PLANT BREEDING NEWS
An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant
Sponsored by FAO and Cornell University
Clair H. Hershey,
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
1.01 Crop researcher wins 2005 science awards
1.02 Ethiopia house tackles breeders’ rights, genetic resources
1.03 Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops: 2005
1.04 Genetic research
to rescue Mexico's tequila plant
1.05 Tomato trek yields Chilean treasure
1.06 Unlocking the genetic vault of the International
1.07 Arctic cave to safeguard global crop diversity
1.08 Improved New
Mexico cotton assessed
1.09 Growing crops to cope with climate change
1.10 USDA and DOE to coordinate research
of plant and microbial genomics
1.11 New possibilities to fight pests with biological
1.12 Cornell University geneticists improve methods for identifying what controls
complex traits, from disease to crop yields
1.13 Advancements in interspecific hybridization of
1.14 CIMMYT turns wheat
1.15 ICARDA/CIMMYT wheat improvement program for dry areas
1.16 Modified wheat
takes root with little protest in Saskatchewan - Different method used
1.17 New elite maize lines from CIMMYT offer enhanced nutrition and disease resistance
1.18 A heartier harvest
from rigid rice plants
1.19 Bacterial protein mimics host to cripple defenses
1.20 Unique genes hold
the secret to better grain yields
1.21 Sun protection for plants
1.22 New technique developed to analyze
1.23 The evolution of food plants: genetic control of grass flower
2.01 Call for papers for The Plant
3. WEB RESOURCES
4 GRANTS AVAILABLE
4.01 USDA/CSREES Food and Agricultural
Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants
4.02 Asian Rice Foundation USA scholarships
5 POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS
6 MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
researcher wins 2005 science awards
Ravi Singh of India won the "Science Award for Outstanding Scientist" for developing "slow rusting" wheat
varieties with improved resistance to diseases such as leaf rust, yellow rust,
powdery mildew, and spot blotch, among others. The Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) reports that these improved wheat
varieties have saved poor farmers an estimated US$5 billion worth of production
losses. The research is being conducted at the International Maize and Wheat
Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico.
Meanwhile, Shaobing Peng of China
and his co-authors won the "Science Award for an Outstanding Scientific Article"
for the research article "Rice yields decline with higher night temperature from
global warming" published in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of
Sciences in 2004. The researchers provide the first direct evidence of decreased
crop yields that result from increased night time temperatures associated with
global warming. Findings indicate that climate change will have a negative
impact on food production in some tropical areas. The research was done at the
Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
winners are announced in http://www.cgiar.org/newsroom/releases/news.asp?idnews=346
CropBiotech Update 16 December 2005
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents)
1.02 Ethiopia house tackles breeders’ rights, genetic
Two bills, providing for Plant Breeders' Rights and Genetic
Resources and Community Knowledge and Rights, were endorsed by Ethiopia's House
of Peoples' Representatives in a recent regular session.
presented by the Rural Development and the Natural Resources and Environmental
Protection Standing committees of the House, indicated that the proclamation
providing for Plant Breeders' Rights would enable the private sector to play its
role in releasing new plant varieties suitable for various ecosystems in the
Members of the Standing Committees also said the proclamation
would encourage farmers to use their genetic resources. Moreover, the
proclamation would encourage investment and pave the way for the utilization of
new plant varieties released abroad.
The Committees also reported that
the bill providing for Genetic Resources and Community Knowledge and Rights
would have significant importance in the protection of the country's genetic
resources, as well as the equitable distribution of the benefits of the
For the full story, visit http://www.ena.gov.et/default.asp?
may also write to Margaret Karembu of the Kenya Biotechnology Information Center
CropBiotech Update 6 January 2006
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Plant Breeding & Genetics
1.03 Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops: 2005
CropBiotech Update Special Edition:
Highlights of ISAAA Brief No. 34-2005
by Clive James, Chair ISAAA Board of
The Brief, the tenth in an annual series, was released on 11
January 2006. ISAAA Brief 34 characterizes the global status in 2005 of
commercialized GM crops, now often called biotech crops, as referred to
consistently in the Brief. The focus on developing countries is consistent with
ISAAA's mission to assist developing countries in assessing the potential of
biotech crops. The principal aim, is to present a consolidated set of data that
will facilitate a knowledge-based discussion of the current global trends in
2005 marked the tenth anniversary of the
commercialization of genetically modified (GM) crops, now more often called
biotech crops, as referred to consistently in these Highlights.
In 2005, the global biotech crop area continued to soar as the billionth acre,
equivalent to the 400 millionth hectare of a biotech crop, was planted by one of
8.5 million farmers, in one of 21 countries. This unprecedented high adoption
rate reflects the trust and confidence of millions of farmers in crop
Over the last decade, farmers have consistently
increased their plantings of biotech crops by double-digit growth rates every
single year since biotech crops were first commercialized in 1996. Remarkably,
the global biotech crop area increased more than fifty-fold in the first decade
The global area of approved biotech crops
in 2005 was 90 million hectares, equivalent to 222 million acres, up from 81
million hectares or 200 million acres in 2004. The increase was 9 million
hectares or 22 million acres, equivalent to an annual growth rate of 11% in
A historic milestone was reached in 2005 when 21 countries
grew biotech crops, up significantly from 17 countries in 2004. Notably, of the
four new countries that grew biotech crops in 2005, compared with 2004, three
were EU countries, Portugal, France, and the Czech Republic whilst the fourth
was Iran. Portugal and France resumed the planting of Bt maize in 2005 after a
gap of 5 and 4 years respectively, whilst the Czech Republic planted Bt maize
for the first time in 2005, bringing the total number of EU countries now
commercializing modest areas of Bt maize to five, viz: Spain, Germany, Portugal,
France and the Czech Republic. In 2005, the 21 countries growing biotech crops
included 11 developing countries and 10 industrial countries; they were, in
order of hectarage, USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Paraguay, India,
South Africa, Uruguay, Australia, Mexico, Romania, the Philippines, Spain,
Colombia, Iran, Honduras, Portugal, Germany, France and the Czech Republic.
In 2005 biotech rice (Bt) was grown commercially for the first
time on approximately four thousand hectares in Iran by several hundred farmers.
Iran and China are the most advanced countries in the commercialization of
biotech rice, which is the most important food crop in the world, grown by 250
million farmers, and the principal food of the world's 1.3 billion poorest
people, mostly subsistence farmers. Thus, the commercialization of biotech rice
has enormous implications for the alleviation of poverty, hunger, and
malnutrition, not only for the rice growing and consuming countries in Asia, but
for all biotech crops and their acceptance on a global basis. China has already
field tested biotech rice in pre-production trials and is expected to approve
biotech rice in the near-term.
In 2005, the US, followed by
Argentina, Brazil, Canada and China continued to be the principal adopters of
biotech crops globally, with 49.8 million hectares planted in the US (55% of
global biotech area) of which approximately 20% were stacked products containing
two or three genes, with the first triple gene product making its debut in maize
in the US in 2005. The stacked products, currently deployed in the US, Canada,
Australia, Mexico, and South Africa and approved in the Philippines, are an
important and growing future trend which is more appropriate to quantify as
"trait hectares" rather than hectares of adopted biotech crops. Number of "trait
hectares" in US in 2005 was 59.4 million hectares compared with 49.8 million
hectares of biotech crops, a 19% variance, and globally 100 million "trait
hectares" versus 90 million hectares, a 10% variance.
increase in any country in 2005 was in Brazil, provisionally estimated at 4.4
million hectares (9.4 million hectares in 2005 compared with 5 million in 2004),
followed by the US (2.2 million hectares), Argentina (0.9 million hectares) and
India (0.8 million hectares). India had by far the largest year-on-year
proportional increase, with almost a three-fold increase from 500,000 hectares
in 2004 to 1.3 million hectares in 2005.
continued to be the principal biotech crop in 2005, occupying 54.4 million
hectares (60% of global biotech area), followed by maize (21.2 million hectares
at 24%), cotton (9.8 million hectares at 11%) and canola (4.6 million hectares
at 5% of global biotech crop area).
In 2005, herbicide tolerance,
deployed in soybean, maize, canola and cotton continued to be the most dominant
trait occupying 71% or 63.7 million hectares followed by Bt insect resistance at
6.2 million hectares (18%) and 10.1 million hectares (11%) to the stacked genes.
The latter was the fastest growing trait group between 2004 and 2005 at 49%
growth, compared with 9% for herbicide tolerance and 4% for insect resistance.
