PLANT BREEDING NEWS

EDITION 153
29 January 2005

An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant Breeding
Sponsored by FAO and Cornell University

Clair H. Hershey, Editor

CONTENTS

SUBSCRIBER QUERY ABOUT PDAs

1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
1.01  Will 2005 be the year of 'science for development'?
1.02  Development aid 'must boost science in Africa'
1.03  Cutting World Hunger in Half
1.04  Germination magazine picks this year's GENEiuses
1.05  A new director for ABSPII
1.06  Cultivating inter-center collaboration in southern Africa: a seed network takes root
1.07  Peruvian 'potato park' to protect indigenous rights
1.08  Brazil's Embrapa to develop a sweeter melon and varieties of rice, corn, sorghum and wheat more resistant to weather problems
1.09  IRRI reviews progress of international hybrid rice initiative
1.10  The Rice-Wheat Consortium wins prestigious science prize
1.11  ICARDA and CIMMYT: harnessing the power of partnership in wheat improvement
1.12  Haskap - a new berry
1.13  Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops: 2004
1.14  Orion Genomics donates sorghum sequence to public domain
1.15  New IFPRI report debunks misconceptions about biotech crop research in poor countries
1.16  German law stops research project on GM potatoes with higher levels of an important carotenoid
1.17  New strategies proposed for insect resistance management (IRM) and integrated pest management (IPM) in transgenic crops
1.18  Consumers to benefit from organic potato breakthrough
1.19  ICRISAT working on biofortification of groundnuts
1.20  Research shows depth and breadth of testing needed to determine genotype potential
1.21  Herbicide resistant sunflowers have roots in ARS research
1.22  USDA/ARS diversifies sunflower traits
1.23  First report of an Rsv resistance-breaking isolate of Soybean mosaic virus in Korea
1.24  CSIRO's High Rainfall Zone cereal lines show promise in stripe rust battle
1.25  Insect resistant maize in Africa moves forward
1.26  Bambino watermelon named one of the "Most Amazing Inventions of 2004'' by Time Magazine
1.27  New index possible for screening salt-tolerant rice lines
1.28  Asian vegetable becomes indicator of soil arsenic levels
1.29  Rice collection identifies valuable traits
1.30  Exploring the regulation of leaf growth
1.31  DNA repair may lead to evolution, new transgenic techniques
1.32  Agreement protects genetic diversity of Peru's potato varieties and rights of indigenous people to control access to local genetic resources
1.33  Lighting up gene expression in plants
1.34  Scientists find common roots for thousands of plant compounds
1.35  One gene could increase biodiversity
1.36  Saving Africa's 'stubborn' seeds

2.  PUBLICATIONS
2.01  CIMMYT publishes 4th edition of 'Maize Diseases: A Guide for Field Identification'
2.02  New maize and wheat gene bank operations manual
2.03  IAEA Technical Document on genetic improvement

3.  WEB RESOURCES
3.01  New database on plant biotech projects
3.02  Update 1-2005 of FAO-BiotechNews

4  GRANTS AND FELLOWSHIPS AVAILABLE
4.01  The Cochran Fellowship Program - for training in the US
4.02  Partnerships for international research, education

5  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

6  EDITOR'S NOTES

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PDA query

We are in the process, in Northern Ireland' Science Service, of replacing our old handheld units, which the manufacturers will no longer support. Primarily these are Husky Hunter 16's.

The programs are being recoded in VB.NET to run on CE.NET, and using SQL Server CE (random access files are not supported in CE.net). The replacement handhelds are to be selected from the TimbaTEc PocketPC and the Itronix Q200, the final shortlisting of over 30 IP67 units (necessary in our climate!).

Our immediate problem is that this recoding, naturally, takes time and until the first team is kitted out in Autumn 2005 we are in the position that there is now a shortage of 'backup' units to ensure that we can keep our trials running until then.

I have two questions:

(1) Does anyone have any old units that they do not need any more, that we could purchase?

(2) There are a large number of Hunter 1 units available online at the minute. Does anyone know if our GW-BASIC programs - written for the Hunter 16 - will also run on the Hunter 1, and what is the screen resolution of the Hunter 1?

Many thanks for any advice that can be offered.

From: Dr Niki Reid
Biometrics
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
email: nicola.reid@dardni.gov.uk

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1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES

1.01  Will 2005 be the year of 'science for development'?

There have recently been encouraging signs that science and technology are climbing back on to the international development agenda. The tsunami disaster in the
Indian Ocean has only underlined the urgency.

It was meant to happen in 1999. That was the year in which the World Conference of Science, held in
Budapest in July, was meant to draw the attention of political leaders across the world to the importance of science and technology in promoting economic and social prosperity. And this in turn was intended to trigger a raft of political activity, both in developed and developing countries, to boost efforts in this area.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, this did not happen. For most countries, the focus of aid policy remained on alleviating poverty directly, an approach that has all-too-frequently reduced science to a peripheral, even optional, 'add-on'. This attitude was reflected in a relative lack of political interest in science and technology within the developing countries themselves; although many sent their science ministers to the
Budapest meeting, few felt the topic of sufficient importance to deserve the attention of more politically significant figures, such as finance ministers.

Promising signs have been emerging over the past 12 months, from political institutions such as the World Bank, the United Nations, and the British government, that the tide may have turned at last. As a result and acknowledging the need for additional prompting 2005 could at last be the year in which science climbs back on to the international development agenda, reoccupying a position from which it had been displaced for the past two decades.

If this does happen, however, the new challenge will be to avoid the mistakes of the past by ensuring that science and technology become fully integrated into policies at all levels, and are not seen as offering instant cures to deep-rooted social and economic problems. Science and technology must become embedded in the social fabric of developing countries, not only by building local capacity but also by ensuring that such capacity is integrated into initiatives designed to boost overall systems of social and economic innovation.

The lesson of the tsunami
There could not be a more dramatic or terrible illustration of this need than the devastation that swept through many of the coastal communities of South and South-East Asia as a result of the tsunami that was triggered by the earthquake off the coast of Indonesia on 26 December.

It seems almost a natural law that, when disaster strikes, those who suffer most, and whose needs for both protection and help are therefore the greatest, are those who are already the most disadvantaged. This is true not only between developed and developing countries the richer countries on the Pacific Rim, for example, have already installed sensitive tsunami-detection systems but also within the developing countries themselves.

Ironically, the fact that the tsunami has had virtually no impact on the outlook for the productive economies of the affected countries (outside their tourist industries) directly reflects the way that the devastation has mostly affected fishing communities and other groups that were already socially marginalised, and thus among the countries' own poor.

There is obviously no way that science and technology could have prevented the underlying events that caused such a tragic loss of life. But there is plenty of evidence that the science and technology already exists, in fields such as seismic detection, hydrological dynamics and telecommunications, with the potential at least in principle prevent the loss of life occurring on the scale that it did.

One obvious measure would have been to ensure that such communities were provided with a more sophisticated early-warning system. With the benefit of hindsight this is now being put in place in many of the countries that were affected; the government of India, for example, has already announced a significant enhancement of its detection capabilities (see India to build tsunami warning system'). That may blunt the arguments of critics; but it is unlikely to assuage those who have argued that much more could have been done much sooner.

There are lessons, too, for ways in which scientific information is communicated. The lessons of the tsunami events will no doubt be occupying the minds of many of those in the research community in the months ahead. There have been several reports of the frustration experienced by scientists who have, in recent years, been unable to convince government officials of the dangers revealed by their seismological investigations into the likelihood of an earthquake occurring the region.

This frustration turned into despair on 26 December as many of those same scientists, having detected the earthquake almost immediately, failed to convince government officials of the likely outcome and thus that their warnings of havoc threatened by the impending tsunami were communicated to many thousands who might otherwise not have died.

Research has also pointed to other potential protective strategies. For example, researchers at the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in
Chennai, India, and elsewhere have noted that destruction of mangrove forests along Asian coastlines have increased their vulnerability to storms. But, again, their warning seems to have gone largely unheeded in the pressure for commercial exploitation, for example, for shrimp farming.

Putting science at the heart of development
For all these reasons, it is clear that, as the surviving members of shattered communities around the
Indian Ocean attempt to rebuild their lives and their livelihoods, science and technology have a key role to play in providing them with the knowledge and tools to do so in a secure and sustainable way. This message is already clear in the debates over how countries can adapt to the threats of global warming (link to spotlight in climate change dossier on adaptation). The recent events surrounding the tsunami and its aftermath may be different in origin; but their lessons on what must now be done are no different.

All of which only strengthens the case for ensuring that science and technology are placed firmly at the heart of the development agenda in the months ahead. At a national and regional level, it is essential that researchers in developing countries become directly engaged in discussions of the ways in which their skills and interests can become better integrated into the policy machinery. This will certainly involve but does not need to be restricted to high-level scientific advisory committees offering their services to governments keen to protect their populations from similar events in the future.

Conversely, it is also important that these countries build up the scientific and technological skills that will enable them not only to identify the most effective protective strategies, but also to put these strategies into practice. The same might also be said about the need to build an effective capacity in science communication. It is perhaps not unrealistic to speculate that a better awareness of the dangers of tsunamis among, say local radio and television journalists provided that these are equipped to distinguish genuine dangers could have formed the basis of an effective early warning system.

At the international level, there is a similar need to ensure that relevant scientific knowledge is made available to those who need it for their decision-making. This in turn requires that sufficient support is provided for building science and technology capacity on the one hand, and enhancing the channels by which scientific information is put into practice (and communicated to decision-makers) on the other.

Britain's treasury minister, Gordon Brown, has already suggested that one immediate step the world's developed countries could take to help the countries of South and South-East Asia rebuild their shattered coastal areas would be to agree jointly to temporarily freeze repayments of debts owed by these countries to international banks. An equally significant move would be to persuade such countries to make a similar joint commitment to significantly enhance their support for science and technology capacity building initiatives and efforts to ensure that such capacity is properly embedded into the social and economic fabric within the developing countries themselves.

The opportunity for such a step already presents itself: the G8 meeting of the world's largest industrialised economies in
Scotland in July. The British government, which will host this meeting, has already indicated its own willingness to put science more firmly at the heart of its own aid efforts (see UK to boost support for research capacity building). Even without the recent tragic events there was a strong case for taking similar action at the international level, and thus using the G8 meeting as an opportunity to make 2005 the year of 'science for development'. That case must now be overwhelming.

Source: SciDev.net
4 January 2005

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1.02  Development aid 'must boost science in Africa'

 [ALEXANDRIA] Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Africa, asked to recommend ways that rich countries could assist the continent's development, say aid should include increased support for science and technology.

Among the recommendations is a call for partnerships between African research centres and those in the developed world to be strengthened.

The suggestions were made in a series of consultation conferences involving some 500 NGO representatives from across
Africa, the last of which was held in Alexandria, Egypt last month. The other consultations were held in Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal and Zambia.

These conferences were organised by the Commission for
Africa, an initiative of the UK prime minister Tony Blair and musician and development activist Bob Geldof, to help prioritise international efforts in Africa.

The NGOs also called for foreign aid to be used to set up multi-disciplinary research centres in
Africa and for educational scholarships in specific scientific fields. They added that richer countries could facilitate the transfer of new technologies to Africa, particularly for water desalination and renewable energy supplies.

"There was a strong feeling that we need more centres of research excellence in
Africa and more partnerships with institutions in developed countries so that we can learn from their experience," says Masse Lo, director of LEAD International's Francophone Africa programme based in Dakar, Senegal.

The commission has set up similar consultations with governments, businesses, expatriate Africans, and
UK development organisations.

The views that emerge from these consultations will be compiled and presented with corresponding recommendations to members of the 'G8' group of the major industrialised countries and to the European Union in March.

Many of the participants wanted to know why the
UK government would want to set up such a commission. At the meeting in Alexandria, they asked why the United Kingdom should want to help Africa develop while helping the United States in Iraq.

"Does Tony Blair really want to help us?" asked Farida Allaghi from
Libya who works with the Mentor Foundation, an anti-drugs charity. "Why do I get the feeling we are being used? If Blair is really interested in helping us, he should be here, and not doing this by remote control."

K. Y. Amoako, a member of the commission and undersecretary-general at the United Nations, acknowledged that people had a number of "legitimate concerns". He said he had sat on many such commissions in the past, but this one had the strongest potential to make a different as it had influential political backing.

He said, for example, the appointment of Peter Mandelson, a personal friend of Tony Blair and the former
UK minister for trade, as new trade commissioner at the European Union would help Africa to secure better terms of trade. "The timing of this could not have been better," said Amoako.

Top of the NGOs' list of recommendations are calls for rich nations to cancel the continent's debt, negotiate terms of trade in which Africa's exporters received a fairer price, and overseas development aid that is increased to 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product.

The NGOs also said that richer nations must work within existing Africa-led initiatives such as the African Union and the New Partnership for
Africa's Development known as NEPAD. They also called upon rich nations never again to support undemocratic regimes in Africa, and stop selling weapons, which have fuelled so many of the continent's past wars.

