PLANT BREEDING NEWS

EDITION 164

27 February 2006

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

Clair H. Hershey, Editor

Archived issues available at: http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/FAOINFO/AGRICULT/AGP/AGPC/doc/services/pbn.html



CONTENTS

1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
1.01  The world will have 100 million extra hungry people by 2015, scientists say.
1.02  Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug to be recognized with the Danforth Award for Plant Science
1.03  Vietnam successfully creates tomato plant resistant to ralstonia solanacearum
1.04  Vietnamese scientists create new insect-resistant, nutritional hybrid rice variety
1.05  ICRISAT initiates groundnut revolution in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh
1.06  Virginia Tech helping to develop higher quality, disease-resistant wheat varieties
1.07  US$ 5 million awarded for public wheat research in the U.S.
1.08  The role of non-GM biotechnology in developing world agriculture
1.09  Do genetically modified crops have a role in the responsible control of pests?
1.10  Risk or benefit: American opinions are split on genetically engineered food, but they are growing slightly more skeptical, study finds
1.11  Conservation by the numbers: Reducing genetic drift in crop gene bank collections
1.12  Gene thwarts some pathogens, gives access to others, could save crops
1.13  New method enables gene disruption in destructive fungal pathogen
1.14  New heart-healthy oat now available
1.15  Sources of sorghum anthracnose resistance discovered
1.16  Apple trees resistant to Fire Blight and Apple Scab
1.17  USDA/ARS watermelon line may help breeders combat powdery mildew
1.18  Breeding winter wheat tolerant to aluminium toxicity
1.19  Research finds hormones that ripen grapes
1.20  New model designed to study soybean
1.21  Scientists create disease-resistant tomato
1.22  Feeding the 600 million: the next step for genomics?
1.23  A high-throughput screen for genes from castor that boost hydroxy fatty acid accumulation in seed oils of transgenic Arabidopsis
1.24  New clues in the plant mating mystery: Missouri University researchers discover molecular details for maintenance of genetic fitness
1.25  CIMMYT develops herbicide resistant maize hybrids
1.26  Association mapping: a bridge between QTL analysis and marker-assisted selection.
1.27  Maize molecule attracts pest enemies
1.28  Major breakthrough in wheat genetics: chromosome glue identified
1.29  Molecular detection tools for African maize breeders
1.30  Fighting cancer with the help from plants
1.31  Chloroplasts reloaded
1.32  'Steeling' silk from nature
1.33  Animal gene renders tobacco resistant to parasitic weed
1.34  Hepatitis B vaccination by eating a banana?
1.35  When cells dispense
1.36  Diet apples for diet freaks
1.37  Spying in the fields
1.38  Transgenic tobacco with built-in tick-protection
1.39  Researchers investigate Valencia orange juice quality

2.  PUBLICATIONS
2.01  Unsung hero: the man who fed the world

3.  WEB RESOURCES
3.01  Literature base on genetically modified crop plants
3.02  Free access to a digital library for developing countries

4  GRANTS AVAILABLE
(None submitted)

5  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS
(None submitted)

6  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

7  EDITOR'S NOTES

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1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES

1.01  The world will have 100 million extra hungry people by 2015, scientists say.

They were speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Despite great improvements in food availability in the 1960s and 1970s, these trends are reversing in many developing countries, they say. The United Nations' goal of halving hunger by 2015 looks unattainable without new technologies and greater financial investment, they add. Ten pre-school children die every minute from malnutrition and this number has not changed since the early 1980s despite global promises.

Professor Per Pinstrup-Anderson, from Cornell University in New York, says that improving agriculture is the key. "When you put money in the hands of farmers that money is spent on creating employment and reducing poverty elsewhere," he said. "We have found in our research that for every dollar you invest in agricultural research you generate about $6 of additional income among the farmers and about $15 of additional economic growth in the society as a whole. Much of that will help poor people in those countries."

More commitment needed
There is some good news though. China and Vietnam have considerably increased food availability and cut the number of people who do not get enough food. But this has only been achieved by improving infrastructure and using technology including GM crops to increase yields - which is missing in many other countries. For instance, east Kenya last year faced a famine. In the west of the country there was an excess of corn, but this was shipped to Europe because neither the means nor the money was available to get the corn to those starving in the east.

Scientists at the AAAS meeting in St Louis, Missouri, say situations like this will continue to occur unless governments in developing countries increase their commitments to ending poverty and hunger.

By Ania Lichtarowicz

Source: BBC News online ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/4724282.stm)

17 February 2006

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1.02  Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug to be recognized with the Danforth Award for Plant Science

St. Louis, Missouri
Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, often referred to as the “Father of the Green Revolution” in agriculture, will receive the Danforth Award for Plant Science in recognition of his life-long commitment to increasing global agricultural production through plant science. The groundbreaking work by his research team and colleagues from around the world reversed the chronic food shortages suffered by India and Pakistan in the 1960s and led to his 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Borlaug recently received the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest scientific honor, from U.S. President George W. Bush on February 13, 2006, and he was honored by the Government of India on January 26, 2006 with the Padma Vibhushan – India’s second highest national award.

“Dr. Norman Borlaug is a distinguished scientist and agricultural historian with a vision for how technology can directly impact the lives of people of the world. Many of the crops consumed throughout industrialized nations are hybrid strains that were advocated by Dr. Borlaug,” said Dr. Roger N. Beachy, President of the Danforth Center. “His ability to see how planting high-yield crop hybrids, implementing fertilizers and pesticides, and utilizing improved irrigation would dramatically improve the lives of people was revolutionary in the 1950s. Today, it is the foundation upon which plant science is building future innovation.”

The Green Revolution is a term that was coined in 1968 by William Gaud, then director of the U.S. Agency for International Development, to describe the agricultural movement that called for the use of technology to increase agricultural production. Led by Dr. Borlaug, the Green Revolution began in 1945 when the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government established the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program to improve Mexican agricultural output by developing improved strains of wheat, rice, maize and other cereals. The program was so successful that Mexico went from importing half its wheat in 1945 to exporting half a million tons of wheat in 1964. Building on the program’s success in Mexico, it was expanded to India and Pakistan in the 1960s and today Green Revolution practices are used throughout the developing world.

“Norman Borlaug has brought more benefit to more people than anyone in my lifetime and shown how science can serve humanity. He is a hero and the role model for us at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center,” said Danforth Center Chairman, Dr. William H. Danforth. “That one man can have such a profound impact on the world is nothing short of overwhelming. It is a pleasure to once again host Dr. Borlaug at the Danforth Center, and a true honor to recognize his incredibly important lifetime of achievement.”

Dr. Borlaug’s return to the Danforth Center is a homecoming of sorts, as he joined former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in July of 1998 to celebrate the founding and launch of the Danforth Center, and returned in February 2002 to view the completed construction of the Danforth Center building.

The public is invited to hear Dr. Borlaug present a lecture entitled “From the Green to the Gene Revolution: Our 21st Century Challenge” on February 21, 2006 at 4PM in the SBC Auditorium at the Danforth Center. Prior to the start of his presentation he will be presented with the Danforth Award for Plant Science. The Danforth Award for Plant Science recognizes a prominent national or international leader for outstanding achievement and service in the conduct and/or advocacy of science for the benefit of agriculture, food, nutrition or human health. Previous recipients include Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton, Principal Syngenta Fellow at Syngenta Biotechnology Inc., Dr. Ernie Jaworski, former Interim President of the Danforth Center, and Dr. Peter H. Raven, Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Individuals interested in attending the February 21 lecture and awards presentation should call 314/587-1070 to make reservations.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Source: SeedQuest.com
20 February 2006

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1.03  Vietnam successfully creates tomato plant resistant to ralstonia solanacearum

Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnam has become the first Southeast Asian nation to successfully create a disease-resistant tomato plant.

The plant is the result of a project on studying and applying grafting methods to prevent tomato plants from withering due to ralstonia solanacearum bacterium conducted by scientists from the southern Agriculture Science and Technique Institute.

The project has won first prize at the eighth national technology initiative contest recently held in Ha Noi.

Dr Ngo Quang Vinh, head of the scientists’ group, said withering in tomato plants spreads very fast by ralstonia solanacearum bacterium. The bacterium makes tomatoes green and the death rate of plants is usually 30 percent, sometimes 100 percent.

During 2002-2004, the group created a new disease-resistant tomato plant by grafting the NT386 tomato variety onto another ordinary tomato plant to create a disease-resistant tomato variety, Vinh noted.

This technology will help grow tomato plants in the rainy season, the scientist announced.

Source: Vietnam News Agency, via SeedQuest.com
28 January 2006

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1.04  Vietnamese scientists create new insect-resistant, nutritional hybrid rice variety

Hanoi, Vietnam
Scientists from the Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute (CLRRI) has for the first time applied gene modifying technology to create a nutritional rice variety from three existing rice varieties: IR64, MTl250 (indica) and Taipei 309 (japonica).

Dr. Tran Thi Kim Cuc, Head of the CLRRI's Biotechnology Research Department, said that this rice variety is rich in vitamins A and E, iron, zinc, and oryzanol which helps reduce cholesterol in blood.

It is an insect-resistant rice breed which is easy to plant, Cuc added.

Prof. Dr. Bui Chi Buu, who is Director of the CLRRI, said this breed will be planted in remote and disadvantaged areas to raise the quality of the local community's nutrition.

 Source: Vietnam News Agency, via SeedQuest.com
16 January 2006

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1.05  ICRISAT initiates groundnut revolution in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh

Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh, India
Groundnut grows where other crops fail. And when farmers in a tough terrain select a groundnut variety, they know what is best for their needs.

Improved groundnut variety ICGV 91114 from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has initiated a revolution in the dry, rocky Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in India. The choosy farmers of the district are multiplying ICGV 91114 seeds with alacrity, helped by an ICRISAT-initiated public-private seed partnership.

ICRISAT's intervention has helped in designing an end-to-end solution to improve the groundnut variety in Anantapur district, according to Dr William D Dar, Director General of ICRISAT. "We have blended our scientific excellence with the strengths of our partners to improve the productivity of the farmers working in a difficult environment."

Situated in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh, Anantapur district is known for groundnut cultivation. For the farmers from Anantapur, groundnut is a preferred crop since it survives the rough terrain and the uncertainty of rainfall. Though the average rainfall is around 550 mm per year, some parts of the district have recorded as low as 200 mm in bad years and as high as 900 mm in good years.

Every year, on an average, farmers grow groundnut over 800,000 hectares in the district, and in good years, this can go up to one million ha, accounting for nearly 70% of the cultivated area in the district, and making groundnut cultivation a pillar of strength for the rural economy. The crop can withstand up to 50 days of dry spell, and when the rain comes phoenix-like the crop rises from under the gravelly soil, yielding farmers nuts for the market and fodder for their animals.

Selecting the variety with farmers

According to Dr Shyam N Nigam, Principal Groundnut Breeder at ICRISAT, farmers of Anantapur have changed the cropping pattern over the decades due to poor rains, prolonged dry spells and frequent crop failures. "About 45 years ago it used to be 80% cereals and 20% groundnut. Today it is 80% groundnut and 20% other crops," explains Nigam.

