PLANT BREEDING NEWS

EDITION 174

8 January 2007

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

Clair H. Hershey, Editor
chh23@cornell.edu

Archived issues available at: FAO Plant Breeding Newsletter.

CONTENTS

1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
1.01  A future powered by fuel from plants
1.02  Ethanol or fiberboard – the fate of soybean plants
1.03  USDA/ARS geneticist Dr. Jerry Miller receives ASTA's Plant Breeding Award
1.04  Vietnam accedes to the UPOV Convention
1.05  Network set to boost plant breeding technique
1.06  CGIAR climate change research: Breeding climate-resilient crops
1.07  Public breeding produces new maize varieties for Kenyan farmers
1.08  Commercial release of Striga resistant maize in Kenya
1.09  New vegetables to boost African development
1.10  WARDA, The Africa Rice Center, wins 2006 United Nations Award in recognition of its New Rice for Africa (NERICA) initiative
1.11  Birth of the National Seed Association of Sierra Leone
1.12  ICRISAT and DBT partner to establish a center of excellence in genomics
1.13  India issues new regulations to protect plant varieties and farmers' rights
1.14  USA Rice Federation issues action plan to eliminate genetically engineered traits from U.S. rice supply
1.15  Brazilian gene bank becomes world's seventh largest
1.16  Is native maize diversity being lost in Mexico?
1.17  Crop Diversity Topics from the Global Crop Diversity Trust: Crops in Collision
1.18  Crop Diversity Topics from the Global Crop Diversity Trust: Mud, Blood, and Genes
1.19  Global Crop Diversity Trust and the GCP Sign Memorandum of Understanding, Commit to Align Research Portfolios
1.20  Factors affecting kernel yield in maize
1.21  New life for old varieties
1.22  Harvesting corn and stover in a single pass
1.23  New soybean pulls nitrogen from soil, not air
1.24  ARS develops low-phytate wheat
1.25  A wheat gene for better nutrition
1.26  New hybrid rice for Malaysia
1.27  Iowa develops soybean varieties with healthy oils
1.28  Found -- the apple gene for red
1.29  Counter defense strategy of virus
1.30  Gene discovery may improve wheat varieties - Newly cloned gene key to more adaptable wheat varieties
1.31  Scientists develop method to find genetic basis for plant variation
1.32  Plant biologist seeks molecular differences between rice and its mimic
1.33  John Innes Centre scientists develop revolutionary tool to predict heterosis in hybrid crops
1.34  RAPD markers associated with blackleg resistance in Brassica
1.35  CSIRO identifies markers for wheat rust resistance
1.36  Cultivated potato cpDNA sequenced
1.37  Elusive rust resistance genes located
1.38  Update 8-2006 of FAO-Biotech News
1.39  Selected Articles from Checkbiotech

2.  PUBLICATIONS
2.01  INTSORMIL publishes Atlas of Sorghum
2.02  The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Luareate Norman Borlaug and his Battle to End World Hunger
2.03  The Physiology of Crop Yield, Second Edition
2.04  The Plant Genome: a supplement to Crop Science
2.05  Proceedings of the First International Meeting on Cassava Plant Breeding
2.06  Editors Bradford & Nonogaki announce new seed book

3.  WEB RESOURCES
3.01  Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog
3.02  Canola Performance On-line Database (POD)

4  GRANTS AVAILABLE
4.01  Call opened for Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) fellowship grants
4.02  Biotechnology Risk Assessment RFA
4.03  Norman Bourlag fellowships
4.04  USDA National Needs Graduate Fellowships


5  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS
5.01  Executive Director, UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center
5.02  Molecular Fruit Tree Breeder
5.03  Program Specialist (Plant Science)
5.04  Rice breeding and hybrid development manager

6  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

7  EDITOR'S NOTES

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1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES

1.01  A future powered by fuel from plants

The notion of living plants as solar cells intended to capture the infinite energy of the Sun seems ideal; the problem is, plants are not as efficient as solar cells in storing a watt or two of electricity. But plants make up for that inefficiency with their low cost and their benefits to the environment. Plants use up carbon dioxide throughout their development and convert the carbon, along with the Suns energy, into stable organic compounds. This means that the Sun's energy is made available at a later date when the Sun isn't shining. Although plants may never be the total answer to our global energy problems, they have substantial potential as a source of carbon-neutral fuel for the transportation sector.

The scientific journal Nature is devoting this weeks Business Feature to biofuels, to explore their contribution to global energy needs in three different areas. Emma Marris examines a biofuel success: the Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol industry in Sugar cane and ethanol: Drink the best and drive the rest. The second feature, US biofuels: A field in ferment by Katharine Sanderson explores the role of other widely untapped sources of cellulose such as farm waste and poplar plantations that can also be utilized for the production of ethanol and other alcohols. In the third feature Liquid fuel synthesis: Making it up as you go along, Heidi Ledford analyses a different approach to biofuels the thermochemical route to produce fuel from biomass, and specifically, liquid hydocarbons from solid coal.

Subscribers can access the articles at
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7120/index.html#bnf

Source: CropBiotech Update 8 December 2006:

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

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1.02  Ethanol or fiberboard – the fate of soybean plants

It would seem like a tall story, but this soybean line has a rare ability to stand up straight all season, despite their unusual height of up to 7 feet. Soybean plants often lodge-fall down-as they grow taller. Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture believe these soybean plants can be utilized as fiberboard and other wood-substitute products.

Thomas Devine, an ARS geneticist, suspected one reason the experimental line of soybeans stood so straight all season was the unusually strong cellulose fibers in their sapling-like stalks. The difference between plants with strong cellulose and those with weak cellulose fibers is where they ultimately end up - the former in briquettes and wood substitutes, while the latter in cellulosic ethanol production.

ARS chemical engineer Justin Barone hopes to design a test that plant breeders can use to determine the strength or weakness of a plant's cellulose.  Giving breeders a test for cellulose strength would allow them to distinguish between plants apt for use as fiberboard and those suitable for ethanol production.

The complete news release is available at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2006/061122.htm.

From CropBiotech Update 24 November 2006:

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

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1.03  USDA/ARS geneticist Dr. Jerry Miller receives ASTA's Plant Breeding Award

Alexandria, Virginia
Dr. Jerry Miller received the Genetics and Plant Breeding Award at the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) meeting held in Chicago, Illinois, December 6-8.

Dr. Miller is a Research Geneticist in the Sunflower Research Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, in Fargo, N.D.

Miller was cited for his many contributions to sunflower improvement during his 31- year career with the USDA. His achievements include a key role in the successful conversion by the U.S. sunflower industry from a highly polyunsaturated sunflower oil to a highly monounsaturated oil called NuSun(TM). Miller was also recognized for his development and release of the first herbicide- resistant sunflower germplasm, and for numerous sunflower lines with enhanced disease resistance.

The award, sponsored by the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders (NCCPB), honors a plant breeder who has made outstanding basic contributions to the advancement of plant breeding and genetics in the public sector.

Source: American Seed Trade Association e-News via SeedQuest.com
22 December 2006

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1.04  Vietnam accedes to the UPOV Convention

Geneva, Switzerland
Today Vietnam became the sixty-third member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

The purpose of the UPOV Convention is to encourage the development of new varieties of plants by granting breeders an intellectual property right on the basis of a set of clearly defined principles. To be eligible for protection, varieties need to satisfy certain conditions, such as being distinct from existing, commonly known varieties and sufficiently uniform and stable. New varieties of plants are one of the most powerful tools to enhance food production in a sustainable way, to increase income in the agricultural sector and to contribute to overall development.

The Secretary-General of UPOV, Dr. Kamil Idris, welcomed the deposit of the instrument of accession of Viet Nam to the UPOV Convention (1991 Act) and expressed his satisfaction that UPOV has now reached 63 members.

As of December 24, 2006, the members of UPOV are:
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, European Community, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.

UPOV is an intergovernmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Source: SeedQuest.com
24 November 2006

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1.05  Network set to boost plant breeding technique

BUJUMBURA
Public and private agricultural research centres in ten East and Central African countries will form a network to promote the rapid adoption of a plant breeding method in the region.

Plant tissue culture (TC) uses plant cells or tissue from a healthy mother plant to grow thousands of young plants. The method reduces the risk of disease and produces more uniform crops that grow at the same rate.

The network was agreed at a workshop in Bujumbura, Burundi last week (29 November – 1 December), organised by the Uganda-based Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA).

The association comprises research institutes in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Participants, who included farmers, plant scientists and private entrepreneurs, asked the association to create a database to produce and store data on crop-diseases. This would help identify which diseases should be tackled first and how many young plants should be grown using TC in the sub-Sahara region.

The network, whose office is expected to be in Kenya or Uganda, would enable researchers, farmers and businesses involved in TC to meet regularly.

ASARECA also pledged to help scientists improve their business skills, and develop intellectual property policies for researchers to enable them to make full use of new agricultural technologies.

The public sector has a duty to empower farmers and support private sector services, said Tilahun Zeweldu, a regional coordinator for the international Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II.

But John Bahana of AgroSystems Consulting Centre in Uganda, warned that involving public institutions in the network will create conflicts of interest and limit the desired rapid transfer of technology.

Delegates also called for the establishment of gene banks and urged public bodies to better cooperate with the private sector. Adequate public support is key for the success of private firms in TC they said, for instance to deliver orders on time for farmers.

The workshop was funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

Peter Wamboga-Mugirya

Source: SciDev.Net
5 December 2006

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1.06  CGIAR climate change research: Breeding climate-resilient crops

Reducing plants' thirst at the molecular level
Drought reduces annual worldwide maize yields by as much as 15 percent, representing losses of in excess of 20 million tons of grain. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is using conventional breeding to develop maize for small farmers in Southern Africa that withstands drought and infertile soils and produces yields 30 to 50 percent greater than traditional varieties. CIMMYT scientists are working to achieve even greater gains by using tools from molecular biology. With the aid of a genomic map that combines data for different types of tropical maize in diverse environments, they are identifying genetic "hot spots" in maize, that is, areas of the crop's chromosomes that confer drought tolerance. This work is critical in light of a recent study that says climate change could inflict a 10 percent reduction in maize yields in Africa and Latin America during the coming decades.
Contact: Jean-Marcel Ribault and Jonathan Crouch,
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

New technology helps scientists identify "stay-green" genes to help sorghum cheat the heat
Crops such as sorghum and millet­staple cereal grains and fodder crop grown by subsistence farmers in the hottest, driest regions of sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent­are the most heat- and drought-hardy crops addressed by CGIAR breeders. Their treasure chest of stress tolerance genes may someday be unlocked to benefit other crops, through the marvel of "comparative genomics" research underway within the CGIAR's Generation Challenge Programme. For this dream to be realized, the valuable genes have to be mapped and their functions understood. Researchers at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) are using a technique known as marker-assisted selection (MAS) to identify and isolate genes in sorghum that display the "stay-green" characteristics that allow the plant to mature normally in low-moisture, high-heat areas. MAS accelerates classical breeding by locating desired genetic traits on the chromosomes, setting the stage for plant breeders to transfer those genes into popular but drought-susceptible varieties or, eventually, into other cereal crops. "Stay-green" genes delay the premature death of leaves and plants, help the normal grain filling, and reduce the incidence of plants "lodging," or falling over on the ground.
Contact: Mark Winslow,
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

Boosting rice's photosynthesis
As climate change continues to shrink the area suitable for rice production, and population growth continues apace, researchers at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have turned their attention to a radical new way to increase yields that involves completely refiguring what's known as the engine of rice production: photosynthesis. Armed with new knowledge from the rice genome, the researchers' aim is to enable the plant to capture solar energy more efficiently so that it can, in turn, produce greater yields. Photosynthetically, rice and other so-called C3 plants like wheat, are underachievers because as much as 40 percent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide they work to convert to sugar is lost by respiration in daylight­releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere­a wasteful process called "photorespiration." To create a more efficient and thus higher yielding rice plant, researchers would convert the grain to a C4 plant (where "C" stands for the number of carbon molecules captured by photosynthesis for growth) that has evolved biochemical "carbon dioxide pumps" to concentrate atmospheric carbon dioxide in the leaf, thus overcoming photorespiration. These plants are up to 50 percent more efficient in converting solar energy into biomass and are fast growing, efficient users of water and soil nutrients.
Contact: John Sheehy, International Rice Research Institute

