The AFTER-CU project will aim at demonstrating the use of innovative anti-infective peptide-based molecules for the environmentally friendly and sustainable control of bacterial diseases of plants. The goal of AFTER-CU will demonstrates the in vitro and in vivo efficacy of anti-infective peptides, by optimised field treatments on several model plants (Olive, Kiwi and Citrus) in order to replace the application of copper compounds in conventional and organic agriculture for avoiding the environmental risks caused by the use of these compounds for plant protection by bacterial phytopathogens and according to restrictions recently established on this topic within the EU countries. The AFTER-CU project will give a major contribution to the protection of the environment, primarily by reducing the dramatic pollution derived by the accumulation of copper, following its use during agronomic practices for plant disease management through:
• the design of peptide-based molecules specifically targeted towards a master virulence system highly conserved in Gram-negative bacteria,
• allowing the development of a broad spectrum strategy against Gram negative phytopathogenic bacteria and the diseases they cause,
• having low or null ability to cause the onset and the spread of resistance, because not targeted towards functions related to bacterial viability,
• not providing a persistent selection pressure causing in the environment the co-selection of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and/or to heavy metals, with dramatic consequences on animals and humans health,
• chemically synthetised by a process in compliance with EU legislation, REACH document (CE) No. 1907/2006, and
• whose biotechnological production has low cost and null environmental impact, and
• whose efficacy in bacterial diseases of plants will be demonstrated in pilot studies carried out by the participants, using several model plants widely diffuse and economically important for the all Mediterranean countries of EU.