Our Research

Mediterranean agriculture faces major challenges associated to climate change and sustainability. UToPIQ aims at creating new varieties of tomato for intercropping (IC), a Conservation Agriculture practice that promotes biodiversity and enhances crop resilience to extreme environmental changes while increasing crop yields.
The specific objectives of UToPIQ are the following:

Create shade-tolerant tomato lines

Key molecular components of the genetic network that allows plants to perceive the presence of nearby plants will be edited in heat-tolerant tomato cultivars to generate new tomato lines with enhanced tolerance to plant shade

Investigate SHADE-RELATED INTERPLANT communication

Our unpublished data suggest that volatiles released by shade-exposed plants might regulate development of neighboring plants. This potential communication mechanism will be investigated using our tomato lines.

Analyze performance of GENERATED lines

Agronomic performance, resistance to biotic and abiotic stress, and fruit quality of the generated shade-tolerant tomato lines will be tested in greenhouse and field conditions as well as intercropped with maize and millet


Drawbacks and opportunities for the project outcomes will be discussed with stakeholders and end-users to target cultivars adapted to local conditions and meet specific demands of smallholders, local farmers and consumers

Our Team

UToPIQ includes research groups from four Mediterranean countries with expertise in plant biotechnology, abiotic and biotic stress, and sustainable agriculture


Manuel Rodriguez-Concepcion, Coordinator

Jaume Martinez-Garcia, WP1 leader


Michel Havaux, WP2 leader


Manuela Rigano, WP3 leader


Mourad Baghour, WP4 leader


Mohamed Faize, WP5 leader

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Funding Agencies

UToPIQ is a RIA (Research and Innovation Activity) selected for funding by PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) Section 2, Call Multitopic 2020. Consortium teams are funded by agencies from participating countries.

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