PLANT BREEDING NEWS
4 June 2007
An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant Breeding
Sponsored by FAO and Cornell University
Clair H. Hershey, Editor
Archived issues available at: FAO Plant Breeding
1. NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
1.01 Nurturing a rare breed: The
Plant Breeding Academy at the Seed Biotechnology Center, UC Davis
1.02 INGER to revitalize global sharing of rice breeding and genetic
1.03 The CNAP Artemisia
1.04 Winter Cereals Pre-Breeding Alliance
established to promote collaboration among Australian cereal pre-breeders
1.05 Indonesia develops
new rice varieties to fight bacterial blight
1.06 Seed Health Laboratory at CIMMYT to gain ISO certification
1.07 Efforts to fight hunger in Africa
by preserving seeds and boosting research into improved crop varieties
1.08 Supreme Court of
India lifts temporary ban on field trials of GM crops
1.09 Genetic diversity is key to solving
future global challenges
1.10 Global genebanks
1.11 Global Crop Diversity Trust receives
£10 million investment from UK's Department for International Development
1.12 Climate change
threatens wild relatives of key crops
1.13 Spud origin controversy solved
1.14 Collection of cassava farmer-varieties
from Kenya and Tanzania for baseline diversity assessment using SNPs
1.15 Scientists seek
useful traits in wild cottons
1.16 Protecting cassava from the brown
1.17 New knowledge
improves rice quality, could help poor farmers boost income
1.18 Transgenic potato varieties developed
by the University of Wisconsin are resistant to natural infestation of the Indonesian
race of Phytophthora infestans
1.19 Michigan State University professor developing hybrid
turfgrass varieties with resistance to dollar spot, snow mold,
1.20 Genetically modified chicory brings hope to African malaria
1.21 Plants that produce more vitamin
C may result from UCLA-Dartmouth discovery
1.22 Nature surrenders
flowery secrets to international team
1.23 Automation of DNA marker analysis
for molecular breeding
1.24 Iowa State scientists demonstrate
first use of nanotechnology to enter plant cells
1.25 Advancing the application of genomics
technologies for the selection and development of high quality grains, including
wheat and barley
1.26 New gene technology
may improve corn traits, says the U.S. National Corn Growers Association
1.27 Plants tag insect
herbivores with an alarm
1.28 Discovery of new, non-GMO CLEARFIELD gene for sunflower breeding
1.29 University of Nebraska advances dicamba-resistance research
1.30 Chromatin and Monsanto announce agreement
to advance gene stacking technology
1.31 Research identifies protein that
signals flowering in squash plants
2.01 Intellectual Property Management in Health and Agricultural
Innovation: A Handbook of Best Practices
3. WEB RESOURCES
4 GRANTS AVAILABLE
5 POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS
5.01 Postdoctoral position on “Quantitative genetics of garden
rose architecture: architectural analysis and genetic determinism”
5.02 Assistant professor position in the
area of tree fruit genetics and breeding available in the department of Horticulture
at Clemson University
5.03 Associate in Research position available in the laboratory
of Dr Amit Dhingra at Washington State University
5.04 Pasture Plant
Breeder - Leadership potential - Unique Opportunity
5.05 Central Mexico Research Leader, Chapala Area of Central
5.06 Test Plot Supervisor, Strawberry
Breeding, San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico
6 MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS
7 EDITOR'S NOTES
1. NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
1.01 Nurturing a rare breed: The Plant Breeding
Academy at the Seed Biotechnology Center, UC Davis
by Dr. Kent Bradford and Dr. Allen van Deynze, Seed
Biotechnology Center, University of California, Davis
Classical plant breeders improve crops by crossing plants with desired traits
and selecting the best offspring over multiple generations. Breeding is simply
accelerated, but targeted, evolution that resulted in the diversity, productivity,
and quality of our agricultural crops.
Classical breeding is far from being obsolete, but the number of academic programs
engaged in plant breeding has decreased consistently in the U.S. as private companies
have become more active in plant breeding. Since the number of graduate students
being trained in plant breeding has declined while the seed industry’s demand
for them has increased, there is currently a shortage of trained breeders.
“There are, however, many people who are currently involved in plant breeding
and could direct breeding programs if they had a deeper knowledge of genetics,
statistics, or breeding theory and methods,” said Kent Bradford, professor of
seed biology and director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis. The
Seed Biotechnology Center established the Plant Breeding Academy to address
the reduced numbers of breeders being trained. It provides an opportunity for
current industry personnel to develop skills that will enable them to become independent
breeders or more valuable contributors to large breeding programs. Professor of
genetics Larry Teuber and Professor of pomology Doug Shaw, both from UC Davis,
and Professor of horticulture Todd Wehner from North Carolina State University
are the primary instructors.
“Offering the academy through UC Davis lets our plant breeders share their experience
with this extramural clientele,” said Bradford. “It also exposes the participants
to the wide range of expertise available at UC Davis and other universities.”
The international academy is modeled on professional MBA programs that allow participants
to continue in their current jobs. Participants meet for three six-day weeks per
year over two years, and the number of participants is limited to provide a personalized
“This course really addresses the shortfalls of many university programs, which
offer few options to working professionals who want to advance their skills,”
explains Joel Canestrino, a participant of the academy and employee of Magnus
The first session of the academy started in fall 2006; the next group of participants
will begin in fall 2008. The Seed Biotechnology
Center also offers short courses on seed biology, production, and quality
as well as on breeding with molecular markers.
Look for details on upcoming events at the center’s Web site at http://sbc.ucdavis.edu.
This article appeared originally in The Leaflet, Spring 2007,
a publication of the Department of Plant Sciences of the University of California,
Davis, and is reproduced here with permission.
Source the SeedQuest Forum
(Return to Contents)
1.02 INGER to revitalize global sharing
of rice breeding and genetic resources
Revitalization was the buzzword and the underpinning theme at the Technical
Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting of the International Network for Genetic Evaluation
of Rice (INGER) held from 8-11 May, in Bangkok, Thailand.
Rising to today's daunting challenge of exchanging rice breeding materials amid
complex intellectual property regimes and dwindling resources were representatives
from 17 countries in Asia and Africa, 3 CGIAR centers (IRRI, WARDA, ICARDA), and
the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Welcoming them were Thailand's Rice Department Director General Mr. Surapong Pransilapa
and IRRI Program 1 Leader Dr. David Mackill, who both stressed the need to strengthen
collaboration among rice scientists in order to realize further increases in rice
productivity. Dr. S.P. Tiwari, deputy director general of the Indian Council for
Agricultural Research (ICAR) and a special participant at the meeting, congratulated
INGER for facilitating the release of at least 667 varieties in 62 countries,
a contribution valued at US$1.67 billion or an average of US$52 million each year
since INGER's establishment in 1975.
To update the INGER TAC on the breeding resources to expect from IRRI, Plant Breeding,
Genetics and Biotechnology (PBGB) Division Head Dr. Darshan Brar presented the
state of the art on rice breeding, and IRRI Program 5 Leader Dr. Hei Leung discussed
possible applications of DNA bar-coding and association genetics in INGER. Specific
objectives of IRRI breeding programs and networks were discussed by Drs. Arvind
Kumar, R.K. Singh, K.K. Jena, and Dave Mackill.
Global developments were reviewed on rice breeding material exchange by INGER
Coordinator Dr. Ed Redoña, on data management and use of the Standard Material
Transfer Agreement (SMTA) by T.T. Chang Genetic Resources Center Head Dr. Ruaraidh
Sackville Hamilton, and on a Global Initiative on Plant Breeding (GIPB) by FAO
Senior Officer Dr. Elcio Guimarães. INGER's contributions, in terms of direct
varietal releases and in increasing the diversity of parental materials in NARES
breeding programs, were repeatedly underscored in the country reports from Asia
to Africa. The photo above shows an intense but collegial small group discussion
that focused on specific issues that facilitated the streamlining of INGER activities
according to the needs and thrusts of the different national programs and CG centers.
Key outputs of the meeting were the realignment of INGER nurseries and activities
according to the needs and priorities of NARES and CG centers, refinement of INGER's
operational mechanisms, heightened NARES awareness on the SMTA and its positive
implications for global germplasm exchange, and identification of key areas for
improvement such as the use of IT for expediting seed requests, submission and
analysis of data, and generation and dissemination of reports. The need to infuse
a new science dimension to INGER's activities was also emphasized. TAC members
pledged to nominate more entries to INGER in order to increase NARES-to-NARES
sharing and use of rice breeding materials that have been INGER's hallmark during
the past 32 years.
Hailed as one of the most successful and enduring partnership among NARES and
CG centers, INGER has played a vital role in facilitating the continued spread
of modern rice varieties, thus sustaining the gains of the Green Revolution. Coordinated
by Dr. Ed Redoña since September 2006, INGER is positioning itself into becoming
the model and leading global network for the multilateral sharing of breeding
and genetic resources and related information in the modern era. The plans formulated
will be presented for approval at the next meeting of the Council for Partnership
on Rice Research in Asia (CORRA), INGER's Steering Committee.
Contributed by Edilberto Redoña (IRRI)
(Return to Contents)
1.03 The CNAP Artemisia Research Project
A sustainable supply of artemisinin from high yield Artemisia annua
Principal Investigator: Professor Dianna Bowles
Co-Investigator: Professor Ian Graham
Project Manager: Dr Maggie Smallwood
Project update number 1, Spring 2007
Welcome to the first E-update on the CNAP Artemisia Research Project. This
project was launched last year with the aim of using fast-track breeding technologies
to create, non-GM artemisia cultivars with increased artemisinin yields. We plan
to issue these updates twice a year over the project’s duration, keeping stakeholders
informed on progress and developments. You can read a shortened version of the
newsletter below but visit our website to read the whole thing or download a pdf;
Introducing the project
We are applying fast-track breeding technologies to Artemisia annua
with the aim of creating new, non-GM cultivars with higher artemisinin yields.
Those unfamiliar with the project can read more about the rationale behind it.
Find out how the project aims to use state-of the-art genomic and analytical
technologies to screen many thousands of artemisia plants in a programme that
represents a step change over previous breeding efforts.
In the first phase of the project the research capability required for this
major scientific endeavour has been established, with the appointment of over
20 scientists, the commissioning of major items of equipment and the development
of data management systems.
The Artemisinin Consortium is formed
This project has joined forces with the Medicines for Malaria Venture and
the Institute of One World Health, coordinating efforts to secure affordable supplies
of artemisinin as the Artemisinin Consortium.
The project is actively communicating its aims and objectives to stakeholders
and wider audiences with press coverage and presentations at workshops and conferences.
Visit the website to view our programme.
To contact the project please email: CNAP-Artemisia@york.ac.uk
Contributed by Elspeth Bartlet
External Communications Manager
The CNAP Artemisia Research Project
(Return to Contents)
1.04 Winter Cereals Pre-Breeding Alliance established
to promote collaboration among Australian cereal pre-breeders
A new industry forum – the Australian Winter Cereals Pre-Breeding Alliance (AWCPA)
– has been established to promote collaboration and cooperation among cereal pre-breeders.
The Alliance’s objective is to maximise the national pre-breeding effort and shorten
the time frame between genetic enhancement and the development of new, improved
The Alliance was established by a steering committee representing major pre-breeding
organisations, including CSIRO, MPBCRC, VAWCRC, SARDI, and DAFWA.
The committee is seeking support from all Australian researchers working in this
The Committee affirmed the scope and principles of the Alliance at a meeting on
19th March in Adelaide.