Biotech crops were grown by approximately 8.5 million farmers in
21 countries in 2005, up from 8.25 million farmers in 17 countries in 2004.
Notably, 90% of the beneficiary farmers were resource-poor farmers from
developing countries, whose increased incomes from biotech crops contributed to
the alleviation of their poverty. In 2005, approximately 7.7 million poor
subsistence farmers (up from 7.5 million in 2004) benefited from biotech crops – the majority in China with 6.4 million, 1 million in India, thousands in South
Africa including many women Bt cotton farmers, more than 50,000 in the
Philippines, with the balance in the seven developing countries which grew
biotech crops in 2005. This initial modest contribution of biotech crops to the
Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty by 50% by 2015 is an important
development which has enormous potential in the second decade of
commercialization from 2006 to 2015.
During the period 1996 to
2005, the proportion of the global area of biotech crops grown by developing
countries increased every year. More than one-third of the global biotech crop
area in 2005, equivalent to 33.9 million hectares, was grown in developing
countries where growth between 2004 and 2005 was substantially higher (6.3
million hectares or 23% growth) than industrial countries (2.7 million hectares
or 5% growth). The increasing collective impact of the five principal developing
countries (China, India, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa) is an important
continuing trend with implications for the future adoption and acceptance of
biotech crops worldwide.
In the first decade, the accumulated
global biotech crop area was 475 million hectares or 1.17 billion acres,
equivalent to almost half of the total land area of the USA or China, or 20
times the total land area of the UK. The continuing rapid adoption of biotech
crops reflects the substantial and consistent improvements in productivity, the
environment, economics, and social benefits realized by both large and small
farmers, consumers and society in both industrial and developing countries.
There is cause for cautious optimism that the stellar growth in
biotech crops, witnessed in the first decade of commercialization, 1996 to 2005,
will continue and probably be surpassed in the second decade 2006-2015.
Adherence to good farming practices with biotech crops will remain critical as
it has been during the first decade and continued responsible stewardship must
be practiced, particularly by the countries of the South, which will be the
major deployers of biotech crops in the coming decade.
Briefs No. 34 - 2005
Submitted by Elcio
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research to rescue Mexico's tequila plant
For centuries, tequila has
been made according to age-old Mexican tradition. The alcoholic drink is
distilled from sweet juices that form when stems of a native cactus, the blue
agave, are cooked.
But recently, tequila makers have had to turn to
cutting-edge science to save their crop, reports Rex Dalton in this
Nearly a decade ago, disease and pests wiped out much of the
country’s blue agave. The plants were highly susceptible because of their
genetic uniformity, which stemmed from two factors.
industrialisation of agave farming in the early 1980s created millions of
genetically similar plants. Second, cross-pollination is usually impossible
because farmers cut off the agave flowers to boost sugar content in the
When a warmer, wetter climate led to more disease in the late
1990s, tequila producers took action.
They worked with academics to study
the plant’s genetics and physiology, with a view to increasing its diversity and
resilience to disease.
Some farmers fear, however, that cross-pollination
could create lower-quality hybrid plants and lead to economic losses. Scientists
say a better understanding of the plant's genetics could address these
Either way, even these efforts might not prevent another agave
crisis. As over-production causes prices to plunge, farmers are caring less for
their plants and unwittingly creating the conditions for disease to strike
Reference: Nature 438, 1070 (2005)
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trek yields Chilean treasure
ARS News Service, Agricultural Research
Hearty tomato soup, rich and piping hot, makes a cheery
mid-afternoon snack on a cold winter's day. Tomorrow, superb tomatoes for
full-bodied soups or perhaps for salads of crisp greens may owe some of their
pedigree to the rarest of Chile's wild tomatoes.
Plant explorers funded
by the Agricultural Research Service--the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
scientific research agency--collected seed from tomato relatives in a 14-day
trek earlier this year through 2,379 miles of Chilean countryside.
expedition, which took them from rugged coastal expanses to 12,000-foot-high
reaches of the Andes, followed up on an equally arduous 2001 search. Both
explorations yielded prized seed that will fill gaps in the C.M. Rick Tomato Genetics Resource Center's
premier collection of the domesticated tomato's wild, rare and unusual relatives
from Chile and elsewhere in South America--tomato's ancestral
Center director Roger T. Chetelat at the University of California-Davis organized the
journey with colleagues from that campus and the University of
The Davis center is part of a nationwide network of
ARS-funded genebanks that safeguard relatives of crop plants, ensuring that the
natural richness and diversity of their genetic makeup, or gene pool, isn't
The Chilean specimens of Lycopersicon chilense, L. peruvianum,
Solanum sitiens, and S. lycopersicoides that the scientists collected as seed
bear bright-yellow or yellow-white flowers. The plants' petite green tomatoes,
smaller than a typical cherry tomato, are unappetizing except to grazers like
llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, guanacos, goats or sheep--or to certain
The hardy plants may harbor valuable genes not found in other
Chilean specimens at Davis. Those genes may enrich the nutritional value of
tomorrow's supermarket and backyard garden tomatoes, L. esculentum, or perhaps
boost resistance to its formidable insect and disease enemies.
Davis, plants are being grown from the wild tomato seed, so scientists can
further investigate tomato's genetic diversity and can provide seed samples to
other researchers and tomato breeders worldwide.
Marcia Wood, MarciaWood@ars.usda.gov
30 December 2005
1.06 Unlocking the genetic vault of the International Rice
Laguna, The Philippines
Imagine the diversity
of rice that the International Rice Research
Institute (IRRI) conserves in the International Rice Genebank. The
Philippines based repository, responsible for safekeeping all known types of
rice, contains more than 100,000 strains and varieties (each is referred to as
an "accession"). Many of these comprise a mixture of different genotypes. Each
rice genotype - that is genetic makeup that defines each type of rice - has an
estimated 50,000 genes. Every genes comes in an unknown number of different
versions, known as alleles, and each allele may change the way the rice looks or
grows or tastes. Consider the incalculable number of different possible
combinations of all the different versions, and you begin to comprehend the
diversity of rice.
Try a simple calculation, assuming that only two
alleles of each gene actually work: write down the number "! 1" and then write
15,000 zeros after it. Equivalently, say "million" a thousand million times
(it'll take you 12 years without sleeping). Give or take a few thousand zeros,
that's approximately the number of combinations of alleles that might make a
recognizable rice plant. Then consider the enormous complexity of interacting
biochemical reactions that drive the life of any organism - each allele may have
a different effect on any one of the thousands and thousands of biochemical
steps. Changing one step produces a series of cumulative effects, altering each
subsequent step and, ultimately, the overall biochemical process. The point is
that a seemingly genetic difference can produce significant differences in the
end product. Each gene affects many traits and each trait is controlled by many
Rice agriculture depends on this diversity. If a new rice disease
appears, researchers can search the genebank for resistant varieties. The
knowledge required to make rice more t! olerant of drought, for example, exists
within the alleles in the collection. The genebank contains the diversity of
alleles we need to respond to changes in climate, consumer expectations,
agricultural technologies and government priorities.
The entire genebank
collection may contain samples of most working versions of each rice gene. The
full value of the collection is being, and will be, realized through plant
breeding - combining the best alleles from different accessions to create
superior new combinations of the traits needed by farmers and consumers. In this
way, researchers can breed nutritious, high-quality, high-yielding rice
varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases and tolerate stresses such as
drought, flooding, low or high temperatures and poor soils.
simple enough in principle, but leaves us with some burning questions. How can
we identify the "best" allele of each gene? When a new disease appears, how can
we know which alleles offer resistance to that disease? And once we know which
alleles, how can we find which of the genebank's more than 100,000 accessions
contains them? The challenge is formidable. We are yet to discover the function
of most rice genes, or which alleles are possible for most of the
Compounding the difficulty, much of the genetic variation is "hidden" in two ways. First, the effect of an allele depends on the genetic
background - the genetic composition of the rest of the genome - and may not be
expressed in the accessions that contain it. (The rice genome is the complete
set of genetic material contained in, and responsible for, a rice plant.)
Second, even where an allele is expressed, it takes a lot of research to tease
out its effect from the effects of all other genes in the genome. Finding the
unknown valuable alleles in the collection is called allele mining. Discovering
all there is to know about the genetic diversity of rice is way beyond the
capacity of current technologies. The necessary first step to actually mining
for new alleles in the genebank collection is to decide which part of the genome
we should researchers look at? Discovering the important genes involves an
intensive series of genetic analyses of a small, carefully selected set of
genotypes. This area of functional genomics, or gene discovery, allows us to
decide which parts of the genome determine agronomic traits of interest. The
answer depends on which traits we are interested in - grain quality, nutritional
value, disease resistance, tolerance of poor soils and so on. The output of this
research is a set of "candidate genes" - genes that we believe may have a
certain functional significance.
