PLANT BREEDING NEWS

EDITION 161

17 November 2005

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

Clair H. Hershey, Editor

Editor’s note: The problems with the internal newsletter hyperlinks in the past several issues (intended to allow readers to jump directly to specific topics) are the result of a programming glitch in the current version of the e-mail program used by Cornell. Based on advice from Cornell’s IT unit, I am using a series of procedures to activate the links in a way that should work with most e-mail systems. I am interested in knowing if it works for you. Please let me know at chh23@cornell.edu.

Archived issues available at: http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/FAOINFO/AGRICULT/AGP/AGPC/doc/services/pbn.html (NOTE: cut and paste link if it does not work directly)

CONTENTS

1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
1.01  Agriculture in the developing world: Connecting innovations in plant research to downstream applications
1.02  The way forward to strengthen national plant breeding and biotechnology related capacity: links between plant breeding and seed systems
1.03  ICRISAT efforts yield better chickpea
1.04  Philippines to develop multi-nutrient rice
1.05  ICRISAT varieties restart pigeonpea cultivation in China
1.06  A word about the Global Crop Diversity Trust and its future
1.07  Central Americans save plant diversity through local cultivations
1.08  A single evolutionary origin for the cultivated potato
1.09  Soy set to withstand exotic aphid
1.10  Resistance gene for potato late blight mapped
1.11  Disease-resistant rice lines identified
1.12  Biologists discover new pathway into cells
1.13  Newly recognized gene mutation may reduce seeds, resurrect plants
1.14  Elicitation of defense related enzymes and resistance by L-methionine in pearl millet against downy mildew disease caused by Sclerospora graminicola
1.15  Computer simulation previews MAS cost
1.16  Scientists discover how crops use the length of the day to decide when to flower
1.17  Update 11-2005 of FAO-BiotechNews (Excepts)

2.  PUBLICATIONS
2.01  A new online journal “Communications in Biometry and Crop Science” calls for papers

3.  WEB RESOURCES
(None posted)

4  GRANTS AVAILABLE
4.01  Opportunity for plant breeding funding for a specific type of program

5  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS
(None posted)

6  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

7  EDITOR'S NOTES

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1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES

1.01  Agriculture in the developing world: Connecting innovations in plant research to downstream applications

Deborah P. Delmer, Food Security, the Rockefeller Foundation
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
ABSTRACT
Enhancing agricultural productivity in those areas of the world bypassed by the Green Revolution will require new approaches that provide incentives and funding mechanisms that promote the translation of new innovations in plant science into concrete benefits for poor farmers. Through better dialogue, plant breeders and laboratory scientists from both the public and private-sectors need to find solutions for the key constraints to crop production, many of which center around abiotic and biotic stresses. The revolution in plant genomics has opened up new perspectives and opportunities for plant breeders who can now apply molecular markers to assess and enhance diversity in their germplasm collections, to introgress valuable traits from new sources, and to identify genes that control key traits. Functional genomics is also providing another powerful route to the identification of such genes. The ability to introgress beneficial genes under the control of specific promoters through transgenic approaches is yet one more stepping stone in the path to targeted approaches to crop improvement, and the new sciences have identified a vast array of genes that have exciting potential for crop improvement. For a few crops with viable markets, such as maize and cotton, some of the traits developed by the private sector are already showing benefits for farmers of the developing world, but the public sector will need to develop new skills and overcome a number of hurdles to carry out similar efforts for other crops and traits useful to very poor farmers.
Article: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/102/44/15739

Source: SeedQuest.com
1 November 2005

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1.02  The way forward to strengthen national plant breeding and biotechnology related capacity: links between plant breeding and seed systems

Editorial views by Elcio Perpétuo Guimarães, Senior Officer - Cereals/Crop Breeding, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Promotion of sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) was urged by the contracting parties of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IT).

Recognising the special nature of PGRFA, the contracting parties were concerned about the continuing erosion of these resources. Article 6 of the IT includes a range of suggestions as to how PGRFA can be used in a sustainable way through strengthening research and plant breeding to meet the needs for increased food production and improved rural livelihoods.

Plant breeding is a long term venture and its successes build up slowly and cumulatively. It cannot operate successfully on a stop-go basis and therefore a break in continuity of effort will have negative consequences in the future. The current situation regarding public sector investment in agricultural research, particularly in plant breeding, is that it is rapidly losing ground on a global basis to private investment.

An assessment of the current status, of national plant breeding programmes should be the starting point for considering the strengthening and sustainable use of PGRFA on a global basis. To this end, FAO has been carrying out a survey to assess plant breeding and related biotechnology capacity around the world with the objective of designing strategies to strengthen the ability to use PGRFA.

The data collected through this survey has allowed country profiles to be prepared with information to policy-makers on options to strengthen national capacity to use PGRFA. All country profiles start by flagging the need for a holistic view considering conservation, use and seed systems as integral parts of any capacity-strengthening strategy. The survey data show that, although plant breeding capacity exists, in most of the countries analysed it is below the minimum required level. The survey does not ask for information related to seed systems capacity but indirectly, by looking at the number of varieties released and knowing the number planted by farmers, we can easily see that either the varieties are not meeting farmers’ requirement or the seed systems have not been able to deliver the products of the breeding programmes. This aspect stresses the need for a holistic strategy looking at the farmer’s demand, the breeder's product and the seed deliver systems.

A key element of the strategy to strengthen national plant breeding and related biotechnology capacity is sustainability. As mentioned before, plant breeding is a long term activity and needs long term support. Thus, design of the breeding strategy to achieve this goal needs to consider the linkage with seed systems. One of the most viable mechanisms to achieve sustainability is through the financial recognition of the plant breeding work. In countries where there is legislation in place promoting private sector and/or public-private sector partnerships, investments in the seed business flourish and help to support breeding activities. The development of varieties that meet farmers’ demands, which are associated to seed producers who see business opportunities, and consequently are willing to support those activities, allow sustainability to be achieved. The same is true when linking plant breeding with seed production in farmers’ communities in developing countries around the world. Small and community-based seed production systems associated to local level plant breeding activities must be seen as important components of strategies to strengthen national plant breeding capacity.
Related web sources
- Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA)
- The State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (full PDF format version, 510 pages)
- The report on the State of the World PGRFA (short PDF format version, 75 pages) (Français) (Español)
Elcio Guimarães can be reached at Elcio.Guimaraes@fao.org

Source: SeedQuest.com
November 2005

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1.03  ICRISAT efforts yield better chickpea

Chickpea is the world's third most important food legume, but is not easily given to hybridization. This is especially important, since hybridization may be able to protect the crop from the various diseases and pests to which it is susceptible.