The Drivers for Change
In an environment where there is a continuous cost-price squeeze on agricultural
production, there is a need for research funds to be used as effectively as possible
in developing new commercial varieties.
Pre-breeding is an area of significant public investment, with annual expenditure
estimated at between $70–80 million*. In the past there has been fragmentation
and duplication of research efforts, as well as an overvaluation of Intellectual
Complex IP arrangements have inhibited collaboration and access to new technologies,
while in the case of GM, there is a lack of a clear pathway to market.
* Ross W. Fellowes, Report on Pre-Breeding R&D for Winter Cereals, March
The scope of pre-breeding R&D covered by the Alliance includes:
-gene discovery and functional genomics, including the tools of transcriptomics,
proteomics and metabolomics
-establishment of marker-trait associations
-linked/diagnostic marker identification
-any other breeding tools for selecting relevant gene(s) to develop improved parental
-for GM traits, production of transformed parents, ready for use in breeding programs.
Pre-breeding activities within the Alliance are framed by principles which:
1. Are market driven by the grains supply and value chains including end-users,
growers and breeders.
2. Are focussed on the traits that will generate maximum benefit for the Australian
3. Allow breeding programs non-exclusive, equitable access to public-funded pre-breeding
research to ensure the maximum benefit to the Australian grains industry.
4. Provide simple IP protection and management arrangements that encourage rapid
uptake of R&D outputs by breeding programs.
5. Foster communication, collaboration and coordination between institutions,
to minimise unnecessary duplication and fragmentation, and maximise overall progress.
6. Encourage relationships that provide ready access to R&D outputs developed
overseas including R&D outputs from the private sector.
7. Include mechanisms for recognising and rewarding performance consistent with
A working group has been set up to review IP arrangements in the pre-breeding
domain. The IP Working Group has met regularly since September 2006 and has focussed
on developing an IP ‘access and benefit sharing model’ to support the Alliance’s
overall objectives, consistent with Principles 3, 4 and 7.
Rather than ‘reinventing the wheel’, this Group will draw on existing models developed
in areas related to pre-breeding, including those used by Barley Breeding Australia
and by the Australian Winter Cereals Molecular Marker Program (AWCMMP). Proposed
-Access and benefit sharing principles to be set out in a Memorandum of Understanding.
-By analogy with the AWCMMP model, IP could be categorised into different classes,
with different treatment for each class. The AWCMMP has three classes:
–ii.AWCMMP Germplasm, and
–iii. Commercial IP.
-The access arrangements must be simple, for example, a standard MTA should be
developed and used.
-For technologies developed by public/industry funds only, access should be open
– recipients of germplasm and other pre-breeding IP should be obliged to share
their research results with other participants.
-For technologies developed using either a mixture of public/industry and private
sector funds or private sector funds alone, commercial imperatives need to be
accommodated and these may restrict the degree to which pre-breeding IP can be
shared openly with other participants.
A minimum requirement is that all activities in the pre-breeding area are disclosed.
Side-deals must be transparent.
Trait prioritisation and collaboration meetings
During the Alliance’s establishment, a report on wheat pre-breeding and breeding
objectives was prepared by Ross Fellowes and Don Marshall. The initial findings
were tabled at a meeting in Adelaide in July 2006 and the report was finalised
in September 2006. Feedback from the prebreeding community has been considered
together with feedback on trait and marker priorities from Barley Breeding Australia,
and from the Wheat Breeders' Alliance.
At the Steering Committee meeting on 19th March in Adelaide, the following traits
areas were identified as the first candidates for a series of discussion groups:
-Quality issues in wheat
Discussion groups will now meet through 2007 to define a clear strategy for future
research in each area, with short, medium, and long term objectives. These meetings
will be inclusive. The Alliance will publish details and will invite those with
interest and expertise in these areas to participate.
Original document: http://www.grdc.com.au/growers/res_summ/awcpa.pdf
Source: Grains Research and Development
Corporation (GRDC) via SeedQuest.com
17 April, 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.05 Indonesia develops new rice varieties to fight bacterial
Bacterial blight (BB) disease of rice is caused by Xanthomonas oryzae. It
is one of the most important diseases of rice in most of the rice growing countries.
The Indonesian Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetic Resources Research Institute,
in collaboration with the Indonesian Institute for Rice Research, the West Java
Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology and the Agricultural Office of
Cianjur, has developed by conventional breeding methods new rice varieties with
improved tolerance to BB, the Angke and Code varieties.
“With the using of superior varieties as Angke and Code, Indonesia will have a
big opportunity to increase the national rice production and also meet the government
target for rice self sufficiency,” said Dr. Sutrisno, Head of Indonesian Agricultural
Biotechnology and Genetic Resources Research Institute.
or contact Elfa Hermawan at email@example.com for more information.
Source: Indonesian Agency
for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD) via SeedQuest.com
11 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.06 Seed Health Laboratory at CIMMYT
to gain ISO certification.
The Seed Health Laboratory, part of CIMMYT’s Seed Inspection and Distribution
Unit (SIDU) has become the first in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural
Research (CGIAR) to gain International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
For the past 10 months there has been a little extra edge at the Seed Health
Laboratory at the CIMMYT campus in El Batán, Mexico. Everything every researcher
and technician did when handling maize and wheat seeds was being scrutinized in
the minutest detail by inspection teams from the Mexican Accreditation Entity
(EMA) for the ISO. “It was sometimes tense, but I knew our procedures were already
at a high level, so I wasn’t really worried,” says Monica Mezzalama, head of SIDU.
The routine shipment and reception of maize and wheat seed samples is the life
blood of a global breeding center like CIMMYT. Its crop improvement research means
breeding new types of seed that can enhance the livelihoods and food security
of farm families in the developing world. You can improve all the seed you want
at an experiment station, but eventually you have to ship seed for testing by
farmers and national research programs outside of the country where the breeding
was done. Also, given that CIMMYT holds the world’s largest collection of maize
and wheat germplasm in trust in its genetic resources center, each year it sends
hundreds of shipments of seed from those stores to breeders and other researchers
from around the world, in response to their requests for samples.
Seed can carry pathogensviruses, bacteria, or fungithat reduce the viability
of the seed itself or prevent the plants from growing well. When seed is consumed
directly as food or feed, seed-borne organisms may cause chemical changes, degrade
seed contents, or release powerful toxins that can harm humans and livestock.
In the best of cases, food is simply wasted; in the worst, famine or poisoning
can result. Certain seed-borne pathogens are endemic to specific areas of the
world; great efforts are made to confine them and not allow their spread.
In 1989 CIMMYT established an independent Seed Health Laboratory and in 2004 the
seed inspection and distribution unit (SIDU) to handle the inspection and shipment
of seed, essentially ensuring that no seed with disease pathogens on board enters
the center’s breeding programs or leaves its premises for other destinations.
All CGIAR research centers with crop genetic resource collections produce and
distribute seed from breeding trials or from their genebanks. All maintain their
own, stringent standards and have shared their experiences. Until recently, seed
health standards at CIMMYT were self-imposed, in cooperation with the government
of Mexico. The implementation of free trade agreements between Mexico and other
countriesparticularly the USA and Canadabrought a commitment from Mexico
to ensure that all seed originating from the country conformed to international
The ISO is the world's largest developer of standards. ISO standards have important
economic and social repercussions, making a positive difference not just to organizations
for whom they solve basic problems in production and distribution, but to society
as a whole. Mexico adopted ISO standards for seed movement, to be administered
by EMA. For CIMMYT it is the ISO/IEC 17025-2005 General requirements for the competence
of testing and calibration laboratories. “We knew all along that our seed health
procedures were the best,” says Masa Iwanaga, CIMMYT Director General. “But having
the toughest outside inspection in the world confirm what we knew is very gratifying,
not only for us but for our partners in more than an hundred countries.”
More information Monica Mezzalana, Head, SIDU (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Source: CIMMYT E-News, vol 4 no. 4, April 2007
Contributed by Rodomiro Ortiz
(Return to Contents)
1.07 Efforts to fight hunger in Africa
by preserving seeds and boosting research into improved crop varieties
by Michael Malakata, SciDev.Net
In the face of impending climate change, many fear that Africa already the
world's poorest continent will be hit hardest in its ability to produce food.
Success in preventing food shortages in Africa will be achieved only if farmers
maintain a wealth of seed diversity that can cope with ever-changing rainfall
In recognition of this, new initiatives are emerging that will hopefully bring
about a green revolution, and ensure food security in Africa.
Starting from seeds
Seed banks have been identified as part of the solution. They preserve seed diversity,
and can provide the raw genetic material to develop improved plant varieties.
In April this year, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the United Nations Foundation
announced a joint initiative to safeguard 21 of the world's most critical foods
crops by preserving their seeds.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation whose five year plan aims to provide African
farmers with improved and adaptable crop varieties has emerged as a major source
of funding for the initiative, putting forward US$37.5 million in grants.
The initiative will cover many 'orphan' crops important to the poor but largely
neglected in modern plant breeding such as sorghum, millet, yam, cassava and cowpea.
The initiative will also fund a comprehensive global information system that will
allow plant breeders everywhere to search gene banks worldwide including existing
banks in Ethiopia, Rwanda and the southern Africa region for traits needed to
combat new diseases and cope with climate change.
"The initiative will secure at-risk collections [of important food crops] in poor
countries and document their astonishing diversity, making it available to meet
the food needs of the poor," said Cary Fowler, executive director of Global Crop
Current initiatives are not just about saving current crops there are also plans
to improve them.
A new partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller
Foundation has allocated US$150 million to improving seeds including cassava,
millet and sorghum through conventional breeding to increase their yields and
make them suitable for Africa's unpredictable rainfall patterns.
This work will decrease farmers' dependence on hybrid maize seeds, which need
sufficient rainfall to grow and already do not yield enough maize.
The partnership is working with policymakers in African governments, nongovernmental
organisations, African centres of excellence and donors to bring about a green
At the Rockefeller Foundation meeting on biotechnology, breeding and seed systems
for African crops on 26 March this year, Venancio Massingue, Mozambican minister
of science and technology said, "Seed breeding is key to the modernisation of
our economies through agriculture, and to providing jobs both in rural and urban
areas." "This is why science improves the lives of people."
Drought tolerant crop varieties are already starting to emerge. Mick Mwala, head
of the University of Zambia's crop sciences department, says they have already
come up with new wheat varieties that are drought tolerant.
One of the partnership's two initiatives, the Alliance for a Green Revolution
in Africa, will help breed improved seeds and distribute fertilisers to improve
soil health in Africa, as well as supporting projects to improve water resources
and the distribution of farm produce to the market.
The second initiative, the Programme for Africa's Seeds System, will help distribute
these improved seeds and adaptable crop varieties to smallholders.
Scientists involved in the initiatives believe that improving seeds to resist
drought and using fertiliser are the most effective ways of ensuring a good harvest.
But this approach has caused a stand off with Africa-based nongovernmental organisations
who claim that Western countries are pushing for a corporate-controlled, chemical
system of agriculture in Africa.
In a signed statement, several nongovernmental organisations such as Ethiopia's
Africa Biodiversity Network, Uganda's Centre for Development Initiative, the Kenya
Organic Agriculture Network and Kenya Genetically Modified Organisms Concerned
attending this year's African Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya (25 January), rejected
the Gates-Rockefeller initiative.