It is not that only the choice of crop is limited, but also the choice of variety within the crop. Since the 1940s the farmers have been planting TMV 2, though improved varieties were available. The Anantapur farmers felt that the improved varieties selected for propagation in peninsular India through the formal system did not meet the very specific needs of the district.

ICRISAT started the process in the reverse. The groundnut breeding team from the Institute worked with the farmers to select the most suitable varieties. With financial support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the project was launched in 2002 rainy season, in the fields of the ten farmers who volunteered to participate. Ten new varieties were grown along with the longstanding TMV 2 in Dhanduvaripalli and Rekulakunta villages. The other partners in the project were the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural Research University and the Rural Development Trust, an NGO.

After the first harvest, the search for new improved varieties was narrowed down to two varieties - ICGV 91114 and ICGV 89104. During the next rainy season, in 2003, the selected varieties were grown in slightly larger plots in West Narsapuram and Rekulakunta villages. The severe drought that year put all the varieties to test and ICGV 91114 produced a significantly higher pod yield, haulm (stem or top part of the plant) and a higher shelling turnover (the percentage weight of the seeds against the total weight of seeds and the shell) than ICGV 89104 and TMV 2.

"Under such severe conditions any increase in productivity is of great benefit for the farmers," comments Nigam. And since the farmers were involved in all stages of the varietal selection, they had a better acceptance of the improved variety. The trials and the seed multiplication program for ICGV 91114 picked up from the first year onwards.

The Anantapur trials show that ICGV 91114 yields on an average around 10% more pods than TMV 2, matures early (one week earlier than TMV 2), is tolerant of mid-season and end-of-season droughts, has an average shelling turnover of 75%, has an average oil content of 48%, and has better digestibility for livestock.

When the farmers got enthused about ICGV 91114 they started multiplying the seeds during the Rabi-summer season (the second crop season). From the initial plot of 2 ha in 2002 it has grown to 210 ha for seed multiplication. In the rainy season of 2006 it is expected that ICGV 91114 groundnut seeds will be sown over 5,000 ha in Anantapur. The silent revolution is gathering steam.

Partnering to strengthen the delivery mechanism To strengthen the delivery mechanism for ICGV 91114, the Agri-Business Incubator (ABI) at ICRISAT, is partnering with the Aakruthi Agricultural Associates of India (AAI) - a group of entrepreneurs operating agri clinics - and the Andhra Pradesh State Seed Development Corporation (APSSDC), the state government institution mandated to reach seeds to farmers.

The ABI at ICRISAT headquarters at Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, helps entrepreneurs to develop promising agricultural technologies into commercial business opportunities. The AAI group of scientists and agricultural graduates with experience in research, production, marketing and banking approached the ICRISAT team for help to establish a delivery mechanism through a chain of agri clinics. ICRISAT saw this as an opportunity for supplying the seeds of improved varieties. ICGV 91114 was chosen as an ideal candidate for promotion in Anantapur district.

However, no effort at seed distribution can be successful without the involvement of the governmental machinery for seed supplies in Anantapur district. The APSSDC joined the partnership, and agreed to include ICGV 91114 in their groundnut seed supply in Andhra Pradesh (especially in Anantapur district).

According to Dr Kiran K Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of ABI and Principal Scientist at ICRISAT, the partnership is a win-win proposition for all stakeholders. While the groundnut farmers in Anantapur benefit from the supply of the improved variety, the APSSDC can increase its volume and also add improved seeds to its portfolio for supply. The agri clinics under the AAI can benefit through the activity of seed multiplication for supply through the APSSDC.

"For us at ICRISAT, we are happy that our improved groundnut variety can reach the poor and marginal farmers of Anantapur. We are also happy that through the ABI we are able to incubate an idea into an agri-business proposition," observes Sharma.

As the monsoon showers hit peninsular India in June-July 2006, more and more farmers in Anantapur will be ready to plant the seeds of ICGV 91114 and mark the transition from the timeworn groundnut variety.

SeedQuest.com
8 February 2006

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1.06  Virginia Tech helping to develop higher quality, disease-resistant wheat varieties

Researchers at Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are part of consortium of public wheat breeders and scientists that have been awarded $5 million from the USDA to enable routine use of modern breeding technologies to produce higher quality, disease-resistant wheat.

"For the past two decades, an intensive amount of molecular research has been conducted wherein chromosome specific DNA sequences or markers have been used to identify genes controlling traits of economic importance in wheat varieties. This integrated project will enable us to demonstrate that DNA markers associated with such traits can be used on a routine basis to develop superior wheat varieties," said Carl Griffey, professor of crop and soil environmental sciences at Virginia Tech and consortium project coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic region. "These technologies will accelerate development of U.S. varieties that are durable to plant diseases, more productive, and of better end use quality, which are all essential for increasing competitiveness of U.S. wheat in global markets."

Griffey, along with other researchers from Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina, will be specifically looking at wheat traits of critical importance in the Mid-Atlantic region where diseases such as powdery mildew, leaf rust, stripe rust, and fusarium head blight result in significant losses in yield and quality each year. For example, researchers will be identifying and using DNA markers to select varieties possessing genes conferring durable resistant to powdery mildew, which causes annual crop loss of 10 to 30 percent in the Mid-Atlantic region. Researchers also will be identifying genes that confer superior milling and baking qualities.

The new technology implemented in this project is called Marker Assisted Selection (MAS). MAS involves the direct use of molecular markers that are located in the same chromosome region as the trait of interest to select for genes controlling useful agronomic traits. Breeders use these molecular markers to increase the precision in selection of varieties having the best trait combinations.

Researchers will work with USDA genotyping laboratories to provide thousands of molecular analyses required to deploy the targeted genes into breeding lines. The genetic information will be stored in national databases and seed stocks deposited in USDA's Small Grain Collection, providing long-term public access to genetic information and resources for wheat breeders and researchers nationwide.

Public sector researchers are primarily responsible for providing new wheat varieties to U.S. wheat growers. Public wheat varieties accounted for 78 percent of the 2001-2003 wheat production in the U.S. which represents an average of 38 million metric tons per year valued at more than $5 billion.

This project includes an extensive outreach component to share information about these new technologies with growers and end-users and an educational program to attract new students to agriculture and train them in modern and traditional breeding techniques.

Source: ErekAlert.org
16 February 2005

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1.07  US$ 5 million awarded for public wheat research in the U.S.

Mike Johanns, Agriculture Secretary of the U.S., announced on February 16th an award exceeding US$ 5 million to a consortium of public wheat scientists devoted to identify genes with the potential to produce increased quality, disease-resistant wheat. "This research will help U.S. wheat breeders to improve wheat yield, develop drought resistant wheat and help the environment," said Johanns.

The consortium of 18 universities, lead by the University of California Davis, aims to identify thousands of molecular markers linked to beneficial traits in wheat. These markers are then used to insert target genes into breeding lines to obtain a specific combination of improved traits. This technique is known as marker-assisted selection. The genetic information obtained by this initiative will be stored in national databases. The project also includes an extensive outreach/educational component.

For further information visit: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/ p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2006/02/0045.xml

From CropBiotech Update 17 February 2006

Submitted by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.08  The role of non-GM biotechnology in developing world agriculture

Zephaniah Dhlamini

Summary

In the intense debates around the applications of modern biological research to agriculture and food production, genetic modification (GM techniques) ­ and the novel crops that result from their application ­ tend to attract the lion’s share of public attention.

This is despite the fact that such research offers a range of other tools and techniques that do not involve genetic modification, and yet can still make major contributions to agriculture.

One result of the disproportionate focus on GM crops is that policymakers in the developing world often lack adequate information on the nature and potential use of non-GM biotechnologies.

This briefing seeks to help fill this information gap by summarising the characteristics of the most common non-GM biotechnologies that are being developed and applied to crop improvement in the developing world.

Drawing on the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) database on Biotechnologies in Developing Countries (BioDeC), it focuses on four types of non-GM biotechnology: tissue culture, molecular markers, diagnostic techniques and microbial products. [1]

(See aditional sections on the web)
- Introduction
- Tissue culture
- Molecular marker techniques technologies
- DNA and immuno-diagnostic techniques
- Microbial products for agriculture
- Conclusion
- References

Source: SciDev.net
February 2006

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1.09  Do genetically modified crops have a role in the responsible control of pests?

Opinions are sharply divided on whether using genetically modified crops is compatible with the principles of integrated pest management. We present two opposing viewpoints

Christine Gould
Manager, Policy Communications & Research
CropLife International
argues that crops that have been genetically engineered to kill pests can make an important contribution to sustainable agriculture.
Read the article >>

G. V. Ramanjaneyulu
Executive Director
Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Secunderabad, India
claims that the widespread use of such crops will eventually lead to increased resistance in pests, and should be rejected.
Read the article >>

Source: SciDev.net
8 February 2006

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1.10  Risk or benefit: American opinions are split on genetically engineered food, but they are growing slightly more skeptical, study finds

ST. LOUIS -- While more than two-thirds of the food in U.S. markets contains at least some amount of a genetically engineered (GE) crop, researchers want to know if Americans consider GE food a health risk or benefit.

The result: Americans are split on the issue, but they have become slightly more skeptical over the past three years, according to a new study from Cornell University.

"Depending on whom you ask, the technology is either beneficial or has negative effects on health and environment," said James Shanahan, associate professor of communication at Cornell and lead researcher of the study.

Generally, women and non-Caucasians perceived higher risk in using biotechnology in food production than men and Caucasians. And politically, Republicans showed more overall support for GE foods than others, he said.

John Besley, one of Shanahan's collaborators and a Cornell doctoral candidate in communication, presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science today (Feb. 19). The third co-author is Erik Nisbet, also a Cornell doctoral candidate in communication.

The study included four annual national surveys from 2003 to 2005 (with samples of about 750 respondents each year) and three annual surveys of New Yorkers from 2003 to 2005 (about 850 respondents each year). The national survey measured support for GE food using a scale from 1 to 10, while the New York survey used a similar scale to measure the perceived health risks of GE food.

"The results of the state and national surveys were very consistent with each other," said Shanahan. "And both showed a slight but significant shift over time toward a little less support and more risk perception."

Specifically, the mean response for support for biotechnology was 5.6 (on a 1-10 scale) in the first year of the surveys, indicating that people were evenly divided in supporting, opposing or being undecided; by 2005, the mean declined slightly to 5.2. Similarly, the mean response for risk perception increased to 6.1 in 2005 from 5.4 in the first year.

The researchers also found that people who pay more attention to the news tend to support GE food more than those who don't.

"Overall, research shows that GE foods are safe and effective, though some people still harbor reservations about it," said Shanahan. "I suspect that the more people are exposed to the news, the more aware they are of biotechnology and, therefore, more supportive of it."

