Woody plants impact our lives in multiple ways - they are sources of raw materials such as timber or resin, they provide food in the form of fruits and seeds, they form forests that represent a major Carbon quenching resource, a means to prevent soil erosion and are vital for water retention. Forests also provides shelter for wildlife, recreation and aesthetic renewal for people. Woody plants are thus critical
actors in addressing three of the European Grand Challenges: (i) a sustainable food supply (ii) a competitive life-sciences industry sector (iii) environmental protection.

Woody Plants represent a major economic resource for Portugal (10% of the GDP) and accordingly, are a key research domain in both academia and industry. Portugal is the main producer of cork worldwide (57% of world production), and among the top 6 countries in Europe regarding the production of olive oil, wine, and paper-related products.

For this reason, the Portuguese ELIXIR Node is primarily focused on Woody Plants.

We are building a dedicated infrastructure for data integration in the Woody Plants domain, which includes:

  • Information systems capable of enabling biological questions through heterogeneous data integration and analysis
  • Database structures designed to store heterogeneous data; “standard” genomic-level data, as well as more complex data like time-series that combine environmental and physiological measurements; and also that can deal with heterogeneous file sizes.
  • Access interfaces that include intuitive web interfaces designed for specific communities, as well as programatic access conforming to best practices.

We are also working towards developing standards for representing and annotating plant phenotypic data, including physiological, ecological and environmental data.
These solutions are being developed in close collaboration with the biologists which are currently producing great amounts of biochemical, physiological, cell biological, climacteric, and genomic data. As such, they are focused on real needs of the community.

Last, but not least, we are implementing a Training program in bioinformatics for woody plants.