They called the initiative a "new foreign system that will encourage Africa's
land and water to be privatised for growing inappropriate crops for export, biofuels
and carbon sinks, instead of food for African people".
But Roy Steiner, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's senior programmes officer,
told SciDev.Net that the foundation's focus is to bring about a sustainable green
revolution through seed breeding and improvement in Africa.
"We need to find ways to interact with small scale farmers. It is a long road
but we have to make progress. The possibility is there and the potential is there,"
Another obstacle to the success of these initiatives is the scarcity of qualified
African scientists to create these new seed varieties.
Africa faces problems with funds to train enough scientists, and to provide them
with attractive salaries and contracts.
Brain drain is also decreasing the size of the science community many qualified
scientists have already migrated to greener pastures.
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM)
is trying to address this problem.
The organisation made up of 12 eastern and southern African universities, led
by Zimbabwe's African University and Kenya's Kenyatta University will launch an
initiative in August this year to provide postgraduate programmes in agriculture-related
fields such as aquaculture and fisheries, agricultural resource economics, food
science and nutrition and dryland resource management.
They hope to secure financial resources to support more scientists to masters
and docterate degree level. Those scientists graduating under RUFORUM-sponsored
programmes will be given jobs in research institutions, boosting research capacity.
The development is part of current efforts by African higher learning institutions
to build capacity for Africa within Africa.
RUFORUM regional coordinator, Adipala Ekwamu, said the 12 African universities
are collaborating to accelerate agricultural research and biotechnology development
in Africa. Up until now, RUFORUM had been supporting training in agriculture-related
fields only to a masters degree level.
"We need a new institutional framework to make universities more responsive to
emerging challenges in the region and to respond to those challenges in a national
and regional development paradigm," said Ekwamu.
The success of RUFORUM's initiative, however, still depends on how much African
policymakers support the organisation financially, he said.
"We are not asking for gigantic funding but a little that will keep our programmes
moving. Sixty per cent of our scientists in the region will soon retire and so
we need funding to continue training more," Ekwamu said.
So far ministers from Malawi and Mozambique have publicly said they are in support
of science and technology as the only means to improve people's lives.
Massingue said his government has set aside over US$30 million for seed and fertiliser
distribution, and will work side by side with RUFORUM to increase the amount of
research and training for scientists.
Kainja Kaluluma, Malawian Minister of Women and Child Development, said science
and technology is "our engine in national development and the Malawian government
will support scientists" and that the government would give increased support
to research, technology and training.
In an era where economies are driven by scientific and technological developments,
no single country in African can ignore science and still expect to thrive.
The continent of Africa has the basics land and water to produce enough food for
its people. Combined with initiatives to train scientists, develop seeds and improve
farmer's access to this technology with support from African policymakers the
battle against hunger in Africa could be won.
22 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.08 Supreme Court of India lifts temporary ban on field
trials of GM crops
New Delhi, India
The Supreme Court of India has lifted
an eight-month temporary ban on field trials of genetically-modified food crops
on 8th May 2007. With this judgment, farmers will have more choices of Bt cotton
varieties suited for local agro-climatic conditions. The ruling will also allow
resuming the approval of filed trials for various crops such as brinjal, mustard,
rice, maize, potato, tomato, okra and groundnut.
Referring to the Supreme Court judgment on the field trials of GM crops, the Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests,
Mr Namo Narayan Meena, said the entire research activities of the country which
have been at a standstill will get momentum, and that the Genetic Engineering
Approval Committee (GEAC) will be able to work speedily. Mr Meena assured
the members of the Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests
(MOEF) that along with treating agricultural biotechnology as a priority area
for investments, priority will be given to proper risk assessment and to appropriate
measures to mitigate its adverse impacts.
Source: CropBiotech Update via SeedQuest.com
11 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.09 Genetic diversity is key to solving
future global challenges
Left unprotected, genetic resources will be lost forever
The Dupont company today urged the world's largest gathering of biotechnology
leaders to ensure the availability of the genetic material needed to develop crops
that will meet the unforeseen challenges of future generations.
"Biotechnology will help us develop solutions to challenges that we have yet to
imagine, but the potential will be limited without access to historic genetic
resources," said Stephen Smith, a DuPont scientist and leading expert on plant
genetic diversity, at the BIO 2007 International Convention.
DuPont was one of the first companies to pledge $1 million to the Global
Crop Diversity Trust, an international fund charged with securing long-term
funding for the support of genebanks and crop genetic diversity collections throughout
the world. Just recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged their
support for the Trust's mission with a $30 million grant and the government of
Norway raised its donation to $15 million.
"The conservation and availability of crop diversity is absolutely critical to
assuring an abundant and affordable food supply for people everywhere," said Cary
Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. "If we continue
to neglect crop genetic diversity, it will be lost forever."
Founded in 2001 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and Bioversity
International, on behalf of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture
Research (CGIAR), the Trust is raising a $260 million endowment to maintain the
world's most critical germplasm for agricultural crops as well as building the
capacity of crucial collections in developing countries.
"As researchers in the public and private sector gain a better understanding of
the genetic language of crops, we will be better suited to use the latest biotech
tools, such as genomics and molecular markers, to develop solutions to the challenges
of future generations," said Smith. "If plant genetic resources are not properly
conserved, it will be like learning how to read and then going to the library
to find no books on the shelves."
Funding from the Global Crop Diversity Trust will support the operations of a
"doomsday vault" built into the permafrost in the Norwegian Arctic that will have
the capacity to store three million seed samples, representing a vast range of
genetic variety from the world's key crops. The complex is intended to safeguard
the global food supply in the event of disaster.
The mission of the Global Crop Diversity Trust is to ensure the conservation
and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide. An independent
international organization, established through a partnership between the CGIAR
and FAO, the Trust is the only organization working worldwide to solve this problem.
DuPont is a science-based products and services company.
More news about the Global
Crop Diversity Trust
7 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.10 Global genebanks need funds
Guaranteed funding for the world's genebanks is essential to preserve biodiversity
and secure food supplies, says Jan Valkoun.
Today (22 May), on International Day of Biodiversity, plant diversity around the
world is under threat from modern crop improvement, habitat loss and disasters,
both natural and man-made.
Genebanks can conserve rich gene pools and help feed the world, but they must
secure continued funding if they are to survive.
Since the beginnings of agriculture some 10,000 years ago farmers have not only
grown crops, but also intuitively bred them and produced seed. Indeed, they have
long exploited rich genetic diversity to adapt to drought, heat and disease or
pest resistance by creating new farmers' varieties, or 'landraces'.
Genetic diversity is conserved in wild relatives that still survive today in 'centres
of origin', most of which are located in the developing world.
Landraces and crop wild relatives provide an invaluable source of genetic material
for improving crops and securing global food supplies.
Indeed, collection missions where the seeds of wild relatives and landraces
are collected from natural populations, farmers' fields and market places to store
in genebanks have long made biological diversity readily available to modern
plant breeders, researchers and farmers.
But both wild relatives and landraces across the globe have been severely eroded
over the past 100 years by habitat loss and replacement with improved crop
A safety net
Concerns about the rapid loss of indigenous crop genetic diversity in the 1960s–1980s
led to a global effort coordinated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) and supported by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research
(CGIAR) and national programs to collect crop wild relatives and landraces
in ex situ genebanks across the world.
According to the FAO, there are now about 1,500 genebanks worldwide
storing 6.5 million plant samples.
These are strategic global assets that provide a safety net against the loss of
Wars and natural disasters, for example, can pose major threats to plant collections
in some developing countries. Much-needed crop diversity was lost during the wars
in Burundi, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Somalia. National genebanks were looted and
destroyed during the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
In September 2006, Typhoon Xangsane damaged about 70 per cent of the 46,000 genetic
materials stored in the Philippines' National Plant Genetic Resources Laboratory
In such cases, duplicate seed held in ex situ genebanks is crucial to restoring
crop diversity in farmers' fields and original collections.
Nearly 700,000 samples of crops, forages and trees are held in CGIAR's genebanks.
One of its largest collections nearly 135,000 samples of cereals and food
and forage legumes is held at the International Center for Agricultural
Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria. This is particularly important because
of its focus on crop improvement targeted at low-input and stress-affected farming
systems in developing countries.
Some 100,000 of ICARDA's samples originate from Asia and Africa, with over 3,000
from Afghanistan and 1,000 from Iraq. Already, a number of seed samples have been
multiplied and sent back to Afghanistan to begin restoring the country's crop
diversity. And the centre plans to repatriate complete sets to both countries
once adequate facilities for seed storage become available.
A funding gap
But not all genebanks are so well equipped.
The FAO claims a large number are in a state of "rapid deterioration". Some genebanks
have closed, others have problems with physical facilities and equipment and many
have a large backlog of plant samples that need regenerating.
International treaties and other agreements have attempted to rectify the situation
For example, both the FAO Global Plan of Action adopted by 150 countries
in 1996 and the 2001 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for
Food and Agriculture promote ex situ plant collections to preserve biodiversity.
But such agreements failed to provide the permanent funding needed for their implementation.
The CGIAR genebanks have also been constrained by severe budget cuts funding
from the centres' core budget has dropped by 50 per cent since 1994.
Financial support of the world's genebanks must be made a global priority.
In 2004, the Global Crop Diversity Trust was established as an international financial
mechanism for ensuring long-term conservation and availability of plant genetic
To this end, it has facilitated the construction of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault
in Norway. The vault, due to be completed in September 2007, is intended to provide
the ultimate safety net, capable of storing some three million seed samples. The
Global Trust is committed to assisting developing countries prepare and transport
seeds to this remote Arctic genebank.
Diverse donors have thus far pledged US$115 million to the Global Trust.
It has taken a lot of time and effort to develop a global framework for conserving
plant genetic diversity for the long-term. But for it to ultimately succeed, it
is now imperative that the Global Trust generates sufficient funds to support
the agreed activities of the global genebank system in perpetuity.
This will require active involvement from governments around the world, CGIAR
centres, donors and other major players in crop diversity conservation.
Jan Valkoun was head of the Genetic Resources Unit at ICARDA in Aleppo, Syria
22 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.11 Global Crop Diversity Trust receives £10 million
investment from UK's Department for International Development
London, United Kingdom
Banking seeds to secure essential food crops for the world’s growing population
and changing climate received a £10 million investment from the Department for International Development, Barry
Gardiner, Minister for Biodiversity, announced today.
The assistance is part of the Department for International Development’s aim of
fighting global poverty and hunger in the world’s poorest countries.
The new funding, over four years, will help the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) bank hundreds
of thousands of staple food seeds for the world’s 21 major food crops such as
wheat, barley, rice and maize, that will help fight hunger in the developing world.
Speaking at the Banking of the Billionth Seed event in Wakehurst as part of the
UN’s International Day for Biodiversity, Mr Gardiner said: “More than 30 million
people in Africa will not have enough food to eat this year. Fighting hunger is
one of the greatest challenges facing the world now and over the coming decades.
In an increasingly unpredictable climate with a growing population, pressure on
global agriculture will only continue to grow.
“Protecting and maintaining a wide variety of food crops through seed banks, making
sure that farmers have the raw materials to adapt and improve crops, is essential
in meeting these challenges.”
Gareth Thomas, the Minister for International Development said: “It is a scandal
that millions of people go hungry every day because there isn’t a regular supply
of basic food items such as rice. That is why the UK is working with research
groups in the UK and abroad to collect seeds that can be used in times of scarcity.