The New York data were collected by Cornell's Survey Research Institute (SRI), which conducts survey research on par with other academic research facilities. The national data were collected during a research methods course in cooperation with SRI.

Shanahan serves as the co-director of the public issues education project, Genetically Engineered Organisms. The project has an extensive Web site for consumers about GE crops and foods ( http://www.geo-pie.cornell.edu), including information on what foods are most frequently engineered (corn and soybeans, followed by canola and cotton, from which cottonseed oil is derived), which traits have been engineered, regulations, and media coverage and opinions about GE foods.

Contact: Blaine Friedlander
bpf2@cornell.edu

Source: EurekAlert.org
19 February 2006

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1.11  Conservation by the numbers: Reducing genetic drift in crop gene bank collections

El Batán, Mexico
CIMMYT’s biometrics team receives special recognition for advancing the science behind crop genetic resource conservation.

The nightmare of a gene bank curator: You have a collection of 25,000 precious, unique samples of maize seed; one of the world’s most extensive. You store it carefully, keep it cold and dry, but­little by little over the years­the seed dies! Eventually you’re left with so many packets of useless kernels, and the precious genetic diversity they once embodied is lost to humanity forever.

To keep this very bad dream from becoming a reality, Suketoshi Taba, head of maize genetic resources at CIMMYT, and his team constantly monitor the germination capacity of collections. When it drops below 80-85%, they take viable seed from the endangered accession (the term for individual, registered samples in the bank), sow it under controlled conditions, and harvest enough from progeny to replenish the accession. Known as “regeneration,” the process sounds simple, but in fact must be done painstakingly to capture a faithful snapshot­rather than a faded copy­of the genetic diversity from the original accession.

The Crop Science Society of America recently bestowed the honor of “2004 Outstanding Paper on Plant Genetic Resources” on an article by CIMMYT biometricians that provides models for proper handling of repeated cycles of regeneration. Their work, which was funded by the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), is particularly relevant for outcrossing, genetically diverse crops like maize, legumes, or sorghum, to name just a few.

“For maize regeneration, we use artificial pollination, to avoid out-crossing with pollen from other maize fields,” says Taba. “But even the individuals in a maize population or accession are genetically diverse. How can we decide on the best way to pollinate the plants, or how many ears we need to harvest, or how many and which seeds to choose from each ear?” According to Taba, the danger is ending up with a sample that differs from the genetic make-up of the original. And with each successive cycle of regeneration, you can drift further and further.

Building on a strong body of work in this area by CIMMYT biometricians since the 1980s, the award-winning paper refines and expands the statistical model and provides reliable computer simulations. “Among other things, the simulation model shows exactly how many alleles are likely to be lost through various sampling and regeneration strategies,” says Jiankang Wang, CIMMYT biometrician who is first author of the study. “It describes how different strategies can affect the conservation of alleles and gives gene bank curators options that can be tailored for specific types of accessions.”

 Jiankang Wang says he and his co-author, CIMMYT biometrician José Crossa, are now working with Taba to apply the paper’s model in managing CIMMYT’s maize gene bank collection. “Many other gene banks will find this approach useful,” says Crossa, explaining why their study received the award. “For example, we collaborate closely with the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado, in the USA. They can apply the same principles in their regeneration work.”

Jiankang Wang was excited by the recognition and the fact that peers might find his work useful. “In middle school, teachers saw I had talent and told me to specialize in mathematics, but at the university I discovered that I was most interested in the practical applications of mathematics,” says Jiankang Wang. “Using science to help preserve the world’s crop genetic resources is a great satisfaction.”

Source: CIMMYT E-News, vol 3 no. 1
January 2006

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1.12  Gene thwarts some pathogens, gives access to others, could save crops

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. ­ A single gene apparently thwarts a disease-causing invader that creates a fuzzy gray coating on flowers, fruits and vegetables. But the same gene provides access to a different type of pathogen.

A Purdue University plant molecular biologist and his collaborators in Austria and North Carolina identified the gene that helps plants recognize pathogens and also triggers a defense against disease. The gene and its defense mechanisms are similar to an immunity pathway found in people and in the laboratory research insect, the fruit fly.

As Botrytis cinerea, a pathogen that makes strawberries gray and fuzzy, tries to invade a plant, the gene BIK1 recognizes the pathogen and sets off a defensive reaction. Botrytis is a type of pathogen that can infect and obtain nutrients from dead cells on a plant and actually secretes toxic substances into plant tissue in order to gain entry. Another type of pathogen, called a biotroph, must feed on live plant cells. As a strategy to contain a pathogen, plants actually kill their own cells at the site where a biotrophic pathogen is attempting to invade.

"This gene, BIK1, makes plants resistant to pathogens such as Botrytis, but it allows biotrophic pathogens to invade," said Tesfaye Mengiste, a Purdue plant molecular biologist and assistant professor of botany and plant pathology. "The mutant plant that doesn't have BIK1 actually shows decreased immunity to two pathogens, including Botrytis. But unexpectedly, it is completely resistant to virulent strains of the biotrophic bacteria."

The study of BIK1's role in plant resistance to these two types of pathogens appeared in the January issue of the journal Plant Cell. The study also shows that the gene impacts plant growth and development as evidenced by abnormally short roots, overabundance of root hairs and wrinkly leaves on plants lacking the gene, according to the scientists.

The gene produces a protein located in the plant cell membranes and shows activity that is characteristic of proteins that act as enzymes. This finding led researchers to believe that these molecules give the early signals needed to set off a relay of biochemical events allowing the plant to fight off the pathogen, Mengiste said.

"Basically the BIK1 protein does this by regulating a plant defense hormone called salicylic acid," he said. "The amount of salicylic acid determines the type and level of a plant's response to the pathogen. This is very important in terms of disease resistance.

"In this paper, we speculate that there is an optimum level of salicylic acid that is required for pathogen defense. When that level is exceeded, in some cases it may promote susceptibility to other pathogens by interfering with other defense strategies of the plants."

The research team first looked at normal plants and then at the BIK1 mutant when they began to study the effect of different hormones on plant growth and pathogen defense, Mengiste said. The scientists were surprised to find that the mutants had reduced primary root growth but increased numbers of root hairs. Along with their other findings, this revelation is leading the scientists to future research.

"It looks like this gene actually links pathogen response to plant growth and development," Mengiste said. "But how a single protein regulates these two processes that are singularly independent, we don't know. That is the main purpose of our future studies.

"We need to figure out the details of how it regulates root growth and the length and amount of root hair. This may have implications in terms of nutrient absorption or total plant biomass."

The answers eventually could lead to increased crop yield and decreased produce loss due to Botrytis and other similar pathogens, he said.

Currently, the gray mold disease caused by Botrytis destroys about 10 percent of the grape crop annually and about 25 percent to 30 percent of tomato and strawberry crops in some seasons. It also infects many other fruits, vegetables, bulbs and a variety of flowers, including petunias, geraniums and chrysanthemums. Cool, humid weather fosters the fungus, which is spread by spores. The mold can appear in fields on growing plants and on strawberries, raspberries and other foods stored in the refrigerator.

Writer: Susan A. Steeves, ssteeves@purdue.edu
Sources: Tesfaye Mengiste, Mengiste@purdue.edu

Source: EurekAlert.com
3 February 2006

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1.13  New method enables gene disruption in destructive fungal pathogen

Blacksburg, Va. – Researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech, Colorado State University, and Duke University Medical Center have developed a new method to determine gene function on a genome-wide scale in the fungal pathogen Alternaria brassicicola. This destructive fungus causes black spot disease, leading to considerable leaf loss in such economically important crops as canola, cabbage, and broccoli.

Genomic methods that allow the disruption of several thousand genes are needed because they allow high-throughput identification of genes and gene function. Such procedures are widely applicable and would be extremely useful in allowing scientists to investigate the key events that occur when a host interacts with a pathogen.

"The development of this protocol is timely as the genome sequence of A. brassicicola is scheduled for completion in 2006. We now have in our hands a versatile method that will allow us to dissect the pathogen's nucleotide sequence information and establish the function of many of the individual genes in this filamentous fungus," said Christopher Lawrence, associate professor at VBI, director of the project, and one of the authors of the study.

"A. brassicicola has consistently been used in studies with the weedy mustard plant Arabidopsis. The genome sequence of Arabidopsis was determined in 2001 and many methods are available to ascertain gene function in this plant," Lawrence said. "We now have a means to identify key fungal and plant genes that interact and ultimately lead to disease development or resistance. This is an extremely powerful research tool."

The generation of gene disruption mutants has been a limiting step for the analysis of gene function in most filamentous fungi. The new method takes advantage of a novel linear DNA construct that greatly improves the efficiency of targeted gene disruption. The DNA construct includes an antibiotic-resistance marker gene, which allows for easy selection of the new mutants, as well as a short partial target gene that integrates and disrupts genes in the pathogen's genome.

Richard Oliver, director of the Australian Centre for Necrotrophic Fungal Pathogens and professor of Molecular Plant Pathology at Murdoch University, Perth, commented: "The new disruption method looks highly promising as a tool for functional genomic studies. The authors looked at over 20 genes and were able to produce transformants and inactivated genes or knock-outs in each experiment. In most cases, the efficiency of gene disruption was 100 percent, which represents a considerable improvement over previously reported methods and makes large-scale functional analysis of individual genes feasible."

Yangrae Cho of VBI, lead scientist and author of the paper, said, "The high throughput system described in this study should allow for the systematic analysis of large sets of candidate genes in A. brassicicola, such as those encoding cell-wall-degrading enzymes and other genes of interest in pathogen-plant interactions."

The new gene disruption method may also find applications in the study of fungal pathogens that directly impact humans and human health. In addition to causing numerous plant diseases, Alternaria are involved in the development of such chronic airway diseases as asthma, allergy and chronic rhinosinusitis. Gene disruption methods could help in identifying molecules from the fungus that trigger inflammatory and other types of immune responses in humans. By understanding how fungi modulate immune responses in humans, new ways of developing therapeutics for these conditions could be identified.

Contact: Barry Whyte
whyte@vbi.vt.edu

Source: EurekAlert.com
2February 2006

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1.14  New heart-healthy oat now available

Washington, DC, ARS News Service
Jan Suszkiw, jsuszkiw@ars.usda.gov
Health-conscious consumers can now get more of the soluble oat fiber called beta-glucan in their diets, thanks to a new oat variety developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and North Dakota State University (NDSU) scientists.

Combined with a healthy diet, beta-glucan can help lower blood levels of so-called "bad" cholesterol, diminishing the risk of heart disease. In August, ARS and NDSU scientists published their joint registration of "HiFi," a new spring oat bred specifically for increased beta-glucan content.

According to Doug Doehlert, a cereal chemist with ARS' Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center in Fargo, N.D., HiFi boasts 50 percent more beta-glucan than whole-oat products now sold in grocery stores.

This means a consumer could eat less of a whole-oat product made with HiFi to get the same health benefit. Or, more of the food could be eaten to gain even more of beta-glucan's benefits, according to Doehlert, in the ARS center's Cereal Crops Research Unit.

