4 August 2003
An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant Breeding
Sponsored by FAO and Cornell University
Clair H. Hershey, Editor
1. EDITOR'S NOTES
2. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS
3. FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
* Vavilov-Frankel Fellowships 2004
4. REQUEST FOR INFORMATION/COLLABORATION
* AMMI Model Applied to Common Bean
* FAO-BioDeC National Correspondents Needed
* Guidelines for Identification of Field Constraints to Rice Production
* Diversity in Barley (Hordeum vulgare)
* The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Agbiotech: A Global Perspective
* Forest Reproductive Material
* Ending Hunger in our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization
* Biotechnology in Horticultural and Plantation Crops
6. NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
* Thirty Years of Cassava Breeding for Productivity: Biological and Social
Factors for Success
* Chile Developed a Site-specific Rice Composite Population for the
Temperate Climate Ecosystem
* Pulse Project with China.
* $2.7 Million for Grape Genetics Lab in Geneva
* US $31 Million Approved for WARDA Rice Project
* RHICO a New Rice Type for Confronting Food Insecurity in the Mountains
and a New Option for Template Upland Rice From Participatory Recurrent
Selection to Marketing
* Burkina Faso to Test GM Cotton
* Brazil's Biopiracy Laws 'Are Stifling Research'
* "Knockout" Research Eases Study of Model Plant Gene Functions
* Enhanced Nutrition Could Result from Rice Research Leading to
* Single Gene Controls Leaf Form
* Stress Adaptation in Arabidopsis
* Breeding for Australia's A$8 Billion Grains Industry
* The Philippines Plan Expanded Area, More Funds for Hybrid Rice
* New Breeding Technology Helps China Store Rice Longer
* New Varieties of Chickpea with Greater Ascochyta Resistance
* Nation's First Flower Genebank Celebrates 2nd Birthday
* China Leads the World in Colored Cotton Development
* Maize Genome Mappers Hit Milestone on Genetic/physical Map
* Scientists Find Gene That Protects Against Potato Blight
7. ON THE WEB
* Crop Biotech Bites
1. EDITOR'S NOTES
Plant Breeding News is an electronic forum for the exchange
and ideas about applied plant breeding and related fields. It is published
every four to six weeks throughout the year.
The newsletter is managed by the editor and an advisory group
Elcio Guimaraes (firstname.lastname@example.org), Margaret Smith
(email@example.com), and Anne Marie Thro (firstname.lastname@example.org). The editor
will advise subscribers one to two weeks ahead of each edition, in order to
set deadlines for contributions.
Subscribers are encouraged to take an active part in making
a useful communications tool. Contributions may be in such areas
as: technical communications on key plant breeding issues; announcements
of meetings, courses and electronic conferences; book announcements and
reviews; web sites of special relevance to plant breeding; announcements of
funding opportunities; requests to other readers for information and
collaboration; and feature articles or discussion issues brought by
subscribers. Suggestions on format and content are always welcome by the
editor, at email@example.com. We would especially like to see a broad
participation from developing country programs and from those working on
species outside the major food crops.
Messages with attached files are not distributed on PBN-L for
reasons. The first is that computer viruses and worms can be distributed in
this manner. The second reason is that attached files cause problems for
some e-mail systems.
PLEASE NOTE: Every month many newsletters are returned because
undeliverable, for any one of a number of reasons. We try to keep the
mailing list up to date, and also to avoid deleting addresses that are only
temporarily inaccessible. If you miss a newsletter, write to me at
firstname.lastname@example.org and I will re-send it.
To subscribe to PBN-L: Send an e-mail message to email@example.com.
Leave the subject line blank and write SUBSCRIBE PBN-L (Important: use ALL
CAPS). To unsubscribe: Send an e-mail message as above with the message
UNSUBSCRIBE PBN-L. Lists of potential new subscribers are welcome. The
editor will contact these persons; no one will be subscribed without their
2. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS
* 17-22 August 2003: Arnel R. Hallauer International Symposium
Mexico City, Mexico.
* 25-29 August 2003: EUCARPIA XXI International Symposium: Classical
Molecular Breeding of Ornamentals. Freising-Weihenstephan (Germany) Info:
Prof. Dr. Gert Forkmann, TU Mnchen, Zierpflanzenbau, Am Hochanger 4, 85350
Freising, Germany. Phone: (49)8161713416, Fax: (49)8161713886, email:
* (NEW) 26-27 August 2003: Functional Genomics and Breeding
Cold Tolerance in Plants. Sapporo, Japan. Contact: Workshop Office, Tel:
+81 (11) 241 1333; Fax: +81 (11) 219 4450; Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org; URL: http://cse.naro.affrc.go.jp/rzi/workshop-e.html
* (NEW) 1-4 September 2003: Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
as the Bases
for Future Breeding, Fodder Crops Eucarpia Conference. Brno, Czech
Republic. Contact: Vlasta Pazourkova, Eucarpia Conference Secretariat,
Research Institute for Fodder Crops Ltd. Troubsko, 664 41 Troubsko, Czech
Republic; Email: email@example.com;
* (NEW) 1-5 September 2003: EUCARPIA Symposium on Fruit Breeding
Genetics, Angers, France. Contact: Unité d'Amélioration des Espèces
Fruitières et Ornementales, INRA Centre d'Angers, Organisation du colloque
Eucarpia Fruit Breeding, BP 57, 49071 Beaucouze Cedex, France; Tel: +33 (2)
4122 5760; Fax: +33 (2) 4122 5755; Email:
* 1-6 September 2003: Tenth International Wheat Genetics Symposium.
Paestum, Italy. Contact: Leader SAS, Corso Garibaldi, 148-84123 Salerno,
Italy; Tel: +39 (089) 253170; Fax: +39 (089) 253238; Email:
* (NEW) 3-5 September 2003: Integrated Quantitative and Molecular
in Plant Breeding, Eucarpia Conference. La Coruña, Spain.Contact: J.
Moreno-González, Centro De Investigaciónes Agrarias de Mabegondo
(C.I.A.M.), Apartado 10, E-15080 La Coruña, Spain; Tel: +34 (981) 647902;
Fax: +34 (981) 673656; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
* (NEW) 3-6 September 2003: 2nd Plant Genomics European Meeting,
Contact: Karin van de Sande, GARNet / Plant-GEMs functional genomics
meeting, Department of Biology, area 11 University of York, PO Box 373,
York Y010 5YW, UK; Tel: +44 (0)1904 328688; Fax: +44 (0)1904
328688; Email: email@example.com; URL:
* (NEW) 5-10 September 2003: Structural Genomics: From Gene
to Structure as
Viewed by NMR. Obernai, France. Contact: European Science Foundation, 1,
quai Lezay Marnésia, F-67080 Strasbourg Cedex, France; Tel: +33 (3) 8876
7100; Fax: +33 (3) 8837 0532;
* 7-13 September 2003: Recent Advances in Plant Biotechnology.
Contact: Alena GajdosovInstitute of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology SAS,
Akademicka 2, P.O.Box 39A, 950 07 Nitra, Slovak Republic Tel: +421/37 73
366 61 Fax: +421/37 73 366 60, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* 17-18 September 2003: Seedbanks: Determination, Dynamics &
Reading, UK. Contact: Carol Millman, Association of Applied Biologists,
Horticultural Research International, Wellesbourne, Warwick, CV35 9EF, UK;
Tel: +44 (0)1789 470382; Fax: +44 (0)1789 470234; Email:
* 21-26 September 2003: Global Aspects of Technology Transfer:
Biotechnology. Big Sky, MT, USA. Contact: Gordon Research Conferences, 3071
Route 138, Kingston, RI 02881, USA; Tel: +1 (401) 783 4011; Fax: +1 (401)
783 7644; Email: email@example.com;
* 22-24 September 2003: XXX CIOSTA CIGR V, Management and Technology
Applications to Empower Agriculture and Agro-Food Systems. Turin, Italy.
Contact: DEIAFA Sez. Meccanica Agraria Facolt$i Agraria, Universit$i
Torino via L. da Vinci, 44 10095,Grugliasco (TO), Italy; Fax: +39 (011) 670
8591; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
* 26 Sept.-1 Oct. 2004:The 4th International Crop Science Congress
New Directions for a Diverse Planet, Queensland, Australia. To join the
Congress e-newsletter for updates and announcements, visit:
* 7-10 October 2003: ITAFE'03 - International Congress on Information
Technology in Agriculture, Food and Environment. Izmir, TURKEY. First
announcement and call for papers. Email : email@example.com or
* 12-17 October 2003: 6th African Crop Science Conference, Nairobi,
Submit abstracts to Organizing Committee Chairperson Prof. Agnes
* 15-19 October 2003: Congreso Internacional de Cultivos Andinos.
Patrimonio Andino para la alimentaci$el Mundo, Cochabamba, Fundacion
PROINPA. Contact persons: Gino Aguirre, Ana Maria Cortez, e mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. tel. no: (00591) 44 360800 fax 00591 44 360802.
* 19-21 October 2003: Fourth INGENIC International Workshop.
Breeding for Improved Production Systems, Accra, Ghana. Contacts:
Chairman of the National Organising Committee: Dr.Yaw Adu-Ampomah -
email@example.com; Secretariat of INGENIC: Dr. Michelle End - E-mail:
* 22-25 October 2003: First International Conference on Saffron
Biotechnology. Albacete, Spain. Contact: Dr. Lourdes Gomez-Gomez,
IDR-Biotechnology, Campus Universitario s/n, E-02071 Albacete, Spain; Tel:
+1 (34) 9675 99200 ext. 2612; Fax: +1 (34) 9675 99309; Email:
* 22-26 October 2003: Plant Genetics 2003: Mechanisms of Genetic
Utah, USA. Contact: American Society of Plant Biologists, 15501 Monona
Drive, Rockville, MD 20855-2768 USA; Tel: +1 (301) 251 0560; Fax: +1 (301)
279 2996; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
* 2-6 November 2003: Annual Meetings, American Society of Agronomy,
Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America. Denver, USA.