The first step to better chickpea has been taken by scientists at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), whose efforts have yielded a chickpea hybrid.

Researchers were able to cross a cultivated variety, Cicer arietinum, with the wild species Cicer bijugum, through embryo rescue and tissue culture methods. They hope that this hybrid will improve disease resistance and boost crop yields, and make a hardy plant better protected against harsh weather and pest attacks.

For further information, contact Dr Nalini Mallikarjuna at n.mallikarjuna@cgiar.org. Find out more at http://www.icrisat.org.

From CropBiotech Update 7 October 2005:
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.04  Philippines to develop multi-nutrient rice

The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), based in Maligaya, Nueva Ecija, is gearing up efforts to develop rice with higher amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin E, iron, and even protein through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health Program.

PhilRice scientist Rhodora R. Aldemita, who is currently doing postdoctoral research at the University of Freiburg in Germany, said the grant was acquired through a collaborative effort with Germany-based scientists who are working on improving the nutritional quality of rice.

A PhilRice research team headed by Antonio Alfonso will introduce some of the micronutrient traits to popular rice varieties through conventional breeding. Aldemita, on the other hand, will introduce other traits through genetic transformation.

Aside from the University of Freiburg and PhilRice, other beneficiaries of the grant are Michigan State University, Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, the International Rice Research Institute, and the Cuo Long Delta Rice Research Institute in Vietnam.

For additional information, visit http://www.philrice.gov.ph.

From CropBiotech Update 14 October 2005:
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.05  ICRISAT varieties restart pigeonpea cultivation in China

Hyderabab, India
Pigeonpea is an essential ingredient in Indian cooking. However, in the neighboring China, for centuries it was used for rearing lac insects. And when the lac industry collapsed, pigeonpea cultivation had disappeared from Chinese farmlands, till improved varieties from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) restarted cultivation.

Interestingly, even the re-introduction of pigeonpea in China was not primarily for its value as a food legume. Instead, it was valued for conserving soils in sloping mountain regions, so that it could support the cultivation of other crops. In 1997, the ICRSAT-bred new pigeonpea material was tested for the first time in China. After the initial trials at several locations, Yunnan and Guangxi provinces were selected to conduct research on the role of pigeonpea in various cropping systems, especially for controlling soil erosion and rehabilitating degraded and eroded soils.

In the last few years pigeonpea is being grown on a large scale in Yunnan and Guangxi provinces. Apart from organized seed distribution, there has been a lot of farmer-to-farmer spread of the seed. According to informal sources, the area under pigeonpea is estimated to be around 50,000 ha currently.

According to Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, the impact of the institute's varieties in China recognizes the significance of pigeonpea as a crop with many useful qualities. It also signifies the silent revolution that ICRISAT's partnership-based research has achieved in China.

ICRISAT's role in the re-introduction of pigeonpea in China: the provision of suitable seed materials and production technology packages, and training of several Chinese scientific and extension staff. Subsequently, strong pigeonpea research programs were established by the Institute of Resources Insects of the Chinese Academy of Forestry in Kunming, Yunnan and at Guangxi Academy of Agriculture Sciences (GxAAS), Nanning , Guangx.

The partnership between ICRISAT and China has shown very encouraging results and now pigeonpea crop can be seen growing on the roadsides, hill slopes and riverbanks. At present, efforts are also being made to popularize pigeonpea for human food, especially as green peas. Chinese food technologists have developed a number of snacks, food items, and drinks using dry and green seeds of pigeonpea. The preparation of pigeonpea noodles is a case in point.

The ICRISAT pigeonpea varieties released in China are: ICPL 90008 (released in China as GUIMU 1), ICPL 87091 (GUIMU 2), ICPL 87119 (GUIMU 3), ICP 7035 (GUIMU 4), ICPL 99066 (GUIMU 5) and ICPL 87091 X 98009 (GUIMU 6).

About 90% of the land in southern China is covered with mountains and the ecology of the region has been damaged extensively due to lack of vegetation cover, leading to soil erosion and frequent landslides. Each year tons of topsoil and valuable nutrients are lost and such areas have become unfit for agriculture and large areas are left fallow.

The high level of adaptation of the new pigeonpea lines in the degraded and fragile soils, its utility in environmental conservation, and its ability to produce quality fodder have generated interest among farmers, scientists, extension workers, and policy makers in China.

Since the rural economy relies heavily on animal husbandry in southern China, the shortage of quality fodder is a perennial problem, particularly in the post rainy season. The tender leaves and branches of young pigeonpea plants make an excellent fodder. After extensive testing, pigeonpea was identified as the most suitable fodder crop because it can grow well under rainfed conditions and provide high protein (20-22%) fodder for domestic animals.

To recognize ICRISAT's role in this endeavor, the Chinese Government honored ICRISAT scientists Dr KB Saxena and Dr LJ Reddy with Jin Xiu Qiu Jiang Award in 2000. This was followed by country's biggest National Friendship Award-2001 to Dr KB Saxena for his contribution in building the agriculture in the country.
 
Source: SeedQuest.com
10 November 2005

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1.06  A word about the Global Crop Diversity Trust and its future

Rome, Italy
A letter from Cary Fowler, Ph.D., Executive Secretary, The Global Crop Diversity Trust
Dear Friends of the Trust,

In August, I joined the staff of the Global Crop Diversity Trust as the second Executive Director in its short history. In my first letter to you - the 800 supporters of the Trust who receive this communication - I want to begin by expressing gratitude to my predecessor, Geoff Hawtin, one of the most creative, broad-ranging and effective figures the plant genetic resources community has ever known. After Ph.D. studies at Cambridge, Geoff’s career began at ICARDA in Syria as a legume breeder. He rose to the position of Deputy Director General and from there went to IDRC in Canada where he was Associate Director of the Crops and Animal Production Systems Program and later, Director of the Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Sciences Division.

In 1991, Geoff was appointed Director General of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (then IBPGR) in Rome. IPGRI expanded greatly under his leadership and spearheaded the move to formalize the status of CGIAR-held plant genetic resource collections by bringing them under the auspices of FAO. When he stepped down after 12 years as head of IPGRI, he moved across town to the Global Crop Diversity Trust, taking the reins as its first director. It is through Geoff Hawtin’s foresight and leadership that we now have in the Trust a tool that the early giants of the plant genetic resources world -  Vavilov, the Harlans, Frankel, Hawkes, Chang, Williams, Bennett, Ochoa and others - might only have dreamed of on a particularly starry night. Geoff would doubtless give much of the credit for the creation of the Trust to others, including the small but intensely dedicated staff that he assembled. And, he would be right to do so. The Trust truly is a “community” effort and has been from the beginning. And what a community it is, drawing as it does from the FAO, CGIAR, private sector and NGOs, from scientists, plant breeders, government representatives, development advocates and yes, farmers.