This initiative will help ensure some of the poorest people in the world don’t
go to work or to school on an empty stomach.”
Cary Fowler, Executive Secretary of the Trust, said: “The support of the UK will
make a major impact. Conserving crop diversity is a long term investment, which
yields huge returns in human well-being, yet many governments are unwilling to
make such long term commitments. The Trust welcomes the UK's support, sharing
our vision and becoming the largest country donor so far."
The Trust provides an essential global role supporting the long term development
and maintenance of seed banks that help preserve crops for farmers in the poorest
countries in the world. Seed banks can be vulnerable to conflict and natural disasters
and the Trust has set up the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic as the ultimate
safety net for global crop diversity.
Conserving the right type of crop for the right climate and production of the
right foods is not technologically complex but is an immense task; for example
there are more than 100,000 different varieties of wheat, a global staple food.
Reliable funding to the world’s seed banks will help to maintain the diversity
of crops, help share information amongst seed banks and make their services available
to those who most need it.
22 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.12 Climate change threatens wild relatives of key crops
At risk are vital genetic resources for resisting drought, pests
ROME, ITALY (22 May 2007) -- Wild relatives of plants such as the potato and
the peanut are at risk of extinction, threatening a valuable source of genes that
are necessary to boost the ability of cultivated crops to resist pests and tolerate
drought, according to a new study released today by scientists of the Consultative
Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The culprit is climate change,
the researchers said.
According to the study, in the next 50 years as many as 61 percent of the 51 wild
peanut species analyzed and 12 percent of the 108 wild potato species analyzed
could become extinct as the result of climate change. Most of those that remained
would be confined to much smaller areas, further eroding their capacity to survive.
The study also examined wild relatives of cowpea, a nutritious legume farmed widely
in Africa. It found that only two of 48 species might disappear. However, the
authors predict that most wild cowpeas will decline in numbers because climatic
changes will push them out of many areas they currently inhabit.
"Our results would indicate that the survival of many species of crop wild relatives,
not just wild potato, peanuts and cowpea, are likely to be seriously threatened
even with the most conservative estimates regarding the magnitude of climate change,"
said the study’s lead author, Andy Jarvis, who is an agricultural geographer working
at two CGIAR-supported centers – the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical
Agriculture and Bioversity International, with headquarters in Rome. "There is
an urgent need to collect and store the seeds of wild relatives in crop diversity
collections before they disappear. At the moment, existing collections are conserving
only a fraction of the diversity of wild species that are out there."
Extinction of crop wild relatives threatens food production because they contain
genes for traits such as pest resistance and drought tolerance, which plant breeders
use to improve the performance of cultivated varieties. The reliance on wild relatives
to improve their cultivated cousins on the farm is expected to intensify as climate
change makes it too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry for many existing crop varieties
to continue producing at their current levels.
The results of the study were announced on International Biodiversity Day, organized
by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Jarvis and his colleagues looked specifically at the effects of climate change
on the three crops in Africa and South America. The scientists focused on the
two continents because this allowed them to consider how known populations of
wild plants would fare in a wide variety of growing conditions. They found the
impact of climate change is likely to be more pronounced in some species than
in others but that, in general, all three groups of species would suffer.
Though not apparent to the average consumer, the wild relatives of crops play
an important role in food production. All food crops originated from wild plants.
But when they were domesticated, their genetic variation was narrowed significantly
as farmers carefully selected plants with traits such as those related to taste
and appearance as well as to yield. When trouble arises on the farmattacks
by pests or disease or, more recently, stressful growing conditions caused by
climate changebreeders tend to dip back into the gene pool of the robust
wild relatives in search of traits that will allow the domesticated variety to
overcome the threat.
In recent years, genes available in wild relatives have helped breeders develop
new types of domesticated potatoes that can fight devastating potato blight and
new types of wheat more likely to survive drought conditions. Wild relatives of
the peanut have helped breeders provide farmers with varieties that can survive
a plant pest known as the root knot nematode, and resist a disease called early
leaf spot. In fact, according to the report, more than half of new domesticated
peanut varieties developed in the last five years have incorporated traits from
wild relatives. Cowpea wild relatives are known to be a reservoir of genes that
could confer resistance to major insect pests. In the US alone, the value of the
improved yield and quality derived from wild species is estimated to be in the
hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Jarvis said the vulnerability of a wild plant to climate change can depend on
its ability to adapt by, for example, extending its range as warming in its native
regions becomes too hot to handle. One reason wild peanut plants appear to be
so vulnerable to climate change is they are largely found in flat lands and would
have to migrate a long way to reach cooler climates, a predicament exacerbated
by the fact that peanuts bury their seeds underground, a meter or less from the
parent plant. That limits the speed at which seeds can move into more favorable
climates. By contrast, plants in mountainous locations could theoretically survive
by extending their range slightly up a slope, even by only a few meters, to find
cooler weather. What scientists must do, Jarvis said, is identify which wild relatives
are most likely to suffer from climate change and give them priority for conservation.
"The irony here is that plant breeders will be relying on wild relatives more
than ever as they work to develop domesticated crops that can adapt to changing
climate conditions," said Annie Lane, the coordinator of a global project on crop
wild relatives led by Bioversity International. "Yet because of climate change,
we could end up losing a significant amount of these critical genetic resources
at precisely the time they are most needed to maintain agricultural production.
Research that identifies crop wild relatives threatened by climate change is part
of a broader CGIAR effort to anticipate and blunt the effects of global warming
on agriculture. In the local, national, and international policy arenas, CGIAR
researchers are generating innovative options to foster adaptation to climate
change. In addition, new research at CGIAR-supported centers focuses on understanding
the impacts of shifting climate patterns on natural resources, such as water,
fisheries, and forests, and on planning for improved management of these resources
to meet the needs of growing populations as the climate changes.
21 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.13 Spud origin controversy solved
Andean, Chilean, or both? Crop science, biotechnology solve long-disputed
debate over origin of the European potato
MADISON, WI, MARCH 21, 2007 – Molecular studies recently revealed new genetic
information concerning the long-disputed origin of the “European potato.” Scientists
from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of La Laguna, and the
International Potato Center used genetic markers to prove that the remnants of
the earliest known landraces of the European potato are of Andean and Chilean
origin. They report their findings in the May-June 2007 issue of Crop Science.
“European potatoes,” the cultivated potatoes first appearing in Europe and later
spreading worldwide, were first recorded outside of the Americas in 1567 on the
Canary Islands Archipelago. Today, scientists believe that the remnant landraces
of these early potatoes still grow in on the Canary Islands.
For years, researchers have debated the birthplace of the European potato. While
some scientists hypothesized that landrace introductions originated in the Andes,
others believed that the introductions came from Chile. While there are multiple
lines of evidence to support each theory, the Andean introduction hypothesis stems
from the belief that the Canary Islands landraces are solely of Andean origin.
Although almost all current European potatoes have Chilean traits, the Andean
hypothesis supposed that these potatoes arose from crosses with Chilean potatoes
as breeding stock after the Irish potato famine in the 1840s.
Using molecular markers, the scientists found that the Canary Island landraces
possessed both Andean and Chilean types, as well as possible hybrids of the two.
“In combination with other historical, molecular, agronomic, and crossing data,
these findings support a hypothesis of multiple early introductions of both Andean
and Chilean germplasm to the Canary Islands and to Europe,” said Dr. David Spooner,
co-author of the Crop Science study.
Spooner and others speculate that the early European potato was selected from
Chilean introductions before the 1840s because they were better able to reproduce
in long-day conditions, in contrast to Andean potatoes that were short-day adapted.
“The results of these studies are of interest not only to evolutionists but also
for breeders. Years of effort were made to artificially recreate the European
potato from Andean landraces yet it may have originated from Chile,” said Spooner.
“If the true origin of the European potato was from Chile, rather from the Andes,
it shows the value of plant evolutionary studies to understand and complement
Spooner and other scientists now plan to further investigate the origin of the
European potato from DNA extracted from herbarium specimens of cultivated potatoes
collected in Europe before 1845.
“The results of these studies are providing data to rewrite the history of the
cultivated potato and will aid breeders to better interpret the true pedigrees
of our modern potato,” said Spooner.
Contact: Sara Uttech
15 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.14 Collection of cassava farmer-varieties from Kenya
and Tanzania for baseline diversity assessment using SNPs
Morag Ferguson1, James Gethi2, Geoffrey Mkamilo3,
Robert Kawuki4 and Godfrey Kawa5
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, P.O. Box 30709, Nairobi,
Kenya2 Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Katumani, P.O.
Box 340, Machakos, Kenya3 Root and Tuber Research Program, Naliendele
Agricultural Research Institute, P.O. Box 509, Mtwara, Tanzania.4 Biosciences
Eastern and Central Africa (BecA), P.O. Box 30709, Nairobi, Kenya5 IITA-Tanzania,
c/o Sugarcane Research Institute (SRI), Tumbi- Kibaha, Coast Region
A project being implemented by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
(IITA) and funded by FAO, aims at assessing the utility of single nucleotide polymorphism
(SNP) markers for establishing baselines of, and monitoring, cassava genetic diversity
in the field. As part of this project, two collection missions were undertaken
to collect and sample cassava diversity from farmer’s fields, in south-eastern
Kenya and south-western Tanzania. The collection missions were done in collaboration
with Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Katumani, and the Agricultural
Research Institute (ARI), Mtwara, Tanzania.
In Kenya the collection was undertaken from 23rd to 27th
October 2006 in the coastal region of Kwale district specifically
targeting the Lunga-lunga and Kinango regions bordering Tanzania. This area was
selected as it had not been well-sampled previously and yet it is believed to
be endemic to the devastating cassava brown streak disease (CBSD). It was therefore
hoped that it may harbour useful cassava diversity. Forty-four cassava genotypes
including two wild species were collected. During the collection mission, a questionnaire
to capture agronomic information about the variety, surrounding environmental
characteristics, and farmer’s perceptions on the variety was completed. At each
location where a putative unique variety was found, stem cuttings (3-4 nodes)
were made, labelled and placed in perforated polythene bags. Additionally,
young leaf tissues were collected, labelled, enclosed in aluminium foil and immediately
placed on dry ice for subsequent SNP analysis. The collected stakes have been
planted at KARI- Mtwapa, Mombasa, where further observations will be done.
Leaf samples have been taken to IITA-Nairobi, where they will be assessed for
genotypic diversity using Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs).
Basing on the information gathered from the farmers during the collection mission,
it was evident that: 1) farmers often grow more than one variety in a field 2)
farmers can, within limits, identify the varieties they grow and remember the
probable sources of the genotypes; and 3) cooking quality, early dry matter accumulation,
drought tolerance, and pest and disease resistance, are some of the traits preferred
by farmers. This basic information is useful in designing cassava breeding
schemes aimed at improving locally adapted cassava genotypes for the south-eastern
coastal region of Kenya.
In Tanzania, the collection mission was conducted from 16th -22nd
November 2006 targeting the southern highlands of Tanzania. This area had not
been sampled recently for cassava germplasm. The mission was conducted in collaboration
with the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) – Naliendele, Mtwara and Uyole,
Mbeya, and IITA-Tanzania. Again forty-four cassava farmer varieties were collected.
It is interesting to note that only local varieties were grown by farmers in the
southern highlands of Tanzania, with Mwaya (also called Mkongomwaya
or Mbegupole), being the most commonly grown variety. Both formal
and informal interactions with farmers established that fresh root yield under
farm conditions is low (about 2 t/ha), as compared to the national average of
10t/ha. This low yield may be due in part to the low genetic potential and
or high susceptibility to biotic and abiotic stresses of the local varieties.