Having chosen the candidate genes for
exploration, we can start the serious business of allele mining - discovering
new alleles at the selected genes. This means working through the collection to
find all the alleles of these selected genes. Researchers can't just star! t
with the first accession and work through the collection. Such an approach would
be inefficient, since the second accession, for example, might be similar to the
first at the chosen genes, so analyzing that second accession wouldn't give us
much additional information. Instead, we begin by choosing a subset of highly
distinctive accessions. This subset i know as a "core collection".
choose the best core collection, researchers collect a wide range of evidence on
diversity, then sample accessions representative of this diversity. One easy
generic factor is geographic origin. Traditional varieties from different parts
of the world have had an independent history of domestication for thousands of
years, and are therefore likely to show differences across the whole genome.
This way, researchers can discover at least the majority of new alleles in a
relatively small number of accessions.
However, even a good core
collection won't allow us to discover all possible all! eles. Plant breeders are
familiar with the concept that breeding is a "numbers game". Breeders need to
screen large numbers of plants in order to find the rare valuable genotypes. The
same applies to allele mining - if a valuable allele is present in only one of
the 100,000 plus accessions, we will miss it from a core, collection.
Ultimately, we may have to screen the whole collection. With allelemining
technologies rapidly becoming cheaper and faster, this will soon be within our
However, simply discovering the new alleles is not the end of the
story. Each time we discover a new allele at a candidate gene, we then have to
determine its agronomic significance. Here we go back to a new round of
functional genomics research to assess the value of the new allele.
discovering the full diversity of available alleles and their agronomic
significance, we can finally look forward to genebanks achieving their full
potential - contributing to sustainable development! by enabling us to deploy
the right alleles in the right places at the right time.
News, Vol. IX No. 11
30 November - 06 December 2005 issue
SEAMEO SEARCA Biotechnology Information
10 January 2006
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cave to safeguard global crop diversity
A Norwegian island in the
Arctic Ocean will soon be playing a key role in safeguarding global food
production in the event of war or natural disasters.
government is going to dig an artificial cave deep inside a frozen mountain, and
equip it with ventilation equipment to keep the temperature inside at minus
10-20 degrees Celsius.
Seeds from the world's crops will be collected by
the Global Crop Diversity Trust and stored there.
Cary Fowler, the
trust's executive secretary, told SciDev.Net that the seed bank will house about
three million packages, each containing hundred of seeds from a different crop
"It will have the capacity to store samples of every crop
variety we think exists now, plus have room to add new collections," he
The facility on the island of Svalbard, to be completed in 2007, "will provide an extra and very robust layer of security in case the material in
other seed banks is lost," says Fowler.
There are more than 1,500 seed
banks worldwide but, according to Fowler, only 35-40 meet international
standards and many are in areas of political upheaval, frequent natural
disasters or other factors that leave them vulnerable to damage or
In recent years, the national seed banks of Afghanistan and Iraq
were destroyed during wars in those countries (see Seed
bank raises hopes of Iraqi crop comeback).
The project is especially
important for developing countries that lack the capacity to create effective
"This provides a free service for developing countries and
insurance that genetic diversity that matters to them will be preserved," says
Duplicates of the Southern African Development Community's seed
collections are already being stored in an existing facility on Svalbard and
will be moved to the new one when it is completed.
conditions on Svalbard, which is covered in permafrost, mean it will be easier
to store live seeds under optimal conditions.
"Even if the [ventilation]
equipment failed, it would be months before the temperature inside rose even to
the minus 3.5 degrees of permafrost," says Fowler.
Global Crop Diversity
13 January 2006
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New Mexico cotton assessed
The cotton breeding program for New
Mexico's cultivars has hitherto led to the release of over 30 Acala 1517 cotton
cultivars, and a variety of germplasm lines with high fiber quality and
tolerance to Verticillium wilt. By analyzing "Genetic Improvement of New Mexico
Acala Cotton Germplasm and Their Genetic Diversity," J. F. Zhang of New Mexico
State University and colleagues look at the products of the breeding program,
and take a look at the cotton at both the molecular and macromolecular
By using such parameters as yield, boll size, and fiber strength;
and measuring genetic divergence by molecular markers, researchers found, among
others that: 1) lint yield and lint percentage have increased since the
program's inception, while boll size and seed index have gradually decreased
since the 1960s; 2) fiber strength has been enhanced, while fiber length has
tended to shorten; and 3) there is substantial genetic diversity among the Acala
1517 cotton germplasm.
Researchers state that the Acala 1517 cultivars
are "most genetically diverse from other current commercial cultivars and should
be promising sources in breeding to be used as parental lines to broaden genetic
variations within upland cotton."
Subscribers to Crop Science can access
the complete article at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/content/full/45/6/2363.
Other readers may see the abstract at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/45/6/2363.
CropBiotech Update 21 December 2005
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents)
crops to cope with climate change
Scientists at the UK's leading
plant science centre have uncovered a gene that could help to develop new
varieties of crop that will be able to cope with the changing world climate.
Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
(BBSRC) at the John Innes Centre in Norwich have identified the gene in barley
that controls how the plant responds to seasonal changes in the length of the
day. This is key to understanding how plants have adapted their flowering
behaviour to different environments.
The John Innes Centre researchers
have discovered that the Ppd-H1 gene in barley controls the timing of the
activity of another gene called CO. When the length of the day is long enough CO
activates one of the key genes that triggers flowering. Naturally occurring
variation in Ppd-H1 affects the time of day when CO is activated. This shifts
the time of year that the plant flowers.
Dr David Laurie, the research
leader at the John Innes Centre, said, "Growing crops will become more difficult
as the global climate changes. The varieties of crops grown in the UK are suited
to the soil, seasons and traditional cool, wet summers. Later flowering in
barley means it has a longer growing period to amass yield. If British summers
get hotter and drier we will need types of wheat, barley and other crops that
flower earlier, like Mediterranean varieties, to beat summer droughts. However,
new varieties will need to be adapted in all other ways to UK conditions. "
With the new knowledge about the workings of barley researchers and
plant breeders will find it easier to select variations that will thrive in the
UK environment but will also flower earlier, coping with hotter summers.
Dr Laurie commented, "Although our research has been on barley we know
from observation that other crops show similar variation in the way they respond
to the lengthening of the day in springtime. We are confident that we will find
equivalent genes in other key crops."
Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC
Chief Executive, said, "Climate change presents a huge challenge for the world.
Although every effort must be concentrated on reducing the impact of human
activity on the environment, science should also be answering questions about
how we can live in an altered climate. Research such as this helps to present
answers to some of these problems."
Dr David Laurie, John
Innes Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org
Goode, BBSRC Media Officer: email@example.com
19 January 2006
1.10 USDA and DOE to coordinate research of plant and
Soybean DNA to be sequenced
Departments of Agriculture and Energy announced Monday they will share resources
and coordinate the study of plant and microbial genomics, and the Department of
Energy will tackle the sequencing of the soybean genome as the first project
resulting from the agreement.
"This agreement demonstrates a joint
commitment to support high-quality genomics research and integrated projects to
meet the nation's agriculture and energy challenges," said Dr. Colien Hefferan,
administrator of USDA's Cooperative State Research, Extension and Economics
Service (CSREES), who signed the agreement for USDA.
"Both agencies will
leverage their expertise and synergize activities involving agricultural- and
energy-related plants and microbes," said Dr. Ari Patrinos, Department of Energy
Associate Director of Science for Biological and Environmental Research. "We
will enhance coordination of proposed sequencing projects through the Biological
and Environmental Research Microbial Sequencing Program or the Joint Genome
Institute's Community Sequencing Program."
USDA and DOE will establish a
framework to cooperate and coordinate agency-relevant plant and microbial genome
sequencing and bioinformatics that can serve the needs of the broader scientific
community and solve problems that are important to each agency's mission. This
agreement could help speed the deployment of emerging technologies, such as
improved methods of gene identification and sequence assembly.
Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) will sequence the genome (decode the DNA) of
the soybean, Glycine max, the world's most valuable legume crop. Soybean is of
particular interest to DOE because it is the principal source of biodiesel, a
renewable, alternative fuel. Biodiesel has the highest energy content of any
alternative fuel and is significantly more environmentally friendly than
comparable petroleum-based fuels, since it degrades rapidly in the environment.
