Emerging viruses pose a significant threat to animal health and welfare, food security and rural prosperity. When porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2) emerged in the late 1990s after circulating in pig populations for at least several decades before. The associated disease post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) is estimated to have cost the EU over 600 M euros per year at its peak. The emergence of a highly pathogenic strain of porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDV) in the US and Asia has resulted in the death of millions of pigs and the economic costs are still being counted. Here we propose a research project that will increase our understanding of emerging, evolving or novel viruses in swine in order to allow assessment of and improved response to, current and future socioeconomic threats to the European agri-food industry. This project aims to: (1) Develop, enhance and apply a range of classic and beyond the state-of-the-art diagnostic methods for the detection of emerging, evolving or novel viruses in swine in a world-class institute with a long history of successful virology research including identification and commercialisation of PCV2; (2) To statistically establish disease association of detected viruses with these considering viral load aspects of infection; (3) To statistically establish disease association of combinations of virus in co-infection scenarios; (4) To develop next generation sequencing (NGS) methods to allow characterisation of the entire viral flora of pigs with particular disease states; (5) To parallel these research activities with a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary training programme including laboratory and non-laboratory scientific and IT skills as well as training in a range of professional skills to provide a competitive advantage in the job market for the next stage of their career. This will allow improved horizon scanning for as well as rapid response to emerging threats to the swine industry.
The overarching objective of UNDERTREES is to form an international and inter-sectoral network of 15 organisations in 3 continents (Europe, Africa and South America) working on a joint research programme in the field of agroforestry (AF) and ecosystem services (ES) assessment. The participants are academic, government and enterprises that will exchange skills and knowledge to progress towards key advances in agroforestry systems’ evaluation and design, while enhancing collaborative research and innovation staff exchange across different continents. Skills and knowledge exchanges with African and South America countries, where agroforestry has a sound historical role in fostering environmental and socio-economical sustainability, will advance in agroforestry systems comprehension, with significant benefits for the European environment and society. The staff members in the project will develop new skills, will be exposed to new research environments and will have their career perspectives widened. To achieve its aim UNDERTREES identified research, training, and participatory activities at 16 study sites in 5 biogeographical areas, within three thematic areas: (1) agronomic and environmental sustainability, (2) socio-economic sustainability and (3) policy development. UNDERTREES will advance research by strengthening intersectoral cross-country collaboration, will provide training and education at academic and technical level, and will engage with local, national and international stakeholders to create shared knowledge on agroforestry ES for EU agricultural policy development.