PLANT BREEDING NEWS
An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant
Sponsored by FAO and Cornell University
Clair H. Hershey,
EditorBest wishes for the holidays, from the editor and advisory
board. Thank you to all who contributed to the newsletter’s success in
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
1. NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH
approaches needed for agriculture in the developing world1.02
Open source biotechnology alliance
for international agriculture1.03
New maps reveal true extent of human footprint on
improvement and poverty reduction1.05
University of Illinois corn breeder John W. Dudley
to be honored at International Plant Breeding Symposium1.06
and stability are targets of new crop research agreement1.07
Hybrid rice saves the Philippines
US$ 23.25 million from rice importation1.08
Bolivia released the first upland
rice variety originated from population improvement1.09
Canada needs strong variety
development research, says the Western Grains Research Foundation1.10
Pigeonpea back in
Cornell University and Indian Council of Agricultural Research sign new
agreement for agricultural development1.12
Kazakhstan and Siberia connect with CIMMYT
to improve their wheat1.13
CIMMYT and partners in Nepal make progress against
blight in wheat1.14
Swiss vote for ban on GM
China leads in research of genetically modified plants1.16
Fishing for the origins of genome
complexity: deciphering a paradox of evolution1.17
: Center for Conservation
of Vegetatively Propagated Plants1.18
Research maps maize gene diversity1.19
Animal gene renders tobacco
resistant to parasitic weed1.20
USDA identifies rice lines that resist straighthead
Millet gets mildew defense from within1.22
Lr19 resistance in wheat becomes susceptible to
Selection of spelt varieties for
organic production underway in New South Wales1.24
progresses on anti-aphid
researchers are investigating how to use genes to produce larger seeds across a
wide range of crops1.26
Anyway you slice it, tomatoes cut through drought with new
reported to confer drought tolerance1.28
Expanding the pool of PCR
markers for oat1.29
Cancer, genes and broccoli - study of genetic differences
in cancer protection1.30
Global push to decipher potato DNA code1.31
University scientists eliminate major peanut allergen1.32
Iowa State University plant scientist leads national
effort to use metabolomics
to unlock gene functions1.33
in flowering plants in the context of plant breeding1.34
Study finds that
nutritionally enhanced rice reduces iron deficiency1.35
Update 12-2005 of FAO-BiotechNews
: links to selected articles
Improvement and Production
3. WEB RESOURCES3.01
Redesigned U.S. National
Agricultural Library website
brings fresh look, swift
Sesame and Safflower Newsletter No. 20
4 GRANTS AVAILABLE
5 POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS
(None submitted) 6
MEETINGS, COURSES AND
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
approaches needed for agriculture in the developing world
agricultural productivity in developing countries requires new approaches that
provide incentives and funding mechanisms that will translate new innovations in
plant science into concrete benefits for poor farmers. This was articulated by
Deborah Delmer of the Rockefeller Foundation in "Agriculture in the developing
world: Connecting innovations in plant research to downstream applications",
published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the
United States of America.
Delmer analyzes the constraints and
opportunities presented by the challenge to translate new discoveries in plant
sciences into successes in agriculture for the benefit of the poor. In
particular, she notes the lack of systems that promote and reward efforts to
"create a strong interface between fundamental and applied research in support
of global agriculture."
View the full paper online at http://www.pnas.org
through its open access option. Email Deborah Delmer at email@example.com
CropBiotech Update, 3 November 2005
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents
1.02 Open source biotechnology alliance
for international agriculture
CAMBIA & IRRI (The
International Rice Research Institute) announced a major joint venture to
advance the BiOS Initiative - a new strategy that will galvanize agricultural
research focused on poverty alleviation and hunger reduction. The venture is
catalyzed by a 2.55M USD grant to CAMBIA from The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
The BiOS Initiative – Biological Innovation for Open Society- is
often called Open Source Biotechnology. The BiOS model has resonance with the
Open Source software movement, famous for such successful efforts as Linux. Open
Source software has spurred faster innovation, greater community participation,
and new robust business models that break monopolies and foster fair
competition. BiOS targets parallel challenges that limit the effective use of
modern life sciences in agriculture to only a few multinational corporations.
"New technologies are increasingly tangled in complex webs of patent and
other legal rights, and are usually tailored for wealthy countries and
well-heeled scientists," said IRRI's Director General, Robert Zeigler. "Half the
world depends on rice as a staple food – but this also means half the world's
potential innovators could be brought to bear on the challenges of rice
production, given the right toolkits – and the rights to use them".
the joint work, CAMBIA's Patent Lens, already one of the most comprehensive
costfree full-text patent databases in the world, will be extended to include
patents in major rice-growing countries, including China, Korea, and India.
These same countries are growing powerhouses of innovation, poised to play lead
roles in the next generation of biological problem solving.
Lens will also develop analyses and foster the capacity in the developing world
to create patent maps of the key emerging technologies that could be constrained
by complex intellectual property rights worldwide, including the rice genome
itself. These patent 'landscapes' will be used to guide the development of
improved technology toolkits in a new, inclusive manner.
Jefferson, CAMBIA's CEO, "It's not so much about getting access to old patented
technology – it's about forging collaborations to develop better, more powerful
tools within a 'protected commons' to get different problem solvers to the
These could for example be tools for precise, natural genetic
enhancements, using non-GM approaches (for example, homologous recombination),
new plant breeding methods such as marker assisted selection, or even true
breeding hybrids of crop species that would allow farmers in developing
countries to use hybrid seed year after year. Adds Jefferson, "Scientists and
farmers need better options for problem solving, that meet their priorities,
work within their constraints, build on their ingenuity, and maintain their
independence; this is what BiOS is all about."
IRRI, an autonomous
international institute based in Los Banos, The Philippines, is one of the
foundation institutions of the CGIAR (Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research), and is dedicated to improving the lives and livelihoods
of resource poor rice producers and consumers worldwide.
IRRI has been
at the forefront of rice research for almost thirty years, delivering new rice
varieties and practices to rice farmers throughout Asia and the developing
world. Now, rice has become the model system for grain crops worldwide, with its
entire DNA sequence known; but the 'mining' – and patenting - of this genetic
resource and the possibility that the tools to improve it could be restricted by
broad patents has raised legitimate concerns that must be met head-on.
CAMBIA, based in Canberra Australia, is an independent non-profit
institute that invents and shares enabling technologies and new practices for
life sciences and intellectual property management to further social equity.
CAMBIA is the founder of the BiOS Initiative (www.bios.net
), the Patent Lens (www.patentlens.net
) and the online
collaboration platform BioForge (www.bioforge.net
). CAMBIA published the first
explicit 'open source' biotechnology toolkit in the Journal "Nature" in February
2005. Included in that publication was the technology 'TransBacter' in which the
technique of plant gene transfer by Agrobacterium, covered by hundreds of
patents, was bypassed using other symbiotic bacteria to add beneficial genes to
rice and other plants. This and other technologies have been made freely
available under BiOS licenses.
Work by IRRI, CAMBIA scientists, and
others in an online collaboration community, will optimize this process and
other open source enabling technologies, ensuring their availability to
scientists throughout the developed and developing world.
Richard Jefferson, CEO, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephanie Goodrick (email@example.com
New maps reveal true extent of human footprint on
SAN FRANCISCO - As global populations swell, farmers are
cultivating more and more land in a desperate bid to keep pace with the
ever-intensifying needs of humans.
As a result, agricultural activity
now dominates more than a third of the Earth's landscape and has emerged as one
of the central forces of global environmental change, say scientists at the
Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) at the University of
Navin Ramankutty, an assistant scientist at SAGE,
says, "the real question is: how can we continue to produce food from the land
while preventing negative environmental consequences such as deforestation,
water pollution and soil erosion?"
To better understand that crucial
trade-off, Ramankutty and other SAGE researchers are tracking the changing
patterns of agricultural land use around the world, including a look at related
factors such as global crop yields and fertilizer use. Distilling that
information into computer-generated maps, the scientists will present their
early findings during the fall meeting (Dec. 5-9, 2005) of the American
"In the act of making these maps we are asking: where
is the human footprint on the Earth?" says Amato Evan, a SAGE researcher who
merged available census and satellite data to create visuals reflecting the
reach of pasture and croplands worldwide. Chad Monfreda, a graduate student at
SAGE, is similarly mapping the location, range and yields of over 150 individual
crops reared around the planet.
The exercise is already beginning to
cast light on some emerging trends. Countries such as Argentina and Brazil, for
instance, have increasingly cleared forests to grow soybean, a legume that has
never been a traditional crop of Latin America. Scientists say the surge in
soybean production there has a lot to do with the booming demand for soy all the
way at the other end of the world - in China. Meanwhile, Monfreda notes,
long-time soybean farmers in the U.S. - the world's top soybean producer - are
growing increasingly insecure about their place in the global market.
But scientists risk missing important regional and local trends by
taking only a global approach to land use change. "There is still a large
'disconnect' between global, top-down views of changing planetary conditions,
and the local, bottom-up perspective of how humans affect and live in a changing
environment," says Jonathan Foley, director of SAGE.
To help bridge that
gap, SAGE researchers are working towards a new "Earth Collaboratory," an
unprecedented Internet-based data bank that would simultaneously draw on the
knowledge of global scientists, local environmentalists and everyday citizens.
Adds Foley: "[The Collaboratory] will truly be a brave new experiment that
effectively bridges science, decision-making and real-world environmental
practice - collectively envisioning a new way to live sustainably."
more on SAGE's work on global land use and land cover, visit www.sage.wisc.edu/iamdata
Contact: Navin Ramankuttynramanku@wisc.eduUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
EurekAlert.org5 December 2005
Rice improvement and poverty reduction
world's trading nations remain deadlocked on how to move ahead with agricultural
reforms that could benefit the poor farmers of the developing world, research
just published has confirmed details of a proven strategy to reduce poverty in
the planet's two most populous countries, China and India.
shows that, in 1999, for every US$1 million invested at the Philippines-based
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), more than 800 and 15,000 rural
poor were lifted above the poverty line in China and India, respectively. It
also confirmed that such poverty reduction effects were even larger in the
earlier years of the Green Revolution.
Presented in a peer-reviewed paper
in the November issue of the journal Agricultural Economics, the research is
robust confirmation of the very positive impact of rice research on poverty
alleviation. "This research is important because it provides solid, additional
evidence that should give all poor rice farmers hope because we know now that by
providing them with new technologies via rice research we can lift them out of
poverty," said IRRI Director General Robert S. Zeigler.
The paper's lead
author, Dr. Shenggen Fan, works at IRRI's sister institute, the Washington-based
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). In his paper, Dr. Fan
said: "The results indicate that rice varietal improvement research has
contributed tremendously to increases in rice production, accounting for 14 to
24 percent of the total production value over the last two decades in both
countries. Rice research has also helped reduce large numbers of rural poor and
IRRI played a crucial role in these successes."
Dr. Fan explained that
new technology resulting from agricultural research can help to alleviate
poverty in several ways. First, following the releases of new and improved
varieties, farmers can produce more output at the same cost (or, conversely, the
same level of output at a lower cost), which directly improves farmers'
Second, the diffusion of modern varieties results in lower food
prices, as demonstrated in several studies. This is critical given that the
poorest people spend a large share of their income on food.
productivity consequences of improved varieties resulted in greater demand for
labor and wages. For example, earlier research found that the poor benefited
from new technology as a result of greater employment opportunities as well as
the upward pressure on wage rates in the labor market.
large difference in impact between the 15,000 lifted out of poverty in India and
the 800 in China, Dr. Fan said this was because China had already achieved rapid
and very large reductions in poverty before 1999. "But the overall total
reduction in rural poor through rice research in China has been much larger than
in India," if looked at over the past 20 years instead of just
"Ending poverty among the world's poor is an enormously complex and
challenging task," Dr. Zeigler emphasized. "But it's very important that we
recognize what strategies really do have an impact so we can focus our resources
on such techniques, and rice research is clearly one of these."
research follows earlier work by IRRI that showed that, in the four decades from
1961 to 2000, while the population of Asia's developing nations more than
doubled, from 1.6 billion to 3.4 billion, efforts to avert famine resulted in
the land area devoted to rice expanding by 30 percent, from 107 million hectares
to 139 million hectares.
