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programme SharCo

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General information

The sharka disease is a worldwide serious problem with a severe impact on the productivity and fruit quality of Prunus species. It is caused by Plum pox virus (PPV), a virus against which no chemical or biological curative treatment is available.

Sharka disease on fruits

The current short-term solution is the eradication of infected trees and the plantation of virus-free material. SharCo is aimed at providing the EU with tools such as marker-assisted selection to speed up the production of PPV (Plum pox virus) resistant plant materials, guidelines, early warning systems and decision-support system in order to anticipate further PPV outbreaks.

For that purpose, the project will, in the field of epidemiology, identify driving factors of PPV spread and diversification and develop novel and highthrough-put detection systems warning sharka outbreaks. In the field of genetics, it will provide molecular markers for the implementation of marker assisted selection of PPV resistant fruit varieties. In the field of biology, SharCo partners will assess innovative biotechnological approaches to broaden resistance to PPV in different fruit tree species.

Finally, in order to develop a PPV outbreak management, the project will elaborate i) guidelines for endusers and policy makers concerning cultivation and risk management, ii) an early warning system coupled with a decision support system.

All knowledge and tools developed by the project will be widely disseminated all over Europe with a special attention paid to PPV endemic countries.

Concept and objectives

The concept of SharCo is to combine prophylactic and genetic solutions to prevent or limit the spread of the sharka disease (caused by PPV). The project scope covers the entire chain from planting materiel (seedlings, scions…) production to orchard management. It addresses all concerned stakeholders, breeders, nurserymen, fruit producers, and plant protection services with relevant outcomes including respectively resistant varieties, management guidelines, cultivation guidelines, optimised survey and detection methods and tools.

Strategic and scientific and technological objectives

The entry of countries from Central Europe and the Balkans into the European Union (EU) will considerably increase the threat caused by the sharka disease as these regions are known as endemic centres of PPV, making crucial the development of new ways to controll the spread of this virus and ti improve the resistance of cultivated crops to this disease.

The strategic objective of SharCo is to provide the EU with novel methods and tools to face this menace. On that purpose, the project will :

  • In the field of epidemiology, develop new methods for monitoring and fighting the PPV spread by:
    - Identifying the driving factors of the PPV spread and diversification
    - Developing novel systems for detecting, assessing and warning sharka outbreaks
  • In the field of biology, develop new genetic tools for breeding to contribute to improve the resistance of orchards cultivated plants, by:
    - Identifying molecular markers linked to resistance
    - Implementing marker assisted selection to speed up the breeding of resistant fruit trees.
    - Reinforcing plant resistance by combining new and complementary resistant genetic mechanisms
  • In the field of agricultural management, help the end-users -notably but not exclusively breeders, nursery gardeners and fruit producers- to take advantage of the project outcomes by:
    - Establishing guidelines aimed at minimising the virus spread likelihood at the levels of nurseries and orchards
    - Delivering a risk management system designed to minimise the exposure resulting from the entry of new variants from accessing EU countries


SharCo is all about developing knowledge -PPV epidemiology and stone fruit genetics- with the aim to respond to the requirements of end-users (fruit producers and authorities in a broad sens).

To the former, the project will propose new PPV resistant varieties, best practices for reducing contamination and spread of the disease in nurseries and orchards, and decision support system aimed at helping them face outbreaks in the most appropriate way. To the later ones, the project will submit guidelines for stone fruit cultivation and trade with policy makers and plant protection services as particular stakeholders.

Achievements of the project

Introduction to PPV dissemination
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