Source: SciDev.Net
7 January 2005

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1.03  Cutting world hunger in half

Pedro A. Sanchez and M. S. Swaminathan
To reach the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015, the Millennium Project's Task Force on Hunger recommends seven mutually reinforcing actions: political action; national policy reforms; increased agricultural productivity for food-insecure farmers; improved nutrition for the chronically hungry; productive safety nets for the acutely hungry; improved rural incomes and markets; and restored natural resources essential for food security. The Task Force concludes that "it can be done"-the Hunger MDG can be attained. In this Policy Forum, the task force chairmen explain why achieving that goal will require unprecedented levels of effort, but it is well within the reach of our technical and financial capabilities.

P. A. Sanchez is at the Earth Institute at
Columbia University, New York, NY 10964, USA. E-mail: sanchez @iri.columbia.edu; M. S. Swaminathan chairs the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Taramani, Chennai 600 113, India. E-mail: msswami@mssrf.res.in. The authors cochair the U.N. Millennium Project Task Force on Hunger.

Source: Science, Vol 307, Issue 5708
21 January 2005

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1.04  Germination magazine picks this year's GENEiuses

Germination magazine has announced this years list of six forward thinking movers and shakers in the seed industry and theyre an inspiring group. Hand-picked from across
Canada by the staff at Germination magazine, these GENEiuses are making an impact in the seed industry.

The origin of the GENEius Edition stems from a need to recognize the unsung heroes of an industry made up of a number of different sectors, including seed growers, traders, analysts, brokers, breeders, distributors, and suppliers. Thus, this years recipients have touched the breadth of the industry.

Mike Snobelen recognized consumer demand for identity-preserved programs and responded by seeking Canadian Identity Preserved Recognition System certification.

Tim Tregunno is President of Canadas oldest, continually operating seed company and oversaw the Canadian Seed Trade Associations role as an intervenor in a lawsuit; the outcome of which would determine the future direction of the seed industry in
Canada and beyond.

Bruce Mathieus seed cleaning plant will process just about anything, proving that diversification can grow a business and expand opportunities for farmers.

As Executive Director of the Canadian Seed Institute, Jim McCullagh has been instrumental in bringing high standards to third-party certification for the Canadian seed industry.

Garth Hodges has turned his abounding passion for canola into a major increase in Bayer CropSciences market share.

And Ray Mazinke combined his first-hand knowledge of new varieties with a genuine concern for customers to make Rosenort Agro a leading
Manitoba seed retailer.

The seed industry is receiving a lot of attention lately and the people who are making a difference in it deserve some recognition,says Robynne Anderson, Publisher of Germination magazine. Germination helps highlight the major issues in this sector, and we are pleased to profile these leaders.

Germination is the magazine of the Canadian seed industry, covering the latest technological developments, industry advances, new varieties, regulatory issues, and breakthroughs in research and breeding.

Source: SeedQuest.com
6 January 2005

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1.05  A new director for ABSPII

ABSPII is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Director, Frank Shotkoski, effective
January 1, 2005. Frank has 20 years of academic and industrial experience in both agricultural and medical biotechnology. In his most recent position as Global Cotton Traits Technical Manager with Syngenta, Frank built a cotton biotechnology research program that resulted in the development of trait-based products. Prior to joining Syngenta, Frank held the position of Research Fellow at the University of Washington's Department of Medical Genetics where he conducted research on human gene therapy applications for the treatment of hematopoietic diseases. Frank also has postdoctoral experience from the department of Entomology at the University of Wisconsin. His Ph.D. is from the University of Minnesota and his Master of Science and undergraduate work was done at the University of Nebraska, his home state.

The Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII) is a USAID-funded consortium led by
Cornell University that supports scientists, regulators, extension workers, farmers and the general public in developing countries to make informed decisions about agricultural biotechnology. Where demand exists, ABSPII supports the safe and effective development and commercialization of bio-engineered crops as a complement to traditional and organic agricultural approaches and acts as a resource for local partners seeking to improve their scientific, management and policy-making capabilities. The project helps boost food security, economic growth, nutrition and environmental quality in East and West Africa, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. (www.absp2.cornell.edu)

Contributed by Andrea Marshall Besley MBA
Communication Coordinator
Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII)
213 Rice Hall
Cornell University

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1.06  Cultivating inter-center collaboration in southern Africa: a seed network takes root
The collaboration of several CGIAR centers on varied crops is a fresh approach to tackling seed supply issues in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It recognizes the multiple-interest, multi-disciplinary and multi-level nature of seed issues, and brings smallholder farmers to the foreground.
From CIMMYT e-Newsletter
30 November 2004

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics,
Cornell U.

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1.07  Peruvian 'potato park' to protect indigenous rights

Farming communities in Peru have signed an agreement with the International Potato Centre (CIP) to protect both the genetic diversity of the region's numerous potato varieties, and the rights of indigenous people to control access to these local genetic resources.

Under the scheme, CIP scientists and local farmers will 'repatriate' potato varieties from CIP's collection of specimens the world's most comprehensive and conserve them in a 'potato park'. As well as providing food for the six communities that jointly own the land in southern
Peru, the 15,000-hectare park will serve as a 'living library' of potato genetic diversity.

Peruvian farmers have 'lost' some of their traditional potato varieties for various reasons, including government policies to push ahead with commercial production and discard old-fashioned growing methods.

The agreement, which is the first of its kind, aims to ensure that the control of genetic resources is kept with local people. Alejandro Argumedo, associate director of the Association for Nature and Sustainable Development a Cusco-based civil society group that helped broker the deal believes that it could serve as a model for other indigenous communities.

"Biological diversity is best rooted in its natural environment and managed by indigenous peoples who know it best," says Argumedo.

Despite this, he says that the agreement was not drawn up for local communities to secure intellectual property rights over indigenous potato strains. Rather, the intention is to ensure that the genetic material does not become "subject to intellectual property rights in any form" and that the diversity of Peruvian potato varieties is maintained.

Argumedo told SciDev.Net that CIP has agreed to pay for the cost of reintroducing the strains as an acknowledgment of the benefits the organisation has derived from the indigenous knowledge of the region.

However, he maintains that this agreement would not hamper collaborative research between the CIP and scientists elsewhere provided that the research is not used for exploitative or commercial purposes.

CIP is one of the 15 research centres of Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which aims to reduce poverty and increase food security in developing countries through scientific research.

Rachel Wynberg of Biowatch South
Africa, an organisation that monitors the commercialisation of biological resources, hopes that "this agreement signals a new way of working for CGIAR centres one which advances the rights of local farming communities, over those of corporations, and which places the ownership of genetic resources firmly with the local custodians of these resources".

At a meeting in
Mexico in November 2004, environmental activists protested that CGIAR was building too many links with large biotechnology corporations that promote genetically modified crops (see Agriculture group panders to GM giants, say activists).

Alejandro Argumedo is on the advisory panel of SciDev.Net's indigenous knowledge dossier
For more on this subject, visit SciDev.Net's dossiers on intellectual property and indigenous knowledge

Source: SciDev.Net
19 January 2005

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1.08  Brazil's Embrapa to develop a sweeter melon and varieties of rice, corn, sorghum and wheat more resistant to weather problems

After having concluded genome sequencing of of the coffee and eucalyptus the start the trial of the banana genome the Brazilian agricultural research company Embrapa bets on the biotechnology to develop a sweeter melon and varieties of rice, corn, sorghum and wheat more resistant to weather problems.

This year Embrapa Biotecnologia has started the genetic mapping of the sorghum, rice and corn to detect the sections of the DNA responsible for the resistant to cold and dry.

The Orygens projects started in 2003 with the research on the rice arroz (Oryza sativa L.).

The work is to be completed in 2007 and has the participation of seven divisions of Embrapa, Empresa de Pesquisa Agropecuaria (Epagri-SC), Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (Esalq/USP), Instituto Riograndense do Arroz (Irga), Universidade Catolica de Brasilia and Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense. In 2003 and 2004 there were invested R$550,000 and from 2004 to 2007 Embrapa plans R$3.2mil in the research.

The genetic sequencing has a budget of R$174,200 from the World Bank.

Source: Valor Econōmico S.A. via SeedQuest.com
28 December 2005

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1.09  IRRI reviews progress of international hybrid rice initiative

Los Banos, The Philippines
 The progress of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded international hybrid rice initiative, titled "Sustaining Food Security in Asia through the Development and Use of Hybrid Rice Technology" was recently reviewed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

IRRI is the coordinating institution for the project that is set to end this year.

PhilRice deputy executive director for R&D Edilberto D. Redo represented the
Philippines in the workshop. Among the agreements reached was a no-cost extension of the project until May 2005. Activities to be focused on are sensitization of policy makers, socioeconomic impact assessment, R&D, promotion of public-private-NGO partnerships, and training.

National hybrid rice leaders of India, Vietnam, Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Korea, and Thailand as well as representatives from the China National Hybrid Rice R&D Center, the Asia Pacific Seed Association, the Food and Agriculture Organization, seed companies, the ADB, and IRRI presented their progresses in the development and use of hybrid rice technology in their respective countries/organizations since project implementation in 2001.

According to IRRI principal scientist Sant S. Virmani, "Hybrid rice currently covers an area of 1.46 million ha outside China, with 27 hybrid rice varieties released in India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bangladesh using IRRI germplasm."

He also said that an average yield superiority of commercialized hybrids over certified inbred seeds ranging from 1.02 to 1.65 t/ha is noted in
Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, and the Philippines and that new parental lines with improved outcrossing ability and grain quality are already shared with various participating countries.

Virmani also reported that there are now about 58 seed companies involved in hybrid rice breeding and seed production with increased seed production yields in many countries, with various opportunities for the use of hybrid rice technology under aerobic and fragile ecosystems.

Challenges that must be addressed are the development of simplified breeding and seed production procedures, grain quality matching that of popular inbred varieties, economically viable seed production systems, and economically viable agronomic management systems.

To expedite the dissemination of hybrid rice technology, an organized and efficient seed industry is needed in public, private and NGO sectors. Cost of hybrid seeds should be lowered, as well as achieve more stable hybrid performance with improved management systems.

Action plans and partnerships with the seed industry are also critical factors.

Source:PhilRice

 news release, via SeedQuest.com
6 December 2004

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1.10  The Rice-Wheat Consortium wins prestigious science prize

In recognition of its seminal role in charting a course toward more ecologically-friendly, higher-producing agriculture among the poor in Asia, the Rice-Wheat Consortium for the Indo-Gangetic Plains (RWC) received the King Baudouin Award of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) at a ceremony attended by 1,000 international agricultural researchers and development specialists who met in Mexico City during 25-29 October 2004.
http://www.cimmyt.org/english/wps/news/science_prize2.htm

From CIMMYT e-Newsletter 9
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell U.
November 2004

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1.11  ICARDA and CIMMYT: harnessing the power of partnership in wheat improvement

This report presents selected achievements in Central and West Asia and North Africa of the two centers, in collaboration with the government of Turkey and many other partners. The work includes exchanging seed and information, but goes beyond to help improve the precarious livelihoods of winter wheat producers in many other ways. "This year scientists from the two centers met to plan complementary research for this important region," says Masa Iwanaga, CIMMYT Director General. "We are extremely excited about this collaboration with ICARDA and how it will benefit the resource-poor."
http://www.icarda.org/ICARDAandCIMMYT/Index.htm

From CIMMYT e-Newsletter 9
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell U.
November 2004

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1.12  Haskap - a new berry

Unless you count rhubarb, strawberries have always been the traditional first fruit of the spring for home growers. In recent years, however, another early fruit has been gaining attention.

Haskap, a subspecies of edible honeysuckle (Lonicera caerula ssp emphyllocalyx) is a fruit you might take for an oddly shaped blueberry at first glance.  The name Haskap itself is from the language of the Ainu, the ancient native people of
Hokkaido, Japan, and means many fruit on branches.   While Lonicera caerula is presently being sold by some nurseries, most of the currently sold  varieties are from Russia.  The big draw is that Russian material is super hardy, actually grown north of the Arctic Circle in some places, but it has not performed well in the U.S. The plants seem to do all right in Saskatchewan, where the climate is more like Siberia, but elsewhere they are shy bearing.  This is due to flowering very early, when it is too cool for insects to pollinate then, and  because the Siberian plants have a very short rest period.  That is, in regions where winter temperatures fluctuate between cold and warm, the plants lose hardiness in warm spells are then subject to bud death when cold returns.   Haskap is a Japanese subspecies which has shown superior adaptation to western Oregon and appears worthy of trials elswhere in North American locales.  The Japanese use the name Haskap which is from the language of the Ainu, the ancient native people of  Hokkaido, Japan, who have long collected these berries from wild plants.  The name means  many fruit on branches.

Haskap blooms a month or more after the Russian material and therefore sets much better crops.  Since much of the Japanese material comes from the cold northern islands, such as
Hokkaido, it is still extremely hardy. One outstanding trait of the small, white or cream colored flowers is their extreme resistance to spring frost damage. In Japan, Haskap blooms have been shown to withstand minus 10 degrees C.  Further,  the island climate has humid summers, so Haskap plants ought to have fairly good disease resistance.  Even so, this is one of the areas where test growing of the plants in many areas is needed.