Doehlert and Mike McMullen of NDSU have been cooperatively breeding oats since 1993. During routine grain analysis, Doehlert noticed something odd: One of the oat lines furnished by McMullen contained more beta-glucan than usual.

The oat also had good agronomic characteristics and excellent disease resistance, so its seed was made available for production in the northern Plains region. There, farmers grow oats primarily to feed livestock, and they prefer varieties with high fat content rather than high fiber.

Interest in HiFi for food products initially looked bleak, since such oats are normally imported from Canada or oat-producing regions of the United States other than the northern Plains. But health-label claims now permitted for foods containing beta-glucan have rekindled interest in HiFi, according to Doehlert. In fact, Organic Grain and Milling, Inc., of Hudson, Wis., is negotiating licensing rights with the NDSU Research Foundation to market HiFi as an organic brand.

Read more about the research in this month's issue of Agricultural Research magazine, available online at:
http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/feb06/oat0206.htm

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
 
Source: SeedQuest.com
6 February 2006

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1.15  Sources of sorghum anthracnose resistance discovered

Washington, DC
ARS News Service
By Jim Core
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists scouring sorghum germplasm collections from African countries in search of anthracnose resistance for this valuable grain crop were surprised to find some key sources in unexpected locales.

Disease evaluation data are lacking for more than 50 percent of the 43,000 accessions in the ARS sorghum collection. Since pathogens can overcome plant resistance, researchers need to find new sources of resistant germplasm that breeders can use.

The United States produces about one-fifth of the world's sorghum and is the leading exporter of grain sorghum. But Africa is the center of origin for this plant, so research geneticist and sorghum curator John E. Erpelding of ARS' Tropical Agriculture Research Station ( TARS) in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, looked to sorghum collections from African countries for resistance to the highly variable anthracnose pathogen.

The fungus infects all aboveground parts of the plant and, in severe cases, the disease can kill plants before maturity. Often, anthracnose weakens the plant, severely reducing grain yield and quality.

Erpelding and Louis K. Prom, a plant pathologist at the ARS Crop Germplasm Research Unit in College Station, Texas, were not surprised to find resistance in about half of the lines evaluated from a subset of the Sudan collection, considered a center of diversity for sorghum.

But finding 80 percent of the accessions from a subset of the Mali collection to be resistant was unexpected. So, the researchers evaluated additional germplasm subsets representing specific regions of Mali and found an association between weather pattern and anthracnose resistance. More accessions from dry areas were susceptible, while nearly all from the wettest region were resistant.

Erpelding is working with ARS geneticist Robert R. Klein of College Station, who is mapping the sorghum genome and cloning important genes which could include anthracnose resistance.

Source: SeedQuest.com
3 February 2006

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1.16  Apple trees resistant to Fire Blight and Apple Scab

Apple Scab and Fire Blight are two of the most important diseases affecting apple trees. The Venezuelan biologist, Alejandro Martínez Bilbao, has undertaken research into more than 200 types of apple tree, autochthonous to Spain, in order to select those varieties resistant to these pathogens. One of the main conclusions of the PhD thesis of this biologist is that, in Navarre, there are 12 apple tree varieties capable of resisting these highly damaging pests. This is the first time in Spain that such a study has been carried out.

The PhD defended at the Public University of Navarre is entitled, “Evaluation of the resistance of autochthonous varieties in Spain to Fire Blight (Erwinia amylovora) and to Apple Scab (Venturia inaequalis)”.

The first measures against Apple Scab and Fire Blight

In 1996 a focus of Fire Blight appeared in Spain. This led government authorities to take a number of eradication measures, given the threat that the disease posed if it spread to other trees such as the pear. One of the decisions taken was to set up a research project, in which the Universities of Gerona, Valencia and Pamplona took part, in order to determine the class of apple trees that offered resistance or had low sensitivity to this pathogen. Some years later the study of the Apple Scab was included in the study, this being the other disease that most frequently attacks these types of fruit trees.

Both pests are highly damaging, although the Fire Blight has more serious consequences, given that it attacks all the plant’s organs. The first symptom observed is that the buds appear to be burnt. If the fruit tree is very sensitive to the bacteria, it may die; but, if it is not very sensitive, it can halt the progress of the pest. The Apple Scab acts in a different manner, focusing on the leaves and the fruit and, therefore, easier to control. The fungus causes a decrease in the size of the apple and deterioration in its overall aspect. Moreover, the leaves become full of dark stains.

One of the main methods to control Fire Blight and Apple Scab is based on the crop varieties that are resistant or have low sensitivity to this pest. In Navarre, the Technical Institute for Agricultural Management (ITGA) has a collection of 253 types of apple tree, autochthonous to Spain, providing a valuable source in the quest for solutions. Alejandro Martínez’s PhD analysed apple trees that the ITGA has on its experimental farm in Doneztebe/Santesteban and has confirmed that 12 Navarre varieties show resistance to both Fire Blight and Apple Scab. In the case of Apple Scab, the fruit trees have shown that they are totally resistant to this disease, while in the case of Fire Blight, it has been shown that the pathogen attacks them, but does not damage them as much as the rest of the trees.

The Apple Scab may be controlled by treatment with fungicide, but the problem is, if the plant is highly sensitive to the pest, it will need 15 treatments a year. This brings with it great environmental and economic consequences. Moreover, the continued use of insecticides may give rise to the appearance of strains resistant to the fungicides.

Although in a number of European countries and in the USA numerous studies on resistance of apple tree varieties to Fire Blight and Apple Scab have been undertaken, this is the first in Spain. It is true that field evaluations of these pests have been carried, but these were never transferred to the laboratory. The results that appear in the PhD were obtained by means of artificial inoculation.

Perspectives for the future

The ITGA tests were aimed at looking for new alternatives for the future. One line of research is the possibility of planning new varieties of apple trees resistant to Apple Scab and with low susceptibility to Fire Blight. The biologist has stated that this solution could be particularly interesting in ecological farming given that, in this type of market, the aim is to obtain fruit free of fungicides and other products. The problem with this alternative method is that it could create a resistant variety that is of no commercial use, i.e. that does not incorporate the specific commercial characteristics that give the fruit its specific taste and texture.

The other option is genetic enhancement. This involves achieving a mixture of varieties resistant to the diseases and varieties that contain the commercial characteristics that consumers like. It is precisely this second way that the Navarre Technical Institute for Agricultural Management is employing to find a mixture to produce cider. The project is currently in its study phase but it could be the long-term solution.
Internet reference
www.unavarra.es

Source: EurekAlert.org
17 February 2006

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1.17  USDA/ARS watermelon line may help breeders combat powdery mildew

Washington, DC
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers and cooperators are introducing watermelon stock that may help breeders combat powdery mildew, a disease that threatens watermelon yields and quality in several states.

Recently, two races of powdery mildew have been reported on watermelon, and they appear to be geographically separate. Existing watermelon lines, which were thought resistant, were found to be susceptible. But ARS researchers and colleagues discovered the first documented resistance to race 1 powdery mildew in an ARS germplasm collection.

The scientists first analyzed existing lines from the ARS Southern Regional Plant Introduction Station in Griffin, Ga., for resistance to race 1 using field and growth chamber studies. They developed the new watermelon line, PI 525088-PMR, by repeatedly selecting the most resistant plants from the line PI 525088 (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus).

According to Angela R. Davis, geneticist at the ARS South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Lane, Okla., watermelon has historically been resistant to powdery mildew, but the disease has become widespread during the past few years. A significant problem in Europe and Africa for about a decade, powdery mildew has emerged as a severe problem in some areas of the United States.

Powdery mildew appears as a dusty white or gray coating over leaf surfaces or other plant parts, and can be difficult to control.

Davis conducted the research with Amnon Levi, an ARS geneticist with the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C.; Todd C. Wehner of North Carolina State University in Raleigh; and Michael Pitrat of France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research.

The new watermelon line may be useful for introducing resistance to race 1 powdery mildew (caused by the fungus Podosphaera xanthii, previously known as Sphaerotheca fulginea auct. p.p.) into commercial watermelon cultivars. Ultimately, it may also reduce the amount of fungicide needed to control the disease.

Jim Core, jcore@ars.usda.gov
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.

Source: SeedQuest.com
23 February 2006

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1.18  Breeding winter wheat tolerant to aluminium toxicity

Andrzej Anio

The biochemical mechanisms of Al and tolerances are not known. Various physiological aspects associated with tolerance to Al observed in plants subjected to A1 stress were reviewed (,ROUT ET ALL 2001,MATSUMOTO 2000).There are many possible mechanisms of metal avoidance or internal tolerance, but our knowledge of these mechanisms are far from complete, and it would be unjustified at this moment to base the selection on any simple biochemical parameter (GRAHAM 1988).

Because of lack of sufficient knowledge about the mechanism of metal tolerance in plants, selection for tolerance is based on bioassays, in which an overall effect of A1 is assessed: retardation of root growth by A1. These tests performed either in soil or in nutrient solution are effective in selection of more tolerant cultivars and allow studies on the inheritance of A1 tolerance. Elucidation of the biochemical mechanism of tolerance is necessary to identify and isolate tolerance genes in order to manipulate them using modern methods of plant engineering.

The most obvious medium for screening plants for tolerance to acid soil is a particular soil itself. However, using acid soil, either in field or pot experiments, has several limitations. First, soil diversity makes design of experiments technically difficult; it is virtually impossible to find identical batches of soil for successive experiments. Second, resistance to soil acidity is a complex character; it might involve A1 tolerance, Mn tolerance, or resistance to calcium or phosphorus deficiency, just to mention a few important factors. The constraints might be of little importance for a breeder who selects cultivars adapted to a particular soil but are very serious for a geneticist or physiologist trying to elucidate genetic control or physiological mechanisms of tolerance to different factors affecting plant growth in acidic soils.

Nutrient solutions are usually more accurate systems than field trials for studies on resistance or mechanisms to toxic factors.

Below I present a simple, cheap screening test used in our  winter wheat breeding program directed at development of Al-tolerant cultivars.

Nutrient solution aluminium-pulse screening test

The test used in our experiments is based on the assumption that inhibition of plant growth by A1 is not observed before root systems develop. Since inhibition of root elongation is the first visible symptom of A1 injury, direct reference to this process in selection seems to be a reasonable approach.