Rice production grew by an impressive 170
percent, from 199 million tonnes in 1961 to 540 million tonnes in 2000, thanks
largely to the introduction of improved rice varieties. This unprecedented yield
improvement not only helped millions avoid starvation but also saved thousands
of hectares of fragile natural habitats from falling under the plow to create
new rice fields.
That IRRI research team, led by senior economist Dr.
Mahabub Hossain, also found that the total annual gains from the adoption of
these modern varieties now stands at $10.8 billion – an astounding figure
considering that it is many times the total investment in rice research made
over the same 40-year period by IRRI and its many partners in the national
agricultural research and extension systems of Asia's rice-producing
Providing further evidence is an independent study of the impact
of improved rice varieties and other crops over the past 40 years that showed
they have significantly reduced prices for poor consumers, saved thousands of
hectares of forests from being turned into farmland, and reduced the number of
The research, led by respected American economist
Dr. Robert Evenson from Yale University, was the first major attempt to assess
the economic impact of improved crop varieties, not just rice but also other
important food staples such as wheat, maize, barley, cassava, and potato. Dr.
Hans Gregersen, the head of a panel that reviewed the research, described the
study by Dr. Evenson and his huge team of researchers as a "milestone" and a
Dr. Evenson and his team found that the development
of improved rice varieties between 1970 and 1995 had substantial impact in four
major areas. Their findings indicate that, were it not for the development of
-Rice prices for consumers could have been up to 41
-Rice-producing nations would be importing up to 8 percent
-Millions of hectares of forests and other fragile ecosystems
would have been lost.
-Between 1.5 and 2 percent more children would have
been malnourished in developing countries. This seemingly small figure in
percentage terms translates into millions of better-fed children in actual
However, Dr. Fan warns in his research conclusions that most of
these benefits are the results of research conducted in the 1960s, 1970s, and
1980s. For both China and India, the increase in experimental yield slowed down
in the 1990s.
"One of the reasons is a lack of agricultural research
investment at both the national and international levels," he warns. "The budget
of the International Rice Research Institute has also been severely cut in
recent years. IRRI's budget of $32.6 million in 2000 was the lowest in 20 years,
and was only 63 percent of its peak of $51.6 million (measured in 2000 prices)
IRRI Director General Dr. Zeigler said that, unfortunately,
this trend has continued until this year. "In 2005, IRRI continued to receive
cuts in donor funding. We hope that this new research will help us finally turn
this trend around so we can continue to help the world's poor rice farmers and
consumers achieve better lives." Title
: National and
international agricultural research and rural poverty: the case of rice research
in India and ChinaAuthors
: Fan, SG; Chan-Kang, C; Qian, KM;
: Agricultural Economics, 33 (3): 369-379 Suppl. S
For information, contact Duncan Macintosh, IRRI, firstname.lastname@example.org
or Johnny Goloyugo
1.05 University of Illinois corn breeder John W. Dudley to be honored at International Plant Breeding
Plant breeding scientists from around
world will gather in Mexico City during Aug. 20-25, 2006 for the First International Plant Breeding
, which will honor John W. Dudley, emeritus professor of plant
genetics at the University of Illinois
The sessions will assess the state of the science of plant breeding
and examine the future prospects for the field. The event is being organized by
the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Iowa State
University, Monsanto, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International.
Prior to his
retirement, Dudley was the inaugural holder of the Renessen Endowed Chair in
Corn Quality Trait Breeding and Genetics. He is most well known for his research
on the long-term selection of corn for protein and oil at the U of I. Other work
has focused on improvement in yield and disease resistance, use of quantitative
genetics in plant breeding and on applications of biotechnology to plant
Dudley has published more than 155 scientific papers and
served on the editorial boards of the journal Crop Science and The Brazilian
Journal of Genetics. He has received the DeKalb Crop Sciences Distinguished
Career Award, the National Commercial Council of Plant Breeders Award, the Crop
Science Research Award and the National Agri-Marketing Association award for
contributions to Agricultural Science.
He is a fellow of the American
Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the American
Association for the Advancement of Science. He also served as associate head of
the Department of Crop Sciences at the U of I.
Details on the seminar and
full registration information are available on the Internet at www.intlplantbreeding.com
. (see also
announcement also in “Meetings” section of this newsletter)
8 December 2005
1.06 Yield enhancement and stability are targets of new
crop research agreement
Yield enhancement and
stability are targets of new crop research agreement between The Australian
Centre for Plant Functional Genomics and Pioneer Hi-Bred InternationalThe Australian Centre for Plant Functional
Genomics Pty Ltd
(ACPFG), based in Adelaide, signed a research collaboration
agreement focusing on yield enhancement and stability in crops with Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.
headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, USA.
Improving plant productivity,
including the ability to cope with abiotic (environmental) stresses such as
drought and nitrogen limitations, is a target for the new collaborative program.
The overall goal is to provide farmers with
better crop varieties.
"This is an excellent opportunity for the scientists in both
organisations to develop outcomes relevant to the Australian wheat and barley
industries and the US maize and soybean industry," said Professor Peter
Langridge, Chief Executive Officer of the ACPFG.
yield for our farmer customers is still the main focus of our research at
Pioneer. This collaboration will help us to learn more about plant development
and productivity under drought and nitrogen stress and allow us to bring
dramatically improved products to market in the near future," said Bill Niebur,
Vice President of Crop Genetics Research and Development at Pioneer.
terms of the agreement give the ACPFG commercial rights to the collaboration's
research outcomes in wheat and barley, while Pioneer will have commercial rights
in maize and soybeans. Each will have commercial rights in
other crops such
as rice and sorghum.
"There is considerable scientific synergy between
Pioneer and the ACPFG and we expect that this will be an important collaborative
program that will grow into new areas over time," Professor Langridge said.
It is estimated that at least a dozen new scientists will work at the
ACPFG as a result of the new collaboration, reinforcing the ACPFG's position as
an internationally recognised crop genomics research facility and one of the
largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
The ACPFG is based at the University
of Adelaide's Waite Campus. It was founded in 2002, primarily with funds from
the Australian Research Council, Grain Research Development Council and South
"We're particularly pleased because this deal is
the first major agreement with a large US commercial company for the ACPFG, a
great achievement given we've been operating for less than three years,"
Professor Langridge said.
(Return to Contents
1.07 Hybrid rice saves the Philippines US$ 23.25 million from rice
Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, The Philippines
staggering amount of US$ 23.25 million has been saved from rice importation by
the government’s hybrid rice commercialization program, a study of the Philippine Rice Research
Led by Flordeliza H. Bordey, Dr. Leonardo
A. Gonzales and PhilRice executive director Dr. Leo S. Sebastian, PhilRice
researchers observed that government investments on the hybrid rice
commercialization have incurred financial and economic benefit-cost ratios of
1.56 and 1.13, respectively.
These findings suggest that the benefits
from hybrid rice derived by the country have outweighed the costs of the
Covering the period from 2002 wet season to 2004 dry season, the
study showed that hybrid rice production is now one of the best options to
increase farm productivity and income among the technologies available today.
On-farm data show that it can increase yield by 8 to 14 percent, as more hybrid
rice farmers harvest 5 tons a hectare (t/ha) and above than inbred rice
However, although hybrid rice performance is generally superior
over inbred rice in terms of yield, this performance varies from place to place,
the researchers said. This implies the location specificity of hybrid rice
Thus, the researchers suggest it would be better to promote
the existing hybrid rice varieties in more suitable areas like Isabela, Davao
del Norte, Davao del Sur and Nueva Ecija. However, research and development for
location-specific crop management practices, and adaptation trials of new hybrid
rice varieties could be done in less suitable areas.
It was also observed
that hybrid rice has a price advantage of around 25 centavos per kilogram over
inbred rice, indicating a good market acceptability of milled hybrid rice due to
its good eating quality. However, the researchers said this phenomenon is unique
in the Philippines as price of hybrid rice in other countries are usually
discounted because of poor quality.
In effect, breeding of better hybrid
rice varieties that are high-yielding and have good eating quality is necessary
to preserve this price advantage and encourage more farmers to plant hybrid
rice. However, strict implementation of grain standards should be done to ensure
that incentives from marketing of quality rice will trickle down to the farm
level, the PhilRice researchers stressed.
It was also observed that
although production cost for hybrid rice increased due to higher seed,
fertilizer, pesticide and labor costs, the difference in production cost per
cavan has narrowed as hybrid farmers have become more familiar with the
technology. This resulted in higher net income from hybrid rice production than
from inbred rice.
Even without seed subsidy, net income from hybrid rice
was observed to be higher specifically during dry seasons when photosynthetic
activity of the plants is high. This shows that although subsidy played an
important role in the initial adoption process, its gradual phase-out can be
programmed now, since farmers would still have incentives to use hybrid rice
even without the subsidy.
Aside from impacts on farm productivity and
income, hybrid rice promotion also created sequential adoption of other
component technologies in rice production that have been ignored in the past.
For one, farmers are fast-learning that 20 to 25 kg of seeds is enough to plant
a hectare using transplanted method of crop establishment. In addition, farmers
now also adopt synchronous planting, use of 400 sq m seedbeds, as well as
straight and row planting. Hybrid rice use has also encouraged farmers to use
organic fertilizers specifically in the seedbeds.
The government has
played an important role in the initial dissemination of hybrid rice technology
and its investments had paid-off because its efforts had already created a
certain demand for the technology, the researchers said. This opportunity can
now be taken by the private sector to lead in the next phase of hybrid rice
commercialization as the government moves away from its commercialization
As a result, government resources that would be freed from
these activities could be allocated in research, extension and technical
assistance to farmers, the researchers said.
November 23, 2005
Bolivia released the first upland rice variety originated
from population improvement
Roger Taboada (1), René Guzman (2), Juana
Viruez (2), Victor Hugo Callaú (2). Marc Châtel (3), Yolima Ospina (3),
Francisco. Rodriguez (3), Victor Hugo Lozano (3)
Rice in Bolivia is of
undoubted importance as part of the basic diet. Rice consumption, now 35kg
annually per capita, continues rising. The State of Santa Cruz, which is
the main rice producer in the country, uses the conventional mechanized
system. Santa Cruz possesses an area of approximately 75%, and 80% of the
earnings of the country’s total production. Other production systems such
as the slash and burn
system is employed in other production
states. Rice production in Bolivia is for auto consumption and for
The growth of the rice sector in Bolivia is limited due
to the lack of more productive varieties for each production system. The
rice breeding program led by the Centro de Investigacion Agricola Tropical (CIAT
Santa Cruz-Bolivia) is seeking to provide producers with more adapted and
productive rice varieties. Among the most recent achievements of this
programme is the release of a new rice variety for the upland system manual and
the mechanised. This is the first rice variety developed within the
framework of Bolivia and the population improvement project of the Centro de
Cooperación Internacional en Investigación Agrícola para el Desarrollo (CIRAD
Montpellier-Francia) and the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT,
This new variety was originated from the PCT-4
population and is labelled with the code
PCT-4\0\0\1>S2-1584-4-M-5-M-6-M-M. Its development was achieved thanks
to the population improvement work of the CIRAD/CIAT. The line was
selected in the Estación Experimental La Libertad, Villavicencio, Colombia, in
the first cycle of recombination of the PCT-4. To the formation of the
PCT-4 population the following genetic varieties/lines contributed: IRAT 104,
IRAT 257, Batatais, IRAT 199, Ligero, IR53167, A8-394, 5 lines of the plant
breeding programme of the CIAT and the japonica population CNA-IRAT A.
Fertile plants were selected in the population PCT-4 to derive segregating lines
through pedigree. Advanced lines were sent to Bolivia for performance
evaluation under local conditions.
At CIAT Santa Cruz the line
PCT-4\0\0\1>S2-1584-4-M-5-M-6-M-M was evaluated for agronomic traits and it
was identified as well adapted to both the manual and the mechanized
system. The variety’s qualities such as tolerance to drought and good
yield were important features for small farmers because it allows crop
rotation in the same area during one single year. These qualities also
allow trading the harvest material at better rates since during the beginning of
the harvesting season there is not much rice in the market.
sector, represented by CIAT Santa Cruz, and the private rice sector are joining
efforts to release the new variety in 2006. Seed multiplication fields,
field days and technical workshops are taking place during
1. CIAT resercher in Santa-Cruz until 2003.
Currently working in the Asociación de Productores de Arroz (ASPAR) Address:
Calle Humberto Vasquez M. No 58 "A". Santa cruz de la Sierra – Bolivia. email@example.com
Researchers of the Centro de Investigación Agrícola Tropical (CIAT) Address:
Avenida Ejercito Nal. Nº 131, c.c. 247 Santa Cruz de la Sierra – Bolivia
Reserchers for the joint project between the Centro de Cooperación Internacional
en Investigación Agrícola para el Desarrollo (CIRAD Montpellier-Francia) and
the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT Palmira-Colombia).
