History and Mission

The Center of Renewable Natural Resources from the Semi-Arid Region (CERZOS, after its abbreviation in Spanish) was created in 1980 on the initiative of Dr. Osvaldo Fernández and a group of teaching researchers from the Department of Agronomy of the Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS), the local university in the city of Bahía Blanca, Argentina. It is located in the southwestern sector of Buenos Aires province, a sea-front area in Bahía Blanca estuary, whose main characteristics include a semi-arid climate and a wide spectrum of economic activities centered on petrochemical industry, agricultural and cattle-raising production, food production, metal-mechanics industry, commerce and related services.

CERZOS belongs to the National Research Council (CONICET, www.conicet.gov.ar) and the UNS (www.uns.edu.ar), thus being a research and educational institution for the generation, dissemination and application of scientific knowledge for agro-food production and for the sustainable management of natural resources in ecological systems within the cultivable and non-cultivable semiarid region in Argentina. It is currently one of the twelve scientific and technological research units that form part of the Scientific and Technological Center of CONICET-Bahía Blanca.

As for its lines of research, from the 1990´s onwards, the incorporation of studies on plant biotechnology, an area noted for its productivity and human resources training, has constituted one of CERZOS´ main strengths. Since its beginnings, CERZOS has operated on an organizational and functional structure that includes several laboratories that clearly define the research lines developed at CERZOS, CONICET and UNS campus, namely Grassland Ecophysiology, Tissue Culture, Genetics, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Micology and Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms, Basic and Biotechnological Studies on Algae, Soils, Plants and Environment, Animal Nutrition, Plant Anatomy and Ecophysiology, Microbial Ecology, Soil Cartography and Plant Morphology.

On a regularly basis, CERZOS maintains collaborative associations with researchers from national universities and scientific centers, foreign scientific institutions, non-governmental Argentine organizations (e.g. AAPRESID, Criadero ACA, Centro PYME-ADENEU) and individual producers. It thus forms part of CONICET-UNS scientific and educational community within which researchers and teaching staff mainly from the Departments of Agronomy and of Biology, Biochemistry and Pharmacy are also involved. Its staff includes researchers, the majority of whom are pre- and post-graduate professors, support personnel including professionals, technicians and administrative workers, and research fellows and undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students.

CERZOS also provides specialized analytical services in response to the needs of public and private sectors and it also has an agricultural-meteorological net composed of automatic stations and limnigraphs located in Sauce Grande River basin to provide weather forecast data and services for research projects, farmers and the community.

All the above is a succinct description of CERZOS which -within the framework of its guiding institutions- maintains a permanent dynamic working system towards excellence.

Dr. Viviana Echenique



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