The pulse test is based on exposure of roots to short A1 shock after which the effect on root elongation is recorded. In the method used in our laboratory, the A1 pulse principle of MOORE ET AL.1976  was combined with the staining technique developed by POLLE ET ALL 1978. Seeds were sterilized with 0.1%Hg2 Cl2  aqueous solution for 10 min., rinsed thoroughly with water, and germinated overnight on filter paper in Petri dishes. Sprouted seeds were sown the next day on polyethylene net fixed in lucite frames. Styrofoam blocks were attached to the frames with rubber bands and floated on the surface of a vigorously aerated nutrient solution. Containers with nutrient solution were placed in water bath at 25oC under continuous light (12 w/m). Nutrient solution of the following composition was used: 0.4 mom calcium chloride, 0.65 mom potassium nitrate, 0.25 mom magnesium chloride, 0.01 mom ammonium sulfate and 0.04 mom ammonium nitrate. Four day-o1d seedlings were transferred to the same nutrient medium supplied with Al, in the form of aluminium chloride, at concentration indicated in the experiments. After 24 hours of incubation in the medium containing A1, seedlings were thoroughly washed for 2-3 min. in running water and transferred to nutrient solution without A1 for 48 h. Seedlings were removed from nutrient solution, again washed with tap water, and stained with 0.1 % aqueous solution of Eriochrome cyanine R for 10 min. The excess dye was washed after staining with tap water. The root regrowth after A1 shock (or additional root growth) was easily assessed. Seedlings with apical meristems, damaged by a given A1 pulse, had intensively stained root tips while those not damaged by A1 had a stained section of root followed by white root tip which developed after A1 shock. The dye is nontoxic to roots at the concentration used and at the time stain was applied. During all stages of growth, and particularly during A1 treatment, nutrient solution was maintained at pH 4.5, adjusted with 0.1 M HCl. At the ratio of approximately 20 ml of nutrient solution per seedling, changes of pH of the medium were minimal during 24 h of A1 treatment. Seedlings after the test were still viable and could be transplanted for seed increase. Aluminium concentration in nutrient solution causing irreversible damage to root apical meristem during pulse treatment is a measure of tolerance of tested genotype.

The described test was used for screening parental cultivars and hybrid populations. The results correspond very well with cultivars of known A1 resistance. Selected seedlings were transplanted to the field for seed increase or further crossing. The test gives reproducible results provided that proper conditions (temperature, pH, A1 concentration, time of exposure to Al) are controlled.

This test was used successfully in our program directed at development of winter wheat strains with introduced Al-tolerance from Brazilian, extensive spring cultivar BH 1146. We can now offer to the wheat breeders a set of strains with agronomic characters at the level of top cultivars on the list and Al-tolerance similar to BH 1146.

Several major genes control Al tolerance in hexaploid wheat and the character is dominant and heritable, therefore, selection for A1 tolerance in wheat would be effective.

The described screening test do not allow  the discrimination between Al-tolerant  homozygotes and heterozygotes. Moreover, Al-tolerance in hexaploid wheat is a genetically complex character and sensitive segregants were observed in many generations after cross. This obstacle was  solved by development of DH lines in F/F4   generations.

References

1.Graham R D
1988 Genotypic differences in tolerance to manganese deficiency. In: Manganese in Soils and Plants. Eds. R D Graham, R J Hannam and N C Uren. pp 261-276. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands
2.Matsumoto, H.2000: Cell biology of aluminum toxicity and tolerance in higher plants. Int. Rev. Cytol. 1-46.
3.Moore D P, Kronstad W E and Metzger R J 1976. Screening wheat for aluminum tolerance. Plant Adaptation to Mineral Stress in Problem Soils. Ed. M J Wright. Cornell Univ Agric. Exp. Sta.,Ithaca,NY.
4.Polle E, Konzak A F and Kittric J A 1978 Visual detection of aluminum tolerance levels in wheat by hematoxillin staining of seedling roots. Crop Sci. 18, 823-827.
5.Rout G.R., S. Samantaray, and P. Das. 2001: Aluminum toxicity in plants: a review. Agronomie 21,3-21

Submitted by Andrzej Anio
Plant Breeding and Acclimatization Institute, Radzikow
05-850 Blonie, Poland

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1.19  Research finds hormones that ripen grapes

Based on their ripening patterns and physiological differences, fruits can be categorized as climacteric or non-climacteric. The first class encompasses fruits which have a well-characterized peak of the hormone ethylene during the onset of ripening, and includes fruits such as tomatoes, apples, and bananas. The second class, on the other hand, includes species such as citrus, strawberries, grapes, and other fruits whose ripening processes are not well understood.

The ripening process is important to food supply, nutrition, and health, and controlling it may allow fruits to be transported without worry that they will be bruised or damaged. How this process occurs in grape is explored in "Grapes on Steroids. Brassinosteroids Are Involved in Grape Berry Ripening," an article by Gregory M. Symons, of the University of Tasmania, and colleagues. Their work is published in the latest issue of Plant Physiology.

By isolating the genes coding for steroidal hormones known as brassinosteroids (BRs), and the receptors for their gene products, researchers confirmed that the grape brassinosteroid-6-oxidase gene is involved in the grape ripening process. They also found that applying BRs to grape berries (cv. Cabernet Sauvignon) significantly promoted ripening, while brassinazole, an inhibitor of BR biosynthesis, significantly delayed fruit ripening.

Previous research has shown that BRs are essential for normal plant growth and development, but they have not hitherto been found to be involved in ripening. The new findings can aid scientists in their work on improving grapes, and can likewise allow researchers a deeper understanding of how ripening can be controlled in other important non-climacteric fruits.

Subscribers to Plant Physiology can read the article at http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/full/140/1/150. Other readers may take a look at the abstract at http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/abstract/140/1/150.

From CropBiotech Update 27 January 2006
Submitted by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.20  New model designed to study soybean

In "A Gene-Based Model to Simulate Soybean Development and Yield Responses to Environment," C. D. Messina and colleagues of the University of Florida develop and test a procedure meant to predict how well soybean can grow in certain environments, and with specific genetic loci. Their work appears in the latest issue of Crop Science.

An existent model called CROPGRO-Soybean predicts yields for soybean based on the crop's surrounding environment. In this research paper, scientists combined the model with genetic data. First, a field experiment was carried out to obtain phenotypic data for a set of near-isogenic lines with known genotypes at six loci; these data were then used to estimate cultivar-specific parameters for their model; and, finally, the same parameters were expressed as linear functions of the known gene loci.

Researchers combined their gene data with CROPGRO-Soybean, and were able to more accurately predict the time to maturity and yield levels of a separate field of soybeans. Their results suggest that gene-based approaches can be used to effectively assess cultivar performance, and should thus be utilized in plant breeding.

 Subscribers to Crop Science can read the complete article at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/content/full/46/1/456. Other readers can take a look at the abstract at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/46/1/456.

From CropBiotech Update 3 February 2006

Submitted by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.21  Scientists create disease-resistant tomato

Vietnamese scientists from the country's Southern Agriculture Science and Technique Institute have created a new disease-resistant tomato plant which can grow during the rainy season and withstand invasion by the lethal bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum.

The project, which won first prize at the 8th National Technology Initiative Competition, was conducted by a research group headed by Dr. Ngo Quang Vinh. The new tomato was created by grafting the NT386 tomato variety onto a conventional tomato plant.

More news available at http://www.vnanet.vn/default.asp?LANGUAGE_ID=2. For more information on this article, e-mail Le Hien of the Vietnam Biotechnology Information Center at hienbiotechvn@pmail.vnn.vn.

From CropBiotech Update 17 February 2006

Submitted by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.22  Feeding the 600 million: the next step for genomics?

The genetic code of cassava – one of Africa's staple crops – should be sequenced next, say Raven and colleagues

The recent successful sequencing of the genetic code of rice will underpin research on the crop for decades. This promises to bring huge benefits for farmers and consumers, but where should the science go next?

In this letter to Science, Peter Raven and colleagues say sequencing should now focus on the crops vital to poor farmers.

They point out that in 2050, some 90 per cent of the world population will live in developing countries and rely largely on agriculture ­ making such crops central to food security, poverty reduction, health, social stability and economic growth.

Cassava, they say, is an ideal choice. Grown throughout tropical Africa, Asia and the Americas, the crop feeds some 600 million people a day. Yet average yields attain barely a tenth of their potential ­ a concern of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Global Cassava Partnership, which says it should be the next species to have its genetic code sequenced.

Doing so would not only boost breeding technologies, but also bring the crop into the mainstream of plant science research. This is, say Raven and colleagues, the time to apply genomics to the needs of the global majority.
Link to article in Science

Source: SciDev.net
30 January 2006

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1.23  A high-throughput screen for genes from castor that boost hydroxy fatty acid accumulation in seed oils of transgenic Arabidopsis

by Chaofu Lu, Martin Fulda, James G. Wallis and John Browse

SUMMARY
It is desirable to produce high homogeneity of novel fatty acids in oilseeds through genetic engineering to meet the increasing demands of the oleo-chemical industry. However, expression of key enzymes for biosynthesis of industrial fatty acids usually results in low levels of desired fatty acids in transgenic oilseeds. The abundance of derivatized fatty acids in their natural species suggests that additional genes are needed for high production in transgenic plants. We used the model oilseed plant Arabidopsis thaliana expressing a castor fatty acid hydroxylase (FAH12) to identify genes that can boost hydroxy fatty acid accumulation in transgenic seeds. Here we describe a high-throughput approach that, in principle, can allow testing of the entire transcriptome of developing castor seed endosperm by shotgun transforming a full-length cDNA library into an FAH12-expressing Arabidopsis line. The resulting transgenic seeds were screened by high-throughput gas chromatography. We obtained several lines transformed with castor cDNAs that contained increased amounts of hydroxy fatty acids in transgenic Arabidopsis. These cDNAs were then isolated by PCR and retransformed into the FAH12-expressing line, thus confirming their beneficial contributions to hydroxy fatty acid accumulation in transgenic Arabidopsis seeds. Although we describe an approach that is targeted to oilseed engineering, the methods we developed can be applied in many areas of plant biotechnology and functional genomic research.

Source: CropBiotech Update: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-313X.2005.02636.x

Novel approach to fatten up castor beans
A team of researchers of the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, U.S. describe a high throughput approach designed to identify genes important for oil yield in castor bean. Their article: “A high-throughput screen for genes from castor that boost hydroxy fatty acid accumulation in seed oils of transgenic Arabidopsis” is published in the latest issue of the Plant Journal.
The over-expression of known enzymes in the biosynthetic pathway of fatty acids in castor beans has not been a successful approach to develop biotech castor beans with increased oil content, suggesting that additional genes to the ones engineered are required. To identify novel genes, the authors used the model species Arabidopsis thaliana and generated an Arabidopsis line over-expressing the castor fatty acid hydroxylase FAH12 gene. They subsequently introduced into this line the entire set of cDNAs expressed in the castor seed endosperm (the nutritive tissue surrounding the embryo within seeds) by biolistic transformation. The resulting transgenic seeds were screened to isolate lines with increased oil yields. The cDNAs responsible were then identified by PCR, and retransformed into castor seeds to confirm their contribution. Although this approach was designed for oilseed engineering, it can be applied to many areas of plant biotechnology.
To view the abstract of the article “A high-throughput screen for genes from castor that boost hydroxy fatty acid accumulation in seed oils of transgenic Arabidopsis” visit:
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-313X.2005.02636.x

The Plant Journal / CropBiotech Update
Volume 45 Page 847  - March 2006

Source: SeedQuest.com
February 2006

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1.24  New clues in the plant mating mystery: Missouri University researchers discover molecular details for maintenance of genetic fitness

Columbia, Missouri
New data suggest that molecular communication between the plant sexes--specifically the pollen of males and pistils of females--is more complicated than originally thought. Plants, like animals, avoid inbreeding to maximize genetic diversity and the associated chances for survival. For decades, scientists have sought to fully understand the plant's molecular system for recognizing and rejecting "self" so that inbreeding does not occur.