Address: Apartado Aereo 6713. Cali. Colombia. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Return to Contents
1.09 Canada needs strong variety development research, says the
Western Grains Research Foundation
research to develop new varieties of crops is an outstanding investment that
should be strengthened to help farmers succeed and to ensure a competitive
Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry.
That is the message Western Grains Research Foundation
(WGRF) is delivering to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) as part of
cross-country consultations by the department to update priorities for
agriculture and agri-food research.
The farmer funded and directed WGRF
is the largest funding partner in AAFC variety development research. This
spring, WGRF reached a new five-year partnership with AAFC that represents a $40
million investment in wheat and barley breeding programs.
"There is no
simpler test of value in agriculture than what a farmer plants," says Dr. Keith
Degenhardt, a Hughenden, Alta., producer and Chair of WGRF. "Producers only grow
crop varieties they know make sense for their operations and that meet clear
market demands. Canada needs strong variety development research to provide this
critical anchor to all of our production and market success."
genetics established as a primary battleground for agriculture competitiveness
around the world, this research has never been more important to protect the
multi-billion-dollar markets Canadian agriculture has earned, and to both create
and capitalize on emerging opportunities, says Degenhardt. "A key component to
building a healthy farming environment is a crop breeding system that ensures
farmers continue to maintain access to new varieties with as little impedance as
Farmers rely heavily on public research to deliver a regular
turnover of varieties with the yield, quality, disease and pest resistance, and
other characteristics necessary to meet increasingly sophisticated production
and market demands.
Variety development research is also crucial to drive
innovations important to the Canadian public, such as lowering the use of
pesticides and other agricultural inputs, improving environmentally sustainable
production and protecting food safety.
This research is also the anchor
of innovation - it provides the tailored characteristics needed to add value and
both develop and capture new market opportunities.
"There is arguably no
better public research investment than variety development to help our farmers
and to make sure we get the most benefit - economically, socially and
environmentally - from our agriculture and agri-food industry," says
WGRF is made up of 18 diverse agricultural organizations
representing the vast majority of Prairie crop producers. The major funding
sources it administers are the Wheat and Barley Check-off Funds, which for the
past decade have been invested in research to develop new wheat and barley
Under WGRF's renewed partnership with AAFC, the department
will invest $24.5 million in wheat research and $3.15 million for barley over
the next five years, and WGRF will provide an additional $12.5 million. The
agreement, which is renewable for an additional five years, follows the original
WGRF-AAFC 10-year agreement signed in 1994.
WGRF would like to see the
AAFC commitment to this research extended and strengthened, says Lanette
Kuchenski, WGRF Executive Director. "The WGRF partnership with AAFC in funding
this research has been an outstanding success. We would like to see the variety
development effort not only be maintained, but increased to further capitalize
on the proven high returns and fundamental role of this
Recently, WGRF commissioned an independent study to examine
the return on investment from the past 10 years of Wheat and Barley Check-off
investment in wheat and barley variety development programs.
lead by University of Saskatchewan agricultural economists Dr. Hartley Furtan
and Dr. Richard Gray, identified a minimum four-to-one return on investment for
wheat breeding and 12-to-one return for barley breeding (the higher barley
return is due to the smaller acres of barley). The results support the findings
of many economic studies of variety development research conducted over the
years, which consistently show major returns that are arguably the highest and
most consistent among any area of agricultural research.
on WGRF and the Wheat and Barley Check-off Funds is available at www.westerngrains.com
21 November 2005
Pigeonpea back in China
is an essential ingredient in Indian cooking. Next door in China, however, pigeonpea
is used to hold up the soil in mountainous regions, and to rear insects. When
the latter industry collapsed, pigeonpea
cultivation decreased in Chinese farmlands.
With help from the
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT),
China has once again started to cultivate improved varieties of the crop. Work
started back in 1997, when they were first tested in selected locations in the
country. Today, pigeonpea
is estimated to be grown on around 50,000 acres in China alone. Strong research
programs on the crop have also been 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, Guangxi.
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. Among others, it can also be used as
animal fodder, which is important to the rural economy in Southern
For further information, contact Dr KB Saxena at email@example.com
CropBiotech Update 11 November 2005
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents
1.11 Cornell University and Indian
Council of Agricultural Research sign new agreement for agricultural
Ithaca, New York
Exchanging scientific information
freely, forging cooperative research, hosting Indian executives, students and
faculty, and sharing agricultural biotechnology to promote the development and
use of drought- and pest-resistant crops. These were just a few of the
collaborations that were strengthened when Susan A. Henry, the Ronald P. Lynch
Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University
, signed a renewed
memorandum of understanding with officials representing the Indian Council of Agricultural Research
The agreement was signed during a visit to Cornell by Indian
senior executives and government officials on the board of the newly formed
Knowledge Initiative in Agricultural Education, Teaching, Research, Service and
Commercial Linkages (KIA).
"KIA is an initiative, signed between U.S.
President George Bush and India's Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh in July, that
provides momentum to re-energize the longstanding tradition of knowledge
exchange between the two countries," said Ronnie Coffman, director of
International Programs in CALS.
"We at Cornell are incredibly fortunate
that Cornell is so high on the KIA team's list for collaborations that the
delegation chose to visit only Cornell on this trip," added Coffman.
Indian team members visited labs and faculty members associated with Cornell's
Institute for Genomic Diversity, Department of Applied Economics and Management,
Cornell Cooperative Extension, organic agriculture, Mann Library, Veterinary
College, rice mapping, poultry program, food retail program, Food Science
Incubator and Cornell Center for Technology, Enterprise and
"We are very active in agricultural research in India,
and renewing a memo of understanding with them builds on our more than 50 years
of Cornell-India collaborations concerning agricultural education and research,"
said K.V. Raman, associate director of international programs in
Among Cornell-India links are:
-extension/outreach services to
Indian farmers on agricultural technologies;
-an international agriculture
course that sends 50 Cornell students to India each January to tour with Indian
agricultural students and faculty;
-the Agri/Food Business Management Program
and the Food Retail Executive Program that bring high-level Indian policy
planners, food industry CEOs and faculty to Cornell each year;
biotechnology symposia, conducted with the government of India, to inform Indian
stakeholders with emerging trends in global biotechnology;
Consortium and System for Rice Intensification programs to promote rice and
wheat production in India;
-the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project to
address such issues as pest control, drought and intellectual property
technology management in India.
Many of these programs are in
collaboration with Sathguru Management Consultants, an India-based firm that
represents CALS in India.
(Return to Contents
Kazakhstan and Siberia connect with CIMMYT to improve their
El Batán, Mexico
Wheat exchange network breeds new life into
varietal development: Kazakhstan and Siberia connect with CIMMYT to improve
Grigoriy Sereda, Head of the Breeding Department at the
Central Kazakhstan Agricultural Research Center, is nothing if not direct. “The
future of our breeding program relies on KASIB. Without it, germplasm exchange
would be nonexistent. And without germplasm exchange, crop breeding cannot move
KASIB, the Kazakhstan-Siberia Network for Spring Wheat
Improvement, was established in 2000 as the brainchild of CIMMYT regional
representative Alexei Morgounov
the former Soviet Union, there was considerable seed exchange among the
republics and interactions among breeders and crop research institutes. But
after the break-up of the U.S.S.R., many scientists found themselves isolated
professionally and with little access to breeding lines from outside sources.
Through KASIB, CIMMYT, with modest funding from GTZ, a German development
agency, and the International Cooperation for Agricultural Research in Central
Asia and the Caucasus, endeavored to rectify the situation.
principles of the network are simple: participants share breeding lines and data
and abide by a Wheat Workers Code of Ethics (a declaration by the U.S. National
Wheat Improvement Committee). Aside from active exchange and evaluation of
experimental lines, the network publishes trial results and proceedings from an
annual meeting where scientists from participating institutions present and
discuss their work.
Each of the 17 participating institutions submits
2-4 recent varieties or breeding lines to CIMMYT’s Kazakhstan office, where seed
for the trials and the field books are prepared and distributed to cooperators
in April, prior to planting. The trials are grown at the diverse sites with
three replications. Data from trials are submitted to CIMMYT, where they are
summarized, published in Russian and English, and distributed to cooperators and
others. The trials are a key source of lines and varieties carrying important
traits such as drought tolerance, disease resistance (primarily to leaf rust and
septoria leaf blotch), and improved grain quality.
point, in 2000 northern Kazakhstan and Siberia suffered a leaf rust outbreak,
Morgounov recounts. None of the 80 modern varieties and lines being tested
showed resistance to the pathogen. This clearly indicated a pressing need for
the breeders to address, and one for which CIMMYT was well equipped to assist.
Another facet of KASIB is an innovative shuttle breeding program between
the network and CIMMYT-Mexico. Following several years of trials, says CIMMYT
wheat breeder Richard Trethowan, scientists in the network select elite local
lines and varieties with promising agronomic or quality traits and send seed to
Mexico to be crossed with CIMMYT materials that possess leaf rust resistance and
other locally-desirable traits, such as a tall profile and photoperiod
sensitivity. The lines are crossed with a Kazakh parent or to another Kazakh or
Canadian line and returned to Kazakhstan and Siberia for additional breeding to
ensure adaptation to local environments.
Once adapted, Trethowen
continues, the line can then be sent back to Mexico for further crossing and
improvement, hence the term shuttle. The system not only allows incorporation of
traits not found in the region’s wheat, but accelerates breeding by allowing
multiple cycles per year. The first full cycle of the shuttle was completed in
2004, with the first advanced lines reaching Mexico. Trethowen credits KASIB for
enabling the approach to be applied in Central Asia and for benefits that accrue
to CIMMYT wheat research through the added genetic diversity introduced from
Kazakh and Siberian linesdiversity that may well serve farmers elsewhere in
the developing world.
For Sereda, KASIB has breathed fresh life into his
work: for example, he has received more than 200 entries to plant through the
network and has selected about 60 for crosses. He is particularly enthused about
the experimental wheats from CIMMYT’s wide-cross researchderived from
crosses with wild relatives of wheatreceived through the KASIB-CIMMYT
shuttle. After 35 years of plant breeding, the wide-cross collection brings an
entirely new tool on which to focus his vast experience. And he thanks KASIB
meetings and publications for providing a forum to share his knowledge and more
quickly move improved wheats to the farmers of Kazakhstan.
E-News, vol 2 no. 11, November 2005
, via SeedQuest.com
(Return to Contents
and partners in Nepal make progress against foliar blight in wheat
CIMMYT and partners in Nepal have identified new sources of
genetic resistance to a disease that makes wheat plants looks as though they
have been through a drought. The symptoms of foliar blight result from fungal
infections, either spot blotch or the less well-known but related tan spot.
These pathogens dry the wheat plant and shrivel grain. In the warm areas of
South Asia, that appearance can lead farmers to blame drought rather than an
infection. By “knowing the enemy,” as CIMMYT partner Ram Sharma
puts it, it is easier
to win the fight against the disease.
CIMMYT pathologist Etienne Duveiller
and Sharma, who have
both done work on the pathogens, have found an effective method to select for
resistance: finding wheat with a heavy grain weight, early maturity, and
resistance to both pathogens. Wheat that carries these three traits together
makes for wheat with higher resistance. Through regional collaborative trials in
South Asia, they have bred and identified wheat lines that look promising. While
better than anything previously seen in the area, these wheats can still suffer
up to 35% yield lossesand have a huge impact on resource poor farmers who
grow their wheat for food, as most do in Nepal.
When the temperature
soars to 26-28°C, however, no wheat can resist the disease. This is why it is so
important to find wheat that matures early to avoid the abrupt rise in
temperature accompanied by hot winds in late March and April. This becomes
difficult as most farmers in the region are delayed planting wheat as they wait
for their rice harvest to finish and the paddies to dry up.
to genetic resistance, solutions can come in the form of good management.