But, as all of us realize, much of the credit must still go to Geoff Hawtin for his vision and for his tireless efforts to create from scratch an institution now recognized formally by 21 countries under international law. Today, thanks in large part to Geoff, the Trust has strong links to FAO, the CGIAR and the new International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. It also has made a solid start in assembling the financial endowment needed to realize the dream we all share. How fitting that upon his retirement from the Trust, the Crop Science Society of America awarded Geoff its prestigious Frank Meyer Medal for service to the international community in the field of plant genetic resources.
Congratulations Geoff! And thank you.

And now a word about the Trust and its future:
With the Trust, we have a unique opportunity - the opportunity to ensure the conservation of the world’s distinct crop genetic resources held in ex situ collections. Forever. We should count ourselves fortunate. How many people working on other important global issues - climate change, or conservation of tropical forest or endangered species, for instance - can look you in the eyes and say with confidence “We can solve this problem.” And yet, we know we can succeed. The physical resources we need are in hand; the required technology is well understood and available; the people are ready; the institutions are in place; the necessary legal structure now exists. We have a strategy; and last but not least, we have the Trust. This is a world challenge we can tick off. I can think of no other whose solution seems so obviously attainable.

More than 6 million accessions, or samples, typically in the form of seed, are now conserved in some 1400 collections scattered around the world. One to two million are thought to be “distinct,” the remainder being duplicates. At least three different surveys of scientists have come to the same conclusion about these biological materials, namely that they represent a large portion of the genepool of the major crops that feed the world. Ninety-five percent of the wheat, maize, rice and potato landraces, for example, is thought to be housed in genebanks.

If we can manage to conserve these resources, we will have also made a huge contribution to economic development, food security, poverty alleviation, environmental conservation, and to future efforts to cope with climate change, energy supply constraints, and a growing world population. In fact, imagine achieving food security, imagine adapting agriculture to the changes brought on by climate change, or imagine protecting the world’s forests and parks from encroachment in a world without the crop diversity the Trust will help conserve.

Crop diversity provides insurance. But, as most of us understand, paying the insurance bill brings little immediate satisfaction. Other interests scream for attention. Politicians talk about “future generations” but, too often, it’s the costs, not the benefits, that are pushed into the future and onto the next generation. In 1996, 150 countries adopted the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources. Central to that plan was the call for a rational and efficient system for the conservation of the resources. The implication was clear - the current system is not particularly rational, efficient, or sustainable. But, we are paying for it, inefficiencies and irrationalities included. We can do better.  And we can do it with less expense. The Trust can be and must be a tool for adding value and actually saving money, helping to conserve targeted resources securely and efficiently. No such mechanism exists today to encourage, monitor and essentially guarantee this service.

Short term benefits? Real and concrete.

Long term benefits? Absolutely incalculable.

What then must we do if we are to realize the historic opportunity that lies before us? We must articulate our dream. We must remain true to our principals and goals. We must, of course, raise the requisite funds - tiny in the context of other global issues. We must manage those funds responsibly. And we must dispense them wisely. Very wisely.

These things cannot be done without you, the friends and supporters of the Trust. This is not the Secretariat’s Trust. It is yours. And, uniquely, it really does belong to future generations as well. In the days ahead, we will ask for your participation and help. In the meantime, if you see an opportunity to promote or assist the Trust, please take it. Feel free as well to contact us with your suggestions, criticisms and ideas. We need them.

In closing, let me thank you for your support and cooperation in the past. And in the future!

Sincerely,
Cary Fowler, Ph.D.
Executive Secretary
The Global Crop Diversity Trust is an international fund whose goal is to support the conservation of crop diversity over the long term.

Source: SeedQuest.com
2 November 2005

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1.07  Central Americans save plant diversity through local cultivations
[]
By Jennie Iverson
In a refreshing twist, humans have been shown to be part of the solution to the issue of decreasing genetic diversity in our world rather than part of the problem. Global genetic diversity is being eradicated through any number of human-driven activities, the removal of large scale forests key among them.

Now researchers at Washington University in St. Louis report that farmers and families in Central America actually have saved genetic variation in the jocote (ho-CO-tay), (Spondias purpurea), a small tree that bears fruit similar to a tiny mango. And they've done this by taking the plants out of the forest, their wild habitat, and growing them close to home for family and local consumption.

Allison Miller, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Colorado, and former graduate student at Washington University, and Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology Barbara Schaal, Ph.D., from Washington University, in conjunction with Peter Raven, Ph.D. Engelmann Professor of Botany and Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, have shown multiple domestications of the jocote in Central America in the midst of large-scale deforestation, a practice that endangers genetic diversity.

Weeding out genetic diversity
One effect of modern-day agriculture is the eradication of genetic diversity, as growers select hardy plants that grow vigorously, and continually "weed out" genetic diversity through the selection process.

"Many of the crops are so highly domesticated that they don't have much genetic variation, and we are kind of looking at them after they've been highly domesticated and produced these elite varieties," Schaal explained.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (2005, Aug. 26), Miller identifies the various wild and cultivated jocote species and indicates that cultivation of the jocote has preserved genetic diversity. Genetic diversity has been estimated to have decreased by as much as 80 percent in cultivated populations through the last century, so it's quite a remarkable occurrence when domestication is identified as being a process for preserving genetic diversity, rather than limiting it.

With less than two percent of the Central American tropical dry forests remaining, jocotes would be significantly limited if it were not for the cultivation of the species.

Miller, primary author on the study, collected over 96 samples of S. purpurea through field studies in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. In each of eleven geographic regions, samples were taken from wild and cultivated habitats. Polymerase chair reaction amplification of DNA extracted from the jocote samples allowed for analysis of the chloroplast spacer, a commonly used molecular marker in botanical studies.

The authors say that, through multiple domestications in arenas such as living fences ­ fences made of plants like jocotes ­ crops, orchards, trees cultivated in backyards and forests, genetic diversity in the jocote has been preserved.

This is the "first phylogeographic evidence of multiple domestications of a cultivated fruit tree in the Mesoamerican center of domestication," said Miller. With at least 180 common names in various languages for the jocote, the fact that the mature fruits can be green, yellow, orange, red or violet, have varying lengths of a few centimeters, and varying textures (chalky, juicy) and tastes (sweet to acidic), it can be said that there is considerable variation in the species.

The wild fruits are generally bright red, smaller, and more acidic than cultivated varieties. In contrast to cultivated varieties, which reproduce through cuttings, wild jocotes reproduce by seed, indicating that domestication has altered the species.

By taking the jocote out of its natural, wild habitat and planting them in living fences and other means of cultivation, farmers in the Mesoamerican region have helped to preserve the jocote's diversity, the authors note.