It was also evident that bitter, as opposed to sweet tasting varieties were preferred
by farmers as they have less risk of being destroyed by animals (wild pigs, monkeys,
goats) or uninvited guests! In addition to these collections, missions will also
be undertaken in Uganda, and Mozambique. All the samples collected will form part
of a study to assess the utility of SNPs in establishing baselines of diversity
and monitoring diversity in cassava.
Contributed by Morag Ferguson
(Return to Contents)
1.15 Scientists seek useful traits in
LUBBOCK - If you have Mom's smile, Dad's eyes and Grandpa's laugh, you might
wonder what other traits you picked up from the genealogic fabric of the ol' family
Scientists at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension
at Lubbock are studying the family tree of cotton for much the same reason.
"Cotton genetic diversity has narrowed in recent years," said Dr. John Gannaway,
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station cotton breeder. "Many of today's successful
commercial varieties share common parents and grandparents.
"Many scientists believe today's varieties are flexible enough genetically to
handle minor changes but lack enough diversity for really spectacular change.
Aside from limiting fiber quality and yield potential, narrow genetics makes them
more susceptible to insects and disease."
Gannaway and other scientists believe future progress in cotton breeding can only
be achieved if sufficient genetic variability remains in global breeding stocks.
The mission of the center's Crops Genetic Research Facility is to investigate
the potential of useful traits lying undiscovered in the gene pool or germplasm
of obsolete and wild cottons contained in U.S., Russian and French cotton collections.
These traits could help diversify the gene pool from which breeders draw new varieties
in the future.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service facilities
in College Station house one of three international collections of cottons. Another
resides in France and another in Uzbekistan, in the former Soviet Union. Breeders
worldwide are evaluating specimens from these collections and exchanging germplasm
in their efforts to improve the cotton genome.
"These collections contain a wealth of genetic material," Gannaway said, "especially
when you compare them to today's varieties. We are screening obsolete and wild
cottons for useful traits such as insect and disease resistance, and drought,
salt and cold tolerance.
Scientists at Lubbock obtain seed from global cotton collections in small lots,
sometimes as few as 10 seeds per lot. Before their work advances, they must turn
a few seeds into more by growing plants in an environmentally-controlled greenhouse.
Greenhouse manager and Experiment Station research assistant Leslie Wells supervises
seed stocks from planting through harvest. His skill in making difficult cross
pollinations is critical in developing new cotton lines, Gannaway said.
"Many of the cottons we grow for more seed are photoperiodic," Gannaway said.
"They will only produce fruit and seed during the short days of temperate winter."
As these cottons grow and mature, scientists keep a log of their physical, or
phenotypic, characteristics. Remember Mom's smile, Dad's eyes and Grandpa's laugh?
The lint, or fiber, these cottons produce is also measured, analyzed and recorded.
The lint is hand-, saw- and roller-ginned, and then characterized using high volume
instrumentation and the advanced fiber information analysis system.
The Lubbock scientists enter this information into a genetic database which they
share with other scientists and the public. This database will complement the
Texas A&M University System's cotton breeding program, Gannaway said. An overview
of that program is online at http://lubbock.tamu.edu/news/2007/LScapesWinter06.pdf .
Under Gannaway's guidance as lead researcher, Experiment Station research associate
Jimmy Mabry and others conduct the greenhouse screening to make the database a
Mabry grows cotton plants in PVC tubes, measuring the characteristics of their
roots, shoots and leaves and comparing them to a group of control cottons. The
data from these comparisons could help scientists discover which physical traits
help impart drought resistance and make more accurate trait selections in the
Natalia Castillo, Experiment Station research assistant, screens cotton grown
hydroponically . without soil . for salt tolerance. Seedlings are incrementally
subjected to different concentrations of salt, which can reach 30,000 parts per
If cotton breeders can impart more salt tolerance to commercial varieties, farmers
on the Texas High Plains could one day irrigate their crop from the Santa Rosa
Aquifer . which lies underneath the heavily-tapped Ogallala Aquifer, Gannaway
"The Santa Rosa Aquifer is estimated to be 100 times larger than the Ogallala
Aquifer, but it has a much higher concentration of dissolved salts," Gannaway
said. "Salt tolerance could open up the Santa Rosa as an irrigation source."
Other Lubbock scientists are examining natural insect and disease resistance in
obsolete and wild cottons. This resistance could lead to more "environmentally
friendly" varieties that do not require harsh insecticides and fungicides to thrive
in adverse conditions. Fiber from "greener" varieties may be more desirable with
environmentally-savvy consumers, and help farmers reduce production costs without
sacrificing yield or lint quality, Gannaway said.
Mark Arnold, Experiment Station research associate, and Monica Sheehan, Experiment
Station research assistant, are screening cottons grown at Lubbock for thrips
and Lygus bug resistance.
"Thrips are a serious cotton pest," Arnold said. "Thrips are very small. They
can cause severe crop damage resulting in yield loss by feeding on the emerging
leaves of cotton seedlings. Those leaves nurture the plant while it is establishing
roots and gaining strength."
Treated seed and insecticides applied in the furrow at planting help farmers combat
thrips, but these methods are expensive and often only provide a three-week window
of protection against this hungry pest, Arnold said.
Arnold raises thrips on wheat, a favorite host plant, and forces them to move
to neighboring cotton plants by killing the wheat with herbicide.
"This produces massive thrips pressure on the cotton plants, and results in a
lot of damage to those first four true seedling leaves," he said. "We measure
the leaf damage, identify cottons that show thrips resistance and subject those
to further tests."
Sheehan raises Lygus bugs, a secondary pest of cotton, and confines their feeding
to certain parts of cotton plants using bug cages. The amount of damage they inflict
on cotton fruit and their ability to lay eggs for another generation are good
indicators of Lygus resistance, said Sheehan, who hopes to intensify her experiment
Raina King, a Texas Tech University graduate student, is working to develop 'cleaner'
cottons that shed the small leaves (bracts) at the base of each boll a few days
after flower blooms open.
Determining whether this trait is dominant, co-dominant or recessive and finding
its DNA location could help breeders develop upland cottons that require less
lint cleaning . producing cleaner fiber with less ginning costs, Gannaway said.
Scientists at the Crops Genetic Research Facility at Lubbock have been conducting
their cotton research since 2004. The facility was completed and came on-line
"We have developed several reliable methods for screening obsolete and wild cottons
for several positive, heritable traits," Gannaway said. "The data from these experiments
should give molecular breeders more tools to work with as they look for ways to
diversify, improve and expand our cotton gene pool. That will benefit global breeding
stocks and lead to varieties that are more flexible and productive."
Writer: Tim W. McAlavy ,email@example.com
Contact: Dr. John Gannaway, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: via SciDev.net
(Return to Contents)
1.16 Protecting cassava from the brown streak virus
An improved variety of cassava
Millions of Africans rely on cassava, also known as manioc, to provide them
with food through drought and war. This nutritious root tuber grows with minimal
tending and in poor soil, even when other plants succumb to drought.
But in the past five years a virus the brown streak virus has spread throughout
cassava crops in sub-Saharan Africa.
The virus destroys the root while the leaves stay healthy-looking so farmers don't
realise that their entire crop has been ruined until harvest time.
The virus wipes out whole fields of plants; in Tanzania, cassava yields have fallen
50 to 80 per cent in the past five years, according to this New Scientist article.
Scientists from the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in
Tanzania suspect the virus is spread by people migrants, refugees or traders carrying
infected cassava cuttings across Africa.
To tackle the problem, IITA researchers are developing new varieties of cassava
through cross-breeding, and trials have shown that these successfully tolerate
To speed up the spread of these new varieties, the IITA is now training farmers
in a new method to increase the number of cuttings obtained from each plant.
to full article in New Scientist
Source: New Scientist via SciDev.net
10 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.17 New knowledge improves rice quality, could help
poor farmers boost income
Los Baños, Philippines
A major international initiative is being launched to try to boost the income
of the world’s millions of poor rice farmers and at the same time provide consumers
with more nutritious, better tasting food.
New scientific knowledge is allowing rice researchers to develop better quality
rice varieties that could fetch a higher price from consumers, especially increasingly
affluent rice consumers in Asia.
The main aim of the new International Network for Quality Rice is to help rice
breeders around the world develop varieties with improved quality traits such
as better taste, aroma, and cooking characteristics as well as higher levels of
nutrition. Once provided to farmers, the new varieties are expected to command
a higher price among consumers, especially those in Asia, who, as they become
increasingly affluent, are seeking – and paying for – better quality food.
"Much of this research would not have been possible ten years ago because we simply
did not have the knowledge or the understanding of quality that we do now," Robert
S. Zeigler, the director general of the Philippines-based International
Rice Research Institute, said. "It really is a very exciting time to be involved
in such research, especially because we can take the new scientific knowledge
generated by activities such as the recent sequencing of the rice genome, and
use it to improve the lives of the poor by providing either better quality food
or increased income."
The quality rice network – which was formed electronically in 2006 – met for the
first time last month during a three-day workshop entitled "Clearing Old Hurdles
with New Science: Improving Rice Grain Quality" at IRRI. The event attracted 71
cereal chemists and other experts from more than 20 nations.
"It’s very clear from the great response we got to the workshop that rice quality
is becoming a very hot topic in rice research almost everywhere," the convener
and head of IRRI’s Grain Quality, Nutrition, and Postharvest Center, Melissa Fitzgerald,
said. "Many of the issues we discussed may not have even been considered a few
years ago, but, with the recent advances in molecular biology and exciting new
areas such as metabolomics (the whole-genome assessment of metabolites), we can
do things now that we could only dream about before."
During the workshop, the latest research was presented in several new areas, including:
-Breeding for better quality and genetically mapping specific quality traits in
rice such as taste and aroma.
-The cooking and eating qualities of rice and how to measure sensory qualities
-The role of important substances such as starch and amylose in cooking rice and
how they are measured.
"IRRI is very fortunate to have a strong foundation of previous rice quality research
to build on," Dr. Fitzgerald said. "We needed that to ensure we made the right
decisions as we move into a whole new era of rice quality research."
For many years, rice breeders have focused on developing varieties that would
boost production and provide some insect and weed resistance to help farmers reduce
their use of pesticides; quality was not a high priority. However, major new advances
in rice research and Asia’s continuing economic development have created important
"These are the two key changes driving the whole process and making this research
area so exciting," Dr. Zeigler said. "If we can link these two things together
– our new and improved knowledge and understanding of rice quality with affluent-consumer
desires for better rice – then it’s possible we can also help poor farmers improve
"This would be an outstanding example of using the latest in science to improve
the lives of the poor, while satisfying the desires of the affluent," he added.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the world’s leading rice
research and training center. Based in the Philippines and with offices in 10
other Asian countries, it is an autonomous, nonprofit institution focused on improving
the well-being of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers,
particularly those with low incomes, while preserving natural resources. IRRI
is one of 15 centers funded through the Consultative
Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), an association of public
and private donor agencies.
7 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.18 Transgenic potato varieties developed by the University
of Wisconsin are resistant to natural infestation of the Indonesian race of Phytophthora
Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project
II (ABSPII) Southeast Asia Newsletter Vol.III No. 2
A confined trial of late blight resistant (LBR) potato at the Indonesian Vegetable
Research Institute (IVEGRI) showed that the transgenic potato varieties developed
by the University of Wisconsin are resistant to natural infestation of the Indonesian
race of Phytophthora infestans, the causal organism of the blight disease.