Surface seeding, when seed is broadcast on the mud directly after the rice
harvest, allows earlier planting and gives the wheat crop a jump start on the
heat. Crop rotation and soil nutrients are important because healthy soils help
the crop resist the disease. Also, Duveiller and Sharma have found that wheat is
better able to withstand the disease with proper soil moisture.
CIMMYT-Nepal team expects that these new sources of resistance, coupled with
good management practices, will limit the destructiveness of this disease. They
know it can be donefoliar blight has already been substantially reduced in
areas of South Asia such as Bangladesh through better wheat varieties. The
challenge is to sustain progressive control of this threat across the warm wheat
growing areas of South Asia.
E-News, vol 2 no. 11, November 2005
, via SeedQuest.com
(Return to Contents
1.14 Swiss vote for ban on GM cultivation
agreed to support a five-year ban on the commercial cultivation of genetically
modified crops. In a referendum on a moratorium on biotechnology in Swiss
agriculture, 55.6% of Swiss voters supported the ban until November 27,
EuropaBio, the European Union (EU) association for bioindustries,
said that although the ban concerns only the commercial cultivation of GM crops,
the impact will indirectly affect investment in research and innovation, as well
as lessen crop alternatives for farmers.
For more information on the ban,
CropBiotech Update 2 December 2005
Contributed by Margaret
Dept. of Plant
Breeding & Genetics
1.15 China leads in research of genetically modified
China has taken the lead among developing
countries in the research of genetically modified (GM) plants, an expert has
China has been investing 100 million US dollars per year in the
research of biotechnological plants since the beginning of this century, and the
sum is expected to reach more than 500 million US dollars in 2005, said Shen
Guifang, executive deputy director of China High-tech Industrialization
Association and researcher of Chinese Academy of
At present, more than 60 versions of GM
plants are approved for field trials and release, including China's staple crops
-- rice, maize and wheat, as well as cotton, potato, tomato, soybean, peanut and
rape, she said at the "Forum of Industrial Innovation and Agriculture
Industrialization" held recently in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
More than 30 versions of GM tomato,
cotton, petunia and pimient o have been approved for commercial production. The
leading GM plant in China is pest-resistant cotton covering 66 percent of
cotton-growing areas, Shen said.
China developed 47 GM plants in 1996,
including almost all the main food and for age plants. It has examined and
approved 26 GM plants in terms of safety between 1997 and 1999, including 16 of
pest-resistant type, nine of antiviral type and one of quality-improved type.
China ranks the fifth -- behind the United States, Argentina, Canada,
Brazil - in the amount of genetically modified crops, saida World Health
Organization report in June. Last year it had 3.70 million hectares planted, 5
percent of the total transgenic crop area of the world.
5 December 2005
Source: People's Daily Online
(Return to Contents
for the origins of genome complexity: deciphering a paradox of
Biologists at Georgia Tech have provided scientific support
for a controversial hypothesis that has divided the fields of evolutionary
genomics and evolutionary developmental biology, popularly known as evo devo,
for two years. Appearing in the December 2005 issue of Trends in Genetics,
researchers find that the size and complexity of a species’ genome is not an
evolutionary adaptation per se, but can result as simply a consequence of a
reduction in a species’ effective population size.
“As a general rule,
more complex organisms, like humans, have larger genomes than less complex
ones,” said J. Todd Streelman, assistant professor in the School of Biology at
the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of the study. “You might think
this means that animals with the largest genomes are the most complex – and for
the most part that would be right. But it’s not always true. There are some
species of frogs and some amoeba that have much larger genomes than humans.”
To help explain this paradox, a pair of scientists from Indiana
University and the University of Oregon published a hotly-contested hypothesis
in 2003. It said that most of the mutations that arise in organisms are not
advantageous and that the smaller a species effective population size (the
number of individuals who contribute genes to the next generation), the larger
the genome will be.
“We agreed with some of the criticisms of the
hypothesis – that one had to remove the effects of confounding factors like body
size and developmental rate,” said Streelman. “We were able to remove the
effects of these confounding factors and test whether genome size is adaptive.”
Their test consisted of analyzing data from 1,043 species of fresh and
saltwater ray-finned fish. Previous data on genetic variability had established
that freshwater species have a smaller effective population size than their
marine counterparts. If the hypothesis was correct, the genome size of these
freshwater fish would be larger than that of the saltwater dwellers. It was.
Then they matched the data with estimates of heterozygosity, a measure
of the genetic variation of a population. Again they found that species with a
smaller effective population had larger genomes.
“We see a very strong
negative linear relationship between genome size and the effective population
size,” said Soojin Yi, assistant professor in the School of Biology and lead
author of the study. “This observation tells us that the mutations that increase
the genome tend to be slightly deleterious, because population genetic theories
predict such a relationship.”
“The interesting thing here is that
biological complexity may passively evolve,” said Yi. “We show that at the
origins, it’s not adaptive mutations, but slightly bad ones that make the genome
larger. But if you have a large genome, there is more genetic material to play
with to make something useful. At first, maybe these mutations aren’t so good
for your genome, but as they accumulate and conditions change through evolution,
they could become more complex and more beneficial.”
15 December 2005
KU Leuven: Center for Conservation of Vegetatively
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven) in
Flanders, Belgium has been established as the Global Centre of Excellence on
Plant Cryobiology. It will be involved in the long-term conservation of
vegetatively propagated plants. This was agreed upon by the International Plant
Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and K.U.Leuven on 18 October 2005 to
commemorate World Food Day. Conservation efforts will include tropical staples
such as banana, taro, and cassava.
"This is a significant step forward in
our efforts to conserve agricultural diversity," said Emile Frison, Director
General of IPGRI. "The point, however, is not simply conservation. Breeders and
farmers need the conserved material to adapt crops to meet challenges such as
new pests and diseases."
Read more on K.U.Leuven at http://www.kuleuven.ac.be/english
IPGRI's release on the global center of excellence is at http://www.ipgri.cgiar.org/system/page.asp?frame=institute/pawareness.htm
Source: CropBiotech Update 28 October 2005
Contributed by Margaret
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents
1.18 Research maps maize gene diversity
domesticated from the teosinte
through a single domestication event which may be traced to southern Mexico.
This occurred between 6000 to 9000 years ago, and resulted in the original
landraces which were then spread throughout the Americas by Native Americans and
adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. But what gene, or genes
were responsible for the improvement and domestication of maize
Yamasaki of the University of Missouri, and colleagues, find their answer as
they report that "A Large-Scale Screen for Artificial Selection in Maize
Candidate Agronomic Loci for Domestication and Crop Improvement." Their work
appears in the latest issue of Plant Cell.
By sequencing 1095 maize
genes from a
sample of 14 inbred lines, researchers chose 35 genes with zero sequence
diversity as potential targets of selection. These 35 genes were then sequenced
in a sample of diverse maize
tested for selection. Using two statistical tests, researchers identified eight
candidate genes, with three domestication candidates (designated as AY108876,
AY105060, and AY106371) and three improvement candidates (AY107195, AY110109,
and AY108178). The eight genes, the researchers report, "have functions
consistent with agronomic selection for nutritional quality, maturity, and
Subscribers to Plant Cell can read the complete article at
CropBiotech Update 18 November 2005
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents
1.19 Animal gene renders tobacco
resistant to parasitic weed
The parasitic plant
species Orobanche can cause enormous yield losses. Up to now, there are only few
control measures that are successful and affordable. An American-Israeli
research team has now been able to genetically engineer tobacco plants to
enhance their resistance against Orobanche.
Parasitic plants heavily
contribute to the weed problem for agriculture. Plants of the species Orobanche
attack the roots of many crops and abstract water, nutrients and photosynthesis
products from their host plant, and by so doing can cause enormous yield losses.
Since the parasite is closely associated with the host root, its control is very
difficult. Thus, crop species that are resistant to the parasite are in great
James Westwood from the Virginia Tech, Department of Plant
Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science in Blacksburg, USA, and his Israeli
colleagues recently set out to render tobacco plants resistant to Orobanche.
They published their work in the Journal Transgenic Research.
research team genetically engineered tobacco plants so that they expressed a
protein fragment, called sarcotoxin IA, from the flesh fly Sarcophaga peregrine.
Sarcotoxin has toxic effects to several plant pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
Already in 1999, Radi Aly from the Agricultural Research Organiszation
in Ramat Yishay, Israel, and his colleagues showed that transgenic tobacco
plants producing sarcotoxin IA were less parasitized by Orobanche. Yet,
resistance was not complete, perhaps due to the low production level of
Westwood has now combined the so called HMG2-promoter (a
plant gene sequence that controls a natural plant defence response) with the
sarcotoxin IA gene and found, that the transgenic tobacco plants showed
parasitic resistance after O. aegyptiaca had penetrated the plant.
However, sarcotoxin IA confers only an intermediate level of resistance
to Orobanche. Though the transgenic plants accumulated a higher biomass than
untransformed plants when grown in soil infected with O. aegyptiaca, the added
gene did not enable plants to completely avoid damage by the parasite.
Since the number of tubercles of O. aegyptiaca did not differ between
transgenic and untransformed plants and parasite biomass was lower in
genetically engineered plants, the researchers conclude that sarcotoxin IA first
of all affects parasite growth after it has attached to the roots, and second,
it does not inhibit the attachment itself.
The researchers write in
their publication that the resistance level of the genetically engineered
tobacco plants fall short of the levels that would be required for reducing
Orobanche infestations in the field.
“We are in the very early stages of
research on this line of resistance, and I don’t foresee any of our current
generation of plants being planted in the field,” Dr. Westwood told
When plants armed with this resistance mechanism would be
released, the development of possible resistant Orobanche populations might be a
concern. Dr. Westwood answered, “I hypothesize that the sarcotoxin IA mechanism
is acting as a general membrane disrupter, and resistance may be slow to develop
against such a non-specific mechanism.”
But since resistance is always
possible, the best strategy is to combine it with other resistance mechanisms,
or effective control measures to further delay the emergence of resistant
The researchers are currently investigating the
precise mechanism of action of sarcotoxin IA against Orobanche. Dr. Westwood
said, “We think we can enhance the activity by modifying the protein, but again,
we are in the first steps of this research and it is too early to say what
resistance levels can be expected.”
If they are able to increase
Orobanche resistance in tobacco plants enough, Dr. Westwood’ team will test it
against other parasitic weeds to see if it is generally useful against them as
“Genetically engineered plants are not very different from the
plants we encounter and consume every day,” explained Dr. Westwood about his
research with transgenic plants. He further explained that nearly all crops
would have been substantially modified over the years by conventional genetic
breeding, in many cases with little knowledge or concern about unintended
changes that may have been made along the way.
“When I think about the
crop losses suffered due to parasitic plants, and that we still have few good
tools to protect these crops, I think we must be open to new approaches.”
Hamamouch et al. A peptide from insets protects transgenic tobacco from
a parasitic weed. Transgenic Research (2005) 14, pp. 227-236.
the abstract: http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=parasitic&doc_id=11865&start=1&fullsearch=0
By Katharina Schoebi, Checkbiotech
Contact: James H.
Westwood,Virginia Tech, firstname.lastname@example.org
15 December 2005
USDA identifies rice lines that resist straighthead
Scientists from the Agricultural Research Service of the
United States Department of Agriculture have identified rice breeding lines that
resist straighthead disease.
Research geneticist Wengui Yan and
colleagues analyzed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rice Core
Collection and were able to identify germplasm accessions that are very
resistant to straighthead, a plant disease that causes the entire rice head to
remain upright at maturity with sterile florets and reduced grain
For more information, view the ARS release at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr
CropBiotech Update 3 November 2005
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents
1.21 Millet gets mildew defense from
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
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
against downy mildew disease caused by Sclerospora
." 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.
the Journal of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry can access the complete article
CropBiotech Update 11 November 2005
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents
1.22 Lr19 resistance in wheat becomes susceptible to
Puccinia triticina in India
Lr19, a resistance gene originally
transferred from _Agropyron elongatum_ to wheat (_Triticum aestivum_ L.), has
remained effective worldwide against leaf rust (_Puccinia triticina_ Eriks.)
except in Mexico (1). This report records a new pathotype of _P. triticina_
virulent on Lr19 from India.