Contact: ASA-CSSA-SSSA, 677 S. Segoe Rd., Madison WI 53711, USA; Tel: +1
(608) 273 8080; Fax: +1 (608) 273 2021; <http://www.agronomy.org/>
* (NEW) 13-14 November 2003: 1st European Conference on the
Genetically Modified Crops with Conventional and Organic Crops. Helsingør,
Denmark. Contact: Sonja Graugaard, Tel: +45 (58) 113 356; Fax: +45 (58) 113
301; Email: GMCCemail@example.com;
* 17-28 November 2003, New Delhi, India. "Genomics and
Training course organised by the International Centre for Genetic
Engineering and Biotechnology. See
<http://www.icgeb.trieste.it/TRAINING/CRS03/GenomicsND.htm> or contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
* 9-13 December 2003: Statistical Genetics Workshop, Institute
Statistical Genetics. Dublin, Ireland. Contact: Ms Debra Hibbard, Institute
in Statistical Genetics Box 7566, North Carolina State University, Raleigh,
NC 27695-7566, USA; Tel: +1 (919) 515 1932; Fax: +1 (919) 515 7315; Email:
* 10-12 December 2003: ASTA's 33rd Soybean Seed & 58th Corn
& Sorghum Seed
Conference. Illinois, USA. Contact: American Seed Trade Association, 225
Reinekers Lane, Suite 650, Alexandria, VA 22314-2875, USA; Tel: +1 (703)
837 8140; Fax: +1 (837) 9365; <http://www.amseed.com/default.asp>
* (NEW) 10-14 January 2003: Plant, Animal and Microbial Genome
Diego, CA, USA. Contact: URL: http://www.intl-pag.org/
* (NEW) 9-12 February 2004: ISHS International Root and Tuber
Symposium: "Food Down Under". Palmerston North (New Zealand). Info: Dr. M.
Nichols, INR, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North, New
Zealand. Phone: (64)63505799 ext. 2614, Fax: (64)63505679, email:
email@example.com web: www.crop.cri.nz/conferences/roottuber2004/
* (NEW) 19-24 February 2004. Plant Responses to Abiotic Stress,
Symposium. Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Contact: Keystone Symposia, 221
Summit Place #272, Drawer 1630, Silverthorne, CO 80498, USA; Tel: +1 (970)
262 1230; Fax: +1 (970) 262 1525;
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; URL:
* (NEW) 4-9 March 2004: Comparative Genomics of Plants (C6),
Symposium. New Mexico, USA. Contact: Keystone Symposia, 221 Summit Place
#272, Drawer 1630, Silverthorne, CO 80498, USA; Tel: +1 (970) 262 1230;
Fax: +1 (970) 262 1525;
Email: email@example.com; URL: http://www.keystonesymposia.org
* 8-14 March 2004: Sixth International Scientific Meeting of
Biotechnology Network (CBN VI). Theme - Adding Value to Cassava: Applying
Biotechnology to a Small-Farmer Crop. Venue: Centro Internacional de
Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia. Presentations at the Meeting
will discuss how biotechnology can assist cassava farmers by developing,
for example, more suitable varieties, disease-free planting materials, and
better ways to conserve and process cassava after harvesting.
firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: Alfredo Alves
* (NEW) 21-24 March 2004: The 16th Biennial International Plant
to Insects Workshop/Conference. Baton Rouge, USA. Contact: Mike Stout.
* (NEW) 11-16 May 2004. 15th International Plant Protection
(IPPC), Beijing, China. Contact: Wen Liping, 15th IPPC Secretariat
Associate Professor, Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of
Agricultural Sciences, #2 West Yuanmingyuan Road, Beijing 100094, China;
Tel: +86 (10) 6281 5913 or +86 (10) 6289 5451; Fax: +86 (10) 6289 5451;
Email: email@example.com; URL: http://www.ipmchina.net/ipm/ipm_e.html
* (NEW) 17-19 May 2004: 12th Meeting on Genetics and Breeding
and Eggplant. Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands. Contact: Roeland Voorrips,
Plant Research International, P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The
Netherlands; Tel: +31 (317) 477289; Fax: +31 (317) 418094; Email:
Roeland.Voorrips@wur.nl; URL: http://www.eucarpiacapsicum.nl
* (NEW) 24-25 May 2003: Workshop on Molecular Aspects of Germination
Dormancy. Wageningen, The Netherlands. Contact: J Derek Bewley, Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org); URL: http://www.css.cornell.edu/ISSS/isss.htm
* (NEW) 20-26 June 2004: The 9th International Barley Genetics
Brno, Czech Republic. Contact: Lenka Nedomova, Agricultural Research
Institute Kromeriz Ltd., Havlickova 2787, CZ - 767 01 Kromeriz, Czech
Republic; Tel: +420 (5) 7331 7166; Fax: +420 (5) 7333 9725;
Email: email@example.com; URL: http://www.ibgs.cz/
* (NEW) 5-8 July, 2004: Campinas-São Paulo (Brazil):
Symposium on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Breeding Research and II Latin
American Symposium on the Production of Medicinal, Aromatic and Condiments
Plants. Info: Prof. Dr. Lin Chau Ming, Dept. Plant Production, Sector
Horticulture, Agronomical Sciences College, São Paulo State University,
Botucatu-SP 18.603-970, Brazil. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* (NEW) 12-17 July 2004: Cucurbitaceae 2004, 8th Meeting on
Genetics and Breeding. Olomouc, Czech Republic. Contact: A. Lebeda, Palacky
University, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Botany, Slechtitelu 11,
CZ-783 71 Olomouc-Holice, Czech Republic; Tel: +420 (5) 8563 4800; Fax:
+420 (5) 8524 1027; Email: email@example.com; URL:
* (NEW) 18-22 July 2004: 7th International Oat Conference .
Finland. Contact: Mrs. Pirjo Peltonen-Sainio, MTT, Agrifood Research
Finland, Plant Production Research, FIN-31600 Jokioinen, Finland; Tel: +358
(3) 4188 2451; Fax: +358 (3) 4188 2437;
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; URL: http://www.ioc2004.org/
* (NEW) 18-23 July 2004: Plant Molecular Biology. Plymouth NH,
.Contact: Gordon Research Conferences, 3071 Route 138, Kingston, RI 02881,
USA; Tel: +1 (401) 783 4011; Fax: +1 (401) 783 7644; Email:
email@example.com; URL: http://www.grc.uri.edu/grc_home.htm
* (NEW) 6-9 September 2004): VIII International Symposium on
Plum and Prune
Genetics, Breeding and Technology. Lofthus, Norway. Info: Dr. Lars Sekse,
Plante Forsk - Norwegian Crops Research Institute, Ullensvang Research
Centre, 5781 Lofthus, Norway. Phone: (47)53671200, Fax: (47)53671201,
email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: http://www.planteforsk.no/
* (NEW) 8-11 September 2004. Eucarpia XVII General Triennial
Vienna, Austria. Contact: P. Ruckenbauer, IFA Tulln, Dept. Biotechnology in
Plant Production, Konrad-Lorenz Str. 20, A-3430 Tulln, Austria; Tel: +43
(2272) 66280 201; Fax: +43 (2272) 66280 203;
Email: email@example.com; URL: http://www.eucarpia.org
* (NEW) 12-17 September 2004: V International Symposium on In
and Horticultural Breeding. Debrecen (Hungary): Info: Dr. Miklós Fári,
Szent - Gyorgyi A u. 4, PO Box 411, 2101 Godollo, Hungary. Phone:
(36)28330600, Fax: (36)28330482, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com, web: www.ivchb2004.org
* (NEW) 27 September - 1 October: 4th International Crop Science
Brisbane, Australia. Contact: PO Box 1280, Milton, QLD 4064, Australia;
Tel: +61 (7) 3858 5554; Fax: +61 (7) 3858 5583; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
* (NEW) 24-28 October, 2004: IV ISHS Symposium on Brassica and
Genetics Workshop. Daejon (Korea) Info: Prof. Dr. Yong Pyo Lim, Dept. of
Horticulture, Chungnam National University, Kung-Dong 220, Yusong-Gu,
Taejon 305-764, South Korea. Phone: (82)428215739, Fax: (82)428231382,
* (NEW) October 31 - November 4, 2004: Annual Meetings, American
of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of
America, Seattle, WA, USA. Contact: ASA-CSSA-SSSA, 677 S. Segoe Rd.,
Madison WI 53711, USA; Tel: +1 (608) 273 8080; Fax: +1 (608) 273
2021; URL: http://www.agronomy.org/
3. FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
Vavilov-Frankel Fellowships 2004
International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI)
IPGRI has established the Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship Fund to
the unique contributions to plant science by Academician Nikolai Ivanovich
Vavilov and Sir Otto Frankel.