There were 13 potato genotypes used in the confined trial, which include susceptible
potato cultivars that were grown as border rows. These cultivars were planted
between plots and surrounding the main plot. Insecticides were applied on the
field when necessary to protect against insect infestation. No fungicide was used
during the confined trial.
All plants of the susceptible cultivars succumbed to the disease during the confined
trial. These cultivars (Atlantic, Granola, Katahdin control, and Merbabu) were
severely infected two months after planting (MAP). Among the resistant genotypes,
J103K7 was observed to be more resistant than SP951 and SP904. Among the transgenic
lines, SP951 is more resistant than SP904. The wild species (Solanum bubocastanum)
PT29, which is the source of resistance gene (RB gene) on SP951 and SP904, was
confirmed to be the most resistant to P. infestans from Lembang.
Dr. Frank Shotkoski, Director of ABSPII visited the confined trial in February,
together with members of the Indonesian Biosafety and Food Safety Technical Team
(IBFSTT). The LBR Potato breeding team followed the requirements specified by
the IBFSTT such as provisions for genetic and material confinement which aim to
prevent gene flow and LBR potato material going out of the confined trial.
(Return to Contents)
1.19 Michigan State University professor developing
hybrid turfgrass varieties with resistance to dollar spot, snow mold, drought
East Lansing, Michigan
In the future, people who care for and enjoy using golf courses, sports fields
and parks may be able to worry less about how cold weather and drought affect
the grass at their favorite recreational areas. With the development of new turfgrass
hybrids by Suleiman Bughrara, professor in the Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Crop
and Soil Sciences, the turfgrass industry may grow greener and stronger than ever
Since beginning his work at MSU in 1999, Bughrara has blazed new trails. Or, sometimes,
frozen them. Bughrara completed a comprehensive snow mold study of more than 4,000
cloned varieties of creeping bentgrass by simulating winter for each plant. Twenty
bentgrass varieties showed significant resistance to snow mold, one of the most
detrimental diseases challenging the turfgrass industry. A follow-up study found
six of the 20 snow-mold-resistant clones also showed resistance to dollar spot,
the other main turf-troubling disease.
“Bentgrass has all the right characteristics of great turf but shows susceptibility
to dollar spot and snow mold,” Bughrara said. “We will continue our work to examine
ways of crossbreeding aesthetically pleasing varieties, such as colonial bentgrass,
to maximize disease resistance.”
Bughrara and his research team continue making discovery after exciting discovery
in turfgrass breeding. His work also includes ryegrass and fescue. Working to
unlock the mystery of drought tolerance, Bughrara is integrating Atlas fescue
genes (from semiarid regions of Morocco) into the perennial ryegrass genome. The
hybrids have shown high drought tolerance in greenhouse research. Field evaluations
and molecular mapping are under way.
“This is exciting work,” Bughrara said. “We are the only university in the United
States doing this type of genetic work to improve cold and drought tolerance and
disease resistance in turfgrass breeding.”
Bughrara sees potential breakthroughs in how all plants are grown, especially
“With the right location on a gene, we can create hybrids for cold and drought
tolerance in other crops as well. Wheat, corn and rice that need less water to
thrive? It could change the entire landscape of our food systems,” Bughrara said.
Bughrara’s position and several of his research projects are funded by Project
GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs),
Michigan’s plant agriculture initiative housed at MSU.
Founded in 1997, Project GREEEN is a cooperative effort between plant-based commodities
and businesses together with the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, MSU
Extension and the Michigan Department of Agriculture to advance Michigan’s economy
through its plant-based agriculture. Its mission is to develop research and educational
programs in response to industry needs, ensure and improve food safety, and protect
and preserve the quality of the environment.
To learn more about Michigan’s plant agriculture initiative at MSU, visit www.greeen.msu.edu.
Copyright © SeedQuest - All rights reserved
30 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.20 Genetically modified chicory brings hope to African malaria patients
Wageningen, The Netherlands
Dafra Pharma International NV has
commissioned Plant Research International
(PRI) to start new research to optimize the production method of artemisinin via
genetically modified chicory plants. This research should result in inexpensive,
large-scale production of artemisinin under controllable conditions. Artemisinin
is a basic raw material used in ACTs (Artemisinin based Combination Therapies),
the latest generation and most effective antimalaria treatment according to the
WHO (World Health Organization of the UN).
Dafra Pharma International NV, private market leader in ACTs in Africa, wants
to use the results of this research to lower the price of the basic raw material
to such an extent that its treatments of the African patient will soon cost no
more than half a dollar.
Malaria and ACTs
According to the WHO some 300 to 500 million malaria cases are reported annually
worldwide. Each year this results in the death of 1.5 to 2 million people, of
which 90% occur in Africa. Malaria is the main cause of death in most African
countries, more than HIV/Aids. The disease is in particular fatal for pregnant
women (10 000 per year) and young children (3000 per day). Each 30 seconds a child
under five dies of malaria in Africa.
And yet malaria is perfectly treatable. Rapid diagnosis and treatment with an
ACT can cure a patient before the disease becomes life-threatening. Since the
malaria parasite has become resistant to the older, more conventional antimalaria
treatments such as chloroquine, SP etc., the WHO recommends ACTs as the first-line
treatment in the African countries. Artemisinin, however, is an expensive plant
extract. This means that an ACT these days easily costs ten times more than a
treatment with e.g. chloroquine. ACTs are very expensive for the African patients.
This means that the price of the ACTs, and thus the price of artemisinin, needs
to drop sharply.
Biosynthetic production of artemisinin via plants The idea of producing molecules
via genetic modification is not new.
Based on a Dutch patent Prof. Jay Keasling (Berkely University, California, USA)
& One World Health already made the first steps in the biosynthetic production
of a precursor of artemisinin. They introduced the genetic information for production
of artemisinic acid (obtained from Artemisia annua) in yeast. Via genetic modification
of microorganisms and via fermentation they hope to produce artemisinic acid on
an industrial scale.
Earlier research by Plant Research International, commissioned by Dafra Pharma
International NV, followed a different path along the same lines of thought, though
not using microorganisms, but plants. The Wageningen research showed that chicory
produces considerable amounts of sesquiterpene lactones which give the plant its
bitter taste. The Wageningen scientists, headed by Prof. Harro Bouwmeester and
Dr. Maurice Franssen, could demonstrate that the enzymes that in chicory are involved
in the production of the bitter compounds are also capable of performing other
reactions. Via a diversion of the biosynthesis of bitter compounds they intend
to produce the chemical precursor for artemisinin (dihydroartemisinic acid) in
the roots of chicory. The group of Prof. Bouwmeester has shown in a wide range
of plant species that diversion of the biosynthesis of terpenes can be carried
out very efficiently.
New research of Plant Research International, also for Dafra Pharma International
NV, is now being initiated to see how the precursor of artemisinin can best be
produced in chicory. Dafra Pharma International NV has the chemical expertise
required for the conversion, after extraction, of the precursor into artemisinin
that is directly suitable for the production of ACTs.
The Belgian-Netherlands research will run parallel with that of Prof. Keasling
in the USA. In fact both studies are complementary, with the same human objective:
the large-scale production of a biosynthetically produced artemisinin which should
lead to inexpensive, but high-quality, effective and safe antimalaria treatments
(ACTs) for Africa.
Industrial scaling up for humane cause
To free Africa from malaria - the slogan of World Malaria Day 2007 - some 400
million treatments per year will be needed. Plant Research International and Dafra
Pharma International NV will therefore continue their close cooperation in the
optimization of the biosynthesis technology for the industrial production of artemisinin.
In the context of this cooperation a patent assigned to Plant Research International
will be sold to Dafra Pharma International NV. This will allow the use of the
knowledge acquired by Plant Research International in a product-oriented process.
Plant Research International and Dafra Pharma International have chosen inulin
chicory as artemisinin production platform because it contains some essential
precursors and enzymes and is a well-established industrial crop for a.o. non-food
applications, which means that the entire chain of large-scale agricultural production,
including extraction, is already present, in Belgium as well as in the Netherlands.
Dr FH Jansen, R&D Director of Dafra Pharma International NV, states that it
must be the objective of Dafra Pharma International NV to achieve inexpensive,
large-scale industrial production of artemisinin under controllable conditions
via the root of the chicory plant in three to five years time.
In the future this new inexpensive raw material should enable Dafra Pharma International
NV to place its ACTs on the market for half a dollar per adult antimalarial treatment.
Dafra Pharma International NV is private-sector market leader in all Africa
for Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies to cure malaria.
Plant Research International is part of Wageningen UR and is the most important
Netherlands research institute for scientific research on plants.
The Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen UR is a collaboration of:
- Plant Research International B.V.
- Applied Plant Research (Praktijkonderzoek Plant & Omgeving B.V.)
- Wageningen University
8 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.21 Plants that produce more vitamin C may result from
UCLA and Dartmouth scientists have identified a crucial enzyme in plant vitamin
C synthesis, which could lead to enhanced crops. The discovery now makes clear
the entire 10-step process by which plants convert glucose into vitamin C, an
important antioxidant in nature.
"If we can find ways to enhance the activity of this enzyme, it may be possible
to engineer plants to make more vitamin C and produce better crops," said Steven
Clarke, UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, director of UCLA's Molecular
Biology Institute and co-author of the research study, to be published as a 'Paper
of the Week' in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and currently available online.
"We hit on gold," Clarke said, "because we now have a chance to improve human
nutrition and to increase the resistance of plants to oxidative stress. Plants
may grow better with more vitamin C, especially with more ozone in the atmosphere
due to pollution."
Carole Linster, a UCLA postdoctoral fellow in chemistry and biochemistry and lead
author of the study, discovered the controlling enzyme, GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase,
which serves as the biosynthetic pathway by which plants manufacture vitamin C.
"Our finding leads to attractive approaches for increasing the vitamin C content
in plants," Linster said. "We now have two strategies to provide enhanced protection
against oxidative damage: Stimulate the endogenous activity of the identified
enzyme or engineer transgenic plants which overexpress the gene that encodes the
When life on Earth began, there was almost no oxygen, Clarke noted.
"Two billion years ago, plants devised an efficient way to get sunlight to make
sugar from carbon dioxide that produced oxygen as a waste product; that waste
product probably killed off most of all living species at that time," Clarke said.
"The only organisms that survived developed defenses against it, and one of the
best defenses is vitamin C. Plants learned how to make vitamin C to protect themselves."
Prior to the new research, vitamin C may have been the most important small molecule
whose biosynthetic pathway remained a mystery.
An essential vitamin for humans, vitamin C is also an important antioxidant for
animals and plants. Humans do not have the ability to make vitamin C and get it
from dietary sources, especially from plants. It was not until 1998 that a biosynthetic
pathway was proposed to explain how plants make this compound. Research confirmed
much of the pathway, although one crucial missing link continued to baffle scientists
and remained unknown until this new research.
Clarke, who studies the biochemistry of aging, said the finding is an example
of serendipity in science.