It also burns more cleanly than conventional fuels, releasing only half of the
pollutants and reducing the production of carcinogenic compounds by more than 80
percent. Over 3.1 billion bushels of soybeans were grown in the U.S. on nearly
75 million acres in 2004, with an estimated annual value exceeding $17 billion,
second only to corn and approximately twice that of wheat. The soybean genome is
about 1.1 billion base pairs in size, less than half the size of the maize or
"The soybean represents an excellent example of how DOE
JGI is playing a key role in 'translational genomics,' that is, applying the
tools of DNA sequencing and molecular biology to contributing to the development
of new avenues for clean energy generation and for crop improvement," said DOE
JGI Director Dr. Eddy Rubin. "Effective application of translational genomics to
soybean requires detailed knowledge of the plant's genetic code. With this
starting material in hand, researchers in academia, industry and agriculture
will be better positioned to optimize soybean for the broadest range of uses."
Contact: Jeff Sherwood: firstname.lastname@example.org
DOE/US Department of Energy
17 January 2006
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possibilities to fight pests with biological means
researchers in Jena, Germany have identified a gene which produces a chemical
'cry for help' that attracts beneficial insects to damaged plants
plants emit a cocktail of scents when they are attacked by certain pests, such
as a caterpillar known as the Egyptian cotton leaf worm. Parasitic wasps use
these plant scents to localize the caterpillar and deposit their eggs on it, so
that their offspring can feed on the caterpillar. Soon after, the caterpillar
dies and the plant is relieved from its attacker. In the case of corn, only one
gene, TPS10, has to be activated to attract the parasitic wasps. This gene
carries information for a terpene synthase, an enzyme forming the sesquiterpene
scent compounds that are released by the plant and attract wasps toward the
damaged corn plant. Since this mechanism is based only on a single gene, it
might be useful for the development of crop plants with a better resistance to
pests (PNAS, Early Edition, January 16-20, 2006).
At least 15 species of
plants are known to release scents after insect damage, thus attracting the
enemies of their enemies. Scientists term this mechanism "indirect defence". A
previous cooperation by the scientists in Neuchatel and Jena showed that
indirect defence functions not only above ground, but also below the earth's
To understand the biochemistry behind this plant defence,
biologists of the Max Planck institute studied corn plants, caterpillars of the
species Spodoptera littoralis (Egyptian cotton leaf worm) and parasitic wasps of
the species Cotesia marginiventris. Deciphering the complex mix of scents that
the plants release after damage offered clues as to which classes of enzymes
might be important for scent production.
The researchers isolated
various genes encoding terpene synthases, the enzymes that produce these scents.
One of these genes, TPS10, produced the exact bouquet of nine scent compounds
that was released by the damaged corn plant. To demonstrate that TPS10 is indeed
the important gene, the scientists introduced TPS10 into another plant, called
Arabidopsis thaliana, which then released the same scents that have been
observed in corn. To test whether these scents do attract the parasitic wasps,
these plants were tested in an olfactometer, a device to study insect behaviour.
The researchers placed scent-producing as well as unmodified plants in
the six arms of the olfactometer. When the predatory wasps were set free in the
central cylinder of the olfactometer, they flew towards the scent-producing
plants. The experiments led to an additional, surprising result: in order to
react this way, the wasps needed a first exposure to both the corn scent and the
caterpillar which led them to associate the two. Young, "naive" wasps without
this experience could not distinguish between scent-producing plants and control
plants, or failed to move at all.
Contact: Dr. Jörg Degenhardt: email@example.com
17 January 2006
1.12 Cornell University geneticists improve methods for identifying what controls
complex traits, from disease to crop yields
Ithaca, New York
Cornell University researchers have improved a
technique called association mapping that identifies the genetic origins of
complex traits, from disease to crop yields to milk yields, controlled by
Geneticists can now more accurately determine which
genes control these complex traits by eliminating false positives (significant
results produced by chance) that result when individuals are related (from
familial to population levels) and share genetic variations.
method will be very useful for a variety of applications, from plant and animal
breeding in identifying genomic regions that are responsible for higher
nutritional value to human genetics in pinpointing genetic causes of human
diseases," said Jianming Yu, a postdoctoral researcher in Cornell's Institute
for Genomic Diversity. He is a lead author of a paper published in Nature
Genetics online on Dec. 25 and appearing in a forthcoming print issue.
One of the big challenges geneticists face in accurately determining
relationships between genes and the traits they control is how to rule out
factors that lead to false positives. One such factor is population structure --
how populations are subdivided or isolated and how geographical or environmental
selection pressures alter genetic variation over time.
relatedness, found naturally in populations, is the other major factor that
determines how genetic variation is shared. While population structures account
for coarse genetic changes that occurred over very long time scales, genes
altered by family relatedness are finer and more recent -- perhaps occurring
within the most recent 10 generations.
A hypothetical "chopstick" gene
provides a simple example of how spurious associations might occur. Geneticists
searching for such a gene might notice that Asians are far better at using
chopsticks than Westerners. By comparing the genomes of people from the East and
West, the researchers might find many genetic markers in Asians that correlate
with chopstick use. But in truth, the phenotype (ability to use chopsticks) and
a gene that frequently appears in Asians are not related at all, since the
ability to use chopsticks is cultural rather than genetic. The false positive
occurs simply because these two populations show different genetic variation.
The new method uses statistical techniques to rule out such false
positives. Researchers can tell that the method is accurate because the results
behave according to the rules of a good statistical test.
"If you are
not controlling for population structure and familial relatedness, you would
have more positive correlations than you would expect by chance alone," said
Gael Pressoir, a postdoctoral researcher in Cornell's Institute for Genomic
Diversity and a lead author of the Nature Genetics paper.
combines statistical and molecular genetic trends from plant, human and cattle
genetics. In plant genetics, researchers focus on markers -- random mutations in
a DNA sequence that act as genetic milestones -- to estimate genetic
relationships; in human genetics, they focus on models of population
differences; and in cattle genetics, they focus on statistical analyses of
complex pedigrees. However, the researchers found that using genetic markers
with these statistical trends is the best way to account for the effects of
population structure and familial relatedness.
"The method performs
better than other approaches as it fully utilizes genomic information in
defining relationships among individuals rather than known records, such as
demography or pedigree ancestry, which can be unreliable and incomplete," said
the paper's senior author, Ed Buckler, a U.S. Department of
Agriculture-Agricultural Research Station (USDA-ARS) research geneticist in
Cornell's Institute for Genomic Diversity and an adjunct associate professor in
Cornell's Department of Plant Breeding.
The work was supported by the
National Science Foundation and the USDA-ARS.
By Krishna Ramanujan
16 January 2006
1.13 Advancements in interspecific hybridization of bromegrass
In recent years, two forage breeding programs have introduced their
first examples of a new wave of bromegrass options. These new ‘Hybrid’ Bromegrasses are interspecific hybridizations, mainly between Meadow bromegrass (Bromus riparius or beibersteinii) and Smooth bromegrass (Bromus
inermis). Improved varieties or strains of these two species have been
used extensively throughout the mid-Western and upper mid-Western U.S., western
Plains, Canada, Northern and Eastern Europe, and Northern Asia for
Both species, alone, have many excellent
characteristics as a forage crop. At the same time breeders are trying to
accentuate and increase certain capabilities, they are also working to reduce
specific negative or undesirable qualities that, to date, have been inherent
within each species.
“Hybrids between the two species are now unlocking,
or expanding, the parameters of potential improvements made by varietal research
and development, says Plant Breeder Chad Miebach, Radix Research. “To date, we have
seen radical improvements in forage production. Improving Forage
production involves the balance and manipulation of many characteristics and
concepts: cold tolerance, vegetative re-growth, seasonal and yearly
activity patterns, drought tolerance, forage quality, mixed-crop equilibrium and
seed yield capabilities to name a few.”
The first hybrid brome
variety developed and released with commercial production in the U.S. was ‘Big
Foot’. A second variety will produce commercial seed in 2008. These
varieties have focused development on improved re-growth and expanded seasonal
activity for the U.S. producers. Likewise, two hybrid brome varieties have
been released in Canada since 2000, ‘AC Knowles’ and ‘AC Success’. One
with commercial seed available, the other will show commercial seed in
2007. “They are dual purpose types; that is they have a high yielding
first cut hay yield like smooth bromegrass, and then have rapid re-growth for
grazing following the hay cutting, more like meadow bromegrass”, says Dr. Bruce
Coulman, Plant Breeder at the Saskatoon Research Centre and Department Head of
Plant Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.
