PLANT-B consists of seven Working packages, each comprising several actions

WP1 - Project coordination and management

WP1 main objective is to lead and co-ordinate the project by providing a clear management structure and procedures to build strong communication within the consortium and for external interactions, to ensure that all WPs and associated budgets are managed effectively, and to ensure prompt delivery of outputs to achieve impact.

Specific objectives

  • Establish procedures and structures for effective project management, communication, and support to all partners to optimize the performance of the project team (Task 1.1)

  • Ensure correct and appropriate project documentation is in place and accessible to the consortium partners and the PRIMA Commission (Task 1.2)

  • Co-ordinate scientific and administrative activities to ensure the project work plan proceeds and outputs are achieved in a timely manner (Task 1.3)

  • Provide overall co-ordination for data management across the project, overseeing accurate recording and storage of all data generated, ensuring data adherence to FAIR principles, and ultimately supervise and use derived PLANT-B data in dissemination activities (Task 1.4).

WP2 - Development of biological control and IPM tools for the control of pests in citrus AMPs and HB colonies

WP2 aims at developing biological control and IPM tools against pests of citrus, AMPs and HB pests, which will minimise the use of pesticides in citrus to the benefit of the crop (decrease of pesticide applications and in some cases pesticide residues) as well as in beehives to the benefit of HBs and bee hive products (decrease of applications with synthetic pesticides and residues in honey, wax etc) but will also ensure minimal disturbance of citrus plant protection management to beekeeping, making these two agricultural production systems compatible and sustainable.

Specific objectives

  • Development of biological control and IPM tools against insect pests of citrus and AMPs (Task 2.1)

  • Development of biological control and IPM tools against HB pests (Task 2.2).

WP3 - Conservation and valorisation of endemic HB sub-species

To date, little effort has been made to compare the zoo-technical performances of the different sub-species of A. mellifera within the Mediterranean basin, in particular looking at the resistance/tolerance to pests and some environmental stressors such as contaminants, climate changes and forage sources shortage. Local genotypes preservation and valorisation needs a careful monitoring programme that should include participation of local beekeepers. The main goal of this WP is sharing a common framework for the conservation and valorization of endemic HB subspecies (or geographic races, sensu Ruttner) in countries of the Mediterranean basin (A. m. sahariensis in Algeria, A. m. lamarckii in Egypt, A. m. ligustica and A. m. sicula in Italy) threatened by both environmental constraints and human/commercial practices.

Specific objectives

  • Monitoring and mapping HB genetic resources in participating countries (Italy, Algeria, Egypt) for i) managed colonies and/or ii) wild/feral colonies in selected areas to be identified upon knowledge of the partners involved in WP3 (Task 3.1)

  • Rehabilitate the Italian and Sicilian bees, the Saharan bee and the Egyptian bee in their natural environment by intensive multiplication of colonies with all the characteristics of the related subspecies (Task 3.2)

  • Establishment of a sperm bank for the Saharan bee (Algeria) and the Italian bee (Italy) (Task 3.3)

  • Valorization of the native HB subspecies (Task 3.4)

  • Establishing Local Networks with beekeepers in each country to support safeguarding plans for native HB subspecies in the Mediterranean area (Task 3.5).

WP4 - Development and establishment of a mixed farming system combining citrus-AMPs-beekeeping in the Mediterranean region

WP4 will test the efficiency of the PLANT-B farming system on site, at some of the largest cultivation areas of Citrus across the Mediterranean basin, including E.U. and non-EU countries, and will assess its environmental sustainability. It will also provide data for the socioeconomic analysis (WP6).

Specific objectives

  • Selection of experimental fields and PLANT-B IPM tools/practices, establishment of common experimental protocols (Task 4.1)

  • Establishment of case studies/scenarios and assessment of baseline and efficiency of PLANT-B scenario (Task 4.2)

  • Environmental impact of PLANT-B IPM activities (Task 4.3)

WP5 - Assessment of pesticide residues in citrus production and determination of quality, safety specifications and traceability in honey production at PLANT-B farming system

The overall objective of WP5 is to investigate and verify the efficiency of the improved-applied IPM strategy and ensure the safety/quality of both citrus fruit and honey using analytical methods that will: i) determine the residual prevalence of pesticides and metabolites in honey, citrus and HBs; ii) examine the quality of honey according to criteria that are delineated by the EU Council Directive 2001/110/EC; iii) examine honey’s origin and authenticity, employing (bio)markers (phenolic compounds or alkaloids; volatile and semi-volatile markers, and trace elements) and the classical approach for honey’s origin determination via melissopalynological analysis. iv) In the same context, traceability of honey can be performed by using the organic chemical/biochemical traits (point iii) in addition to elemental profiling possibly in combination with isotopic signatures for carbon (13C-to-12C ratio), hydrogen (D-to-1H ratio) or oxygen (18O-to-16O ratio) and nitrogen (15N-to-14N ratio).

Specific objectives

  • Development of standardized protocols for sampling kits & storage of honey, citrus and HBs samples (Task 5.1)

  • Establishment of sample treatment and extraction methods for citrus, honey and HBs (Task 5.2)

  • Establishment, optimization of analytical methods for pesticide and metabolites residues, phytochemicals and heavy metals analysis

  • Analyses of samples (Task 5.3) - Honey Chemometrics-Markers Elucidation for traceability in honey production (Task 5.4)

  • Approaches on labelling including quality, safety, and traceability specifications in honey production (Task 5.5)

WP6 - Assessment of the environmental and socio-economic sustainability of the PLANT-B farming system

The sustainability assessment of food production represents an important research issue, useful to increase the knowledge about the impacts generated by a system (from an environmental, economic, and social point of view). The development of a less pesticide-dependent farming system in citrus and apiculture in combination with ground cover management and other Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools and practices to improve the quality of the produce is expected to lead to increased income for farmers and beekeepers and have a positive impact on the environment. These impacts need to be assessed to evaluate the effectiveness of the new farming system and contribute to the dissemination of the new knowledge. All partners will contribute with data, especially those who conduct field trials, based on common indicators that will be determined during the early stages of the project.

Specific objectives

  • Assessment of socio-economic sustainability of the PLANT-B farming system (Task 6.1)

  • Environmental assessment of the PLANT-B farming system (Task 6.2)

WP7 - Dissemination of the new knowledge and stakeholder/consumer engagement

The main objectives of this WP are, a) to support the application of food quality safety standards on both sides of the Mediterranean, by encouraging cooperation in setting up the standards and best practices in Southern Mediterranean countries and b) to establish a network across the participating countries through which citrus growers, beekeepers, project partners, stakeholders and public will interact on an open web platform.

Specific objectives

  • Definition of dissemination strategy and plan (Task 7.1)

  • Platform creation and maintenance (Task 7.2)

  • Institutional dissemination workshops/media/tools (Task 7.3)

  • Specific dissemination at national level (Task 7.4)