The productive potentiality is the characteristic, still today, fundamental for the affirmation of any variety of any species that enters the agricultural producer’s disposal. Fundamental element and constantly sought since the dawn of genetic improvement, which as far as durum wheat is concerned, was born in Italy from the early 1900s. Expression of the infamous “Green Revolution“, it saw Italy as its first pioneer with Nazzareno Strampelli, subsequently followed by other researchers of other nationalities. The productive potential expresses the maximum production capacity (kg per unit of area invested and the technical means used), of a given variety of a given species, of the vegetable part subject to utilization or transformation. based on the principles of experimentation, selection and genetic improvement that Genetic Services pursues, through its research, to ensure maximum yields per unit for the agricultural world in relation to the technology available.

Adaptation to the environment is a factor of primary importance to guarantee the maximum production (kg per unit of surface invested and the technical means used, of a given variety of a given species) in a given environment characterized by certain pedo-climatic conditions. For this purpose, each variety of each species will have its maximum adaptability in one of the different cultivation environments. The goal of Genetic Services is to select varieties that are perfectly suitable for the different pedo-climatic conditions specific to each cultivation environment.

The qualitative component is a parameter underlying the genetic selection of Genetic Services. This component is different depending on the reference species: for durum wheat the qualitative characteristics refer to the protein content that a new variety is able to accumulate based on its genetics, based on the content of β-carotene and lutein (translated into index of semolina yellow) and quantity and quality of gluten. These parameters are the basis for the creation of very high quality pasta. For soft wheat the parameters, such as protein content and alveographic characteristics, are selected to obtain varieties each suitable for a particular product, such as for example: biscuits, bread and long leavening confectionery products. Other species, and in particular grain legumes, represent an innovation, in fact, two absolute novelties are represented by the completely absent broad bean tannins, and therefore fully usable in feeds without the same tannins blocking the intestinal protein absorption, and from the lupine with complete absence of lupanine, a highly toxic bitter principle for monogastrics. For maize, on the other hand, our hybrids boast the highest digestible starch in the range of glassy hybrids currently marketed in Italy.

Nutraceuticals are those nutrient ingredients contained in foods that have beneficial health effects and are found in nature. Nutraceuticals can be extracted, synthesized and used for food supplements, or added to food. The minimum quantities of nutrients to obtain benefits, are governed by European regulations (eg Regulation 432/2012) in which the claims (explanatory sentences of the procured benefit) are listed. pharma food or farms. For these molecules, Genetic Services is very careful in its research and selection. We have launched several research projects in this perspective with regard to cereals, in particular durum wheat for the production of pasta with high nutritional value; an important experimentation is underway with the University of Palermo – Department of Gastroenterology. Also for durum wheat, a selection project is underway dedicated to increasing polyphenols, lutein and β-carotene and other high nutritional value compounds. Some results have already been obtained such as the new Brigante durum wheat with a high lutein and β-carotene value. Other species capable of producing certain nutrients, such as teff or some Mais accessions, but also some grain legumes, are also being evaluated.

Plant diseases were known already in ancient times: in the Old Testament the effects caused by oidium and insects are mentioned. The Romans indicated the Robigalia feasts to invoke the gods to keep the wheat rusts away, which reduced and deteriorated the product. However, the causes of these were not known. In fact, only after 1800, following the theory of Pasteur, it was recognized that plant diseases were caused by parasitic organisms: animals or plants. The damage of a disease is expressed in a decrease in productivity, and in some cases can have effects dramatic:

  • The Phytophotora infestans (Peronospora), between 1845 and 1851 led to the destruction of potato cultivation in Europe, causing a decrease in the population of central and western Europe.
  • In 1959, a new biotype of black rust (Puccinia graminis) made its appearance in the United States, which destroyed much of the soft wheat crop, despite the presence of varieties bearing genes of resistance to the breeds up to then present.
  • In Uganda in 1999 a new black rust strain called Ug99 appears: about 90% of the world wheat harvest is susceptible to Ug99.
  • The reports of fusariosis of the ear have followed one another globally up to become, in the last decade of the twentieth century, the major factor limiting wheat cultivation in many parts of the world (Stack, 1999; Dubin et al., 1997).

Genetic resistance, therefore, is an extremely important factor for the development of new genotypes of Genetic Services. Molecular marker assisted selection methods (M.A.S.), are in place for the transfer of QTLs (Quantitative Trait Loci) and genes known to be highly efficient in the genotypes of interest. Among the main diseases of wheat (hard and soft) object of selection, important results have been obtained for brown rust (Pucinia recondita f.sp. graminis) yellow rust (Puccinia striiformis), septoria (Septoria tritici) and fusarium (Fusarium spp. ). Further results were obtained on the different species treated for the most harmful pathologies.

The numbers of our research









The History of Research

Since the beginning of the domestication of the plants, two historical moments have revolutionized this process, allowing the obtaining of plant material that has better responded to the requirements, as the historical course of the farmer has progressed. The first of these two moments occurs at the beginning of the century, when we realized the importance of the ideas of Gregor Johann Mendel (Experiments on plant hybrids, published in the journal of the Natural History Society of Brno in 1866). In 1900, his work was rediscovered by Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns and Erich von Tschermak. Ronald Fisher in 1918 used the Mendelian theory as the basis for modern synthesis in evolutionary biology. What could have been a vision of the phenotype was actually the end result of a complex biological process still unknown, but which was soon revealed.

To pave the way for the understanding of which biological processes were at the base of the genetic differences between the different species, or between different individuals of the same species, were two researchers: the American James Watson and the British Francis Crick who, in 1953, presented in the magazine Nature what is now known as the first accurate model of DNA structure: that of the double helix. This represents the second fundamental historical moment that will profoundly mark the evolution of modern genetics. In an important presentation in 1957, Crick proposed the central dogma of molecular biology, which establishes the relationships between DNA, RNA and proteins. The final confirmation of the replication mechanism based on the double helix structure was provided in 1958 by the Meselson-Stahl experiment. A subsequent work by Crick showed how the genetic code was based on triplets of non-overlapping bases, allowing Har Gobind Khorana, Robert Holley and Marshall Warren Nirenberg to decipher it. These discoveries are the basis of modern molecular biology.

Since 1953, DNA research has made great strides. Today we are no longer discussing the established DNA structure, but what a particular piece of DNA does, how our history is written inside this molecule, the relationship between DNA and disease, and the use of this molecule in those that new biotechnologies are defined. We must not forget, however, a third key step that allowed us to read and decipher the enormous sequence of nitrogenous bases that constitute the genetic information of every living individual: the discovery of the polymerase chain reaction (Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR ), a technique that has revolutionized the world of chemistry and genetics, allowing the in vitro amplification of DNA fragments with innumerable applications in the medical, agricultural and animal fields. This discovery was made in 1983 by Kary Banks Mullis and earned him the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993. If today molecular technology has allowed us to sequentially different genomes of different living species, including humans, and to identify several genes of interest, both human, animal and plant, a big thank you goes to this man.