Now, Bruce McClure at the University of Missouri-Columbia (UMC), together with his colleagues, report in the Feb. 16 issue of the journal Nature that plant "self" recognition systems involve multiple players and lots of male-female "conversation," at least at the molecular level.

For successful reproductions to occur in plants, the pollen must make its way to the plant's female parts. That is, it germinates and grows within the pistil in order to reach the ovule. In one system plants use to prevent inbreeding, the pistil literally poisons the pollen en route to the ovule using a toxin known as S-RNase. Until now, the specifics of this self-incompatibility system perplexed scientists.

McClure and his colleagues showed that after the pistil injects S-RNase into the pollen, the toxin is whisked away to a holding compartment where it can do no harm until the "self" or "non-self" decision is made. McClure's work also suggests that at least three other proteins may be involved in this decision-making process.

McClure said, "What's really new here is the finding that pollen protects itself from the toxin in a different way than we previously thought, and we're starting to understand how these other proteins work together with S-RNase." McClure's group is now determining the molecular information responsible for the sequestering and release of S-RNase.

McClure also engages UMC freshman biochemistry laboratories in studying this plant self-recognition system to learn and perform advanced molecular biology. "It's a great system for helping students see how we connect genetics and biochemistry and use them to build an understanding of how living things work," said McClure.

McClure first showed that RNases were involved in controlling plant mating some 17 years ago. In 1994, he and Teh-hui Kao at Pennsylvania State University, both supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), independently determined the toxin's function. Recently, Kao's lab made another key advance by showing that a pollen protein called SLF helps pollen recognize S-RNase.

Susan Lolle, the NSF program manager for McClure's current research said, "This latest development in the pollen-pistil story is not only significant in its own right as we strive to understand the intricacies of plant breeding--it's also a great example of how stepwise advances in fundamental knowledge lead to our greater understanding of a complex system."

Missouri University investigators' discovery sheds light on how plants control mating

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia
By: Melody Kroll
Like animals, most plants avoid mating with close relatives. But, how plants decide who is a relative has been a mystery to science. New research from Missouri University investigators suggests that this decision-making process is more intricate than previously considered.

In plants, some of the important mating choices are made through an intimate "conversation" between the pollen (the male) and the pistil (the female part of a flower). The conversation is carried on with molecules instead of words. One molecular-level conversation scientists have been eavesdropping on for a long time is the one a plant may have with itself to avoid self-mating, or inbreeding. How this conversation occurs is now turning out to be quite complex.

"We've known that there is a molecular conversation going on between S-RNase, a protein on the pistil side, and SLF, a protein on the pollen side, and that the result of this conversation is a decision about whether or not the pollen will be allowed to fertilize the plant.in other words, who to mate with and who to reject," said Bruce McClure, Associate Director of the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center and the lead investigator for the research. "We used to think these two proteins interacted pretty directly."

In this week's Nature, McClure and fellow MU investigators show that S-RNase is taken up into a compartment inside a growing pollen tube.

"That S-RNase is sequestered in a compartment ­ away from the SLF protein ­ really changes how we think about this interaction," continued McClure. "It means the conversation is a lot more intricate and two-sided than we had thought."

McClure, who received funding for the research from both the National Science Foundation and the MU-Monsanto Plant Biology Program, said the finding is important for a basic understanding of plant biology, but may also offer insight into other issues, like the spread of transgenes from genetically modified crops to wild relatives.

In studies in 1989 and 1990 (also in Nature), McClure showed that S-RNase causes rejection of pollen from close relatives by acting as a cytotoxin (toxic substance) inside the cytoplasm of the growing pollen tube. What scientists know now is that pollen keeps S-RNase safely stored in a bag-like compartment where it cannot cause damage unless it is released. The molecular conversation between S-RNase and SLF controls this release. With this new finding, scientists now envision the pollen-pistil conversation as involving a whole new set of interactions.

"It's as much where the molecules are as what they are," McClure said. "We used to think that the important molecular decision made between mating partners was whether or not to degrade S-RNase. We now know the important decision is whether or not to release the S-RNase from this compartment. This takes us in a whole new direction of research."

For their studies, the MU team used Nicotiana alata, a relative of tobacco commonly grown in home gardens as "flowering tobacco." The advanced microscope facilities in the Molecular Cytology Core at the Bond Life Sciences Center were critical for discovering the S-RNase compartment.

"The combination of a great team and great facilities made this possible," said McClure. "We had team members from Argentina, Japan, India, Mexico, and the United States. It's an incredible collaborative effort."

Among the team members are an MU graduate student in the Division of Biological Sciences, Christopher Lee, and three MU investigators, Katsuhiko Kondo, Mayandi Sivaguru, and Thomas E. Phillips. Nathan Hancock, an MU alumnus, also participated in the research, as did Ariel Goldraij, from the National University of Cordoba, Argentina, and Sonia Vasquez-Santana and Felipe Cruz-Garcia, from the National University of Mexico.

Source: National Science Foundation via SeedQuest.com
16 February 2006

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1.25  CIMMYT develops herbicide resistant maize hybrids

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), in collaboration with public and private partners, has developed and tested 26 Imidazolinone-resistant (IR) 3-Way maize hybrids, across 18 sites in several sub-Saharan African countries. These hybrids are available to National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) and seed companies in eastern and southern Africa companies for inclusion into trials to decide on variety registration, release, and eventual commercialization in various sub-Saharan African countries.

Imidazolinone-resistance (IR) is a natural form of herbicide resistance originally discovered in mutation-derived populations. Imidazolinone herbicides possess high biological potency at low application rates, and thus are an attractive alternative for weed control. The seed of IR-hybrids coated with Imidazolinone offers an effective protection against Striga, a flowering parasitic plant with devastating effects on crop production in sub-Saharan Africa. In trials, IR-hybrids show a 50% increase in yield and provide close to 100% Striga control. Without Imidazolinone seed treatment, the same hybrids can be commercialized in non-Striga affected areas.

For more information write to Ms. Ebby Irungu (e.irungu@cgiar.org) or visit: http://www.africancrops.net/striga/CIMMYT-IR-Maize-Hybrids.pdf

Source: SeedQuest.com
24 February 2006

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1.26  Association mapping: a bridge between QTL analysis and marker-assisted selection.

The plant science literature is rich in QTL analysis results, but examples of actual application in plant breeding are still scant. One of the main reasons is that a significant marker, to be useful for selection in a population other than the one used for its detection, must be very closely linked to the gene of interest. However, due to the excessively high linkage disequilibrium normally present in mapping populations, fine mapping of QTL requires very large populations. Breeders cannot afford to evaluate each of the genes of interest in such depth. Another limitation of QTL studies is that they normally compare only two alleles, while many more may exist in the breeding pool.

A solution for this conundrum is to detect the association between marker and gene directly in the germplasm used in the breeding program. Under this situation, even a loose association can be used to accelerate genetic gains for quantitative traits through marker-assisted selection. Until recently, though, no methodology was in place to achieve this goal.

Two recent papers from Breseghello & Sorrells demonstrate theoretically and practically how plant breeders can use association analysis to convert QTL information into selectable SSR markers that are useful in the breeding program. One paper, in press in Crop Science (Association analysis as a strategy for improvement of quantitative traits in plants), put marker-trait associations as a simple matter of conditional probabilities and expectations. This way of looking at genetic associations is intuitive in the breeding context, and reveals promises and pitfalls of this approach. In this paper, the authors illustrate the appropriate application of association mapping to germplasm core collections synthetic outcrossing populations, and elite varieties. Synthetics were found to be the material of choice for implementation of MAS through association.

The other paper, to be published in the next issue of Genetics (Association mapping of kernel size and milling quality in wheat (triticum aestivum L.) cultivars, preprint available at www.genetics.org/cgi/rapidpdf/genetics.105.044586v1.pdf), is a practical application of association analysis for kernel size and milling quality in wheat. Starting from QTL mapped in small mapping populations, the authors used association analysis to confirm the presence of the QTL in a panel of cultivars, and evaluated the effects associated with different marker alleles. 

The work described in the two papers was planned and executed from the perspective of the plant breeder. The results showed that association mapping is a promising technique, and that it is within the reach of breeding programs with reasonable genotyping capacity. Using association analysis, the wealth of QTL results in the literature may finally become a powerful tool in the hands of plant breeders.

Submitted by Flávio Breseghello
Embrapa Arroz e Feijão (Rice and Beans)
S. Antônio de Goiás, GO, Brasil
flavio@cnpaf.embrapa.br

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1.27  Maize molecule attracts pest enemies

Plants can protect themselves from herbivores through a process known as "indirect defense": they emit a complex mixture of plant volatiles to attract natural enemies of the herbivores. For instance, once attacked by lepidopteran larvae, maize releases a mixture that is highly attractive to females of various parasitic wasp species, natural enemies of the lepidopterans.

Christiane Schnee, of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, and colleagues unscramble the complex mixture and find that "The products of a single maize sesquiterpene synthase form a volatile defense signal that attracts natural enemies of maize herbivores." Their work is published in the latest issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By overexpressing tps10, the gene coding for terpene synthase in maize, in Arabidopsis, researchers were able to grow plants emitting high quantities of the gene product. These plants were then used as odor sources in olfactometer assays, where researchers found that females of the parasitoid Cotesia marginiventris used the odor to locate their lepidopteran hosts.

Terpene synthase is an enzyme which, when activated, allows plant cells to produce a number of volatiles. Research showed that introduction of the gene coding only for terpene synthase was enough to mediate the indirect defense of maize against herbivore attack - allowing scientists another option in designing suitable strategies for protecting agricultural crops against insect pests.

 Read the complete article at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/103/4/1129.

From CropBiotech Update 27 January 2006

Submitted by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.28  Major breakthrough in wheat genetics: chromosome glue identified

Wheat is one of the most important food crops in the world, and the domestication of this grass species is intimately linked to the rise of agricultural practices. Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is in fact a hexaploid, that is, it is composed of 6 sets of genomes (AABBDD) derived from 3 different species. Correct chromosome pairing and segregation during reproduction (meiosis) are essential for fertility and for ensuring genome stability. The Ph1 locus, residing on chromosome 5B, is responsible for this control, as chromosomes of lines carrying deletions of the Ph1 locus fail to pair properly.