There are Haskap plants with several growth habits, from sprawling, to mounded, to  upright shrubs almost like blueberries.  The form of the plant varies with the individal variety, though it can be influenced some by pruning and training.  Determining how much pruning and training Haskap plants need is another area where more tests will be needed.

Depending on the selection, the berries may be as large as an average blueberry, with varying shapes including; a sort of elongated football shape, barrel-shaped, pointed, and more.  Color is an intense, dark blue. The seeds are small enough to be ignored when you eat the fruit.  Flavor is variable, but in most selections I have tasted, the closest thing in flavor I could describe is somewhat like a tart blueberry, though there is a hint of an exotic flavor in many.  The tartness isnt more intense than a tart apple, so the fruit can be eaten out of hand, though most people will prefer to cook them. Tartness decreases the longer the berries hang on the bush with the berries becoming relatively sweet if left long enough.  Additionally, there is evidence that careful selection could produce types with sweet fruit that would be good to eat uncooked.  At present, the fruits best home use is in jams and baked goods such as pies.

The berries have a unique structure, being composed of two separate ovaries that are covered over with an outer fleshy layer,  making the structure look like a single berry.  In some selections, the covering doesnt go completely over the underlying structures, which look for all the world like two eyes peering out the end of the fruit.  In most selections, however, the covering is complete, leaving just a small dot at the end of the berry.

Some selections of Haskap ripen before strawberries, though most ripen about with strawberries, depending on climate.  Since the bush forms have the right traits to be machine harvested with the same equipment used on blueberries, Haskap would be attractive for commercial growing.  It could be harvested and processed before blueberries, allowing a berry grower to extend his season with a crop handled with his existing equipment, but done before that equipment was needed for the blueberries.

Recognizing the potential of the edible honeysuckle, Dr. Maxine Thompson, professor emeritus from
Oregon State University, has undertaken to improve the plant and bring it up to its full potential.  She began in the 1990s, collecting as many varieties and related forms of the plant as possible.  Her collection includes more material than any other of its kind in North America.

In the course of this work, she found that despite the fact that most currently available selections originated in Sibera, the plant has also been grown in
Japan for a long time.  In fact, the Japanese material proved to have some of the best traits available for improving the species, including later blooming, larger fruits, and better growth habits.

Dr. Thompson is longtime friend, and Ive followed her work with considerable interest, even being fortunate enough to help a little in gathering breeding material.  Ive visited her work and have seen all aspects, from examining seedlings in the greenhouse to observing  some of her first crosses in the field, and more.

Haskap is extremely easy to work with for breeding purposes.  Fruit ripens in May and the seed can be harvested and planted immediately, germinating and growing into plants.  The seedlings become established the first season, and are then grown in pots the following spring-summer for fall planting 16 months after seeding.   The spring following planting in the field,  these same plants bloom and set their first crop, on shoots coming out of the previous seasons wood. This means that evaluation of selections can begin about twenty-two months after planting the seed.  That allows fast removal of a very large percentage of unpromising plants, rather than having to spend space and long time growing plants just to remove most of them.  At the same time, it also means that breeding is much faster because good selections identified in the first season can be used as parents in the next season.   Considering that most perennial fruits, such as blueberries, dont even germinate until the spring of the following year, and that it takes as much as five years to get even one crop from a seedling of most perennial fruits, progress with Haskap has the potential to be very rapid for a perennial.

Its noteworthy that some plants, after setting one crop, will begin to set again later in the spring, as the new shoots get larger. Since there is a small break between the first and second set, the second set is usually still green when the first is ripe, creating the effect of two crops, though its essentially just a later part of the same crop.    Large numbers of both ripe and green fruit is quite a sight on plants that havent even been in the ground a full year. These extended cropping types would have their greatest use for home or where hand harvest could be used.  For machine harvest, more uniform ripening would be needed.  However, it could be that some selections could be left until all the fruit is colored, with the early fruit becoming sweeter, while the later fruit would add tartness to the mix.  Again, this is something to be examined in trials of the plants.

At present, it is necessary to have two selections for cross pollination,  to get a good crop.  However, some of the collected material includes plants that are able to set small seedless fruit by themselves.  Seedlessness isnt any advantage, but the ability to set without pollination suggests that there are genes that could make it possible to breed self-fruitful varieties.

On
Thursday, May 20,  2004,  I visited Dr. Thompsons field plots at Oregon State University to see some of the selections in action. It had been an early year, so that most of her selections had already been harvested, but there was more than enough fruit left on most (many) bushes to at least give a good idea of the varieties. 

The oldest plants in that field were three years old that spring and most were at least three feet (one meter) tall, with a good number that were bigger.  Growth habits ranged from nearly prostrate, sprawling vine-like plants, to mounds, to upright bushes. 

The majority of the fruits I sampled were tart, without any strong flavors.  A few had a very subtle, perfumy undertone, and Dr. Thompson said she had one selection that was actually sweet that early. Unfortunately, that one had already been picked, so I couldnt compare. Because of the earliness, none of the other selections had been on the plants long enough to have a chance to sweeten.

She also showed me a big, healthy looking plant with very large leaves and the biggest berries Id seen in the plot.  She invited me to try it.  Ive known her long enough I should have realized her smile had a twinkle of mischief in it; the berry was unpleasantly bitter.  In visiting a Japanese botanic garden she collected seed from a Haskap plant with good quality fruit she found there, growing next to a plant that had bitter berries.  But she forgot the good flavored one would have been pollinated by the bitter one.  Apparently the bitterness gene is a single dominant  because half the seedlings were bitter, including the one Id just tasted. 

Thinking in terms of commercial production, Dr. Thompson had been selecting upright, open bushes that rather resembled blueberry bushes, with the aim of having plants that could be easily harvested by machine.  Unfortunately, they were also easily harvested by birds, as attested to by the number of berries on the ground under each such bush.  While Haskap fruits arent hard to pick, they dont readily fall until they are extremely ripe, but the birds were able to knock off many of them in looking for the ones they liked best.

Among the other growth habit types, I noted plants that made a neat, rounded mound of foliage that almost looked as if it had been sheared.  I thought those plants had potential as ornamental shrubs, at least.  Dr. Thompson  took me to one and lifted the foliage up. Underneath, low to the ground, the shoots were covered with fruit. While such plants couldnt be harvested readily for commercial use, they would be ideal for a home grower.  They made a neat shrub that would fit right into the landscape, and their dense growth habit kept the fruit hidden from the birds.  You could easily pick by lifting the shoots, sliding a box under the bush, then just strip the fruit into the box.  I believe a home grower might prefer a bird-resistant bush even if it required the slight effort of bending over to pick the fruit,  over having to fight  birds for the fruit on a more upright shrub.   

In spite of the many qualities of Haskap, the real story is Dr. Thompson herself.

At 77, she is doing the majority of the work herself.  As professor emeritus, she is allowed to use
Oregon State University land and greenhouse space for which she pays researcher's fees.  She has been able to get a few small grants, but she still winds up paying  a lot out of her own pocket, and even doing much of the work herself, including much of the field and greenhouse work such as planting, propagating, even weeding and mowing.

Given how much she has accomplished already, it would be a shame if her work didnt live up to its tremendous potential for lack of finances.  The nice thing is that aiding the work would help both commercial AND home growers, since the plant types each group would want arent necessarily the same.  As noted, different Haskap selections could be good ornamentals, as well as being bird resistant, in addition to the types for commercial use.

The fruit is excellent for processing as jam, pie filling, and highly colored juice, suitable  by itself or in blends with other juices.  The intensity of Haskaps color is such it could even have use as a natural food coloringHaskap is an extremely healthful berry, as well.  The fruit has been tested and found to be very high in anti-oxidants, comparable to values reported in other berry crops, and other healthful substances. Raw Haskap is very high in vitamin C.

Right now, Haskaps best home uses are, as with commercial production, for processed products such as jam, pie, and others.  More trials are needed to test its potential for being eaten raw.  As noted, there was at least one of Dr. Thompsons selections that became sweet very early, but apparently the average types need to hang on the plant after coloration to develop more sweetness, or at least for the acid to decrease to make them taste less tart. Given the fast turn-around time in breeding, developing additional sweet fruited selections might not take an excessively long time.

While there is not yet material available for home testing, a commercial blueberry nursery has started a test plot of advanced selections.  Dr. Thompson wants to be sure of the quality of her selections before releasing them.  Nor does she plan to restrict distribution once she is satisfied with selections.  She believes in the potential of Haskap and wants to see it reach the public.  She is being cautious because the blue honeysuckle material now being sold by nurseries is giving the plant a bad name and she wants to be certain of the quality and characteristics of her selections before releasing them.   When its time, though, increase will come quickly because the plants root easily from both dormant and green cuttings, so propagation of the released selections will proceed quickly.

Dr. Thompson will want to have her Haskap selections tested in a wide range of conditions, so there will be opportunities to work with these plants as the breeding work progresses.

At this time, Haskap is a plant for the future, but that future could arrive soon, given how quickly these plants bear and can be tested.  IF there is support for Dr. Thompsons work.

Haskap; its new, its different, but not difficult.

This is a project with great potential that deserves support.  To help further it, you can  donate directly to:
Dr. Maxine Thompson
2715 NW. Frazier Creek Rd.
Corvallis, OR 97330

Contributed by Lon J. Rombough
Aurora, OR

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1.13  Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops: 2004

Highlights of ISAAA Brief No. 32-2004
Clive James, http://www.isaaa.org
ISAAA, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications)

The Brief was released on 12 January 2005.

ISAAA Brief 32 characterizes the global status in 2004 of commercialized transgenic or GM crops, now often called biotech crops, as referred to consistently in the Brief. The focus on developing countries is consistent with ISAAA's mission to assist developing countries in assessing the potential of biotech crops. The principal aim, is to present a consolidated set of data that will facilitate a knowledge-based discussion of the current global trends in biotech crops.

Brief 32 provides the most recent data on biotech crops globally for 2 004, and confirms that the global biotech crop area continued to grow for the ninth consecutive year at a sustained double-digit rate. In 2004, the global area of biotech crops continued to grow at a substantial rate of 20%, compared with 15% in 2003. The estimated global area of approved biotech crops for 2004 was 81.0 million hectares, equivalent to approx. 200 million acres, up from the 67.7 million hectares or 167 million acres in 2003. In 2004, 5% of the 1.5 billion hectares (3.7 billion acres) of all global cultivable cropland was occupied by biotech crops.

Biotech crops were grown by 8.25 million farmers in 17 countries in 2004, up from 7 million farmers in 18 countries in 2003. Notably, 90% of the beneficiary farmers were resource-poor farmers from developing countries, whose increased incomes from biotech crops contributed to the alleviation of poverty. The increase in biotech crop area between 2003 and 2004, of 13.3 million hectares or 32.9 million acres, is the second highest on record.

In 2004, there were fourteen biotech mega-countries (countries growing 50,000 hectares -125,000 acres - or more, of biotech crops), compared with ten in 2003 - 9 developing countries and 5 industrial countries; they were, in order of hectarage/acreage, USA, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, China, Paraguay, India, South Africa, Uruguay, Australia, Romania, Mexico, Spain and the Philippines. During the period 1996-2004 the accumulated global biotech crop area was 385 million hectares or 951 million acres (almost 1 billion acres), equivalent to 40% of the total land area of the
USA or China, or 15 times the total land area of the UK.

The continuing rapid adoption of biotech crops reflects the substantial improvements in productivity, the environment, economics, health and social benefits realized by both large and small farmers, consumers, and society in both industrial and developing countries. During the nine-year period 1996 to 2004, global area of biotech crops increased more than 47 fold, from 1.7 mill ion hectares (4.2 million acres) in 1996 to 81.0 million hectares (approx. 200 million acres) in 2004, with an increasing proportion grown by developing countries. More than one-third (34%) of the global biotech crop area of 81 million hectares (200 million acres) in 2004, equivalent to 27.6 million hectares (68 million acres), was grown in developing countries where growth continued to be strong.

The increased hectarage/acreage and impact of the five principal developing countries (China, India, Argentina, Br azil and South Africa) growing biotech crops, is an important trend with implications for the future adoption and acceptance of biotech crops worldwide; Brief 32 has biotech overviews for each of the five countries. In 2004, the number of developing countries growing biotech crops (11) was almost double the number of industrial countries (6) adopting biotech crops.

2004 is the penultimate year of the first decade of the commercialization of biotech crops, during which double-digit growth in global hectarageof biotech crops has been achieved every single year; this is an unwavering and resolute vote of confidence in the technology from the 25 million farmers, who are masters in risk aversion, and who have consistently chosen to plant an increasing hectarage of biotech crops year after year, during the period 1996 to 2004.

The 10th anniversary in 2005, will be a just cause for celebration worldwide by farmers, the international scientific and development community, global society, and the peoples in developing and indust rial countries on all six continents that have benefited significantly from the technology, particularly the humanitarian contribution to the alleviation of poverty, malnutrition and hunger in the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

For the future, there is cause for cautious optimism with the global area and the number of farmers planting biotech crops expected to continue to grow in 2005 and beyond. There were signs of progress in the European Union in 2004 with the EU Commission approving, for import, two events in biotech maize (Bt 11 and NK603) for food and feed use, thus signaling the end of the 1998 moratorium. The Commission also approved 17 maize varieties, with insect resistance conferred by MON 810, making it the first bio tech crop to be approved for planting in all 25 EU countries. The use of MON 810 maize in conjunction with practical co-existence policies opens up new opportunities for EU member countries to benefit from the commercialization of biotech maize, which
Spain has successfully deployed since 1998.

