters, graduate and undergraduate students to conduct thesis and internships. It performs the certification tests for patent right protection on behalf of MiPAAF (Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Forest Policies).
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