Fine-tuning a plant's internal clock
Sorghum and millet breeders at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) are focusing new attention on photoperiod-sensitive breeding stocks that give farmers an added tool to adapt to rainfall variability. Plants, like humans and other organisms, have internal clocks that tell them when to flower by taking cues from the length of daylight. During the Green Revolution, breeders of many grains eliminated photoperiod sensitivity so that plants could be grown anywhere, anytime. The catch was that these non-photoperiod-sensitive plants required ideal growing conditions­sufficient water and the right temperature. In many sorghum-growing regions, the onset of the rainy season­always unpredictable­may become even more so as the climate changes. So breeders have had to "program" the crop to mature at the time of year when conditions are most likely to be favorable for grain development, regardless of when they are planted. Photoperiod-sensitive sorghum and millet will catch up or slow down so their flowering and grain filling occurs at a roughly constant calendar date, which tends to be the period when the rains are winding down but there is still enough water in the soil to complete grain development.
Contact: Mark Winslow,
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

"Waterproof" rice to protect farmers from devastating floods
The risk of flooding in southern Asia's low-lying, rice-growing regions will continue to increase as climate change leads to greater precipitation in this and many other regions. In Southeast Asia alone, annual flood-related losses surpass USD$1 billion, placing millions of lives at risk of hunger. Rice supplies the majority of calories for more than 3 billion people worldwide and is the only cereal crop that can withstand any submergence. Yet even rice will die if fully submerged for too long. Taking advantage of the recently sequenced rice gene, researchers at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the University of California at Davis have identified a gene, called Sub1A, found in a little-used variety of rice, which allows the plant to survive completely submerged for up to two weeks. When the plant is covered with water, its oxygen and carbon dioxide supplies are reduced, which interferes with photosynthesis and respiration­in which the plant converts sugars into energy for growth. Lacking air and sunlight, growth is inhibited, and most plants die after three days. The Sub1A gene, when overexpressed, or hyperactivated, essentially waterproofs the plant. The flood-tolerant trait has already been transferred into a variety of rice, called Swarna, widely grown in Bangladesh, which has benefited farmers by withstanding floods without sacrificing its high yield, acceptable taste, or adaptation to regional growing conditions.
Contact: David Mackill, International Rice Research Institute

Source: EurekAlert.org
4 December 2006

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1.07  Public breeding produces new maize varieties for Kenyan farmers

Nairobi, Kenya
By Jane Ininda, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) 
Scientists working within the Maize Breeders Network (MBNET) and based at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute have been undertaking plant breeding with the goal of improving farmers’ livelihoods through development and deployment of improved maize varieties.  Every year public and private breeders in Kenya evaluate new crop varieties in National Performance trials conducted in diverse maize growing ecologies of Kenya for adaptation.  During a recently convened National Performance Trial meeting in Nairobi, Kenya (November, 2006), ten (10) improved maize varieties bred by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute were recommended for pre-release or full release (see below for characteristics of each maize variety). This paves way for the process of commercialization and delivery of new technology (new varieties) to farmers by the development organizations and the private sector. 

The varieties released include:
Four Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs) were recommended for release in the Dryland areas of Kenya (1200 masl)
Two High Yielding Maize Streak Virus resistant Hybrids were recommended for  pre-release in the Mid -Altitude areas (1600-1800 masl) of Kenya
One Open Pollinated Variety (OPV) with stem borer resistance was released for the Mid- Altitude areas of Kenya (1600-1800 masl)
One Hybrid was pre-released for the High Altitude areas of Kenya (1800-2200 masl)
One Open Pollinated Variety (OPV) for frost prone areas of Kenya (>2400 masl)

The varieties produce higher yields than those currently grown by farmers, are tolerant to drought and also resistant to maize streak virus disease, stem borer damage, and turcicum leaf blight and gray leaf spot.   The varieties are available for commercialization in dryland, mid-altitude and highland ecologies of Kenya. 

The complete description of the Maize Breeders Network (MBNET) is available at http://www.africancrops.net/maizenetwork/index.htm

Source: Africancrops.net via SeedQuest.com
December 2006

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1.08  Commercial release of Striga resistant maize in Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya
The Partnership to Control Striga in Kenya has organized an event in Kisumu City, Kenya on 13-15 December 2006 to facilitate the commercial release of Striga-resistant maize, locally known as Ua Kayongo.

The commercial release is led by Western Seed Company and follows extensive tests, farm trials and awareness activities conducted in the last two years involving Ua Kayongo maize and other Striga eradication options for over 10,000 small scale farmers in western Kenya. These activities were aimed at confining, reducing and eliminating Striga infestation in order to improve maize yields, food security and wellbeing of the rural poor.

The Partnership is led by Agricultural Technology Foundation, BASF, CIMMYT and FORMAT in collaboration with a network of NGOs, seed companies, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and farmer associations in Kenya. Striga hermonthica has infested approximately 200,000 ha in Nyanza and Western Provinces of Kenya and resulted in crop losses estimated at $80 million per year. 

The new herbicide-resistant maize hybrid and seed coated herbicide technology is based upon inherited resistance of maize to a systemic herbicide (imazapyr), a mechanism widely recognized as imazapyr-resistance (I-R).  When I-R maize seed is coated with the herbicide, Striga attempting to parasitize the resulting plant are destroyed.  Imazapyr is marketed to Kenyan seed companies producing I-R Ua Kayongo maize (mixed vernacular for Striga killer) under the trade name Strigaway®.

More information about the event and Striga control in Kenya is available at www.africancrops.net/striga.

Inquiries can be directed to Canon Savala (FORMAT), email: format@wananchi.com, Nancy Muchiri (AATF), email: n.muchiri@aatf-africa.org) and Fred Kanampiu (CIMMYT), email: f.kanampiu@cgiar.org.

Comments about this news article can be posted and shared through the Maize Forum of the African Crops Message and Discussion Board or by email to: africancrops@wananchi.com.

Source: Africancrops.net via SeedQuest.com
December 2006

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1.09  New vegetables to boost African development

AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are combining forces to give Africa’s vegetable sector a new future

Tainan, Taiwan
Agriculture, Africa’s economic key sector will receive a major boost through joint efforts between AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation will support the World Vegetable Center’s program to produce adapted vegetable varieties and establish vegetable seed sectors in sub-Saharan Africa. With an initial budget of over $12 million the first phase of the project begins in December 2006.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only major region in the world where poverty is increasing rather than decreasing, and where human development indicators are worsening. A major need is to improve incomes and options in agriculture which accounts for 30 to 40% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in most African countries, and provides livelihoods to around 80-90% of the African population.

Investments in agriculture can bring improvements in the livelihoods of the poor in Africa’s rural, peri-urban and urban areas. “Vegetables have the highest potential for creating jobs and additional income among the various types of food crops, and can foster rural development”, says Thomas Lumpkin, the Center’s Director General. “The enhanced consumption of vegetables and the greater dietary diversity they provide can also help to alleviate micronutrient malnutrition that is a cause of chronic diseases, blindness and weakened immune systems particularly among children and mothers. Vegetables are one of the most cost-effective and sustainable solutions to micronutrient deficiencies which affect far more people than hunger alone.” This is crucial in most of sub-Saharan Africa, where per capita vegetable consumption is well below the minimum level of 200 g/day recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

African vegetable production continues to rely on old or imported European varieties which are often unsuited to the disease and climatic stresses encountered in Africa. The project will deliver 150 new vegetable varieties in cooperation with African seed companies. Work will be centered in Tanzania, Madagascar, Cameroon and Mali to reach the different key agro-climatic zones of Africa.

The World Vegetable Center was founded in 1971 as the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC). Headquartered in Taiwan, it has major regional centers in Tanzania, India and Thailand and program offices in five other developing countries. It is the world’s leading vegetable research and development center.

Source: SeedQuest.com
5 December 2006

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1.10  WARDA, The Africa Rice Center, wins 2006 United Nations Award in recognition of its New Rice for Africa (NERICA) initiative

Cotonou, Benin
The Africa Rice Center (WARDA) has been selected to receive the 2006 United Nations Award for South-South Triangular Partnership in recognition of its New Rice for Africa (NERICA) initiative.

The announcement was made by His Excellency Eladio Loizaga, Permanent Representative of Paraguay to the United Nations in his capacity as President, High-level Committee of South-South Cooperation of the United Nations General Assembly.

The UN South-South Partnership Award is presented to individuals or institutions for "spearheading, transforming, empowering, mobilizing and/or expanding the South-South agenda by increasing human and financial resources of the South through partnership for development."

"WARDA is receiving this award because of its pioneering efforts in brokering North-South partnerships in order to create hybridized varieties of rice applicable to conditions in the South," the President said.

"The success of the NERICA initiative can inspire others to follow the WARDA example in implementing triangular cooperation," he added. "This is of particular importance to the General Assembly and to the countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, which are seeking to promote their economic and social advancement through South-South Cooperation."

The groundbreaking work on the NERICAs was carried out by an international research team led by Dr Monty Jones, then a WARDA scientist. This earned him the 2004 World Food Prize, the first-ever won by an African. Dr Jones is currently the Executive Secretary of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

Hearing the news of the UN Award, WARDA's new Director General and former Chair of FARA, Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, said that he was very happy for WARDA and for Africa.

"We are greatly honored by this important award, which is a tribute not only to WARDA but to all the partners who have been involved in the NERICA development and dissemination, particularly through the Interspecific Hybridization Project (IHP)," he said.

IHP was launched by WARDA to bring together the pool of expertise from advanced research institutes to African national programs through collaborative networks linking individual experts and institutions around the world. It was supported by Japan, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Rockefeller and Gatsby Foundations. IHP is continuing to advance further the research and development work on the NERICAs in Africa.

The IHP research and development partners include the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI); Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT); Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS); Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD); Cornell, Tokyo and Yunnan Universities; and the national programs of African countries.

The research on NERICAs has also been sponsored right from the beginning by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which supports WARDA.

Congratulating WARDA on this "additional major recognition", Dr Francisco Reifschneider, CGIAR Director, remarked, "This will serve as an inspiration to others inside and outside the agricultural sector. South-South Triangular Partnerships are more critical today than ever, and WARDA is a wonderful example of this productive collaboration."

The formal award ceremony will take place on 19 December 2006 at UN Headquarters to mark the Third UN Day for South-South Cooperation. His Excellency Mr Kenzo Oshima, Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, has been invited to present the award.

Invited speakers include UN Secreatry General Kofi Annan, Mr Kemal Dervis, UNDP Administrator and former United States President Bill Clinton, the Secretary General's Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery.

Dr Seck, who will receive the UN Award on behalf of WARDA, expressed his deep gratitude to IHP donors and partners, particularly UNDP, Japan, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Dr Seck also thanked the CGIAR, the World Bank and other NERICA champions for their strong support to WARDA that has enabled the Center and its partners to sustain vital research activities.

He recognized the valuable contribution from WARDA member countries including the national programs, advanced research institutes, nongovernmental organizations and CGIAR Alliance Centers.

"This prestigious award gives us additional encouragement and inspiration to serve Africa better by harnessing the best of science and technology through productive partnership," Dr Seck said.

Link: http://www.warda.org/warda/newsrel-UNAward-dec06.asp
Version française < http://www.warda.org/warda/adrao/newsrel-UNAward-dec06.asp

Africa Rice Center (WARDA) is an autonomous inter-governmental research association of African member states. WARDA is also one of the 15 international agricultural research Centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

The 'New Rice for Africa' (NERICA), which is bringing hope to millions of poor people in Africa, was developed by WARDA and its partners. The success of the NERICAs has helped shape the Center's future direction, extending its horizon beyond West and Central Africa into Eastern and Southern Africa.

Since January 2005, the Center has been working from Cotonou, Benin, having relocated from its headquarters in Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire, because of the civil conflicts in the country. It has regional research stations near St Louis, Senegal and at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Source: SeedQuest.com
4 December 2006

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1.11  Birth of the National Seed Association of Sierra Leone

Key people in the seed sector of Sierra Leone have been in contact with the secretariat of the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) since December 2005 to discuss the setting up of a national seed trade association. After several meetings of the seed stakeholders, they decided to establish the Seed Trade Association of Sierra Leone (STASL).

The launching workshop was held on 29 November 2006 in Freetown in which about fifty seed people from several parts of Sierra Leone actively participated. The opening ceremony was graced by Honorable John Abdulai Karim- Sesay, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security who stated that in line with the ongoing privatization policy of the government, it is important that Sierra Leone puts in place a national seed trade association, which will be a platform of discussion to exchange views among themselves and will work in partnership with the public sector. He also emphasized the crucial role of quality seeds in improving agricultural productivity and assured the participants the support of the Ministry.

The Secretary General of the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) who was also present at this workshop laid the stress on the key elements for the good functioning of seed trade association and gave practical advice for its management. He encouraged, among others, the establishment of an Executive Secretariat for the association, which is crucial for the success of the associations. He also states that the association should defend the interests of its members and they should strictly respect the Constitution and Bylaws.

