The Misión Biológica de Galicia celebrates 100 years

It was created in 1921 in Santiago de Compostela and since 1928 it has been in Pontevedra

  • It was created by the Junta de Ampliación de Estudios e Investigaciones Científicas and in 1939 it was integrated into the CSIC. Originally, it had its headquarters at the Santiago de Compostela Veterinary School (current headquarters of the Galician Parliament) and in 1927 it moved to Pontevedra (first, to the La Tablada farm and then to the Salcedo parish on a property of the County Council).
  • The MBG currently has two departments -Plant Genetics and Breeding Department, and Viticulture and Forest Department – and eight research groups: Agrosystems Biology, Plant Development Genetics, Genetics, Breeding and Biochemistry of Brassica Crops, Maize Genetics and Breeding, Evolutionary Ecology of Plant-Herbivore Interactions, Forest Genetics and Ecology, Viticulture, Olive and Rose, and Crop Adaptation and Sustainability.
  • It is planned to develop a program of activities, aimed at the general public, with the aim of getting closer to society.
MBG Headquarters

On April 1, it was the 100th anniversary of the foundation, at the initiative of the Junta de Ampliación de Estudios e Investigaciones Científicas (JAE, an institution that played a relevant role in the scientific and cultural development of Spain until its disappearance in 1936) of the Misión Biológica de Galicia (MBG), a research center of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) since 1939.

Its founding objective was to carry out research and work on biology applied to agriculture and livestock in Galicia. Its first director was Cruz Gallástegui and in his early years the work focused on obtaining good quality vegetable varieties and pigs, as well as transmitting this knowledge to the agricultural sector.

Its first facilities were in Santiago de Compostela, at the Veterinary School, which in 1927 moved to León. In this context, Daniel de la Sota, president of the Pontevedra Provincial Council, along with other personalities of the time, facilitated the transfer of the MBG to Pontevedra: at first, to the La Tablada estate and, later, to the Salcedo estate and Palace, known as “Pazo de Gandarón”, owned by the Provincial Council and its current headquarters.

Starting in 1930, the MBG’s work focused on the genetic improvement of corn and obtaining varieties of chestnut resistant to ink (one of its main diseases), this last line consolidated by Ernesto Vieitez.

The dissemination throughout Spain of the English pig breed Large White was another of the MBG’s objectives and the herd was founded, at the initiative of Miguel Odriozola, which soon acquired great development and was disseminated throughout the country for genetic improvement of pigs.

In the period 1940-1950 the MBG consolidated its first lines of research on plant and animal genetic improvement and physiology.

Between 1960-1973 some of the research lines were closed due to the retirement or transfer of researchers. The Agricultural Chemistry section was maintained, under the direction of Benito Sánchez, who began the study of agricultural soils in the provinces of Ourense and Pontevedra. Research on plant genetics came to a halt until, as of 1973, Amando Ordás took up the line of research on genetic improvement of corn, beginning the collection of local varieties of corn and the beginning of selection and improvement programs.

Starting in 1980, new lines of research were opened and more personnel were hired, which allowed the development of new programs based on more crops of importance to Galicia: legumes, brassicas and grapes. Genetic resources of these species, conserved in the gene bank of the MBG, were collected and characterized. These materials are the basis of the research that, today, is carried out in the center and that allow to expand theoretical knowledge on genetics and improvement of crops and develop new varieties resistant to pests or diseases, better adapted, tolerant to different stresses (cold, drought, low soil fertility …).

At present, the MBG is mainly dedicated to agricultural and forestry research, dealing with the main crops, woody and ornamental species of Galicia.

His global research line deals with genetic, biochemical, metabolic, molecular, ecological and evolutionary processes that are relevant to make agriculture and forestry more sustainable, focusing on various widely cultivated horticultural, cereal and woody species. The approach is integrative, trying to simultaneously address three aspects: resilience-productivity-quality.

It is divided into two departments: Plant Genetics and Breeding Department, and Viticulture and Forest Department, and eight research groups:

Agrosystems Biology, Plant Development Genetics, Genetics, Breeding and Biochemistry of Brassica Crops, Maize Genetics and Breeding, Evolutionary Ecology of Plant-Herbivore Interactions, Forest Genetics and Ecology, Viticulture, Olive and Rose, and Crop Adaptation and Sustainability

  1. Agrosystems Biology. It raises transdisciplinary objectives and strategies to face global problems of cultivated species and that can be the object of horizontal transfer of knowledge and technology, incorporating plant genetic resources as a source of studies of diversity and genetics, and carrying out improvement programs for the development of new varieties. genetically enhanced. It studies the interactions of plants and their agrosystem in legumes, horticultural crops and ornamentals, including the soil microbiota.
  2. Plant Development Genetics. The objectives of his line of research are the architecture of the plant, the flowering, the development and ripening of the fruit and the dehiscence of the seed. They constitute, in turn, relevant milestones in the current conceptual framework of plant genetics and genomics.
  3. Genetics, Breeding and Biochemistry of Brassica Crops. It studies the nutritional quality and resistance to stress and its application in the improvement of horticultural brassica crops, with special emphasis on secondary metabolites and their role in nutrition, health and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.
  4. Maize Genetics and Breeding. It studies the genetic mechanisms that control the resistance to stresses, the quality and the production of the corn crop for application to the improvement of corn for food (animal and human) and industrial uses and the conservation of its biodiversity.
  5. Evolutionary Ecology of Plant-Herbivore Interactions. It is dedicated to the study of eco-evolutionary processes that affect plant-herbivore interactions, to predict how climate change will influence plant-herbivore interactions and to management strategies in agroforestry systems.
  6. Forest Genetics and Ecology. Studies the genetics and ecology of resistance to insects and pathogens in forest species as determinants of phenotypic variation in resistance characters and tolerance to diseases and pests. The line of research seeks to know the repercussions and determine possible applications to health and sustainable forest management.
  7. Viticulture, Olive and Rose. It is dedicated to the botanical, histological, agronomic and molecular description of autochthonous varieties of vine and olive tree; to the quantification of the resistance to fungal diseases and biochemical / physiological defense mechanisms of the plant against fungi; intra / intervarietal-terroir variability-new cultivation management and the use of wine / olive residues to obtain new products.
  8. Crop Adaptation and Sustainability. It studies the genetic variation and the response to selection in important characters for the adaptation of crops to the environment (such as early vigor, flowering and senescence) and in characters of relevance in sustainable cultivation (such as the efficient use of nitrogen, yield, humidity and quality of residual biomass).

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