Although there are
currently few ‘Hybrid’ brome varieties available to the end-user thus far, the
initial genetic enhancements have been dramatic and product development
20 January 2006
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turns wheat genome back
Today's bread wheat is the
product of a 30,000 year old series of hybridization events. First, wild wheat
mated with a species of goat grass, and their offspring - a primitive wheat
called emmer - crossed with another wild goat grass 21,000 years later to
produce the modern day Triticum aestivum. This wheat has been so popular,
it, and its descendants have been the only kinds of wheat planted for
This wide planting of the crop has led to low genetic
diversity in wheat. To counter this, researchers at the International Maize and
Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico have turned back the clock to bring
wheat to its original form.
CIMMYT researchers collected wild goat grass
from the Middle East, crossed it with modern emmer, and created different
varieties of bread wheat all over again. The new wheats, however, are still not
suitable for farming, but the experiments have hitherto been promising: one
strain produces 20-40% more grain under dry conditions, as compared with
Read the complete article at http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060102/full/060102-2.html.
For more information on wheat's gene pool, as well as other research activities
of the institute, visit CIMMYT at http://www.cimmyt.org.
CropBiotech Update 6 January 2006
Contributed by Margaret Smith
Plant Breeding & Genetics
(Return to Contents)
1.15 ICARDA/CIMMYT wheat improvement
program for dry areas
El Batan, Mexico and Aleppo, Syria
the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement
Center (CIMMYT) at International Center for
Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the two centers agreed to
the joint implementation of the ICARDA/CIMMYT Wheat Improvement Program (ICWIP)
in the Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) region. ICWIP will be
hosted in CWANA by ICARDA and include all research undertaken on wheat
improvement in CWANA by both centers, including spring, facultative, and winter
bread wheat and durum wheat.
The centers also agreed that the
ICARDA/CIMMYT Wheat Improvement Program should be managed by a jointly appointed
Director. As the first major outcome of the new agreement, which was signed
officially at the annual general meeting of the CGIAR (Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research) in December 2005, the two centers have
named Dr Sanjaya Rajaram director of
the new program.
Dr Rajaram joined ICARDA, based in Aleppo, Syria, in
early 2005 as Director of the newly-formed Megaproject, “Integrated Gene
Management” (MP2), which includes wheat improvement, after having worked as a
wheat scientist at CIMMYT for 34 years. His association with ICARDA, however,
goes back to the 1980s, when a joint
CIMMYT/ICARDA program was established at
ICARDA and, while still serving at CIMMYT in Mexico, he directed the CIMMYT
staff posted at ICARDA in the joint program.
ICARDA and CIMMYT wish Dr
Rajaram every success in his new appointment. Both centers are confident that
his efforts will promote effective delivery of useful products to partners and,
given his experience in wheat research and familiarity with both centers, will
foster and take advantage of the many synergies between the ICARDA and CIMMYT
ICARDA serves the entire developing world for the
improvement of barley, lentil, and faba bean; and dry-area developing countries
for the on-farm management of water, improvement of nutrition and productivity
of small ruminants (sheep and goats), and rehabilitation and management of
rangelands. In the Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) region, ICARDA
is responsible for the improvement of durum and bread wheats, chickpea, pasture
and forage legumes and farming systems; and for the protection and enhancement
of the natural resource base of water, land, and
18 January 2006
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wheat takes root with little protest in Saskatchewan - Different method
Saskatchewan farmer Michael Kirk has, according to this story, a
virtually invincible variety of wheat stashed in his bins ready for planting
The wheat, known by the name CDC Imagine, stands straight
even in high winds and unlike many varieties is not prone to losing its seeds in
The story says that CDC Imagine has been genetically altered
so it keeps growing when sprayed with herbicides that normally make wheat
shrivel up and die, the first herbicide-tolerant wheat in Canada.
even more remarkable, the story says, this high-tech wheat has avoided the wrath
of farmers, environmentalists, consumers and marketers who drove Monsanto's
herbicide-tolerant wheat out of Canada in 2004. The opposition was based on
fears about possible human health hazards, increased weed resistance and fears
of corporate control over important crops.
CDC Imagine has taken root on
the Prairies with little protest. More than 200,000 acres of the wheat were
grown in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in 2005. And BASF Canada, which produces CDC Imagine, has now
applied to the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency for permission to grow three more types of herbicide tolerant
Stephen Yarrow, director of CFIA's plant biosafety office, was
cited as saying they all have the same "novel trait," but protests are "not even
on the radar scree."
The reason is that BASF -- the world's largest
chemical company, based in Germany -- created its wheat using a gene-altering
process called mutagenesis, which is much more palatable to foreign markets and
the Canadian Wheat Board than Monsanto's genetically modified
The story explains that mutagenesis entails blasting seeds or
cells with radiation or bathing them in chemicals to cause mutations in a
plant's existing genes. Plant breeders have used the process for decades to
create new flower colours or better barley for beer making. BASF used chemicals
to create the mutation that protects CDC Imagine from herbicides.
say it doesn't really matter whether the plants are created through genetic
engineering and mutagenesis.
Mr. Yarrow was quoted as saying, "The risks to
the environment are exactly the same."
But the distinction has given BASF
free rein to market CDC Imagine as "the first and only non-genetically modified" herbicide-tolerant wheat in Canada.
The wheat has been embraced by the
Canadian Wheat Board, which led the protests against Monsanto wheat out of a
fear the GM wheat might end up co-mingling or contaminating regular wheat, and
prompt offshore customers to boycott all Canadian wheat.
Fitzhenry, media relations manager at the Canadian Wheat Board, was quoted as
saying, "We have no concern with the BASF wheat, because it's not GM," (yes it
is -- dp) adding that the board's job is to market wheat and it must respond to
consumers in many parts of Asia and Europe who are anti-GM food
Kent Jennings, manager of biotechnology and toxicology at BASF
Canada, was cited as saying that to create herbicide tolerant wheat, BASF
scientists bathe seeds in a chemical that induces change in gene sequences, and
they then grow the wheat and spray it with herbicide. The survivors have the
A single genetic change or mutation is all it takes to
create imidazolinone tolerance.
CFIA has ruled that the gene change poses "no significant" risk to the environment or to animal or human health and
approved its use in spring wheat, such as CDC-Imagine, which is used to make
Margaret Munro, National Post via Agnet
29 December 2005
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1.17 New elite
maize lines from CIMMYT offer enhanced nutrition and disease
El Batán, Mexico
CIMMYT has just released two unique maize lines
that will interest breeders in developing countries. One is the first to combine
maize streak virus resistance in a quality protein maize and the other is
a quality protein version of one of CIMMYTs most popular maize lines. Made
available every few years to partners, CIMMYT maize lines (CMLs) are among the
most prized products of the Center’s maize breeding program.
truly elite maize lines,” says Kevin
Pixley, the Director of the Center’s Tropical Ecosystems Program. “They
represent a distillation of maize genetic resources from around the world to
which CIMMYT, as a global center, has privileged access. Only one of 10,000
lines might become a CML. Breeders in national programs in many developing
countries look forward to new sets of these lines.”
The lines are inbred
and possess excellent combining ability, which means they can be used to form
either hybrids or open pollinated varieties, and so are versatile parent
materials for breeders in national programs.
The new quality protein and
maize streak resistant line will serve as a natural replacement for a parent in
the popular Ethiopian maize hybrid, Gabisa. Maize streak virus is endemic in
Africa. Severely infected plants do not produce proper cobs and nor grow to full
height. Farmers will have the chance to use a hybrid with the enhanced
nutritional characteristics of quality protein maize, plus built-in disease
The quality protein version of one of CIMMYT’s most
successful maize linesCML264is virtually indistinguishable from the
original parent, which is found in the pedigrees of more than a dozen commercial
hybrids in Central America, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela. Farmers using
varieties derived from it will obtain the same high yields as always, while
enjoying the higher levels of grain lysine and tryptophantwo essential
amino acids that improve nutrition for both humans and farm animals.
description of the complete set of new CMLs can be found at:
CIMMYT E-News, vol 2 no. 12, via
(Return to Contents)
1.18 A heartier
harvest from rigid rice plants
By David Biello, Scientific American via Checkbiotech
Rice feeds more than
half the world's people. The long-leaved grass, which thrives in shallow
wetlands, produces edible seeds that have sustained humans for generations. In
the 1960s researchers bred rice plants to respond favorably to fertilizer, which
helped prevent famine by allowing farmers to grow more rice per acre than ever
before. Now scientists have improved rice once again, this time by stiffening
Tomoaki Sakamoto of the University of Tokyo and his colleagues
tested 34 different varieties of rice plants in which individual genes had been
removed--specifically avoiding an approach in which genetically desirable traits
are imported from other plants. One such plant lacked the OsDWARF4 gene, which
governs production of a steroid involved in growth. Eliminating this particular
gene created a plant with stiff but normal leaves, yet the removal had no impact
on flowering or the eventual grain, the researchers report in a paper that will
be published online tomorrow in Nature Biotechnology.
long sought such a stiff-leafed rice plant, believing that it would raise grain
yields. A rigid rice plant allows sunlight to reach leaves on even the lowest
parts of the plant, improving photosynthesis and therefore grain production; it
also allows plants to be placed in closer proximity without interfering with
each other's growth. But previous attempts to produce such strength by knocking
out specific genes had stunted the plants or produced bad seeds.
rice also remedies one of the problematic legacies of the original "green
revolution": over-use of fertilizer. The new plant produced more than 30 percent
more grain than regular rice plants without the generous helpings of fertilizer
commonly used today.
