Newsletter – Year II – Number I – June, 2023

The results of NAC technology (N-Acetyl-Cysteine), developed and patented by the Agronomic Institute (IAC) and incorporated into the products GRANBLACK and IKONE, were presented to citrus growers during the Top Citros event, held by Amazon Agrosciences in partnership with CiaCamp, in December 2022. By presenting the obtained gains, reinforced by testimonials from technology users, the expectation is to contribute to citrus growers’ increasing belief in Brazilian science, the relevance of partnerships, and the importance of adopting scientific results.

Amazon is a partner of IAC in the Science Center for Development (CCD-CROP-IAC), headquartered at the Institute and financed by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and private companies.

NAC is an antioxidant molecule already used as a dietary supplement and in the treatment of bacterial respiratory tract infections in humans. However, its use in plant disease management is a discovery by IAC, exclusively licensed to CiaCamp Desenvolvimento e Inovação Tecnológica Ltda, which produces the foliar fertilizers GRANBLACK and IKONE in partnership with Amazon.

Under the leadership of researcher Simone Cristina Picchi, CiaCamp is the first startup born within IAC, with resources from FAPESP.

“NAC is a natural and non-residual molecule that strengthens the plant’s defense system, making it more resistant to biotic and abiotic stressors. These results are achieved through its antioxidant action, which eliminates harmful free radicals to the plant’s health. I also highlight the increase in orchard productivity,” comments Felipe de Sousa Palma, commercial director of Amazon.

According to Palma, the results obtained with the use of this technology stem from the overall improvement of plant health achieved by reducing oxidative stress levels. “NAC reduces the amount of free radicals, which are responsible for increasing oxidative stress. If kept at controlled levels, they lead to improved plant defense responses against pests and diseases, as well as increased productivity,” he explains.

IAC researcher and leader of the NAC research, Alessandra Alves de Souza, emphasizes that the molecule was evaluated as a strategy to inhibit or disaggregate the bacterial biofilm formed on the leaf surface by the Citrus Canker bacteria. “This biofilm protects the bacteria from environmental stresses, including heat, UV rays, and antimicrobial compounds that may affect the bacteria’s development, such as copper, commonly used in the chemical control of Citrus Canker,” she explains.

The records presented at the Top Citros event showed an increase in productivity from the second year of application. According to Palma, the varieties respond differently, with gains ranging from 133 to 313 boxes per hectare.

The first edition of Top Citros brought together 96 citrus growers, consultants, and researchers. The second edition will be held in 2023, with a date yet to be determined.

Palma comments that the public-private partnership is essential to bring Brazilian research to agriculture. “When this happens, we see the results of research transformed into various products that help different crops produce more efficiently and/or solve or mitigate productivity-related issues,” he analyzes.

The partnership with IAC began in 2018. “For those working within Amazon AgroSciences, it is an honor to have formed this partnership with IAC, an institution composed of researchers recognized for their seriousness and commitment. The research conducted within IAC always provides answers to the needs of agriculture, which means that IAC stands for research with results. IAC is a highly reputable institution internationally, and for us, this is a partnership of excellence. We are committed to transforming research into high-performance products for Brazilian agriculture,” he comments.

“We are very happy with the partnership with IAC and CiaCamp. We want to encourage other companies to support Brazilian research as well because our country has cutting-edge science, and the products that emerge from these partnerships are the result of years of research. Therefore, they have a solid scientific foundation and credibility,” affirms Manuel Palma, CEO of Amazon AgroSciences.

General view of the screened greenhouse containing the basic plants of canopy varieties available for citrus sector.
Basic plants recently registered in MAPA and CDA (PB12).
Plantas fornecedoras de sementes mantidas no campo.

After decades of research, since obtaining through crosses between Sunki mandarin and Poncirus trifoliata Rubidoux and experimentation, the Centro de Citricultura Sylvio Moreira makes the first seeds available to the sector producing seedlings of six new rootstocks: citrandarins IAC 3128 Guanabara, IAC 3152 Itajobi, IAC 3026 Santa Amélia, IAC 3010 Pindorama, IAC 3070 Capão Bonito and IAC 3299 Muriti. All these new rootstocks have characteristics that make them great options to mitigate biotic and abiotic problems found in São Paulo and Brazilian citriculture, with emphasis on greater tolerance to water stress, conferring good HLB tolerance to scion varieties and different plant patterns, including dwarfing and semi-dwarfing gates. Due to these characteristics, these rootstocks are part of the NPOP evaluation network for new rootstocks, and are being validated in different scion varieties and different environmental conditions. The official launch of these will take place during the 48th Expocitros and the 44th Citriculture Week, which will be held from 05/30 to 06/02/2023, in Cordeirópolis, SP. 