This workshop was also an opportunity for the participants to ask the Secretary General of AFSTA various questions about AFSTA and about seed associations in the other African countries to which he satisfactorily answered. The Assistant Secretary General of National Association of farmers of Sierra Leone (NAFSL), Mr. Andrew R. Conteh, presented the vision and objectives of the STASL, which can be
summarized as to encourage seed actors to harmonize efforts in promoting the seed industry.

After a thorough review of the Constitution and Bylaws of STASL, they were adopted and the interim Board composed by 9 members and chaired by Mr. Alfred B. Kargbo, was elected. He presented the overall strategy of seed sector of Sierra Leone in which the private sector is expected to play an active role since the government gradually plans to withdraw from commercial productions of seeds. He also mentioned that “until July 2006, Sierra Leone has no documented Seed Policy although several political statements exist, which impinge on the seed sector. Today, a National Seed Policy exists representing the views of all seed industry stakeholders to ensure that our seed industry efforts are adequately guided into the distant future”.

The association was created at the right time to help the harmonization process of seed policy and regulations initiated by the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) in the sub-region. It will closely collaborate with the public sector to implement the technical standards adopted by the sub-region.

The association is planning to join AFSTA to receive information on seeds and to actively participate in AFSTA activities.

The workshop was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France through AFSTA. The Secretary General of AFSTA thanked the French support to the African seed industry during his opening speech.
By Mr. Justin Rakotoarisaona, Secretary General of AFSTA
Newsletter: http://www.seedquest.com/seed/associations/international/afsta/newsletters/pdf/06dec_e.pdf

Source: SeedQuest.com

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1.12  ICRISAT and DBT partner to establish a center of excellence in genomics
The India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) have agreed to create a new Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), expected to become fully operational in 2007. DBT will provide financial support for the center, which will be located at ICRISAT. The new center will provide: 1) high-throughput, low-cost allele detection platforms, to strengthen ICRISAT's existing facilities for molecular marker assisted selection and breeding; 2) access to "large scale field screening" for abiotic stresses such as drought and salinity; 3) biometrics (agricultural statistics) and bioinformatics support; and 4) fellowships and training in the use of high-throughput methods of plant breeding and research. The center's facilities will be available to ICRISAT researchers and to researchers from other agricultural research institutes. The press release can be viewed online at the link below.
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=news&doc_id=14071&start=11&control=200&page_start=1&page_nr=101&pg=1

Source: Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) Latest News Alerts
11-22 December 2006

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1.13  India issues new regulations to protect plant varieties and farmers' rights

New Delhi, India
India’s Ministry of Agriculture has issued a new set of regulations aiming to protect plant varieties and farmers' rights. This is part of an effort to expedite the implementation of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act 2001. The new regulations came into force on December 7, 2006, immediately after the notification by the Ministry of Agriculture through an official gazette.

The new regulations stipulated the duties and jurisdiction of the registrar, gave criteria and detailed guidelines for registration of plant varieties and essentially derived varieties, mechanism of seed deposit, and also provided sample authorization and application forms.

Regulations in PDF format: http://www.plantauthority.in/PDFile/Indgazette.pdf

CropBiotech Update via SeedQuest.com
5 January 2007

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1.14  USA Rice Federation issues action plan to eliminate genetically engineered traits from U.S. rice supply

Arlington, Virginia
The USA Rice Federation today released a recommended plan of action to remove genetically engineered rice from the U.S. supply to re-establish a marketable supply of U.S. rice.

Following U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Mike Johanns’ August 18, 2006, announcement of the trace presence of genetically engineered (GE) rice in the commercial supply, the USA Rice Federation has worked with industry and government officials to identify the Bayer CropScience Liberty Link traits and to mitigate their market effects.

“The action plan released today proposes urgent, concrete steps to be taken to restore market confidence,” declared Al Montna, a California rice producer and chairman of the USA Rice Federation. “We are requesting that state authorities take specific actions to ensure that commercial seed supplies for the 2007 crop have tested negative for the presence of Liberty Link (LL) genetically engineered traits. The plan also makes recommendations to all segments of the rice industry to further ensure that Liberty Link traits do not appear in the rice supply from 2007 forward,” Montna said.

“A specially appointed USA Rice Federation committee headed by Brian King, chairman of the USA Rice Merchants Association developed the plan,” Montna said. “The committee included individuals from all segments of the rice industry over the last month, and we encourage in the strongest terms that the industry ­ and appropriate state authorities ­ take action so we may achieve the goal of removing all genetically engineered traits from the 2007 crop,” Montna said.

These actions are recommended despite statements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the food safety organizations in foreign markets that the GE rice at issue is safe for human consumption.

The closure of Europe and other markets to U.S. long-grain rice, and the imminent threat of closure or onerous testing in other markets, makes the promulgation of this action plan an immediate and necessary act of leadership, Montna said. “This is a plan for rice only, and it is ambitious so that our industry can get back to doing what it does best ­ growing and marketing rice ­ rather than engaging us and our customers in endless testing.”

“The economic viability of all segments of the rice industry are in jeopardy,” said USA Rice Producers Group Chairman Paul T. Combs. “We must show leadership and act decisively to solve this problem and restore stability in the marketplace,”

“Producers continue to be burdened as a result of the genetically engineered rice discovery, and it is imperative that we do everything in our power to stop GE rice production until such time as there is widespread regulatory approval and consumer acceptance in markets,” Combs continued. “But let’s clearly understand that all industry segments continue to share a financial burden resulting from the LL presence in long-grain rice.”

The Task Group recommendations call for:
-A standard seed-testing protocol for the detection of the presence of Liberty Link (LL) traits for all head row / breeder and foundation seed with test samples pulled by state certifying agencies using state-approved methods 
-Each seed processor to agree to submit samples with a state seed-certifying agency number to one of the Bayer-approved and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) proficiency-tested labs.
-No Cheniere rice seed to be sold for rice production in 2007 and no 2007 crop-year Cheniere to be accepted at the first point of delivery; the allowance that buyers may accept 2006 crop-year Cheniere until July 31, 2007
-An allowance for an increase of Cheniere rice seed production in 2007 for 2008 and 2009 seed stocks provided that all such seed stocks are certified negative for LL traits
-State agencies to notify all seed processors, growers and dealers of these requirements and the need for certification
-Growers to provide, and first points of delivery to receive, documentation certifying GMO-negative results, with the Association of Official Seed Certification Agents to provide all LL-negative certification for commercial seed and USDA-GIPSA to certify that the process was completed under accepted protocols.

“The action plan we are proposing here is a living document,” Montna explained. “As a the industry learns more from the USDA investigation, scientists, customers and other industry experts, we will amend the recommendations as necessary and communicate those adjustments to the industry.”

Document detailing the recommendations summarized above: http://www.usarice.com/industry/communication/SeedRecs.pdf

USA Rice Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the rice industry, conducting activities to influence government programs, developing and initiating programs to increase worldwide demand for U.S. rice, and providing other services to increase profitability for all industry segments.

Source: SeedQuest.com
30 November 2006

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1.15  Brazilian gene bank becomes world's seventh largest

RIO DE JANEIRO
A Brazilian gene bank of plant seeds has become the world's seventh largest, behind banks in United States, China, Germany, Japan, India and South Korea.

Gene banks store genetic material from plants or animals ­ such as seeds, spores or eggs ­ frozen in cold chambers at minus 20 degrees Celsius, keeping it intact for over 100 years for later use.

Last week, the number of seed samples stored in the gene bank managed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) reached 102,000, representing genetic material collected from 500 different plant species.

Magaly Wetzel, a coordinating manager of the 30-year-old gene bank, said that conserving a rich variety of seeds is essential for a country with a strong agribusiness sector like Brazil.

"The seeds provide a wide range of genes that can be used to develop more suitable crops for every Brazilian region. With genetic improvement it's possible to originate plants with resistance to diseases or to dryness," said Wetzel, who is a researcher at the Genetic Resources and Biotechnology Unit of Embrapa.

Gene banks can also help prevent species extinction. If the seeds are stored, plants that no longer sprout naturally can be reintegrated into agriculture.

This has been done by several indigenous communities ­ such as the Krahô, Guarani and Indian tribes from the Xingu river basin in Brazil ­ that approached Embrapa asking for primitive plants seeds that no longer germinate. The species were important not only to their agricultural system but also to their cultural rituals.

Samples with commercial value ­ especially soybean, rice, beans and corn ­ are conserved, as well as primitive ones like cotton and cassava.

Wetzel says four new cold chambers will open this month, doubling the bank's capacity to 240,000 samples.

"Now we have to work to fill them. Agriculture sustains men, but only genetic resources can ensure a sustainable agriculture," she told SciDev.Net.

New seeds are constantly added to the bank from international exchanges and field collections. Regular tests evaluate their germination ability.

The world's largest seed bank is managed by the Agriculture Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. It holds more than 460,000 seed samples and has the capacity to store up to 1 million.

Marina Ramalho

Source: SciDev.net
6 December 2006

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1.16  Is native maize diversity being lost in Mexico?

El Batán, Mexico
Evidence from CIMMYT suggests that maize landraces in a major farming zone in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas have been replaced by hybrids and other improved varieties, as a result of state programs to promote modern, more productive agriculture.

“Maize landraces have virtually disappeared in La Frailesca,” says research assistant Dagoberto Flores, referring to a large, commercial farming region in southern Chiapas state, southeastern Mexico. “In 2000, 90% of the area was sown to improved open-pollinated maize varieties and landraces; now the breakdown is probably 90% hybrids, 5% landraces, and 5% OPVs. The traditional practice of exchanging seed has almost disappeared.”

Flores, who has interviewed hundreds of Mexican farmers in his 23 or so years at CIMMYT, is now assisting PhD student Joost van Heerwaarden in a detailed study of gene flow among maize varieties in La Frailesca and several other areas of southeastern Mexico. The work combines geographic information system mapping, extensive interviews with farmers about the maize types they and their neighbors grow, genetic analysis of seed of those maize types using DNA markers, and intricate computer models of probable movements of pollen among neighboring fields.

The purpose? To understand what happens when hybrids or improved, open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) are introduced into areas where landraces are grown. “We’re trying to bring some precision to the discussions on diversity,” says van Heerwaarden. “You can have diversity­that is, two things that are different­but to what degree do they differ, and how significant or useful is the difference? If the diversity present is the result of thousands of years of farmer selection, then losing it will be more significant than losing something brought in more recently.”

CIMMYT has studied maize diversity and farmer seed management extensively in this region, but both appear to be changing along with demography, policy, and the economy. La Frailesca furnishes a sort of “laboratory” where many such changes are occurring especially fast. Near the mountainous countryside that bred the Zapatista uprising and a gateway for undocumented immigrants from Central America, La Frailesca is dominated by cattle and coffee, but maize provides food and extra income through sale of grain. Poverty still pervades local communities, and many working-age men migrate to the USA, often leaving women and the elderly to tend fields.

Until recently farmers grew mostly locally-bred landrace varieties, which gave a better grain type for tortillas and other preferred foods, but relatively low yields. A little more than a decade ago, many switched to improved, hybrid maize, through a state-sponsored program that offers seed plus other inputs (e.g. fertilizer and pesticides) and services (such as technical advice and crop loss insurance) on credit, to be repaid at harvest. The use of hybrids varies radically from season to season. Risk is a significant factor for farmers, says Flores: “In a good year, it’s worth it to grow the hybrid­the average profit is 80% more than with a landrace. The problem is when you have a bad year, like recent ones with hurricanes or droughts. The investment in seed and other inputs exposes farmers to potential losses many cannot afford.”

An important factor is that farmers can save and replant OPV seed­either improved or landrace­without losing yield or other qualities, whereas with hybrids they must purchase fresh seed each season to obtain high yields. Landraces are found more often at higher elevations and among people of indigenous background. Men and women also differ in the maize types they prefer, says Flores: “For men yield is important, but women value quality traits, such as better tortilla-making quality or requiring less fuel to cook.”

Flores and van Heerwaarden have found that farmers often grow several different maize types­hybrids, landraces, and improved OPVs­in their fields, and these may be surrounded by other varieties or hybrids in neighboring farmers’ fields. There is probably considerable gene flow among these different types, according to van Heerwaarden: “Many of the varieties that farmers call landraces or manage like landraces are actually recycled improved varieties.”

Van Heerwaarden expects to wrap up his study by January 2007. Changing circumstances in southeastern Mexico, the relative unprofitability of maize farming, and the migration of youth from the region could portend profound changes in maize genetic diversity in farmers’ fields. In lowland areas, according to Flores, some farmers have abandoned maize altogether and use subsidies to underwrite cattle raising. The results of van Heerwaarden’s research should provide a better idea of the status of maize diversity and the costs of maintaining it, as rural inhabitants seek to escape poverty via improved varieties, diversified agriculture, or alternative livelihoods.