"I think it is really amazing to consider that the food we eat today, the foods we find in grocery stores, originated in all different parts of the globe," said Miller. "For me, it is interesting to think that every crop species, including even a little-known fruit tree from Mexico and Central America, has an involved and unique evolutionary history."

Source: EurekAlert.org
2 November 2005

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1.08  A single evolutionary origin for the cultivated potato

A team based at the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), Dundee, UK, in collaboration with a USDA scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have just published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences USA ( http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/102/41/14694) which, for the first time, demonstrates a single evolutionary origin for the cultivated potato, Solanum tuberosum ssp. tuberosum.  The potato has been cultivated for thousands of years, but there has been a great deal of scientific debate about its’ origins.  Most hypotheses have focused on a group of about 20 morphologically very similar tuber-bearing wild species, referred to as the S. brevicaule complex, distributed from central Peru to northern Argentina.  The SCRI-USDA team, led by Dr Glenn Bryan and Dr David Spooner, performed a phylogenetic analysis of AFLP marker data generated from 261 wild accessions and 98 cultivated potato varieties to assess whether the domestic potato arose from a single wild progenitor or whether it arose multiple times from species distributed across the whole length of Southern America.  The results are very clear suggesting that, in contrast to prior hypotheses of multiple geographically-diverse origins of the cultivated potato, a single origin from a broad area of southern Peru has been identified.  The ‘multiple-origins’ theory was based in part on the broad distribution of potatoes from north to south across many different habitats, through morphological resemblance of different wild species to cultivated species, and through other types of data.  Moreover, the study shows a clear ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ cladistic split for the members of the S. brevicaule complex.  The recent publication forms part of a long term and ongoing collaboration between SCRI and the team in Madison.  The research was supported financially by the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) and USDA Agricultural Research Service.  For further information contact Dr Glenn Bryan (glenn.bryan@scri.sari.ac.uk) or Dr David Spooner (dspooner@facstaff.wisc.edu)

Contributed by Glenn Bryan, SCRI

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1.09  Soy set to withstand exotic aphid

Washington, DC
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Jan Suszkiw jsuszkiw@ars.usda.gov
A key genetic discovery by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and university scientists opens the door to breeding soybeans that can resist Chinese soybean aphids.

Since first being detected in Wisconsin in 2000, the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines) has spread across the Midwest and into the Deep South, causing millions of dollars of losses to the legume crop. Growers have fought back with insecticide spraying, a practice that adds $12 to $25 per acre to their production costs.

ARS plant pathologist Glen Hartman and University of Illinois (UI) collaborators at Urbana have worked to find cheaper, longer-term alternatives. In early 2004, their efforts paid off with the discovery of Rag1, a single gene conferring resistance to the exotic aphid in two southern cultivars that are no longer grown.

Normally, the sap-sucking pest causes harm in the form of stunted growth, disfigured leaves, poor pod formation, and the plant's eventual death. But in tests, neither wingless female aphids nor their nymph offspring survived for long when confined to the resistant beans' leaves. Typically, 94 to 100 percent of female aphids died within 10 days--compared to 17 percent on "Pana," a nonresistant variety--reports Hartman, at ARS' Soybean/Maize Germplasm, Pathology, and Genetics Research Unit in Urbana. Nymphs suffered a similar fate, he adds.

Hartman and UI collaborators Curtis Hill, Shawn Carlson, Brian Diers and Yan Li identified the aphid resistance after screening 800 commercial soybean cultivars and 3,000 germplasm accessions managed by ARS in Urbana. Since publishing their finding in Crop Science, the team has mapped Rag1's genetic whereabouts on the resistant beans' DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). They've also identified marker regions and devised technology to detect them so that soybean breeders can rapidly identify resistant plants.

New, high-yielding cultivars bred to express Rag1 could be available by 2008. Meanwhile, the team's search for other resistance genes continues.

Read more about their work in the November 2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, available online at:
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/nov05/soy1105.htm

Source: SeedQuest.com
7 November 2005

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1.10  Resistance gene for potato late blight mapped

Late blight is a disease which affects potatoes. It is caused by Phytophthora infestans, and is controlled by chemical applications on the crop. P. infestans, however, evolves rapidly, so that most control methods are providing to be ineffective.

An alternative would be to incorporate the gene for late blight resistance into potato. But where can this gene be found? Tae-Ho Park of Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and colleagues take the first step in identifying the gene by undertaking "High resolution mapping and analysis of the resistance locus Rpi-abpt against Phytophthora infestans in potato." Their findings are published in Molecular Breeding.

 Scientists were able to narrow their search down to Rpi-abpt, a resistance locus originating from Solanum bulbocastanum. They then mapped and completely sequenced the locus, and found that it was similar to a like locus in tomato. Its protein product was also found to be similar to several disease resistance related proteins from other plants.

Molecular Breeding subscribers can read more at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11032-005-1925-z. Other readers can view the abstract at the same site.

From CropBiotech Update 14 October 2005:
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.11  Disease-resistant rice lines identified

Rice Researchers Fight Straighthead Disease and Improve Grain Quality

ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Jim Core, jcore@ars.usda.gov

Rice breeding lines that resist a costly disease, as well as lines with desirable grain characteristics, have been identified by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Arkansas.

Wengui Yan, a research geneticist at the ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Ark., leads efforts to analyze the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rice Core Collection. With 1,791 entries, this genebank has been estimated to contain more than 70 percent of the genetic variation in the National Small Grains Collection's 18,408 rice accessions.

Utilizing the core collection, Yan and his ARS colleagues identified germplasm accessions that are very resistant, or even immune, to straighthead, a plant disease that causes the entire rice head to remain upright at maturity with sterile florets and reduced grain yield.

There is no straighthead resistance in commercial U.S. rice cultivars, but Yan has identified 26 indica and japonica rice lines that are resistant. Breeders at the University of Arkansas and Louisiana State University have incorporated some of these germplasm lines into their programs.

Straighthead yield losses can reach almost 100 percent if a highly susceptible variety is planted in the wrong conditions. The germplasm recently discovered to be resistant is diverse in origin, maturity and plant height. According to Yan, it can be used to improve straighthead resistance in rice breeding in the southern United States.

Stuttgart researchers are also addressing undesirable amylose content levels in indica rice. Amylose content is the characteristic used to describe the difference between dry, flaky rice (which indicates a high amylose content, typical for U.S. long grain rice) and moist, sticky rice (which indicates alow amylose content, typical for U.S. medium grain rice).

Germplasm of foreign indica rice, the principal type grown worldwide, usually has higher grain yields than U.S. cultivars. However, it is considered to have poorer grain quality.

