PLANT BREEDING NEWS

EDITION 167

31 May 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  Young blood to bring new life to agricultural research
1.02  Few young Asians are choosing careers in rice science, despite its vital importance to the region
1.03  Orphan crops
1.04  GGE Biplot Workshop held at IITA
1.05  Public comment on the proposed deregulation of the transgenic plum resistant to plum pox virus
1.06  100 countries have ratified the international plant genetic resources treaty
1.07  FAO voices concern about decreasing wild banana species
1.08  CIP contributes native potatoes to potato park
1.09  Plant protection from cold decoded
1.10  Uncovering genetic diversity of rice varieties could improve nutritional value, productivity of world's greatest food source
1.11  No-mow grass may be coming to your yard soon
1.12  New method for screening cowpea germplasm for resistance to Cucumber mosaic virus
1.13  Silencing wheat and barley scab
1.14  14 Imminent threat of stem rust pandemic in wheat
1.15  15 Bioassay developed for wheat crown rot
1.16  Paper tracks cocoa bean boring, relation to insect resistance
1.17  African agriculture experts tackle biofortification
1.18  Allergen-free soybeans from Chinese soybean lines
1.19  Improved quinoa to help Andean farmers
1.20  Improving the availability of foundation (basic) seed of publicly developed varieties in Africa
1.21  Single gene is both friend and foe to rice
1.22  Complex genetic networks underlying the defensive system of rice (Oryza sativa L.) to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae
1.23  Super-sized cassava plants may help fight hunger in Africa
1.24  Not just weapons: nuclear science for development
1.25  Update 3-2006 of FAO-BiotechNews (57th edition)

2.  PUBLICATIONS
2.01  Hort Sci papers from the MSU plant breeding education symposium, Feb 2006
2.02  Publication of Brazilian crops’ wild relatives goes online

3.  WEB RESOURCES
3.01  Plant, grow and harvest virtual crops - Crop modeling program growing popular worldwide
3.02  Agricultural supercourse - a global repository of lectures


4  ERRATA: CORRECTIONS TO EDITION 166
4.01  Association among pollen grain features to maximise reproductive fitness: A study in Dianthus species
4.02  Selection of potato lines resistant to multiple pathogens

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  Young blood to bring new life to agricultural research

Rice research in Vietnam
Wagdy Sawahel

An association is being formed to bring fresh blood and an injection of new ideas into agricultural research and policymaking in developing countries.

The Young Professionals' Platform for Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) will be formally launched in November during the Global Forum on Agricultural Research in New Delhi, India.

The organisation is the brainchild of Balasubramanian Ramani, an Indian crop researcher based at the University of Hannover in Germany.

He says YPARD is needed to give prominence to the needs and views of young professionals active in development-related agricultural research.

Ramani and 25 colleagues from 16 nations met earlier this month in the Netherlands to develop the organisation's strategic plan for 2006-2008.

Under the plan, YPARD will encourage professionals under the age of 40 to share information and engage in policy debates on issues such as research priorities and genetic engineering.

The organisation also aims to promote farming and agricultural research as career options by creating links with secondary schools and universities.

Next month, it will create a website (www.ypard.org) to host online forums and databases of young professionals' contact details. It will also list training opportunities, funding, jobs, conferences and relevant organisations.

This month's meeting heard calls for YPARD to be proactive in creating opportunities for young people instead of waiting for the old guard of agricultural researchers to hand over.

YPARD has the backing of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation.

Despite this high-profile support, Ramani says there are challenges ahead for the organisation. "We still have work to do to convince those who are still sceptical about YPARD and its role in agricultural research for development," he told SciDev.Net.

Source: SciDev.Net
23 May 2006

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1.02  Few young Asians are choosing careers in rice science, despite its vital importance to the region

Los Baños, Philippines, and Bangkok, Thailand
The young people of Asia are being encouraged to consider a future in rice.

Whether it's rice farming or rice research, very few of Asia's best and brightest young people are interested in a career in an industry that has been a foundation of the Asian way of life for generations. Few rice farmers want their children to be rice farmers, and even fewer young Asians are choosing careers in rice science, despite its vital importance to the region.

However, an innovative project being launched this week in Thailand and the Philippines marks the start of a major new effort to encourage young Asians to consider a future in rice.

"It's a sad fact of life in modern Asia that many young people in the region don't think of rice as offering an exciting or promising career, so they focus on other industries and other careers," says Robert S. Zeigler, director general of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IRRI, together with the Thai Rice Foundation under Royal Patronage (TRF) and Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), is hosting ten Thai teenagers and nine young Filipinos for a week of activities designed to boost their interest in rice and science.

Dr. Zeigler says it's vital for Asia's future development that the rice industry attract the region's best and brightest young people. "Rice and agriculture are still fundamental to the economic development of most Asian nations, not to mention their cultural and social identities," he added.

Working together with the TRF and PhilRice, IRRI is hosting a five-day rice camp (24-28 April 2006) at its headquarters in Los Baños for the Thai and Filipino students who are aged 16–18. During the five days, the students – all of whom have been selected because of their interest in, or knowledge of, rice – will learn the very latest scientific techniques in rice research and, more specifically, be convinced of how rice research can provide a brighter future for rice in the region.

"We want them to understand that rice research is not some sleepy little scientific backwater, but is, in fact, right on the cutting edge of international scientific activity," Dr. Zeigler said. "The recent sequencing of the rice genome attracted enormous international attention, especially among the scientific community, yet most young Asians still don't know it even happened, let alone understand its implications for the food they eat each day."

During their five days at IRRI, the students, who will be accompanied by their teachers, will learn about new techniques such as DNA extraction and how to insert a gene into rice as well as more basic information such as how to prepare a field for rice transplanting. "We hope they will then return home with a new sense of excitement about rice and its potential both in science and in the future development of Asia," said Dr. Kwanchai Gomez, the TRF's executive director.

"Rice has played a vital role in Thailand's economic development, not to mention its history and culture," Dr. Gomez added. "The challenge is to try and translate this into a sense of excitement and interest amongst young people in Thailand and all over Asia."

Source: SeedQuest.com
5 May 2006

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1.03  Orphan crops

Importance, Neglect and Potential
During the Depression in the United States in the 1930s, it is said that some parents too poor to care for their children would put them on a freight train, wave good-bye and hope for the best. Maybe that’s what happened with yams.

Like the children placed on the trains, yams are orphans. So are millets, cassava, taro, tef and cowpea. In fact, there are dozens of orphan crops, crops that receive little, if any, care or attention relative to their value and importance.

There are more than 50,000 edible plants in the world. A few hundred make a significant contribution to food supplies, according to FAO. Some 150, historically, have entered into world commerce. And yet a sizeable portion of these – perhaps the majority of those FAO is referring to - and perhaps even a majority of those that have circulated in world trade - have never benefited from the efforts of a single scientifically-trained plant breeder.

Consider yams. Nearly 40 million metric tons were produced last year. Have trouble comprehending that quantity? It’s an amount that would fill about a million train cars – more than the railroad companies in North America own. But, don’t worry. That’s not where the demand is.

More than 95% of yams are grown in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily in Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Millions of people – primarily poor people - depend on yams as a staple crop. But how many people do yams depend on? About a half-dozen. There are about six yam breeders in the world, the greatest concentration at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria. Of course, yams actually benefit from the efforts of many, many people, not the least being farmers. But, you get the point – relative to the importance of the crop, formal investment in it is scandalously low. And food security for millions is therefore put at risk.

Bananas are another orphan crop. In weight terms, banana production is almost double that of yams. In terms of gross value of production, bananas and plantains are the developing world’s fourth most important crop after rice, wheat and maize. Millions of people – chiefly in Africa - depend on bananas as their primary staple crop. Per capita consumption in some places exceeds a kilo a day! Like yams, however, there are only a half-dozen banana breeders in the world. Major diseases threaten the crop. In the long run it is unlikely that the single variety that supports the entire industry exporting bananas from the tropics to Europe and North America can survive the onslaught. New, disease resistant varieties are desperately needed, which is one reason why existing banana collections, small in number, are so very important and vital to conserve.