In the near term, the one single event that is likely to have the greatest impact is the approval and adoption of Bt rice in
China, which is considered to be likely in the near term, probably in 2005. The adoption of biotech rice by China not only involves the most important food crop in the world, but the culture of Asia as well. It will provide the stimulus that will have a major impact on the acceptance of biotech rice in Asia and, more generally, on the acceptance of biotech food, feed and fiber crops worldwide. Taking all factors into account, the outlook for 2010 points to continued growth in the global hectarage of biotech crops, up to 150 million hectares (375 million acres), with about 15 million farmers growing biotech crops in up to 30 countries.

Source: AgBioView
17 January  2005

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1.14  Orion Genomics donates sorghum sequence to public domain

Orion Genomics, a Second Code biotechnology company, announced today that it is donating to public researchers all of its proprietary gene-enriched DNA sequence from the sorghum plant, a close relative of corn and one of the most important cereal crops worldwide. The sequence is expected to help researchers understand and harness sorghums unusual resilience in sub-optimal environments to improve other crops such as maize, and to contribute to the development of biofuels. A paper authored by Orion researchers appears online today in The Public Library of Science and describes the way in which Orions GeneThresher" technology was used to quickly and cost effectively elucidate for the first time more than 95 percent of the genes in sorghum. Previously, using traditional technologies, the sorghum sequence was too large to be cost-effectively determined. The sorghum sequence is available at Genbank (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Genbank) of the
National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Orion's public release of more than half a million sequences derived from the gene-rich portion of the sorghum genome represents a significant advance in U.S. cereal genome research,said John Mullet, Ph.D., Director of the Crop Biotechnology Center and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Texas A&M University and a worldwide expert in sorghum research. Orion's collection of a half million gene rich sequences and the more than 20,000 different gene sequences derived from NSF funded cDNA sequencing projects provide the first in-depth look at sorghum's gene complement. This information will significantly advance comparative analysis of the sorghum, rice and maize genomes and accelerate the discovery of genes that contribute to sorghum's unusual adaptation to hot, dry, adverse environments.

The sorghum sequence was developed using Orions GeneThresher technologies as part of a project that leveraged a 2001 cost share grant awarded to enhance sorghum by the Department of Energy. The grant was awarded to an Orion-led consortium of researchers from NC+ Hybrids and Solvigen, LLC to develop new enhanced sorghum lines with higher starch more efficient in the production of biofuels and bioproducts.

Our hope is that Orions gift of the sorghum sequence to public researchers brings tremendous benefit to people worldwide by leading to improved grain crops and environmentally friendly fuels,said Nathan Lakey, President and CEO of Orion Genomics.

Source: SeedQuest.com
4 January 2005

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1.15  New IFPRI report debunks misconceptions about biotech crop research in poor countries

Poorer nations turn to publicly developed GM crops
Joel I. Cohen, Nature Biotechnology, Volume 23, No. 1, January 2005, pp. 27-33.
Complete report in PDF format (462K): http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/articles/2005/naturebiotech.pdf
In developing countries, public institutions are conducting groundbreaking research to produce genetically modified (GM) crops, according to an article published today in Nature Biotechnology.

The article highlights the results of a new IFPRI study on the development of genetically modified crops by research institutes in 15 developing countries. The first of its kind, this study assesses the state of biotech crop research, the types of genes being used, and the biosafety and regulatory challenges poor countries face.

"Our study debunks many misconceptions about biotech crop research," said Joel Cohen, IFPRI Senior Research Fellow and author of the article. "Many people assume that large multinational corporations control the global development of genetically modified foods, but the reality is that poor countries have vibrant programs of public biotech research. Often this research draws upon indigenous plant varieties to cultivate improved crops for local use by small-scale farmers."

According to the study, current biotech research has the potential to reduce the use of pesticides. In the future, biotech crops may increase drought tolerance and resistance to saline soils and improve the nutritional value of staple foods.

The study documents biotech research on 45 different crops, including cotton, corn, cacao, and cassava. The majority of this research focuses on improving resistance to diseases and pests which can devastate yields for farmers in poor countries. However, most of the research is currently being developed in laboratory, greenhouse, or confined field trials. Very little is currently available for use by farmers.

"Unfortunately, most poor countries lack the knowledge, capacity, and funding to develop and comply with biosafety regulatory requirements. As a result, GM crops face difficulties moving from the lab to farmers' fields," noted Patricia Zambrano of IFPRI, who contributed to the study.

While previous reports have examined biotech crop research in developing countries, this study is the first to draw the connection between regulation and specific crops and genetic traits, showing the policy implications of the research. This information will be critical to policymakers for improving biosafety regulation.

"Poor countries are often unwilling or unable to test commercial GM crops because of national policies or regulatory systems that are not prepared to grant approval for general use," Cohen explained. "Researchers in industrialized and developing countries need to work together to provide science-based information for decision makers, so that they can enhance the clarity of regulatory policies and procedures."

The study recommends an increase in small-scale, confined field trials to test crops and receive feedback from farmers. It also stresses the need for improved information sharing among developing countries.

"The information in this study will assist developing countries to strengthen the effectiveness of research and regulation, so that they can maximize benefits to small-scale farmers," said Mark Rosegrant, director of Environment and Production Technology at IFPRI.

Source: SeedQuest.com
6 January 2005

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1.16  German law stops research project on GM potatoes with higher levels of an important carotenoid

In the wake of a law seen as a major blow for science, a major project's funding dries up
By Ned Stafford, The Scientist
A German research project aimed at producing genetically modified (GM) potatoes with higher levels of an important carotenoid will likely be cancelled before completion because of what the study's leader calls the German government's negative attitude toward GM crop research.

Helmar Schubert, from the
University of Karlsruhe's Institute of Food Process Engineering, told The Scientist the German research ministry has refused to provide additional funding needed to complete the 5-year project.

The group has succeeded in producing GM potatoes with 250 times more zeaxanthin than found in conventional potatoes, said Schubert. Past studies have indicated that higher dietary levels of zeaxanthin reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a frequent cause of vision loss in the elderly.

Schubert said his group needs just one more year to finish the project, but "at the moment, we have no money to finish the project."

The project, which started in 1999, received a grant of around ¬10 million (USD $13.2 million) under the government of the previous chancellor, Helmut Kohl. Schubert said Kohl supported GM research more than the current government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose SPD party relies on the support of the Greens party to maintain a parliamentary majority.

Schroeder's government last year supported parliamentary passage of a new highly restrictive GM crop law that most in the bioscience community see as a major blow to German science. Mark Stitt, managing director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, reflected the prevailing disillusionment during an interview with The Scientist in late November. "
Germany has potentially one of the most flourishing bioscience industries in the world," he said. "But now, research will be leaving Germany. Firms will be leaving Germany."

Schubert said simply: "You can imagine that the current government has some problems with our project."

In the spring of 2003, seed potatoes developed by a
University of Frankfurt team were planted in a test field by a research team headed by Gerhard Wenzel from the Technical University of Munich. But as has often been the case in Germany, the test field was destroyed by anti-GM activists, throwing the project a year behind schedule. Last spring, the team installed ¬23,000 (USD $30,400) worth of security cameras before planting a fresh test field, which survived until harvest, yielding 2 metric tons of GM potatoes this past autumn.

The first batch of potatoes was to have been analyzed by the Federal Research Center of Nutrition and Food in
Karlsruhe, Schubert said. But funding for the center and most other project participants ended in October, and the 2 tons of GM potatoes are now in storage.

"The potatoes, in our opinion, are very valuable," Schubert said. About half a million euros is needed to complete the project, which would include a second test field planted next spring.

Barbara Dufner, a Research Ministry spokeswoman, told The Scientist that additional funding to continue the program is not expected, adding that funding for Wenzel's
University of Munich team ends on May 28. Schubert said he will seek funding from other sources. But if he fails, he said it "does not make sense" for Wenzel to plant another test field this spring.

Christoph Then, a Greenpeace Germany GM expert, told The Scientist that in addition to his organization's opposition to the concept of GM crops, it also is generally opposed to enriching foods with vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients, some of which can be harmful if ingested in excess. "It makes no sense to enrich certain types of food with GMOs," he said.

Source: SeedQuest.com
13 January 2005

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1.17  New strategies proposed for insect resistance management (IRM) and integrated pest management (IPM) in transgenic crops

 New strategies are needed for insect resistance management (IRM) and integrated pest management (IPM) in transgenic crops. These were outlined by Sarah Bates of Cornell University and colleagues, in Insect resistance management in GM crops: past, present and future,published in Nature Biotechnology.

Authors recounted several deployment tactics designed to delay resistance, including moderate toxin dosage to ensure the survival of a fraction of susceptible insects; a high toxin dosage to kill insects heterozygous for resistance; the used of stacked genes in transgenic plants; temporal or tissue-specific toxin expression of the genes in question; and refugeor provision of non-transgenic plants.

The researchers likewise reported new techniques for integrated pest and insect resistance management. These were the use of pyramided transgenic strains, as in the latest strains of transgenic cotton, which can ensure better pest control, and which require a smaller refuge; and the use of novel toxins, such as Cry and Bt toxins with different modes of action, or vegetative insecticidal proteins (Vips) which have shown insecticidal activity against a wide range of pests.

Researchers also proposed that molecular breeding should be complemented by traditional methods of integrated pest management, including cultural and biological controls.

Full article at www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nbt/journal/v23/n1/full/nbt1056.html&filetype=pdf

Source: CropBiotech Update via SeedQuest.com
21 January 2005

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1.18  Consumers to benefit from organic potato breakthrough

University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Shoppers throughout Europe are enjoying a greater variety of organic potatoes at more affordable prices, according to researchers who publish an international study today.

Several varieties of organic potato, suitable for a range of national palates and cuisine, are adorning supermarket shelves across the continent for the first time.

A European study, led by Nafferton Ecological Farming Group at the
University of Newcastle upon Tyne, found up to ten varieties of potatoes, which can be grown without using chemical fertilisers and pesticides whilst being particularly resistant to the deadly fungal disease, blight. Most of these are newly available on supermarket shelves throughout the continent.

'Designer composts' were created as part of the project, and were shown to increase organic potato crop yields by up to 40 per cent. New and effective organic crop management strategies have also been tried and tested.

Results of the project (called Blight-MOP), which involved 13 partners in
Europe, will be presented today at a conference in Newcastle hosted by the Soil Association and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

One of the project's main objectives was to encourage more consumers and producers to 'go organic' - currently just four per cent of shoppers buy organic vegetables.

Among the newly-available organic potato selection are two Scottish varieties, Eve Balfour and Lady Balfour, which have been bred by the Scottish Crop Research Institute and are on
UK supermarket shelves. Other examples include a "purple" potato from Hungary.

Shoppers can spend up to twice as much on organic potatoes than other varieties. Organic farmers do not have powerful chemical fertilisers and pesticides in their armoury, meaning harvests are much smaller than conventional crops grown on similarly-sized areas of land.

Organic farmers' main weapons against blight - which caused widespread famine in the
UK in the 1840s and is extremely difficult to control - are mineral copper sprays, and even these are not popular with consumers.

Researchers found some blight-management strategies, which would allow farmers to do away with the copper sprays but not at the expense of a reduction in crop size.

Professor Carlo Leifert, leader of the Nafferton Ecological Farming Group at Newcastle University, said: "Until now it's been hard to find varieties of potato that can be grown organically but can resist blight, and it's taken a lot of investigation to get this far.

"From a European perspective, you can't really find a 'one size fits all' solution to the organic problem. For instance, a potato that's popular with the Swiss for making dishes such as tartiflette and rosti, may not suit what the British consumer wants for baked potato, mash and chips.

"Essentially, the Blight-MOP project has ensured that organic potatoes of the future will be more widely available and of an equal, if not better, quality and closer to the price of potatoes grown using chemicals.

"Hopefully we can then encourage more consumers and farmers alike to take the healthy eating option and go organic," said Professor Leifert, adding that valuable lessons from the exercise could be transferred to other aspects of organic vegetable production.

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said, "The results from the research are good news for farmers and consumers. Organic potato growing can be technically challenging and we hope that these blight resistant varieties will enable
UK organic farmers to produce more potatoes and reduce the reliance of imports. It is encouraging that the supermarkets are recognising the challenges of growing organic potatoes and have started giving these new varieties a chance on the supermarket shelf."

Source: EurkAlert.com
5 January 2005

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1.19 ICRISAT working on biofortification of groundnuts

New Delhi, India
 The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) has launched research to enhance beta-carotene in groundnut.

The research is part of the global challenge programmeof the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) aimed at the biofortification of crops to combat malnutrition due to the deficiency of nutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin A in food crops. Icrisat is one of the 15 international agricultural research institutes affiliated to CGIAR.