Through hybridization and induced mutation breeding, J. Neil Rutger, a lead ARS scientist in Stuttgart, and Yan have developed numerous indica lines with ideal amylose content for the U.S. rice industry.

ARS is the USDA's chief in-house scientific research agency.
View this report online, plus any included photos or other images, at www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr

Contributed by Elcio Guimaraes
FAO/AGPC

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1.12   Biologists discover new pathway into cells

By David Stauth
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Researchers at Oregon State University have made a major discovery in basic plant biology that may set the stage for profound advances in plant genetics or biotechnology.

The scientists have identified for the first time a protein that can cross plant cell membranes, where it functions as a toxin to kill the cell. It had been known that viruses and bacteria can penetrate cell wall barriers and disrupt plant cells, but never before has a protein been found that could do this by itself.

When more research is done, this may provide a new tool to penetrate plant cells and possibly manipulate their behavior in some beneficial way - to grow faster, resist disease or increase yields.

The findings were published today in two articles in The Plant Cell, a professional journal.

Also of considerable interest is that the biological mechanism discovered here bears striking similarity to the way proteins can function in mammalian cells - scientists say they may have found a characteristic that has been preserved for more than 600 million years, when plants and animals diverged from a common ancestor on their separate evolutionary paths.

"This is a doorway into plant cells that we never knew existed," said Lynda Ciuffetti, an OSU professor of botany and plant pathology. "Viruses and bacteria have been known to bring proteins into cells, but this is just a protein by itself crossing the cell wall barrier without disrupting its integrity. This is a significant fundamental advance in our understanding of plant biology."

The research was done with a pathogenic fungus that causes tan spot of wheat, a costly plant disease that is found around the world, and in some places can cause crop losses ranging up to 50 percent. These fungi produce multiple toxins that attack wheat plants, reducing yields and ruining wheat used as seed. In the United States, it's a particular problem in the Great Plains and Midwest. Ciuffetti has spent much of her career studying these "host-selective" toxins.

"Until now, we didn't really know exactly how the protein produced by this fungus was causing disease, whether it was from inside or outside of the plant cells," said Viola Manning, an OSU faculty research assistant and co-author of both publications. "No one had ever shown before that a protein could move, without a pathogen's assistance, from outside a plant cell to the inside. But in this case, the protein does penetrate the cell membrane and interacts with chloroplasts, ultimately leading to cell death."

The scientists said this mechanism probably will be found in other cells besides wheat, and with other proteins. And while it may lead ultimately to some way to help address this plant disease problem in wheat, the more important discovery is the new pathway into plant cells.

"We still don't know exactly how the protein penetrates the cell, but it's clear that it does," said Andrew Karplus, an OSU professor of biochemistry and biophysics. "And with work done by a graduate student, Ganapathy Sarma, we also now have a clear understanding of what the molecular structure of the toxin looks like. With continued research, we should not only be able to determine how the protein is getting into the cell, but also remove the toxic effect associated with it.

"What that would leave us with is a type of delivery vehicle, a completely new way to deliver compounds inside of a plant cell and target specific genes. This is a new and unprecedented insight into how plants can work."

The process of proteins getting inside of cells and affecting their behavior is common in animal cells, the scientists said. For instance, that's how the AIDS virus causes its damage. But the same process had never before been shown to exist in plant cells, which have been evolving separately from animals for hundreds of millions of years.

With a new delivery mechanism such as this, applied research could be done either to help or harm plant cells - by increasing or controlling their growth, or introducing new characteristics.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Research Initiative of the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Source: EurekAlert.com
1 November 2005

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1.13  Newly recognized gene mutation may reduce seeds, resurrect plants

West Lafayette, Indiana
A mutated plant that seems to return from the dead may hold the secret to how some flora protect their progeny during yield-limiting drought and other stresses, according to Purdue University scientists whose study of the plant led to discovery of a gene.

The gene, called RESURRECTION1 (RST1), has revealed a previously unknown genetic connection between lipid development and embryo development in plants, said Matthew Jenks (photo), lead author of the study and a Purdue plant physiologist.

Lipids play a role in preventing plant dehydration in forming cells' membranes, in molecular signaling and in energy storage. A still-to-be revealed lipid associated with formation of the cuticle that coats plant surfaces may signal whether a seed develops to maturity or is aborted early due to a defective embryo.

"This is interesting because in crop production a number of plants have a problem of reduced yield due to seed or fruit abortion," Jenks said. "It's thought that plants may abort some of their seeds, especially under stress, to conserve and divert resources to the remaining seeds. So, in a drought situation, for example, plants will get rid of some seeds so that they can support growth of at least a few healthy seeds."

In the November issue of Plant Physiology, Jenks and his team of researchers from the Purdue Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture report on the normal gene RST1.

They found the gene while studying a unique surface wax mutant of Arabidopsis, a common laboratory research plant. All plants have a certain amount of wax overlaying leaves and stems.

The abnormal plant, a mutant of RST1, had short, rounded leaves that turned purple during development, and then before flowering, the plant quickly browned and looked dead. It also had a large proportion of small, wrinkled, non-viable seeds with aborted embryos. These contained only 34 percent of the normal amount of lipids.

"It appeared to have died, and I left it in a room for two or three weeks. I was just slow in throwing it away," said Jenks, who also is a member of the Purdue Center for Plant Environmental Stress Physiology. "When I went to throw it away, I noticed it had small shoots coming up as if it had returned to life."

The surprising finding in studying the mutant was that a single gene could affect so many diverse traits, Jenks said. Another somewhat similar mutant Arabidopsis showed alterations only in wax and seed development, but not in the other mutated RST1 traits. This was a major clue that changes in lipid synthesis were somehow altering seed development.

Scientists already know that lipids play an important role in signaling developmental changes in plants and animals, and that other plants and animals, including humans, have genes similar to RST1. Jenks and his team now want to determine the exact role of RST1 in lipid signaling that affects plant development, particularly its role in crop seed self-thinning mechanisms through embryo abortion.

Unlike some other mutants that abort all of its seeds, the mutant RST1 plant aborts only about 70 percent of the seeds, he said.

"RST1 is not required for seed development, but it does influence how seeds develop, perhaps playing a role in regulating the number of seeds a plant will support to maturity," Jenks said. "Seed abortion by plants likely is a tightly regulated process that necessitates allowing some seed loss to conserve resources in a stressful environment without aborting all seeds, which would leave the plant with no healthy offspring."

If researchers learn how to control plant embryo abortion, they may be able to increase yield by helping plants shed fewer seeds, grains or fruits, especially under drought conditions and in other stressful environments.

U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative and the SALK Institute Genomic Analysis Laboratory provided support for this work.