So what is Ph1? A research team lead by Dr. Graham Moore in the John Innes Centre, in Norwich, UK, adopted an ambitious strategy to answer this question, and they report their major breakthrough in the latest issue of Nature. The authors found that the Ph1 locus is localized to a 2.5 Mb region containing a segment of heterochromatin inserted into a cluster of cdc2-related genes (shown previously to affect chromosome condensation). The cdc2 genes are therefore the best candidates for Ph1 function. The presence of this structure correlates with Ph1 function in related species, and can therefore be used to generate fertile cross species hybrids. "This will make it possible to cross wheat varieties with wild relatives which have features like drought tolerance or can grow in more saline conditions", said Dr Moore.

Lys Holdoway, of Oxfam's Make Poverty History campaign, said: "This has the potential to benefit so many people who are struggling to grow food in very difficult soils and climates."

To view the first paragraph of the article: "Molecular characterization of Ph1 as a major chromosome pairing locus in polyploid wheat" access: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v439/n7077/abs/nature04434.html. Written with information from: http://www.jic.ac.uk/corporate/media-and-public/grains.htm

From CropBiotech Update 17 February 2006

Submitted by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University

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1.29  Molecular detection tools for African maize breeders

El Batán, Mexico
A new DNA detection service provided by CIMMYT and KARI responds to African researchers’ calls for modern technology.

African maize breeders now have access to state-of-the-art biotechnology tools thanks to a service launched by CIMMYT and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). Housed within the laboratories at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) headquarters in Nairobi, under the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BECA) platform, the lab offers and trains researchers in the use of molecular marker techniques.

The molecular markers are DNA snippets that help researchers locate and select for genes associated with traits of interest, including resistance to pests and diseases, or tolerance to stresses like drought. With markers, breeders can cut the time and money needed to develop plant types that possess such useful traits. Until now, this capability had been unavailable to scientists in sub-Saharan Africa, outside of South Africa.

Led by CIMMYT biotechnologist Jedidah Danson and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the service now has its hands full of requests from breeders working with CIMMYT, national agricultural research systems, local seed companies, and universities. “They’ve learnt of the service entirely through word-of-mouth,” she says. “It’s especially attractive because current funding allows us to offer the service free, so more breeders are exposed to the technology.”

Breeders using the service are especially interested in finding ways to incorporate resistance to maize streak virus, a disease endemic in much of sub-Saharan Africa and in enhancing the nutritional quality of herbicide tolerant maize, originally developed as part of a package to control the parasitic witch weed.

“Marker assisted selection is an important tool for breeders in Africa. CIMMYT and KARI must be lauded for being the first in the region to provide the service to public sector researchers,” says Richard Edema, molecular breeder at Makerere University, Uganda. Edema is also coordinator of the African Molecular Marker Application Network, a consortium of about 100 biotechnologists and breeders from across sub-Saharan Africa.

Danson is building a database of markers for genes for resistance to important pests and diseases, including maize streak virus, gray leaf spot, the parasitic weed Striga, and northern corn leaf blight. She also helps train breeders in the effective use of markers. “Clearly, our partnership to support African breeders was long overdue,” she says.

Source: CIMMYT E-News, vol 3 no. 1
January 2006

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1.30  Fighting cancer with the help from plants

26 January 2006
By Ana Hrus, Checkbiotech

“How to create a better vaccine” - that is the question that occupies many researchers in the world. Although there is a multitude of vaccines produced in the 21st Century, it is impossible to use them on a world-wide scale due to their high cost and methods of application.

A research team from the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, has been working on developing an entirely new class of vaccines.
 
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=12112&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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1.31  Chloroplasts reloaded

24 January 2006
By Lukas Herwig, Checkbiotech

Researchers from the University of Nebraska found that adding human genes to tobacco plants increases their resilience.

For some time, scientists have been studying a phenomenon called program cell death (PCD), in which a cell is told to commit suicide. Extensive research about PCD has shown to be very beneficial for understanding cellular functions that directly influence human health. For instance, it is now known that faulty PCD is connected to important mammalian diseases such as cancer, AIDS and strokes.

One way of finding out more about PCD is to study the differences in plants and humans. Both plants and animals have similar forms of PCD, yet they also differ in certain ways. A notable difference lies with a group of PCD regulators called the Bcl-2 family of proteins in mammals. The Bcl-2 family members are divided into two groups: those that activate PCD and those that prevent PCD. So far, a similar group of proteins that perform similar functions in plants has not been found.
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=12094&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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1.32  'Steeling' silk from nature

11 January 2006
By Flora Mauch, Checkbiotech

Spider dragline silk exhibits extraordinary strength and toughness. A research team from DuPont is interested in producing large scale amounts of the silk at affordable costs.
Scientists have long envied the strength and elasticity of spider's silk. It exhibits a combination of strength and toughness unmatched by any other fiber so far.

While many insects secrete silks of varying quality, the dragline silk spidrion 1 of the golden orb-weaving spider, Nephila clavipes, has attracted the most scientific attention. Researchers marvel its high tensile strength.

Recently, two research teams headed by Dr. Jianjun Yang at DuPont's Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware succeeded in producing a protein with the same features as the natural protein spodrion 1 through genetic engineering. To achieve this, they provided plant cells (from tobacco, potato or soy) with a special piece of DNA, which contains the recipe for spidrion 1. In this way, genetically modified plant cells become a factory for spodrion 1. At a later time point, spidrion 1 can be extracted from the plant cells and used to spin the strong silk.

http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=11999&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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1.33  Animal gene renders tobacco resistant to parasitic weed

15 December 2005
By Katharina Schoebi, Checkbiotech

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 demand.
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=11865&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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1.34  Hepatitis B vaccination by eating a banana?

7 December 2005
By Daniela Jenni, Checkbiot

How about eating a ripe appetizing banana fruit and getting rid of all your worries about catching hepatitis B at the same time? A scientist’s dream, or just a step away from reality?

Over 20 million people become infected with Hepatitis B every year. Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver, and can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death. Most of the infections occur in the developing world.

Fortunately there are vaccines available against Hepatitis B. However, at present such are gained from microbes, and are expensive to produce. This restricts their availability in those countries where they are needed most.

Right now, researchers are busy working out other solutions, such as producing a vaccine against Hepatitis B in plants. There is for example a team from India which succeeded in producing a Hepatitis B antigen in bananas. The antigen can then be used to make a vaccine against Hepatitis B.

Bananas are an ideal host since most of the edible bananas do not set seeds and fruits develop parthenocarpically, which means directly from the maternal tissue of the flower. This prevents the imported gene from being transferred to other vegetation.
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=11803&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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1.35  When cells dispense

1 December 2005
By Flora Mauch, Checkbiotech

Imagine a machine whose most important component is a bunch of living cells. Nature and technology – what might seem like opposites to many of us, have actually been made to work hand in hand by researchers. Recently, a team in California developed a process utilizing a commercially available membrane bioreactor, in which rice cells produce substances that can be subsequently used as health care products.

There are several methods that use genetic engineering to encourage cells to produce a desired substance. In such cases, cells are provided with a special piece of DNA, which contains the recipe for the desired substance. Under ideal circumstances, the cell starts to read off the DNA and to produce the product.

In order to maximize yields and facilitate harvesting the product, a research team headed by Dr. Karen A. McDonald, at the University of California Davis, developed a process which utilizes a special type of bioreactor. A bioreactor is a container in which special cells or microorganisms are cultivated in ideal conditions to gain their metabolites.
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=11768&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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1.36  Diet apples for diet freaks

20 February 2006
Translated by Mark Hutcko, CheckBiotech

US researchers have developed a transgenic apple tree which bears fruits sweetened with sorbitol.

US researchers have developed a technique which reduces the calories in an apple by about one half. With the help of genetic engineering, they changed the metabolism of apple trees, so they would store sorbitol instead of fructose in the fruit.

http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=12287&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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1.37  Spying in the fields

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Translated by Mark Hucko, Checkbiotech

Using genetic engineering, researchers at the Max Planck Institute have started to decipher the chemical vocabulary of inter-plant communication.
As an answer to an insect attack, plants release volatile scents. Scientists at the Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany have been investigating chemical-scent exchange between neighboring plants.

Preliminary laboratory research hinted at the first evidence, however these lab results did not necessarily reflect field conditions. Thus, the Max-Planck researchers have investigated (with field trials as well) the defense reaction of the wild tobacco plant (Nicotiana attenuate) to an insect pest attack, after it had received scent-signals from a neighboring and wounded plant - the Great Basin Sage Brush (Artemisia tridentata).
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=12256&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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1.38  Transgenic tobacco with built-in tick-protection

30 January 2006
Translated by Mark Hucko, Checkbiotech

Tobacco plants can now produce vaccine against Lyme disease - a tick-borne disease from the bacterium Borreliosis. Dr. Heribert Warzecha, from the University of Wuerzburg, Germany, describes how his group was able to accomplish this feat in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology.

Scientists have already several times tried to generate plant-made vaccines with the aid of genetic engineering. Generally it works since many vaccines are protein-based, whose building code can be inserted into the plant hereditary material as DNA. However, until now, enhanced plants have produced only minute amounts of the desired substances.

In an innovative approach, Dr. Warzecha and his team built in the additional hereditary information in the tobacco plant’s chloroplasts - not in the cellular nucleus. Chloroplasts are small cellular organelles with their own hereditary material, which help the plants to produce energy from sunlight. The advantage: in one cell there are around one hundred chloroplasts in comparison to only one nucleus. Thus, plants with transgenic chloroplasts are more effective vaccine producers, in that the yield of a target protein is much higher than those that target the nucleus.
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=12140&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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1.39  Researchers investigate Valencia orange juice quality

21 December 2005
By CheckBiotech

The Valencia orange is the main citrus species used in processed orange juice products. However, the enzyme pectin methylesterase (PME) adversely affects juice quality in that a separation of juice and pulp may occur.
The problem that companies have is that despite high temperature pasteurization, PME retains residual activity, where many enzymes would be inactivated.

In the May issue of Plant Cell Reports, Guo et al. report on “Protoplast transformation and regeneration of transgenic Valencia sweet orange plants containing a juice quality-related pectin methylesterase gene.” They were able to successfully produce genetically modified Valencia varieties that overexpressed or underexpressed thermostable PME (TSPME).
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=11907&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Submitted by Robert.Derham@unibas.ch
Editor, Checkbiotech

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2  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  Unsung hero: the man who fed the world

From the day he was born in 1914, Norman Borlaug has been an enigma.  How could a child of the Iowa prairie, who attended a one-teacher, one-room school; who flunked the university entrance exam; and whose highest ambition was to be a high school science teacher and athletic coach, ultimately achieve the distinction as one of the one hundred most influential persons of the twentieth century? And receive the Nobel Peace Prize for averting hunger and famine? And eventually be hailed as the man who saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation--more than any other person in history?

What is it that made Norman Borlaug different? What drove him?  What can we--especially our youth--learn from his life?