Plant breeder Dr KK Sharma told FE, Icrisats research will help combat vitamin A deficiency in the malnourished. We are planning to target the malnourished people, particularly women and children across the globe. Majority of the malnourished live in semi-arid tropics. This variety of groundnut can also be cultivated in
India.

He said that at Icrisat, tissue culture and transformation methods had been optimised to obtain high frequency (80-90%) shoot regeneration from cotyledon and leaf explants of groundnut. The technology is now being used to produce new transgenic groundnuts with higher levels of beta-carotenes. Icrisat scientists hope that such groundnuts will form an important genetic base for incorporating resistance to other biotic and abiotic constraints to the productivity of this important crop of the semi-arid tropics.

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness and total blindness in children. About 350,000 children become partly or totally blind each year because of vitamin A deficiency and about 60% of them die within a few months after going blind according to an estimate of WHO, said Dr Sharma.

He said that while vitamin A was only present in animal products, its predecessor beta-carotene or provitamin A was found in several plant species. However, these are not taken up easily from digested food, because they are fat-soluble and their bioavailability depends on the presence of fat or oil in the same meal, failing which they are excreted undigested.

Oral delivery of vitamin A is problematic, mainly because of the lack of infrastructure thus necessitating urgent need of alternatives, he said.

Source: Financial Express via SeedQuest.com
4 January 2005

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1.20  Research shows depth and breadth of testing needed to determine genotype potential

New Orleans, Louisiana
 The role of wide-scale testing is the topic of a paper being presented during the Beltwide Cotton Conferences' Cotton Improvement Conference at 4 p.m. Thursday, January 6. Dr. Dawn Fraser, breeder at Delta and Pine Land Company's Atlantic Coast Research Station in
Hartsville, SC, conducted the study on the contribution of wide-scale testing.

Fraser explains that "Each year thousands of genotypes, or potential varieties, are evaluated in hundreds of different locations across the
Cotton Belt in the hope of identifying and selecting lines with improved yield and fiber quality. We wanted to look at whether certain environments where the genotypic performance is expressed most clearly could be identified. If we could find environments which were also representative of the target market area, then these environments would be closest to ideal."

Fraser used a method of statistical analysis to plot the data. She says, "We were looking for multiple locations that are 'ideal' for selecting for specific fiber traits. In an 'artificial' data set where the same lines were tested over the same locations in two successive years, locations could be identified that were most suitable for selecting for fiber length, uniformity fiber, strength and elongation. In a typical commercial testing program though, environments remain constant but the lines tested change each year. In this scenario, the analysis was not able to identify multiple locations that were consistently ideal for all variables when considered across tests types and maturity groups, although some locations were consistently most ideal for variables such as mic and elongation (early-mid tests) and fiber length, strength and elongation (full season tests)."

Dr. Bill Hugie, D&PL vice president of research, says Fraser's study confirms what breeders have known anecdotally for some time.

"Breeders have known there are differences in the way individual varieties perform in different environments. For that reason, breeders would generally test their varieties at more than one location," Hugie adds. "This study points to the value of testing in the Advance Testing Program D&PL put in place several years ago to move varieties from the early stages of progeny rows toward commercialization. We move varieties through seven stages increasing the numbers of test locations from the individual breeder's locations to test sites around the world. This project provides a of investigating the reliability of our test sites so we can continue to fine-tune the testing program."

Delta and Pine Land Company is a commercial breeder, producer and marketer of cotton planting seed, as well as soybean seed in the
Cotton Belt.

Source: SeedQuest.com
5 January 2005

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1.21  Herbicide resistant sunflowers have roots in ARS research

ARS News Service
HA 245 and RHA 426 sound like the names of super-secret spy planes. The truth is more mundane, though no less important to sunflower growers: HA 245 and RHA 426 are strains of sunflower germplasm that have given rise to the oilseed crop's first herbicide-resistant cultivars.

Agricultural Research Service geneticist Jerry Miller developed the germplasm by crossing cultivated sunflower with the weedy relative Helianthus annuus. He began the crosses in 1998 after learning of weed physiologist Kassim Al-Khatib's research findings. In studies at
Kansas State University, Al-Khatib showed that some H. annuus specimens could withstand being sprayed with the postemergence herbicide imazamox.

That observation generated considerable excitement; transferring such resistance into cultivated sunflower could enable growers to spray weed-infested fields without killing their crop in the process, according to Miller, at the
ARS Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center in Fargo, ND.

Miller germinated the seeds of 300 H. annuus specimens from Al-Khatib's collection, and then sprayed the young plants with herbicide to identify the hardiest survivors. From 28 candidates, he chose six to cross with cultivated sunflowers, producing five generations of crossbred progeny in one year. Backcrossing eliminated unwanted traits like multiple flower heads. Each time, Miller used embryo rescue, a technique for side-stepping fertilized seed's lengthy dormancy stage.

In 2002, Miller and colleagues' hard work paid off with the public release of HA 245 and RHA 426 as breeding stock that commercial seed companies could use to produce farmer-ready cultivars. Those cultivars, known as
Clearfield sunflowers, debuted in 2003, with further releases made in 2004.

Clearfield sunflowers' herbicide resistance should be especially useful in drought-prone regions where fields are left unplowed, a conservation practice that can give dominant weed species a chance to sprout and cause problems later on, according to Miller.

Read more about the research in the January 2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jan05/sunflower0105.htm

ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Source: SeedQuest.com
3 January 2005

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1.22  USDA/ARS diversifies sunflower traits

ARS News Service
Wild sunflowers--whether growing beside a fast-food restaurant parking lot or clinging to shifting sand dunes--are worth their weight in gold to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

Wild species seeds, according to the researchers, contain genes for improving cultivated sunflower and bolstering its resistance to insect pests and diseases. Genes from one such species led to cytoplasmic male sterility, the mechanism by which today's sunflower breeders develop new sunflower hybrids. The economic value of traits already bred into cultivated sunflower from wild species is an estimated $267 million to $384 million annually.

ARS scientists have been collecting wild sunflowers since 1976, amassing representative populations of the 50 known Helianthus species, according to scientists Tom Gulya and Gerald Seiler, in the ARS Sunflower Research Unit,
Fargo, N.D. Accessions are placed in the ARS National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) at Ames, Iowa, for safekeeping and distribution to sunflower researchers worldwide.

The
Fargo unit is a clearinghouse of sorts for newly collected specimens en route to being catalogued and stored at NPGS. Seeds are first evaluated for weight, oil content and fatty acid composition. The new accessions are then tested for possible resistance to economically important sunflower diseases.

H. annuus is the predominant Helianthus species kept at NPGS, which has 2,163 accessions. H. annuus' preference for disturbed soils--like roadside grading and constructions sites--indicates the species' tenacity and adaptability, according to Gulya. Others are habitat-specific and vulnerable to human activity. In
Texas, road projects pushed aside populations of H. paradoxus. Fortunately, new ones were found in New Mexico. Now, H. paradoxus' seed is in safe storage, including its genes for breeding salt- and drought-tolerant hybrids.

Seiler and Gulya collect sunflowers once or twice a year, typically driving 2,500 to 3,000 miles per trip, much of that on back roads. They map and describe each new site so future collections can be made. They estimate at least one trip annually for the next 10 years will be needed to collect all remaining species native to the
United States.

ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Source: SeedQuest.com
29 December 2004

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1.23  First report of an Rsv resistance-breaking isolate of Soybean mosaic virus in Korea

Soybean mosaic virus (SMV), a member of the genus Potyvirus, is the most prevalent pathogen of soybean (_Glycine max_) in Korea. Since a single dominant gene, Rsv1 and its alleles, were identified in resistant soybean lines or cultivars (Chen et al., 2002), additional resistance genes Rsv3 and Rsv4 for SMV have been characterised
(Gunduz et al., 2002). In Korea, SMV-G5H in the 1980's (Cho & Chung, 1986) and SMV-G7H in the 1990's (Kim et al., 2003) were regarded as dominant resistance-breaking (RB) strains on soybean cultivars carrying Rsv1 alleles alone.

SMV isolate SMV-CN18 was collected from naturally-infected soybean, cv. Taeankong, at Chungnam Agricultural Research & Extension Services,
Daejeon, Korea in 2000. It was identified serologically by positive reaction to SMV-G1 antiserum (ATCC PVAS-94) in an agarose gel double diffusion test, subjected to successive isolations from single lesions on bean (_Phaseolus vulgaris_) cv. Topcrop and maintained in soybean Lee 68 by mechanical inoculation.

To determine the biological traits of the isolate, differential soybean cultivars and lines, Lee68 (rsv), PI96983 (Rsv1), York (Rsv1-y),
Marshall (Rsv1-m), Kwanggyo (Rsv1-k), Ogden (Rsv1-t), Suweon97 (Rsv1-h), L29 (Rsv3) and V94-5152 (Rsv4), were mechanically inoculated with the isolate and symptom development was observed for 2-3 weeks in a temperature-controlled greenhouse.

All soybean plants developed systemic mild mosaic symptoms on the upper uninoculated leaves, without causing local necrotic lesions on the lower leaves. To verify the systemic infection, upper leaves were collected from each cultivar, tested for the presence of virus by RT-PCR analysis and the positive results were confirmed.

The gene-specific primers to amplify coding regions of SMV-CN18 were designed based on the conserved nucleotide sequences of SMV-G2, -G7 and -N. The optimal conditions for RT-PCR consistently yielded amplified products of P1 (927 bp), HC-Pro (1371 bp), P3 (1197 bp), CI (1902 bp including 6K), NIa (1298 bp including VPg), NIb (1551 bp) and CP (795 bp) (Fig. 2).

The amplified DNA fragments encoding SMV genes were introduced into pGEM-T Easy Vector (
Promega, USA), their nucleotide sequences were determined in both directions. In addition, the 5' and 3' non-coding regions were determined by 5'- and 3'-RACE kit (Takara, Japan). The complete sequence was submitted to the EMBL database under accession number AJ619757.

The identities of nucleotide sequences for the full length genome of SMV-CN18 were between 93 and 94 percent with known SMV strains (G2, G5K, G7, G7d, G7H, Aa, Huanghuai 5 (HH5), Severe (HZ), N, and Aa15-M2), and the identities of amino acid sequences for the coding regions were between 95 and 96 percent, confirming that CN18 is a strain of SMV.

This is the 1st report on the emergence of a SMV RB isolate overcoming the resistance genes, Rsv1, Rsv3 and Rsv4 in the soybean cultivars and lines.

 Source: British Soc. Plant Pathol., New Disease Reports, Vol. 10 [edited] via SeedQuest.com
30 December 2004

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1.24  CSIRO's High Rainfall Zone cereal lines show promise in stripe rust battle

Australia
The strain of stripe rust first identified in Western Australia has proved to be even more aggressive and virulent than we feared and varieties thought to have moderate levels of resistance have succumbed to severe disease pressure.

Worse is the fact that this invasion has ruled many of our elite breeding lines out of contention for release. However, that's not the case with lines in the CSIRO's High Rainfall Zone (HRZ) program with plant breeder Dr Richard Richards describing "outstanding levels of resistance to stripe and leaf rusts".

The germplasm behind the lines in this program has come from NZ Crop and Food Research. They are derived from the northern hemisphere and New Zealand, subjected to growing conditions with much more disease pressure than we're used to experiencing here in Australia.

The
New Zealand germplasm is routinely challenged with all of the principal rust pathogens through the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program, and trials in all states of Australia during the past season have thrown up a large number of lines showing almost total resistance to stripe rust.

Dr Richards isn't sure what genes are responsible for this high level of resistance but suspects that it may be a combination of several major genes and a number of minor genes. If that is the case then this level of resistance should be quite robust, as any new pathogen will need to overcome a combination of genes to break down the plant's resistance.

The HRZ wheat program is focused on producing quality milling wheat varieties for the expanding higher rainfall zone of the Australian wheat belt. Only white grain lines are under consideration, with the target of producing varieties that will make the Australian Hard (AH) segregation. Dr Richards concedes that it will require a high level of management to achieve the necessary protein content in the higher rainfall zone but insists that the varieties released in the program will have the necessary milling quality.

That's good news for the whole of our wheat industry because there should be no barrier to introducing the resistance found in the
New Zealand germplasm to varieties suited to the more traditional growing areas.

The move to breed varieties especially suited for the High Rainfall Zone is particularly timely with the increasing value of livestock dictating a swing back to the traditional mixed farming approach and a renewed interest in the techniques of grazing grain crops. We're fortunate in
Australia to have such a diversity of short, medium and long season wheat varieties that can be adapted to meet the changing circumstances of the industry.

Source: SeedQuest.com
23 December 2004

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1.25  Insect-resistant maize in Africa moves forward

Nairobi, Kenya
Highlighting the Insect Resistant Maize in Africa (IRMA) project's mid-December annual meetings in Nairobi, Kenya, was news that an application to conduct the first field planting of transgenic Bt maize in Kenya would be submitted and likely approved before year's end.

The application was indeed approved during the week of 13 December by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) Biosafety Committee and was scheduled for consideration by the National Biosafety Committee on
12 January 2005. If all goes well, planting of Bt maize at the project's secure, open quarantine site could go forward in February 2005. Dr. Stephen Mugo of CIMMYT and Dr. Simon Gichuki of KARI presented and defended the application for field evaluation of maize containing the cry1Ab or cry1Ba (Bt) genes.