The other researchers involved in the study were Ray Bressan, Purdue Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture professor; Xinbo Chen, Xionglun Liu and Xinlu Chen, all horticulture postdoctoral students; and S. Mark Goodwin, a horticulture doctoral student.

Related Web sites:

- Purdue Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/hort/default.shtml
- Plant Physiology: http://www.plantphysiol.org/
- Center for Plant Environmental Stress Physiology: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/cfpesp/
- U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Research Initiative: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/fundview.cfm?fonum=1112
- Salk Institute: http://www.salk.edu/

The paper is currently published in the online version of Plant Physiology and scheduled for the journal's November issue.
Writer: Susan A. Steeves, (765) 496-7481, ssteeves@purdue.edu
Source: Matthew Jenks, (765) 494-1332, jenksm@purdue.edu

Source: SeedQuest.com
31 October 2005

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1.14  Elicitation of defense related enzymes and resistance by L-methionine in pearl millet against downy mildew disease caused by Sclerospora graminicola

Pearl millet is the most drought tolerant of all domesticated cereals. It is widely grown, and its worst pest is downy mildew disease, which is caused by the fungus Sclerospora graminicola (Sacc.) Schroet. Control methods are ineffective, since the crop is grown under a wide range of environmental settings.

With a little outside help, Bejai R. Sarosh, and colleagues, of the University of Mysore, India document the “Elicitation of defense related enzymes and resistance by L-methionine in pearl millet against downy mildew disease caused by Sclerospora graminicola.” Their work appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry.

Researchers induced resistance to downy mildew by treating the crop with L-methionine. They then profiled the messenger RNA transcripts which accumulated, and found that a good number of defense response genes were being expressed due to the treatment.

Subscribers to the Journal of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry can access the complete article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plaphy.2005.06.009.

Source: CropBiotech Update, via SeedQuest.com
November 2005

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1.15  Computer simulation previews MAS cost

Marker assisted breeding (MAS) makes use of molecular markers to ensure that a specific gene is incorporated into a specific locus in a plant cell. This high precision technique, however, is perceived to be costly compared with traditional breeding methods.

In "Genetic and economic analysis of a targeted marker-assisted wheat breeding strategy," Haydn Kuchel, of Australian Grain Technologies, and colleagues use computer simulation to design a genetically effective and economically efficient marker-assisted breeding strategy aimed at producing rust resistant wheat. Their findings are published in Molecular Breeding.

Researchers used the QU-GENE simulation software to examine how best to maximize MAS at lowest cost. The results of their simulation showed that the economic success of MAS will vary with the stage at which the markers are deployed and the number and value of genes selected. MAS, in fact, could provide not only genetic gain but reduced overall cost by as much as 40%.

Read more about the research findings by downloading the complete article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11032-005-4785-7. If you are not a Molecular Breeding subscriber, you may still view the abstract at the same site.

From CropBiotech Update 14 October 2005:
Contributed by Margaret
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.16 Scientists discover how crops use the length of the day to decide when to flower

Norwich, United Kingdom
Scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC) report today a breakthrough in understanding how crop plants use daylength to ensure they flower at the right time of year. In an article published in the international journal Science*, they describe a gene that controls how barley reacts to the length of the day and thus controls when it flowers.

Most plants flower at a particular time of the year and researchers have known for a long time that plants use cues from their environment to control when they flower. Many crops, including barley, react to the length of the day (daylength) and use this to determine their flowering time.

“Different varieties of barley (and other crops) respond to daylength in different ways and this has been used to breed varieties adapted to grow in different farming environments” said Dr David Laurie (Project Leader at JIC). “Our result is exciting because for the first time we have identified the gene (called Ppd-H1)** that controls this very important response and now understand how plants monitor daylength. This should help breeders who are breeding new varieties for new environments and changing agricultural conditions – caused by global climate change.”

Some barley varieties respond very quickly to the lengthening days in spring and so flower early in the summer. Others respond much more slowly and flower later. Early flowering is an advantage in places where the summers are hot and dry, such as the Mediterranean, because the plants can complete their life cycle before they are exposed to the stresses of high summer. In places like England, where the summers are cool and wet, late flowering is an advantage because the longer growing period allows the crops to deliver higher yields.

“Now we have identified the gene we will be able to find out how many versions of this gene there are in barley and which environments they match”, said Dr Laurie. “This will give us a better picture of the history of our crops and help us understand how crops have been bred for different environments around the world. Our studies suggest that the same gene may be important in wheat and rice. If this is true, then it will prove to be a gene that has been very influential in the process of domesticating wild plants to bring them into agriculture.

* The paper “The pseudo-response regulator Ppd-H1 provides adaptation to photoperiod in barley” is published by Science on the 11th November 2005.
** The Ppd-H1 (Photoperiod H-1) gene is part of a genetic pathway that controls barley’s response to daylength.

Source: SeedQuest.com
15 November 2005

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1.17 Update 11-2005 of FAO-BiotechNews (Excepts)

From the Coordinator of FAO-BiotechNews, 11-11-2005
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)

1) FAO e-conference on biotechnology and genetic resources - Summary document The summary document of the FAO e-mail conference entitled "The role of biotechnology for the characterisation and conservation of crop, forest, animal and fishery genetic resources in developing countries" has now been published. It provides a summary of the main issues discussed during this moderated e-mail conference, hosted by the FAO Biotechnology Forum from 6 June and 4 July 2005, based on the 127 messages posted by the participants, over 60% coming from people in developing countries. Crop and animal genetic resources received most attention during the conference and, of the different biotechnologies, most discussions were about molecular markers, in particular their use for characterisation of genetic resources. See http://www.fao.org/biotech/logs/C13/summary.htm or contact biotech-admin@fao.org to request a copy.

3) From the green to gene revolution - Working paper
As part of its ESA Working Papers series, FAO's Agricultural and Development Economics Division (ESA) has just published "From the Green Revolution to the Gene Revolution: How will the poor fare?" by P. Pingali and T. Raney. The ESA Working Papers series presents ESA's ongoing research and papers are circulated to stimulate discussion and comments. See ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/ESA/ESAWP05_09.pdf or contact esa@fao.org to request a copy of the paper. 

5) Unasylva - Poplars in biotechnology research
Unasylva is an international journal of forestry and forest industries published by FAO in English, French and Spanish. The latest issue (nr. 221) is dedicated to poplars and willows, containing articles adapted from presentations to the 22nd session of the International Poplar Commission held in Santiago, Chile from 28 November to 2 December 2004 that focused on enhancing the contribution of poplars and willows to sustainable forestry and rural development, particularly in developing countries and those with economies in transition. One of the articles is on "Poplars in biotechnology research" by H. Marchadier and P. Sigaud. See http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/a0026e/a0026e00.htm or contact pierre.sigaud@fao.org for more information.

