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European Plant metabolites platform of Crop Protection:
a 4.0 research infrastructure providing an eco-metabolomics approach to crop protection.

Crop protection based on an approach of single synthetic chemicals is no longer viable. The negative side-effects for humans and the environment are, in general, considered too large by the general public. In addition, pests and pathogens become resistant relatively easily to this kind of pesticides. In contrast, the eco-metabolomics approach to crop protection is a very promising way to sustainable and safe crop protection. It addresses the wealth of metabolites present in plants in their ecological context. Scientists link the natural variation of metabolites in plants with variation in resistance to pest and pathogens identifying candidate extracts and metabolites for plant protection. It addresses, subsequently, the functioning of these extracts and metabolites within the environment of, a plant, crop, and ecosystem including agricultural and horticultural systems. Such an intensive study is the best way to exploit efficacious compounds with respect to crop protection while minimising unwanted side-effects.

We are working on five specific objectives:
  • Development of standardised protocols and methods for, the use of validated plant sources, extracting plant metabolites, metabolomics profiling, bio-activity testing and identification of leads, and genomics.
  • Linking and integrating, knowledge, facilities, and data of the members, and establishing links to all relevant ESFRI and other world-class research infrastructures.
  • To give innovative training and courses to scientists of enterprises and academia with respect to the application of the eco-metabolomics approach to crop protection and the use of the related facilities.
  • To provide access to scientists of companies and academia to the integrated research infrastructure.
  • To complete and improve the research infrastructure to a unique and excellent one by way of, (i) development of a predictive, statistical, model to identify leads following the eco-metabolomics approach, (ii) development of high through-put screening assays for relevant crop diseases and pests that can be employed at the unique and state-of-the-art facilities of the participating SME, and (iii) novel plant extraction methods linked to available bio-assays.