The broader significance of the above is that it keeps the IRMA project on track with its timetable to get insect resistant maize out to Kenyan farmers. This notable progress was but one of many activities reported and considered at IRMA's annual project meetings held 8-10 December, which included the reporting/planning meeting, the fifth annual stakeholders meeting, and the steering committee meeting.

Source: SeedQuest.com
22 December 2004

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1.26  Bambino watermelon named one of the "Most Amazing Inventions of 2004'' by Time Magazine

Oxnard, California
Bambino personal watermelons developed by Seminis Inc., the world's largest developer, producer and marketer of vegetable and fruit seeds, were named one of the "Most Amazing Inventions of 2004" by Time magazine. The seedless mini fruits weigh 4 to 6 pounds, about the size of a large cantaloupe. Bambino is the culmination of nearly ten years of traditional plant breeding and research.

Source: SeedQuest.com
21 December 2004

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1.27  New index possible for screening salt-tolerant rice lines

The concentration of glycinebetaine, a molecule produced in plants in response to salt stress, may be used as a rapid biochemical index for the screening of new salt-tolerant lines of rice. Suriyan Cha-um of the
National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and colleagues discuss this finding in an article in the latest issue of Science Asia.

Glycinebetaine (Glybet) is involved in plant stress responses to extreme salt, drought, temperature, and light conditions. Studies have shown that Glybet acts as an osmoprotective agent by stabilizing both the quaternary structures of proteins and the highly ordered structure of membranes against the adverse effects of salinity and water-deficit.

Using Thai jasmine rice seedlings, researchers found that betaine aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH), a key enzyme in the Glybet synthesis pathway, showed progressive elevation during the first four days after growth under salt-stress conditions (342 mM NaCl), but gradually decreased thereafter (days 6-8). This increase in BADH activity was accompanied by an accumulation of Glybet. In contrast, the BADH activity and Glybet content of control seedlings (0 mM NaCl) remained at a low and constant level during the same 8-day interval.

Significant reductions in the concentrations of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, total chlorophyll, and total carotenoid content of salt-stressed seedlings were also observed with increasing exposure time to salt-stressed conditions.

Glybet accumulation in rice seedlings is consistent with the known defense response in plants, and assaying BADH activity and/or Glybet accumulation may be further used in screening for salt-tolerant varieties of rice.

Download the complete article, "Biochemical and Physiological Responses of Thai Jasmine Rice to Salt Stress," at http://scienceasia.tiac.or.th/PDF/vol30/ v30_247_253.pdf

Source: CropBiotech Update
17 December 2004:
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics,
Cornell U.

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1.28  Asian vegetable becomes indicator of soil arsenic levels

In Distribution of Arsenic in Kangkong (Ipomoea reptans), Mizanur Rahman and Preeda Parkpian of the Asian Institute of Technology in
Thailand used the local leafy vegetable to assess how easily plants could accumulate arsenic from the soil, and how the application of phosphorous-based fertilizers could influence uptake of the toxic element. Their findings are published in the latest issue of Science Asia.

Using a pot experiment on kangkong in Khulna, Bangladesh, a country which constantly faces the problem of high levels of arsenic in its food chain, researchers found that applying arsenic to the soil significantly increased its accumulation in plants, with the highest levels found in the root; and that phosphorous-based fertilizers, also widely used in developing countries, could enhance arsenic accumulation.

Kangkong is an important vegetable in
Asia, and is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. However, with the danger of long time consumption of arsenic contaminated food and water, consumers are also in danger of suffering from kidney, liver, lung, and bladder damage.
Download the complete article at http://scienceasia.tiac.or.th/PDF/vol30/v30_255_259.pdf

Source: CropBiotech Update 22 December 2004:
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics,
Cornell U.

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1.29  Rice collection identifies valuable traits

ARS News Service
 Agricultural Research Service scientists recently completed an agronomic analysis of an important rice genebank, providing breeders with valuable information that they can use to improve this vital crop.

The researchers analyzed the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rice Core Collection, part of the National Small Grains Collection (NSGC). The rice core collection's 1,801 entries represent about 10 percent of the 17,396 rice accessions in the NSGC.

The ARS analysis shows that the core collection captures more than 70 percent of the genetic variation in all the NSGC lines, according to estimates. Reaching this milestone will help researchers to find genes that have important traits and to transfer those genes to commercial cultivars.

NSGC is part of the ARS-coordinated National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS), a cooperative effort by public and private organizations to preserve the genetic diversity of plants. Accessions are included in a database so scientists worldwide can search for specific characteristics that interest them, and can request the germplasm for research.

Wengui Yan, a geneticist at the ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center (DBNRRC) in
Stuttgart, Ark., leads efforts to build the core collection. He completed the agronomic analysis in collaboration with Tom Tai, a rice geneticist in the ARS Crops Pathology and Genetics Research Unit at Davis, Calif.; Harold Bockelman, curator of NSGC in Aberdeen, Idaho; and J. Neil Rutger, director, DBNRRC.

Last year, Yan froze leaf tissues of the core collection lines for molecular analyses. Molecular geneticists have developed 183 Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers to locate genes that determine agronomic traits and quality. The ARS scientists at
Stuttgart have completed the SSR analysis for 300 of 1,801 entries.

ARS scientists at the Rice Research Unit in
Beaumont, Texas, assisted by analyzing molecular markers related to grain quality. Thanks to joint federal and state efforts, 21 out of 30 descriptors used to describe plant traits, such as aroma and pest resistance, have been evaluated for this collection.

ARS is the USDA's chief scientific research agency.

December 13, 2004
Contributed by Elcio Guimaraes, FAO/AGPC

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1.30  Exploring the regulation of leaf growth

 EAST LANSING Researchers from Michigan State University have identified two cooperating genes whose products mediate leaf growth

Temperatures drop, the last leaves fall off the trees, and soon snow will cover  the country I live in, Switzerland. Winter is approaching, and people already enjoy the special mood before the holiday season. But what would winter be like without being without the prospects of spring that will follow?

When the lifelessness of winter is followed with a burst of growth, we often are left to wonder how nature orchestrates this change. Researchers who looked into the question of how leaf growth is regulated and what genetic and biochemical factors determine leaf growth, are Drs. Jeong Hoe Kim and Hans Kende from the  DOE Plant Research Laboratory at Michigan State University.

In previous studies, Dr. Kendes group identified the role of the Arabidopsis thaliana growth-regulating factor (AtGRF) gene family, whose members encode factors that play a regulatory role in the growth and development of leaves. These factors are proteins that bind to DNA and function to initiate, enhance, or inhibit gene expression. In their latest studies, Drs. Kim and Kende discovered a family of three genes called GFR-interacting factors (GIFs)  as well as their role in leaf growth. As the name implies, GIF cooperates with GRF in influencing gene expression, thereby   affecting the growth and shape of leaves. Such a protein is called a coactivator in the world of molecular genetics.

To prove their findings, Dr. Kende and his laboratory showed that transgenic Arabidopsis plants expressing high levels of GIF resulted in a similar phenotype as transgenic Arabidopsis plants expressing high levels of GFR. Either transgenic plants produced larger leaves when compared to control plants.

In the course of their experiments, Drs. Kim and Kende also noticed that the GIF transgenic plants were sterile. With the inability to pass on the added genes, transgenic plants expressing higher levels of GIF would not be able to pollinate neighboring crops. This would be beneficial to growers who are concerned about genetically modified plants crossing with other plants.

Another fact supporting the notion that GIF acts as a coactivator is its sequence similarity to human SYT, which is a well-known coactivator.

Now that more is known about the development of plant leaves, the question arises of how this knowledge could be used in agriculture. One example can be found in medicinal plants. Often medicinal chemicals are found in the leaves of plants. In such cases, a genetically engineered plant producing higher levels of GIF, would have larger leaves, thereby increasing the amount of medicinal compounds that growers could harvest. The increased yields could reduce costs to the grower as well to the consumer in form of more affordable medicinal drugs.

http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=exploring&doc_id

Contributed by Robert Derham

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1.31  DNA repair may lead to evolution, new transgenic techniques

The little mustard Arabidopsis and the tobacco plant are both dicots, but the latter's genome is over twenty times larger, even as Arabidopsis' is more complex. What, then, spells the difference and complexity? Holger Puchta of the University of Karlsruhe, Germany attempts to answer the question in the latest issue of The Journal of Experimental Botany.

In "The repair of double-strand breaks in plants: mechanisms and consequences for genome evolution," Puchta looks at various proposed techniques for DNA repair in plants, especially for damage caused by double-strand breaks (DSBs). DSB repair is important for the survival of all organisms, as it has to be performed before genomes can be replicated; and, considering that it entails removing or replacing entire stretches of DNA, it may be the key to understanding why some plants have more DNA than others, or why some genes are missing or duplicated.

Generally, DSB's can be repaired by either homologous recombination (HR), where sequences are linked in regions that are nearly identical in sequence to each other; or non-homologous end joining (NHEJ); also known as illegitimate recombination, where DNA sequence information does not play a major role in the rejoining of the two double strands.

Since sequence substitution or removal are involved, induced DSB's and DSB repair may also one day be used in the controlled induction of genomic changes in plants, Puchta says.

For a more detailed discussion of DSB repair, download the review at http://jxb.oupjournals.org/cgi/reprint/56/409/1.

Source: CropBiotech Update
22 December 2004
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell U.
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1.32  Agreement protects genetic diversity of Peru's potato varieties and rights of indigenous people to control access to local genetic resources

Farming communities in Peru have signed an agreement with the International Potato Centre (CIP) to protect both the genetic diversity of the region's numerous potato varieties, and the rights of indigenous people to control access to these local genetic resources.

Under the scheme, CIP scientists and local farmers will 'repatriate' potato varieties from CIP's collection of specimens the world's most comprehensive and conserve them in a 'potato park'. As well as providing food for the six communities that jointly own the land in southern
Peru, the 15,000-hectare park will serve as a 'living library' of potato genetic diversity.

Peruvian farmers have 'lost' some of their traditional potato varieties for various reasons, including government policies to push ahead with commercial production and discard old-fashioned growing methods.

The agreement, which is the first of its kind, aims to ensure that the control of genetic resources is kept with local people. Alejandro Argumedo, associate director of the Association for Nature and Sustainable Development a Cusco-based civil society group that helped broker the deal believes that it could serve as a model for other indigenous communities.

"Biological diversity is best rooted in its natural environment and managed by indigenous peoples who know it best," says Argumedo.

Despite this, he says that the agreement was not drawn up for local communities to secure intellectual property rights over indigenous potato strains. Rather, the intention is to ensure that the genetic material does not become "subject to intellectual property rights in any form" and that the diversity of Peruvian potato varieties is maintained.

Argumedo told SciDev.Net that CIP has agreed to pay for the cost of reintroducing the strains as an acknowledgment of the benefits the organisation has derived from the indigenous knowledge of the region.

However, he maintains that this agreement would not hamper collaborative research between the CIP and scientists elsewhere provided that the research is not used for exploitative or commercial purposes.

CIP is one of the 15 research centres of Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which aims to reduce poverty and increase food security in developing countries through scientific research.

Rachel Wynberg of Biowatch South
Africa, an organisation that monitors the commercialisation of biological resources, hopes that "this agreement signals a new way of working for CGIAR centres one which advances the rights of local farming communities, over those of corporations, and which places the ownership of genetic resources firmly with the local custodians of these resources".

At a meeting in
Mexico in November 2004, environmental activists protested that CGIAR was building too many links with large biotechnology corporations that promote genetically modified crops (see Agriculture group panders to GM giants, say activists).

Alejandro Argumedo is on the advisory panel of SciDev.Net's indigenous knowledge dossier

For more on this subject, visit SciDev.Net's dossiers on intellectual property and indigenous knowledge

Source: SciDev.Net via SeedQuest.com
19 January 19 2005

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1.33  Lighting up gene expression in plants

ARS News Service

New light has been shed on where specific genes are expressed in plants, thanks to a new research technique that illuminates where genes of interest are functioning.

The method was developed at the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory in
Ithaca, N.Y., by ARS plant physiologist Leon Kochian. He was assisted by Hendrick Küpper, a Humboldt Foundation postdoctoral fellow who is now at the University of Konstanz in Germany, and ARS support scientist Laura Ort Seib.

The technique, which uses the latest hybridization and microscopy technologies, came about as part of the
Ithaca lab's ongoing studies of plants that absorb metals. It may eventually help with plant studies of all kinds, according to Kochian.

The new method, which provides immediate digital and tabular data, lets scientists work with large pieces of tissue from plants that have been exposed to different environments. It eliminates many time-consuming steps associated with current methods for pinpointing gene-expression location.

Knowing in which tissues or organs a gene and its product are expressed greatly helps researchers understand that gene's role in plant function.

When a gene is expressed, an RNA sequence that's a mirror image of its DNA sequence is created. With the new procedure, a similar mirror image is made of the target gene's mRNA molecule. This image, called a synthetic nucleotide, is tagged with a fluorescent compound. It then binds tightly with the original mRNA molecule that's produced when the gene is expressed, illuminating cells where the target gene is functioning.