The Fund aims to encourage the conservation and use of plant
resources in developing countries through awarding Fellowships to
outstanding young researchers. The Fellowships will enable the applicants
to carry out relevant, innovative research outside their own country for a
period of between three months to one year. The research should have a
clear benefit and linkage to the home institute or home country or other
developing country. Awards can be held concurrently with other sources of
In 2004 a total of US$40 000 will be made available for awards.
award per Fellow will be US$20 000 which is intended to cover travel,
stipend, bench fees, equipment, conference participation or any other
appropriate use. Such research should be linked to innovative topics
related to the conservation and use of plant genetic resources such as new
conservation technologies and strategies, socioeconomic and human aspects
of conservation and use, germplasm management, forest genetic resources,
policy development, genetic erosion assessment and mitigation and
conservation and utilization of specific crops. Work solely on plant
breeding or molecular characterization will not be selected. Fellows are
encouraged to present the results of their research at an international
conference. This can take place within one year of termination of the
Applications for the year 2004 are invited from developing-country
nationals, aged 35 or under, holding a masters degree (or equivalent)
and/or doctorate in a relevant subject area. Application forms and
guidelines for preparation of research proposals, in English, French and
Spanish may be obtained from: Vavilov-Frankel Fellowships, IPGRI, Via dei
Tre Denari 472/a, 00057 Maccarese, Rome, Italy; Fax: (39)0661979661 or
Email: email@example.com or URL:
Applications must be in English, French or Spanish and should
covering letter, completed application form, full curriculum vitae,
research proposal (which should follow the guidelines provided), a letter
of acceptance from the proposed host institute and a letter of support from
the home institute or other institute in a developing country (which should
specify how the research will be applied to the benefit of the institute
and/or country). Applications should be sent by mail, fax or email to the
above address. Applications must be received at IPGRI by 14 November 2003.
The successful applicants will be informed by 31 March 2004
required to take up their Fellowships before 31 December 2004.
IPGRI is an institute of the Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and is a Future Harvest Center:
4. REQUEST FOR INFORMATION/COLLABORATION
AMMI Model Applied to Common Bean
Would you be so kind to help us. My postgraduate student (Genetics
Plant Breeding) is finishing his ms thesis and has some problems with
literature connected with AMMI model in common bean. Maybe some of the
subscribers of PBN could help us.
Thank you in advance.
Prof. Dr Marija Kraljevic-Balalic
Faculty of Agriculture
Trg D.Obradovica 8
21000 Novi Sad
Tel. + 381 21 58 137
FAO-BioDeC National Correspondents Needed
Since its launch in April 2003, FAO-BioDeC (an on-line searchable
information on crop biotechnology products/techniques in use or in the
pipeline in developing countries) has been a very popular addition to the
FAO Biotechnology website. To keep it up to date, a system for information
verification and updating by national correspondents has been put in place.
So far, 53 correspondents (listed at
http://www.fao.org/biotech/inventory_admin/biodec-corr.htm) from 50
countries have volunteered to assist us in this task. We are now looking
for volunteers to cover the remaining developing countries. Ideally,
FAO-BioDeC National Correspondents should be working in the public sector,
specialising in agricultural biotechnology or in a related area, and they
should be up-to-date with the status of development, adoption and
application of crop biotechnologies in their country. If your country is
not yet represented, and you are willing to volunteer to be a FAO-BioDeC
National Correspondent, please send an e-mail indicating your interest to
Guidelines for Identification of Field Constraints to Rice Production
Authors: Dr. Ram Chet Chaudhary, J. S. Nanda and Dr. Dat Van
Publisher: FAO of the United Nations, Rome Italy
Number of Pages: 79
Price: US$ 25, available on internet via FAO website
Summary: Rice feeds the majority of human population in the
world. It is
grown in diverse agro-ecological environments and faces numerous
constraints. The full yield potential, therefore, is never realised and
there remains yield gap between what the variety can yield and what it
actually yields at farmersfields. The key constraints contributing to the
yield gap range from biophysical to socio-economic issues. The actual
yield potential of a variety is thus the result of overcoming all these
constraints. Narrowing the yield gap requires precise assessment of
problems present in rice production, identification of key technology
package for specific location and determination of appropriate
remedies. This manual provides guidelines for the identification of
biophysical constraints and suggests measures that could be taken to
circumvent the shortcomings and boost yields on farmers fields. Well
illustrated, this manual is useful to scientists as well as common farmers
around the globe in identifying the field problems of rice and taking
corrective measures to realise full yield potential.
1. How to use these guidelines
1.1 Organisation of the contents
1.2 Guidelines for filed observations
2. Checklist of problems by growth stages
2.1 Growth stages of rice plant
2.2 General notes
3. Problems and Constraints to rice production
3.1 Physical: Climate, Soil, Water
3.2 Crop Management problems: Land preparation, crop establishment,
upland rice, nutrient management, water management, harvesting
3.3 Biotic constraints: Weeds, Rodents, termites, birds,,
insect-pests, Diseases, Control, Socio-economic, environmental concerns
4. Determination procedure
4.1 Nitrogen requirement
4.2 Estimation of yield
5. Resource material
Diversity in Barley (Hordeum vulgare)
R. von Bothmer, Department of Crop Science, The Swedish University of
Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden
T. van Hintum, Plant Research International, Centre for Genetic Resources,
Wageningen, The Netherlands
H. Knüpffer, Genebank Department, Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop
Plant Research, Gatersleben, Germany
K. Sato, Barley Germplasm Center, Research Institute for Bioresources,
Okayama University, Kurashiki, Japan
Included in series
Developments in Plant Genetics and Breeding
Genetic diversity is one of the main resources sustaining human life. Food
security largely depends on the availability and utilization of this
diversity, which is of strategic importance for countries and companies.
Conservation and utilization of biodiversity is thus currently an urgent
area of global debate and concern.
Barley is a major crop in the world used for food, feed and
malt, and with
a wide religious and ethnic importance. The crop was domesticated in
Neolithic time in SW Asia and spread rapidly under cultivation to new
areas. Nowadays it is one of the most widespread and widely adapted crops
grown under contrasting edaphic conditions. Adaptations to new
environments, different agricultural practices and selection for different
uses have further added to the complex diversity pattern.
Is it at all possible to give a complete picture of the diversity
in a crop
or wild species? Are we, by adding new technologies, only revealing parts
of the diversity? Do different sets of data show similar or conflicting
pictures of genetic diversity? Will the large genome size reduce the role
of barley as a model organism in these current sequencing days? Or, are
there still major reasons to continue to work with this beautiful crop?
The aim of this book is to cover the complex issue of diversification
time and space in a single crop: barley. Leading scientists from various
fields describe the entire variation pattern in different sets of
characters and an attempt is made for a synthesis to a holistic picture.
The book proposes ways to use the achievements of diversity studies in
future research and breeding programmes.
1. Barley diversity - an introduction (R. von Bothmer, K. Sato et al.).
II. Origin of Barley Diversity.
2. The domestication of cultivated barley (R. von Bothmer, K. Sato et al.).
3. Diversification through breeding (G. Fischbeck).
III. Current Barley Diversity.
4. Ecogeographical diversity ? a Vavilovian approach (H. Knüpffer, I.
Terentyeva et al.).
5. Diversity of barley mutants (U. Lundqvist, J.D. Franckowiak).
6. Cytogenetic diversity (S. Taketa, I. Linde-Laursen, G. Künzel).
7. Molecular diversity of the barley genome (A. Graner, Å. Bjørnstad et al.).
8. Diversity in resistance to biotic stresses (J. Weibull, U. Walther et al.).
9. Diversity in abiotic stress tolerances (A.M. Stanca, I. Romagosa et al.).
10. Genetic diversity for quantitatively inherited agronomic and malting
quality traits (P. Hayes, A. Castro et al.).
IV. Conservation and Future Utilization of Barley.
11. Detecting diversity - a new holistic, exploratory approach bridging
phenotype and genotype (L. Munck).
12. Diversity in ex situ genebank collections of barley (T. van Hintum, F.
13. Summarised diversity - the Barley Core Collection (H. Knüpffer, T. van
14. Barley diversity, an outlook (K. Sato, R. von Bothmer et al.).
Ordering and other information at:
Contributed by Dr. Helmut Knüpffer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Agbiotech: A Global Perspective
Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes (editor), University of Missouri,
Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers Hardbound, ISBN 0-306-47501-4 February
2003, 325 pp. USD 144.95
"After almost fifteen years in the laboratory and in the
bioengineered crops arrived to the market in the mid-1990s. Adoption was
rapid and widespread. In 1996, less than 4 million acres in six countries
were planted with bioengineered plants. By 2001, worldwide adoption had
expanded to more than 115 million acres."
The foretelling of a scientific revolution has persistently
expectations on the potential of agrobiotechnology, and first-generation
agrobiotechnologies have had to confront such expectations in the field and
in the market. The Economics and Environmental Impacts of Agbiotech: A
Global Perspective explains how well they have fared. It brings together
leading authors from around the world who have analyzed the production,
environmental and economic impacts of first generation agrobiotechnologies.
By pooling experiences across various countries, time periods, crops, and
traits this global panel synthesizes a complete picture of the impacts of
first generation agrobiotechnologies. The Economics and Environmental
Impacts of Agbiotech: A Global Perspective offers this assessment,
accounting for the full range of differences in geography, weather, pests,
farm structures and institutions that had not been completed previously,
and answers these important questions: * What were the factors driving the
widespread adoption of these first generation agrobiotechnologies? * What
were their economic and environmental impacts? * How were such impacts
distributed among innovators and adopters, developed and developing
countries, exporters and importers, domestic and foreign consumers? * How
were such impacts and their distribution affected by market structures and
AgBioView: July 25, 2003
Forest Reproductive Material
In July 2003, FAO's Forest Resources Development Service released
reproductive material: An overview", written by A.M. Robbins, as part of
its Forest Genetic Resources Working Papers series. Forest reproductive
material (FRM) or germplasm is a general term for seeds, cuttings, pollen,
tissue cultures - any biological matter from which new trees are
regenerated. The introduction says the on-line publication could be thought
of as "a workshop in which we have provided a tool-rack, showing you the
information tools you can use - the jobs they do, the techniques used and
where you can find them". It covers themes such as propagation (including
micropropagation) of FRM and some key issues (ownership, introduced
species, and genetic modification) concerning FRM. The guide will be
periodically updated and made available in printed format at a later date.