Copyright © 2005 Scientific American
19 December 2005
1.19 Bacterial protein mimics host to cripple
Ithaca, New York
The leaf on the right shows a patch of
cells killed off by programmed cell death in response to a threat. Both leaves
were bleached to better visualize this effect.
Like a wolf in sheep’s
clothing, a protein from a disease-causing bacterium slips into plant cells and
imitates a key host protein in order to cripple the plant’s defenses. This
discovery, reported in this week’s Science Express by researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant
Research (BTI), advances the understanding of a disease mechanism common to
plants, animals, and people.
That mechanism, called programmed cell death
(PCD), causes a cell to commit suicide. PCD helps organisms contain infections,
nip potential cancers in the bud, and get rid of old or unneeded cells. However,
runaway PCD leads to everything from unseemly spots on tomatoes to Parkinson’s
and Alzheimer’s diseases.
BTI Scientist and Cornell University Professor of Plant Pathology
Gregory Martin studies the interaction of Pseudomonas syringae
bacteria with plants to find what determines whether a host succumbs to disease.
Martin and graduate student Robert Abramovitch previously found that AvrPtoB, a
protein Pseudomonas injects into plants, disables PCD in a variety of
susceptible plants and in yeast (a single-celled ancestor of both plants and
animals). Abramovitch and Martin compared AvrPtoB’s amino acid sequence to known
proteins in other microbes and in higher organisms, but found no matches that
might hint at how the protein works at the molecular level.
“We had some
biochemical clues to what AvrPtoB was doing, but getting the three-dimensional
crystal structure was really key,” Martin explained. To find that structure,
Martin and Abramovitch worked with collaborators at Rockefeller University. The
structure of AvrPtoB revealed that the protein looks very much like a ubiquitin
ligase, an enzyme plant and animal cells use to attach the small protein
ubiquitin to unneeded or defective proteins. Other enzymes then chew up and
“recycle” the ubiquitin-tagged proteins.
To confirm that AvrPtoB was a
molecular mimic, Martin and Abramovitch altered parts of the protein that
correspond to crucial sites on ubiquitin ligase. These changes rendered
Pseudomonas harmless to susceptible tomato plants, and made the purified
protein inactive. AvrPtoB’s function is remarkable not only because its amino
acid sequence is so different from other ubiquitin ligases, but also because
bacteria don’t use ubiquitin to recycle their own proteins.
interesting question is where this protein came from,” Martin noted. “Did the
bacteria steal it from a host and modify it over time, or did it evolve
independently? We don’t know.”
Regardless, the discovery “helps us
understand how organisms regulate cell death on a fundamental level,” Martin
said. AvrPtoB provides a sophisticated tool researchers can use to knock out PCD
brought on by a variety of conditions, shedding light on immunity. The protein
itself or a derivative might one day be applied to control disease in crops or
in people. For now, Martin and Abramovitch are working to find which proteins
AvrPtoB acts on, and what role those proteins play in host PCD.
26 December 2005
1.20 Unique genes hold the secret to better grain
The world's population is growing
rapidly and is estimated to reach 8.9 billions by 2025. But alone today there
are approximately 852 million undernourished people. So one of the most
important goals for society is to provide enough food for all. By 2025 the
global crop yield needs to increase by 25 percent.
Cereals are an
important nutrition source for humans and livestock. The three main cereals are
rice (23 percent), wheat (17 percent) and maize (10 percent).
rice is not only of great global importance, but it also is a model organism for
cereals. It has the smallest genome of the main cereals, it shares many similar
genomic regions with other cereals and it can be easily transformed. Therefore
there are many genetic markers known and different mutants available.
2002, the rice genome was completely mapped. This makes rice an interesting
object for research and resulted in the further development of products such as
Golden Rice, a rice species that is genetically modified to produce vitamin A.
A group of Japanese and Chinese researchers, headed by Dr. Motoyuki Ashikari from the Bioscience and
Biotechnology Center of Nagoya
University and Dr. Hitoshi Sakakibara of the Plant Science Center
in Yokohama, searched for means to increase the yield of rice.
research group also included scientists from the Honda Research Institute and
the China National Rice Research Institute. They recently published their
results in Science under the title "Cytokinin Oxidase Regulates Rice Grain Production."
important traits such as growth height or grain number are often ruled by a
number of genes located on quantitative trait loci (QTLs). A bigger yield can be
achieved by increasing number of the grains or by producing taller plants.
Taller plants, however, are more sensitive to weather. Therefore economically
desirable plants are small and have many grains.
The group led by Dr.
Ashikari and Dr. Sakakibara focused on the QTLs for plant growth and grain
number. To run a QTL analysis, the researchers used two rice varieties. One was
short with many grains and one was tall with few grains. By crossing those two
varieties they managed to identify five QTLs concerning grain number (Gn)
and four concerning plant height (Ph).
Next, the most effective
QTLs - Gn1 and Ph1 - were chosen for further research. From their work, the
group succeeded in identifying the two main genes of these QTLs, a gene called
semi-dwarf 1 (sd1) and another called OxCKX2.
inactivated sd1 decreases the plant height about 20 percent. OsCKX2
encodes the enzyme Cytokinin Oxidase. If this enzyme loses its function the
grain yield is increased by about 44 percent. Comparisons with today's rice
varieties helped to verify those discoveries. If both genes are shut down, the
rice variety produces 23 percent more grains than a normal plant. The increase
of grain yield caused by the inactivation of OsCKX2 compensates for the
loss of yield due to a smaller plant from the inactivation of sd1.
Dr. Ashikari's laboratory hopes the results of their research will
contribute to breeding. Their study helps to understand the function of some
important rice genes, while also shedding light on some basic mechanisms of rice
metabolism. Other researchers will be able to use this information.
Ashikari told Checkbiotech, "This time, we are trying to clarify the mechanism
of grain yielding. Thanks to progress of genomics with rice, many important
genes will appear soon. We hope our results apply to other cereals as well."
At the moment, the group is cloning many other important agricultural
traits. They are specially focusing on yield traits, such as grain number and
panicle length. They are also checking the field traits including taste or
negative side effects. This will take some time, however.
scientists and their sponsor (Honda) are breeding rice using these results. "We
are thinking both, traditional breeding and a genetic engineering approach are
necessary, because Golden Rice could not have been produced by traditional
approach," Dr. Ashikari told Checkbiotech about their breeding project.
"We are not concerned about GMO [genetically modified organisms]. It
will be definitely necessary in the future. But scientists have to explain that
it is safe to use."
Cytokinin Oxidase Regulates Rice Grain
Motoyuki Ashikari et al.
Science, Vol. 309, 29 July 2005
11 January 2006
1.21 Sun protection for plants
Sheffield working on the fundamental biological processes of plants could make
significant difference to the lives of farmers in many parts of the world. Using
model plant species, such as the tiny weed Arabidopsis, the researchers have
uncovered one of the processes used by the plants to protect themselves from
potentially lethal environmental conditions. Their discoveries are now being
applied to improve the productivity of bean farmers in South America and rice
producers in Asia.
Very high levels of sunlight can be hazardous to
plants, overwhelming their ability to photosynthesise. This effect is
exaggerated when there is a shortage of water or extreme temperatures. The
resulting damage to the delicate photosynthetic membranes in the plant leads to
impaired growth, cell destruction and, eventually, plant death. The scientists,
funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC),
have found that plants are able to turn unwanted absorbed light into heat by
altering the structure of one of the proteins in these membranes. This unique
nanoscale safety valve prevents plant damage by harmlessly dissipating the
lethal excess radiation. This photoprotective process was found to be aided by a
special carotenoid molecule called zeaxanthin and plants with higher levels of
this molecule appear to be better protected.
