Consortium and groups

All the partners that are included in this consortium have good experience in the different areas of saffron research (Agronomy, Breeding, Botany, Genetics, Chemistry, Food Technology, and Commercialisation). Being saffron such a minority crop we can assert that this consortium ensembles the majority of the best saffron researchers not only at European scale but a World scale. Thirteen partners cooperate in the project with different and complementary tasks although many of them overlap. Among them, they are one official bank of germplasm (partner 1), eight universities (partners 0, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9), one private company (partner 5), and one public research institution (partner 10) from EU Member States; one university from an associated state, Turkey (partner 11), and from third-countries one public research institution from Azerbaijan (partner 12), and another public research institution from Egypt (partner 13).

The creation of a bank of germplasm in saffron requires the participation of some non-EC countries

As mentioned, we propose the generation of a germplasm bank of saffron and allies. The aim is to collect and reproduce saffron bulbs, coming from the EC countries that still cultivate saffron (Spain, Greece, Italy, France, and Hungary), but also from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Morocco, India and Iran . This plant material, once adapted and reproduced, could be used in selection programmes all over the world. Secondly, the collection of saffron allies (both seeds and/or corms) will be made for conservation, since some Crocus taxa are threatened , and for research in genetics, plant breeding and basic biology. The creation of the mother collection in Spain will be followed by replicas in Greece and Italy in the coming years, once the bank is well established.

Distribution of Saffron producers countries

Coordinated Implementation Plan

The action comprises three basic tasks: collection, conservation, evaluation and utilisation of Crocus genetic diversity. The first duty will be completed by the participation of 12 groups of the consortium. Each group has the responsibility to collect the quoted plant material using botanic gardens, personal contacts, other collections and explorations to the field. The Crocus wild species that are included in the list are the complete genus, as described by Brian Mathew (Mathew, B. 1982, The Crocus. A Revision of the Genus Crocus (Iridaceae). B.T. Batsford Ltd. London). explorations to the field. The Crocus wild species that are included in the list are the complete genus, as described by Brian Mathew (Mathew, B. 1982, The Crocus. A Revision of the Genus Crocus (Iridaceae). B.T. Batsford Ltd.

Explorations and collection per area are designed on the basis of the geographical proximity of both saffron production areas and Crocus spp. population habitats. The programme of collection of Crocus taxa is planned on a basis of maximums, in order to obtain different subspecies and populations of each species. Partial results are not considered a failure since the purpose is to obtain as many accessions as possible, representative of the species range and diversity, according to the financial and human resources available.

The conservation, multiplication, maintenance, documentation and management of the collection will be carried out by the JCCM Group (CIA-Albaladejito, Cuenca), Centre specialised in the management of germplasm banks of the Castilla-La Mancha region in Spain, amongst them, the dedicated to “aromatic and medicinal plants”.

According with the objectives of the project, translated into workpakages, various overlapping groups are established. The first one, named “ Saffron Collectors Group (SCG)” is integrated by partners 0, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, under the supervision of partner 0 (UCLM, Spain), and will carry out WP-01. The second is the “Crocus Collectors Group (CCG) ” composed by partners 0, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13, under the command of partner 11 (NIAR, Greece), will carry out WP-02. The partners 1, 4, 5, and 10 constitute the “Descriptors Group (DG)” whose manager is partner 4 (UPV, Spain), and will carry out WP-03. The "Multiplication and Conservation Group (MCG)" is organized by partners 0, 1, 6 and 9 , with partner 1 (JCCM, Spain ) as manager, and will carry out WP-04. The characterization and evaluation task (WP-05) is approached by two groups: (1) morphological, physiological and agronomical level, with partners 0, 1, 4, 7, 10 and 11 leaded by partner 1, and (2) chemical and molecular level, with partners 0, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13, under the organization of partner 2 (AUA, Greece). These groups are called CEGA and CEGC, respectively. The coordination of the complete WP-05 will be made by the project coordinator (partner 2). The application of the germplasm information and banked accessions (WP-06) is implemented by the “ Application Group (AG) ” integrated by partners 0, 1, 3 and 9, leaded by the latest (UL, UK).The management and coordination of the project (WP-07) is the responsibility of the project coordinator (partner 0) assisted by the Project Management Committee, PMC (partners 1, 2, 4, 9 and 10). Partner 0 (UCLM, Spain) is the overall project coordinator, whereas partner 1 (JCCM, Spain) is the manager of the collections and the central information system.

SCG activities consist in the collection of saffron corms from different EU and non-EU countries, in an attempt to store the maximum genetic variability present in this crop. The wide commercial experience and good knowledge of saffron cropping areas of the French company (Tradimpex JM Thiercelin SA) (partner 5) will be extremely convenient for this achievement. CCG task is the collection of Crocus taxa by means of requests to different collection holders or visiting specific locations at appropriate date to collect either cultivated or wild specimens (seeds and/or bulbs). It is of particular interest to collect a wide representation of taxa phylogenetically close to saffron (i.e. Crocus series of the genus) for their interest in saffron breeding. These species are present in Greece and its islands. The Greek sub-coordinator (partner 3) has a long experience in C. sativus studies and incorporates experienced geneticists and plant breeders. Included in partner 9 we gain the participation of the Crocus Group (historically) a splinter group from the British Iris Society, that is an assemblage of persons with a shared interest in the genus Crocus . The group was created in 1974 and includes botanists, Crocus growers and people dedicated to computing, seed exchange and other duties. Anthony Goode is coordinator of the Crocus Group and will be subcontracted by partner 9. He is an expert in cropping conditions and techniques for a big number of Crocus . His valuable practical knowledge is of major interest for the Crocus germplasm project.



The experience of partner 4 (DG coordinator) in saffron experimental cultivation will be useful for the elaboration of descriptors and primary characterization of the plant material. The activities of MCG are the core of the project. Partner 1, its coordinator, has wide experience in the management and conservation of genetic resources in Spain. Lastly, CEGA and CEGC , coordinated by partner 1 (Spain) and partner 2 (Greece), respectively, must initiate the characterisation of the material at different levels, with the aim of continuing this task in the coming years. Partner 9 (UK) will be the manager of the application task (definition of valuable germplasm for saffron breeding, identification of important accessions in ecology, horticulture, agronomy, industry, etc. Partner 10 (Greece) has a long experience in the management of genetic resources in this country.