See http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/005/AD093E/AD093E00.HTM or contact
Forest-Genetic-Resources@fao.org for more information.
Ending Hunger in our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization
C. Ford Runge, Benjamin Senauer, Philip G. Pardey, and Mark
304 pages / 2003
$55.00 hardcover / ISBN 0-8018-7725-3
$19.95 paperback / ISBN 0-8018-7726-1
Pricing for U.S. only. Foreign pricing also available.
Published and distributed by Johns Hopkins University Press.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
At a time in history when conflict erupts daily in far-flung corners of the
world, ending severe deprivation may be critical to global peace and
stability. Yet we are far from reaching the goal of reducing hunger by
2025. The authors of this book bring good news: hunger can be banished in
our lifetime. They first distill what is already known about fighting
hunger and then report on important new research findings and projections
that show it can be done, through new and renewed institutions, scientific
innovation, global economics and investment, and sustainable environmental
practices. Although the book encompasses a wide array of ideas, arguments,
facts, and figures, it is not a dry, academic text. Anyone wanting a better
understanding of poverty and hunger and how to end it will benefit from
The text is strikingly illustrated with photographs by the renowned
Brazilian photographer, Sebastião Salgado.
Biotechnology in Horticultural and Plantation Crops
Chadha, K.L., Ravindran, P.N. and Sahijram, Leela (Ed. by),
pp. xv + 836,
Tables, Illus. (Col.), Map, Biblio., References, Index, Size 25cm, 2000 $70.02
The coverage of Plant Biotechnology in this publication is particularly
comprehensive, including fruit, vegetable and tuber crops, spices,
medicinal and aromatic plants and ornamental and forestry species&the
editors have to be congratulated on having persuaded so many outstanding
Indian researchers and others from Australia, Vietnam and Ireland to
contribute and to have integrated their contributions into this
comprehensive survey--the publication will be useful not only in India but
also world wide.
Contents : -
Section I : GENERAL BIOTECHNOLOGY :
1. Biotechnology in Horticulture/K.L. Chadha, P.N. Ravindran and Leela Sahijram
Section II : MICROPROPAGATION :
2. Hi-tech propagation of horticultural plants/B.S. Ahloowalia
3. Synthetic seed technology in horticultural crops/P.S. Rao, P. Suprasanna
and V.A. Bapat
4. Commercial plant tissue culture/R. Doreswamy and R. Pandiarajan
5. Plant tissue culture industry in India/Suman Govil and Shrish C. Gupta
Section III : BIOTECHNOLOGY AND CROP IMPROVEMENT :
6. In vitro androgenesis in the improvement of horticultural crops/Shashi
B. Babbar, Neetika Walia and Soom N. Raina
7. Molecular markers and their application in horticultural crops/Lalitha Anand
8. Molecular biology techniques for disease management/Akella Vani
9. Biotechnological approaches to insect pest management in fruits and
vegetables/P. Ananda Kumar
10. Application of biotechnology in biointensive integrated pest
11. Biotechnological approaches to improve quality in horticultural
Section IV : FRUIT AND PLANTATION CROPS :
12. Micropropagation and conservation of genetic resources in fruit
crops/G.M. Reddy and C.G. Giri
13. Application of biotechnology to Musa/K.L. Chadha and Leela Sahijram
14. Biotechnology in fruit crop improvement/Zora Singh
15. Biotechnology of coconut, oil palm and cocoa/R.D. Iyer and V.A.
16. Biotechnology in the improvement of tea/L. Manivel
17. Biotechnology in the improvement of coffee/H.L. Sreenath
18. Biotechnological approaches for crop improvement in rubber/A.
Thulaseedharan, P. Kumari Jayasree and P. Venkatachalam
Section V : VEGETABLE AND TUBER CROPS :
19. Genetic engineering for vegetable crop improvement/D. Mandaokar, P.
Ananda Kumar and R.P. Sharma
20. In vitro approaches to propagation and conservation of genetic
resources in potato/Prakash S. Naik and Debabrata Sarkar
21. In vitro conservation of tuber and bulbous crops/J.L. Karihaloo and
22. Genetically engineered improvement of root and tuber crops/S.M. Paul
Khurana and S.K. Chakrabarti
23. Biotechnology in conservation and improvement of tuber crops/M.
Unnikrishnan and M.N. Sheela
Section VI : SPICES, MEDICINAL AND AROMATIC PLANTS :
24. Biotechnology of spices/K. Nirmal Babu, P.N. Ravindran and K.V. Peter
25. Secondary metabolites from cultured cells and tissues of spice crops/N.
Bhagyalakshmi, G. Suvarnalatha and L.V. Venkataraman
26. Biotechnology in the conservation of medicinal and aromatic plants/S.
Section VII : ORNAMENTAL AND FORESTRY PLANTS :
27. Micropropagation and conservation of genetic resources in
ornamentals/M.L. Choudhury and K.V. Prasad
28. Orchid micropropagation/S.P. Vij, Anoopama Kher and Ashish Gupta
29. Biotechnology of ornamental plants/Anil Kush
30. Biotechnology in woody ornamentals/G.R. Rout and P. Das
31. Thin cell layer morphogenesis in ornamental species/Bui Van Le and
Duong Tan Nhut
32. Biotechnology of ornamental flowering trees/Shashi B. Babbar and Neeru Jain
33. Biotechnology in bamboo improvement/Rajani S. Nadgauda and C.K. John
34. Horticultural biotechnology-future opportunities/Renu Swarup and Manju
Order at: http//www.bpagency.com/pages/biocrops.htm.
6. NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
Thirty Years of Cassava Breeding for Productivity: Biological
Factors for Success
Kazuo Kawano. 2003. Crop Science 43:1325-1335
Kobe Univ. Farm, Uzurano, Kasai, 675-2103, Japan
The Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT, headquartered in
Colombia) established a cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) breeding program
in the beginning of the 1970s with the aim of extending the Green
Revolution success to less privileged sectors of the tropical populations.
The initial decade was mainly dedicated to the collection of germplasm and
generation of basic breeding materials. The later decades were devoted to
applied breeding in collaboration with international and national programs
in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. This paper focuses on the basic
breeding at CIAT/Colombia (CIAT/HQ), applied breeding at CIAT/Thailand
(CIAT/Thai), and distribution and selection of improved materials with many
collaborators in Asia. Fresh root yield of populations was improved
by >100% and root dry matter content by >20%. The national program
collaborators used these populations to develop many improved cultivars in
many countries. The biological factors considered as critical for this
successful breeding effort were as follows: inclusion of a broad base of
genetic variability obtained in the center of crop origin and
diversification; evaluation of breeding materials under diverse
environmental conditions including high stress environments; and a clear
understanding of the different operational principles at different stages
of breeding advancement, as illustrated by the emphasis on harvest index in
selection within populations and on biomass in population building. The
understanding of crop germplasm being a common heritage and the
determination of agricultural scientists to use this for the welfare of the
neediest people were the social factors for the overall success.
Chile Developed a Site-specific Rice Composite Population for
The national rice program of Chile, coordinated by the National
Agricultural Institute (INIA), in Quilamapu, adopted population improvement
through recurrent selection as an additional strategy of its breeding
program in 1996. Since then the breeders are gaining experience in
applying such new methodology to help developing varieties to Chilean
farmers. The main reasons to go into this new area of work were: the
limited genetic gains obtained through traditional breeding methods, the
apparent yield plateau reached by the varieties and to broad the genetic
base of the varieties current being planted by local farmers.
The work started by analyzing the existing populations and deciding
create a local one (PQUI-1). This information target to report the
creation of a new site-specific rice composite population named PQUI-2 with
the following objectives: cold tolerance, good grain quality and high yield
potential. It resulted from the introgression of 12 parents into the
previously developed population PQUI-1 that segregates for a recessive
male-sterile gene. The parents are from different origins and represent a
broad genetic base.
Individual crosses were made between each parent and male-sterile
PQUI-1. The F1 seeds of each individual cross were mixed in different
proportions and sown in Chile. F2 seeds were sent to the International
Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), in Colombia, for recombination by
harvesting seeds produced on the male-sterile plants. Seeds from the first
recombination were sent back to Chile for a second recombination.
The population PQUI-2, with broad genetic base, represents a
point for temperate climate rice improvement through recurrent selection
breeding and opens possibilities to breeders in the near future to use it
as segregating population to derive and development of new promising lines
and commercial varieties for the Chilean rice ecosystem.
Seeds of the PQUI-2 population are stored in the genetic resource
the INIA Regional Research Center of Quilamapu and are available upon
request to scientists willing to use population breeding for temperate
For further information please contact:
Santiago Hernaiz email@example.com or
Roberto Alvarado firstname.lastname@example.org or
Marc Chatel email@example.com
Pulse Project with China.
Bob Redden, Curator, Australian Temperate Field Crops Collection,
DPI Grains Innovation Park, Horsham, Victoria, Australia.
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
funded project for Increased Productivity of Cool Season Pulses in China
and Australia begun on 1st July 2003.The project is of 4 years duration.
