Italy is the first European rice producer, with more than 50% of the total paddy production. Increased productivity and quality stability, resistance to actual and emerging diseases, resistance to old and new environmental constraints such as cold, drought stress and salty soils are major requirements to provide Italian rice production chain to sustain competitiveness at the international level. Industry and consumers’ request are driven by market, tradition, and well recognized search for quality. Farmers need new and more competitive varieties, adapted to the market’s request and tailored to sustain economically profitable cultivation joined to an environmentally friendly agrosystem: the actual rice production chain does not completely meets such requests important traits and associated mechanisms conferring élite characters to the plant. RISINNOVA general Objective is the set up of genetic/genomic approaches to afford development of an innovative Italian rice producing chain, to provide producers and industry with more competitive varieties suitable for inner as well as international markets. To this aim, an integrated research network, including the most experienced Italian research teams in the areas of interest, and international collaborations, has been set up. Genomics-assisted breeding will be strongly facilitated by tools and knowledge developed in this project. RISINNOVA is structured into four research WP and a fifth WP dedicated to the dissemination activities, training and technology transfer.

WP1. Genetic and genomic approaches to improve protection against the main rice diseases. WP1 focuses on genetic resistance to the major biotic stress (fungal and bacterial diseases) of the Italian area, with the main objective to provide breeders with molecular markers for broad-spectrum and durable resistance against major pests affecting rice. Results will include: knowledge on existing resistance genes and identification of novel sources of genetic resistance and associated markers for exploitation in new rice varieties; identification of the biodiversity in the current pathogen populations, and tools for helping progeny screening during breeding of new resistant varieties; epidemiological modeling to help in crop protection.

WP2. Genetic and genomics strategies for protection of rice from major abiotic stresses (water shortage, saline stress, thermal stress). WP2 will focus on the mechanisms of tolerance to three main environmental constraints: limited water resources, saline soils and thermal stress caused by low temperature in critical steps of the plant development. These targets have been chosen according to an analysis of major abiotic constraints occurring in the rice growing Italian areas, also considering recent climate changes and agro-ecological cultivation conditions. Results are targeted to the identification of genotypes/genes suited for introduction of resistant traits into new varieties, and associated molecular tools for assisted breeding. Modeling for crop protection will be present also in WP2 to provide knowledge for cultivation in adverse conditions and to cope with them.

WP3. Genetic and functional diversity of rice-associated microbial communities. Microflora of the rhizosphere and endosymbionts play an important role in promoting plant growth and health, in better use of soil nutrients and water and, in wider terms, they represent major players in terms of sustainability of the agrosystem. WP3 will get better knowledge on the importance of the soil microbial communities, namely targeted to improve protocols for organic farming, cultivation in aerobic soil, and more in general in sustaining plant development helping to cope with adverse environment, in a general aim to obtain a more efficient use of nutrients and exploiting the plant/microbe ecosystem as basis for crop protection.WP4. Genomic analysis systems applied to biodiversity.

WP4 is an interdisciplinary WP providing highthroughput genomic tools for the development of the other WPs, and exploitation of genomics in biodiversity investigation, allele mining and gene discovery. A bioinformatics platform for the evaluation and analysis of all data will also be established, complementing the expertise of the other WPs and allowing elaboration of the dataset generated in RISINNOVA.

WP5. Dissemination, training and technology transfer. Activities of dissemination and technology transfer to support stakeholders and end-users of the rice production chain have been planned. WP5 is also supporting horizontal activities throughout the project, for the best exploitation of the results obtained in RISINNOVA, allowing the rice production chain to take the highest advantage from the project, and promoting the activity of training of young scientists with studies developed into the framework of the project.

Partner nr. 7 scientific responsible

Team members


  • (lead partner) Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura (CRA-RIS Unità di Ricerca per la risicoltura; CRA-GPG Centro di Ricerca per la Genomica e la Post-Genomica; CRA-PAV Centro di Ricerca per la Patologia Vegetale), Dr. Giampiero VALE’
  • (partner) Parco Tecnologico Padano Foundation, Lodi, Dr. Pietro PIFFANELLI
  • (partner) University of Milano - Department of Crop Production and Department of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Prof. Gianattilio SACCHI
  • (partner) University of Pavia, Department of Ecology, Prof. Anna Maria PICCO
  • (partner) University of Torino - Agroinnova – Centro di Competenza per l’Innovazione in Campo Agro-ambientale, Prof. Davide SPADARO
  • (partner) National Research Council - Institute of Agricultural Biology and Biotechnology, Dr. Anna Maria GENGA
  • (partner) University of Padova - Department of Biology, Prof. Fiorella LOSCHIAVO
  • (partner) International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Trieste, Dr. Vittorio VENTURI
  • (partner) National Research Council - Institute for Plant Protection, Prof. Paola BONFANTE
  • (partner) University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Department of Crop Production, Prof. Nicola PECCHIONI
  • (partner) University of Ferrara, Department of Biology and Evolution, Prof. Giuseppe FORLANI
  • (partner) University of Parma, Department of Environmental Sciences, Prof. Nelson MARMIROLI