Professor Peter Horton,
research leader at the University of Sheffield, said, "Plants use a range of
processes to adapt to harsh and potentially damaging environmental conditions.
We are beginning to understand the mechanisms plants have at a molecular level
to prevent damage from excess sunlight. We hope that this knowledge could be
used to improve photosynthesis rates, and therefore productivity, in staple
crops that feed millions in parts of the world where environmental conditions
can be particularly harsh."
Professor Horton continued, "To fully apply
this research to improving the productivity of crops we need to understand how
these processes relate to plant growth and development in field conditions.
Processes that may appear important in the laboratory may not be in the varied
conditions of the field."
The researchers have been working with
agricultural institutes in South America and the Asia to start to work out how
their knowledge of the defence mechanisms in model plants such as Arabidopsis
could be used to improve the photosynthesis rates of staple crops such as rice
and the common bean.
Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive,
commented, "This demonstrates how research into fundamental biological processes
has the potential to have a big impact on people's lives around the world. Many
research projects supported by BBSRC provide fundamental information that can
underpin improvements in staple crops both in the UK, as we face the effects of
climate change, and overseas, where it can aid sustainable agriculture and
improve food security."
Professor Peter Horton, University
Goode, BBSRC Media Officer
12 January 2006
1.22 New technique developed to analyze tomato
Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer has long been the tool of
choice by scientists interested in the function of genes. The technique,
however, takes a long time to perform. With this in mind, Diego Orases, of the
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, and
colleagues carry out “Agroinjection of Tomato Fruits: A Tool for Rapid
Functional Analysis of Transgenes Directly in Fruit.” Their article appears in
the latest issue of Plant Physiology.
The researchers found that injection of Agrobacterium cultures
through the fruit stylar apex of tomatoes resulted in complete fruit
infiltration, and allowed tomato cells to express a foreign gene. The method,
named fruit agroinjection, was efficient when used in heat-shock regulation of
an Arabidopsis promoter, production of recombinant antibodies for
molecular farming, and virus-induced gene silencing of the carotene biosynthesis
With the appropriate controls, researchers surmise that the
technique will be a useful tool in fruit biology, as it may be helpful when
assaying fruit gene constructs that may interfere with plant developmental
to Plant Physiology can access the complete article at www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/full/140/1/3.
CropBiotech Update via
January 13, 2006
1.23 The evolution of food plants: genetic control of grass flower
Ramosa2 determines cell fate in branch meristems of
Scientists are interested in understanding genetic control of grass
inflorescence architecture because seeds of cereal grasses (e.g. rice, wheat,
maize) provide most of the world's food. Grass seeds are borne on axillary
branches, whose branching patterns dictate most of the variation in form seen in
the grasses. Maize produces two types of inflorescence; the tassel (male
pollen-bearing flowers) and the ear (female flowers and site of seed or kernel
development). The tassel forms from the shoot apical meristem after the
production of a defined number of leaves, whereas ears form at the tips of
compact axillary branches. Normal maize ears are unbranched, and tassels have
long branches only at their base.
Many different genes control the
architecture as well as the nutrient content in cereal grasses. The ramosa2
(ra2) mutant of maize has increased branching of inflorescences relative to wild
type plants, with short branches replaced by long, indeterminate ones,
suggesting that the ra2 gene plays an important role in controlling
inflorescence architecture. A recent publication in The Plant Cell (Bortiri et
al.) reports that ra2 encodes a putative transcription factor, or protein that
controls the expression of other genes. Scientists involved in the study were
Esteban Bortiri, George Chuck, and Sarah Hake of the USDA Plant Gene Expression
Center and University of California at Berkeley and colleagues Erik Vollbrecht
of Iowa State University, Torbert Rocheford of the University of Illinois, and
Rob Martienssen of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.
found that the ra2 gene is transiently expressed early in development of the
maize inflorescence. Analysis of gene expression in a number of different mutant
backgrounds placed ra2 function upstream of other genes that regulate branch
formation. The early expression of ra2 suggests that it functions in regulating
the patterning of stem cells in axillary meristems.
Said Dr. Hake, "we
think that ra2 is critical for shaping the initial steps of inflorescence
architecture in the grass family, because the ra2 expression pattern is
conserved in other grasses including rice, barley, and sorghum".
Perspective: In an accompanying Current Perspective Essay, Paula
McSteen of The Pennsylvania State University discusses the ramosa pathway in the
context of the evolution of plant development.
"The grasses are a
premier model system for evolution of development studies in higher plants:
there is tremendous diversity in inflorescence morphology, the phylogeny is well
understood and many species are genetically transformable so hypotheses can be
tested. Maize in particular is an excellent model system for studying selection
as it was domesticated from its wild ancestor teosinte a mere 10,000 years ago.
Because transcription factors control many developmental processes, it is common
to find that diversification of morphology between closely related organisms has
involved changes in how transcription factors are regulated or how transcription
factors interact with their target genes. An understanding of the ramosa pathway
in the grass family will be important in understanding the evolution of the
grasses and furthermore will provide an understanding of the mechanisms of
evolution of development."
Dr. McSteen commented "because ra2 has
increased branching it might have the potential to lead to increased seed number
and yield in some cereal grasses. This might not be true for maize because of
the structure of the ear, but one can imagine that a ra2 mutant of barley, rice
or sorghum might have more branches, and thus produce more seed".
research paper cited in this report is available at the following link: http://www.aspb.org/pressreleases/TPC039032.pdf
The accompanying Perspective Essay will be published in the March issue of The
Plant Cell. (http://www.plantcell.org/)
For preprints contact Nancy Eckardt firstname.lastname@example.org.
19 January 2006
2.01 Call for papers for
The Plant Genome
In the December issue of CSA News, the
Crop Science Society of America announced the launch of The Plant Genome,
a new quarterly publication of its flagship journal, Crop Science. The
goal of the journal is to provide an outlet for the publication of applied
plant-genomics research, a short submission-to-print timeline, and the
readership with the latest original research in the application of genomics to
the improvement of crops.
The first issue is scheduled for publication in
May 2006. Manuscripts to be considered for publication in The Plant
Genome can be submitted directly by email to the founding Technical Editor,
Randy Shoemaker (email@example.com). Manuscripts will be reviewed by Dr.
Shoemaker and his newly assembled editorial board, which includes leading
scientists in plant genomics. The editors are Dr. William D. Beavis, Dr. Katrien
Devos, Dr. Michael Fromm, Dr. Scott Jackson, Dr. Patricia Klein, Dr. Stephen
Moose, and Dr. Antoni Rafalski.
As stated in the December announcement,
The Plant Genome will publish original research that shows clear
potential for translating genomic technology into agronomic advancement. The
editorial board will give preference to novel reports that use innovative
genomic applications that advance our understanding of plant biology and have
demonstrative application to crop improvement. The quarterly will also publish
invited review articles and perspectives that offer insight and commentary on
recent advances in genomics and their potential for agronomic improvement. The
inaugural article will be written by Dr. Roger Beachy of the Donald Danforth
Plant Science Center, St. Louis, MO.
Source:CSA News, January 2006 V51
4.01 USDA/CSREES Food
and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship
USDA/CSREES administers a federal assistance grant
program specifically designated for graduate degree programs and postgraduate
training of the next generation of policy makers, researchers, and educators in
the Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources domain. This program works
collaboratively with eligible higher education institutions to develop
intellectual capital and to ensure the preeminence of U.S. food and agricultural
The Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and
Postgraduate Fellowship Grants Program (NNF) was initiated in 1984. The
fellowships are intended to encourage outstanding students to pursue and
complete graduate degrees in critical areas of national need. Through a
competitive grants process, the NNF program provides funding to support graduate
training through a student stipend and a cost-of-education allowance to the
institution. There have been 425 graduate fellows since the inception of the
program. Fellows from the NNF program are employed by the USDA (ARS/FS/NRCS);
private sector (CH2M HILL; ConAgra Foods; FMC FoodTech; National Dairy Council;
Institute of Food Technologies; M&M Mars; Wal-Mart; and others); and
academia. In FY 2005, CSREES received 73 applications, requesting $15.2 million,
to support training at the master’s and doctoral degree levels. CSREES made 39
awards totaling $5,672,000 to support the training of 22 Master’s and 75 fellows
at the doctoral level.
For more information contact:
Audrey A. Trotman, Ph.D.