Orphan crops are not minor or insignificant crops. Writing in the journal, Food Policy, Naylor, Falcon, et al, observe that they are “valued culturally, often adapted to harsh environments, nutritious, and diverse in terms of their genetic, agroclimatic, and economic niches.” Collectively, 27 “orphan” crops with a value of $100 billion are grown on 250 million hectares (618 million acres) in developing countries. Hardly trivial sums.

Despite their importance in the diets of millions of poor people, and their contribution to already fragile household and national economies, orphan crops receive relatively little scientific attention or private research investment. They are simply too difficult, time-consuming and expensive to breed for a target market of poor farmers.

Similar reasons conspire against assembling and maintaining collections of the diversity of orphan crops, making the task of the few breeders that work with them that much more difficult and precarious. Donor funding for maintaining the diversity of yams or the diversity of tef, the most important cereal crop in Ethiopia, rises, falls and sometimes just disappears according to fashion and whim, leaving collections imperiled or worse.

A few breeders working with secure and well-managed, well-documented crop diversity collections can accomplish a great deal. Burdening the same breeders with vulnerable, resource-starved collections of breeding stock is a recipe for failure, and a disaster for the future of many of these crops and the people they sustain.

Modest Investment - Big Returns
The importance of orphan crops in reaching the Millennium Development Goals is out of all proportion to the low levels of investment which they receive. By guaranteeing funding for the conservation and availability of these crops, the Global Crop Diversity Trust will ensure that collections of these crops have a good safe home as well as a future in the global effort to strengthen food security and alleviate poverty.

Collections of breeding materials for orphan crops are often relatively small – fewer than 2000 types of bananas represent/contain the diversity in that crop, for example, compared to well over 100,000 for rice. Conservation costs should, therefore, be reasonable, while future returns to investment in this effort will, as a consequence, be tremendous. Moreover, as the article in Food Policy notes, modern technologies applied by breeders working with crop diversity collections may produce rapid productivity gains in orphan crops – gains that by definition will accrue to some of the poorest people on earth.

The choice is clear. We can adopt these orphans and help them become even more productive citizens. Or, we can take them to the station, put them on a train, and wave good-bye.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE TOPIC

- Center for New Crops, Purdue University: www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/
 
- Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species: www.underutilized-species.org
- International Centre for Underutilized Crops: www.icuc-iwmi.org
- International Institute for Tropical Agriculture: www.iita.org
- International Plant Genetic Resources Institute: www.ipgri.org
- International Society for Horticultural Science: www.ishs.org
- World Vegetable Center: www.avrdc.org

"Biotechnology in the developing world: a case for increased investments in orphan crops." By Rosamond L. Naylor, Walter P. Falcon, Robert M. Goodman, Molly M. Jahn, Theresa Sengooba, Hailu Tefera, and Rebecca J. Nelson. Food Policy, Vol. 29, 1 (February 2004)
biotechnology_Naylor_Falcon_2004_web.pdf

Source: The Global Crop Diversity Trust via SeedQuest.com
11 May 2006

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1.04  GGE Biplot Workshop held at IITA

A 2-day international workshop on the use of GGE Biplot software developed by Weikai Yan was held at the conference center of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria, on 17 and 18 May 2006. This workshop brought together 86 participants from the Republic of Benin, Cameroun, Ghana, Guinea, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and 15 States in Nigeria. The objectives of the workshop were to improve the analytical minds of Scientists in Africa and arm them with an efficient statistical tool (GGE Biplot) to handle genotype by environment interactions (GxE) in breeding, and similar interactions in the field of natural science, biotechnology, microbiology, and plant pathology.

Declaring the workshop open, the Director for Research, IITA, Dr Stan Blade said that over the years several successes has been documented in plant breeding, but now people are concerned about what the future of plant breeding might be, because the number of students in plant breeding is decreasing world wide, even where it is going up, the increase rate is not commensurate with the tasks plant breeders will be faced. Thus the substance of this workshop is a key one, because Scientists will always need to have information about mega environments, to enable them reduce the number site testing when resources are low, and extrapolate especially for regional testing. He also said that IITA has a direct link to research for development, and so research must be for a purpose. It must focus on solving problems, having impacts for producers and other consumers within the value chain.

Participants learnt how to use the software for the exploitation of interactions such as GxE, QTL-by-Markers, and other biplots. They also learnt about Stability Concepts, Ecovalence, Shukla ?sup>2i, Eberhart-Russell Regression, and Yield-Stability Statistic (YSi) using another software called STABLE. The additive main effect and multiplicative interaction (AMMI) model analysis was taught using a third software called MATMODEL. Complementarities and similarities between these GGE biplot and MATMODEL were reviewed. There were sessions to use own data, and general statistics questions concerning GxE were interactively tackled.

The resource persons were Dr Manjit S. Kang, Professor of quantitative genetics from Lousiana State University, USA, Dr Weikai Yan, Oat breeder from Agri-food and Agriculture, Canada, and Dr Richardson Okechukwu, Database and statistics manager from IITA. At the end of the course, IITA arranged to purchase a 2-year Institute license of the GGE Biplot, and certificates were awarded to participants. In his closing remarks, Dr Alfred Dixon, IITA Cassava Breeder, thanked the resource persons for coming and said that IITA plans to hold similar workshop annually to continue to help develop human capacities in Africa. Participants applauded the workshop, and through a representative, Dr(Mrs) H.O. Oselebe, promised to utilize what they have learnt to publish more scientific papers.

Submitted by Richardson Okechukwu
IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria
r.okechukwu@cgiar.org

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1.05  Public comment on the proposed deregulation of the transgenic plum resistant to plum pox virus

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Dept. of Agriculture has published a notice in the Federal Register requesting public comment on the proposed deregulation of the transgenic plum resistant to plum pox virus, developed by Ralph Scorza of ARS.  This notice, dated May 16, 2006, can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main.   At this site,  to comment select "Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service" then select APHIS-2006-0084. 

The ARS petition to APHIS for deregulation, and the APHIS Environmental Assessment, are available on the APHIS website at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/04_26401p.pdf and http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/04_26401p.ea.pdf, respectively.  Public comment will be accepted until July 17, 2006.  Comments will go on record about the proposed action.

Dr. John W. Radin
USDA-ARS, National Program Staff
john.radin@nps.ars.usda.gov

Contributed by Ann Marie Thro
USDA (CSREES)
athro@csrees.usda.gov

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1.06  100 countries have ratified the international plant genetic resources treaty

Rome, Italy
Iran has ratified the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, bringing the number of countries that have deposited their instrument of acceptance to 100, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

The treaty, which was approved by the FAO Conference in November 2001, entered into force on 29 June 2004, the ninetieth day after the deposit of the fortieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession in accordance with the provisions of the treaty.

FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf said that “this is a legally binding treaty that will be crucial for the sustainability of agriculture. The treaty is an important contribution to the achievement of the World Food Summit's major objective of halving the number of hungry people by 2015.”

The main objectives of the international treaty are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security.

According to Mr Clive Stannard of the Interim Secretariat for the Treaty, “this record speed and level of ratification is an indication of the huge importance that countries attach to the objectives of the Treaty to ensure that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, which are vital for human survival, are conserved and sustainably used and that benefits are equitably and fairly distributed.”

The first session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture will take place in Madrid, Spain, from 12 to 16 June 2006. This will be the first occasion in which the contracting parties to the treaty will meet to discuss its implementation.

Source: SeedQuest.com
5 May 2006

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1.07  FAO voices concern about decreasing wild banana species

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is calling for a systematic exploration of the wild bananas' remaining habitat in India due to the rapid loss of these species. There is a need, FAO says, to assess the damage and catalogue the number and types of surviving wild species, many of which are the ancestors of the Cavendish variety, which accounts for almost all of world trade of banana.