In compliance with the norms of the federal (RNC and RENASEM/MAPA) and state (GEDAVE/CDA) regulatory agencies, the new varieties were registered, introduced as basic plants (PB 11, Figure 1) and established in banks of plants that supply seeds (JC 03,04 and 05, Figure 2 ) and are under analysis in the National Cultivar Protection System in MAPA. 

Seeds can be requested at Centro de Citricultura, the exclusive supplier of these new rootstocks. If approved, they will be the first rootstock varieties protected in Brazil. 

Also, 13 canopy varieties were also established in 300-liter vases, whose propagation material was available for the citrus sector in May 2023. There are three varieties obtained and selected in partnership with Embrapa and the Fundação Coopercitrus Credicitrus (FCC) and registered under the supervision of the three Institutions (BRS IAC EECB Alvorada sweet orange, XR Navelina sweet orange and the BRS EECB IAC Ponta Firme acid lime), two kunquat varieties (IAC 423 Meiwa and IAC 424), one finger lime hybrid (IAC 281 Faustrime) , one willow leaf mandarin (BRS Rainha), two mandarins (IAC 1583 Nova and IAC 1742 Clementina de Nulles), three sweet orange (Cara Cara, Lue Ging Gong and Malhe)  and one Persian lime.

All these rootstock and scion varieties expand the number of available varieties and contribute to the genetic diversification of the orchards, fulfilling the mission of the Sylvio Moreira Citriculture Center/IAC to research, produce and make available genetic material for the propagation of citrus to meet high quality citrus seedling production programs.

Visit by Dr. Zypfel to CCSM facilities, guided by researchers Dr. Rodrigo Latado and Dr. Helvecio Coletta-Filho.
Visit by Dr, Zupfel to the field trial of pathogen-resistant genetically modified citrus plants. The visit was guided by CCSM researcher, Dr. Alessandra de Souza, Dr. Raquel Boscariol-Camargo, Dr. Helvévio Coletta-Filho, by postdoctoral Dr. Mariana Esteves and biologist Luis Carvalho

On January 31, 2023, the “Sylvio Moreira” Citrus Center – IAC welcomed researcher Dr. Cyril Zypfel from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. On this occasion, the researcher became acquainted with the research conducted at the institution and visited the facilities of the citrus center (Figure 1). In the afternoon, Dr. Zypfel delivered a lecture titled “Capitalizing on the plant immune system for broad-spectrum disease resistance in crops,” which was attended by researchers and students from various research institutions and universities in the states of São Paulo and Paraná, as well as representatives from private sector companies (Figure 2). During the visit, Dr. Cyril Zypfel also visited the experimental field of genetically modified disease-resistant citrus plants (Figure 3). Some of these plants are the result of a partnership between Dr. Zypfel and Dr. Alessandra A. de Souza within the CD-CROP-IAC project ( and INCT-Citros. The transgenic plants resulting from the collaboration with Dr. Cyril carry a receptor gene from the model plant Arabidopsis, capable of detecting pathogen molecules and activating the plant’s defense system. The work was published in 2021 in the Plant Biotechnology Journal*, and the best events are currently undergoing field evaluations to confirm resistance and maintain the agronomic characteristics of the cultivar.

*Mitre LK, Teixeira-Silva NS, Rybak K, Magalhães DM, de Souza-Neto RR, Robatzek S, Zipfel C, de Souza AA. The Arabidopsis immune receptor EFR increases resistance to the bacterial pathogens Xanthomonas and Xylella in transgenic sweet orange. Plant Biotechnol J. 2021 Jul;19(7):1294-1296. doi: 10.1111/pbi.13629. 

Camila Caldana, research from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany, who is part of the Steering Committee of the CCD_CROP_IAC, giving a lecture at the Sylvio Moreira Citriculture Center/IAC.

