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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Historical background

A little bit of history...

The BIOGECO research unit was created in 2003 under the impetus of Antoine Kremer, through the merger of three INRA teams and a team from the University of Bordeaux. The three INRA teams (Genetics and Improvement of Forest Trees, Forest Entomology and Forest Pathology) were previously affiliated to two different INRA units. These three teams shared the same desire to promote more global and integrated research on biological diversity (biodiversity) within forest ecosystems. They also wished to strengthen their links with the University of Bordeaux with which the Forest Research Unit of Cestas-Pierroton had collaborated on the development and application of genetic markers (terpenes and isozymes) in tree ecology and genetics.

The creation of the UMR BIOGECO was a response to a double ambition: the scientific ambition to develop multidisciplinary research (ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics) oriented towards the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the evolution of biological diversity and a teaching goal around this objective, in line with the strategy of the University of Bordeaux and the development of the Doctorate School. This double ambition was largely supported by the two supervisory bodies (INRA - Ecology division and Bordeaux University) during the first four terms, as shown by the evolution of the number of permanent staff (2003: 31; 2007: 48; 2009: 57; 2014: 69; 2020: 76). It has also resulted in the reinforcement of the infrastructure (new buildings and laboratories). The unit, which was located on three sites, was then reorganized on two sites. The Forest Pathology team, which was on the Grande Ferrade site until 2009, joined the INRA forestry campus in Cestas-Pierroton. The Community Ecology team moved from building B8 to building B2 of the University in Talence, which now hosts a large number of INRAE colleagues.


Evolution of the unit organisation...

During the first two mandate (head: A Kremer, deputy head: R Michalet) the UMR was structured in research axes and organized around 4 disciplinary teams. Structuring projects were also put forward to create a dynamic around the phenology of organisms and the spatial variability of biotic interactions as a driver of forest biodiversity. During the third mandate (head: R Petit, deputy heads: D Alard and ML Loustau) the teams were reorganized with more fluidity between the personnel of INRAA and Bordeaux University (DIFCOM: Diversity and Functioning of Communities; EGF: Functional Ecology and Genomics; GEMFOR: Genetics and Ecology of Forest Diseases; GEP: Genetics and Ecology). Another structuring project on the sustainable management of cultivated forests then emerged to better federate our activities on this issue. The fourth mandate (6 years) was marked by two three-year periods. The first (head: R Petit, deputy head: D Alard and C Robin) was organized around the same 4 teams and 5 new axes. In 2018, the unit was restructured into 7 research teams and 4 skill units and they began to operate from 2019 under the impetus of a new management team (head: C Plomion, deputy head: C Robin and E Corcket).
Since 2003, the scientific strategy of the unit has been focused around its core areas, namely the study of the structure, functioning and evolution of biodiversity. For the current mandate (2022-2026, head: C Plomion, deputy heads: C Robin and V Fievet) the unit has renewed its scientific identity around 4 themes:

  •     Studying the evolutionary history and response of species and communities to global changes
  •     Understanding and predicting complex phenotypes
  •     Understanding the dynamics and functional role of biodiversity
  •     Developing integrated approaches for the management, conservation and restoration of biodiversity

In addition to these cross-cutting priorities, there are also structuring projects. The first is related to the emergence of the pinewood nematode, which represents a major risk for French pine forests, particularly in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. A second one is related to the qualification of improved maritime pine varieties. Other projects aiming at gathering and integrating the skills of the unit around a common objective will emerge as time goes by.