From 2003 to 2004, 622 wheat leaf rust
samples from 14 states were subjected to pathotype analysis. Samples were
established on susceptible wheat cv. Agra Local, and pathotypes were identified
on 3 sets of differentials following binomial nomenclature (3). Virulence on
Lr19 (Agatha T4 line) was observed in approximately 2 percent of samples. These
samples were picked from Lr19 (NIL), cvs. Ajit, Lal Bahadur, Local Red, Lok1,
and Nirbhay from Karnataka and Gujarat states. All Lr19 virulent isolates were
identical. The reference culture is being maintained on susceptible wheat cv.
Agra Local and has also been put under long-term storage in a national
repository at Flowerdale.
From 2004 to 2005, this pathotype was detected
in 6.3 percent of samples from central and peninsular India. There is no wheat
variety with Lr19 under cultivation in India, however, it is being used in wheat
breeding programs targeted at building resistance against leaf and stem rusts.
NIL's Lr19/Sr25 (LC25) and Lr19/Sr25 (82.2711) were also susceptible to this
isolate, whereas Lr19/Sr25 (spring accession) was resistant. The new isolate,
designated as 253R31 (77-8), appears to be close to the pathotype 109R31 (4)
with additional virulence for Lr19. The avirulence/virulence formula of
pathotype 253R31 is Lr9, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27ძ, 28, 29, 32, 36, 39, 41, 42, 43,
45/Lr1, 2a, 2b, 2c, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14a, 14b, 14ab, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21,
22a, 22b, 30, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 40, 44, 48, and 49.
To our knowledge,
this is the 1st report of virulence on Lr19 from 2 states of India. On
international rust differentials, it is designated as TGTTQ (2), and is
different from CBJ/QQ (1), the other isolate reported virulent on Lr19 from
Mexico. The Mexican isolate is avirulent on Lr1, 2a, 2b, 2c, 3ka, 16, 21, and 30
to which the Indian
isolate is virulent.
However, both isolates are
avirulent on Lr9, 24, 26, 36, and Lr42. Among the wheat cultivars identified
during the last 6 years, HD2824, HD2833, HD2864, HI1500, HS375, HUW 510, HW
2044, HW 5001, Lok 45, MACS 6145, MP4010, NW 2036, PBW 443, PBW 498, PBW 502,
PBW 524, Raj 4037, UP 2565, VL 804, VL 829, and VL 832 and lines of wheat
possessing Lr9, Lr23, Lr24, and Lr26 showed resistance to this pathotype. PBW
343, which occupies more than 5 million ha in India, is also resistant to this
pathotype along with PBW 373.
An integrated strategy using a combination
of diverse resistance genes, deployment of cultivars by using pathotype
distribution data, slow rusting, and adult plant resistance is in place to
curtail selection of new pathotypes and prevent rust
(1) J. Huerta-Espino and R. P. Singh. Plant
(2) D. V. Mc Vey et al. Plant Dis. 88:271, 2004.
Nagarajan et al. Curr. Sci. 52:413, 1983.
(4) S. K. Nayar et al. Curr. Sci.
Source: American Phytopathological Society, Plant Disease
Notes, December 2005 [edited] <
30 November 2005
Selection of spelt varieties for organic production underway in New South
New South Wales, Australia
Spelt is currently an important
component of organic rotations in Australia’s winter rainfall zones. In
Australia, organic spelt is currently processed for flour and further
value-added into bread, licorice, spelt flakes, and pasta. In addition, spelt
has benefits for livestock, both for grazing and as a stock feed supplement.
Environmentally, spelt is well adapted to organic systems. In addition to having
lower nutritional requirements than wheat, anecdotal evidence suggests that
spelt was unaffected by stripe rust in 2004 when the disease was widespread
throughout Australia and appears more tolerant of waterlogging and salt (Ground
Cover, Issue 55, April/May, GRDC 2005).
The seeming adaptability of
spelt suggests that it may have a role to play in Australian agricultural
systems as climate change impacts on traditional cropping. However, the yield of
spelt (and other alternative grains) is variable (2 -4.5 tonnes / Ha) with
reported yields in Australia well below that of wheat, indicating that there is
potential to improve yields either through crop selection and/or by improvements
to crop nutrition. Yield benefits, however, must not compromise the superior
nutritional value or other unique attributes of these grains.
farmers in the Cootamundra area of NSW are currently growing a spelt variety
which is a mixture of two older strains. No other varieties are available
commercially and little is known about the adaptability of the Cootamundra
variety. NSW DPI in conjunction with Cootamundra organic producers David and
Mary Booth (Buronga Organics) set out to test the available germplasm to see
whether other varieties are an improvement.
A small number of seeds of
each of these lines have been growing for the past 5 months in the glasshouse at
the EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation in Wagga Wagga. The harvested
seed will be grown in the field next year. This is the beginning of the process
to determine which of thevarieties has commercial potential.
As soon as
sufficient seed is available, the best varieties will be evaluated on organic
growers’ properties and on certified organic land at NSWDPI’s Yanco Agricultural
Institute and at theRiverina Institute of TAFE’s National Environment Centre in
Albury. Quality and ‘organic’ performance are essential
The 43 spelt genotypes grown in the glasshouse have exhibited
a huge and interesting range of different characteristics. Some lines were early
‘spring’ types, others were ‘winter’ types. There were striking differences in
plant height, degree of tillering, leaf size and number, plant colour, and
Organic growers require crop varieties that are deliberately
bred to perform well in their production systems. Currently, organic farmers
have to rely on varieties bred for high-input systems (fertiliser, herbicide,
insecticide, etc.) which will not necessarily have the attributes most suited to
the organic environment. Furthermore, organic growers really want varieties to
be ‘bred organically’. That is, bred using traditional methods and without the
use of more modern interventionist approaches such as, tissue culture,
artificial mutagensis, or transgenics. It remains to be seen whether some
breeding is required for Australian spelt but experience over the years in many
crops worldwide has shown that breeding may be required to make long-term
progress in yield. Perhaps the biggest challenge for organic spelt production is
weed control, and having a variety which is very competitive against weeds will
An equally important aspect of spelt wheat is its grain
and flour quality - which is different to normal bread wheat. The Bread Research
Institute Australia Limited recently undertook are view of the health attributes
of spelt for the Grains Research and Development Corporation(GRDC). They found
that spelt has a similar composition to modern wheats - high in carbohydrates,
low in fat, with good protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
however, can be up to twice as high in spelt as in modern wheats. Spelt may be
higher in vitamin E activity and have a higher proportion of monounsaturated
fats to the total fat content. However, the content of total and insoluble
dietary fibre has been reported to be considerably lower in spelt than modern
wheats (Griffins, T. 2005). A vital part of any selection process is to ensure
that the quality of promising varieties retain these characteristics and meets
the quality requirements of the spelt processors and consumers. Quality will be
tested as soon as sufficient seed is generated from field trials. A
complete production package
As they say “the proof of the pudding is in
the eating” and it is hoped to undertake extensive on-farm evaluations of the
selected lines. Subject to the success of a pending funding application, future
trials will evaluate agronomic and quality attributes of the spelt selections
within organic crop rotations. This will include a time of planting and sowing
rate / row spacing trial and the determination (and provision)of critical soil P
and N levels for spelt under organic systems. The ultimate aim is to present
organic producers with a comprehensive production package which provides them
with a selection of high quality; higher yielding spelt lines and production
strategies which are well adapted to their local organic management conditions.
It is likely that future spelt wheat varieties will not be the pure,
uniform types we are currently used to. Organic growers will, in fact, require
locally-adapted populations which suit their individual conditions and which
continue to evolve under natural selection. The plant breeder’s job in this
scenario is to produce the genetically-mixed populations by hybridisation and
then let nature takes its course (along with a helping hand from the
participatory organic growers). The end result will be ‘landraces’ - much like
the crops of centuries past. So, it is back to the future!
information contact: Robyn Neeson at email@example.com
DavidLuckett at firstname.lastname@example.org
Organic Newsletter Volume 2, issue 9, Sept-Nov 2005, via SeedQuest.com 6
1.24 ARS progresses on anti-aphid soy
aphid is a
widespread pest of the crop, and, in high levels of infestation, can stunt soybean
disfigure leaves, and cause plants to die. Growers have hitherto fought the pest
with insecticides, which add as much as $25 per acre to production
Scientists from the Agricultural Research Service of the United
States Department of Agriculture (ARS-USDA) have made considerable progress in
finding a way to combat the pest. A team led by plant pathologist Glen Hartman
and University of Illinois (UI) collaborators at Urbana have found that a single
gene, called Rag1, can confer resistance to soybean
Researchers found the gene by screening 800 commercial cultivars
and 3,000 germplasm accessions. They have already published their findings in
the March 2005 issue of Crop Science, and since then have mapped the gene and
its location on the resistant cultivar's genome. They have also identified
marker regions, and devised technology to detect such markers, so that breeders
may immediately identify resistant plants.
With current progress, high
yielding cultivars expressing Rag1 may be available by 2008.
complete article at:http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/content/full/45/2/639?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=Hartman&andorexacttitle=and&andorexacttitleabs=and&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1131594020854_4380&stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&journalcode=cropsci
Access the press release at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/nov05/soy1105.htm
CropBiotech Update 18 November 2005:
Contributed by Margaret Smith
of Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents
1.25 CSIRO researchers are investigating
how to use genes to produce larger seeds across a wide range of
Following their discovery of two genes which
control the size of plant seeds, CSIRO
researchers are investigating how that knowledge can be used to produce larger
seeds across a wide range of crops.
The two seed-size genes have been
isolated in the model plant Arabidopsis
and in initial tests, where the
genes have been ‘turned down’, seed size has been reduced by up to 30 per
The challenge now for the CSIRO team led by Dr Abed Chaudhury and
Dr Ming Luo is to ‘turn up’ the activity of the genes to try and increase seed
'For farmers bigger seed means healthier crops, more productive
farms and potentially higher returns,' Dr Chaudhury says.
The CSIRO team
hopes to understand how the seed-size genes work and what they do to affect seed
'The genes we identified in Arabidopsis
are likely to have
equivalent counterparts in other plants, so what we learn from these genes and
how they influence seed size may be applied to a whole suite of other
Food like bread, pasta, rice, cornflakes, peanut butter, canola
oil, margarine, soymilk and even coffee and chocolate are all made from
There is huge variation in seed size in different plants, from
orchids, with seed the size of a speck of dust, right through to coconuts – the
world’s largest seeds.
Plant breeders have long recognised the importance
of larger seed in the production of food crops and have been breeding for the
'Manufacturers and industry often pay a premium for large seeds
like chickpeas or lentils, because they are easier to handle and are often
preferred by consumers,' Dr Chaudhury says.
'Farmers prefer larger seeds
because for certain crops, especially wheat and canola, large seeds mean more
food for the seedling, early germination and vigorous plants that are more
likely to produce higher yields.'
The CSIRO team hope to understand how
the seed-size genes work and what they do to affect seed size.
also interested in a third gene that looks like it might be responsible for
controlling the two other genes,' he says.
“Understanding how these genes
operate in plants could help us find ways to develop plants that consistently
produce larger seeds.”This work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Science, November 29 2005, vol. 102 no. 48, 17531-17536
9 December 2005
1.26 Anyway you slice it, tomatoes cut through drought with new
College Station – New tomato research has its roots in yielding
more food to feed more people, according to Dr. Kendal Hirschi about results
His team's study appears in today's Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences.
The team made tomato plants over-express
the gene, AVP1, which resulted in stronger, larger root systems and that
resulted in roots making better use of limited water, said Hirschi, a researcher
at Texas A&M University's Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center and
Baylor's College of Medicine.
"The gene gave us a better root system,
and the root system could then take the adjustment to drought stress better and
thus grow better," Hirschi said of the paper which details "a strategy to
engineer drought-resistant crop plants."
For example, regular or control
tomatoes used in the experiment suffered irreversible damage after five days
without water, as opposed to the transgenic tomatoes, which began to show signs
of damage after 13 days but rebounded completely as soon as they were watered,
according to the study.
"This technology could ultimately be applied to
all crops because it involves the over-expression of a gene found in all
plants," said Dr. Roberto Gaxiola, a plant biologist at the University of
Connecticut and the lead author of the study. "It has the potential to
revolutionize agriculture and improve food production worldwide by addressing an
increasing global concern: water scarcity."
Gaxiola's findings regarding
the use of AVP1 in Arabidopsis to create hardier, more drought resistant plants
were published in the journal Science in October, but the study described in the
proceedings marks the first time the enhanced gene has been inserted in a
commercially viable crop, he said.