The Indian subcontinent has contributed enormously to the global genetic base of bananas, but many gene sources have been lost due to ecosystem destruction, says FAO Agricultural Officer NeBambi Lutaladio. This could cause serious problems because commercial bananas have a narrow gene pool and are highly vulnerable to pests and diseases.

In addition, FAO voiced the need for conservation efforts that focus on better land management by local populations, and research on expanding the use of wild bananas in breeding programs.

Read more on FAO's "Concern at vanishing bananas" at http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000285/index.html, or contact Christopher Mathews at Christopher.matthews@fao.org for additional information.

Source: CropBiotech Update 5 May 2006

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.08  CIP contributes native potatoes to potato park

The International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru has repatriated 246 virus-free varieties of native potatoes to the Potato Park in Cusco Department, Peru. These varieties are now yielding 30 percent more than ordinary potatoes.

CIP scientists are collaborating with the Potato Park to promote the crop, and the use and conservation of the diverse variety of native potatoes found there. Using advanced molecular techniques, CIP is looking into the possibility that the Park could be a minor center of origin of the tuber.

The Park is one of the few conservation initiatives in the world where residents manage and protect local genetic resources and traditional knowledge about health, food, and agriculture.

Details of CIP's work in the Potato Park are available at http://www.cipotato.org/news_more.asp?cod=23

Source: CropBiotech Update 19 May 2006

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.09  Plant protection from cold decoded

A biochemical regulator described by UCR Plant Biologist Jian Kang Zhu explains how plants protect themselves from cold temperatures.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – www.ucr.edu – In response to cold, plants trigger a cascade of genetic reactions that allow them to survive. University of California, Riverside Professor of Plant Cell Biology Jian-Kang Zhu has described how a little-known biochemical reaction regulates that genetic cascade.

Zhu’s findings were published in the May 15 online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in a paper titled The Negative Regulator of Plant Cold Responses, HOS1 is a RING E3 Ligase That Mediates the Ubiquitation and Degredation of ICE1. Zhu co-authored the paper with UCR colleagues Chun Hai Dong and Manu Agarwal; and Yiyue Zhang and Qi Xie, from the Institute of Genetics and Development of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

This negative regulator, known as high expression of osmotically responsive gene 1 (HOS1), acts essentially as a biochemical gate that cuts off the plant’s cold protection, Zhu said. The HOS1 gene product interacts with another gene product known as ICE1 that kicks off the genetic cascade that provides the plant’s cold protection proteins, according to the paper. The interaction worked both in the test tube and in the live plant.

“The better we understand this molecular mechanism, the better we can control the process of increasing the plant’s freezing tolerance without causing negative impacts,” Zhu said. “This process should apply to all plants and can help us better use crops of subtropical origin such as corn, rice, avocadoes and strawberries.”

Zhu said the discovery of how HOS1 acts on plants should help his overall research efforts into how plants respond to environmental stresses such as cold, soil salinity and drought.

“From a genetic and molecular standpoint, these responses are all related,” Zhu said. “Some of the same genes are involved in all of these responses and understanding how they work can help us develop crops that can better withstand these conditions.”

Zhu said he plans on continuing his research on how HOS1 and ICE1 recognize each other and work together to help plants deal with cold weather conditions. This line of inquiry should better explain how plant cells initially respond to cold and other adverse conditions.

Source: EurekAlert.com
16 May 2006

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1.10  Uncovering genetic diversity of rice varieties could improve nutritional value, productivity of world's greatest food source

Colorado State University, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), Perlegen Sciences, Inc. and the International Rice Research Institute are joining forces to unlock the genetic secrets of rice, information that could improve rice crops and help address hunger and malnutrition for millions of people. Rice is the world's top food crop and the principal source of nourishment for nearly half the world's population, particularly people in the poorest but fastest growing nations.

The study will focus on the genetic basis underlying important agricultural traits such as the nutritional value and disease resistance of 21 diverse lines, or varieties, of rice, by identifying and comparing differences in DNA sequences. This information will accelerate development of hardier, more productive types of rice. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service - National Research Initiative competitive grants plant genome program provided $715,000 for the U.S. group's contribution to the collaboration. Additional funding for international collaboration will be provided by other sources.

"This collaboration will produce a powerful resource to investigate the patterns of molecular variation across the rice genome, assess evolutionary forces shaping rice and discover genes controlling important traits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance and nutritional value," said Jan Leach, the lead U.S. researcher on the study and a professor of bioagricultural sciences and pest management at Colorado State University. "In the long term, this information will be used to improve rice, and it will also help scientists better understand how to improve other crop plants."

As populations boom in countries with limited availability of productive land, the need for additional information about agriculture and crops that can improve production and nutritional values have become key in preventing hunger and malnutrition. Much of the information scientists need may reside in the genomes of wild species of rice.

DNA sequence variation accounts for many differences between individual plants and different varieties of the same plant, such as how the plant develops, how much a crop plant yields, the nutritional value and how well the plant tolerates stresses such as drought or exposure to diseases. Much of the variation in genomes is represented by single nucleotide polymorphisms, known as SNPs, which are changes at single base positions in DNA.

This collaboration will identify SNPs from across the whole genome of 21 rice strains using methodologies developed by Perlegen Sciences. Wild species of rice are a rich resource of diverse traits, and analysis of their genomic variations may provide valuable information regarding phenotypic variation between different rice strains.

SNPs are a marker of genetic variation between individuals of a species, and they allow scientists to identify regions of genetic variation that may be linked to traits. By identifying differences in SNPs among major rice varieties, the study will help uncover the genetic basis behind important agricultural traits.

"In addition to their importance in understanding genome evolution, studying the SNPs of rice is valuable for several reasons," Leach said. "First, it reveals DNA variation among different varieties of rice, which provides information for developing better varieties. It also provides the ultimate anchor to relate the study of rice and other crops.

The International Rice Research Institute is a non-profit agricultural research and training center that was established to improve the wellbeing of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, particularly those with low incomes. It helps farmers in developing countries produce more food on limited land, using less water, labor and chemicals. The institute has helped to develop about 1,000 modern varieties of rice, which has increased the availability of rice to populations in need and reduced the price.

Affymetrix Inc. is supporting this important research effort and providing the GeneChip microarray technology that will enable the group to identify SNPs from across the genomes of 21 rice strains. Perlegen will perform the microarray experiments. Perlegen uses microarray technology to quickly assess DNA variations and compare whole genomes in an effort to identify those variations associated with human diseases and to explain and predict the efficacy and adverse effects of prescription drugs.

"Rice is an important crop for world agriculture and an excellent candidate for DNA variation study," said Kelly Frazer, vice president of genomic biology at Perlegen. "The combination of the methodologies and experience our company can provide and the initial genomic research that has been conducted by the International Rice Research Institute will give scientists the opportunity to improve the quality of one of the most critical human food sources in the world."

Source: SeedQuest.com
12 May 2006

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1.11  No-mow grass may be coming to your yard soon

Chevy Chase, Maryland
For anyone tethered to a lawnmower, the Holy Grail of horticultural accomplishment would be grass that never grows but is always green.

Now, that vision of suburban bliss­and more­seems plausible as scientists have mapped a critical hormone signaling pathway that regulates the stature of plants. In addition to lawns that rarely require mowing, the finding could also enable the development of sturdier, more fruitful crop plants such as rice, wheat, soybeans, and corn.

In a paper published in the May 4, 2006, issue of the journal Nature, Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists report they have deciphered the signaling pathway for a key class of steroid hormones that regulates growth and development in plants.

"By manipulating the steroid pathway…we think we can regulate plant stature and yield," said Joanne Chory, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and the senior author of the new report.

Manipulation of plant stature has been a longstanding goal in horticulture, agronomy, and forestry. The ability to precisely control plant size would have broad implications for everything from urban forestry to crop and garden plant development. Beyond perpetually short grass, trees could be made more compact for better growth in crowded cities, and berry bushes could be made taller for ease of harvesting.