Pea and faba bean improvement in Yunnan and Qinghai provinces in Western
China are targeted. The main components of the program are:
- Germplasm collection and exchange. Landraces from previously
areas will be collected and conserved along with passport data, and core
collections of peas in the Chinese and Australian germplasm collections
will be exchanged. From Australia the collection of vegetable pea and wild
relatives of pea will also be supplied.
- Disease surveys of crop foliar and root pathogens will guide
prioritisation of breeding objectives.
- Germplasm and breeding lines will be evaluated for respective
and tolerances of biotic and abiotic stresses by integrated pathology and
breeding teams. The latter will include frost/cold tolerance. Rust, root
rots and aschochyta diseases are likely to be important for both crops,
plus chocolate spot in faba bean and powdery mildew in peas. Viral diseases
will be identified with tissue-blot immuno-assay techniques.
- Elite breeding lines of pea and faba bean from Australia will
evaluated for use in Chinese breeding programs, and for pre-emptive
breeding in Australia.
- Breeding will be accelerated with 2 generations per year in
between northern Hebei, Yunnan and Qinghai provinces.
- Molecular characterisation of diversity in pea core collections
relatives from Australia and China, and in Chinese faba bean and pea
Exchange visits will be important for building capacity, in
with in-country training programs.
Participating institutions are NSW Agriculture Tamworth, Univ. Adelaide and
$2.7 Million for Grape Genetics Lab in Geneva
GENEVA, NY: U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd District-NY)
earmarked $2.7 million in federal funds for the design and site preparation
of the Grape Genetics Research Center and Laboratory at Cornell's
Agriculture & Food Technology Park, in Geneva, NY.
The funding was included in the Agriculture Subcommittee's Appropriations
Bill for Fiscal Year 2004 that appropriates funds for the Agriculture,
Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies.
"This is encouraging news," said James E. Hunter,
director of the New York
State Agricultural Experiment Station, in Geneva, which is a partner in the
Ag & Food Tech Park project. "Cool climate viticulture is in a rapid
expansion mode in the U.S. The grape and wine industry has a growing demand
for new varieties and technologies in order to be a player in the global
marketplace. This Center will help meet that demand."
If appropriated, the money would pay for design and preparation
building that is estimated to cost $20 million. It would be situated on the
74-acre Ag & Food Tech Park, adjacent to the Experiment Station, where
start-up and established companies in the agriculture, food, biotechnology,
and related industries are expected to locate.
Hunter expects a strong synergistic relationship between park
USDA's Grape Genetics Research Center, and Cornell University researchers.
The USDA/ARS already has a strong presence at the Experiment Station
through its Plant Genetics Resource Unit. The PGRU, as it is called, is
responsible for the national program in grape rootstock breeding, as well
as the collection and maintenance of the only cool climate grape germplasm
collection in the U.S. The PGRU also has close ties with 10 Cornell faculty
at the Experiment Station who maintain research programs in grape breeding,
cultivation, crop protection, and wine making.
Funding for the bill is not guaranteed-it still needs to be
voted on by the
full Appropriations Committee, the full House, the Senate, and signed by
"We appreciate the leadership that Congressman Hinchey
showed in garnering
unified support for the bill from the New York delegation," said assistant
director Marc Smith. "We believe the Center will benefit the New York wine
and grape industry from Long Island to Chautauqua."
"I am very pleased that we earmarked these funds and I
will continue to
work to shepherd the funding through the rest of the process," said
Congressman Hinchey, who is from Kingston, NY. Hinchey, a member of the
House Appropriations Committee, helps write the 13 discretionary spending
bills that Congress must pass each year.
If approved, the money would be the second park appropriation-related
announcement this month. Last week, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-24th District
-NY) announced a $2.8 million federal Economic Development Administration
grant for infrastructure and construction of the first building at the park.
US $31 Million Approved for WARDA Rice Project
AllAfrica reports that the African Development Bank has approved
million for the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) project. The funds will be
used to provide farmers in West Africa with small loans to enable them to
buy seed of higher yielding varieties. These new rice varieties are hybrids
of African and Asian species developed by WARDA during the 1990s. Vidal
Aline, a trainer and documentation officer at WARDA, says the organization
has already distributed seeds to 17 countries in West and Central Africa.
She also said that WARDA is training farmers on how to use and store the
new seeds and showing blacksmiths how to make winnowing equipment to
separate the seeds of harvested rice from the chaff.
Editor's Note: Due to the length of the following contribution,
Abstract, BackgroundObjectivesand Discussion and Prospectssections are
included here. Please contact Nour AHMADI (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the
RHICO a New Rice Type for Confronting Food Insecurity in the
a New Option for Template Upland Rice From Participatory Recurrent
Selection to Marketing
(Oral presentation in III Interntional Conference of Rice for
Climat. March 10-14, 2003; Punta del Este, Uruguay)
M.Vales(1), J.Dossmann(1), S.Salazar(1), C.Muñoz(2),
R.Valverde(3), O.Paz(4), J.García,(1), C.Ortega(1)
(1) International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)-Center
International Cooperation in Agronomical Research for Development (CIRAD)
Colaborative Project, CIAT AA 6713, Cali, Colombia,
(2) Corporation for Interdisciplinary Studies and Technical
(3) Municipal Unit for Agricultural Transfer (UMATA) of la Cumbre(*),
(4) UMATA of Yumbo, (*)Valle, Colombia.
Upland rice for hillsides with cold tolerance (RHICO) is a new rice type
for confronting food insecurity in the mountains. The RHICO genetic
improvement is carried on though participatory breeding methods including
participatory recurrent selection using the adequate new type of
population, i.e. with narrow genetic base. The first upland rice varieties
released by the CIRAD-CIAT Rice Collaborative Project are the RHICO
varieties CIAD-446 and CIRAD 447. They are the first RHICO with blast
resistance, more drought tolerance, and according with farmer and consumer
1.1. Recurrent selection
Following the identification of the recessive gene "ms" for rice
male-sterility in a IR36 mutant (1) it was possible proposed the use of
recurrent selection as breeding method for this crop (2). The first rice
recurrent selection program was proposed with success for the Brazilian
EMBRAPA Rice and Beans Center in 1984 (3). With the support of the European
Economic Community this program began in Brazil (4) and in Ivory Coast
(5)(6). All the first recurrent populations were made by the Center of
International Cooperation in Agronomical Investigation for Development
(CIRAD) breeder J. Taillebois in Brazil (7). Recurrent selection is not a
method for increasing the genetic base of the national breeding programs.
For that, the unique solution is to introduce in the progenitors working
collection new varieties with different genetic origin. This solution is
independent of the selection method used (8). In the particular case of the
use of population with narrow genetic base (9) recurrent selection is
clearly not related to any genetic base enhancement (Cf. Material and
methods).But recurrent selection is the appropriate method to improve
polygenic characters, like partial resistance to blast, and/or several
oligogenic traits. In that sense, recurrent selection is a general method
adapted for rice breeding programs (2).
Recurrent selection must not be opposed to conventional selection,
pedigree selection. Because recurrent selection is usually a pedigree
selection too. Conventional selection is in fact the creation of varieties.
The lines extracted from recurrent populations must also be exploited
through the variety creation process. Indeed a recurrent population
replaces several F2 populations (8). Since 1997, in the collaborative
CIRAD-CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture) project, a
program for the methodological reactivation of recurrent selection is
developed (10). In particular a new kind of populations, populations with
narrow genetic base (9), is spread in Latin America.
1.2. Resistance to rice blast disease In Ivory Coast, CIRAD
(Institute of the Savannas) researchers developed new methods for the
selection of resistance to blast (11). These methods, which were recently
transferred to the CIAT, combine partial resistance evaluation and
recurrent selection (12).
1.3. Upland rice for hillsides with tolerance to cold
On the Malagasy Hauts Plateaux the small holders needed upland rice
varieties for increasing the growing area and the production for
confronting the food insecurity. Within the framework of the CIRAD-FOFIFA
(National Institute of Rural Development) collaborative program, a new kind
of rice varieties were created and released. These first upland rice
varieties tolerant to cold were named in 1991 (13), and the first
international conference on upland rice for altitude was held in 1996
(14). In Colombia rice is the base of the diary diet for the Andean
communities mainly of ethnic minorities. However, due to the lack of upland
variety with cold tolerance, these poor communities have to buy white rice.
This rice is expensive because it comes from distant production areas. So
a wish was that these Andean communities could benefit of this new rice
type made in Madagascar. After first promising results obtained with
Malagasy materiel in Colombian Andes, the CIRAD-CIAT collaborative project
really began a specific breeding program in 2000.
A general objective of the CIRAD-CIAT collaborative project is confronting
the food insecurity in the Andes. Towards this goal, upland rice tolerant
to cold is a very good new option.
The first specific objective is to propose a complete scheme
rice production in the hillsides. This paper is focused in the genetic
improvement, but the entire program includes crop management, and
post-harvest, as discussed in the discussion and prospects section. The
second specific objective is to begin all the different phases of this
scheme to obtain as soon as possible the first useful results for the
benefit of the involved communities.
(see Editor''s note above regarding sections 3, 4, and 5)
5. Discussion and prospects
A complete breeding scheme for RHICO rice type, including participatory
selection, is used and provides the first results as seen above. Marketing
studies for special rice type are on going to specify the breeding
objectives. To complement this genetic work, a first proposal of crop
management was made through participatory workshops and the evaluations of
technical adjustments are in progress.
In Colombia, the last demands of RHICO we received come from
situated at 2,650 m asl, 1° N. To satisfy this demand, we developed a new
recurrent population with narrow genetic base, and highly tolerant to cold.