The paper notes that drought
conditions throughout the world each year carve out a huge amount of food
To overcome food shortages, the authors suggest, "it will be
necessary to increase the productivity of land already under cultivation and to
regain the use of arable land lost to scarce water supplies."
and Gaxiola worked with Dr. Sunghun Park, also of the Vegetable and Fruit
"Our center is good at moving genes into the
different plants," Hirschi said. "Dr. Park's job was to move this gene into the
Hirschi, who's main research focus is "boosting nutrients in
plants to make them more nutritional for children," said the study now may be
tried on other crops. Gaxiola said he already has additional studies under way
to demonstrate how this technology applies to other commercial crops.
More information on this study can be found at http://www.pnas.org/
Phillips, (979) 845-2872,email@example.com
Contacts: Dr. Kendal Hirschi, (713) 798-7011,firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Roberto Gaxiola, (860)
1.27 Gene reported to confer drought tolerance
acid is a plant hormone that regulates growth, and transcription factors
associated with a plant’s response to it play a key role in allowing plants to
survive under drought stress. One such transcription factor is AREB1, and
Yasunari Fujita and colleagues from Tsukuba, Japan find, from their research,
that “AREB1 Is a Transcription Activator of Novel ABRE-Dependent ABA Signaling
That Enhances Drought Stress Tolerance in Arabidopsis.”
In their paper,
which appears in the latest issue of Plant Cell, researchers report that under
normal growth conditions, the intact AREB1 gene is insufficient to induce the
expression of genes. They thus created an activated form of the gene, called
AREB1 QT, and over expressed it in Arabidopsis in the laboratory. Researchers
found that the plants were hypersensitive to abscisic acid, and showed enhanced
tolerance to drought. Plants without the gene were insensitive to abscisic acid,
and displayed reduced survival under dehydration.
Subscribers to Plant
Cell may read the complete article at http://www.plantcell.org/cgi/content/full/17/12/3470
readers may access the abstract at http://www.plantcell.org/cgi/content/abstract/17/12/3470
9 December 2005
Expanding the pool of PCR-based markers for
J.-L. Jannink and S. W. Gardner of Iowa State University
present their work on
“Expanding the Pool of PCR-Based Markers for Oat.” Their research appears in the
latest issue of Crop
There are only a few polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–based
markers for oat, and the crop would benefit from such markers, as PCR is a less
expensive alternative to current methods used to analyze, classify, and breed
oat (such as restriction fragment length polymorphisms, or RFLP).
research, Jannink and Gardner design 32 markers based on oat sequence data
Subscribers to Crop Science can access the complete article,
as well as the sequences of the markers, at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/reprint/45/6/2383
Other readers may see the abstract at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/45/6/2383
16 December 2005
1.29 Cancer, genes and broccoli - study of genetic differences in
People who gain less protection
from cancer by eating broccoli may be able to compensate for the difference in
their genetic make-up by eating ‘super broccoli’, a variety with higher levels
of the active plant chemical sulforaphane, or by eating larger
Lead scientist on the new research, Professor Richard Mithen of
the Institute of Food Research
“Eating a few portions of broccoli each week may help to reduce the risk of
cancer. Some individuals, who lack a gene called GSTM1, appear to get less
cancer protection from broccoli than those who have the gene.
studies suggest that this may be because if you lack the gene you cannot retain
any sulforaphane inside your body, it is all excreted within a few hours.
However, if you consume larger portions of broccoli, or broccoli with higher
levels of sulforaphane, such as the ‘super broccoli’, you may be able to retain
as much sulforaphane in your body as those who have the gene. Eating larger
portions may have additional benefits since broccoli is also a rich source of
other vitamins and minerals”.
Broccoli is the main source of natural
compound sulforaphane. It belongs to the crucifer family of plants which
includes the brassica vegetables cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and
the closely related Chinese cabbage and turnips. Other crucifers include
watercress and salad rocket. The most distinctive characteristic of crucifers is
that their tissues contain high levels of glucosinolates. When they are eaten,
glucosinolates are broken down to release isothiocyanates. There is a well
established body of evidence to show that isothiocyanates are among the most
potent dietary anticarcinogens known.
Sulforaphane is the main
isothiocyanate derived from broccoli. ‘Super broccoli’ contains 3.4 times more
sulforaphane than standard varieties. It has been developed by traditional plant
Fifty per cent of the population lack the GSTM1 gene.
While these people may gain less cancer protection from consuming broccoli, it
is likely that they gain more cancer protection from eating other types of
crucifers, such as cabbages and Chinese cabbage. So the best advice is to eat a
mixture of crucifers.
This research was funded by IFR’s Core Strategic
Grant from the Biotechnology and Biological
Sciences Research Council
and by the University of Nottingham and Seminis Inc.
It is part of ongoing research at
IFR to identify the optimal levels of a range of food compounds for human
Full reference for the paper:
Glutathione S-transferase M1
polymorphism and metabolism of sulforaphane from standard and high-glucosinolate
broccoli. American Journal of Clinical
; 82: 1283: 2005
1.30 Global push to decipher potato DNA
Christchurch, New Zealand
The nutritional value, colour and
flavour of New Zealand’s potatoes can all be improved thanks to Crop & Food Research
’s role in helping to
sequence the potato genome by 2009.
Improvements could also be made to
the environmental sustainability of crop production, says Jeanne Jacobs, who
will lead our potato genomics research.
Crop & Food Research has
taken up an invitation to join the international Potato Genome Sequencing
Consortium and Dr Jacobs is already assisting in protocol development to ensure
quality work by all parties.
The $36 million programme is led by
Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. Scientists at
Wageningen and in China will each sequence two of the twelve potato chromosomes,
while their colleagues at Crop & Food Research and in Scotland, Poland,
Russia, Brazil, the US and India will each take one chromosome. The remaining
chromosome will be sequenced by a group of laboratories in Austria, Finland and
Knowledge of the full genome will provide huge opportunities to
improve the potato crop – an important global crop with an increasing
significance for developing countries.
“If you know exactly which part of
the chromosome holds the genes for a particular trait, then you can precisely
target crop improvements.
“The research will also yield genetic
information important to the improvement of other vegetable crops that share
some of their DNA sequences with potatoes,” says Dr Jacobs.
sequence of any genome enables the use of the precision breeding technique
developed by Crop & Food Research’s Tony Conner. Plants produced using this
technique are, by definition, not transgenic. Only DNA already available to
traditional plant breeders is used. The genes that cause a particular
characteristic can be identified in potato germplasm banks and the best one
selected to transfer precisely an improved quality into a new
Source: Crop & Food
's quarterly newsletter, issue 51, 2005, via SeedQuest.com
Alabama A&M University scientists eliminate major peanut
Food biotechnologists at Alabama A&M University
eliminated a major peanut allergen that causes sometimes fatal reactions in many
people throughout the world.
There are at least six distinct peanut
allergens that pose problems in some people who eat peanuts or its derivatives,
say Dr. Hortense Dodo (photo) (pronounced with long vowels) and research
colleague Dr. Koffi Konan. Using a process referred to as RNA
Interference (RNAi), the scientists were able to transform peanut tissues and
silence the Ara h2 allergen gene, thus eliminating one of the proteins which
triggers allergic reactions.
Dodo called peanut allergies the most
deadly of the food allergies. The Ara h2 allergen and other peanut
allergens, for instance, are responsible for causing such symptoms as hives,
swelling, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal difficulties and anaphylactic
Peanuts represent a more than $4 billion industry, says Dodo, and
they are a cheap source of high quality proteins, good
fats, vitamins and
minerals. Moreover, the crop can be grown “almost anywhere,” she adds.
Why the increase in peanut allergies?
“The number of people
experiencing allergic reactions to peanuts is increasing every year,” commented
Dr. Dodo from one of her labs on the AAMU campus. She noted that
“more and more accidental deaths” occur as people unknowingly ingest foods that
include peanut flour or oil. The tragic death last week of a 15-year-old
Canadian girl is one such example.
Dodo says scientists are not really
sure what is happening that is causing the rise in the number of new cases of
peanut allergies each year. Most of the cases involve young
children, notes Dodo. Some researchers suggest that statistics were not as
prevalent in decades past. Others point to a more sanitized lifestyle that
has caused American immune systems to lose their bite. But one thing seems
certain, notes Dodo--peanut allergies are not as common in developing
countries. Permanent eradication of peanut
Admittedly, the road toward the development of allergen-free
peanuts was a long and winding one. Dodo and Konan say it took some time
to refine a process that yielded a transgenic hypoallergenic peanut plant that
produced seeds. The AAMU researchers applied the RNAi process, which could
permanently eliminate allergens’ accumulation in peanut, and they finally saw a
light at the end of the research tunnel in February 2005.
time, Dodo and Konan have been growing subsequent generations of the transgenic
plant and testing for the presence of the most potent peanut allergens, which
theoretically should not re-occur. In the world of peanut research, a
generation could mean six months or longer.
Of course, other scientists
are approaching the peanut allergy problems in a variety of ways, including the
development of methods to treat the allergic patient. Dodo and Konan,
however, prefer to find solutions by looking directly at “the culprit”the
“Our goal in developing a hypo-allergenic and
allergen–free peanut is not to push people who are allergic to peanuts to eat
them,” explains Dodo, “but to foster industry-wide use of the new peanut variety
in processed foods that contain peanuts. So, if a person allergic to
peanuts accidentally eats such foods, doing so should not trigger a severe
reaction or death.”
Studies are currently underway at AAMU, says Dodo, to
determine if the new transgenic peanuts maintain their nutritional
quality. Dr. Dodo is looking for commercial partners
2 December 2005
Iowa State University plant scientist leads national effort to use
metabolomics to unlock gene functions
An Iowa State University
plant scientist is leading a national research team that will develop a new tool
to decipher the functions of plant genes. By advancing the understanding of
biological processes, their work could define new ways to improve oils, starches
and proteins from corn and soybeans.
The National Science Foundation
recently awarded $1 million to fund the project, which is led by Basil Nikolau,
professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology and director of the
Center for Designer Crops and the W.M. Keck Metabolomics Research Laboratory.
Nikolau and researchers from seven institutions will test the
feasibility of using metabolomics to uncover the biological function of genes in
Arabidopsis, a plant used as a model organism in research.
Arabidopsis genome was the first plant genome completely sequenced, an
accomplishment that has proven invaluable to understanding plant biology
including the biology of corn and soybeans. However, the functions of about
one-third of the 25,000 genes in the Arabidopsis genome are still unknown.
"When we understand in detail how genes function to regulate biological
processes in plants, we can develop foods and animal feeds that have better
nutritional quality and crop-based sources for energy or industrial chemicals,"
The grant funds a two-year pilot project focused on
deciphering the functions of 100 genes. The long-term goal is to establish an
international consortium of research laboratories to further develop
metabolomics as a tool in functional genomics.
sophisticated instruments to accurately measure, en masse, the biochemcials
(metabolites) that make up an organism. Metabolites are the building blocks of
all biological products, including those important to agriculture, like oils,
sugars and proteins. Metabolism the complex network of biochemical
reactions that converts metabolites to final products is determined by the
organism's genetic blueprint or genome.
The research will be conducted
at the interface between chemistry, biochemistry, genetics and bioinformatics.
Researchers will generate metabolomics and genomics data, conduct statistical
analyses, develop standards for identifying metabolites and complete
biocomputational modeling and representation of the data. This work will
enable the research community to integrate metabolomics data with and decipher
the function of genes in the biological network.
Other Iowa State
researchers involved on the project are Julie Dickerson, associate professor of
electrical and computer engineering; Philip Dixon, professor of statistics;
George Kraus, University Professor of chemistry; Nicola Pohl, assistant
professor of chemistry; and Eve Wurtele, professor of genetics, development and
In addition, researchers from the following institutions
are part of the consortium: University of California, Davis; Carnegie
Institution, Stanford, Calif.; The Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation, Ardmore,
Okla.; Kansas State University, Manhattan; Washington State University, Pullman;
and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg.
project grew out of discussions last year among the scientists at the Third
International Congress on Plant Metabolomics organized by Nikolau and colleagues
and hosted by the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State.
builds upon Iowa State's leadership and success in metabolomics," Nikolau
Last year, the university opened its $1.8 million W.M. Keck
Metabolomics Research Laboratory. The laboratory is home to highly sophisticated
separation and detection equipment that analyze a wide variety of metabolites
and make it possible for researchers to conduct high-throughput microanalysis of
metabolites in plant tissues. Research conducted in the laboratory is uncovering
knowledge about genes important to the production of biorenewable feedstocks
from crops, starch biosynthesis in corn and new phytochemicals in Echinacea that
may boost the human immune system.
