The well-being of future generations and the entire process of ecological transition from an depend on a sustainable management of land and forests, the availability of natural resources (water, raw materials, fertile soil), the resilience of production to the impacts of biotic and abiotic stresses, and ecosystem services deriving from agro-forestry production. All those are fundamental prerequisites to contribute to the path towards “carbon neutrality” with measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to ensure the protection of ecosystems and food security by producing even in limiting conditions. This area includes research concerning the study and development of strategies, tools and technologies for the sustainable intensification of production; the optimization of the use of natural resources in the various agricultural and forest ecosystems, also through sustainable and innovative management models; the multifunctionality of agricultural, livestock production, and the forest-wood sector also from the point of view of the bioeconomy, bioenergy and biomethane; the promotion of ecosystem services provided by agriculture
The Strategic Area provide knowledge, technological, innovation and digitization tools for the completion of the green revolution and ecological transition and for the reprogramming of post-pandemic agri-food chains.
The research activities in this area develop biological knowledge relating the structure, function, evolution and development of macromolecules, cells, tissues and model of extremophiles organisms. Also, high added value solutions for the study of biochemical, genetic, physiological and epigenetic processes in organisms and microorganisms of agricultural, forestry, food, environmental and industrial interest.
Biotechnological, bioinformatics and omics tools are also developed and used for the characterization, conservation and enhancement of natural resources and biodiversity, and of agri-food and forestry bio-resources. Classical, omics and biotechnological approaches (including the current New Breeding Technologies) are also used for the genetic improvement of bio-resources and to produce biomolecules of agro-industrial interest.
The fundamental knowledge acquired in addition to the cultural and cognitive value, are useful for improving the quantity, quality, safety and sustainability of agri-food production, development of adaptation strategies to climate change, the development, and the technological transfer of pharmaceutical / agro-industrial processes and products and synthetic biology, and for applications of knowledge of the bio-agri-food sector for the protection of well-being and health.
The strategic area aims to underline the relationship between food and health, the nutritional aspects of food, in relation to the lengthening of the average life and the need to strengthen the immune defences and slow down the onset of chronic degenerative diseases related to nutrition. The strategic area aims to expand knowledge on mechanisms through which a balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean one, influences the state of health and the condition of well-being of the individual. The economic and strategic relevance of the research in this area is evidenced by the increased demand for functional foods, able to interact and improve the physiological functions of the body, as well as by the growing attention that the consumer pays towards authenticity, traceability, safety, nutritional quality, and sustainability of food products. The strategic area is focused on the following activities: development of nutraceuticals, functional foods and novel foods, human nutrition and food and feed safety of the entire production chain; microbiota; innovative microbiological methods and process technologies aimed at improving the quality and shelf life of food products; the development and application of new chemical and bio-molecular methods (biosensors, new markers) for the detection of unwanted components and for traceability; in vitro and in vivo studies relating to the relationship between diet and human/animal health; the analysis of chemical-nutritional and organoleptic parameters (consumer science and instrumental analysis) associated with food; nutrigenomics and nutrition aimed at enhancing the health aspects of the Mediterranean diet and introducing new foods into the diet.