For more information, contact Jonathan Hellin, Poverty Specialist, (j.hellin@cgiar.org)

Source: : CIMMYT E-News, vol 3 no. 11, November 2006 via SeedQuest.com
November 2006

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1.17  Crop diversity topics from the Global Crop Diversity Trust: crops in collision

According to a recent article in the Global Crop Diversity Trust's Crop Diversity Topics, there are three imminent threats that the agricultural world should be taking very seriously: climate change, water use, and energy shortage. For this reason, the article contends, guarding crop diversity is more important than ever if the world is to continue producing the food needed to maintain its inhabitants.
Read the full article.

Source: Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) Latest News Alerts GCP Home Page
17 November-11 December 2006

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1.18  Crop diversity topics from the Global Crop Diversity Trust: mud, blood, and genes
A recent article from Crop Diversity Topics outlined the dangers of losing invaluable plant genetic resources due to human and natural disasters. Typhoons, wars, and political unrest have all been recent causes of damage to some of the world's important genebanks, leading to the question, "What can we do to better protect global biodiversity?"
Read the full text here.

Source: Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) Latest News
Alerts GCP Home Page
17 November-11 December 2006

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1.19  Global Crop Diversity Trust and the GCP Sign Memorandum of Understanding, Commit to Align Research Portfolios

On 5 December 2006 at the CGIAR Annual General Meeting, Cary Fowler, executive secretary of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (‘the Trust’), and Jean-Marcel Ribaut, GCP director, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), formally initiating collaboration between the two organizations. The Trust’s mission is to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide, and the GCP is creating a public platform for exploring and applying crop diversity in plant breeding programmes. “Our organizations have complimentary mandates, and together we can work more efficiently and toward greater impact,” commented Jean-Marcel Ribaut at the signing of the MOU.

The Trust and the GCP agreed to explore opportunities for collaborative research within their existing portfolios and look for new opportunities to work together.

For more information about the Trust, please contact Julian Laird, Director of Development for the Trust: julian.laird@croptrust.org .

Source: Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) Latest News Alerts
11-22 December 2006

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1.20  Factors affecting kernel yield in maize

Understanding nitrogen metabolism is of critical importance to crop management, as nitrogen availability is one of the major factors limiting crop growth and yield. All of the nitrogen in a plant, whether derived initially from nitrate, nitrogen fixation, or ammonium ions, is converted to ammonia, which is rapidly incorporated into organic compounds through a number of metabolic pathways beginning with the activity of the enzyme glutamine synthetase (GS), which catalyzes formation of the amino acid glutamine from ammonia and glutamic acid. An individual nitrogen atom may pass many times through the GS reaction, following uptake from the soil, assimilation, remobilization, and delivery to growing roots and leaves, and ultimately, deposition in seed as storage proteins. Thus GS is likely to be a major check-point controlling plant growth and crop productivity.

In research reported in The Plant Cell, scientists Antoine Martin and Bertrand Hirel from the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) in Versailles, France, together with colleagues from institutions in the U.K., Spain, and Japan, present new information on the roles of two forms (isoenzymes) of cytosolic glutamine synthetase (GS) in maize, which underscores the importance of this enzyme and nitrogen metabolism in cereal crop productivity. Improving nitrogen use efficiency of crop plants, i.e. reducing the amount of costly nitrogen fertilizer inputs that farmers need to apply to crops while at the same time maintaining and even improving yields, is an important goal in crop research. As noted by Dr. Hirel, “a more complete understanding of the roles of GS enzymes in nitrogen metabolism and grain yield in maize and other crop plants (including rice, wheat and barley) may lead to improvements in fertilizer usage and crop yield, thus mitigating the detrimental effects of the overuse of fertilizers on the environment“.

The roles of these two GS isoenzymes, products of the Gln1-3 and Gln1-4 genes, were investigated by examining the impact of knock-out mutations on kernel yield. GS gene expression was impaired in the mutants, resulting in reduced levels of GS1 protein and activity. The gln1-4 phenotype displayed reduced kernel size whereas gln1-3 had reduced kernel number, and both phenotypes were evident in the gln1-3 gln1-4 double mutant. Shoot biomass production at maturity was not affected in either the single mutants or double mutants, suggesting that both gene products play a specific role in grain production. Levels of asparagine increased in the leaves of the mutants during grain filling, most likely as a mechanism for circumventing toxic ammonium buildup resulting from abnormally low GS1 activity. Phloem sap analysis revealed that, unlike glutamine, asparagine is not efficiently transported to developing maize kernels, which could account for the reduced kernel production in the mutants. Constitutive overexpression of Gln1-3 in maize leaves resulted in a 30% increase in kernel number relative to wild type, providing further evidence that GS1 plays a major role in kernel yield.

Some of the major cereals, such as maize, sorghum, and sugar cane, exhibit C4 photosynthesis, which enhances the efficiency of photosynthesis at high temperature (most C4 plants originated in tropical climates). In standard C3 photosynthesis (present in rice, wheat, and most temperate crop plants), CO2 entering the leaf is converted to a 3-carbon compound via the C3 pathway, utilizing energy derived from the light reactions of photosynthesis. In plants that have C4 photosynthesis, the C3 pathway enzymes are localized in specialized “bundle sheath” cells which surround the vascular tissue in the interior of the leaf. CO2 entering mesophyll cells at the leaf surface initially is converted to a 4-carbon compound, which is shuttled into the bundle sheath cells and then decarboxylated to release CO¬2. CO2 released into bundle sheath cells then enters the standard C3 pathway. This CO2-concentrating mechanism allows plants in a hot and dry climate to take up CO2 at night and store it, and release it again inside bundle sheath cells during the day, thus solving the problem of how to maintain a high concentration of CO2 inside the leaf during the daylight hours, when stomata often must be kept closed to prevent water loss. Using cytoimmunochemistry and in situ hybridization, Martin et al. found that GS1-3 is present in maize mesophyll cells whereas GS1-4 is specifically localized in the bundle sheath cells. Thus the two GS1 isoenzymes play non-redundant roles with respect to their tissue-specific localization, and the activity of both is required for optimal grain yield. This work illustrates the close coordination between nitrogen and carbon metabolism in photosynthetic tissues, and reveals that nitrogen metabolism plays a critical role in optimizing grain yields.
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Research reported in The Plant Cell reveals important aspects of plant metabolism associated with grain filling and kernel yield in maize. The scientific breakthrough of this research is its indication that two closely related isoforms of the cytosolic enzyme glutamine synthetase determine two major and distinct yield components in maize, kernel size and kernel number. The results point to a dominant role of nitrogen retranslocation rather than carbon allocation during grain filling. This work has important implications for improving nitrogen use efficiency in cereal crops that could lead to maintaining or even enhancing yields with reduced fertilizer inputs.

The research paper cited in this report is an OPEN ACCESS article, available at the following link: http://www.plantcell.org/cgi/rapidpdf/tpc.106.042689v1
The Plant Cell (http://www.plantcell.org/) is published by the American Society of Plant Biologists. For more information about ASPB, please visit http://www.aspb.org/.

Source: EurekAlert.org
6 December 2006

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1.21  New life for old varieties

El Batán, Mexico
A CIMMYT scientist is working to see if instead of replacing old varieties with “new and improved”, it is possible to combine the best of the new while retaining the old.

In the village of Tumbadero, Mexico, adjacent to CIMMYT’s Agua Fría maize research station, the farmers place a very high value on their traditional varieties. The maize they grow has small ears so it does not yield much. What makes each ear special is a long husk that dwarfs it. The village is close to a major transportation route and traders pay a premium for the husks, which are used to wrap one of Mexico’s most famous foods, the tamale. “We make more money selling the husks than we do selling the grain” says Ruben López, a farmer in the village. But he and the other villagers have a problem: storing the ears without their husks is an open invitation to insects to feast on the maize. With so little yield, saving every grain possible for food is extremely important.

Less than a hundred kilometers from Tumbadero is another village­Cañada Rica. It is well off the beaten track and far from traders. Farmers like Eva Cruz care much more about the cooking quality of the maize flour than they do about the husks, which they cannot sell. Eva uses husks as kindling for the fire on which she cooks tortillas each morning. “Our maize makes the best tortillas,” she says. “They are thick and filling, much better than ones you make with maize flour from the store.” But Eva Cruz’s maize is not without problems either. Storage pests attack her harvest regularly, just as they do the maize in Tumbadero.

Clearly the traditional varieties grown by the farmers of these two villages are very different and have been bred by them to meet specific needs. Each variety is also well-adapted to its local environment. Farmers have no desire to abandon those traits, but also need maize that yields, stores, and tolerates stress better than their traditional varieties. That conundrum became a challenge for Dave Bergvinson, a CIMMYT entomologist who specializes in maize pests. “What if, instead of breeding whole new varieties on a mass scale, you gave the farmers themselves a chance to breed their own?” asks Bergvinson. “You take their best and combine it with our best and then let them do the rest.” To test the idea, he is working with farmers in isolated, economically disadvantaged regions in Mexico. He takes seed from farmers to a CIMMYT research site, like the station at Agua Fría, where he can cross it with CIMMYT maize that has the characteristics missing in the farmers’ varieties. Each cross is specific to a particular village or farmer. After one season of crossing, Bergvinson selects the progeny that perform the best and most closely match farmer preferences for husk, grain type, adaptation, and other traits. Finally, he returns seed of the improved local variety to the farmers. From then on each farmer has what is basically his traditional variety, but with certain improved characteristics.

According to Bergvinson, CIMMYT lacks the resources to carry out such work on a global scale. “It’s not a mass, large-scale solution,” says Bergvinson. “But it is a way of getting to the small pockets of deep poverty and giving those farmers a chance.” It also provides another way for breeders to get a true sense of what end-users of breeding products­the farmer and consumer­consider important.

The pilot project is only in it’s fourth season and there is much analysis to be done, but farmers like Eva Cruz and Ruben López have grown their new seed and can see the improvement. They also see that the traits they value so much in their maze have not been lost.

For more information, David Bergvinson (d.bergvinson@cgiar.org)

Source: CIMMYT E-News, vol 3 no. 11, November 2006

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1.22  Harvesting corn and stover in a single pass

 Iowa State University researchers are testing a combine that can harvest grain and cut the remaining stover (stalks, cobs and leaves) in a single pass in the field. The prototype harvester works by dumping a crop of corn kernels into the combine's hopper and blowing the stalks, cobs and leaves into a trailing wagon. For farmers, they will only need the stover attachment which they can use on a standard combine.

Corn stover was identified to be an additional source of biomass. Cellulose from stover can be converted into ethanol and thus could feed the next generation of ethanol plants. Stuart Birrell of Iowa State University said that the supply of stover from the field will help the U.S. bioeconomy by providing supply to biorefineries.

The complete press release is at
http://www.iastate.edu/~nscentral/news/2006/dec/stover.shtml

From CropBiotech Update 15 December 2006:

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

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1.23  New soybean pulls nitrogen from soil, not air

Washington, DC
ARS News Service
Growers may soon have the option of planting a non-transgenically modified soybean variety that improves recovery of nitrogen from land-applied animal waste. That's thanks to a newly released soybean germplasm that removes large amounts of nitrogen applied to soil. If developed into a new cultivar, it could become an ideal candidate for animal producers managing waste generated by their operations.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) released the soybean germplasm, called Nitrasoy, in conjunction with the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Agronomist Joseph Burton, physiologist Daniel Israel and microbiologist Paul Bishop developed the germplasm. They are with the ARS Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Research Unit in Raleigh.

Today's commercial nodulating soybean varieties forge a give-and-take relationship with bacteria, called rhizobia, that thrive in the plants' root nodules in soil. The bacteria turn nitrogen gas--which makes up about 80 percent of the atmosphere--into nitrogen fertilizer that the plant can use to make proteins.

Uniquely, Nitrasoy is a non-nodulating soybean germplasm with a large requirement for soil-applied nitrogen to obtain excellent seed yield. Its capacity to recover applied nitrogen from soil reduces the risk of possible nitrate pollution of groundwater.

In field tests, Nitrasoy accumulated up to 17 percent more soil-applied nitrogen in its seed than did its parent, D68-0099. In other tests, Nitrasoy was No. 1 in average seed yield when compared to three other genotypes, after each had been fertilized with swine-lagoon effluent.

Nitrasoy seed has been deposited in the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation and the National Plant Germplasm System. Nitrasoy seeds are available for research purposes from the ARS lab in Raleigh.