7) Expert Group on Risk Assessment - Cartagena Protocol
At its second meeting in 2005, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety decided to establish an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Risk Assessment. The first meeting of the Group takes place on 15-18 November 2005 in Rome, Italy. See the meeting documents at http://www.biodiv.org/doc/meeting.asp?mtg=TEGRA-01 or contact secretariat@biodiv.org for further information.

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2  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  A new online journal “Communications in Biometry and Crop Science” calls for papers

A new online journal Communications in Biometry and Crop Science (CBCS) was established in 2005 with the aim to publish original peer-reviewed papers, both theoretical and experimental, in crop and biometrical sciences. It is also hoped that CBCS will be a forum for plant breeders who are focused on breeding of field crops. It accepts papers in the following fields:(i) crop science: e.g., agronomy, plant breeding, crop plants physiology, plant-soil relationships, crop protection; (ii) biometry, regarding the statistical and mathematical methods connected with the above mentioned fields. In CBCS, the following types of articles are published: (i) short communications, (ii) review articles, and (iii) Letters to the Editor. Manuscripts submitted to CBCS are promptly reviewed by at least two reviewers, and rapidly published after acceptance. The Editorial Board of CBCS is multidisciplinary and international. Please visit the web page of Communications in Biometry and Crop Science, http://agrobiol.sggw.waw.pl/cbcs, to find more about the journal.

Contributed to PBN-L by Yong-Bi Fu, PhD
Research Scientist, Plant Gene Resources of Canada, Saskatoon Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 107 Science Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 0X2, Canada. Email:fuy@agr.gc.ca

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4  GRANTS AVAILABLE

4.01 Opportunity for plant breeding funding for a specific type of program

See the request for proposals for the NRI is posted on the CSREES web site www.csrees.usda.gov.  Go to "Funding Opportunities", scroll to mid page, select "N" in the alphabetical listing, and find NRI.

See the "Integrated projects" section of program 22.1, Ag plants and environmental adaptation.  Plant breeding proposals for drought tolerance would be accepted if they include a curriculum component.  If interested, you are strongly encouraged to contact the program manager, Gail McLean, by phone 202 401 6060 (if she's not in she will return your call) or me, but esp. Gail, to get as much understanding as possible of what type of proposal would be eligible, before you start writing!   Deadline Jan 10, 06.

Check out other sections of the NRI also, for possibly relevant areas.

Finally, the National Needs Fellowships may experience a 25% increase this year, and plant breeding proposals may be eligible if they can make a case that the plant breeding proposed would make a contribution to general USDA goal areas.  That  RFA will not be out until January.  Read it carefully and contact the program manager (name will be listed in the RFA) with questions.  It will be located on the same web site.

Contributed by Ann Marie Thro
CSREES, USDA

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6. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

*(NEW) Plant Breeding Academy (2006-2008)

The University of California Seed Biotechnology Center would like to inform you of an exciting new course we are offering to teach the principles of plant breeding to seed industry personnel.

This two-year course addresses the reduced numbers of plant breeders being trained in academic programs. It is an opportunity for companies to invest in dedicated personnel who are currently involved in their own breeding programs, but lack the genetics and plant breeding background to direct a breeding program. Participants will meet at UC Davis for one week per quarter over two years (eight sessions) to allow participants to maintain their current positions while being involved in the course. 

Instruction begins Fall 2006 and runs through Summer 2008 (actual dates to be determined)

For more information: (530) 754-7333, email scwebster@ucdavis.edu, http://sbc.ucdavis.edu/Events/Plant_Breeding_Academy.htm

Contributed byAllen Van Deynze (avandeynze@ucdavis.edu)
UC Davis, Seed Biotechnology Center

*(NEW) 14-15 December 2005. Symposium on Diversity for Breeding, NIAB, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, UK

This two-day symposium will investigate new opportunities to exploit crop genomes as a source of novel alleles for plant breeding. It will provide a timely opportunity to inspire and stimulate renewed interest in this topic that will underpin both national and international initiatives and imperatives.

The meeting will start on Wednesday 14th Dec at 13:00 with Dr Dani Zamir from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, speaking on how unused natural variation can lift yield barriers in plant breeding. Day 2 will start at 9:00 with Prof Susan McCouch from Cornell University speaking on seed banks and genomics: natural partners.

BACKGROUND
Recent developments in plant science are spectacular and have the potential to address many of the nutritional, health and environmental challenges facing mankind. Although it is widely recognised that plant-based processes can offer truly sustainable solutions, the complete spectrum of genetic variability available to plant breeders is not always fully exploited.

Pre-existing natural sources of biodiversity, coupled with accurate phenotyping, can enrich the genetic basis of cultivated crops with novel alleles that have the potential to improve productivity and adaptation to a range of environments.

‘Diversity for Breeding’ will provide case studies of how novel sources of alleles have been discovered and efficiently introgressed into adapted germplasm based on ‘genomic knowledge’ of crops and their wild relatives.  The Symposium will also address how the UK’s public investment in plant and crop genomics can be used to unleash the genetic potential of our wild and cultivated germplasm resources for the benefit of society.

PROGRAMME
Wednesday, 14 December 2005
Session 1: Exploiting Novel Sources of Diversity

Thursday, 15 December 2005
Session 2: Diversity Studies in Current and Historical Germplasm
Session 3: Genetic Improvement in the UK
Session 4: WORKSHOP: ‘Future diversity for breeding: the way forward

Contributed by Mary McPhee, NIAB

*(NEW) 19-21 February 2006, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The 3rd International Conference on Date Palm. Sponsored, among others, by FAO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Secretariat for the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the conference covers a wide range of topics including molecular and genetic engineering and post harvest and processing technologies. The conference was originally scheduled for 13-15 November 2005. See http://www.cfs.uaeu.ac.ae/Conferences/ticdp/ or contact zaid@uaeu.ac.ae for more information.

*(NEW) 21-24 February 2006. Third General Assembly of the West Africa Seed and Planting Material Network (WASNET), Palm Beach Hotel, Accra, Ghana.

For more details concerning this seed event in West African , contact the Coordinator of WASNET by email  at n.maroya@coraf.org or n.maroya@cgiar.org or send your request through the website http://www.wasnet.org

Contributed by Norbert G. Maroya
Coordinator,WASNET
N.Maroya@cgiar.org, n.maroya@coraf.org
Website: www.wasnet.org

Tentative Program Includes:
-Regional seed sector arrangement
-Presentations of regional organizations / partners
-National Reports by Member Countries on the status and challenges of the seed industry
-National Reports by Member Countries on the status and challenges
-FIELD VISIT TO KUMASI
-WASNET General Assembly Business Meeting
-5th Meeting of the Steering Committee of WASNET

6-10 March 2006, Treviso, Italy. Introduction to biosafety and risk assessment for the environmental release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Theoretical approach and scientific background. Workshop organised by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in collaboration with the Istituto Agronomico per l'Oltremare. Closing date for applications is 30 November 2005. See http://www.icgeb.org/MEETINGS/CRS06/6_10March.pdf or contact courses@icgeb.org for more information.