"Metabolomics could potentially
reveal how the genome of an organism controls and regulates the metabolism
that maintains biological form and function," Nikolau said. "The applications of
this fundamental research extend far and wide. From this type of basic knowledge
comes technological innovations that can drive economic
21 November 2005
(Return to Contents
1.33 Double fertilisation in flowering
plants in the context of plant breeding
Researchers in Cologne
discover signals between plant embryos and their endosperm
portion of plant seeds is endosperm. It has the important task of nourishing the
plant embryo during the early stages of its development. In flowering plants,
there is a complicated double-fertilisation mechanism that arises among embryos
and endosperm. They develop together into mature seeds. The exact process, and
the communication between the two parts of the seeds, has been unclear to
scientists. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research
and the University of Cologne have, however, isolated a mutant where there is
only one single fertilisation. In a recent online edition of the journal Nature
Genetics (November 28, 2005) they explain that this single fertilisation, which
creates an embryo, also triggers the development of endosperm, even when the
central cell where endosperm develops is not fertilised.
The ovules of
flowering plants are housed in a carpel. Pollen lands on the flower's stigma and
forms a pollen tube. It then uses each one of its two sperm cells to fertilise
the egg cell, from which the embryo hatches, and the central cell, where the
endosperm grows. This double fertilisation is what is special to all flowering
Scientists in Cologne, working with Arp Schnittger, have found a
mutant of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana called cdc2. It has an altered pollen.
Because of a failed cell division, the cdc2-plants develop pollen that has only
one sperm cell instead of two. The researchers have now been exploring the
question if whether, under these conditions, fertilisation is possible at all.
It turned out that the mutated pollen can survive and even grow into a female
partner. Once it has arrived there, the single sperm cell of the cdc2 pollen
merges only with the egg cell and not with the central cell. This shows a
hierarchy, never before discovered, in the fertilisation process of
The scientists made another astounding observation: although
the central cell remained unfertilised, it began to develop endosperm. The
researchers deduced that shortly after the egg cell was fertilised, a positive
signal was sent out to its environment, which appears to be necessary for normal
growth of an endosperm. Because the double fertilisation process can be
genetically dissected, the existence of this mutant offers new possibilities to
learn about the development of endosperm and the embryo in seeds. In the next
few months, the researchers hope above all to find out how exactly the signal
functions and what chemical reactions are behind it.
mechanism behind double fertilisation in flowering plants and early seed
development is particularly interesting in the context of plant breeding," says
Arp Schnittger, "because reproduction without fertilisation would be
advantageous for many different kinds of breeding."
8 December 2005
Study finds that nutritionally enhanced rice reduces iron
Los Banos, Philippines –
Breeding rice with higher
levels of iron can have an important impact on reducing micronutrient
malnutrition, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition.
research, conducted by scientists from the Philippines and the United States, is
a major step forward in the battle against iron deficiency, one of the
developing world’s most debilitating and intractable public health problems
affecting nearly 2 billion people.
The lead authors of the article, Dr.
Jere Haas from the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, Dr.
John Beard and Dr. Laura E. Murray-Kolb from the Department of Nutritional
Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, Prof. Angelita del Mundo and
Prof. Angelina Felix from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and Dr.
Glenn Gregorio from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), oversaw a
study in which religious sisters in ten convents in the Philippines included the
nutritionally enhanced rice in their diets. After 9 months, the women had
significantly higher levels of total body iron in their blood.
“This study documents a major breakthrough in the battle to prevent
micronutrient malnutrition,” said Dr. Robert Zeigler, director general of IRRI.
“These results are especially important for rice-eating regions of the world
where more than 3 billion of the world’s poor and undernourished live.”
The iron-dense variety of rice used in the research (known technically
as IR68144-3B-2-2-3) was developed and grown at IRRI and then tested by an
international team of researchers from Cornell University, Pennsylvania State
University, the University of the Philippines Los Baños and IRRI. The research
initiative was originally spearheaded and funded by the Washington-based
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with support from the
Asian Development Bank and the Micronutrient Initiative. HarvestPlus, an
international, interdisciplinary research program focused on breeding crops for
better nutrition and led by IFPRI and the International Center for Tropical
Agriculture (CIAT), will continue to work with these research findings and
partners to increase the level of nutrient density in rice to be even more
“We view this study as a ‘proof of concept,’” said
Zeigler. “We now know that, if plants are bred with higher levels of iron and
other micronutrients, they will improve the nutritional status of people who
consume them. This has dramatic implications.”
Through a process
known as “biofortification,” plant breeders are developing staple foods with
higher levels of essential micronutrients. This study demonstrates that
iron-biofortified rice can raise levels of stored iron in the body and can
significantly contribute to reducing micronutrient malnutrition.
“In the past, we relied on supplements and fortification to overcome
vitamin and mineral deficiencies,” said Howarth Bouis, director of HarvestPlus.
“Now we know that biofortification also works, giving us an additional tool in
this crucial battle.”
The United Nations and other donors spend millions
of dollars a year on iron supplements and other strategies to ease the enormous
damage wreaked by iron deficiency and related conditions. Iron deficiency can
affect a child's physical and mental development, and each year causes more than
60,000 maternal deaths during pregnancy and childbirth. Recent statistics
from the Micronutrients Initiative of Canada and the United Nations Children’s
Fund indicate that more than half of the developing world’s children between 6
months and 2 years of age are iron-deficient during the critical period of their
growth when brain development occurs. Many of the worst affected are found
among Asia's poorest, but iron deficiency is also widespread in Africa,
affecting more than 80 percent of young children in some countries.
Nutritional experts correctly advise that the best solution is a
balanced diet of fruit, vegetables and meat, but, for the very poor, such
choices are simply not possible and so they depend predominantly on staple foods
to stave off day-to-day hunger. This is especially true in isolated rural
areas where under-resourced and overstretched public health systems struggle to
improve the overall nutrition of the world's poor through nutritional
supplements. In these areas, commercially fortified foods also have difficulty
making it into the mouths of the hungry and so malnutrition
“The fact that biofortified foods can have an impact on
nutritional status in humans is an enormously exciting breakthrough,” Zeigler
noted. “It is time to shift the agricultural research agenda, and the rice
research agenda in particular, away from quantity and toward better-quality
food. This may be the start of a nutritional revolutiona very
appropriate follow-on from the Green Revolution and one that is desperately
needed by millions of the world’s poor and undernourished.”
by Elcio Guimaraes
1.35 Update 12-2005 of FAO-BiotechNews (excerpts)
1) Biotechnology PAIA
stakeholder survey - Please participate As part of an overall strategy of
enhancing interdisciplinarity within FAO, a number of Priority Areas for
Interdisciplinary Action (PAIAs) were identified a few years ago. One of these
is biotechnology and a major role of the Biotechnology PAIA is to provide FAO
Members and their institutions with factual, comprehensive and current
information on international developments relating to biotechnology
applications. This is done through, for example, the FAO Biotechnology website,
the newsletter FAO-BiotechNews, and a series of e-mail conferences hosted by the
FAO Biotechnology Forum. An evaluation of the Biotechnology PAIA is currently
taking place and we would appreciate your inputs by filling out a web-based
survey with 13 short questions. Deadline for inputs is 15 January 2006. Click on
the survey (in English) at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=826421583778
or contact email@example.com for more information.
address by FAO Director-General On the occasion of a conference held on 6 June
2005 in Copenhagen, Denmark to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Danish Guild
of Agricultural Journalists (Dansk Landbrugspresse), the FAO Director-General
Jacques Diouf delivered a keynote address which considered, among other issues,
the on-going public debate on the potential and limits of biotechnology. See http://www.fao.org/english/dg/2005/den.htm
or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
national case studies - Colombia REDBIO has been carrying out a series of case
studies on the management of appropriate agricultural biotechnology for small
producers in individual countries. The 53-page study for Colombia (by I. Schuler
and L.A. Orozco), entitled "Manejo y gestión de la biotecnología agrícola
apropiada para pequeños productores: Estudio de caso Colombia", has now been
published. Studies have previously been published for Argentina, Bolivia,
Ecuador and Peru. REDBIO is the Technical Co-operation Network on Plant
Biotechnology in Latin America and the Caribbean, based at the FAO Regional
Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile. See http://www.redbio.org/estud_casos.htm
or contact email@example.com for more information.
7) Food barley
improvement On 14-17 January 2002, FAO, the International Center for
Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the Institution de Recherche
et Enseignement Supérieur Agricole (IRESA), Tunisia, organised an international
workshop on "Food barley improvement" in Hammamet, Tunisia. Proceedings of the
workshop, edited by S. Grando and H. Gómez Macpherson, are now available,
entitled "Food barley: Importance, uses and local knowledge". During the
workshop, participants presented the status of food barley in their respective
countries, including descriptions of traditional and new uses of barley,
varieties, research activities (e.g. use of hybridisation, mutation breeding and
doubled haploids in Peru), and the importance of food barley as compared to feed
and malting barley. See http://www.icarda.cgiar.org/Publications/Price_List/book3/food%20barley.pdf
(1.13 MB) or contact ICARDA@cgiar.org for more information.
Socio-economic impacts of GURTs on indigenous and local communities On 23-27
January 2006, the 4th meeting of the "Ad Hoc Open-ended Inter-sessional Working
Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological
Diversity" takes place in Granada, Spain. Item 10 of the provisional agenda is
"Potential socio-economic impacts of genetic use restriction technologies on
indigenous and local communities". Documents for the meeting are available at http://www.biodiv.org/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=WG8J-04
(most are in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) or contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Article 8(j) of the Convention
refers to traditional knowledge, innovations and practices and provides that:
"Each contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate: Subject to
national legislation, respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and
practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles
relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and
promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders
of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing
of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and
1.36 CheckBiotech.org: Links to Selected
Animal gene renders tobacco resistant to parasitic
Link to article
First ever GM plants approved in Germany
Link to article
Hepatitis B vaccination by eating a banana?Link to article
When cells dispense
Link to article
Safe coexistence at 20 meters distance
Link to article
When food causes allergies
Link to article
The end of Kuenast's estates
Link to article
Microbicides and mucosal vaccines for HIV, Hepatitis B, Herpes
illusion or reality
Link to article
‘Communicate to the public’
Link to article
The next wave of crops are materializing in BioValley
Link to article
Green biotech is still a tender plant in GermanyLink to article
Chewing against SARS
Link to article
Contributed by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Improvement and Production
FAO just released the book called
"Triticale Improvement and Production”. The following description is from the
Triticale, the first successful "man made" cereal grain,
was deliberately produced in 1875 by crossing wheat with rye. Since then, the
evolution of this crop is the topic of keen interest for many plant scientists.
According to the vision of early scientists, triticale, should combine the best
characteristics of both parents: wheat's qualities for making various food
products with rye’s robustness for adaptability to difficult soils, drought
tolerance, cold hardiness, disease resistance, and low input requirements. The
early excitement and publicity associated with triticale may appear to have
exceeded the actual development of the crop. However, when we think about the
thousand years during which most present major crops – such as wheat and rice –
have evolved under domestication compared to the few years and modest effort
devoted to triticale, we could argue that the results are quite remarkable.
Modern triticale cultivars perform as well as the best common wheat cultivars
wherever scientific research has been sustained. Furthermore, in certain types
of marginal soils, triticale cultivars outyield the best wheat cultivars. For
instance, research results in the drought-prone regions of North Africa have
shown that triticale can be an excellent alternative crop to wheat and barley.
In cold wet environments, the highly productive winter type triticale cultivars
developed primarily in Poland are continuously expanding into most cereals-based
systems in northern Europe.
