Project Details

Twinning Italy-Canada activities in Research and Innovation in the Agri-Food Area

Short Description and Goal

Fungal diseases in cereal crops are a global preoccupation, as they not only threaten worldwide cereal production but could also cause public health and international trade issues. To foster knowledge sharing and strengthen scientific cooperation, two of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research centres and the Italian Agricultural Research Council, collaborated on the initiative: “Twinning Italy-Canada activities in Research and Innovation in the Agri-Food Area”

Detailed Description

What is a scientific twinning initiative? When two countries share a common priority, such as food safety, they discuss potential areas of collaboration and choose a project that is most complementary to their mutual interest and with specific research lines developed by each country’s scientists.

In 2008, during a bilateral meeting between Canada and Europe in Brussels, MYCORED had been identified as a priority area of common interest that could lead to the development of a twinning initiative. MYCORED is a European Union project funded through Framework Program 7th aimed at developing novel integrated strategies for worldwide mycotoxins reduction in food and feed chain and is led by the National Research Council in Italy (CNR).

In September 2009, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Italy’s National Research Council signed a memorandum of understanding. Between 2009 and 2010, during several bilateral meetings and one round table involving Canadian and Italian ambassadors, as well as scientists from both organizations, potential twinning opportunities were discussed.

In December 2010, an Italian delegation participated in a workshop on mycotoxins organized in Ottawa. This event gave AAFC and CRA crop genomics scientists the opportunity to further interact and agree on the twinning of the three following research topics:

  1. Identification and exploitation of resistance genes to protect wheat against fusarium head blight, or FHB, a mycotoxigenic complex.
    • Activities were twinned between Drs. Thérèse Ouellet and George Fedak from AAFC-ECORC and Giampiero Valè from the CRA Genomic Research Center.
  2. Genomic and genetic approaches devoted to study the response of maize to the mycotoxigenic fungi Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium graminearum in order to increase plant resistance and to reduce mycotoxin contamination in derived products.
    • Activities were twinned between Drs. Linda Harris from AAFC-ECORC and Carlotta Balconi and Hans Hartings from the CRA Maize Research Unit.
  3. Study of bio-agents for the control of mycotoxin accumulation in grains and on microbial detoxification of mycotoxins in food and feed.
    • Activities were twinned between Dr. Ting Zhou from AAFC-GFRC and Drs. Domenico Carminati and Fabio Abeni from the CRA Fodder and Dairy Productions Research Centre.

To support CRA’s scientists in the development of this twinning initiative, the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies invested 1 Million Euros (about $1,505,400 Canadian dollars) over a two-year period (2011-2013). In Italy this project is also referred to as the “CANADAIR project”.

Under Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) in place between Canada and Italy, scientists exchanged germplasm lines of corn and wheat and studied resistance to the fungal disease fusarium head blight, or FHB. In May 27-30, 2013, in Martina Franca, Italy, both countries presented the mid-term results of their collaboration at the last international MYCORED conference. MYCORED officially ended on March 31, 2013.

In the context of Horizon 2020, the new European Union research funding program, a proposal was put forward to reconduct MYCORED international conferences.

In October 2013, the Italian Embassy in Canada, in partnership with the Université de Montréal and the University of Toronto, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Canada’s Public Policy Forum, organized a symposium on food and innovation.


Resources This Project Needed

EU contribution for the whole MycoRed project: €5 769 956

Initiated by

  • Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Crops Research Centre
  • Food Research Centre in Guelph
  • Italian Agricultural Research Council (Consiglio per la Ricerca e la sperimentazione in Agricoltura – CRA

Project Website(s)

Contact Info

Project Topics

Agriculture, Science

Level / Project Complexity /


Sizes of Participating Cities

• 500.000 - 1,5 Mio
• more than 1,5 Mio

Participating Countries

  • Canada
  • Italy

Project Region(s)

• Europe

Media Credits

Image source: Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash