A novel and integrated approach to increase multiple and combined stress tolerance in plants using tomato as a model

Tomato is a main EU agricultural commodity, cultivated all over Europe in open and protected field and in glasshouses, representing a biological and agronomical model crop. Combined water and nutrient stress is a major problem for tomato farmers and solutions are needed to safeguard yields, while preserving the environment. 

The overall goal of TOMRES was to enhance resilience to combined water and nutrient stress in tomato and to maximize water (WUE) and nutrient use efficiency (NUE) by designing and testing in the field (open and protected) novel combinations of genotypes and management practices reducing the environmental impact of agricultural activities.

To this aim, TOMRES selected, among over 10,000 available accessions, rootstocks and scions tolerating combined stress, while retaining fruit quality and yield, taking advantage of innovative screening approaches. Novel traits, in particular belowground, to be exploited in breeding, were identified. The role of selected hormones (strigolactones and brassinosteroids) were studied to identify further resilience traits. TOMRES tested and optimizedsustainable crop management strategies such as legume intercropping, precision fertilization and irrigation techniques, manipulation of symbiotic microorganisms, and the use of rootstocks more suited to water and nutrient uptake from the soil. 

Novel genotypes x management strategies were developed with the goal of reducing N and P application by at least 20%, water input by 40%, while granting environmental sustainability and economic viability of the solutions proposed. Testing was integrated with analysis of environmental (greenhouse emissions, water quality), and of socio-economic impact. Agronomical, environmental, and economical data were processed to construction of models and of a Decision Support System. 

Demonstration and dissemination activities were performed during course of the project thus ensuring the widest impact of the gained knowledge on the EU economy. Trans-disciplinary knowledge transfer among farmers, breeders, industries, associations and scientists has been granted by a solid multi-actor approach since the planning stage.

Coordinator and principal investigator: Andrea Schubert

Project website:

Project start 1 June 2017, project end 31 May 2022

Financial support: European Commission

Total financing: 5996175 €

Total financing to University of Turin: 872895 €