The research started as an effort to understand the role of a gene in Caenorhabditis
elegans, a tiny worm used as a model for aging studies by Tara Gomez, a former
UCLA undergraduate in Clarke's laboratory and now a graduate student at the California
Institute of Technology. The gene's sequence suggested that it was related to
a family of genes altered in cancer, known as HIT genes; these genes are studied
in the laboratory of Charles Brenner at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth
Collaboration between Clarke's and Brenner's laboratories revealed a similarity
between the worm gene and the product of the VTC2 gene of Arabidopsis thaliana,
a small roadside plant. Mutations in this gene had been previously linked to low
levels of vitamin C. Linster and Gomez were able to express and to purify the
plant VTC2 enzyme from bacteria. The research team, led by Linster, produced the
GDP-L-galactose substrate and reconstituted in test tubes the mysterious seventh
step in vitamin C synthesis.
Clarke and Brenner liken the first six steps in vitamin C synthesis to a roadmap
in which there are multiple possible routes from glucose to a variety of cellular
compounds. Once the GDP-L-galactose compound takes the exit marked "VTC2," however,
the atoms are reconfigured to make vitamin C. The remaining three steps, like
a curving driveway, "require some turns but no real choices and no backing up,"
The researchers are still studying what VTC2-related genes do in animals and how
these genes may relate to aging and cancer.
The research was federally funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National
Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Science Foundation, and
by a fellowship Linster received from the government of Luxembourg.
The scientific team included UCLA researcher Lital Adler; Princeton undergraduate
and former UCLA research assistant Brian D. Young; and Dartmouth researcher Kathryn
Contact: Stuart Wolpert
23 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.22 Nature surrenders flowery secrets
to international team
A new unifying theory for 'inflorescences'
The poet Dylan Thomas wrote, "The force that drives the green fuse drives
the flower." Now, a team of international scientists has unlocked some of the
secrets of that force: it has described the rules that govern how plants arrange
flowers into branching structures, known in technical terms as ‘inflorescences.’
Nature has literally thousands of examples of inflorescences, which include the
flower clusters of Mountain Ash, the tiny filigreed blossoms on Lilac and the
stalkier inflorescences in Fireweed.
Published in the May 24 online edition of the journal Science, the team’s paper
outlines the mathematical model, molecular genetics and evolutionary processes
that work together to create inflorescences as different as Forget-Me-Not and
"This is a unifying theory that provides an explanation for the diversity of inflorescences
we see in nature," says Dr. Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz, the paper’s lead author
and a University of Calgary computer scientist. "It was thought that separate
mechanisms explained the many differences in form and development of inflorescences
in nature, but now we see that these are just facets of the same mechanism."
Dr. Lawrence Harder, a University of Calgary biologist and co-author of the paper,
says one of their model’s key features is that it is able to anticipate regional
variations in inflorescence structures and recognizes that some developmental
patterns are impossible.
"What we’ve done here is to fit together fundamental science from different disciplines
to create this exciting new theory," Harder says. "We can now say with more certainty
why we have all this diversity that surrounds us; it’s also possible that our
approach can be adapted to other fields."
A mathematical model that Prusinkiewicz developed has a unique property of producing
diverse inflorescence structures with relatively small changes in input, and is
a key element of the overall theory. Another is the work of molecular geneticist
Dr. Enrico Coen of the United Kingdom’s John Innes Centre, who related Prusinkiewicz’s
model to the action of plant genes.
Other co-authors include Brendan Lane, a University of Calgary computer science
research associate, and Yvette Erasmus, a graduate student in the Institute of
Molecular Plant Science in Edinburgh.
The team’s paper, "Evolution and Development of Inflorescence Architectures,"
will appear in the print version of Science on June 8.
Contact: Gregory Harris
24 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.23 Automation of DNA marker analysis for molecular breeding
DNA markers have helped a lot in speeding up several steps in the plant breeding
process. Among its many applications include use in marker assisted selection
for superior genotypes, and for checking for genotype uniformity.
DNA marker analysis can be automated to meet both the high-throughput and low
cost requirement of many breeding programs, says researchers in Sweden and Denmark.
The group presented the fully automated polymerase chain reaction system used
Weibull AB (SW) for evaluating barley and canola lines.
The system was presented to be capable of analyzing up to 2200 samples per day
at a cost of 0,24 € per analysis for marker assisted selection and quality control
of genetically modified organisms.
The complete paper with the detailed description of the SW system was published
by the journal Plant Breeding and available for subscribers at http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1439-0523.2007.01306.x
Automation of DNA marker analysis for molecular breeding in crops: practical
experience of a plant breeding company
C. Dayteg, Svalöf Weibull AB, SW
Laboratory, SE-26181 Svalöv, Sweden
S. Tuvesson, Svalöf Weibull AB,
SW Laboratory, SE-26181 Svalöv, Sweden
A. Merker, Department of Crop Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences,
Box 44, SE-23053 Alnarp, Sweden
A. Jahoor, Plant and Soil Science Laboratory, Department of Agricultural Sciences,
The Royal Veterinary and Agriculture University, Thorvaldssensvej 40, DK-1871
Fredriksberg, C, Copenhagen, Denmark and
A. Kolodinska-Brantestam, Department of Crop Science, Swedish University of Agricultural
Sciences, Box 44, SE-23053 Alnarp, Sweden
Plant Breeding (OnlineEarly Articles).
In modern plant breeding, DNA marker analyses are of increasing importance and,
as the methods become more widely adopted, the capacity for high-throughput analyses
at low cost is crucial for its practical use. Automation of the analysis processes
is a way to meet these requirements. In order to achieve this, while keeping adequate
flexibility in the analysis processes, Svalöf Weibull AB (SW) has developed a
fully automated polymerase chain reaction system. It has been evaluated on barley
and canola lines and is capable of analysing up to 2200 samples per day at a cost
of 0,24 € per analysis for marker-assisted selection and quality control of genetically
modified organisms. A detailed description of this system is given, and improvements
to the throughput and applications are discussed.
Source: CropBiotech Update via SeedQuest.com
(Return to Contents)
1.24 Iowa State scientists demonstrate first use of
nanotechnology to enter plant cells
AMES, Iowa -- A team of Iowa State University plant scientists and materials
chemists have successfully used nanotechnology to penetrate plant cell walls and
simultaneously deliver a gene and a chemical that triggers its expression with
controlled precision. Their breakthrough brings nanotechnology to plant biology
and agricultural biotechnology, creating a powerful new tool for targeted delivery
into plant cells.
The research, "Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles Deliver DNA and Chemicals into
Plants," is a highlighted article in the May issue of Nature Nanotechnology. The
scientists are Kan Wang, professor of agronomy and director of the Center for
Plant Transformation, Plant Sciences Institute; Victor Lin, professor of chemistry
and senior scientist, U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory; Brian Trewyn,
assistant scientist in chemistry; and Francois Torney, formerly a post-doctoral
scientist in the Center for Plant Transformation and now a scientist with Biogemma,
Currently, scientists can successfully introduce a gene into a plant cell. In
a separate process, chemicals are used to activate the gene's function. The process
is imprecise and the chemicals could be toxic to the plant.
"With the mesoporous nanoparticles, we can deliver two biogenic species at the
same time," Wang said. "We can bring in a gene and induce it in a controlled manner
at the same time and at the same location. That's never been done before."
The controlled release will improve the ability to study gene function in plants.
And in the future, scientists could use the new technology to deliver imaging
agents or chemicals inside cell walls. This would provide plant biologists with
a window into intracellular events.
The Iowa State team, which has been working on the research in plants for less
than three years, started with an Iowa State University proprietary technology
developed previously by Lin's research group. It is a porous, silica nanoparticle
system. Spherical in shape, the particles have arrays of independent porous channels.
The channels form a honeycomb-like structure that can be filled with chemicals
"One gram of this kind of material can have a total surface area of a football
field, making it possible to carry a large payload," Trewyn said.
Lin's nanoparticle has a unique "capping" strategy that seals the chemical goods
inside. In previous studies, his group successfully demonstrated that the caps
can be chemically activated to pop open and release the cargo inside of animal
cells. This unique feature provides total control for timing the delivery
The team's first attempt to use the porous silica nanoparticle to deliver DNA
through the rigid wall of the plant cell was unsuccessful. The technology had
worked more readily in animals cells because they don't have walls. The nanoparticles
can enter animal cells through a process called endocytosis - the cell swallows
or engulfs a molecule that is outside of it. The biologists attempted to mimic
that process by removing the wall of the plant cell (called making protoplasts),
forcing it to behave like an animal cell and swallow the nanoparticle. It didn't
They decided instead to modify the surface of the particle with a chemical coating.
"The team found a chemical we could use that made the nanoparticle look yummy
to the plant cells so they would swallow the particles," Torney said.
It worked. The nanoparticles were swallowed by the plant protoplasts, which are
a type of spherical plant cells without cell walls.
Most plant transformation, however, occurs with the use of a gene gun, not through
endocytosis. In order to use the gene gun to introduce the nanoparticles to walled
plant cells, the chemists made another clever modification on the particle surface.
They synthesized even smaller gold particles to cap the nanoparticles. These "golden
gates" not only prevented chemical leakage, but also added weight to the nanoparticles,
enabling their delivery into the plant cell with the standard gene gun.
The biologists successfully used the technology to introduce DNA and chemicals
to Arabidopsis, tobacco and corn plants.
"The most tremendous advantage is that you can deliver several things into a plant
cell at the same time and release them whenever you want," Torney said.
"Until now, you were at nature's mercy when you delivered a gene into a cell,"
Lin said. "There's been no precise control as to whether the cells will actually
incorporate the gene and express the consequent protein. With this technology,
we may be able to control the whole sequence in the future."
And once you get inside the plant cell wall, it opens up "whole new possibilities,"
"We really don't know what's going on inside the cell. We're on the outside looking
in. This gets us inside where we can study the biology per se," Wang said.
The interdisciplinary research collaboration was funded and facilitated by Iowa
State's Plant Sciences Institute. The institute sponsors Wang's work to develop
a male-sterile, biopharmaceutical corn - the corn contains a therapeutic protein
but does not produce pollen. The materials development and synthesis of the nanoparticles
in Lin's laboratory was funded by the energy department and the National Science
Foundation. Wang and Lin intend to continue their collaboration to further develop
the technology and its applications in plants.
Victor Lin, Chemistry, email@example.com
Kan Wang, Center for Plant Transformation, (firstname.lastname@example.org
Francois Torney, Biogemma, email@example.com
Brian Trewyn, Chemistry, firstname.lastname@example.org
Teddi Barron, News Service, email@example.com
(Return to Contents)
1.25 Advancing the application of genomics technologies
for the selection and development of high quality grains, including wheat and
Eminent grains expert and molecular biologist Professor Rudi Appels (photo) has
been awarded a Visiting Fellowship within the Food Futures Flagship to advance
the application of genomics technologies for the selection and development of
high quality grains, including wheat and barley.
A member of staff at Murdoch University
where he currently heads up the Molecular Plant breeding CRC
activities in Western Australia, Professor Appels will work within the Flagship’s
Future Grains, Grain Based Foods and Feed theme, which is focused on researching
new techniques in advanced genetics with the aim of delivering premium value in
food and feeds for Australia’s agrifood industries.
Through this fellowship, Professor Appels will bring together the complementary
expertise in CSIRO and Agricultural Research
Western Australia (AWRA) to work with cereal researchers in Australia and internationally,
and develop a program to determine the quality of grain required for specific
end-products, such as breads, pastries and noodles.
Key aspects of the research are new developments and technologies in genomics
as they apply to identifying genes and gene networks that control the expression
of the desired attributes in the grains – the 'genomics of quality'.
“There are a number of quality attributes that are key determinants for the sale
of our grain into export markets and it is crucial we continue to invest and research
grain quality to maintain the competitive edge of Australian grain in these markets,”
says Professor Appels.
