Almond – an integrated approach to infer cross-talks between scions and rootstocks

Almond, Prunus dulcis (Mill.) D.A.Webb, is one of the most consumed “dry fruits” in the world  due to its high nutritional value and benefits for human health. In Portugal, almond culture is traditionally a rainfed crop in the Algarve and Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro regions, but recently new orchards have emerged, in irrigation systems, in other regions such as Beira Interior and Alentejo. Cultivated almond varieties are usually grafted to increase production and improve fruit quality. The selection of the appropriate rootstock for scion and specific soil conditions is extremely important, influencing not only the vigor of a tree, the anchorage and the maturity date for the harvest, but also playing a crucial role in tolerance against biotic and abiotic stresses and consequent agronomic performance.

In this context, the need for integrated analysis of scion/rootstock systems in almond trees, addressing the physiological and molecular aspects of this interaction from the plant propagation phase to its implementation, experimental evaluation and productive stages in the field, arises with particular relevance. 

This project is being developed in the framework of the network for sustainable development of Agrifood sector in the Centro Region (CULTIVAR), with other ongoing projects on multifunctional approaches to ecosystem services dynamics in Prunus sp. production systems. With Centre for Functional Ecology – Science for People & the Planet (CFE, as host institution, and in collaboration with the Centro de Biotecnologia Agrícola e Agro-Alimentar do Alentejo (CEBAL,, the main objectives to be achieved are:

  1. Optimize micropropagation and micrografting protocols for the conservation and production of selected germplasm with ensured phytosanitary quality.
  2. Phenotype different almond scion/rootstock combinations under stress conditions.
  3. Identify metabolic and gene expression regulators involved in scion/rootstock/environment interaction.
  4. Obtain vigorous (micro)grafted plants for future implementation in field trials and production systems.

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