Rosalie Marion Bliss, rosalie.bliss@ars.usda.gov

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
Agricultural Research Service, USDA

Source: SeedQuest.com
4 December 2006

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1.24  ARS develops low-phytate wheat

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture has developed low-phytate breeding lines of wheat which can produce flour with 25 times more magnesium than commercial varieties. Low levels of phytic acid may also increase the uptake of magnesium by humans and animals. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to health problems like osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers led by Edward Souza said that the development of low-phytate wheat is a natural way to improve nutritional content of the grain since magnesium is not usually added to refined flours.

View this article at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr. Four papers on various aspects of low-phytate grains are available online at http://crop.scijournals.org/cgi/content/full/46/6/2403.

From CropBiotech Update 22 December 2006:

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

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1.25  A wheat gene for better nutrition

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Haifa in Israel have identified a gene, Gpc-B1, that increases the protein, iron, and zinc content of wheat kernels.

The team, who reports their findings in the Science journal, found that kernels harvested from the plants with lowered Gpc-B1 activity had at least 30 percent less protein, zinc and iron. Gpc-B1 increases seed nutrient content by accelerating senescence (ageing) of the plant and thereby increasing the remobilization of nutrients from leaves to developing grains. The finding predicts that adding additional copies of the functioning gene into bread and pasta wheats will be valuable to produce food with enhanced nutritional value.

"Wheat is one of the world's major crops, providing approximately one-fifth of all calories consumed by humans. Therefore, even small increases in wheat's nutritional value may help decrease deficiencies in protein and key micronutrients," said Professor Jorge Dubcovsky, a wheat breeder and lead researcher on the project.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 2 billion people are deficient in zinc and iron, and more than 160 million children under the age of 5 lack an adequate protein supply.

The abstract of the article "A NAC Gene Regulating Senescence Improves Grain Protein, Zinc, and Iron Content in Wheat" can be accessed at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;314/5803/1298
More information available at: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=7949.  Read ARS' press release at www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr.

From CropBiotech Update 1 December 2006:

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

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1.26  New hybrid rice for Malaysia
 
A new hybrid rice, Siraj , that is capable of producing four times more yield than normal varieties has been developed by RB Biotech Sdn Bhd in Malaysia. This hybrid is a cross-breed between Indian Basmati and a Japanese rice variety using technology from China.

RB Biotech Director Tan Sri Chua Hock Chin said the Center was expected to start producing seedlings of the hybrid by March next year. He also added that the final objective was to supply high quality hybrid rice seedlings for at least 60 percent of the rice fields in the country. 

For more information, contact Mahaletchumy Arujanan, program director, Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC) at maha@bic.org or visit their website at http://www.bic.org.my.

From CropBiotech Update 15 December 2006:

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

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1.27  Iowa develops soybean varieties with healthy oils

Iowa State University, with support from the Iowa Soybean Association and the United Soybean Board, has developed improved soybean varieties that will promote the production of healthy oils good for human health.

Three of the varieties will enhance the production of oil with 1% linolenic acid. This oil increases shelf life, and has excellent frying and flavor stability since it eliminates the hydrogenation process that creates trans fats. Another variety contains twice the amount of oleic acid found in conventional soybean oil and only 1% linolenic acid. The combination oil could be used in many food products that require more stability than previous unhydrogenated soybean oils.

Visit http://www.iastate.edu for more research news from Iowa State University.

From CropBiotech Update 1 December 2006:

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

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1.28  Found -- the apple gene for red

CSIRO researchers have located the gene that controls the colour of apples – a discovery that may lead to bright new apple varieties.

"The red colour in apple skin is the result of anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds responsible for blue and red colours in many flowers and fruits," says the leader of the CSIRO Plant Industry research team, Dr Mandy Walker.

"Colour is a very important part of fruit marketing," she says. "If fruit doesn't look good, consumers are far less likely to buy it, no matter how good it might taste.

"As well as giving apples their rosy red hue, anthocyanins are also antioxidants with healthy attributes, giving us plenty of reasons to study how the biochemical pathway leading to apple colour is regulated."

A Post Doctoral Fellow with the team, Dr Adam Takos, used the latest molecular technology to measure how much particular genes were activated, or expressed, in apple skin as the fruit ripened and coloured.

"Apple growers have always known that apple colour is dependant on light – apples grown in darkness or even heavy shade don't turn red when they ripen," Dr Walker says. "That made it very likely that the gene we were looking for requires light to be activated."

"By identifying master genes that were activated by light, Adam was able to pinpoint the gene that controls the formation of anthocyanins in apples, and we found that in green apples this gene is not expressed as much as in red apples."

In collaboration with apple breeders at the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia (DAFWA), the scientists were able to show that fruit colour can be predicted even in seedling apple plants by measuring the form of this gene that is present.

The new knowledge about how apple colour is regulated will give plant breeders the opportunity to use these molecular marker tests to speed up apple breeding and select for improved fruit colour. Dr Walker believes that this research could open the way to breeding new apple varieties.

"With a better understanding of how apple colour is controlled we can begin to breed apples with new and interesting colour variations," she says. "We may even be able to breed apples that are better for you, though they already play an important role in a healthy diet!"

The research is a collaboration between CSIRO and the DAFWA, which has partly funded the project with a voluntary contribution. The project has been facilitated by Horticulture Australia Ltd (HAL) in partnership with industry and has been funded as part of HAL's 'across industry program'. The Australian Government provides matched funding for all HAL's research and development activities.

Contact: Sophie Clayton
Sophie.Clayton@csiro.au
CSIRO Australia

Source: EurekAlert.org
30 November 2006

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1.29  Counter defense strategy of virus

RNA silencing evolved as a means of defense against viral pathogens. In turn, viruses have evolved a counter-defense mechanism to inhibit RNA silencing. In the December 1st issue of G&D, a team of NYC scientists, led by Dr. Nam-Hai Chua at the Rockefeller University, lend new insight into how the Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) executes its counter-defense. The researchers found that CMV synthesizes a protein, called 2b, that binds to AGO1 (a core component of the RNA silencing pathway) to inhibit its cleavage activity, and thereby attenuate RNA silencing. Dr. Chua "expects that other viruses may use similar mechanisms. Therefore, understanding how the 2b suppressor protein functions will allow us to design novel strategies that enable crop plants to survive a variety of threatening viruses."

Contact: Heather Cosel
coselpie@cshl.edu
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Source: EurekAlert.org
30 November 2006

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1.30  Gene discovery may improve wheat varieties - Newly cloned gene key to more adaptable wheat varieties

Davis, California
In a research discovery that has practical implications for improving wheat varieties, a team of scientists at the University of California, Davis, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have cloned a gene that controls the flowering time of barley and wheat.

Differences in this gene, called VRN3, are essential for adapting these two important crop species to different climates.

The findings of the study, conducted by Professor Jorge Dubcovsky, a wheat breeder and leader of the UC Davis research group, and by plant geneticist Ann E. Blechl of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Albany, Calif., will appear the week of Dec. 4 in the online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.

One of the critical differences that help wheat and barley adapt to different environments is the existence of winter and spring forms.
Winter wheat and barley varieties are planted in the fall but wait until the very cold winter weather passes before flowering. This requirement for a long-term exposure to low temperatures to flower is called the "vernalization requirement."

In contrast, spring wheat and barley varieties do not have this vernalization requirement and can be planted in the spring. This is essential for regions of the world where winter weather is so severe that cereals cannot be planted in the fall.

The vernalization requirement in barley and wheat is very flexible, Dubcovsky noted.

"During the domestication of these species, the different mutations that occurred in the vernalization genes were selected by humans, resulting in spring varieties better adapted to certain regions," he said. "This flexibility has helped wheat to become one of the world's most important crops."

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that wheat now provides 23 percent of the food available for daily human consumption around the world.

The vernalization requirement in wheat and barley is controlled by three major vernalization genes designated VRN1, VRN2 and VRN3. The first two genes were cloned two years ago by the same group of researchers.

The cloning of VRN3 now completes a 10-year research project to understand the genetic regulation of the vernalization requirement in barley and wheat. Results from this new study show that mutations in regulatory regions of the VRN3 gene are responsible for the evolution of several barley and wheat spring lines.

To confirm that they had identified the correct gene, the researchers transformed, or genetically altered, the winter wheat variety Jagger with the VRN3 gene from the spring variety Hope. The genetically modified plants showed the early flowering characteristic of the spring wheat varieties, whereas the control non-transgenic plants failed to flower in the absence of vernalization. This result confirmed that the gene cloned by this research team was the correct one.

"The VRN3 mutation we discovered in the wheat variety Hope can now be used to accelerate flowering time of other wheat varieties,"
Dubcovsky said. "The VRN3 molecular markers developed in this study will help breeders to detect the mutations present in their breeding lines and to study their effects on the adaptability of wheat and barley varieties to particular environments."

Funding for this research was provided by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

Source: SeedQuest.com
4 December 2006

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1.31  Scientists develop method to find genetic basis for plant variation

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.
A new research approach that allowed scientists to rapidly identify the gene responsible for high sodium levels in certain naturally occurring plant populations could have applications for the study of a wide variety of other important plant properties.

The approach, a combination of new and existing technologies, may offer researchers a tool to pinpoint genetic differences many times faster than currently possible and help shed light on the likely origin of such differences.

"We've combined a variety of techniques to get at the gene behind a specific trait," said David Salt, a horticulture professor at Purdue University. "If picked up broadly, the approach could have an important impact on the activities of other laboratories."

The method allowed Salt's research team to determine differences within a single gene that drives a specific trait among naturally occurring plant populations ­ a finding that can take years with current methods, he said.

Salt's method combines the new technology of DNA microarrays with information from a large genetic database in order to sidestep the lengthy processes previously used to identify similar genetic variations. Salt employed his methodology to identify a sodium-regulating gene in the extensively studied Arabidopsis thaliana, a wild mustard plant.

Salt said this approach could allow scientists to better understand the genetic basis of naturally occurring variations. These variations occur in the manifestation of tangible traits, or phenotypes, within a single species. Phenotypic differences can include anything from flower color to cold sensitivity or sodium concentration. This ubiquitous tendency of individuals and populations to vary is termed natural variation. Evolutionary theory proposes that differences among populations can arise for evolutionarily favorable, or adaptive, reasons. If the differences between populations become great enough, they might lead to the development of a new species, called speciation.

The mechanism of speciation, however, remains poorly understood. Salt said this approach could hopefully shed light on the process.

"By looking at natural variation, which we assume to be adaptive, we might be able to better understand why the organism evolved to be that way," Salt said. "This could be of value in many areas of biology."

Salt's findings were published earlier this month in the online journal PLoS Genetics.

Salt studies the composition of elements and ions, tiny charged particles, in plants. Called ionomics, the study of a plant's elemental composition is important for understanding their physiology, Salt said.

Since plants are immobile, they must make the most of their environment ­ the water, sunlight and soil where they are ­ to survive. Plants' ability to survive and thrive is tied to their ability to take up the right chemicals, usually in ionic form, from the soil.

Salt uses the database, known as the Purdue Ionomics Information Management System (PiiMS), to find "candidate genes," or genes that warrant further study. He combines this knowledge with results from DNA microarrays, small chips that can identify miniscule genetic differences between populations of a single species.

In the Arabidopsis study, Salt identified the gene, called AtHKT1, responsible for elevated sodium levels in two wild populations of the plant. The study began with a simple observation: Two populations of Arabidopsis from coastal regions of Spain and Japan had inexplicably high levels of sodium.

"So, the question became, 'Why?' But to get there, we had to first answer a series of simpler questions," Salt said.

The first question was how those plants differ from the "garden-variety" Arabidopsis. This is not a simple question, he said, which is why so few studies have been published concerning the precise genetic basis of natural variation.

The initial difficulty is that to date only one variety of Arabidopsis has had its genetic material sequenced. But this particular variety, called Col-0 (so named because it is indigenous to Colombia), is not genetically identical to all other populations of Arabidopsis, Salt said.

For an answer, Salt used DNA microarrays to detect genes that varied in the two coastal populations. He cross-referenced this information with the database to seek out genetic differences that may play a role in regulating sodium levels.

Salt found that the costal populations had a different version of the gene called AtHKT1, which previous studies have shown helps govern the process in which sodium is prevented from rising out of the plant's roots.

Further experiments showed that AtHKT1 is genetically associated with sodium tolerance, which could help explain why the gene is found in coastal populations where there may be elevated salt levels.

"It could just be a coincidence that these coastal populations, where soils naturally have higher sodium concentrations, have a defective version of a gene involved in sodium regulation," Salt said, "But it also may not be. We are currently in the process of answering the original question of why. This methodology has gotten us very close to an explanation."

