Kicked off in October 2019 with the financial support of the Reunion Region, Ademe, European funds and the French government through the France Relaunch plan, “the construction of the Plant Protection Pole represents 3,200 m² of new infrastructure and 800 m² of rehabilitation project,” explains Eric Jeuffrault, regional director of Cirad in Reunion-Mayotte.
“With this modern and technological infrastructure, Cirad plans to create a regional pole for research, technological development and innovation on agricultural and environmental issues shared with France and countries of the Indian Ocean region.”
Frédérique Vidal, minister of higher education, research and innovation, Béatrice Sigismeau, vice-president of the Departmental Council, Stéfano Dijoux, 1st deputy mayor of Saint-Pierre, and Elisabeth Claverie de Saint Martin, president-general director of Cirad, inaugurated the new buildings of the Plant Protection Pole in Saint-Pierre (Reunion) on November 22nd, 2021.
From left to right: Béatrice Sigismeau, vice-president of the departmental council, Elisabeth Claverie de Saint Martin, president-general director of Cirad, Stéfano Dijoux, 1st deputy mayor of Saint-Pierre, Frédérique Vidal, minister of higher education, research and innovation, Eric Jeuffrault, regional director of Cirad in Reunion-Mayotte and Jean Pierre Chabriat, regional councillor. © ML Pouxviel, Cirad
Among the research work conducted at the Plant Protection Pole:
The implementation of the sterile insect technique against Bactrocera dorsalis, the fruit fly or Aedes albopictus, the tiger mosquito;
The development of molecular tools for epidemiological monitoring in the citrus fruit sector (monitoring of Huanglongbing disease, bacterial canker or citrus Tristeza);
Biological control of the sugarcane borer, an insect pest, by the trap plant Erianthus;
The sequencing of genetic material of different organisms, from the virus associated with the pineapple wilt disease in Reunion to the genome of Vanilla planifolia, a traditional vanilla tree in Reunion;
Prioritization of the fight against invasive exotic plants in Reunion;
The safeguarding and conservation of varieties with a high heritage value of plants cultivated in Reunion Island within the Vatel biological resource center (BRC).
An excellent scientific infrastructure specialized in the development of solutions in plant health
This new infrastructure brings together on a single site all the plant health research and development teams, public and private, present locally, from the field to the lab, with the potential for complementary skills (Cirad, University of Reunion, FDGDON, ANSES, INRAe, IRD, MNHN, GDS). Located nearby and interacting with the Coccinelle biofactory are the Reunion National Park and its southern branch, which will be set up in 2022.
Three new wings and one extension for a total of 3,200 m² are coming to reinforce this technological platform with new equipment, laboratories and reinforced hosting capacity.
The new buildings cover four major themes:
- Terrestrial Ecology (extension of wing D): this structure now has a lab dedicated to chemical ecology to promote agro-ecological protection techniques against crop pests.
- Molecular biology (wing F): this new wing can host three times more scientists and integrates all the technologies needed to access the genetic material of the different biological models used in research. It allows for the development of genetic sequencing and epidemio-molecular monitoring.
- Genetic resources (wing G): this structure groups all the different collections of biological resources (CRB Vatel…) that can be used for the current and future scientific projects on food safety and biodiversity.
- Finally, a common space for an economy of scale and costs on preparatory scientific activities (wing E) by the different research activities. For example, it allows for the production of liquid nitrogen or biological environments, and for the centralized storage of chemical reagents….
The new infrastructure will help reinforce the agronomic research conducted at the Plant Protection Pole such as:
- The contribution to the epidemic surveillance system for major tropical pests;
- The participation to the agro-ecological transition and the reinforcement of pest control with the development of biological control methods for instance;
- The protection, restoration and promotion of biodiversity locally and in the Indian Ocean by preserving biological resources of interest for food (CRB Vatel) with an approach to structuring the sectors. Also, the fight against invasive exotic plants by developing decision-making tools for managers. This also concerns the preservation of the bees (an essential pollinator for agriculture) through research work to better understand the natural resistance mechanisms of bees to varroa, a species of parasitic mites.
“As a true research platform to serve agriculture in Reunion and the Indian Ocean, this infrastructure reflects our desire to participate with our partners in the scientific and technical development of Reunion and the Indian Ocean,” explains Elisabeth Claverie de Saint Martin, president-general director of Cirad. “It is one of Cirad’s most important infrastructures in France.”
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