Camila Caldana, research from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany, who is part of the Steering Committee of the CCD_CROP_IAC, with the support of the project, held a lecture on “The balance of holding on and letting it grow: uncovering new branches in the plant TOR network” , at the VIII Brazilian Symposium on Molecular Plant Genetics promoted by the Brazilian Society of Genetics and, on 06/07/2023, gave a lecture on the same topic at the Sylvio Moreira Citriculture Center/IAC. The researcher addressed the results of her research over more than a decade related to the metabolism of plants in the face of environmental stress. Unraveling how plants, sessile organisms, perceive changes in the environment and trigger responses to mitigate the impacts of the different stresses to which they are exposed, is one of the main challenges in the development of cultivars, in the face of global climate change. The researcher explained that, through a complex network, plants quickly perceive different environmental stimuli, and in a coordinated way, recruit metabolic resources, which slowly trigger responses capable of signaling adaptation, vegetative growth or reproduction to the plant.

Are you familiar with agile management? It is a model focused on people, agility, and team motivation, aiming to deliver value to the customer and achieve excellent results. How does agile management apply to scientific and technological projects in the agricultural field? This was the research theme explored in the master’s thesis conducted by Christopher Martinez Tsen, a student in the Postgraduate Program at the Agronomic Institute (IAC), under the guidance of researcher Alessandra Alves de Souza from IAC. The dissertation defense, titled “Application of agile management in the development of scientific and technological projects in the agricultural field,” took place on May 25th at 2 PM, in the PPG-IAC building in Campinas. The evaluation committee included Dr. Alessandra Alves de Souza, Dr. Ricardo Baldassin Junior, and Dr. Renata Helena Branco Arnandes. The project was developed in collaboration with the members of the CCD-CROP-IAC project, and the results showed increased engagement and improved outcomes for those who applied agile management. This innovative initiative expands the agile approach to the management of scientific projects, aiming for excellence in providing technological solutions for the agricultural sector.

Mariângela Cristofani Yaly participated in the International Conference, Plant & Animal Genome 2023 (PAG 30), from January 13-18, 2023, in San Diego, CA, USA. The Conference is the largest agro genomics meeting in the world, with over 3,000 participants, 130 exhibitors, 150 workshops, 1,100 posters and over 1,800 abstracts. Topics were addressed in the areas of -omics sciences (genomics and proteomics), genetic engineering, genetic improvement, environmental conservation, climate change, among others. Within the scope of the congress, the researcher Mariângela, representing the team at the Citriculture Center – IAC, presented one of the study topics of the INCT Citrus and CCD-CROP-FAPESP projects, both in progress. The work entitled “Generating Long-Term Portable SNP Genotyping Data for Citrus Diversity and Mapping Studies With a Fixed Content SNP Chip”, is being developed in partnership with Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (Cenargen), using a multi-species genotyping platform developed to optimize the genotyping process of hundreds of individuals at the same time, in addition to representing an excellent tool to address issues of population genomics and strengthen genomic selection, GWAS and the broad study of the variation of complex characteristics in the genus Citrus.

Researcher and her presentation at the International Conference on Plant and Animal Genomics (PAG30), held in San Diego (USA).

Research conducted by the Agronomic Institute (IAC) on coffee cultivation, specifically related to the development of cultivars since the 1930s, was discussed in an interview given by Oliveiro Guerreiro Filho, a researcher from the Coffee Center “Alcides Carvalho” at IAC, to columnist Tony Chen from C3offee magazine (

The publication specializes in coffee-related topics and is a prominent reference in the Asian continent. The interview highlights the main contributions of IAC in the field, ranging from the establishment of germplasm collections to the development of numerous Arabica coffee cultivars adapted to various growing environments. It concludes with recent research involving the development of a coffee variety using CRISPR-Cas9 technology within the scope of CCD-CROP-IAC.

The researcher Mirian Perez Maluf (Embrapa/IAC) explains in this interview how strategies based on molecular breeding are used to develop caffeine-free coffee cultivars, without modifying other bean sensory and chemical aspects.

The subject was discussed on the Café em Prosa Podcast in March 2023. The researcher presented a history of the research developed so far by the Coffee Center /IAC regarding caffeine content, indicating the potential of gene editing to develop caffeine-free versions of coffee cultivars widely used today.

Research on varietal development in citrus and coffee crops was the subject of a feature aired on TV Cultura, on the “Hiperconectado” program hosted by biologist Átila Iamarino. The program explored the impact of plant domestication in people’s daily lives and featured the participation of researchers from the Agronomic Institute (IAC), Mariângela Cristofani-Yaly from the Citrus Center “Sylvio Moreira,” and Oliveiro Guerreiro Filho from the Coffee Center “Alcides Carvalho.”

These scientists, who are part of CCD-CROP-IAC discussed plant hybridization to develop new scion cultivars and the use of grafting techniques to reduce the juvenile period of plants. They also highlighted the use of molecular strategies for early identification of characteristics that allow for the reduction of time and resources in coffee cultivar development.