Sodium chloride, or table salt, is generally toxic to plants at significantly high concentrations. Salt said this study will help his team better understand the way in which plants process sodium.

Postdoctoral researchers Ana Rus and Ivan Baxter co-authored the paper. Salt is currently investigating the potential origin of the defective AtHKT1 gene.

He continues to add to his database, compiling thousands of samples a week. His database records what Arabidopsis genes have been "knocked out," or mutated, and lists the corresponding levels of 17 different elements in each plant. A paper describing this PiiMS database has been accepted for publication in the journal Plant Physiology. The database can be accessed online at http://www.purdue.edu/dp/ionomics.

Salt's research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund.
Writer: Douglas M. Main, dmain@purdue.edu
Source: David Salt dsalt@purdue.edu
Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page

Source: EurekAlert.org
21 December 2006

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1.32  Plant biologist seeks molecular differences between rice and its mimic

Rice gone bad

By Tony Fitzpatrick
Red rice sounds like a New Orleans dish or a San Francisco treat. But it's a weed, the biggest nuisance to American rice growers, who are the fourth largest exporters of rice in the world. And rice farmers hate the pest, which, if harvested along with domesticated rice, reduces marketability and contaminates seed stocks.

Complicating matters is the fact that red rice and cultivated rice are exactly the same species, so an herbicide cannot be developed that seeks out only red rice. It would kill cultivated rice, too.

But now a plant evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St. Louis has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $1.12 million for two years to perform genetic studies on red rice to understand molecular differences between the two that someday could provide the basis for a plan to eradicate the weed. The particular NSF program funding the research is the Plant Genome Comparative Sequencing Program.

Kenneth M. Olsen, Ph.D., Washington University assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, believes that gene flow is one factor that has been at work.

"We are looking for candidate genes that underlie particular traits that differ between the two," said Olsen. "Knowing more about the traits could help in potentially controlling the weed. We have a key advantage in this research in that we know the complete cultivated rice genome, so it's fairly easy to target genes of interest."

Olsen and his colleagues, Ana Caicedo, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts, and Yulin Jia, Ph.D., of the United States Department of Agriculture National Rice Research Center, will test at least two hypotheses. One is that red rice is rice that's gone feral, or gone bad.

"In this scenario, you have a sort of selection favoring the weedy version of the crop that out-competes the crop itself," he said. "That's called de-domestication."

Another possibility, which is not mutually exclusive, is that weedy rice was introduced into the Americas from Asia, where weedy hybrids of the cultivated species and the wild species occur. These weedy strains then took hold in U.S. soils and began contaminating the U.S. cultivated species.

Meet the candidates
Olsen says that the weed has many characteristics of a wild species.

"By looking at candidate genes and those genes surrounding them we can test the hypotheses of the origins of traits and see if the traits have been introduced by hybridization of weedy and wild species, or, conversely, we can look at the molecular level to see if the de-domestication phenomenon is going on."

To control red rice infestations, growers often will rotate crops away from rice to soybeans, for instance. And there are cultivation techniques that can eliminate most of the threat, although another nasty feature of the weed is its dormancy - its seed can lie viable in soils for up to 20 years.

There also is a great amount of variation in different red rice strains. Some look remarkably like cultivated rice and behave like cultivated rice. The plants are as tall as cultivated rice and flower at the same time. These "crop mimics" are difficult to spot.

Olsen hopes understanding trait differences can lead to eradication of red rice.

"We're looking for anything that exploits the difference between the crop and the weed and the way that the weed grows versus the way that the crop grows," he said. "That's the way to eradicate it."

Source: EurekAlert.org
14 December 2006

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1.33  John Innes Centre scientists develop revolutionary tool to predict heterosis in hybrid crops

Norwich, United Kingdom
Prof Ian Bancroft and colleagues at The John Innes Centre, UK (JIC) have developed a revolutionary new method to predict heterosis. The method can be used to accurately predict hybrid vigour for a range of important
crop performance traits, including yield

Accurate predictions of field performance of hybrids can be made from transcriptome analysis of samples taken from parental seedlings grown in the laboratory.

Plant Bioscience Ltd. (PBL), the technology transfer company of the JIC, has funded the further development of this method, extending from the original work in Arabidopsis, to prove that the technology also works accurately in maize.

PBL is now offering licences to the seed and plant breeding industry to use this technology to assist the breeding and development of a wide range of crops, worldwide.

Various possibilities can also be arranged with PBL and the JIC to allow companies to evaluate the methods on their own germplasm. "

For further information and contact details, please see attached information sheet:
http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2007/pdf/18005.pdf

Source: SeedQuest.com
4 January 2007

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1.34  RAPD markers associated with blackleg resistance in Brassica

Blackleg, caused by the fungus Leptosphaeria maculans, is a serious disease of Brassica species. One of the symptoms of blackleg is the dark coloration of the stem of infected plants. Yield loss (grain and oil) occurs when more than half of the cross-section of the stem is discolored. A number of different sources of genes which confer complete resistance to blackleg disease are now being tested. Scientists at the Alabama A&M University used random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique to identify molecular markers associated with resistance to the disease. Their findings are reported in the article RAPD markers associated with resistance to blackleg disease in Brassica species of the African Journal of Biotechnology.

Genetic analysis of resistance to blackleg was carried out with 24 genotypes from the USDA Brassica germplasm collections and 9 cultivars from the National Winter Canola Variety Trials (NWCVT). All genotypes were screened for blackleg disease at the juvenile stage and determined that almost half of the genotypes were resistant. On the other hand, adult plant screening revealed that all the NWCVT genotypes were resistant to the disease.

Researchers subsequently screened all genotypes to identify molecular markers associated with resistance to blackleg, and identified five that can be used for selection for the resistance trait.

The full article is available at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB/PDF/
pdf2006/16Nov/Ananga%20et%20al.pdf
.

Source: CropBiotech Update 8 December 2006:

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

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1.35  CSIRO identifies markers for wheat rust resistance

Australias CSIRO Plant Industry researchers have discovered a DNA marker for two important rust resistance genes in wheat, Lr34 and Yr18. These two genes are often inherited together and provide wheat plants with improved protection against leaf rust and stripe rust two major diseases of wheat in Australia and worldwide.

CSIRO scientist Evans Lagudah said that the DNA marker is 99 percent effective in determining the presence of Lr34 and Yr18 in different wheat from Australia, India, China, and North America. The markers are now being used in Australia and worldwide.

The complete press release is at http://www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2kc.html. CSIROs information sheet detailing the discovery can also be accessed at http://www.csiro.au/files/files/pbb8.pdf.

From CropBiotech Update 15 December 2006:

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

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1.36  Cultivated potato cpDNA sequenced

Korean researchers announced recently that they have determined the complete chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequence of the cultivated potato. Their research adds another solanaceous species to the list of plants whose chloroplasts have been completely sequenced, which includes tomato and tobacco.

Chloroplasts are intracellular organelles that have their own genome, with most of the genes encoding for proteins needed for photosynthesis. Hwa-Jee Chung and colleagues wrote in the paper published by the journal Plant Cell Reports that the circular chloroplast of the cultivated potato has about 155,000 nucleotide pairs. They have also identified 79 proteins and 34RNAs encoded in the genome.

The information will help in diversity studies and will be useful to examine the evolutionary processes in potato landraces. After comparing the sequence to that of a wild potato, the researchers found a single large deletion that discriminates the cultivated potato from the wild species.

The research abstract, with links for subscribers to the complete paper containing the chloroplast gene map, is at http://www.springerlink.com/content/b4466721826551u3.

From CropBiotech Update 1 December 2006:

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

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1.37  Elusive rust resistance genes located

The discovery of a DNA marker for two key rust resistance genes is enabling plant breeders around the world to breed more effective rust resistant wheat varieties.

The genes, Lr34 and Yr18 are inherited together and provide wheat plants with improved protection against leaf rust and stripe rust – two major diseases of wheat in Australia and worldwide.

CSIRO Plant Industry scientist, Dr Evans Lagudah, says various types of rust resistance have been bred into Australian varieties but work against a specific rust species and in some cases are only effective against a limited range of rust strains.

“We have identified a ‘DNA marker’ that is 99 per cent effective in flagging the presence of Lr34 and Yr18, which provide resistance against different species and strains of rust," Dr Lagudah says.

"This means that breeders can track the presence of this rust resistance through a simple DNA test. If the marker is present then it’s almost guaranteed Lr34 / Yr18 will be too."

Plant breeders have long recognised the usefulness of Lr34 / Yr18, which work together with other rust resistance genes to boost the plants’ capacity to defend itself.

Wheat plants that contain the Lr34 / Yr18 combination of genes also experience slower rates of rust infection. This prevents widespread and rapid increase of rust spores reducing the potential for disease epidemics throughout the crop.

"Up until now it has been difficult to track Lr34 / Yr18 in wheat because of the masking effect of other resistance genes," Dr Lagudah says.

"In addition, tests for Lr34 / Yr18 were slow and could only be done once per season and on adult plants growing in the paddock.

"Using the marker technology breeders can now quickly and easily test seedlings for the presence of Lr34 / Yr18, to establish known and unknown genes, and ideally combine different sources of resistance to speed up the delivery of new rust resistant wheat varieties."

The marker has proven effective in a range of wheats from different backgrounds including from Australia, India, China, North America and the major wheat research centre, CIMMYT.

Breeders in Australia and across the world are now using the marker so that the durable rust resistance offered by Lr34 / Yr18 can be incorporated into locally adapted wheat varieties.
###
This research is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and done in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico and the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute.

sophie.clayton@csiro.au
CSIRO Australia

Source: EurekAlert.org
6 December 2006

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1.38  Update 8-2006 of FAO-BiotechNews

(Selected articles)
4) Plant breeding and biotechnology capacity survey: More national reports As part of the global survey that FAO is carrying out to assess national plant breeding and associated biotechnology capacity, draft reports are now available on the web for an additional 12 countries: Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Lebanon, Moldova, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Slovakia, Thailand and Turkey, bringing the total up to 37 countries. See the "What's new" section of http://apps3.fao.org/wiews/wiews.jsp or contact elcio.guimaraes@fao.org for more information. 5) IPRs and plant genetic resources - Spanish On 18-20 October 2006, a workshop entitled "Los derechos de propiedad intelectual en el ambito de los recursos fitogeneticos", on intellectual property rights (IPRs) in relation to plant genetic resources was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Presentations from the workshop, which also considered the role of IPRs in transfer of technologies, including biotechnologies, are now available on the web. The workshop was organised by FODEPAL, in collaboration with REDBIO, both of which are projects based at the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile. See http://www.fodepal.org/Seminarios/seminarioDPI/index.html (in Spanish) or contact rlc-fodepal@fao.org for more information.

2nd International conference on plant molecular breeding. Sponsored by the Generation Challenge Program (GCP) and the China Association of Agricultural Science Societies, the conference focuses on applied plant genomics and molecular plant breeding. The GCP is one of the Challenge Programmes approved by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). See http://www.icpmb.org/142.html or contact mpbhn@vip.sina.com for more information. 1-3 April 2007, New Delhi, India.

Molecular characterization of inbred lines and populations in maize. Organised by the Generation Challenge Program, the goal of this training workshop is to provide background and training in the use of simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers for characterizing crop germplasm, with particular emphasis on heterogeneous populations, particularly maize. Deadline for applications is 1 January 2007. See http://www.generationcp.org/capcorner/india_course_announcement_2007.pdf or contact mwarburton@cgiar.org for more information.

Link to the complete newsletter: http://www.fao.org/biotech/news_list.asp?thexpand=1&cat=131 (items on the web in English as well as in Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish)

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1.39  Selected Articles from Checkbiotech

Tomatoes against drought
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=13853&start=1&fullsearch=1

Teamwork of two viruses produces a therapeutic antibody in plants
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=13764&start=1&fullsearch=1

Plant-derived mini-antibodies fight cancer
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=checkbiotech&doc_id=13761&start=1&fullsearch=1

GM technology causes conflicts in Germany
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=translated&doc_id=13955&start=1&fullsearch=1

Steady increase in soybean production in South America
http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?fuseaction=search&search=translated&doc_id=13965&start=1&fullsearch=1

Submitted by Robert Derham
Checkbiotech Managing Director
University of Basel
Robert.Derham@unibas.ch

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2  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  INTSORMIL publishes Atlas of Sorghum

The International Sorghum and Millet Collaborative Research Support Program (INTSORMIL) has published the Atlas of Sorghum, a document presenting information on sorghum in five Eastern African countries to serve the needs of researchers, extension and rural development specialists, policy makers, and emergency relief personnel.