To chart the pathway, Chory and colleague Grégory Vert of the Salk Institute's Plant Biology Laboratory examined the molecular influence of a family of plant hormones known as brassinosteroids. Scientists have found brassinosteroids in all plants where they have looked for them. As critical chemical messengers of plant development, they are found in low levels in virtually all plant cells, including seeds, flowers, roots, leaves, stems, pollen, and young vegetative tissue.

"Without them, plants are tiny dwarves, with reduced vasculature and roots, and are infertile," Chory explained. "They also regulate senescence or aging. Since brassinosteroids mainly regulate cell expansion, though, they are one of the most important hormones that regulate stature."

Knowing the molecular chain of command­how the hormone acts to influence genetic events that govern development at the cellular level­gives scientists a way to reshape the steroid pathway to develop plants that grow in specified ways.

"We might be able to dwarf grass and keep it green by limiting brassinosteroids or increase the yield of rice by having more brassinosteroids in seeds," Chory said. Another recent study by Makoto Matsuoka's group in Japan, she said, showed that limiting brassinosteroids in rice affected leaf angle and improved yield in densely planted fields.

Vert and Chory's work helps trace a molecular pathway that is ancient­perhaps more than a billion years old­in both plants and animals. "Remarkably, steroid biosynthetic enzymes are highly conserved from plants to metazoans (animals), suggesting that the use of steroids as hormones preceded the plant-animal split over a billion years ago," Chory explained.

In animals, the route steroid hormones use to exert their influence in the nucleus of a cell, where gene expression is regulated, is direct, through the use of nuclear receptors. Plants, said Chory, don't have nuclear receptors, which would provide more direct access to the nucleus. Rather, plant steroids are perceived outside the cell by the extracellular domain of a cell surface receptor. Perception then regulates genetic events in the nucleus in a more roundabout way, similar to a well-studied pathway in animals known as the Wnt signaling pathway. Wnt is a secreted molecule that influences the nucleus of a cell through cell surface receptors to regulate cell-to-cell interactions and many of the events of embryogenesis in metazoans.

"Because one of the brassinosteroid signaling components was similar to a protein found in the Wnt signaling pathway, we thought that the logic for brassinosteroid signaling (in plants) would be very much like the Wnt pathway," said Chory. "We were wrong."

Instead, brassinosteroid perception leads to a cascade of biochemical events that alter the ability of key proteins to dimerize and activate gene expression within a cell's nucleus. In plants, there are scores of genes involved in growth and development that can be influenced by brassinosteroids, Chory noted.

"Many of these genes are predicted to be involved in growth, like cell wall metabolism. Their up-expression would be predicted to promote cell expansion," according to Chory.

The work of other groups, she noted, has shown that brassinosteroids can negatively regulate their own expression as part of a feedback loop that, ultimately, determines the size of a plant. In nature, that feedback loop has served plants well, helping them adjust their height and size to fit the growing conditions of any environmental niche.

Through traditional methods of plant breeding, humans have been manipulating plant stature for thousands of years. In recent years, through the methods of genetic engineering, more precise methods for altering industrial plant strains have come into play.

But access to a pathway used by plant hormones to dictate size promises broader influence over the many genes involved in the process of growth. Levers that could be used to alter a hormone pathway to influence plant development and stature, according to Chory, include modifying the levels of the hormone, manipulating the chemical structures of hormones, and recoding the signals sent along the pathway.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute news release
Source: SeedQuest.com
4 May 2006

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1.12  New method for screening cowpea germplasm for resistance to Cucumber mosaic virus

Cowpea is widely used as food and animal feed, but it is also beset by viruses and pests. Important viruses include the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) and the blackeye cowpea mosaic virus (BlCMV). Together, these two viruses cause cowpea stunt disease, which results in significant losses in the crop. There are available sources of resistance to BlCMV, but these need to be investigated.

A. G. Gillaspie, Jr. of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) reports on a “New Method for Screening Cowpea Germ Plasm for Resistance to Cucumber mosaic virus” in the latest issue of Plant Disease. Gillaspie screened 350 cowpea lines from a core collection maintained by the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS).

To select for CMV-resistant lines, Gillaspie inoculated freeze-dried cowpea tissue with the virus. He employed several assessment methods to measure virus buildup in the infected plants. The candidate lines were subsequently tested in greenhouse and field conditions to confirm resistance. Four CMV resistant lines, as well as four other lines with possible BlCMV resistance, were identified.

Subscribers to Plant Disease can read the complete article at http://www.apsnet.org/pd/search/2006/PD-90-0611.asp.

Source: CropBiotech Update via SeedQuest.com
26 May 2006

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1.13  Silencing wheat and barley scab

A new test to find scab-resistance genes in wheat and barley seed heads uses the plants’ natural viral defense mechanism to temporarily “silence” the gene to be tested. The test is an adaptation of a technique called Virus-Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS).

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist Steven Scofield and colleagues developed the test with funds from the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative managed by ARS. Scofield is in the ARS Crop Production and Pest Control Research Unit at West Lafayette, Ind.

Under the initiative, farmers and scientists work together to combat scab -- also known as Fusarium head blight -- one of the most devastating wheat and barley diseases worldwide. Currently, there are only a few wheat and barley varieties with effective levels of resistance to scab.

The test temporarily incapacitates wheat or barley genes thought to be important to scab resistance, to see if the plant’s scab resistance also disappears temporarily.

Scofield began experimenting with VIGS when he first came to ARS in 2002. With it, he found four genes key to leaf rust resistance in wheat and barley plants. He is working to adapt VIGS to find resistance genes for each major wheat and barley disease, one at a time.

Before this VIGS-based test, there was no way to assess probable genes for scab resistance other than through breeding, or by inserting them into tissue cells and then regenerating whole plants for testing. The new test is much quicker and more efficient since it can be done shortly after a plant is infected with a virus, without waiting to grow a new plant.

VIGS has been used for about 10 years. Scientists first used it with tobacco, then tomatoes, potatoes and Arabidopsis thaliana.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.
Don Comis

Source: ARS News Service via SeedQuest.com
26 May 2006

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1.14  Imminent threat of stem rust pandemic in wheat

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reports that a highly virulent strain of the fungal pathogen responsible for stem rust disease in wheat, named Ug99, has emerged and has reduced grain yields by as much as 71% in experimental plots in Africa. International wheat experts led by Nobel Prize laureate Norman E. Borlaug briefed officials of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington, D.C. about a possible stem rust pandemic in wheat, and suggested ways to contain it.

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) said that all wheat farms in Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia were affected by the new strain, and that small farmers in Kenya have already suffered yield losses. Scientists note that the disease could approach US$1 billion in value, causing global prices to go up and lead to food shortages.

An initiative in already in place to coordinate efforts against the threat. CIMMYT and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) launched the Global Rust Initiative (GRI) at an international summit held in 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya. The GRI is a multidisciplinary research and development consortium, which will develop and deploy appropriate wheat varieties possessing stable resistance to the new race of stem rust.

Read more on this initiative at http://www.ifpri.org/pressrel/2006/20060502.asp.

Source: CropBiotech Update 5 May 2006

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.15  Bioassay developed for wheat crown rot

Crown rot of wheat is caused by the pathogen Fusarium pseudograminearum. Infected crowns appear brown and rot to a greater or lesser extent depending on the stage of the disease and on the severity of the infection. Plants with severe infections generally do not survive, and F. pseudograminearum persists in the soil in infected plant matter, representing a chronic source of infection in affected fields.

Crown rot is mainly managed by controlling grass hosts prior to cropping, rotating susceptible cereals with non-host break crops, burning infected stubble, and selecting tolerant wheat varieties. Tolerance, however, refers to the ability of a plant to withstand infection, while resistance describes the ability of a host to resist or prevent infection by a pathogen, with minimal damage to the plant tissues. Resistant plants will also reduce the number of spores the pathogen is able to produce, minimizing the risks for future crops. The isolation of wheat varieties with genetic resistance to crown rot is therefore essential for controlling the disease.