*(NEW) 22-24 March 2006, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Detection of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified food (GMF). Regional practical training programme organised by the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. See http://www.icgeb.org/~bsafesrv/bsfn0510.htm#srilanka or contact profaperera@sltnet.lk for more information.

* 18-21 April 2006: The 13th Australasian 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) 27-29 April 2006.Open call: Joint IOBC Working Group conference "Breeding for inducible resistance against pests and diseases," Heraklio, Crete, Greece

We are glad to inform and invite you to a joint conference of our two wprs IOBC working groups "Breeding for resistance against insects and diseases" and "Induced resistance in plants against insects and diseases".

The local hosts will be Dr. Nikolaos Malathrakis, and Dr. Nikolaos Fanourakis, Technological Education Institute of Crete (TEI, Heraklio, Crete).

Topics to be addressed are:
-Tools to study the associations of plant / pathogen/pest genotypes and phenotypes
-Mechanisms involved in induced and constitutive resistance
-Types of resistance important for plant breeders and possible contribution of induced resistance (IR)
-Enhancing IR through biotechnology, including use of priming and inducing agents, GMOs and selectable genetic markers
-Evolutionary aspects of plant resistance (aiding the development of deployment strategies for durable resistance within Integrated Crop Management = ICM and durable deployment strategies)

Register and find additional information at http://www.unine.ch/bota/IOBC/. If there are questions, please contact:

a.schmitt@bba.de or N.Birch@scri.sari.ac.uk

*(NEW) 15-19 May 2006, Florence, Italy. Biosafety II: Practical course in evaluation of field releases of genetically modified plants. Organised by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in collaboration with the Istituto Agronomico per l'Oltremare. Closing date for applications is 30 January 2006. See http://www.icgeb.trieste.it/MEETINGS/CRS06/15_19maggio.pdf or contact courses@icgeb.org for more information.

* 2-6 July 2006, Udine (Italy): IX International Conference on Grape Genetics and Breeding, under the auspices of the ISHS Section Viticulture and the OIV. Info: Prof. Enrico Peterlunger, University of Udine, Dip. di Scienze Agrarie e Ambientale, Via delle Scienze 208, 33100 Udine, Italy. Phone: (39)0432558629, Fax: (39)0432558603, email: peterlunger@uniud.it

Grape genetics has aroused a spectacular interest worldwide in recent years and is experiencing a renewal in objectives and strategies. We expect this symposium fosters scientists to exchange their experiences and promotes their cooperation in view of launching the ambitious project of grape whole genome sequencing.

Udine is located in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the North-Eastern region of Italy, which is becoming a central area of the enlarged European Union. "A vineyard called Friuli" is a known refrain that reminds the strong vocation to viticulture of this region, that produces several of the most appreciated European white vines.

You are invited to join an active and open research community, that meets every 4th year to discuss topics related to grape genetics, breeding and biotechnology

Contributed by Bruce Reisch
N.Y.S. Agricultural Experiment Station  
Cornell University, Geneva, N.Y.

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

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

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

*(NEW) 9-14 September 2007. The World Cotton Research Conference-4, Lubbock, Texas, USA (http://www.icac.org). There is no cost of pre-registration and if you pre-register you will receive all the up-coming information on WCRC-4.171 researchers from over 20 countries have pre-registered as of today.

M. Rafiq Chaudhry
International Cotton Advisory Committee
Tel 202-463-6660 x22
Fax 202-463-6950

* 11-15 September  2006, San Remo (Italy): XXII International EUCARPIA Symposium - Section Ornamentals: Breeding for Beauty. Info: Dr. Tito Shiva or Dr. Antonio Mercuri, CRA Istituto Sperimentale per la Floricoltura, Corso degli Inglesi 508, 18038 San Remo (IM), Italy. Phone: (39)0184694846, Fax: (39)0184694856, email: a.mercuri@istflori.it web: www.istflori.it

*17-21 September 2006. Cucurbitaceae 2006. Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa in Asheville, North Carolina, USA. Contact: Dr. Gerald Holmes, Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7616, 919-515-9779 (gerald_holmes@ncsu.edu) (http://www.ncsu.edu/cucurbit2006)

This meeting continues the tradition of Cucurbitaceae conferences held every four years in the USA.  It will include meetings of associated groups including the Cucurbit Crop Genetics Committee, the Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative, the National Melon Research Group, the National Watermelon Research Group, the Pickling Cucumber Improvement Committee, and the Squash Research Group.

Submitted by Todd C. Wehner
Department of Horticultural Science
North Carolina State University

*(NEW) 18-20 September 2006.The International Cotton Genome Initiative (ICGI) 2006 Research Conference, Blue Tree Park Hotel (http://www.bluetree.com.br/index_ing.asp), Brasília, D.F., Brazil.

The Conference will follow the ICAC meeting that is going to be held in Goiânia, GO, from September 11-15, 2006.   The Research Conference venue will include the five Workgroups of ICGI; Structural Genomics, Functional Genomics, Germplasm & Genetic Stocks, Evolutionary & Comparative Genomics, and Bioinformatics.

Details of the ICGI 2006 Research Conference will be posted on the ICGI website (http://icgi.tamu.edu) as they become available.

Submitted by R. J. Kohel, Chair ICGI. (kohel@qutun.tamu.edu, kohelrj@tamu.edu)
Crop Germplasm Research Unit
College Station, Texas

* 1-5 December 2006: The First International Meeting on Cassava Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, to be held in Brasilia, Brazil on the 1st-5th of December 2006, will be sponsored by the International Society of Food, Agriculture, and Environment of Helsinki, Finland. Its theme is Cassava Improvement to Improve Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa and Northeastern Brazil. Sessions during the meeting will tackle such topics as wild species and landraces to enhance nutritional content, management of reproduction and propagation systems, biotechnology tools and methods for breeding the crop, and conservation of Manihot genetic resources. Proceedings will be published and distributed in March 2007, and will contain all articles presented in the meeting. For more details, email Dr. Nagib Nassar of the University of Brasilia at nagnassa@rudah.com.br or visit the meeting website at http://www.geneconserve.pro.br/meeting/.

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7.  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   Please note that you may have to copy and paste this address to your web browser, since the link can be corrupted in some e-mail applications. 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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