The Atlas presents information in maps and tables addressing production constraints, cropping systems, management, uses, preferences, gender roles, and marketing. Numerous researchers and others knowledgeable of sorghum in their country contributed information and expert opinions for the Atlas.

Atlas in PDF format: http://intsormil.org/Sorghum%20in%20East%20Africa%20Nv06.pdf

Source: SeedQuest.com
22 December 2006

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2.02  The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Luareate Norman Borlaug and his Battle to End World Hunger

by Leon Hesser. Durban House, 297 pages, $24.95

New York Post
By Henry I. Miller

LEON Hesser's straightforward yet gripping biography of Norman Borlaug, the plant breeder known as the Father of the Green Revolution, offers the kind of nobility and idealism shown by Jimmy Stewart in the classic, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

Borlaug's life has been one of extraordinary paradoxes. A child of the Iowa prairie during the Great Depression, he attended a one-room school and aspired to become a high-school science teacher but flunked the university entrance exam. He went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for averting malnutrition, famine and the death of millions.

Borlaug, now 92, struggled against prodigious professional obstacles, including what he calls the "constant pessimism and scaremongering" of critics who predicted that, in spite of his efforts, mass starvation was inevitable and hundreds of millions would perish in Africa and Asia. His work resulted in high-yielding varieties of wheat that transformed the ability of Mexico, India, Pakistan, China and parts of South America to feed their populations.

How successful was he? From 1950 to 1992, the world's grain output rose from 692 million tons produced on 1.70 billion acres of cropland to 1.9 billion tons on 1.73 billion acres of cropland - an extraordinary increase in yield of more than 150 percent.

Without high-yield agriculture, either millions would have starved or increases in food output could have been realized only through drastic expansion of land under cultivation. But that would've meant losses of pristine wilderness far greater than all the losses to urban, suburban and commercial expansion.

Borlaug recalls without rancor the maddening obstacles to the development and introduction of high-yield plant varieties: the "bureaucratic chaos, resistance from local seed breeders and centuries of farmers' customs, habits and superstitions."

Both the need for additional agricultural production and obstacles to innovation remain, and in recent years, Borlaug has applied himself to ensuring the success of the application of gene splicing, or "genetic modification," to agriculture. This second wave promises to be as important as the first, offering the possibility of even higher yields, fewer inputs of agricultural chemicals and water, enhanced nutrition and even plant-derived, orally active vaccines.

Environmental extremists, though, are doing everything they can to stop scientific progress, and their allies in the United Nations and other regulatory agencies are eager to help. "If the naysayers do manage to stop agricultural biotechnology, they might actually precipitate the famines and the crisis of global biodiversity they have been predicting for nearly 40 years," says Borlaug,

The essence of Norman Borlaug? I'm reminded of a line by Matthew Arnold about Sophocles: a man "who saw life steadily, and saw it whole."

Henry I. Miller, a physician, is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Contributed by Diana Oleskow Lubich
Heart Land Publicity, LLc
239-293-1585

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2.03  The Physiology of Crop Yield, Second Edition

By Robert Hay and John Porter

Description
First published in 1989, Physiology of Crop Yield was the first student textbook to digest and assimilate the many advances in crop physiology, within a framework of resource capture and use. Retaining the central core of the first edition, this long-awaited second edition draws on recent developments in areas such as phenology, canopy dynamics and crop modelling, and the concepts of sustainable crop production. A broad perspective is developed, from the gene through the plant and crop to the ecosystem, covering:

-Advances in molecular biology relating to crop science
-Limitation of crop yield by the supply of water or nitrogen
-Global climate change and its impact on crop modelling
-Physiological aspects of crop quality
-A wider range of species, with emphasis on wheat, maize and soybean

This book will be a valuable tool for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students of agricultural science, plant science, applied ecology and environmental science. It will be an essential addition to all libraries in universities and relevant research establishments.

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgements
1. Introduction
2. Development and Phenology. How Crops Fit Their Environment: Concepts and Case Histories
2.1 Crop Development: Concepts and Tools
2.2 Case Histories: The Influence of Environment and Management on Crop Development and Phenology
3. Interception of Solar Radiation by the Canopy
3.1 The Life History of a Leaf
3.2 The Components of Plant Leaf Area Expansion
3.3 The Development of the Crop Canopy: Leaf Area Index
3.4 Canopy Architecture and the Interception of Solar Radiation
4. Photosynthesis and Photorespiration
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Photosynthetic Efficiency
4.3 Photosynthetic Processes
4.4 The C4 Photosynthesis Mechanism
4.5 Water Shortage and Photosynthesis
4.6 Nitrogen Effects on Photosynthesis
4.7 Ozone Effects on Photosynthesis and Crop Productivity
5. The Loss of CO2: Respiration
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The Basis of Crop Respiration
5.3 Growth and Maintenance Respiration
5.4 The Respiration of Different Plant Substrates
5.5 Growth and Maintenance Respiration in the Field
5.6 Respiration Associated with Crop Processes
5.7 Environmental Effects on Respiration
5.8 Crop Respiration in the Future
6. The Partitioning of Dry Matter to Harvested Organs
6.1 The Processes and Pathways of Assimilate Partitioning
6.2 Ontogeny and Assimilate Partitioning: A Survey of Source/Sink Relationships
6.3 Time Courses of Dry Matter Partitioning: Harvest Index
6.4 Limitation of Yield by Source or Sink
6.5 Sink Limitation of Yield in Cereals - Physiology of Ineffective Grain Setting
6.6 Assimilate Partitioning and Crop Improvement: Historic Trends in Harvest Index of Wheat and Barley
6.7 Assimilate Partitioning and Crop Improvement: Historic Trends in Harvest Index of Maize
6.8 Assimilate Partitioning to Potato Tubers
6.9 Assimilate Partitioning in Grassland: Implications for Management of Grass Yield
6.10 Assimilate Partitioning in Grassland: Implications for the Overwintering and Early Growth of White Clover
6.11 Assimilate Partitioning in Diseased Plants: Temperate Cereals Infected with Biotrophic Fungal Pathogens
7. Limiting Factors and the Achievement of High Yield
7.1 Limitation by Water Supply
7.2 Limitation by Nitrogen Supply
7.3 Achieving High Yield: Resource Capture and Assimilate Partitioning
8. Physiology of Crop Quality
8.1 Wheat: Protein content
8.2 Soybean: Oil and Protein Contents
8.3 Oilseed Rape: Glucosinolates and Erucic Acid
8.4 Potato: Tuber Size and Processing Quality
8.5 The Quality of Conserved Forages: Ontogeny and Yield
9. The Simulation Modelling of Crops
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Building a Crop Model
9.3 Crop Models of Wheat (AFRC2), soybean (CROPGRO) and maize
9.4 Modelling Variety Differences and Traits
9.5 Conclusions
10. The Future for Crop Physiology
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Lowering Inputs
10.3 Climate Change
10.4 Quality
10.5 New Crops
10.6 The Potential for Increasing Crop Photosynthesis and Yield
10.7 The Last Words
References
Indexes

Details about this book can be found on the Blackwell Publishing website: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/book.asp?ref=9781405108591&site=1 .

Contributed bySimon Joyce
Blackwell Publishing Professional
simon.joyce@ames.blackwellpublishing.com
http://www.blackwellprofessional.com/
http://www.blackwellplantsci.com

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2.04  The Plant Genome: a supplement to Crop Science

If you don’t currently subscribe to Crop Science journal, then you missed the launch of the newest CSSA publication: The Plant Genome.

Who should read this special supplement?
-Plant breeders who map traits and isolate genes
-Physiologists researching relationships between genes and performance characteristics
-Plant scientists of all disciplines who use analytical tools to understand plants in their environment

This supplement to Crop Science provides an outlet for the publication of applied plant-genomics research, with a short submission-to-print timeline. Subscribers access the latest original research in the application of genomics to crop improvement. This easy-to-read, attractive four-color supplement includes original research papers, activities and resource reports, and review and interpretation articles that couple genomics with crops and agriculture.

Why a Plant Genome supplement for Crop Science?
An excerpt from the Guest Editorial:
Because there is a need to put information about the genomes of crop plants in the field it servesUsing systems-based approaches to solve difficult questions in crop science start with, and are facilitated by, studies in plant genomicsThe sciences that derive from knowledge of genome sequences are far broader than first anticipated by many of us. The revolution that began in the late 1970s is showing the path to a future in agriculture that is based on an understanding of molecular and cellular events which, when combined with the wisdom of experiences of field biologists, will allow plant scientists to achieve the goals outlined above, and to go far beyond.

Roger N Beachy, Ph.D.
President and Director
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Read the entire Guest Editorial (2MB PDF)

See the Table of Contents

Read a special 8-page excerpt (1MB PDF)

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2.05  Proceedings of the First International Meeting on Cassava Plant Breeding

You can now download the meeting book from our site:
http://www.geneconserve.pro.br/meeting2/cassava_conference_book.doc

Submitted by Nagib Nassar
mandioca@unb.br

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2.06  Seed Development, Dormancy and Germination

Edited by: Kent Bradford (Director, Seed Biotechnology Center, University of California, Davis, USA) and Hiroyuki Nonogaki (Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA)

Blackwell Publishing
392 pages, 63 illustrations
USA/Canada $199.99

Seed Development, Dormancy and Germination provides a comprehensive overview of seed biology from the point of view of the developmental and regulatory processes that are involved in the transition from a developing seed through dormancy and into germination and seedling growth. It examines the complexity of the environmental, physiological, molecular and genetic interactions that occur through the life cycle of seeds, along with the concepts and approaches used to analyze seed dormancy and germination behavior. It also identifies the current challenges and remaining questions for future research. The book is directed at plant developmental biologists, geneticists, plant breeders, seed biologists and graduate students. For more information go to Blackwell Publishing.

Source: Seed Biotechnology Center E-News: December 2006
scwebster@ucdavis.edu
http://sbc.ucdavis.edu

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3.  WEB RESOURCES

3.01  Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

Readers of Plant Breeding News might be interested in the new Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog for news, information and discussion on conservation and use of plant and animal genetic resources for food and agriculture: http://agro.biodiver.se.

Contributed by Luigi Guarino
luigi.guarino@gmail.com

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3.02  Canola Performance On-line Database (POD)

Canadian canola growers can now access the canola POD (Performance On-line Database), developed by the Canola Council of Canada. The canola POD allows farmers to explore canola performance trial results. The information in the database often includes on-site management details obtained by private seed companies.

The performance database is at http://81.137.139.227/pod3/index.aspx

From CropBiotech Update 15 December 2006:

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

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4.  GRANTS AVAILABLE

4.01  Call opened for Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) fellowship grants

The GCP is announcing that they have opened the call for applications for the 2007 GCP Fellowships Programme.

Visit the Fellowships page on our website for more information and application instructions.

Please read all information carefully, as the call has changed slightly this year.

Source: Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) Latest News Alerts
7 November-11 December 2006

GCP Home Page

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4.02  Biotechnology risk assessment request for applications
 
The Cooperative State, Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) is pleased to announce the release of the FY 2007 Request for Applications (RFA) for the Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program (BRAG). 
 
Deadlines:
Completed Application: February 15, 2007, 5 p.m. Eastern Time to Grants.gov
 
RFA: 
The BRAG RFA may be accessed at the following websites: 
Grants.gov: www.grants.gov; or 
CSREES: www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/biotechnologyriskassessment.html
 
Funding Opportunity Number:  USDA-CSREES-BRAP-000327 (must be entered into Grants.gov exactly this way)
 
CFDA Number:  10.219
 
Useful Links:
Grants.gov Help:  http://www.grants.gov/help/help.jsp
CSREES FY 2007 Grant Application Changes: www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/fy07changes
CSREES Electronic Submission Resources: www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/electronic
CSREES Electronic Submission FAQs: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/electronic_faq
 
If you have questions regarding the RFA, please contact either:
Dr. Daniel Jones, Email:  djones@csrees.usda.gov, Phone:  (202) 401-6854, or
Dr. Chris Wozniak, Email:  cwozniak@csrees.usda.gov, Phone:  (202) 401-6020.
 
If you have questions regarding the application packet, contact: 
Email:  electronic@csrees.usda.gov , Phone: (202) 401-5048, business hours are M-F, 7:00 am 5 pm ET, excluding Federal holidays.

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4.03  Norman Bourlag fellowships

The objective of these fellowships is to help developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing short-term scientific training and collaborative research opportunities to visiting researchers, policymakers and university faculty while they work with a mentor.