Mittera and co-workers in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Plant Industry, the University of Ballarat in Australia, and the Hebei Academy of Agricultural Sciences of China, report on the development of a new high-throughput and reliable seedling bioassay to screen wheat germplasm for crown rot resistance in the Plant Pathology scientific journal . Single wheat seedlings were inoculated with Fusarium and assessed for crown rot severity after an incubation period of 35 days. The seedling bioassay mimicked field resistance to crown rot in adult plants, and by detecting small but consistent differences in crown rot severity among different wheat cultivars, the bioassay proved an effective tool for large-scale screening for partial resistance.

Read the abstract of "A high-throughput glasshouse bioassay to detect crown rot resistance in wheat germplasm" at: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-3059.2006.01384.x

Source: CropBiotech Update 19 May 2006

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.16  Paper tracks cocoa bean boring, relation to insect resistance

The cocoa pod borer (CPB) is an important pest of cocoa. It attacks the crop by boring into cocoa beans, causing them to clump and stop developing. In severe infestations, cocoa pods ripen prematurely, leading to unextractable beans, or beans of inferior quality, and leading, in turn, to economic losses for cocoa farmers. CPB can be controlled by insecticides, but there is growing concern that over time, CPB may be resistant to such control measures. Insecticides also pose great risks to farmers, consumers, and the environment.

Chong-Lay Teha and colleagues of Golden Hope Research, Malaysia monitor the "Variation of the response of clonal cocoa to attack by cocoa pod borer Conopomorpha cramerella (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae) in Sabah." Their article appears in the July 2006 issue of the Crop Protection journal.

Researchers counted the holes made by CBP in eight cocoa bean clones, and monitored the clones for variation in resistance to the pest. By obtaining the ratio of the number of larva exit holes to the number of larva entry holes (exit/entry) they found two clones, designated PBC123 (ratio of 5.42) and IMC23 (ratio of 6.39), to be particularly resistant to larval infestation. They recommended that this ratio be used to screen cocoa bean clones for resistance to CPB should a selection program be started for cocoa.

These natural variations in the cocoa beans may also be used in the future to search for the genetic basis of such insect resistance. Subscribers to Crop Protection can read the complete article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cropro.2005.10.009.

Source: CropBiotech Update 12 May 2006

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.17  African agriculture experts tackle biofortification

Up for discussion this week in a workshop in Mombasa, Kenya are the latest research developments to develop biofortified crops in Africa which might lead to "a nutrition revolution in Africa". Policy makers, scientists, and agricultural leaders in Africa hope to integrate biofortification into national agricultural and health policy agendas. Biofortificaton involves breeding crops with higher levels of vitamins and minerals.

"Addressing micronutrient malnutrition requires a paradigm shift," said Howarth Bouis, director of HarvestPlus. "Agricultural research needs to move beyond increasing productivity to improving food quality as well. In this way, biofortification can play a critical role in improving health."

Co-hosting the workshop are the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and HarvestPlus, an international research program that seeks to reduce micronutrient malnutrition by harnessing agricultural technology to breed staple crops for better nutrition.

For more information, visit http://www.harvestplus.org or http://www.ifpri.org/media/20060502Nairobi.asp

Source: CropBiotech Update 5 May 2006

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.18  Allergen-free soybeans from Chinese soybean lines

Scientists from the US Department of Agricultural Research Service's Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have isolated two Chinese soybean lines without the primary protein linked to soy allergies. Dr. Theodore Hymowitz of the University of Illinois reports that the two soybean lines (PI 567476 and PI 603570A) contain virtually identical genetic mutations that do not contain the leading allergy-causing P34 protein. Over 16,000 soybean lines were screened.

The lines, which are adapted to Illinois-like field conditions, will be given to breeders to produce new varieties of allergy-free soybeans. Allergy to soy-based products including infant formulas has been observed in 6-8 percent of children. Adults with soy allergies have shown reactions that range from skin reactions and gastrointestinal irritation to difficulty in swallowing and fainting.

The research was funded by the Illinois-Missouri Biotechnology Alliance.

Read more on allergen-free soybeans at http://www.danforthcenter.org/newsmedia/NewsDetail.asp?nid=118.

Source: CropBiotech Update 12 May 2006

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.19  Improved quinoa to help Andean farmers

The Foundation for Agricultural Innovation of the Ministry for Agriculture of Chile has announced the launch of the first crop of improved varieties of quinoa in the Chilean plateau, as part of an effort to boost the income of small scale growers that depend on this crop for subsistence. Quinoa still constitutes the most important food and feed crop for many Andean rural communities; however, it is still cultivated with little economic handling. The project aims to innovate the technology of Quinoa production, and expects to raise yields by 200-300%.

Quinoa, the sacred “mother of all grains” (chisaya mama) to the Inca civilization, is one of the three staple crops, along with potatoes and maize, of the Andes. Quinoa not only contains more protein than any other grain (between 11 and 20%), but also has a balanced set of essential amino acids (similar to milk), which makes it an ideal food to complement other grains which are low in lysine, such as wheat and rice.

For more information (in Spanish) visit: http://www.fia.cl/contenido.asp?id_contenido=977&id_tipo=1

Source: CropBiotech Update via SeedQuest.com
5 May 2006

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1.20  Improving the availability of foundation (basic) seed of publicly developed varieties in Africa

by Richard Jones, Program Leader, Sustainable Commercialization of Seeds in Africa (SCOSA)

In its efforts to promote seed trade in Africa, the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) has teamed up with the program for the Sustainable Commercialization of Seeds in Africa (SCOSA) to improve the availability of foundation seed of publicly developed varieties. Significant public investments have been made to develop improved varieties but many of these never reach farmers because of poorly developed systems to maintain, produce and market foundation seed.

The success of any seed company is dependent on its ability to market something new and different than what farmers already have. In Africa the development of small- and medium-sized seed companies has only just started, and the success of such companies will depend to a large extent on their ability to source improved varieties from the public sector.

In several countries around the world - both developed and developing - the public sector has established Foundation Seed Enterprises (FSEs) to ensure the availability of basic seed. There is considerable variation in the strategies employed for FSEs, but they are almost always entities that are separate from the public plant breeding program, with their own staff and budgetary independence.

AFSTA is launching a program to support interested stakeholders in nine Francophone Countries to develop a strategy for improving the availability of foundation seed in their respective countries. Country teams composed of three people representing the national seed service, the national agricultural research system, and the seed trade association will be briefed on the principles underlying the development of commercial seed systems and the role that FSEs can play in supporting the development of such systems. They will then be given training in how to put together a business plan for a FSE. Following the initial workshop, the teams will then return to their countries and conduct a wider consultation with a broader range of seed stakeholders supported by AFSTA and SCOSA. Through this consultation it is expected that they will prepare a draft business plan, which will be refined and finalized at a second workshop. These business plans will then be marketed to interested development investors for financing.

The workshop will be conducted in French for the Francophone countries and in English for Anglophone countries. The first workshop for Francophone countries will be held in Bamako, Mali from 8th to 12th May 2006.

In West Africa the business plan training is being done in support of the Seed Industry Alliance being supported by USAID, which is aimed at promoting viable seed enterprises in West Africa.

Financial projections suggest that the FSEs can become self-sustaining after an initial period of support as the demand for foundation seed increases. Importantly these enterprises are expected to foster enhanced public-private partnership and to work in harmony with the public research organizations and commercial seed companies. For more information on this initiative, please contact the AFSTA Secretariat at the contact addresses given at the end of this Newsletter.

by Richard Jones
Program Leader of SCOSA
E-mail: r.jones@cgiar.org

Source: Source: Electronic Newsletter of the African Seed Trade Association via SeedQuest.com
3 May 2006

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1.21  Single gene is both friend and foe to rice

Hepeng Jia [BEIJING]
One rice gene regulates both the plant's fertility and its ability to resist a major bacterial disease, according to research published by Genes and Development this week.

The finding could help scientists develop rice varieties with higher yields and that are better able to resist the disease, says lead researcher Wang Shiping of Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, China.

Bacterial leaf blight is one of the plant world's most devastating bacterial diseases.