Education Program Leader
Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs
Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Grants
Higher Education Multicultural
Contributed by Anne Marie
4.02 Asian Rice Foundation USA scholarships
The Asian Rice Foundation USA
is offering $3,500 scholarships for students studying rice. Applicants must be
students -- American or Asian - below the age of 35, registered at an accredited
institution of higher education, and have a supporting letter from their
national rice foundation associated with Asia
Rice Foundation, Inc or a faculty member of a United States university.
Applications that involve travel and study of US-based students at an Asian
location are encouraged.
We support research and education to improve
· the role of rice in Asian
· rice as an element in the art and culture of Asia, and
· rice as a food
with a unique role in Asia.
More information at http://www.asiariceusa.org/. Applications due June 1, 2006.
Contributed by Russell Freed
and Soil Sciences
Michigan State University
MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS
Note: New announcements are listed at the
beginning of this section, and may include some program details, while repeat
announcements will include only basic information. Visit web sites for
* 8-9 February 2006. Breeding with molecular markers, UC Davis Seed
Enroll now to ensure your reservation for the
upcoming course which focuses on strategies for using molecular tools in
different breeding schemes and crops. Leading industry and university
experts will guide participants on how, when and what types of molecular markers
should be used in breeding programs, including marker-assisted selection,
accelerated backcrossing, and quantitative trait loci. It is aimed at
professionals who are directly or indirectly involved in plant breeding and
germplasm improvement. The course will be held in Davis, California. For more information or to enroll go to Breeding
with Molecular Markers
information on the Plant Breeding Academy go to Plant Breeding
Contributed by Susan C. Webster
Seed Biotechnology Center
University of California
* 27 to 30 April 2006. Breeding for inducible resistance against pests and
diseases, Heraklio, Crete, Greece.
The two IOBC working groups “Breeding for resistance against insects and diseases“ and “Induced resistance
in plants against insects and diseases“ will hold a joint conference in 2006 in
Heraklio, Crete, Greece under the title “Breeding for inducible resistance
against pests and diseases”. The conference will cover the following sessions:
Final dates will be advertised in due timethe IOBC homepage
- ‘Mechanisms involved in inducible and constitutive resistance to pests and
-‘Evolutionary aspects of plant resistance’
- ‘Chemical ecology
/ Trophic interactions; associations of phenotypes and genotypes’
resistance important for plant breeders and possible contribution of inducible
- ‘Biotechnology approaches to breeding for (inducible)
-‘Tools for biotechnology’
-‘Deployment strategies for
durable resistance within Integrated Crop Management’
Experts in the
different fields (from fundamental molecular biology to applied plant breeding)
are invited as keynote speakers to be followed by oral and poster presentations
from the participants.
Hotel booking deadline
:28 February 2006
Abstract submission deadline: 03 March 2006
registration deadline (reduced rate): 31 March 2006
information see: www.unine.ch/bota/iobc or contact
either convenor: Annegret Schmitt (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nick Birch
Contributed by Dr. Annegret
Institut für biologischen
* 28 to 30 June
2006. EUCARPIA Meeting on Rye Genetics and Breeding, Rostock,
We are currently organising this EUCARPIA meeting. The 1st
circular has been launched middle of November, with deadline for response by
31st January, 2006. The topic areas that will be covered
1. Breeding and Breeding
2. General and Molecular
3. Genetic Resources and
5. Comparative Genome
6. Disease Resistance and Stress
8. Nutritional and Technological
The invited speakers are:
Aman, P. (Swedish University of
Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden)
Aniol, A. (IHAR, Radzikow,
Boros, Danuta (IHAR, Radzikow, Poland)
Geiger, H.H. (Univ. of
Hohenheim, Hohenheim, Germany)
Goncharenko, A.A. (Agricultural Research
Institute of Non-Chernozem Zone, Nemchinowka-1, Russia)
(USDA-ARS, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, USA)
Jouve, N. (Univ. Alcala, Alcala
de Henares, Spain)
Madej, L. (IHAR, Radzikow, Poland)
Miedaner, T. (State
Plant Breeding Institute, Univ. of Hohenheim, Hohenheim, Germany)
(IHAR, Radzikow, Poland)
Stein, N. (Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop
Plant Research, Gatersleben, Germany)
Wilde, P. (Lochow-Petkus GmbH, Einbeck,
Further information about the meeting can be found at http://www.eucarpia.org.
by Dr. Peter Wehling
Institute of Agricultural Crops
Federal Centre for
Breeding Research on Cultivated Plants (BAZ),
* 17-21 September
2006. Cucurbitaceae 2006, Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa in Asheville,
North Carolina, USA (in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains).
continues the tradition of Cucurbitaceae conferences held every four years in
the USA. It will include meetings of associated groups including the
Cucurbit Crop Genetics Committee, the Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative, the
National Melon Research Group, the National Watermelon Research Group, the
Pickling Cucumber Improvement Committee, and the Squash Research
Topics to be presented:
- Biotechnology and
- Breeding and genetics
- Culture and management
- Plant pathology
- Postharvest handling, fruit
quality, human nutrition
Who should attend:
Those interested in
cucurbits (cucumber, melon, pumpkin, gourd, squash, watermelon, or exotic
species) should attend this conference. We are expecting 150 to 200
attendees, comprised of academicians, students, plant breeders, growers,
scientists, pathologists, entomologists, researchers, extensionists, from the
public and private sectors.
One day will include a
tour of the Mountain Horticultural Crops research station, the Asheville
farmer's market, and other local attractions, finishing with dinner in the local
Dr. Gerald Holmes, Department of Plant
Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7616, 919-515-9779
visit the website for the conference at http://www.ncsu.edu/cucurbit2006
Please circulate this message to anyone you think would be
Contributed by Todd C. Wehner
Department of Horticultural
North Carolina State University
14 – 18 October 2006. The 6th New Crops Symposium: Creating Markets for Economic
Development of New Crops and New Uses, University Center for New Crops and
Plant Products,The Hilton Gaslamp Quarter Hotel, San Diego, CA
by: Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops and Purdue www.aaic.org or www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop
Contributed by David A.
New Crops, Environmental Plant Dynamics
USDA, ARS, U.S. Water
* 2006-2008. Plant Breeding Academy, 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 industry
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.
Fall 2006 and runs through Summer 2008 (actual dates to be
For more information: (530) 754-7333, email email@example.com, http://sbc.ucdavis.edu/Events/Plant_Breeding_Academy.htm
19-21 February 2006. The 3rd International Conference on Date Palm , Abu
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
* 21-24 February 2006.
Third General Assembly of the West Africa Seed and Planting Material Network
(WASNET), Palm Beach Hotel, Accra, Ghana. For more details contact
the Coordinator of WASNET by email at email@example.com or
firstname.lastname@example.org or send your request through the website http://www.wasnet.org
* 6-7 March
2006. 42nd Annual Illinois Corn Breeder’s School, Urbana,
Illinois, Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Urbana, IL.
registration fee of $95.00 per person includes a copy of the proceedings and
meals on Monday, March 6. Further details about the meeting, lodging, and
registration forms can be found at http://imbgl.cropsci.uiuc.edu/index.html.
6-10 March 2006. Introduction to biosafety and risk assessment for the
environmental release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs): Theoretical
approach and scientific background, 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. See http://www.icgeb.org/MEETINGS/CRS06/6_10marzo.pdf
or contact email@example.com for more information.
* 14 -17
March 2006 CIMMYT Fusarium head blight workshop on Global Fusarium
Initiative for International Collaboration, CIMMYT Headquarters, El Batan,
For more information and to confirm your participation, please
contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.
* 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 email@example.com 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/. If
there are questions, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
* 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, Seoul
(Korea) web: www.ihc2006.org
20-25 August 2006. The International Plant Breeding Symposium, Sheraton “Centro Historico” Hotel, Mexico City.
Presentations by 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: email@example.com.
September 2007. The World Cotton Research Conference-4, Lubbock, Texas,
USA (http://www.icac.org). There is no cost
of pre-registration and if you pre-register you will receive all the up-coming
information on WCRC-4.171 researchers from over 20 countries have pre-registered
as of today.
* 10-14 September 2006. First Symposium on Sunflower
Industrial Uses. Udine University, Udine Province, Friuli Venezia Giulia
by the International Sunflower Association (ISA)
* 11-15 September
2006. XXII International EUCARPIA Symposium - Section Ornamentals: Breeding
for Beauty, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.istflori.it
* 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.
further information contact: Prof Mike Jones, Murdoch University, Perth
* 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
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. We
will continue to improve the organization of archival issues of the newsletter.
Readers who have suggestions about features they wish to see should contact the
editor at 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)