The full feature can be accessed through the following link: 

In this proposal, a cooperation between researchers of IAC Sugarcane Center and University of Sao Paulo/USP, Ribeirao Preto provided opportunities for knowledge exchange, including training of students from different countries and regions of Brazil to learn about plant genome editing.

In December 2022 IAC Sugarcane Center hosted students and researchers from different Latin American countries for classes and practical activities as part of a training course offered by the Brazilian-Argentine Center of Biotechnology (CBAB), in partnership with FFCLRP/USP. 

In January 2023 IAC Sugarcane Center team offered a mini course to students from different Brazilian states, in collaboration with the Graduate Program in Genetics at FMRP/USP. The mini course aimed to introduce students to basic concepts and techniques of plant biotechnology, as well as Innovative Precision Improvement Technologies (TIMPs). 

Both initiatives focused on highlighting the plant technology editing via the CRISPR/Cas. Genetic engineering plants have been on the global market for over 30 years; however, they represent only a small portion of the total amount of transgenics products developed for different purposes. In addition, non-conventional breeding technologies, such as genome editing, offer a wide range of possibilities for generating non-GMO plants, with facilitated regulatory policies and quick access to the consumer market.

Dr Silvana Creste and Dr Claudia Monteiro Vitorello at USA conference.

Dr. Silvana Creste (left) presented the work “Comparative transcriptional profiling of contrasting sugarcane genotypes for drought tolerance under water deficit”, highlighting a set of sugarcane strategies adopted by tolerant genotype to cope with drought stress, including better water use efficiency. On the right, Prof. Dr. Cláudia Vitorello presenting the lecture: “The exploring of sugarcane-smut molecular cross-talking using biological networks”.

The conference took place in San Diego, CA, USA from January 13 – 18, 2023,  and brought together more than 3000 scientists from all over the world in the areas of sciences – omics (genomics and proteomics), genetic engineering, genetic improvement, environmental conservation, climate change, among others. Within the scope of the congress, Dr. Silvana and Dr. Claudia Vitorello presented study topics for the ongoing CCD-CROP-FAPESP project. In particular, Silvana presented the distinct molecular strategies used by sugarcane cultivars displaying contrasting tolerance to water deficit, where the tolerant genotype gained prominence due its high water use efficiency, mediated by the activation and inhibition of numerous genes associated with water stress. Claudia, in turn, highlighted the different responses of sugarcane and energy cane to the infection of the fungus S. scitamineum, revealing the specific molecular adaptations of varieties resistant to the disease. Both works highlight the advancement of knowledge on relevant topics addressed in the context of the NPOP proposal.

Learning and relaxation during the visit of Sugarcane team to the GGCRC, in Campinas, SP.

On March 6, 2023, sugarcane team visited the Genomics for Climate Change Research Center (GCCRC), located in Campinas, SP. In line with research conducted with sugarcane in the context of the NPOP, the GCCRC proposal is also to develop disruptive technologies capable of promoting the best performance of maize cultivars within the context of climate change, via transgenics and genome editing.

The visit of the sugarcane team to the GCCRC enabled the reciprocal exchange of knowledge in different areas of knowledge involved in the development of the projects. In addition, both teams identified the existence of alignment between the proposals involving the two crops (sugarcane and maize), where final objective is to generate highly productive and sustainable commercial cultivars within the context of new environmental demands, reflected by the unpredictability of the climate, with risks of flooding, increased global temperature and drought periods, changes in cycles and incidence of pests and pathogens, reduction of pollinating insects, and risks to food security.

Recent data indicate that environmental stresses can account for up to 70% of the reduction in productivity, affecting mainly underdeveloped and developing countries, such as Brazil. In this way, the biotechnology has fundamental tools for the development of genetically engineered plants, with technological resources capable of mitigating the effects of climate change on food production.

Team participated in the VIII Brazilian Symposium on Molecular Plant Genetics, organized by the Brazilian Society of Genetics.

The SBGMP is a biannual event held since 2007. An initiative of researchers in the plant area from different regions of Brazil and supported by the Brazilian Society of Genetics. The congress was held in May 2023, in Costão do Santinho, on the island of Florianópolis, in Santa Catarina. The meeting was an opportunity for both researchers and graduate and undergraduate students to update their knowledge and interact with scientists who are producing knowledge and modifying vision and concepts in the field of plant genetics.


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