Articles publicats (Agrotecnio Center)

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Agrotecnio aims to become a reference in Europe addressing all the key elements of the food production chain in an integrated way focusing on target crops and animals of commercial importance, rather than model systems. This later aspect sets our centre apart from other centers which focus on fundamental science and/or model plant and animal systems. As a result we should be able to address fundamental and important questions in the crop/animal of interest and results from our research will be directly and immediately applicable to our target organism. [Més informació]

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    Open Access
    Performance of co-designed diversified Mediterranean cropping systems: Hybridizing stakeholders' knowledge and modelling data.
    (Elsevier, 2024-07-19) Blanc, Louise; Rezgui, Ferdaous; Hossard, Laure; Lampurlanés Castel, Jorge; Simon-Miquel, Genís; Plaza-Bonilla, Daniel
    Mediterranean cropping systems, characterised by continuous cereal cropping, are largely dependent on synthetic inputs, such as N fertilisers. On the other hand, they face difficult pedoclimatic conditions, exacerbated by climate change. Diversification is seen as a way to increase cropping systems resilience. The aim of this study was to co-design diversified cropping systems based on the expertise of local stakeholders and co-assess their performance, using modelling data. Our case study is the Ebro valley in Spain, a Mediterranean area with great potential for diversification, particularly where irrigation is available. Two workshops were organized to i) define the reference system in the study area and its limitations ii) co-design diversified systems to overcome these limitations and iii) co-assess reference and diversified systems. Between the two workshops, the STICS soil-crop model was calibrated with local experimental data, enabling to simulate the inter-annual (2000-2021) agronomic and environmental performance of the reference and diversified systems. An economic analysis was conducted. Stakeholders evaluated all economic, agronomic and environmental aspects. The reference system was a continuous winter cereal crop based on synthetic N fertilisation and intensive tillage. The four diversified co-designed systems consisted in introducing pea and/or rapeseed every 2 or 4 years, reducing tillage and partially replacing synthetic N fertilisation with locally sourced livestock manure. Simulation results showed that wheat and barley grain yields remained stable with diversification. Pea and rapeseed yields were lower in rotations where both were introduced compared to when each was the only break crop over 4 years. At the system level, protein yield remained stable with diversification, however, energy yield decreased by 20 % when break crops were introduced twice and by 10 % when introduced once. Gross margins improved with diversification only when pea was introduced once (12 %), mainly due to reduced expenses (-31 %), while incomes remained stable compared to RCS. However, incomes decreased by 5 % when rapeseed was introduced once, and by 10 % when both break crops were introduced. Unexpectedly, environmental performance deteriorated with diversification, with increased N losses through ammonia volatilisation and nitrate leaching in the years following pea and rapeseed cropping, due to greater N availability in the soil. An increased use of pesticides was predicted by the stakeholders in diversified systems, where the environmental impacts were exacerbated with the higher presence of break crops. The reference system presented slightly lower N availability and increased soil organic carbon storage. Overall, the approach proved useful in identifying a diversification strategy that improved agronomic and economic performance, with the system including pea once every four years being the most efficient. However, the environmental trade-offs associated with the increased presence of pea and rapeseed in the crop rotation must be considered in order to mitigate the environmental risks.
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    Open Access
    Unlocking Phenolic Potential: Determining the Optimal Grain Development Stage in Hull-Less Barley Genotypes with Varying Grain Color.
    (MDPI, 2024-06-11T22:00:00Z) Friero, Iván; Macià i Puig, Ma Alba; Romero Fabregat, Mª Paz; Romagosa Clariana, Ignacio; Martínez Subirà, Mariona; Moralejo Vidal, Mª Angeles
    Barley is rich in phenolic compounds, providing health benefits and making it a valuable addition to a balanced diet. However, most studies focus on these compounds at barley's final maturity, neglecting their synthesis during grain development and its impact on barley quality for food applications. This study investigates phenolic profiles during grain development in four hull-less barley genotypes with different grain colors, specifically bred for food applications. The objectives were to determine the phenolic profile and identify the optimal maturity stage for maximum phenolic content and antioxidant capacity. Using UPLC-MS/MS and in vitro antioxidant capacity assays, results show that total phenolic compounds decrease as grain matures due to increased synthesis of reserve components. Flavan-3-ols, phenolic acids, and flavone glycosides peaked at immature stages, while anthocyanins peaked at physiological maturity. The harvest stage had the lowest phenolic content, with a gradient from black to yellow, purple, and blue genotypes. Antioxidant capacity fluctuated during maturation, correlating positively with phenolic compounds, specially bound phenolic acids and anthocyanins. These findings suggest that early harvesting of immature grain can help retain bioactive compounds, promoting the use of immature barley grains in foods. To support this market, incentives should offset costs associated with decreased grain weight.