This population is now available.
The potential progress for RHICO varieties, and for the crop
important. However a complete technical package is already available to
spread the RHICO for the benefit of the low-income communities:
- The first RHICO varieties: CIRAD 446 and CIRAD 447 (Picture 1)
- A first proposal of crop management
- A manual huller.
The RHICO creation was justified to help the low-income communities
mountains, but it also a good opportunity to confront food insecurity in
the template regions. So the main effort of this program is now directed
towards the promotion of the RHICO to fight food insecurity in all Andean
cordillera, and from Central America to South Cone.
Burkina Faso to Test GM Cotton
The US company Monsanto has started field trials of GM crops
Faso the first time that such trials have been conducted in West Africa.
The tests involve Bollgard II, Monsantos second generation of
insect-resistant (Bt) cotton. Monsanto says that the new variety will
reduce farmers' use of pesticides.
At present, when planting non-GM cotton seeds, farmers need
pesticides eight to ten times per season, but they still lose half of their
crops. "If we are able to increase the yield per hectare by only 50 per
cent, that would be a way to reduce poverty," says Celestin Tiendrebeogo,
manager of Burkina Faso's state cotton firm, Sofitex.
The trials are part of a research agreement signed between Monsanto
government of Burkina Faso.
Brazil's Biopiracy Laws 'Are Stifling Research'
[RECIFE] Brazilian scientists are urging the government to modify
have been introduced to reduce biopiracy, in order to give them more
freedom to collect and analyse biological material for research purposes.
A motion approved at the annual meeting of the Brazilian Society
Advancement of Science (SBPC) in Recife last week says that laws intended
to stop wildlife trafficking and the illegal export of genetic material are
stifling research on Brazilian biodiversity.
The motion calls for the government to grant 'permanent licences'
scientists and research students to allow them to investigate biodiversity.
Its aim is to end the way in which current regulations, many scientists
argue, hinder their ability to work with animals, plants, micro-organisms
"At the moment, the legislation is too restrictive",
says Regina Markus,
SBPCs general-secretary and a researcher at the University of São Paulo.
Markus proposes a two-tier system of biopiracy controls, allowing greater
restrictions to be imposed on commercial projects, but giving greater
freedom to scientists.
In a separate motion, the members of the SBPC also called for
consolidation of efforts to computerise data on Brazil's biological
collections, to allow wider access to information on the country's
An estimated 25,000 individuals took part in the Recife meeting,
included about 50 lectures and 90 roundtables on scientific themes, ranging
from science policy and science communication to the interface between
scientists and decision makers.
KnockoutResearch Eases Study of Model Plant Gene Functions
A North Carolina State University geneticist has helped create
new tool to assist plant researchers in their studies of individual gene
functions in the so-called lab rat of plant research Arabidopsis thaliana,
or mustard weed.
Thats important, says Dr. Jose Alonso, assistant professor of
NC State, because knowing the functions of specific genes in Arabidopsis
gives researchers the ability to apply that knowledge to gene studies in
other plants. Genetically, Arabidopsis has a great deal in common with
other plants, Alonso says.
Alonso's work led to the creation of lines of Arabidopsis plants
certain genes knocked out, or turned off. The seeds of these plants are
held at a seed stock center at the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center
at The Ohio State University and are publicly available to researchers all
over the world, making it much simpler for a scientist to study specific
gene function in his or her own lab.
The research is presented in a paper published in the Aug. 1
Science. Alonso is the paper's lead author.
To arrive at the findings, Alonso and his colleagues used a
insertional mutagenesis, in which foreign DNA was randomly inserted into
the Arabidopsis genome. When the foreign DNA hit a gene, that specific gene
was turned off.
Of the predicted 29,454 genes in Arabidopsis the genome of the
already been sequenced, so scientists were able to accurately map the
locations of the inserted DNA 21,799, or 74 percent of the genes, were
knocked out using insertional mutagenesis, the paper states.
Now, libraries of Arabidopsis seeds with specific single genes
have been compiled and are available for public consumption. Researchers
studying a specific gene can quickly and easily search for an Arabidopsis
plant that has a particular gene turned off, and order it from the
Arabidopsis Resource Center.
Alonso started the project and set up the protocols while working
research associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La
The study was done in collaboration with researchers at The
Institute, the National Research Council Plant Biotechnology Institute in
Canada and the University of CaliforniaSan Diego.
Genomewide Insertional Mutagenesis of Arabidopsis thaliana
Authors: Jose M. Alonso and Anna Stepanova, North Carolina State
University; Joseph R. Ecker, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, et al.
Published: Aug. 1, 2003 in Science
Enhanced Nutrition Could Result from Rice Research Leading to
Expression of a thermostable amylopullulanase in transgenic
leads to starch autohydrolysis and production of high-protein flour. A
similar approach could be applied to other cereals, such as corn. Rice
seeds contain abundant starch and high quality protein and are commonly
used in food and beverage industries. Generally, rice seeds contain 6-10%
(w/w) protein and 70-80% (w/w) starch. Separation of protein and starch
allows for the processing of high-protein rice flour and starch
hydrolysates into different products.
To simplify the production process and improve the cost effectiveness
efficiency of starch bioprocessing, scientists Su-May Yu, Chih-Ming Chiang,
and Jei-Fu Shaw, all of Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, highly expressed a
thermotolerant and bi-functional starch hydrolase, amylopullulanase (APU),
in transgenic rice seeds.
Transgenic rice seeds were heated at high temperatures. Starch
transgenic seeds was hydrolyzed rapidly at these temperatures, and the
concentration of soluble sugars increased significantly with incubation
time. There is a correlation between APU activities and the
starch-to-sugars conversion rates. The more APU present in seeds, the
faster the rate of starch hydrolysis to sugars.
Yu and colleagues generated novel APU-transgenic rice seeds.
feature of heat-activated rapid autodrolysis of starch in these seeds could
not only eliminate the need for the addition of commercial enzymes, but
also improves the efficiency of starch bioprocessing. These seeds can be
processed to simultaneously produce high-protein rice flour and sugar
syrups for human consumption and broad industrial uses. A similar approach
could also be applied to other cereals, e.g., maize, which might offer even
less production cost than rice.
Results of this research will be presented in a minisymposium
10:10 a.m. to
11:50 a.m. Hawaii Time Wednesday, July 30, 2003 at the American Society of
Plant Biologists (ASPB) annual meeting in the Hawaii Convention Center,
Honolulu, Hawaii. Presenter Su-May Yu and fellow author Chih-Ming Chang are
members of ASPB. Founded in 1924, ASPB represents nearly 6,000 plant
scientists. ASPB publishes two of the most widely cited plant science
journals: Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell.
Contact: Brian Hyps
American Society of Plant Biologists
Single Gene Controls Leaf Form
A single gene, called PHANTASTICA (PHAN), controls whether a
feathery leaves like a tomato or umbrella-like leaves like Oxalis. The same
mechanism is shared by a wide group of flowering plants.
"It's a very surprising finding, that modifying one gene
in the tomato
alters the leaf from one form to another," said Neelima Sinha, a professor
of plant biology at UC Davis who is senior author on the paper.
Plant leaves fall into two main groups: simple, single-blade
compound leaves with multiple leaflets. Compound leaves have either a
series of alternate leaflets on each side of a stem, like a tomato, or
leaflets arrayed in a circle around a point at the end of the stalk.
Sinha and graduate student Minsung Kim from UC Davis, with Sheila
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plant Gene Expression Center in
Albany, Calif., and Marja Timmermans from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
in New York, created tomato plants genetically manipulated so that PHAN was
turned down or turned off.
Low-PHAN tomato plants made palmate, umbrella-like leaves or
no leaflets at all. In plants with normal leaves, PHAN was switched on
throughout the upper surface of the leaf. In plants with palmate leaves,
PHAN expression was reduced to the tip of the leaf. Plants with
needle-shaped leaves showed no PHAN expression at all.
The results showed that when PHAN is switched on in part of
the leaf, it
creates an area where leaflets can form. The size and shape of this domain
determines the shape of the leaf.
Sinha and colleagues found similar patterns of PHAN gene expression
leaf shape in live specimens of other plants from the UC Davis Botanical
Conservatory and over 500 dried plants from the UC Davis Herbarium, showing
that the same mechanism is used to control leaf shape even in distantly
related flowering plants. That suggests that there may be a limited number
of ways to change the shape of a leaf.
The conservatory and the herbarium were "incredibly valuable"
for this kind
of work, Sinha said. "We can look at thousands of specimens in the
herbarium. It's an amazing resource."
The paper is published in the July 24 issue of the journal Nature.
Stress Adaptation in Arabidopsis
Most people who get too hot and thirsty this summer can quickly
grab a cool
Not so for plants. Their roots keep them lingering in stressful
- sometimes to death.
Now a Texas A&M University researcher has identified a system
in a mutant
arabidopsis, a type of weed, that signals to its cells to go on hold until
stressful situations pass.
The involvement of "ER stress signal pathway" in plant
was discovered by Dr. Hisashi Koiwa, assistant professor of horticultural
sciences, and colleagues. Koiwa is presenting the finding at the annual
meeting of American Society of Plant Biologists this week (July 26-31) in
Hawaii. The findings also will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal
"The Plant Cell."
"A plant will attempt to regulate itself when stressed
by adjusting its
cells to the environment before starting to grow again," Koiwa said. "It's
as if a plant is saying to itself, 'wait, we're in a drought, let's adjust
before we grow anymore.'