The program is open to participants worldwide, but focuses on African, South and Central American and Asian nations. The program is administered by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State.
(http://www.fas.usda.gov/icd/borlaug/borlaug.htm)

Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species
Via dei Tre Denari 472/a
00057 MACCARESE (Fiumicino)
Rome, Italy
e-mail: underutilized-species@cgiar.org
tel: +39 06 6118-302
fax: +39 06 61979661
www.underutilized-species.org


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4.04  USDA National Needs Graduate Fellowships

Two Ph.D. level USDA National Needs Graduate Fellowships are available
at Colorado State University beginning in summer or fall of 2007. The fellowships
are in a novel program entitled “Crops for Health: Applying Plant Genomics for
Human Health Benefits”, which links disciplines within the agricultural and human
health sciences. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
For more details, please visit http://www.cropsforhealth.colostate.edu/fellowships.htm.
 
Submitted by Pat Byrne
Colorado State University
pbyrne@lamar.colostate.edu

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5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.01  Executive Director, UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center
 
The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center is a focal point for interaction between the seed industry and the research and educational resources of the University of California, Davis. It coordinates research to address problems of interest to the seed industry and provides continuing education in seed biology and technology. Its mission is to mobilize the research, educational and outreach resources of the University of California, in partnership with the seed and plant biotechnology industries, to facilitate discovery and commercialization of new seed technologies for agricultural and consumer benefit.
 
The Executive Director is responsible for providing leadership in the ongoing development and implementation of building a premier entrepreneurial research and education program.  The incumbent is responsible and is accountable for the strategic planning and implementation of the overall operation and evaluation of programs and activities that support the Centers mission, goals, and partnership objectives to increase its capacity to serve as a link between academic research, education programs, and the commercialization of new agricultural technologies.

The Executive Director is accountable for and will:
         provide leadership and management for major gift fund-raising, strategic planning, operations and services, and outreach and communications in order to deliver and expand the Centers programs and activities.
         take a leading role in establishing mutually beneficial collaborative relationships with intramural and extramural stakeholders, clientele and collaborators;
         work with the Center Academic Director and staff to design and implement programs and services that facilitate partnerships between UC Davis and the national and international seed and plant biotechnology industries.
 
For a detailed description go to: http://hr.ucdavis.edu/emp (VL#6917).  Submit curriculum vitae, a two-page letter of interest including salary expectations, and the names, addresses and contact information for a minimum of four references to:  DeeDee Kitterman, Chair, Search Committee, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, 150 Mrak Hall, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA  95616.  Position is open until filled.  To receive full consideration applications should be received by January 2, 2007. 

For more information contact Sue Webster, Program Representative, Seed Biotechnology Center, at 530-754-7333 or at scwebster@ucdavis.edu.

Contributed by Susan Webster
scwebster@ucdavis.edu

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5.02  Molecular fruit tree breeder

Position and Qualifications:
The Department of Horticulture at Clemson University invites applications for a tenure-track, 12 month - 100% research, faculty position at the Assistant Professor level in the area of tree fruit genetics and breeding. We are seeking a highly motivated individual with a record of research productivity and an interest in fruit tree cultivar development.  Candidates should have a Ph.D. in horticulture, plant breeding, genetics, or a related discipline with knowledge, training and experience in molecular biology (e.g., molecular map construction, marker-assisted selection, transgenics, bioinformatics, etc.).  Post-doctoral experience is preferred, but not required to apply. Salary is competitive and commensurate with the successful applicant’s background and experience. This position offers competitive startup funds and laboratory space, as well as use of the nearby 240-acre Musser Fruit Research Center.  Clemson University is also home to the Genome Database for Rosaceae with functional and structural genomic projects using peach as a model ( http://www.mainlab.clemson.edu/gdr/).

Responsibilities: The successful applicant’s program will integrate traditional fruit tree breeding and molecular genetic tools for the improvement of fruit trees with emphasis on peach. He/She is expected to develop an independent, extramurally funded, fruit tree-breeding program and contribute to the development of the Clemson University Institute of Fruit and Forest Tree Genetics. The successful applicant will be directly involved in graduate student mentoring. Furthermore, the successful applicant will be expected to effectively communicate at various levels with different constituencies such as the South Carolina Peach Council.

Application:  For more information contact Dr. Gregory L. Reighard, Chair of Search Committee, Department of Horticulture, 170 Poole Ag Center, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0319, USA.  Voice:  864/656-4962; Fax: 864/656-4960.  Email: grghrd@clemson.edu Applications should be sent electronically via e-mail to:  orousey@clemson.edu in a single PDF file and should include a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, a statement of research goals and interests, and contact information for three potential references. Applications not in a single PDF will be returned and must be resubmitted in the correct format.  Applicants may request that their candidacy remain confidential. Review of applications will begin March 1, 2007 and continue until a suitable candidate is identified. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.  Clemson University is an AA/EEO employer and does not discriminate against any individual or group of individuals on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.

Contributed by Anne Marie Thro
CSREES, USDA
athro@csrees.usda.gov

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5.03  Program Specialist (Plant Science)

GS-0401-09/11/12
Plant and Animal Systems
Plant Systems
Promotion potential: GS-12
Closing date: 01/22/2007
Who may apply: All U.S. Citizens
Announcement Number: CSREES-2007-0008
You may use the following link to view and/or apply for this position: 
http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/a9csrees.asp
In the key word search, type in the vacancy announcement number:
CSREES-2007-0008
Scroll down the page and select "yes" under Applicant Eligibility.  You will then click on "search for jobs" at the bottom of the page.  Clicking on the position title will launch the vacancy announcement.  You can select "apply online" at the bottom of the page to apply for the position.  You will then be taken to a screen that will allow you to either set up an account or input your account information if you have already registered.

Please note that even if you registered previously through the USDA QuickHire website, you will need to re-register through USAJobs. 

Please contact me if you encounter any problems or have questions.

Thank you,

Tiffany Sample
Human Resources Specialist
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
Phone: (202) 690-2482
Fax: (202) 690-1726

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5.04  Rice breeding and hybrid development manager

Due to our successfully expanding activities in hybrid rice, Bayer CropScience has open positions for
i) plant breeders
ii) seed production specialists and
iii)  agronomists
in various countries across the globe.

Currently, we have open positions in India, Thailand, Brazil, China and the United States.

If you are interested to join a globally operating breeding team, make a difference in offering farmers seed of quality hybrids of the world's most important food crop, then we would like to get in touch with you.

Although we make use of the most modern of technologies, the core activities in plant breeding, agronomy trials and seed production remain field oriented.
Affinity with rice and with field work is therefore a must.

Interested ? Then please send a letter stating your motivation, as well as your CV to:

Ed Roumen
Rice breeding and Hybrid Development Manager
Bayer South East Asia Pte Ltd
9 Benoi Sector
Singapore 629844

or send by e-mail to Ed.Roumen@BayerCropScience.com

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6. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS
Note:
New announcements (listed first) may include some program details, while repeat announcements will include only basic information. Visit web sites for additional details.

NEW ANNOUNCEMENTS

*
1-3 April 2007. Course on Molecular Characterization of Inbred Lines and Populations in Maize, New Delhi, India. View this announcement in PDF.... Visit Here
Source: Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) Latest News Alerts GCP Home Page
17 November-11 December 2006

+++++++++++++++

* 21 May – 1 June 2007. Training course on "Promoting agrobiodiversity use: markets and chains" (Wageningen International)

Information and the application form can be found here " Enhancing agrobiodiversity use: markets and chains"
This course co-organized by the GFU will run for  the second  time from 21 May to 1 June 2007 at Wageningen International. It is one module within a larger training program on " Conservation & sustainable use of plant genetic resources in agriculture". Application deadline is 21 April 2007.
Fellowships are offered by NUFFIC - Candidates who wish to apply should begin the application procedure as soon as possible by applying for admission to  Wageningen International. Upon provisional acceptance candidates will be advised as to the procedure to be followed, see also www.wur.nl/funding , www.nuffic.nl
Fellowship deadline application is 1 February 2007. Differently from last year's procedure fellowships are not available for individual modules but foe the entire course only (2 modules of 2 weeks each).

+++++++++++

* 27-31 October 2007. 8th African Crop Science Society Conference, El Minia, Egypt--First Announcement and Call for Abstracts. The African Crop Science Society (ACSS) and Minia University announce the first call for abstracts for the 8th African Crop Science Society Conference, which will take place from 27-31 October 2007 in El-Minia, Egypt.

General topics will include: agronomy, horticulture, crop improvement and physiology, post harvest handling and food sciences, crop protection, rural socio-economics, agricultural extension and education, agricultural economics, agricultural microbiology, crop genetics and biotechnology, agricultural chemistry, integration of livestock in crop production, soils and agricultural engineering sciences, water sciences, environmental sciences, biodiversity, and natural resource management.

The deadline for registration is 30 April 2007.

For more complete information on registration and abstract submission, visit http://www.africancrops.net/News/july06/acss8.htm

++++++++++++++++

REPEAT ANNOUNCEMENTS

* 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

* 21-26 January 2007. Temperature Stress in Plants, Ventura, California. The program will cover the physiology, biochemistry, and genetics/genomics of plant responses to high and low temperatures. In addition to model species, important issues regarding agronomic, horticultural and ornamental species will be addressed. For more information, visit http://www.grc.uri.edu/programs/2007/tempstrs.htm.

* 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-organized by CSREES, USDA; and by the Departments of Crop Science and Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University. http://www.plantbreedingworkshop.ncsu.edu/

* 23-27 March 2007. 2nd International Conference on Plant Molecular Breeding (ICPMB), Sanya, Hainan, China. www.icpmb.org

* 26-29 March 2007. Biotechnology, Breeding, and Seed Systems for African Crops, Maputo, Mozambique. Co-hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM). More information at:
http://www.africancrops.net/rockefeller/icv3/.

*10-16 June 2007. 7th International Symposium in the Series: Recent Advances in Plant Biotechnology (First Announcement),Stara Lesna, High Tatras, Slovak Republic; The Symposium Secretary Handles all queries regarding abstract submission, registration, accommodation and booking of air tickets for invited speakers:
Alena Gajdosova,  Institute of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology
Nitra, Slovak Republic
Phone:  + 421/37 73 36659
Fax:      + 421/37 73 36660
E-mail: alena.gajdosova@savba.sk

* June 17- 22 (inclusive) 2007. Invitation to a major international conference on potato viruses
1st call for paper and poster submissions
The 13th European Association for Potato Research (EAPR)
Virology Section Meeting, Scotland, United Kingdom

The Scottish Agricultural Science Agency (SASA) and Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) are proud to host the 13 th triennial meeting of the EAPR Virology Section. The meeting will take place at the Hilton Hotel (Coylumbridge, Aviemore) which is set in a woodland estate in the centre of the Cairngorm National Park. Aviemore is about 2.5 hours travel time by rail from Edinburgh and 30 minutes from Inverness. Both Edinburgh and Inverness are served by airports. Details of the hotel can be found at http://www.hilton.co.uk/coylumbridge and further information on Aviemore and the Cairngorms at http://www.visithighlands.com/aviemore/
The meeting will be made up of scientific sessions (presentations and posters) and scientific and tourist visits.
-Scientific sessions will include for example, virus epidemiology, diagnostics, virus resistance, certification and quarantine.
-Scientific visits will include a visit to the new laboratories of Scottish Agricultural Science Agency and its renowned training plots for potato inspectors ( http://www.sasa.gov.uk/ )
-Possible tourist venues are Loch Ness and a whisky distillery.

Abstracts from the meeting will be published in Potato Research.
The proceedings for the 12 th meeting can be found at http://www.rennes.inra.fr/eapr2004/Compilation%20of%20abstracts.pdf

It is expected that costs for the meeting will be around £100 GBP per day for accommodation and meals plus a registration fee.

Local Organising Committee

Isla Browning, Colin Jeffries, Carolyn Nisbet (SASA, Edinburgh, Scotland)
Finlay Dale, Brian Fenton, Lesley Torrance (SCRI, Dundee, Scotland)

If you would like to register an interest in submitting a paper or just attending this meeting and to receive further circulars please send an e mail to eaprvirology2007@sasa.gsi.gov.uk

The main call for papers is in early 2007 and registration details will be supplied in January 2007, contact:  Colin.Jeffries@sasa.gsi.gov.uk   or   Finlay.Dale@scri.ac.uk

Submitted by Dale Finlay
Finlay.Dale@scri.ac.uk

* 24-28 June 2007. The 9th International Pollination Symposium on Plant-Pollinator Relationships­Diversity in Action. Scheman Center, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. The official theme is: "Host-Pollinator Biology Relationships - Diversity in Action." The Conference webpage can be viewed at
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.

* 14-18 September 2008. The 12th International Lupin Conference, Perth, Western Australia conference@lupins.org.

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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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