The technique has already led the
Ithaca researchers to significant findings regarding alpine pennycress, Thlaspi caerulescens, an important plant that tolerates and accumulates extremely high levels of zinc, cadmium and nickel.

Read more about the research in the January issue of Agricultural Research magazine, available online at:
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jan05/plant0105.htm

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency

Source: SeedQuest.com
7 January  2005

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1.34  Scientists find common roots for thousands of plant compounds

Just one cellular pathway produces the raw ingredients plants use to make thousands of compounds, from molecules with anticancer properties to the active ingredient in catnip, according to a team of researchers at Purdue University and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology.

This finding challenges long-held assumptions about how plants produce these commercially important products. The research also could have important implications for researchers trying to harness plant pathways to produce essential oils, often used as flavor additives in food and medicine or as fragrance in body-care products, said Natalia Dudareva (photo), professor of horticulture and lead researcher of the study.

"Our research has applications in the future metabolic engineering of essential oil production," Dudareva said. "The yield of these compounds depends on the amount of materials available in the cell, and knowing where these compounds come from and which pathway produces them is the place to start."

Dudareva and her colleagues report in the current issue (Tuesday, Jan. 18) of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that the molecular precursors to a group of compounds called terpenoids - the largest and most diverse family of natural products - come from a single plant pathway, located inside the same part of a cell where photosynthesis occurs.

Terpenoids are made from compounds called precursor molecules, which are a kind of molecular raw material. Just as a potter can transform five identical spheres of clay into five unique pieces of art, identical precursor molecules can transform into unique compounds by following different molecular pathways.

Scientists previously discovered that two independent pathways, located in different compartments within a plant cell, use these precursor molecules to produce terpenoids. Most scientists assumed that both pathways were capable of producing these precursor molecules as well.

The discovery that only one pathway produces these precursors is a significant breakthrough, Dudareva said.

"We never expected to find this," she said. "This is the first time anyone has realized that only one of the two available pathways operates to make the precursor."

She also found that while some of the precursor molecules remain in the compartment where they are made, some travel through the cell to another compartment, where they enter a second pathway in terpenoid production.

The process can be likened to a manufacturing plant with an assembly line that makes a car part, such as a steering wheel. Some of those steering wheels remain on-site to be added to cars manufactured at that plant. Additional steering wheels are transported to another plant that, instead of making its own steering wheels, uses those from the first plant to produce its product.

Just as delivering steering wheels from one manufacturing facility to another requires some kind of transportation, molecules also rely on vehicles to travel around the interior of a cell. Exactly how the precursor molecules in this system travel from one compartment to another, however, remains a mystery.

"This work hints at the existence of a transporter to carry precursor molecules across the cell," said David Rhodes, Purdue professor of horticulture and a collaborator on the paper. "We already know that plants have a huge number of compartments that exchange materials. Now we need to figure out how these compartments facilitate this one-way flow of precursor molecule."

Dudareva used snapdragon flowers in this research, a model plant system she also uses in her studies of floral scent regulation.

While limited to this one species, she suggests similar results might be found in other plants.

"Others have previously shown indirectly that the same pathway that's not functioning in snapdragons is also blocked in basil plants and in mint," she said. "This opens the question of how widespread is this phenomenon?"

The finding also raises intriguing questions in plant evolution.

"We still don't understand why plants have duplicate pathways in different parts of the cell,"
Rhodes said. "And if one of these pathways is not operating, why haven't plants lost it over the course of evolution?"

Dudareva's collaborators also include Irina Orlova at
Purdue University, as well as Susanna Andersson, Nathalie Gatto, Michael Reichelt, Wilhelm Boland and Jonathan Gershenzon at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. Funding was provided by The National Science Foundation, Fred Gloeckner Foundation, German Academic Exchange Service and Max Planck Society.

Source: SeedQuest.com
19 January 2005

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1.35  One gene could increase biodiversity

Through genetic engineering, two research teams are trying to make plants flower earlier in order to obtain better yields and to increase biodiversity.

The human population, as well as the per capita intake of calories, continues to increase, whereas the land area used for agriculture continues to decreases. So to ensure that people are well-nourished, the goal of farmers and plant scientists alike is to obtain better crop yields.

One way to achieve this is to control when plants produce flowers. Flowering is caused by certain environmental and hormonal stimuli. The length of daylight, referred to as the plants photoperiod, and the temperature fluctuations due to seasonal change, referred to as vernalization, are two different environmental stimuli regulating flowering time.

Two researcher teams headed by Chentao Lin and Xuhong Yu from the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology of the University of California in Los Angeles and Todd Mockler from the Plant Biology Laboratory of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, recently made important discoveries of genes that strongly influence when a plant decides to flower. Their results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the
United States of America.

In their studies, the biologists worked with Arabidopsis, an often used plant in plant science experiments, because its genome is well understood. The two researcher teams studied a gene called FLK and were able to show that FLK regulates how fast a plant will flower. Dr. Lin believes that by modifying genes (such as FLK) responding to the photoperiod as well as modifying those responsible for flowering time, it is possible to obtain new varietiesone flowering earlier, one later in the season. Indeed, in their studies the researchers were able to show that Arabidopsis varieties that lacked FLK, flowered later in the season. However, by increasing the amount of FLK protein produced, they obtained plant varieties flowering earlier.

When asked, if farmers could expect better yields by modifying genes responsible for flowering times, Dr. Lin answered, Theoretically, it is possible. But it depends on many factors, and remember we pay a price for everything. But another advantage of modifying the genes responsible for flowering is that the so obtained varieties, with different flowering times, could augment the biodiversity of flowers.

Due to interbreeding, most flowering plants end up flowering at about the same time. Therefore the biodiversity is small, and ever decreasing. So by creating genetically enhanced plants with different flowering times, it would be possible to increase biodiversity.

Moreover, Dr. Lin believes that by producing flowering crops that pollinate sooner, it would be possible to grown them in climates where the growing season is shorter.

We can also simply make plants photoperiodically insensitive.Such plants could then be better adapted for northern regions, where there are shorter growing seasons, and often less sunlight.

With the discovery of the FLKs function within flowering plants, the research teams of Dr. Lin and Dr. Mockler have laid the groundwork for future developments that could be very advantageous to society and the environment. Through genetic engineering, future projects could focus on increasing the over all crop yields of flowering crops, thus ensuring that world has sustainable food supplies. Furthermore by creating new plant varieties that flower at different times, plant scientist would be increasing the level of biodiversity in the world.

http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=biodiversity&doc_id=9237&start=1&fullsearch=0

Contributed by Robert Derham

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1.36  Saving Africa's 'stubborn' seeds

Many plants used for traditional medicine in Africa are endangered because of over harvesting, so researchers are seeking ways to conserve the species in seed banks.

Conventional seed storage relies on drying or freezing to protect seeds from fungal infection and prevent them from germinating. But many African medicinal plants produce 'recalcitrant' seeds, which do not respond well to such methods.

In this essay in Science, Patricia Berjak of
South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal relates some of her experiences during 30 years of research on seeds and seed storage.

One promising approach to the problem of recalcitrant seeds, says Berjak, is to remove the 'embryonic axis' the portion of a seed that gives rise to the root and shoot of a new plant and preserve it separately it from the rest of the seed. This method could, she believes, be used to create artificial seeds, in which the embryonic axis is stored in a gel.
Reference: Science 307, 47 (2004)
Link to full essay in Science

Source: SciDev.net

10 January 2005

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2  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  CIMMYT publishes 4th edition of 'Maize Diseases: A Guide for Field Identification'

El Batan, Mexico
 CIMMYT is pleased to announce the publication of Maize Diseases: A Guide for Field Identification. 4th Edition.

Intended for field use by agricultural technicians and maize farmers, this pocket-size manual carries descriptions and color photographs for more than 50 fungal, bacterial, viral, and mollicute diseases that affect the maize crop worldwide, with basic information on pathogens and symptoms. A diagnostic key facilitates quick identification of diseases and their effects. In this fourth edition, nomenclature has been updated, new diseases and information added, and improved photographs included.

Past editions of the guide have been published in Spanish, French, Chinese, and Swahili, and thousands of copies are in use by researchers, extension workers, and farmers worldwide. The current version is available in English and Spanish, either in print or as a pdf download.

Consult CIMMYT's on-line publications catalog for further details and information on how to order copies.

Introduction: http://www.cimmyt.org/english/docs/field_guides/maize/diseases.htm

Complete field guide in PDF format (2185MB): http://www.cimmyt.org/english/docs/field_guides/maize/pdf/Maizediseases.pdf

Source: SeedQuest.com
22 December 2004

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2.02  IAEA Technical Document on genetic improvement

Genetic improvement of under-utilized and neglected crops in low income food deficit countries through irradiation and related techniques.

 November 2004, pp 219. IAEA-TECDOC-1426. Available free of cost on request. Contact: s.m.jain@iaea.org

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2.03  New maize and wheat gene bank operations manual

Maintaining the Genetic Integrity of CIMMYT Seed Collections
The policies and procedures outlined in the manual represent those currently being used in the introduction, evaluation, maintenance, regeneration, and distribution of genetic resources at CIMMYT. By following these procedures, CIMMYT ensures that the genetic resources entrusted to it in its germplasm banks are available to the world and that they maintain their genetic integrity while under CIMMYT's custodianship.
http://www.cimmyt.org/english/wps/news/seed_collections.htm

From CIMMYT e-Newsletter
9 November 2004
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics,
Cornell U.

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3.  WEB RESOURCES

3.01  New database on plant biotech projects

PlantBiotech Projects is a new database of transgenic plants with worldwide coverage of all major sectors of plant biotechnology. It can be consulted at http://www.pjbpubs.com/plantbiotech/index.htm

Launched in November 2004, the database contains information on genetically engineered plants in the agricultural biotechnology sector and consists of four modules; input traits, crop production, quality traits and plants as factories.

The data profiles include products currently in research, as well as launched products.

For more information, please contact Ms Rebecca Drake, Editor, PlantBiotechProjects

Source: CropBiotech Update via SeedQuest.com
7 January 2005

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3.02 Update 1-2005 of FAO-BiotechNews

(Editors note: the following are excerpts of most interest to applied plant breeding.)

From The Coordinator of FAO-BiotechNews,
12-1-2005 The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) E-mail address: FAO-Biotech-News@fao.org FAO website http://www.fao.org FAO Biotechnology website http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish).

2) The 10th Regular Session of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture took place on 8-12 November 2004 at FAO Headquarters,
Rome, Italy. One of the items on the agenda was the "Progress report on the Draft Code of Conduct on Biotechnology as it Relates to Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture". The report of the meeting is now available (in English, with Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish versions to follow). The Commission is an international policy body with a membership of 167 countries and the European Community that holds Regular Sessions every two years. See http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/docs10.htm or contact cgrfa@fao.org for more information.

3) Genetic improvement of cacao - New book In 2001, the Portuguese-language book "Melhoramento Gen)co do Cacaueiro", edited by L.A.S. Dias, was published. With the support of FAO's Crop and Grassland Service, it has now been translated into English, entitled "Genetic Improvement of Cacao", and made available on the web. According to the abstract, it is the first publication which deals exclusively with cacao genetic improvement. The 13 chapters, written by renowned Brazilian specialists, cover topics such as clonal improvement (Chapter 9), molecular markers in breeding (Chapter 10) and new approaches in breeding (Chapter 13). See http://ecoport.org/ep?SearchType=reference&ReferenceID=553931 or contact lasdias@ufv.br or http://www.iaea.org/programmes/nafa/d2/public/d2_pbl_1_6.html or contact S.Nielen@iaea.org to request a free copy.

6) Reference book on banana and plantain A joint publication of FAO/IAEA and the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP), entitled "Banana improvement: Cellular, molecular biology, and induced mutations" and edited by S.M. Jain and R. Swennen, has just been made available on the web. In 1994, the Plant Breeding and Genetic Section of the joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture started a Coordinated Research Project (CRP) entitled "Cellular biology and biotechnology including mutation techniques for creation of new useful banana genotypes". This reference book disseminates the results obtained during this CRP, together with several review papers, with the aim of "providing state of the art information on a number of biotechnological tools for adoption by breeders and molecular biologists to obtain Musa varieties with desirable characters in a more rapid and efficient way". The 30 chapters are organised in 5 major sections: a) cell and tissue culture, and mutation induction b) pests and diseases c) molecular cytogenetics d) genomics and e) genetic transformation and others. See http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/ae216e/ae216e00.htm or contact S.M.Jain@iaea.org for more information.

10) New CGIAR website The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has just launched its new, redesigned website. It provides easy access to information about CGIAR meetings, news stories, publications and research (including use of agricultural biotechnologies) etc. The CGIAR is an informal association of 63 members that supports agricultural research and related activities of an international public goods nature carried out by 15 autonomous research centres. The CGIAR partnership includes 24 developing and 22 industrialised countries, 4 private foundations and 13 regional and international organisations that provide financing, technical support and strategic direction. FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank serve as cosponsors of the CGIAR. See http://www.cgiar.org and contact cgiar@cgiar.org with any feedback on the new website.