"A plant must have a better stress handling technique,"
he added. The
scientist explained that when a plant is stressed, it has to rest until it
adjusts because if plant cells continue to divide under stress, they might
"burst." Something signals a plant to pause, he said, but scientists have
never fully studied the systems of plants.
His research, funded in part with a National Science Foundation
through collaboration with Purdue University researchers, describes how the
process works in the mutant arabidopsis.
"It's a natural way for the plant to sense stress and signal
Koiwa said. "The concept is not new, but it had not been fully established
prior to this research."
He said researchers now can look closer at the process to see
in other plants. In the long term, he said, plant breeders might use this
knowledge to breed plants that are more able to adjust to various
environment stresses such as extreme temperatures or the lack or abundance
"If a species of plants can't take a drought, perhaps a
plant breeder could
enhance the ER stress signal pathway to enable that species to be more
adaptable so that it can survive and grow well," Koiwa said. "Otherwise, in
many cases, a plant responds to such stress too late to recover."
But more information is needed. Researchers now know there is
a system, but
don't understand why it works as it does. He said it is similar to
understanding that the muscle system in humans allow for movement, but
knowing why is necessary to find medical answers for failed muscles.
Researchers now may take the study a step further, Koiwa said, to find out
the "mechanism a plant uses to hold on for the stress and the mechanism a
plant uses to indicate it is ready to start cell division again."
Breeding for Australia's A$8 Billion Grains Industry
Australia's $8 billion grains industry has been underpinned
by robust new
cultivars, such as wheat varieties that have flowed from public research
programs supported by grower levies and the Federal Government, via The
Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC).
The GRDC had sought to make Western Australia-based research
development (R&D) investments commensurate with the states immense grain
While that priority ensured that the WA Department of Agriculture
second-largest recipient of GRDC investments, behind the CSIRO, WA did not
quite have the research capacity to mobilise the R&D investment that its
In 1999, the GRDC formed the Export Grains Centre (EGC) with
Council of Grain Grower Organisations to help build new research capacity.
The EGC has since identified and invested in commercial breeding
opportunities and leveraged private funds to build resources and attract
the expertise needed to encourage a vibrant local grains R&D industry.
One of the EGCs first investments was into http://www.grainbiotech.com
(GBA) and this August GBA will release its first four varieties.
GBA has combed the world for valuable germplasm and developed
crossing programs to position itself for the release of its first four
varieties only five years after the company launched.
Three of the four varieties will be released in WA and have
high levels of
resistance to WAs exotic new stripe rust pathotype, which halved yields in
some areas last year.
While private companies like GBA will quickly deliver tangible
market, the GRDC continues to support blue-sky research at public research
institutes, such as the WA Department of Agriculture, the University of WA,
Murdoch University and the CSIRO.
These institutes will continue to generate new traits, technologies
methodologies for delivery through Australian breeding organisations, such
as Enterprise Grains Australia (involving the GRDC, the WA Department of
Agriculture, NSW Agriculture and the Queensland Department of Primary
Industries) and private companies such as GBA.
The Philippines Plan Expanded Area, More Funds for Hybrid Rice
The government is planning to increase the area planted to hybrid
beyond the 300,000-hectare target for crop- year (CY) 2004-2005 to ensure
rice sufficiency, but seed growers are seeking substantial financing from
the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) or the Development Bank of the
Philippines (DBP) to expand seed growing.
Leocadio S. Sebastian, executive director of the Philippine
Institute (PRRI), said in an interview that the Department of Agriculture
(DA) is eyeing to broaden targeted hybrid rice production to ensure that
the Philippines meets sufficiency target set for CY 2004-2005.
However, he admitted that all these plans depend on the availability of budget.
Thats what is being planned if we really want to become self
but were also looking at the funding for next year,he said.
Sebastian said that if the DA has a hybrid rice budget of R280
for the 200,000-hectare target for crop year 2003-2004 and PRRI has a
budget of R110 million, this budget may need to be doubled if any expansion
has to be carried out.
Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of the countrys largest hybrid
producer SL Agritech Corp. (SLAC), said SLAC has plans of accelerating seed
growing all over Tagum, Banay-banay in Davao Oriental, and Bukidnon in
But financing, he said, remains to be a major problem, explaining
while the private sector depends on LBP and DBP to finance the expansion,
the banks normally look for real estate collaterals to approve such financing.
Our land is just on lease, so how can we offer a collateral?
everytime you need to expand, (you need financing for) dryers, seed
cleaners, staff house. You need a lot of money for expansion, he said in an
Lim said SLAC is expanding its seed production which will enable
company to harvest 900 metric tons (MT) of hybrid rice seed in the wet
season (May 2002- October 2003), a 150 percent increase from 360 MT during
the dry season (November 2002-April 2003). This will be further raised by
77 percent to 1,600 MT by the dry season ending April 2004.
This seed production growth will come from land area expansion
hectares in Bukidnon, up to 600 hectares in Tagum from the existing 100
hectares, and 500 to 600 hectares in Banay-Banay in Davao Oriental.
The Philippines is racing against time in planting the high-yielding
variety in the hope of attaining a 16 million MT rice production by 2004
which should make the Philippines stop importation of around one million MT
of rice recorded in 2002 and 2003 costing some $200 million yearly.
Hybrid rice has been proven to produce close to 11 MT per hectare
to the certified seeds yield of five to six MT per hectare
The sufficiency plan goes with increased certified seed planting
at 2.06 million hectares in 2003 and 2.25 million hectares in 2004 at an
average yield rate of 4.36 MT per hectare in 2003 and 4.5 MT per hectare in
New Breeding Technology Helps China Store Rice Longer
China has developed a new genetic breeding technology which
claim will greatly help to create rice that can be stored longer and will
not go moldy too quickly.
The new rice variety created with the new breeding technology
can achieve a
sprouting rate of 98.5 percent after 42 months of storage while the rate of
ordinary rice never passes 50 percent, scientists said. Three types of
lipoxidase, called lox, are the major causes of mildew and moths in rice,
said Dr. Wu Yuejin, head of a research team that discovered the rice
Wu said a larger scale of planting of the new rice variety and
varieties are needed to put the research results into production.
The new rice variety was developed through ion beam mutagenesis
scientists from three research institutes under the Anhui Provincial
Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
At present, China mainly depends on building new rice storage
and changing the temperature and humidity inside storage buildings to keep
healthy its great number of rice, but usually at a great cost of money.
"It is effective and economical to stop the degeneration
of rice via
changing its genes," Wu said.
China produces some 166 million tons of rice every year on average,
accounting for 36.9 percent of the world's total annual output.
New Varieties of Chickpea with Greater Ascochyta Resistance
Following the discovery of ascochyta blight in Australia, a
commitment to fast track resistant chickpea material is set to deliver
results to growers.
Department of Agriculture principal plant breeder Tanveer Khan
marginally resistant desi chickpea, Howzat, from New South Wales had so far
shown promise in Western Australia and was being used as a benchmark for
Dr Khan said a large number of varieties with greater ascochyta
would become available within two to three years and rejuvenate the
There are clear prospects that level of resistance to ascochyta
varieties will be such that a single fungicide spray or no fungicide spray
will be required,he said.
These new varieties will not only rejuvenate the chickpea industry
contribute to its future expansion and sustainability.
Dr Khan said two new desi chickpea lines WACPE 2075 and WACPE
2095, bred by
the Department of Agriculture and CLIMA, had shown a greater degree of
resistance than Howzat and also appeared to be better adapted.
One of these new lines is likely to be considered for release
with the prospect of reaching farmers by 2005,Dr Khan said. The new variety
is expected to reduce fungicide application and also offer yield and
quality superior to Sona.
Dr Khan said a moderately resistant kabuli variety was likely
available from CLIMA for WA farmers by 2005.
NSW Agriculture was also considering the release of up to three
and one kabuli line in 2005/2006.
Victorian Department of Primary Industry has nine desi and kabuli
under consideration for releases planned between 2004 and 2006.
Dr Khan said new high yielding varieties were also being progressed
regions where ascochyta blight did not occur or was potentially less
damaging, such as the Ord River Irrigation Area and Central Queensland.
In such areas, yield and quality is still the primary consideration
a result the Department of Agricultures desi line, WACPE 2012, is likely to
be released for Central Queensland later this year,he said.
The Department will also release a large seeded high yielding
variety for the Ord River region in 2004.
Nation's First Flower Genebank Celebrates 2nd Birthday
One of the few specialized genebanks for flowers in the world
celebrating its 2nd birthday this month. In just two short years, the new
Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center is taking its place among the 25
functional genebanks of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS).
David Tay is director of the new ornamental plants center, and
is the curator. The center's role is to preserve the entire gene pool of
desired species and their wild relatives. Until now, the NPGS had only
about 3,000 flowering plant types in its collection--despite the fact that,
globally, floriculture is about a $50 billion-a-year business.
The newest germplasm center is the result of a cooperative effort
the Agricultural Research Service, the Ohio State government and the
American floriculture industry. It is housed at The Ohio State University
The center already has more than 1,500 accessions of ornamental
all over the world safely preserved in the collection's seed cooler. The
center is networking with scientists locally and in other countries to
explore, collect and conserve more unique germplasm.
Last year the center researchers successfully regrew 40 accessions
originally collected seed stocks. The center is in the process of building
a tissue culture laboratory for clonally propagated plants. This month, Tay
and Stieve and their small crew began the center's first shipment of seed,
which is another important step in its development. Requested germplasm
will be distributed to researchers and breeders around the world.
This year the center hosted the 2003 National Floriculture Forum
American Society for Horticultural Science. In 2005, it will host an
International Society for Horticultural Science symposium on flower
germplasm conservation and use.
