A conservatory, experimental and educational orchard of wild apple trees on the Saclay plateau

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A conservatory, experimental and educational orchard of wild apple trees on the Saclay plateau

What are the response capacities of fruit trees to climate change and pest attacks? How, in a context of global changes (loss of biodiversity, climate change, habitat fragmentation, deforestation), can we conserve the genetic resources of wild apple trees in a rational manner for future varietal improvement programs? The project aims to answer these questions.
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Leader: Amandine Cornille (CNRS researcher at the Quantitative Genetics and Evolution Laboratory at Le Moulon)

Partners: This is a multi-actor and multi-objective project (research, conservation, pedagogy and landscape).

The impact of climate on the response of wild relatives to cultivated fruit trees, as well as on the interaction of the latter with their pests, remains poorly understood. Understanding the responses of wild relatives to cultivated fruit trees is, however, all the more urgent as wild resources are facing recent "cultivated to wild" gene flow that may cause their extinction. In this context, the European wild apple tree is a relevant study model.

The European wild apple tree, Malus sylvestris, is a secondary contributor to the genome of the cultivated apple tree, Malus domestica. Moreover, this European wild apple tree is threatened by hybridization with the cultivated apple tree and by the fragmentation of its habitats. In this context, Amandine Cornille, CNRS research fellow, proposed́ the establishment of a conservatory, experimental and educational orchard on the Saclay plateau territory, including academic and non-academic, local, national and international actors (see video and orchard website). This project is part of a project of conservation of the diversity of the wild apple tree in France, and more widely in Europe, its reforestation, and the understanding of the impact of climate change on fruit trees.

The apple tree, object of study

The beneficiaries of the project include academic partners, the general public, and non-academic partners (e.g. FREDON, GRAB, CITFL) working on the development of reasoned aphid control methods and apple varietal improvement.

What are the response capacities of fruit trees to climate change and pest attacks? How, in a context of global changes (loss of biodiversity, climate change, habitat fragmentation, deforestation), can we conserve the genetic resources of wild apple trees in a rational manner for future varietal improvement programs? The Saclay Plateau wild apple orchard project aims to answer these questions. The results of this project will enable the development of reasoned apple breeding and pest control programs in a context of climate change and the emergence of new pests.

The orchard was planted in mid-November 2020 (400 genetically characterized wild apple trees from Europe). A hedgerow, information panels, nesting boxes, and an educational soil pit were installed in early 2021.

This project has been financed in parallel by the Diagonale de Paris Saclay to make it a scientific mediation site for the general public. The two projects « Ya comme un pépin » (2019-2020) and « Ya comme un pépin pour la planète » (2020-2021) have made it possible to build scientific mediation panels (installed on the site at the beginning of 2021), and are financing the installation of insect and bird nesting boxes, as well as the visit of schools in the region.

The establishment of the orchard, among other things, was rewarded by the CNRS Inserm Paoletti 2020 prize awarded to A. Cornille for his work, who also obtained ATIP-Avenir funding allowing him to create her team. The establishment of replicas in France to understand the co-evolutionary dynamics of the fruit-pest interaction is envisaged.

Click on the image to see the video !

==> The researcher explains the RESULTS in VIDEO (Scientific days of LabEx BASC, January 2021).

The orchard project is the result of 2 previous BASC projects (PomFlux and PomePuceDom)

Popularization

> Video report report edited with the association On passe à l'Acte following the launch day on March 14, 2019  ==>

Educational booklet 

> Website and Twitter account @PommierVerger

> Participation in the live of the sustainable development week of the University Paris Saclay on October 8, 2020 (from 1h30 to 1h43 including a short version of the video report)

> Leaflets

Modification date : 14 September 2023 | Publication date : 23 March 2021 | Redactor : AC, DM