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4  GRANTS AVAILABLE

4.01 The Cochran Fellowship Program - for training in the
US

See more information at http://www.fas.usda.gov/icd/food-industries/cfp/index.html

Contact your local US Embassy's Agricultural Attache for more information.
---
The Cochran Fellowship Program,
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, Food Industries Division

The
Cochran Fellowship Program (CFP) is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). It provides U.S.-based agricultural training opportunities for senior and mid-level specialists and administrators from public and private sectors who are concerned with agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing.

Almost 20 years ago, U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of
Mississippi envisioned providing training and support to help developing nations improve their agricultural systems and strengthen and enhance trade links with the United States. Since its inception in 1984, the program has provided U.S.- based training for over 9,400 international participants from 87 countries worldwide.

Training Focus: The program offers short-term training opportunities, most ranging from two weeks to three months, depending on the objectives of the program. Participants meet with professionals in their fields, participate in field observations and industry visits, experience on-the-job training, and attend university courses and seminars.

Applicant Eligibility: Program participation is open to the staff of agribusinesses, government departments, universities, and other agricultural organizations. In their own countries, applicants may be managers, technicians, scientists, professors, administrators, or policy makers.

Selection Procedures: Program Announcement CFP will announce the program for each eligible country at the start of each fiscal year (October 1).

For more information, contact: Cochran Fellowship Program: margaret.mcdaniel@usda.fas.gov; Telephone: (202) 690-0349; Fax: (202) 690-0349

Source AgBioView
5 January 2005

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4.02  Partnerships for international research, education

Partnerships for International Research and Education will enable U.S. institutions to establish collaborative relationships with foreign groups or institutions in order to advance specific research and education objectives and to make possible a research effort that neither side could accomplish on its own. As science and engineering become increasingly global,
U.S. scientists and engineers must be able to operate in teams comprised of partners from different nations and cultural backgrounds. International partnerships are, and will be, increasingly indispensable in addressing many critical global scientific problems. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in U.S. institutions by establishing innovative new models for international collaborative research and education. It is also intended to facilitate greater variety in student participation and preparation, and to contribute to the development of a diverse, globally-engaged, science and engineering workforce. Deadline 10 Mar.

www.fedgrants.gov/Applicants/NSF/OIRM/HQ/05-533/Grant.html

http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2005/nsf05533/nsf05533.txt

Contributed by Ann Marie Thro
CSREES, USDA
 
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5. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

* 9-11 February 2005: Workshop. The way forward to strengthen national plant breeding and biotechnology capacity. Organized by: FAO's Crop and Grassland Service, Rome, Italy

Objectives: (1) To present and discuss the results of the survey carried out to assess plant breeding and biotechnology capacities in selected countries; (2) to identify priority crops and ecologies to focus activities to strengthen national capacity to use plant genetic resources; (3) to help FAO design a strategy to strengthen national capacity to sustainably use plant genetic resources

Key points for discussion:
- Strategies to strengthen national plant breeding and biotechnology capacity
- Crop, country and/or regional strategy
- Balance between plant breeding and biotechnology
- How to achieve sustainability to use plant genetic resources
- Role of CG Centres
- Role of donor agencies
- Role of strong NARS
- Role of private sector
- Policies to enhance private sector investments
- Enabling policies for public and private actions
- Advice on future consultations

For more information: E-mail: elcio.guimaraes@fao.org

* 14-18 February 2005: 6th ISTA/FAO workshop on electrophoretic methods and PCR-techniques for variety verification and GMO detection, Kingston, Jamaica
This hands-on training workshop is for seed testing analysts from the Caribbean region. The aim is to train seed technicians in advanced methods for the verification of species, cultivars and hybrids as well as for qualitative and quantitative GMO detection.
For more information: E-mail: kakoli.ghosh@fao.org; Website: http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPS/new.htm
Organized by: Seeds and Plant Genetic Resources Service of FAO and the International Seed Testing Association

* 5-7 March 2005: The Role of Biotechnology for the Characterisation and Conservation of Crop, Forestry, Animal and Fishery Genetic Resources, International Workshop, Villa Gualino, Turin, Italy.
The workshop includes three sessions on the status of the world's agro-biodiversity; the use of biotechnology for conservation of genetic resources; and genetic characterisation of populations and its use in conservation decision-making. There is also a poster session and a session on the final results from the ECONOGENE project.
For more information:
Contact: Organising Secretariat
E-mail: mail@fobiotech.org
Website: http://www.fobiotech.org/FAO_2005.htm
Organized by: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Fondazione per le Biotecnologie, the ECONOGENE project and the Societą Italiana di Genetica Agraria.

Contributed by Elcio Guimaraes
FAO-AGPC

* 7-8 March 2005. The 41st Illinois Corn Breeders School will be held March 7-8 at the Holiday Inn in
Urbana, IL  This school is designed for commercial corn breeders.  Details can be found at: http://imbgl.cropsci.uiuc.edu
Contributed by John Dudley,
Department of Crop Sciences,
University of IllinoisUC

(NEW) 17-19 March 2005. GMOs worldwide: science and its public perception,
 to be held at BOKU - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria

AIMS
The workshop aims to assess the current basis for the society's perceptions of the value of GMOs to the public, taking account of the opportunities and threats posed by their introduction. Thus the workshop will highlight the challenge in taking the issue of the introduction of GMOs to society at large on a global basis, with special consideration of the position in
Europe and the US . The approach to regulation will be evaluated as a means for gaining the public's confidence in the introduction of GMOs. At the same time the Workshop will examine how society can be better informed about the regulation process so as to have confidence in newly introduced products. Taking account of these discussions, the Workshop will assess how higher education should address the introduction of GMOs in their degree programmes.

http://www.boku.ac.at/ica/GMO.htm

Contributed by Margit Laimer)
(Chair of the Organising Committee)
Institut fr Angewandte Mikrobiologie
Austria
Tel: +43 1 36006 6560
Fax: +43 1 36 97 615

* 29 March 1 April 2005. Plant genetic resources of geographical and 'other' islands. Conservation, evaluation and use for plant breeding (Meeting of the EUCARPIA Section Genetic Resources), Castelsardo (North Sardinia), Italy http://www.eucarpia.org/02meetings/index.html#genetres2005
Info: S. Bullitta
CNR-ISPAAM
Via Enrico de Nicola
07100 Sassari, Italy
Tel.: ++39 079 229332 Fax: ++39 079 229354
E-mail: bullitta@cspm.ss.cnr.it
Download: First Announcement (MS Word)

 (NEW) 2-5 May 2005. 2nd ISTA Moisture Workshop
Location: Seed Center No. 7, Chiang Mai, Hang Dong District, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand
 https://www.seedtest.org/en/workshopdetail---1--1113--210--14.html

Contributed by Michelle Jenni Nietlispach
Head of Marketing and Communications
michelle.jenni@ista.ch

 (NEW) 9-13 May 2005. 6th ISTA/FAO workshop on electrophoretic methods and PCR-techniques for variety verification and GMO detection
Location: University of
West Indies (UWI), Kingston, Jamaica
 https://www.seedtest.org/en/workshopdetail---1--1113--210--16.html

Contributed by Michelle Jenni Nietlispach
Head of Marketing and Communications
michelle.jenni@ista.ch

* 4 - 9 May 2005. 11th International Lupin Conference,
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. 1st Circular is available at: http://www.cucba.udg.mx/eventos/lupinus/lupinus.html. Contact: pgarcia@cucba.udg.mx.
Submitted by George D. Hill, Secretary/Treasurer International Lupin Association (hill@inia.es) At our meetings we have usually had a substantial number of submissions from Plant Breeders.  I would expect that it will be the same at this meeting.

* 6-10 June 2005. 5th International Triticeae Symposium held in
Prague, Czech Republic (www.vurv.cz/triticeae). Contacts: Vojtech Holubec and Frantisek Hnilicka triticeae@vurv.cz

* 13-17 June 2005,
Murcia (Spain): XIII International Symposium on Apricot Breeding and Culture. Info: Dr. Felix Romojaro and Dr. Federico Dicenta, CEBAS-CSIC, PO Box 164, 30100 Espinardo (Murcia), Spain. Phone: (34)968396328 or (34)968396309, Fax: (34)968396213, email: apricot@cebas.csic.es Symposium Secretariat: Viajes CajaMurcia, Gran Via Escultor Salzillo 5. Entlo. Dcha., 30004 Murcia, Spain. Phone: (34)968225476, Fax: (34)968223101, email: congresos@viajescajamurcia.com

*
June 14-17, 2005, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): II International Symposium on Sweetpotato and Cassava - 2ISSC. Info: Dr. Tan Swee Lian, MARDI, Rice & Industrial Crops Research Centre, PO Box 12301, 50774 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Phone: (60)389437516, Fax: (60)389425786, email: sltan@mardi.my web: http://www.mardi.my

* 16-19 June 2005: XI International Asparagus Symposium. Horst/Venlo (
Netherlands Info: Ir. Pierre Lavrijsen, Asparagus bv, PO Box 6219, 5960 AE Horst, Netherlands. Phone: (31)773979900, Fax: (31)773979909, email: plavrijsen@asparagus.nl or info@ias2005.com, web: www.ias2005.com

* 18-21 April 2006: The 13th Australian Plant Breeding Conference -- Breeding for Success: Diversity in Action,
Christchurch Convention Center in Christchurch, New Zealand.
For more details, visit http://www.apbc.org.nz

(NEW) 23-28 July 2006. The 9th International Pollination Symposium will be hosted at
Iowa State University, in the Scheman Building, part of the Iowa State Center of the Iowa State University campus.  The Hotel at Gateway Center in Ames, Iowa will be the headquarter hotel for conference attendees. The official theme of the 2006 International Pollination Symposium in cooperation with Iowa State University and the United States Department of Agriculture  Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) is: "Host-Pollinator Biology Relationships - Diversity in Action"

Sub-Themes:
1-Pollinator Attraction & Rewards - Biology to Biotechnology
2-Pollinators in Plant Genetic Resource Conservation
3-Pollinator Protection Challenges
4- Impacts of insect or animal-mediated pollination on gene flow.
5- Use of pollinators in landscape management and sustainable
agricultural practices.

For more information please visit www.ucs.iastate.edu/PlantBee

Submitted by Jody Larson, symposium committee
Iowa State University
jilarson@iastate.edu

* August 2006: IX International Conference on Grape Genetics and Breeding,
Udine (Italy): Info: Prof. Enrico Peterlunger, Universitą di Udine, Dip. di Produzione Vegetale e Tecnologie Agrarie, Via delle Scienze 208, 33100 Udine, Italy. Phone: (39)0432558601, Fax: (39)0432558603, email: enrico.peterlunger@dpvta.uniud.it

* 13-19 August 2006: XXVII International Horticultural Congress, Seoul (Korea) web: www.ihc2006.org

* 12-14 September 2005 Seeds and Breeds for the 21st Century, at Iowa State University -- A conference engaging diverse stakeholders interested in strengthening our public plant and animal breeding capacity.

The conference is announced by RAFI.  It is a follow up to a meeting held in 2003 in
Washington DC on the same subject.  The proceedings of the 2003 meeting are on the web site at www.rafiusa.org.   The contact person is Laura Lauffer, 919 542 6067
Please share this information with other plant breeders

* 12-16 September 2005: III International Symposium on Cucurbits. Townsville,
North QLD (Australia): Info: Dr. Gordon Rogers, Horticultural Research and Development, PO Box 552 Sutherland NSW 2232, Australia. Phone: (61)295270826, Fax: (61)295443782, email: gordon@ahr.com.au

* 1-5 December 2006: Brazilian Cassava Conference,
Brasilia, Brazil. An International Conference on Cassava Plant Breeding, organized by Professors Nagib Nassar and Rodomiro Ortiz. The conference will discuss cassava breeding and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa, management of cassava reproduction systems, cassava polyploidization and chimera production, cassava genetic resources, and enriching cassava contents.
For more information, contact Prof. Nagib Nassar at nagnassa@rudah.com.br. or Dr. Rodomiro Ortiz at r.ortiz@cgiar.org.

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6.  EDITOR'S NOTES

Plant Breeding News is an electronic forum for the exchange of information 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 consisting of Elcio Guimaraes (elcio.guimaraes@fao.org), Margaret Smith (mes25@cornell.edu), and Anne Marie Thro (athro@reeusda.gov). The editor will advise subscribers one to two weeks ahead of each edition, in order to set deadlines for contributions.

REVIEW PAST NEWSLETTERS ON THE WEB: Past issues of the Plant Breeding Newsletter are now available on the web. The address is:
http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/FAOINFO/AGRICULT/AGP/AGPC/doc/services/pbn.html>

We will continue to improve the organization of archival issues of the newsletter. Readers who have suggestions about features they wish to see should contact the editor at chh23@cornell.edu.

Subscribers are encouraged to take an active part in making the newsletter 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 pbn-l@mailserv.fao.org. 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 two important 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 they are 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 chh23@cornell.edu and I will re-send it.

To subscribe to PBN-L: Send an e-mail message to mailserv@mailserv.fao.org. 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 explicit permission.

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