The preservation of flower germplasm has become even more important
as concentrated breeding narrows the gene pool of many popular flowers by
focusing on aesthetics.
The Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center's web site is: http://opgc.osu.edu
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Don Comis, (301) 504-1625, email@example.com
China Leads the World in Colored Cotton Development
China is leading the world in the development and research of
cotton, announced Zhang Zhennan, an established cotton researcher and head
of the Genetically Modified Colored Cotton Institute of northwestern
China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Zhang was in Shanghai for a fair to promote garments made of
cotton. A total of 27 countries have been conducting the relevant
researches and development of colored cotton, including the United States,
China, Brazil, Egypt, Peru and India.
Nine strains of colored cotton have been approved by governments
different countries for patent rights or naming and have been authorized
for mass production. Of the nine widely recognized colored cotton strains,
five were developed by Chinese research organizations, primarily the
Xinjiang cotton research institute.
China was capable of turning out brown and green cotton, said
that researchers from the institute had been working with the hereditary
Science Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to produce red,
blue and black cotton by transferring an external colored gene into
naturally grown white cotton with genetic engineering technology.
Maize Genome Mappers Hit Milestone on Genetic/physical Map
The Maize Mapping Project -- a collaboration between the University
Missouri-Columbia, the University of Arizona Genomics Institute, and the
University of Georgia -- has completed the first phase of an integrated
genetic and physical map for the corn genome.
The project, which is anchoring ESTs and other markers to both
and genetic maps of the maize genome, recently concluded the first of three
scheduled phases, said Ed Coe, a University of Missouri geneticist and
principal investigator on the project. Phase I entailed both computational
assembly of BAC contigs as well as a manual curation step that reduced the
total number of contigs from around 300,000 to a "workable number" in the
neighborhood of 3,000, Coe told GenomeWeb.
The maize genome has approximately 2.5 billion base pairs arranged
chromosomes. "Half of the total DNA [in the maize genome] is pinned down
now," said Coe.
The five-year mapping project is scheduled to end in September.
will entail further manual editing of the genetic and physical maps, and
Phase III will use comparative genomics to gain further knowledge about the
maize genome by comparing it to the genomes or rice and sorghum, Coe said.
"This is the most exciting phase for our project because
we're seeing it
all come together after a period of slow, step-wise progress," said Coe.
The BAC contigs and genetic/physical anchoring are available
at two sites:
www.genome.arizona.edu/fpc/maize/ and www.maizemap.org/iMapDB/iMap.html.
The physical and genetic maps will provide the groundwork for
maize genome sequencing projects. The NSF began awarding maize sequencing
grants in the fall as part of a broad plant genomics initiative: A two-year
project led by Rutgers University received a $4.3 million NSF grant to
sequence 20 million base pairs of the maize genome; while a project led by
the Donald Danforth Center in St. Louis was awarded $6 million for a
two-year project focusing on sequencing gene-rich regions of the maize genome
Scientists Find Gene That Protects Against Potato Blight
Scouring the genome of a wild Mexican potato, scientists have
gene that protects potatoes against late blight, the devastating disease
that caused the Irish potato famine.
The discovery of the gene and its cloning by scientists at the
of Wisconsin-Madison was reported July 14 in online editions of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The identification of the gene, found in a species of wild potato
Solanum bulbocastanum, holds significant potential. All of the varieties
now cultivated commercially on more than 1.5 million acres in the United
States are highly susceptible to potato late blight, a family of fungal
pathogens that wreaks havoc in the field, turning tubers to mush and
invariably killing any plant it infects.
"We think this could be very useful," says John Helgeson,
professor of plant pathology, a research scientist with the U.S. Department
of Agriculture and a senior author of the PNAS paper. "No potato grown in
the United States on any scale at all has resistance to this disease."
With the blight-resistant gene in hand, the Wisconsin team,
includes Jiming Jiang, a UW-Madison professor of horticulture, was able to
engineer plants that survived exposure to the many races of Phytophthora
infestans. The insertion of a single gene, according to Jiang and Helgeson,
effectively protects plants from the range of late blight pathogens.
Potato plants exposed to the pathogen that causes late blight,
responsible for the Irish potato famine, soon wither and die (left). The
plant on the right has been engineered to resist the devastating disease
through incorporation of a gene found in a wild Mexican potato, as part of
research by John Helgeson, professor of plant pathology and Jiming Jiang,
professor of horticulture and others.
"So far, the plants have been resistant to everything we
have thrown at
them," says Helgeson.
The world's most serious potato disease, late blight is best
known as the
cause of the Irish potato famine. Seeming to appear from nowhere in 1845,
the fungus wiped out the staple crop of the densely populated island
nation, causing mass starvation over five years, killing more than a
million people and sparking a wave of immigration that had worldwide social
More than 150 years later, Ireland's population has yet to return
Prior to the 1990s, chemical fungicides were available in the
and effectively held the disease at bay. But new strains of the pathogen
have emerged, testing the limits of the technology and requiring American
farmers to treat potato fields as many as a dozen times a season at a cost
of up to $250 per acre. In warmer climates such as Mexico, fields may be
treated as many as 25 times a year with the costly and toxic chemicals.
"We used to be able to get by, but the new (late-blight)
strain just levels
things in no time at all," says Helgeson.
The gene that protects potatoes from the fungus comes from a
scientists believe co-evolved in Mexico alongside the late-blight pathogen.
It was discovered, ironically, as a result of the emergence of a new strain
of P. infestans that swept through the United States in 1994. At
UW-Madison's Hancock Agricultural Research Station, the only plants to
survive were the wild Mexican species and its progeny in Helgeson's test plots.
Subsequent to the 1994 outbreak, which required the development
fungicides for agriculture, Helgeson and his colleagues began the hunt for
the genes that conferred resistance on the wild Mexican cousin of the
domesticated tubers familiar to consumers.
In 2000, Helgeson's lab reported narrowing the search to one
of the 12
chromosomes of the wild plant. Now, with the gene identified, cloned and
successfully tested in engineered varieties in the laboratory, at hand is a
new technology that could save farmers hundreds of millions of dollars and
benefit the environment by eliminating the application of thousands of tons
of toxic chemicals.
But despite the huge economic and environmental gains that could
realized, it is unclear if the technology will be widely utilized. Because
of European fears of genetically modified crops, and the control exercised
over growers by a few large buyers, there is currently no engineered potato
in commercial production anywhere.
The use of conventional breeding techniques to move the newfound
blight-resistance gene into the few dominant commercial varieties popular
in the United States is all but impossible, according to Jiang.
"We can do it by conventional breeding, but we can't move
it into the
standard cultivated varieties without losing them," he says. "It is almost
impossible to create another Burbank variety, for example, through
conventional breeding. Your odds of getting the one gene in would be like
winning the lottery."
Still, the Wisconsin group, plans to develop engineered varieties
garden. The hope, they say, is to develop the technology that will
gradually win consumer acceptance and, perhaps someday, go where no GMO has
The lead authors of the PNAS paper published today are Junqi
Song of the
UW-Madison Department of Horticulture and James M. Bradeen of the
UW-Madison Department of Plant Pathology and the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. Other co-authors include S.
Kristine Naess and Geraldine T. Haberlach of the UW-Madison Department of
Plant Pathology and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural
Research Service, John A. Raasch and Sandra Austin-Phillips of the
UW-Madison Biotechnology Center, Susan M. Wielgus of the UW-Madison
Department of Horticulture, Jia Liu and C. Robin Buell of the Institute for
Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., and Hanhui Kuang of the Department of
Vegetable Crops at the University of California at Davis.
7. ON THE WEB
Crop Biotech Bites
FAO's Crop and Grassland Service is developing Crop Biotech
on-line information tool containing a series of short articles, designed
for the non-expert to understand the status of important topics in crop
biotechnology. The articles are to be prepared by experts in the different
topics to provide updates on what is happening in their respective areas
and indicate the implications, especially for decision makers. In the
preliminary version of Crop Biotech Bites, most articles are classified
under one of seven themes - research and development, abiotic stress,
biotic stress, environment, human health, regulatory issues and, finally,
ethics. The focus is very much on crop biotechnology
applications/implications for developing country agriculture. See
http://www.ecoport.org/EP.exe$PassCheckStart?ID=E162 or contact FAO for
Crop Composition Database
The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI;
http://www.cropcomposition.org) has released the first version of a Crop
Composition Database, which is a compilation of crop analyses from a number
of companies engaged in agricultural life sciences. The database provides
up-to-date information on the natural variability in composition
of conventional crops and provides a reference for comparing
composition of new crop varieties, including those developed through
Crop, food, and feed composition studies are considered an essential
of the safety assessment of new crop varieties, including those developed
through biotechnology. Information obtained from such studies is used to
assess similarities and differences in important nutrients and
anti-nutrients. This database was generated from crop composition data
obtained from studies conducted by members of the agricultural
biotechnology industry over a number of years at multiple worldwide
locations. Information collected in the database includes data on numerous
biochemical parameters, such as proximates, amino acids, lipids,
carbohydrates, key vitamins, and anti-nutrients.
Through ILSI, the participants have standardized and pooled
their crop data
in order to make the data available to scientists from academia, government
agencies, industry, and to the general public. It is envisioned that future
versions of the database will include other publicly available data that
meet the acceptability criteria of ILSI and are submitted from scientists
and other researchers, representing a variety of public and private
- ISB News Report, July 2003 http://www.isb.vt.edu/
The database is available for public use (free of charge) via
AgBioView: July 17, 2003