Those questions are answered in Leon Hesser’s authorized biography, The Man Who Fed the World:  Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger (Durban House Publishing, September 2006, hardcover, $24.95)

In the book’s foreword, Dr. Borlaug's good friend and fellow Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter wrote, "Since 1986, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Norman Borlaug in sub-Saharan Africa where, in spite of AIDS, endemic malaria and other maladies, populations are increasing faster than food supplies.  I have witnessed first-hand the reverence that thousands upon thousands of Africans have for Dr. Borlaug’s untiring efforts to relieve their hunger. … I commend Leon Hesser for making more people aware of the remarkable life and achievements of this American hero."

In addition to an earned Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Borlaug has been awarded more than fifty honorary doctorates from institutions in eighteen countries.  At age 91, Borlaug made three trips during 2005 to Africa and one each to India and Argentina in his continuing efforts to relieve hunger.  During each fall semester, he serves as Distinguished Professor of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University.

To request a copy of The Man Who Fed the World or to schedule an interview with Leon Hesser, please contact Diana Oleskow, publicist, at (239-293-1585) or dianabob2.at.comcast.net

Source: AgBioView
10 February 2006

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3.  WEB RESOURCES

3.01  Literature base on genetically modified crop plants

Berlin, Germany
February 17, 2006

Source: http://www.akademienunion.de/publikationen/literatursammlung_gentechnik/english.html

The Commission “Green Biotechnology” of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities, in the framework of the IAP-GMO-Initiative, has collected about 240 publications on various aspects of genetically modified crop plants in a literature base.

This collection, which does not claim to be complete, contains beside many recent original publications a number of extensive reviews produced by organisations such as the Royal Society, the International Council for Science, the US National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the Nuffield Council of Bioethics, as well as introductions to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety by the World Conservation Union and the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Global Reviews of Commercialized Transgenic Crops published by the International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) give a detailed summary of global applications of Green Biotechnology in Agriculture.

One focus of this collection is on reports about the application of Green Biotechnology in developing countries.

Technical Note:
This database requires Microsoft Access 2000 or higher. Please download the file "database.exe" below. Opening the file will automatically extract the required documents to a chosen directory. You start your research by clicking on "database mdb". For instruction of use please consult the file "readme.pdf".

Download from the website of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities:
Literature base on genetically modified crop plants (EXE-archive, 72 MB)

Source: SeedQuest com
17 February 2006

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3.02  Free access to a digital library for developing countries

Springer participates in the initiative Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE):

As of 2006 more than 130 environmental journals from the scientific publisher Springer will be part of the initiative Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE), a digital library for developing countries. Public and non-profit institutions in underdeveloped nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe will have free access to the peer-reviewed scientific literature of Springer and other leading international publishing houses.

Springer’s Environmental Online Library covers a range of publications in topics spanning the un-charted depths of the oceans to the outer reaches of our atmosphere. Springer, one of the founding publishers of OARE, has also made available works on environmental policy – identifying how human behavior can be modified in the future to help minimize problems such as ground water con-tamination and the depletion of the ozone layer.

“Helping to improve access to environment, health and nutrition information in developing countries is a matter of course for us.  We already participate enthusiastically in projects such as AGORA and HINARI. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in setting up OARE, which will un-doubtedly be yet another worthwhile effort,” said Derk Haank, CEO of Springer Science+Business Media. The Springer environmental collection features journals such as Oecologia, Marine Biology, Climatic Change, Ecosystems, Environmental Geology and Water, Air, & Soil Pollution.

OARE will enable countries to build their own higher education programs in the environmental sciences, educate their own leaders, conduct their own research, publish their own scientific findings and disseminate information to policy makers and the public. Literature in environmental chemistry, economics, law and policy, and other environmental subjects such as botany, conservation biology, ecology and zoology will be available through a portal presented in several world languages, in-cluding Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

The project developing OARE is a partnership between Yale University, the United Nations Envi-ronment Programme, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, Cornell University, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), and leading scientific publishers around the world.

Springer Science+Business Media is one of the world’s leading suppliers of scientific and specialist literature. It is the second-largest publishing group in the science, technol-ogy, and medicine (STM) sector and the largest business-to-business publisher in the German-language area.  The group owns 70 publishing houses, together publishing a total of 1,450 journals and more than 5,000 new books a year. The group operates in over 20 countries in Europe, the USA, and Asia, and has some 5,000 employees. Springer is an active partner in many developing countries initiatives such as Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA), Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), Programme for the Enhancement of Re-search Information (PERI).

Contact: Renate Bayaz

Source: EurekAlert.org
24 February 2006

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6. 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 additional details.

NEW ANNOUNCEMENTS

*
29 April - 4 May 2007 I  International Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Conference on Culinary Herbs (organized by ISHS) will be held in Antalya (Turkey) on . Conference web page adress is http://www.mapc2007ant.org/index.htm.  Further info can be obtained from congress scientific secretary Assoc. Prof. Dr. A. Naci Onus, onus@akdeniz.edu.tr.

MAIN TOPICS OF THE CONFERENCE:
Cultivation and propagation
Molecular genetics and breeding
Essential oils
Culinary usage
- Fresh herbs
- Herbs and home gardens
- Ethnobotanical usage
Biodiversity and conservation
Biological activities
Analytical studies

Submitted by Prof. Dr. A. Naci Onus, onus@akdeniz.edu.tr.

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* 19-23 June 2006. Training course on biotech crop commercialization, Manila, The Philippines

Asia BioBusiness (http://www.asiabiobusiness.com/), in cooperation with National  Institute of Education, Singapore and ISAAA, are pleased to present a training course on ³Commercialization of Biotechnology Crops in Asia: Moving from ideas to useful products in farmers¹ fields.² The  course aims to provide a comprehensive, in-depth understanding of the principles, approach, regulatory requirements, information needs, awareness-building techniques, and stewardship requirements for commercializing a biotechnology seed product for widespread farmer adoption. The course will provide participants with opportunities to network with experts and to become knowledgeable about supporting resources in the region and  worldwide, which are relevant to the commercialization of agricultural biotechnology.

This is a 5-day, in-house, hands-on training and learning course, the first of which will take place on June 19-23, 2006, in Manila, Philippines. The all-inclusive course fee is US$2,500.00  per participant, and will cover material and six nights of accommodation (including five days of specially catered meals). Cost of travel to and from the course venue in Manila, Philippines is not included.

Full details and the pre-registration form to be emailed to <info@asiabiobusiness.com> are available at (http://www.asiabiobusiness.com/images/manilaCourse_final.pdf). Closing date for pre-registration is March 31, 2006. Registrants paying the registration fee by 31st April, 2006 will receive a discount of $150.

Submitted by Andrew D. Powell
Chief Executive Officer
Asia BioBusiness Pte. Ltd
Singapore
Email:- andrew.powell@asiabiobusiness.com

REPEAT ANNOUNCMENTS

* 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 personnel.

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

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

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

* 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 zaid@uaeu.ac.ae 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 n.maroya@coraf.org or n.maroya@cgiar.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.

A 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_10march.pdf or contact courses@icgeb.org for more information.

* 14 -17 March  2006 CIMMYT Fusarium head blight workshop on Global Fusarium Initiative for International Collaboration, CIMMYT Headquarters, El Batan, Mexico.

For more information and to confirm your participation, please contact me by email (t.ban@cgiar.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 profaperera@sltnet.lk for more information.

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

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

*  27 to 30 April 2006. Breeding for inducible resistance against pests and diseases, Heraklio, Crete, Greece.
For further information see: www.unine.ch/bota/iobc or contact either convenor: Annegret Schmitt (a.schmitt@bba.de) or Nick Birch (N.Birch@scri.sari.ac.uk)

* 15-19 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 courses@icgeb.org for more information.

* 28 to 30 June 2006. EUCARPIA Meeting on Rye Genetics and Breeding, Rostock, Germany.
 Further information about the meeting can be found at http://www.eucarpia.org.

* 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: peterlunger@uniud.it

* 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: intlplantbreeding@cgiar.org.

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

* 10-14 September 2006. First Symposium on Sunflower Industrial Uses. Udine University, Udine Province, Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, Italy.

  http://www.sunflowersymposium.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1
http://www.isa.cetiom.fr/1st%20ann%20Symposium%20Udine.htm
Sponsored 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: a.mercuri@istflori.it web: www.istflori.it

* 17-21 September 2006. Cucurbitaceae 2006, Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa in Asheville, North Carolina, USA (in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains).
Contact: Dr. Gerald Holmes, Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7616, 919-515-9779 (gerald_holmes@ncsu.edu)
Conference website: 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 become available.

*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
Sponsored by: Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops and Purdue www.aaic.org or www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop

* 9-12 November 2006. 7th Australasian Plant Virology Workshop. Rottnest Island, Perth, Western Australia.

For further information contact: Prof Mike Jones, Murdoch University, Perth m.jones@murdoch.edu.au

* 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 nagnassa@rudah.com.br or visit the meeting website at http://www.geneconserve.pro.br/meeting/.

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7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

Plant Breeding News is an electronic forum for the exchange of information and ideas about applied plant breeding and related fields. It is published every four to six weeks throughout the year.

The newsletter is managed by the editor and an advisory group consisting of Elcio Guimaraes (elcio.guimaraes@fao.org), Margaret Smith (mes25@cornell.edu), and Anne Marie Thro (athro@reeusda.gov). The editor will advise subscribers one to two weeks ahead of each edition, in order to set deadlines for contributions.

REVIEW PAST NEWSLETTERS ON THE WEB: Past issues of the Plant Breeding Newsletter are now available on the web. The address is: http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/FAOINFO/AGRICULT/AGP/AGPC/doc/services/pbn.html   Please note that you may have to copy and paste this address to your web browser, since the link can be corrupted in some e-mail applications. We will continue to improve the organization of archival issues of the newsletter. Readers who have suggestions about features they wish to see should contact the editor at chh23@cornell.edu.

Subscribers are encouraged to take an active part in making the newsletter a useful communications tool. Contributions may be in such areas as: technical communications on key plant breeding issues; announcements of meetings, courses and electronic conferences; book announcements and reviews; web sites of special relevance to plant breeding; announcements of funding opportunities; requests to other readers for information and collaboration; and feature articles or discussion issues brought by subscribers. Suggestions on format and content are always welcome by the editor, at pbn-l@mailserv.fao.org. We would especially like to see a broad participation from developing country programs and from those working on species outside the major food crops.

Messages with attached files are not distributed on PBN-L for two important reasons. The first is that computer viruses and worms can be distributed in this manner. The second reason is that attached files cause problems for some e-mail systems.

PLEASE NOTE: Every month many newsletters are returned because they are undeliverable, for any one of a number of reasons. We try to keep the mailing list up to date, and also to avoid deleting addresses that are only temporarily inaccessible. If you miss a newsletter, write to me at chh23@cornell.edu and I will re-send it.

To subscribe to PBN-L: Send an e-mail message to: mailserv@mailserv.fao.org. Leave the subject line blank and write SUBSCRIBE PBN-L (Important: use ALL CAPS). To unsubscribe: Send an e-mail message as above with the message UNSUBSCRIBE PBN-L. Lists of potential new subscribers are welcome. The editor will contact these persons; no one will be subscribed without their explicit permission.

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