The newly discovered gene can have both positive and negative effects. The most common form of the gene makes rice plants more susceptible to bacterial leaf blight but also makes them produce more pollen.

According to Wang, one way for researchers to maximise the gene's benefits would be to block its activity in leaves while boosting it in flowers.

In a separate study published this month, researchers led by Zhu Lihuang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences genetically modified rice to resist the single most important rice disease.

Rice blast disease is caused by a fungus called Magnaporthe grisea.

Zhu's team modified rice plants using a local variety that resists all 156 Chinese and Japanese strains of the fungus. The research was published online by the The Plant Journal on 4 May.

Link to abstract of paper in Genes & Development
Reference: Genes and Development, DOI: 10.1101/gad.1416306 (2006)
Link to abstract of paper in Plant Journal
Reference: Plant Journal doi:10.1111/j.1365-313X.2006.02739.x (2006)

Source: SciDev.net
11 May 2006

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1.22  Complex genetic networks underlying the defensive system of rice (Oryza sativa L.) to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae

Complete resistance (CR) and partial resistance (PR) of rice (Oryza sativa L.) to its bacterial pathogen, Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo), was genetically dissected by using 2 mapping populations and 10 Xoo races. Two CR genes, 50 quantitativeresistance loci, and 60 digenic interactions were identified,which showed various degrees of race specificity to the Xooraces. The complex epistasis between these loci led us to thediscovery of complex genetic networks underlying the rice defensivesystem to Xoo. The networks consisted of two major components:one representing interactions between alleles at the R loci of rice and alleles at the corresponding avirulence loci of Xoo for CR and the other comprising interactions between quantitativeresistance loci in rice and their corresponding aggressivenessloci in Xoo for PR. The race specificity of PR and its stronggenetic overlap with CR indicate that PR is essentially "weaker"CR. The genetic networks discovered are expected to maintain a high level of the allelic diversity at avirulent loci in the pathogen by stabilizing selection, which may maintain a high allelic diversity at R loci in the host by the frequency-dependent selection.

Source URL: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0507492103v1?etoc
 
Source: Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences via SeedQuest.com
15 May 2006

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1.23  Super-sized cassava plants may help fight hunger in Africa

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a recent study, genetically modified cassava plants produced roots that were more than two-and-a-half times the size of normal cassava roots.

The findings could help ease hunger in many countries where people rely heavily on the cassava plant (Manihot esculenta) as a primary food source, said Richard Sayre, the study's lead author and a professor of plant cellular and molecular biology at Ohio State University.

The researchers used a gene from the bacterium E. coli to genetically modify cassava plants. The plants, which were grown in a greenhouse, produced roots that were an average of 2.6 times larger than those produced by regular cassava plants.

“Not only did these plants produce larger roots, but the whole plant was bigger and had more leaves,” Sayre said. Both the roots and leaves of the cassava plant are edible.

Cassava is the primary food source for more than 250 million Africans – about 40 percent of the continent's population. And the plant's starchy tuberous root is a substantial portion of the diet of nearly 600 million people worldwide.

Sayre said he hopes to offer these plants to countries where cassava is an important crop.

The current study appears in the online early issue of the Plant Biotechnology Journal. Sayre collaborated with Ohio State colleague Uzoma Ihemere and scientists from BASF Plant Science in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and BARC-West in Beltsville, Md., who formerly worked on this project in his laboratory.

Sayre said that cassava produces sugar more efficiently than any other cultivated plant.

“We wanted to find a way to help the plant redirect that excess sugar and use it to make starch,” Sayre said.

The researchers used a variety of cassava native to Colombia (cassava was brought to Africa from South America by the Portuguese in the 1500s.) They inserted into three cassava plants an E. coli gene that controls starch production. A non-modified fourth plant served as a control.

“Cassava actually has this same gene,” Sayre said. “But the bacterial version of the gene is about a hundred times more active.”

The modified plants converted more of their sugar into starch, as shown by an increase in root size as well as the number of roots and leaves produced by each modified plant.

The roots of the modified plants were up to 2.6 fold larger than the roots of a non-modified plant (an average of 198 grams for the biggest roots vs. 74 grams for the roots of the non-modified plant.) The modified plants produced a maximum of 12 roots, compared to the seven roots produced by the non-modified plant. These modified plants also produced a third more leaves – a maximum of 123 leaves per modified plant vs. 92 leaves per non-modified plant.

Sayre said that the bigger roots produced by the plants were just that – bigger. They weren't necessarily more nutritious. And they would still need to be processed quickly and properly after harvesting, as the roots and leaves of poorly processed cassava plants contain a substance that triggers the production of cyanide.

In previous work, Sayre helped create cassava that produced little to no cyanide once it is harvested.

He is also the principal investigator of an ongoing project focused on improving the nutritional content of cassava. In this work Sayre leads a team of national and international scientists focused on increasing the vitamin, mineral and protein content of the plant.

The current study was supported in part by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Centro Internacional Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) and Ohio State.

Contact: Richard Sayre, (614) 292 2587; Sayre.2@osu.edu
Written by Holly Wagner, (614) 292-8310; Wagner.235@osu.edu

(Editor’s note: Field-grown, improved varieties of cassava, under well-managed, on-farm conditions, will normally produce 2500 to 5000 grams per plant).

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1.24  Not just weapons: nuclear science for development

As tensions mount over Iran's nuclear standoff, the risks of radiation-based technologies are surging back into the headlines and onto public agendas. At the centre of the fray, one UN agency carries the unenviable responsibility of regulating one of modern science's most controversial advances.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is best known as the world's nuclear watchdog; an intergovernmental body that argues against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and sets international standards for the safety and security of radiation sources.

But its mandate also includes ensuring fair access to nuclear technologies. These already play significant roles throughout society, in areas as diverse as health, nutrition, agriculture and environmental management.

The IAEA is firmly 'pro' nuclear – with an emphasis on risk management. Over the past decade, its Department for Technical Cooperation (TC) has helped more than 90 developing nations set up the necessary support mechanisms for managing the risks of radiation-based technologies.

"Radiation-based technologies allow us to gather information and develop solutions that simply can't be done any other way," says IAEA's deputy director-general, and head of the TC, Ana María Cetto. "We build capacity in the neediest countries, but safety and security are always a prerequisite for technology transfer."

In the mid-1990s, the TC identified five 'thematic safety areas' (see table below) that every member state must satisfy to ensure that people and the environment are protected from potential exposure to radiation. The list demonstrates the extensive safety infrastructure behind every piece of equipment. It also reflects a shift in TC's strategy.

"In the early days, we functioned in response mode, assessing each country's capacity to operate the requested equipment," says Cetto. "Now a member state must prove it can manage all aspects of safety and security before it can submit a request."

Without exception, building the safety infrastructure is a major undertaking. On average, it takes six years to form a regulatory framework and infrastructure; training staff and setting up a radiotherapy clinic can take an extra five.

Increasingly, the TC aims to help member states achieve development goals through the use of nuclear technologies. Improving human health is fundamental to social and economic development, but other nuclear technologies are also making vital contributions to development.

"Radiation-based technologies have already proven to be valuable tools for sustainable development in developing countries," says Mohamed Hassan, executive director of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS). "They have been particularly useful in efforts to ensure water quality and improve food safety."

Boosting food and agriculture
Intrinsically linked to health are agricultural production, food availability and the nutritional value of foods. Nuclear technologies can make a significant contribution to a country's food quality and self-sufficiency, and to its ability to compete in export markets.

Irradiating seeds with x-rays or gamma rays accelerates the natural genetic mutation processes that can lead to more desirable characteristics, such as higher yields, increased protein content, or better drought-tolerance. Over the past 30 years, irradiation has been used to develop more than 1,800 crop varieties worldwide, adding billions of dollars to farmers' incomes each year.

By 'labelling' plants with radioactive forms of nitrogen and phosphorous scientists can measure nutrient uptake, measure nutrient turnover in soil, or assess fertiliser quality.