Almost three million hectares of triticale
are grown today in the world. Country triticale reports presented in this book
clearly indicate that today this crop is accepted worldwide with its area
expanding significantly, particularly in stress-prone ecologies. Data on
cultivar release and area are imprecise due to the lack of information from some
National Agricultural Research System (NARS) and sometimes to the
confidentiality required by the private sector. Present information available at
the International Wheat and Maize Research Centre (CIMMYT) shows that since the
mid 1970s, more than 200 cultivars have been released in more than 30
Initial problems related to low seed fertility and seed
plumpness have been solved and most current research focuses on improving its
grain quality for various food and feed uses and on improving its adaptation to
new areas. Food uses include bread, noodles, soft-wheat type products and
malting. New alternatives for diversification have also emerged with the
development of winter-type cultivars with higher forage biomass than spring
cultivars. For these types substantial amount of biomass is available for
grazing, cut forage, double purpose cultivation (firstly grazing or cut, then
left for grain production), silage and hay production.
certainly play a significant role in alleviating poverty for many needy families
in some developing countries. Of particular interest is its good performance in
stress environments and the diversified uses. However, as for any other crop,
research efforts are still needed for improving adapted germplasm and
determining best crop management practices for these difficult areas. This will
necessitate the interventions of many key players. In this context, this book
presents the state-of-the-art of triticale production in the world. The first
chapter gives a comprehensive view on the history and evolution of triticale
since its creation whereas authors in the second chapter present the improvement
accomplished at CIMMYT where the largest triticale breeding program in the world
is hosted. The world and agroecological-level distribution of Triticale, as well
as its management as crop, is covered in chapter three. The book examines
extensively the actual and potential uses of triticale products in human and
animal diets in chapters four and five. It also presents marketing strategies
developed by the private sector including practical examples on how triticale
can compete with other cereal crops. Finally, the last section of the book
presents the actual situation of triticale production and research status in
thirteen countries, covering a very wide range of economic and scientific
levels. Some of these country reports may be used as a model for those countries
that are still in the embryonic stages of developing triticale technology.
While this book presents updated information on various aspects of
triticale production, improvement, uses and marketing strategies in the world.
It shows clearly that the triticale potential is yet to be exploited and that
most of its future success depends on efforts and resources allocated to
research and development. Realising this potential, the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has rightly decided to bring out this
publication hoping it will motivate researchers and policy makers commitment to
further development of triticale in developing countries to enhance choices for
farmers to diversify, increasing income and sustainability of relevant
The book can be requested free
of change from FAO by sending a request to Elcio Guimaraes
3.01 Redesigned U.S. National
Agricultural Library website brings fresh look, swift
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Len Carey, email@example.com The National Agricultural Library
launched its redesigned website as a gateway connecting users swiftly with the
services of NAL and with the billions of pages of agricultural information
within NAL collections and information resources.
NAL is part of the
Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
scientific research agency.
Designed with customer preferences in mind,
the new NAL site brings a fresh look and faster access to the rich array of
agriculture-related information available through NAL.
Visitors to the
front page of the newly designed site can browse information on popular
agricultural topics--from Animals and Livestock to Rural Community
Development--supported by the NAL site's new navigational taxonomy. Each
follow-on web page leads quickly to more carefully selected information,
designed to answer questions frequently asked by visitors to the site and to
The site offers several web pages with information focused on the
needs of specific audiences, including kids and teens, librarians and USDA
Visitors can use other areas of the redesigned site to access
NAL's most popular library services, see where NAL representatives are
exhibiting or appearing, or get information about some of the most current
concerns in agriculture.
NAL's website currently receives an average of
4.3 million "hits" each month from people seeking agricultural information. This
usage is expected to increase in response to the site's user-friendly design,
enhanced searching capabilities scheduled for early 2006, and the redesign of
subsidiary sites during the next few months.
Through April 2006, NAL will
introduce redesigned websites on food safety, water quality, invasive species,
human nutrition, alternative farming systems, animal welfare and technology
transfer. New searching capabilities will mean that NAL databases can be
searched at the same time as NAL web pages.
The redesign of NAL's
websites implements USDA web standards and meets U.S. Office of Management and
Budget guidelines for focusing on customer needs.
1 December 2005
3.02 The Sesame and Safflower Newsletter No. 20
Sesame and Safflower Newsletter No. 20, 2005 is now on line and can be found at
the following URL: http://ecoport.org/ep?SearchType=earticleView&earticleId=732
twenty years of publication of the Newsletter nearly 500 scientific articles and
reports on sesame and safflower have been published which represent important
information on these crops which has reached around 500 experts from more than
Submitted by Peter Griffee
MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPSNote: New announcements may include
some program details, while repeat announcements will include only basic
information. Visit web sites for additional
* 2006-2008. Plant Breeding
University of California, Davis.
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
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.
begins Fall 2006 and runs through Summer 2008 (actual dates to be
For more information: (530) 754-7333, email firstname.lastname@example.org
19-21 February 2006. The 3rd International Conference on Date Palm
Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The conference covers a wide range of topics
including molecular and genetic engineering and post harvest and processing
technologies. See http://www.cfs.uaeu.ac.ae/Conferences/ticdp/
or contact email@example.com for more information.
* 21-24 February 2006.
Third General Assembly of the West Africa Seed and Planting Material Network
Palm Beach Hotel, Accra, Ghana.
For more details contact
the Coordinator of WASNET by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or
email@example.com or send your request through the website http://www.wasnet.org*(NEW)
6-7 March 2006. 42nd Annual Illinois Corn Breeder’s School,
You are invited to attend the annual Illinois Corn
Breeder’s School to be held March 6-7, 2006 in Urbana, Illinois. The
School is open to commercial and public sector breeders or scientists interested
in corn breeding. A registration fee of $95.00 per person includes a copy
of the proceedings and meals on Monday, March 6. The School will be held
at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Urbana, IL. Further
details about the meeting, lodging, and registration forms can be found at http://imbgl.cropsci.uiuc.edu/index.html
2006 Corn Breeder’s School Program consists of three sessions and is designed to
facilitate discussion and interaction among attendees. Visit the website or
contact Steve Moose for the full program.
Session 1: Maize
Nitrogen Use Efficiency
Session 2: Applied Genetics
3: Insect Resistance Traits
Submitted by Stephen Moose,
Associate Professor, Maize Genomics
Department of Crop Sciences,
University of Illinois
* 6-10 March 2006.
Introduction to biosafety and risk assessment for the environmental release
of genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Theoretical approach and scientific
Treviso, Italy. 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.
or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.*(NEW
) 14 -17
March 2006 CIMMYT Fusarium head blight workshop on Global Fusarium
Initiative for International Collaboration,
CIMMYT Headquarters, El Batan,
Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a grave threat to sustainable wheat
and barley production worldwide that requires an integrated research approach.
The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has been
facilitating a Global Fusarium Initiative to provide a platform for
international collaboration on Fusarium
research, and facilitate
information exchange, germplasm enhancement and the development of breeding
methods and materials globally. To raise the profile of and consolidate these
efforts, CIMMYT is organizing an international workshop supported by
Japan-CIMMYT FHB projectthe first in a seriesthat will highlight the
importance of FHB, the status of collaborative efforts to address the disease,
and future prospects for international collaboration developing specific
For more information and to confirm your participation,
please contact me by email (email@example.com). Also, for your reference, CIMMYT
will convene an International Workshop on Increasing Wheat Yield Potential in
CIMMYT-Obregon, Mexico on the next week March 20 to 24.
Rodomiro Ortiz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Tomohiro Ban (email@example.com),
* 22-24 March 2006. Detection of genetically modified organisms
(GMOs) and genetically modified food (GMF)
, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
27-29 April 2006. Joint IOBC Working Group conference "Breeding for inducible
resistance against pests and diseases,"
Heraklio, Crete, Greece. Register
and find additional information at http://www.unine.ch/bota/IOBC/
there are questions, please contact: email@example.com or N.Birch@scri.sari.ac.uk
May 2006. Biosafety II: Practical course in evaluation of field releases of
genetically modified plants,
, Florence, Italy. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
* 2-6 July 2006. IX
International Conference on Grape Genetics and Breeding
, Udine (Italy),
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: email@example.com
* 23-28 July
2006. The 9th International Pollination Symposium,
Iowa State University.
The official theme is: "Host-Pollinator Biology Relationships - Diversity in
Action." For more information please visit www.ucs.iastate.edu/PlantBee
13-19 August 2006: XXVII International Horticultural Congress
(Korea) web: www.ihc2006.org
20-25 August 2006. The International Plant Breeding Symposium,
The International Plant Breeding Symposium will be held
at the Sheraton “Centro Historico” Hotel, Mexico City, 20-25 August 2006. The
purpose of the symposium is to assess the state of the science and art of plant
breeding and to examine future prospects. Organizers are CIMMYT, Iowa State
University, Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred International.The symposium will bring
together scientists from diverse backgrounds and settings to share knowledge and
experiences, establish likages, and thereby advance science and understanding.
Symposium participants will define breeding methodologies to address the
challenges facing global agriculture today. The program committee will lay out
an exciting program with presentations and discussions focusing on those
-Field-based breeding for the world’s major row crops,
with a particular emphasis on cultivar development.
interactions and consequences.
-Developing country agriculture and the role
of crop breeding
-The education of plant breeders
invited speakers will be published in a proceedings by Crop Science. More
information is available at www.intlplantbreeding.com
. If you are unable to register
online please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
from information contributed by Rodomiro Ortiz, CIMMYT
September 2007. The World Cotton Research Conference-4,
). 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.
) 10-14 September 2006. First Symposium on
Sunflower Industrial Uses.
Udine University, Udine Province, Friuli Venezia
Giulia Region, Italy.
Our Symposium will deal with all food and
industrial fields related to the use of sunflower oil, as well as agronomic and
genetic improvements. The program will consist of 12 Plenary Sessions, each
followed by a poster. After the Poster Session, there will be a choice of two
Concurrent Workshops for you to attend. Instructions for preparing your poster
and paper for publication in the proceedings will be given in the 2nd
by the International Sunflower Association (ISA)
Submitted by: Gian Paolo
* 11-15 September 2006.
XXII International EUCARPIA Symposium - Section Ornamentals: Breeding for
, San Remo (Italy). 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:
*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 (email@example.com) (http://www.ncsu.edu/cucurbit2006
* 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. Details of
the ICGI 2006 Research Conference will be posted on the ICGI website (http://icgi.tamu.edu
) as they
9-12 November 2006. 7th Australasian
Plant Virology Workshop
. Rottnest Island, Perth, Western Australia.
The Workshop Series provides a forum for plant virologists from Australia and
New Zealand to meet on a regular basis in a small-sized residential
meeting, provide oral and poster updates on their recent research results, and
discuss plant virology issues in depth in a congenial environment over 3 days
devoted entirely to the subject. Researchers working on phytoplasma and
viroids (‘virus-like diseases’) are also encouraged to contribute and attend.
The research areas covered range from basic and molecular to ecological
and applied. The Workshop Series are open and researchers from other
countries are welcome to attend and contribute. Past workshops have been
highly successful, and have a very high attendance rate from Australasian
researchers in this discipline. They are normally held every two years so
as not to clash with the biennial meetings of the main parent organisation, the
Australasian Phytopathology Society – APPS.
The topics to be covered
-New viruses, virus evolution and novel virus
-Virus biosecurity, quarantine and emerging virus
-Viroids and Phytoplasmas
-The latest in virus diagnostics and
-Molecular biology of plant viruses
-Progress with natural and synthetic virus
-Commercialisation/applications of viral sequences
-Virus disease control
-Education and training, discipline
-Southern Cross Virology Network
-Future Centre of Excellence
in Plant Virology
For further information contact:
Prof Mike Jones, Murdoch University, Perth, W.
* 1-5 December 2006: The First
International Meeting on Cassava Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
, to be
held in Brasilia, Brazil. For more details, email Dr. Nagib Nassar of the
University of Brasilia at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit the meeting website at http://www.geneconserve.pro.br/meeting/
(Return to Contents
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 newsletter is managed by the editor and an advisory group
consisting of Elcio Guimaraes (email@example.com), Margaret Smith
(firstname.lastname@example.org), and Anne Marie Thro (email@example.com). 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. We would especially like to see a broad
participation from developing country programs and from those working on species
outside the major food crops.
Messages with attached files are not
distributed on PBN-L for 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and I will re-send it.
subscribe to PBN-L: Send an e-mail message to: email@example.com. Leave
the subject line blank and write SUBSCRIBE PBN-L (Important: use ALL CAPS). To
unsubscribe: Send an e-mail message as above with the message UNSUBSCRIBE PBN-L.
Lists of potential new subscribers are welcome. The editor will contact these
persons; no one will be subscribed without their explicit permission.
(Return to Contents