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    Open Access
    Activation of the native PHYTOENE SYNTHASE 1 promoter by modifying near-miss cis‑acting elements induces carotenoid biosynthesis in embryogenic rice callus.
    (Springer, 2024-08-04) Sobrino-Mengual, Guillermo; Alvarez. Derry; Twyman, Richard M.; Gerrish, Christopher; Fraser, Paul D.; Capell Capell, Teresa; Christou, Paul
    Metabolic engineering in plants typically involves transgene expression or the mutation of endogenous genes. An alternative is promoter modification, where small changes in the promoter sequence allow genes to be switched on or off in particular tissues. To activate silent genes in rice endosperm, we screened native promoters for near-miss cis-acting elements that can be converted to endosperm-active regulatory motifs. We chose rice PHYTOENE SYNTHASE 1 (PSY1), encoding the enzyme responsible for the first committed step in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway, because it is not expressed in rice endosperm. We identified six motifs within a 120-bp region, upstream of the transcriptional start site, which differed from endosperm-active elements by up to four nucleotides. We mutated four motifs to match functional elements in the endosperm-active BCH2 promoter, and this promoter was able to drive GFP expression in callus and in seeds of regenerated plants. The 4 M promoter was not sufficient to drive PSY1 expression, so we mutated the remaining two elements and used the resulting 6 M promoter to drive PSY1 expression in combination with a PDS transgene. This resulted in deep orange callus tissue indicating the accumulation of carotenoids, which was subsequently confirmed by targeted metabolomics analysis. PSY1 expression driven by the uncorrected or 4 M variants of the promoter plus a PDS transgene produced callus that lacked carotenoids. These results confirm that the adjustment of promoter elements can facilitate the ectopic activation of endogenous plant promoters in rice callus and endosperm and most likely in other tissues and plant species.
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    Open Access
    SARS-CoV-2 spike protein produced by transgenic rice: research laboratory experience with secondary science students
    (PubMed Central, 2023-11-01) Solé Llussà, Anna; Saba-Mayoral, Andrea; Sanchez, Sofia; Capell Capell, Teresa; Ibáñez, Manuel
    We designed and evaluated a student laboratory workshop on plant- based vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The workshop focused on hands-on laboratory techniques, including DNA extraction from rice seeds, where the recombinant protein was produced, detection of the transgene, and basic concepts on how vaccines work in the human body to offer immunity against viral diseases. We developed a robust science activity to support scientific inquiry learning and to provide a more in- depth understanding of science topics. The 14-hour learning experience was a component of a large research and outreach programme, IlerCOVID Project. A total of 129 secondary school students (grades 11 and 12) from eight different secondary schools participated in the study. Data were collected through pre-post questionnaires on students' knowledge about genetic engineering, laboratory techniques and immunology. Based on data collected, results show that this approach enhanced substantially the students' knowledge on the topics covered in the workshop, although a control group would be necessary to confirm the effectiveness of the designed activity. We conclude that the students improved their knowledge of biology, allowing them to have more informed science-based views on the technology underpinning vaccines and their benefits.
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    Open Access
    Micotoxinas en alimentación animal
    (Grupo Editorial Agrícola, 2024-05-01) Ramos Girona, Antonio J.; Marín Sillué, Sònia
    La presencia de micotoxinas en los piensos puede afectar gravemente la salud de los animales o causar efectos negativos en su rendimiento productivo, que pueden pasar desapercibidos, causando un claro perjuicio económico. La contaminación por micotoxinas es muy frecuente, siendo habitual que coexistan varios tipos de micotoxinas a la vez, lo que puede generar efectos sinérgicos inesperados.