The conservation and valorisation of food legume genetic resources, and their utilization in European agriculture form the core development of both more sustainable agriculture and healthier food products.

INCREASE - Intelligent Collections of Food Legumes Genetic Resources for European Agrofood Systems - aims to:

  • improve the management and sharing of food legume genetic resources data through optimised databases and easily accessible tools
  • develop Intelligent Collections for the exploration of crop diversity and design innovative conservation management approaches collaboratively
  • generate new knowledge on genetic diversity, made easily available through a web-based searching and visualisation tool to identify appropriate sources of germplasm
  • develop, test and disseminate best practices for dynamic management of genetic resources across European and non-European institutions and initiatives
  • develop decentralised information technology (e.g. block chain) approaches for data sharing and germplasm conservation
  • Promoting ex situ and on farm conservation involving in a participatory framework farmers, citizen and other stakeholders

INCREASE is guided by the EC principles “open science, open innovation and open to the world” and will take advantage of digital technologies to make science and innovation more collaborative and global. For this purpose, the project will test a decentralised approach to the conservation and management of genetic resources by setting up a Citizen Science Experiment. In early 2021, the project will distribute more than 1,000 different common bean landraces to European citizens and farmers to be evaluated in their field, home garden or terraces. Citizens will gain knowledge about legumes biodiversity and get actively involved in evaluation and conservation activities, as well as in sharing and exchanging seeds in a new legal framework via a specifically developed INCREASE mobile app. This is also a major innovation for the plant genetic resources community to share benefits and promote the correct use of plant genetic resources.

The interdisciplinary INCREASE consortium covers diverse expertise, including plant genomics, bioinformatics and data analysis, information technology, phenotyping and agronomy, genebanks management, germplasm conservation and sharing and biochemistry.

The INCREASE project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 862862.