SafePGR - Towards Safer Plant Genetic Resources through improved viral diagnostics

  • Ref.º M212/F/02/2011/Net-Biome-SafePGR
  • International research project
  • From 2012 to 2015



Biological Resources Centres (BRCs) conserve and distribute plant germplasm for research and development purposes. As such, they play a strategic role by providing breeding programs with genitors that are critical for crop adaptation to ongoing environmental and societal changes. BRCs must be able to guarantee the sanitary status of the resources they distribute, in order to prevent the spread or emergence of diseases.

The main species preserved in the Guadeloupe, Madeira, and Réunion BRCs are banana and plantain, sugarcane, yam, sweet potato, garlic and vanilla. These crops are vegetatively propagated and thus do not benefit from the partial sanitation occurring through a seed cycle. This is particularly a problem for viral diseases, which have an overall high prevalence in vegetatively propagated crops. Variously effective sanitation methods exist for recovering virus-free plants but their successful implementation depends on the availability of sensitive, polyvalent and reliable diagnosis tests for all relevant virus species. However, detection tools exist only today for a limited number of viral species. In addition, it is widely acknowledged that only a small fraction of plant viruses diversity is known, especially in tropical and subtropical crops. The objective of the SafePGR project is to improve the knowledge of the diversity of viruses infecting the crops addressed by the partner’s BRCs. It will be used to develop classical or new diagnostic techniques that will permit the safe movement of plants between the project partners and beyond. To reach these goals, the project will:

- Perform the analysis of the molecular diversity of the main viral families affecting the 6 targeted crops.

- Optimize classical diagnostic methods taking into consideration data generated through this analysis of viral diversity.

- Develop new multi-pathogen diagnostic methods based on metagenomics and deep-sequencing technologies.

Stakeholders such as plant protection agencies, diagnostic laboratories and BRCs will be involved in the implementation of the diagnostic methods. Regional Councils and Plant protection agencies will also be associated to the dissemination of the results, which may have important implication on germplasm conservation and exchange and on the listing of quarantine pathogens.

The SafePGR project give us a possibility to increase our knowledge on metagenomic-base approaches for plant viruses discovery and identification, providing the team members with very important skills to be applied in the future to solve problems of identification and sanitation of plant virus.


Funding Institution

Net-Biome ERA-Net (EU's 6th Framework Program)


  • INRA – UR ASTRO, Guadeloupe, France (Team leader: Claudie PAVIS)

  • Cirad – AGAP Research Unit, Guadeloupe, France (Team leader: Pierre-Yves TEYCHENEY)

  • Cirad – UMR BGPI, Montpellier, France (Team leader: Philippe ROUMAGNAC)

  • Cirad – UMR PVBMT, La Réunion, France (Team leader: Michel GRISONI)

  • INRA – UMR BFP, Bordeaux, France (Team leader: Thierry CANDRESSE)

  • CBA – University of Azores, Azores, Portugal (Team leader: Artur MACHADO)

  • ISOPLEXIS – University of Madeira, Madeira, Portugal (Team leader: Miguel CARVALHO)

Project Coordinator

  • Claudie PAVIS (INRA - Unité de Recherches Agrosystèmes tropicaux, Guadeloupe)

CBA team Coordinator

CBA Team

  • SafePGR team


Sponsored by:

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