Other nuclear technologies can be used measure nutrient levels in foods or the body's ability to absorb nutrients ­ a boon for addressing 'hidden hunger'. The problem, common across the developing world, is not a lack of food but of the variety of foods needed to supply essential micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Iron deficiency, for example, is responsible for anaemia and impaired mental development in 40 to 60 per cent of children in developing nations.

In Chile, radioisotope techniques were used in 1999 to evaluate a government programme to provide 1.3 million pre-schoolers with food and milk fortified with iron and zinc. Within a year, the incidence of anaemia had dropped from 30 per cent to five per cent.

In nutritional studies such as this, foods containing natural radioactive forms of chemical elements can be tracked through the body using a technique called infrared spectroscopy to see whether nutrients are being absorbed.

Such nuclear techniques are, in fact, the only reliable tools available to determine the absorption, retention or utilisation of nutrients by the human body. Assessing the 'bio-availability' of a food's nutrients – that is, how easily absorbed they are by the body – is a useful way to find out why an individual lacks nutrients, and how to rectify the deficiency through food fortification programmes.

(Editor’s note: these are excerpts related to plant breeding, from a more comprehensive article)

by Marilyn Smith
Source: SciDev.Net
12 April 2006

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1.25  Update 3-2006 of FAO-BiotechNews (57th edition)

Editor’s note: selected articles most relevant to applied plant breeding

http://www.fao.org/biotech/news_list.asp?Cat=131

1) Plant breeding and biotechnology capacity: Reports of national surveys and a regional workshop As part of a global survey that FAO is carrying out to assess plant breeding and related biotechnology capacity, draft reports on national plant breeding and associated biotechnology surveys are now available for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Macedonia and Zambia. In addition, as part of the same initiative, FAO organised a regional workshop on 11-12 April 2006 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, entitled "Assessing and designing strategies to strengthen national plant breeding and related biotechnology capacity in Central Asia", in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). For the workshop report, as well as the national survey reports, see the "What's new" section of http://apps3.fao.org/wiews/wiews.jsp or contact elcio.guimaraes@fao.org for more information. The global survey is being carried out to assist in designing strategies to strengthen national and regional abilities to use plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

 2) Proceedings of CABI 15th Review Conference On 21-23 April 2004, CAB International's 15th Review Conference was held in Beijing, China. Proceedings of the conference are now available on the web, including a Special Presentation (pages 22-32) by He Changchui, the FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, entitled "Directing biotechnology towards the needs of the poor and sustainable agriculture". See http://www.cabi.org/pdfs/ReviewConf2004.pdf (747 KB) or contact FAO-RAP@fao.org for more information.

5) Advance version of COP-MOP 3 decisions (Cartagena Protocol) An advance version of the decisions adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at its 3rd meeting serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 3), that took place on 13-17 March 2006 in Curitiba, Brazil, is now available. The 65-page document is still subject to final editing and clearance. See http://www.biodiv.org/doc/meetings/bs/mop-03/mop-03-decision-advance-en.pdf (361 KB) or contact secretariat@biodiv.org for more information. 6) UN-Biotech meeting The 3rd meeting of UN-Biotech took place on 16 May 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland, in conjunction with the 9th regular session of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development. UN-Biotech is an inter-agency cooperation network on biotechnology which was set up by UN agencies undertaking biotechnology-related activities, following a recommendation of the UN Secretary-General for an integrated framework for biotechnology development. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has coordinated the network since its launch in 2004. See background to the meeting at http://www.unctad.org/Templates/Meeting.asp?intItemID=2068&lang=1&m=11878&yea r=2006&month=5 or contact menelea.masin@unctad.org for more information.

7) UNCTAD study on concentration in the agricultural input industries The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has recently published "Tracking the trend towards market concentration: The case of the agricultural input industry", a study prepared by the UNCTAD secretariat. The 60-page report aims to first define a methodology and construct a measure of concentration of, and explore emerging patterns in, the agricultural input industries. Section I assesses concentration in the agrochemical industry while Sections II and III explore the patterns of consolidation in the seed industry and in agricultural biotechnology respectively. See http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/ditccom200516_en.pdf (795 KB) or contact olivier.matringe@unctad.org for more information.

9) World Bank papers - GM cotton As part of its Policy Research Working Paper series, the World Bank has recently published 2 studies on genetically modified cotton. The first, paper 3917, is entitled "Recent and prospective adoption of genetically modified cotton: A global computable general equilibrium analysis of economic impacts" by K. Anderson, E. Valenzuela and L.A. Jackson. The second, paper 3918, is entitled "The World Trade Organization's Doha cotton initiative: A tale of two issues" by K. Anderson and E. Valenzuela. The Policy Research Working Paper Series disseminates findings of work in progress to encourage the exchange of ideas about development issues. See http://econ.worldbank.org/resource.php?type=5 or contact research@worldbank.org for more information.

12) IPGRI publication on DNA banks As part of its Topical Reviews in Agricultural Biodiversity series, the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) has recently published "DNA banks - providing novel options for genebanks?", edited by M.C. de Vicente. The 10 chapters of this 84-page publication cover a wide range of topics related to DNA banks such as the current global status of plant genetic resources DNA banking activities; the importance of DNA storage for the conservation of species; best practices and experiences with preservation of DNA samples; the role of bioinformatics; the usefulness of DNA banks as a primary resource for conservation research; DNA banking of animal genetic resources; and the opportunities, limitations and needs for DNA banking from the perspective of developing countries. See http://www.ipgri.cgiar.org/publications/pdf/1110.pdf (881 KB) or contact ipgri-publications@cgiar.org for more information.

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2  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  Hort Sci papers from the MSU plant breeding education symposium, Feb 2006

http://www.hrt.msu.edu/pbgp/index.html (follow link to 2005 Symposium)

Contributed by Ann Marie Thro
USDA (CSREES)
athro@csrees.usda.gov

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2.02  Publication of Brazilian crops’ wild relatives goes online

The Ministry of Environment of Brazil (MMA) will make available online the document "Wild relatives of Cultivated Plant Species", presented in Curitiba last month during the Conference of the Parties to the Convention Of Biological Diversity. The document is the first of a series planned by the MMA, and reviews the wild relatives of Brazil's seven most important crops: cotton, peanut, rice, pumpkin, cassava, maize and peach palm. These species represent an important source of genetic variation for crop improvement initiatives, and therefore constitute an invaluable national patrimony.

The document also highlights the importance of local varieties developed by traditional communities, threatened by the introduction of invasive species and by the destruction of their habitat. The publication argues that the conservation of wild species important for agriculture is complex, as the Brazilian economy relies on the cultivation of exotic species, such as sugar cane, coffee, and rice.

For more information visit: http://www.procitropicos.org.br/index.cfm?saction=conteudo&mod=7657418709010615&id=23CD3999-9BF8-F0D1-BED8B62A71242780 .

To read the publication Wild relatives of Cultivated Plant Species" visit: http://www.mma.gov.br

Source: CropBiotech Update 19 May 2006

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Cornell University
mes25@cornell.edu

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3.  WEB RESOURCES

3.01  Plant, grow and harvest virtual crops - Crop modeling program growing popular worldwide

Athens, Georgia
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia

Among the world's agricultural scientists, increasing numbers are requesting the latest version of DSSAT software.

DSSAT is Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer, a crop-modeling computer program. It was created by researchers from the universities of Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, Guelph and Mississippi State and the International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development.

International users
More than 1,500 registered users from 90 countries now use the software. The program lets them model an entire crop cycle, from planting to harvesting, in just seconds. It simulates a crop's growth, yield, water and nutrient requirements and the environment's impact on production.

About 50 international researchers and graduate students met on the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga., May 15-24 for a DSSAT software training session. The program's developers say it's popular, in part, because it lets scientists "grow" crops on their computer screens without breaking a sweat.

"Computer models can provide an easy and very fast comparison of many different crop management scenarios and the interaction with local weather and soil conditions," said Gerrit Hoogenboom. A DSSAT developer, he's an agricultural engineer with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

A variety of crops
DSSAT software simulates the growth of crops like peanuts, sunflowers, sugarcane, wheat, soybeans, rice, tomatoes, sorghum, millet, barley, potatoes, corn, black-eyed peas and dry beans.

