The group’s efforts focus on understanding the underlying ecological principles in populations and communities of weeds in Mediterranean crops with the aim of developing integrated management strategies economically and environmentally sustainables.
The main lines of research are:
- Biodiversity of weeds and ecosystem services
- Effect of global change on populations and communities of weeds and on weed-crop interference
We are involved in several research lines devoted to crop diseases caused by soil-borne pathogens, with emphasis on the study of: i) Biotechnology and molecular basis of plant-microbe interactions, both pathogenic and beneficial; ii) Genetic and pathogenic diversity of pathogen populations and development of molecular tools for in planta and in soil pathogen detection; and iii) Integrated management of diseases affecting crops economically relevant for the Mediterranean Agriculture, mainly Verticillium wilt of olive, Fusarium wilts of carnation and horticultural crops, downy mildew and broomrape in sunflower, root rot of avocado and late wilt in maize, including approaches such as biological control agents, organic amendments and genetic resistance.
Our aim is to increase the efficiency of agricultural systems in Mediterranean environments by using integrated management strategies of plant diseases caused by soil-borne pathogens to avoid the environmental damage and economic losses that they cause. We address these goals by developing innovative and environmentally-friendly management strategies to ensure both agricultural system efficiency and the yield, maintaining at the same time the quality and health of their products.
Research activities in our group are undertaken with a multidisciplinary approach that includes etiology, plant-organism-interactions, taxonomy, genetic diversity and population structure, biogeography of pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms, and response of host genotypes to them. We use classical and molecular tools, morphogenesis and structure of plants, qualitative and quantitative histology, quantitative epidemiology, modeling impacts of climate change on pathogens and beneficial microorganisms, microbial ecology, metagenomics, and biological control.
Major research lines of “Remote Sensing for Precision Agriculture and Weed Science” Group are centered on the optimization of agrochemical applications by using site-specific strategies.
Main current research activities are focused on the following objectives:
- To detect and map weeds and other agronomic variables in herbaceous and woody crops by using remote sensing techniques and imagery from high resolution satellite and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
- To design, develop and evaluate OBIA (Objects-Based-Image-Analysis) procedures for geospatial analysis, image feature extraction, segmentation, tree geometry and vegetation classification in crops using digital cameras and multispectral sensors.
- To improve the workflows for image processing by developing Geostatistics algorithms and specific software “add-on”- “plug-in” for precision agriculture approaches as well as for an accurate georeferenciation / co-registration and classification of cropping systems.