The latest version of DSSAT is particularly popular with researchers in the Southeastern United States, as it allows users to simulate cotton growth. Several participants in the recent training want to develop models for crops like sweet potato and sugarcane.

"This software program is by no means meant to be a substitute for actual experimentation," Hoogenboom said. "The software results are not ultimate truths. And they're not meant to replace real experiments, real data or critical thinking. They're more like hypotheses. Anytime you use a computer model you should question the results."

The software was created by and for agricultural scientists. But the developers say it can be easily used and understood by farmers and those with no science background. Several Web-based tools are being developed for many on-farm applications of DSSAT.

Easy to understand
"The way the software presents the data is an essential part of the success of DSSAT," said Ken Boote, a DSSAT developer and University of Florida agronomist. "You can't give numbers that no one can understand. Our program calculates crop growth and development in a mathematical sense and then presents it through graphics so users can easily understand the predictions."

Boote says the developers' goal is to educate all audiences.

"One of our goals is to educate the people who talk to farmers directly," Boote said. "Consultants, ag industry representatives and extension agents have the potential to spread the word to farmers. Those farmers with interest in this technology would also benefit from actually using the software themselves."

Besides simulating a crop cycle, DSSAT has been used to identify the source of production management problems after a crop has been harvested.

"It's a way to see the whole picture and what is limiting the crop," Boote said. "The software works nicely this way to determine whether water or nitrogen are limiting factors.

Uses keep growing
"It's been used in Arkansas to help with early-season soybean plantings, in Kentucky for determining planting dates, in Georgia for predicting agricultural water usage, in West Africa to diagnose yield loss of peanut crops from disease and in South Africa for predicting corn yields. The list of applications is never-ending."

To further extend the software's features, DSSAT users share their uses and results via a computer discussion list and Web site.

"In this way, the software contributes to the whole scientific community," Hoogenboom said.

Source: Georgia Faces via SeedQuest.com
25 May 2006


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3.02  Agricultural supercourse - a global repository of lectures

http://www.pitt.edu/~super1

Supercourse is a global repository of lectures targeting educators across the world.

 Supercourse has a network of over 32000 scientists in 151 countries who are sharing for free a library of over 2500 lectures. The concept of the Supercourse and its lecture style has been described as the Global Health Network University and the Hypertext Comic Books.

The Supercourse is planning to expand to establish an Agricultural Supercourse where the best scientific lectures in Agriculture are collected and distributed worldwide. We would very much like to identify a small group of people to discuss how this might be developed.

An example of an agricultural lecture on the Supercourse can be found at: Ushering the New Green Revolution: How Can Biotechnology Contribute to Food Security? Part I 

http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/lecture/agr0011/index.htm

Global faculty is developing and sharing their best, most passionate lectures in the area of Prevention and the Internet using an open source model. This benefits all. The experienced faculty member can beef up their lectures that are not cutting edge. New instructors reduce preparation time and have better lectures. Faculty in developing countries have access to current prevention information for the first time.

The Library of Lectures consists of exciting lectures by academic prevention experts in the field. The classroom teacher 'takes' them out for free like a library book. We 'coach' the teacher rather than directly teaching students from a distance. 

Multilingual - For global use, the first lecture is in 8 languages. We are experimenting with machine translation as well; Faculty - Six Noble Prize winners, the US Surgeon General, 60 IOM members and other top people contributed lectures.

We have published over 116 papers in leading medical journals including Nature, Lancet, British Medical Journal, Military Medicine, Nature Medicine, PNAS among others. Our web pages have been identified as in the top 100 by PC Magazine, and one of the top 11 content pages by the Lancet. We receive 75 million hits a year.

by Ronald E. LaPorte, Professor of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh; Ronlaporte@aol.com

Contributed by C S. Prakash
Editor, AgBioView
prakash@tuskegee.edu

4.  ERRATA: CORRECTIONS TO EDITION 166

4.01  Published in Edition 166 as: 1.24  Association among pollen grain features to maximise reproductive fitness: A study in Dianthus species

The correct e-mail address of Dr Tejaswini is tejaswini@iihr.ernet.in.

Dr. Tejaswini, Sr. Scientist, Div. of Ornamental Crops, Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Hessaraghatta Lake Post, Bangalore 560089, India.

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4.02  Published in Edition 166 as: 1.28  Selection of potato lines resistant to multiple pathogens

I would like to give you  minor correction on the news announced on Plant breeding news edition 166. I am informed by the group leader here in MPIZ ( Max - Planck institute for plant breeding research) that the lines are not selected and tested for resistance to G.Pallida , but for PVY, PVX,G.rostochiensis and S.endobioticum.

Best regards,
Wubishet A. Bekele
wubea2002@yahoo.com

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6. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

* 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

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* 1-2 June 2006.:Patent protection of plant-related innovations: facts and issues (ISF International Seminar), Copenhagen.
For programme see http://www.worldseed.org/PatentSeminar/Programme.htm

* 11-13 June 2006. Participatory Plant Breeding: Relevance for Organic Agriculture? La Besse (near Carcassonne), South West France. www.eco-pb.org/00/program_workshop_ppb.pdf

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

* 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

* 31 July -1 August 2006, Grass Breeders’ Conference, Ames, IA.
Information available at http://www.plantbreeding.iastate.edu/gbc.html, or by contacting Charlie Brummer, brummer@iastate.edu or Shui-zhang Fei (sfei@iastate.edu).

* 31 July – 4 August 2006. African Rice Congress, WARDA , Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Contact: Lawrence Narteh. http://www.warda.org/africa-rice-congress/

*8-10 August 2006. 7th Plant Genomics Conference, Heilongjiang University , Harbin, China. Contact: Rongtian Li, Zhenqiang Lu, Chunquan Ma. http://www.plantgenomics.cn

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

*16 - 19 August 2006.Tropical Crop Biotechnology Conference 2006, Cairns, Queensland, Australia.  Organized by: CSIRO Plant Industry. For more information: Contact: CSIRO Plant Industry s.mckell@uq.edu.au .Website: www.tcbc2006.com.au

* 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.

* 30 August – 1 September 2006. XIII EUCARPIA Biometrics in Plant Breeding Section Meeting, EUCARPIA , Zagreb, Croatia
Contact EUCARPIA SecretariatEvent Website
Links:
  Meeting Announcement (PDF)
Pre-registration Form (Word Document)

* 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.

* 9-13 October 2006. Second International Rice Congress 2006 (IRC2006). New Delhi, India. Organized jointly by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the theme of this congress is "Science, technology, and trade for peace and prosperity". It comprises four major events: the 26th International Rice Research Conference (including e.g. a session on 'genetics and genomics' and workshops on hybrid rice and on genetically modified rice and biosafety issues); the 2nd International Rice Commerce Conference; the 2nd International Rice Technology and Cultural Exhibition; and the 2nd International Ministers' Round Table Meeting. See http://www.icar.org.in/irc2006/ or contact pramodag@vsnl.com for more information.

* 11-14 October 2006 Plant Genomics European Meetings, Venice, Italy. http://www.distagenomics.unibo.it/plantgems/
Contact person: PGEM5@agrsci.unibo.it

* 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/.

* 8-9 February 2007. A national workshop on “Sustaining plant breeding as a vital national capacity for the future of U.S. agriculture,” Raleigh, NC.
Co-hosted by the Departments of Crop Science and Horticultural Science North Carolina State University

* 24-28 June 2007. The 9th International Pollination Symposium on Plant-Pollinator Relationships­Diversity in Action. Scheman Center, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. The Conference webpage can be viewed at: http://www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/plantbee/home.html

* 24-28 July 2007. The 9th International Pollination Symposium, Iowa State University (Note new dates, and see additional details in New Announcements, above). The official theme is: "Host-Pollinator Biology Relationships - Diversity in Action." For more information please visit http://www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/plantbee/home.html

* 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.

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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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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
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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