“The new science of genomics research on complex species such as cereals has the
potential to define entirely the genetic basis for end-use traits and how environmental
factors interact with the genetic elements.”
“A consequence of success in this area is a capability to produce 'designer' varieties
targeting niche markets that reward our producers for providing consistent and
targeted quality attributes in the grain sold. In doing this, we will also work
with cereal scientists from key export markets to understand better the specific
technical requirements of those markets, especially those countries’ cultural
preferences in taste, appearance and texture.”
“The research expertise available in Australia, especially in CSIRO and the Food
Futures Flagship, provides a foundation on which to build a major research resource
devoted to wheat quality improvement.”
Flagship Visiting Fellowships enable Australian-based researchers to undertake
agreed collaborative projects under the auspices of the National Research Flagships
program. The program has been allocated $A97 million over seven years under the
Australian Government’s Backing Australia’s Ability - Building Our Future Through
Science and Innovation package.
22 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.26 New gene technology may improve corn traits, says the U.S. National
Corn Growers Association
St. Louis, Missouri
It took nearly 20 years for researchers to develop the first commercial genetically
enhanced corn hybrids. The next generation of genetic technology may be developed
in less than half that time.
“Mini-chromosome stacking” uses the plant’s DNA to simultaneously introduce multiple
genetic traits into plants, reducing the time and cost required to develop and
launch new products. The technology has several advantages over current genetic
technology, says Nathan Fields, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) director
of Research and Business Development.
“There’s no interference with the plant’s native genome, so the new traits can
be delivered more precisely, with increased ability to regulate trait expression,”
explains Fields. “Also, the technique makes it easier to identify a genetically
The mini-chromosome technology was developed at the University of Chicago. Chromatin Inc. is the exclusive licensee.
Earlier this year, it was awarded a patent granting it exclusive rights for the
mini-chromosome technology in plants. NCGA has been working with Chromatin to
help develop the technology for agriculture and made an investment in the company
This week Monsanto signed a non-exclusive
agreement to use the technology in corn and other crops. Monsanto and Chromatin
will conduct a three-year program to complete development of the technology.
Chromatin estimates that mini-chromosome technology could accelerate the timeline
from research to commercial introduction for plants modified with a single trait
by two to three years (25 percent to 40 percent). “The technology offers the chance
for more reliable trait development because the new traits would be separate,”
says Fields. “For the same reason, researchers may be able to speed up the development
and introduction of new traits.”
24 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.27 Plants tag insect herbivores with an alarm
Rooted in place, plants can’t run from herbivoresbut they can fight back.
Sensing attack, plants frequently generate toxins, emit volatile chemicals to
attract the pest’s natural enemies, or launch other defensive tactics.
Now, for the first time, researchers reporting in the June 2007 issue of Plant
Physiology have identified a specific class of small peptide elicitors, or
plant defense signals, that help plants react to insect attack.
In this colorful self-defense strategy, proteins already present in the plant
are ingested by insect attackers. Digesting the proteins, the insects unwittingly
convert this food into a peptide elicitor, which gets secreted back onto plants
during later feedings. Recognizing the secreted elicitor as a kind of “SOS,” plants
launch defensive chemistry. This defense discovery opens the door for the development
and genetic manipulation of plants with improved protection against pests.
Although researchers have long known that some plants distinguish different insect
attackers, this defensive behavior has proven difficult to describe at the molecular
level. Exceedingly few model systems have been utilized to characterize the potential
interactions between what researchers estimate to be at least four million insects
and 230,000 flowering plant species. Moreover, highly active plant defense signals
can occur at trace levels, too small to easily detect or isolate.
Still, scientists have determined that insect herbivory, mechanical damage, and
pathogens such as bacteria and fungi can all set off a variety of peptide warning
signals in plants, which respond by increasing phytohormones, particularly ethylene,
jasmonic acid, or salicylic acid, that regulate defensive responses. But which
peptide signals act as alarmsand how?
To address those questions, Dr. Eric Schmelz at the United States Department of
Agriculture’s Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology operated
by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Gainesville,
Florida, led a research team that spent three years systematically analyzing the
biochemical response of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), a legume, to herbivory and
oral secretions of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), a general crop pest.
During the extensive project, the researchers conducted over 10,000 leaf bioassays,
testing for plant phytohormone production after exposure to successively fractionated
insect oral secretions, among other experiments. Painstakingly collected just
a few microliters at a time, the team tested approximately one full liter of caterpillar
As previously reported, the scientists identified and isolated an 11 amino acid
peptide, inceptin, that plays a pivotal warning role in cowpea plants being attacked
by the fall armyworm. Inceptin is part of a larger, essential enzyme, chloroplastic
ATP synthase, in plants. When the fall armyworm feeds on cowpea, the insect ingests
ATP synthase and breaks it down, releasing inceptin, which then becomes part of
the armyworm’s oral secretions. When the worm next feeds on cowpea, trace amounts
of inceptin recontact the wounded leaf and alerts plants to generate a burst of
In the June issue of Plant Physiology, Schmelz and his USDA collaborators, including
Sherry LeClere, Mark Carroll, Hans Alborn, and Peter Teal, take the analysis further.
They confirm inceptin’s role as the dominant (and most stable) peptide in the
cowpea’s defense to fall armyworm. In addition, the researchers identify two related
but less abundant peptide fragments (Vu-GE+In and Vu-E+In) that provoke similar
defense responses in cowpea and a third (Vu-In-A) with no apparent effect. They
also show that inceptin-related peptides spark a consistent, sequential cascade
of phytohormone increases in cowpea, beginning with jasmonic acid, followed by
ethylene and, lastly, salicyclic acid. Finally, the researchers determine critical
features of inceptin’s structure: To work as a plant defense signal, the peptide
must contain a penultimate C-terminal aspartic acid, though the structure is considerably
more flexible at its N-terminal. Notably, a number of the general characteristics
of inceptin are similar to another known plant defensive peptide signal, systemin.
The new work challenges researchers to reconsider plant-insect interactions. “Scientists
searching for defense elicitors need to realize those elicitors may not be synthesized
byor even exist withinthe insect pest species,” Schmelz said. “Instead,
the attacker’s proteases may interact with the host proteins, generating an elicitor.”
Building on this work, Schmelz is now recruiting a post-doctoral scientist to
help the team biochemically purify and identify the inceptin receptor from legumes.
The June issue of Plant Physiology will be the Legume Focus Issue. Published by
the American Society of Plant Biologists, Plant Physiology is the world’s most
frequently cited plant science journal.
The research paper cited in this report is available at the following link: http://www.plantphysiol.org/cgi/content/abstract/pp.107.097154v1
Source: American Society of Plant Biologists
9 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.28 Discovery of new, non-GMO CLEARFIELD
gene for sunflower breeding
Bismark, North Dakota
The BASF Company announced recently that its
collaboration with Nidera Co. has resulted in the discovery of a
new and superior non-GMO CLEARFIELD gene.
The announcement reports that the E gene or E factor will no longer be needed
when breeding Clearfield sunflower. The release goes on to say that "this will
make the breeding effort more efficient and effective."
The announcement indicates that the new gene will be available in early 2008 to
seed companies with a Clearfield agreement.
Clearfield sunflower was introduced in 2000 with a resistant gene coming from
Source: U.S. National Sunflower Association
newsletter via EurekAlert.org
21 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.29 University of Nebraska advances dicamba-resistance
In a project that began about a dozen years ago, University
of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists discovered a gene that has been used to create
broadleaf crops that tolerate spraying with the popular herbicide dicamba. Now,
even as an industry partner is working to bring dicamba-resistant crops to market,
these plant scientists are continuing to explore new and expanded uses for the
technology they discovered.
The availability of dicamba-resistant crops means that farmers soon will have
more options for controlling weeds in broadleaf crops such as soybeans, canola,
cotton, tobacco and vegetables.
The UNL team, headed by biochemist Don Weeks, outlined its discoveries on the
molecular, cellular and biochemical processes involved in creating dicamba-resistant
crops in the May 25 issue of Science, the international weekly journal.
Dicamba-based herbicides, sold under trade names such as Banvil and Clarity, are
relatively inexpensive and easy on the environment because the chemical disappears
quickly in plants and soil. But like all broadleaf herbicides, dicamba kills broadleaf
crops as well as their weedy cousins so its use presently is limited to corn and
other grassy crops.
The UNL team identified soil bacteria that break down dicamba and isolated the
gene responsible for imparting resistance. Plant Scientist Tom Clemente, head
of the university's Plant Transformation Core Facility, helped the team insert
this gene into a plant's chromosomes, successfully transferring dicamba resistance
to the plant.
They also discovered that they could modify the gene to target the DNA of the
plant chloroplast, where photosynthesis occurs. This approach has significant
practical implications. Since chloroplast genes are inherited through the material
side, not through male pollen, it eliminates the chance that resistance could
inadvertently spread to other plants through pollen.
The team's genetic modification technique worked in both lab and field trials.
For example, soybeans carrying the dicamba-resistant gene were unharmed by dicamba
sprayed at a rate of 2.5 pounds per acre, about 10 times the normal application
"There are a number of levels at which we think this technology will be useful,"
Weeks said. "It will certainly allow for excellent control for broadleaf weeds
in broadleaf crops like soybeans and cotton ... Controlling broadleaf weeds in
broadleaf crops has always been a challenge and often quite expensive."
The new technology, Weeks added, also will help strengthen integrated weed management
"Importantly, we think that this technology will help to extend the lifetime of
the Roundup Ready technology," he added. Some Roundup-resistant weeds have emerged
in recent years, but working dicamba products into a weed-control strategy with
Roundup could help counter that trend and lead to more complete weed control.
In addition, development of dicamba-resistant crops should further encourage use
of conservation tillage practices that decrease soil erosion and foster more sustainable
and environmentally sensitive farming, Weeks said.
UNL has patented this technology. In 2005 UNL signed an exclusive licensing agreement
with Monsanto Co. to develop crops tolerant to dicamba, using UNL's technology.
"Monsanto is clearly moving forward with this technology, taking it through the
regulatory processes at USDA, EPA and FDA, as well as conducting a number of field
trials," Weeks said.
Dicamba-resistant crops aren't expected to be commercially available until early
in the next decade. In the meantime, Weeks said, the agreement is supporting his
team's continuing dicamba-resistance research – a key payoff of such technology-transfer
agreements between universities and private industry.
"We're testing for efficacy in other crops; that research is looking promising,"
the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources biochemist said. "We also have
explored some other aspects of this technology and have exciting new observations
that we soon hope to have patented."
Monsanto is funding the research, which is conducted through the university's
Agricultural Research Division, a part of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural
24 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.30 Chromatin and Monsanto announce agreement to advance
gene stacking technology
Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri
Chromatin Inc. and Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) today announced
they have entered into a collaborative agreement to evaluate and develop Chromatin's
proprietary gene- stacking technology for use in Monsanto's core research crops.
Under the agreement, Monsanto obtains non-exclusive rights to use Chromatin's
mini-chromosome stacking technology in corn, cotton, soybeans, and canola.
Chromatin retains the right to broadly license its enabling technology so that
other companies and third parties can benefit from this technology as well.
Monsanto and Chromatin scientists will carry out a three-year joint research program
that may be extended, as necessary, to complete the technology development. Financial
terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"Monsanto is a leading agricultural biotechnology company. Their crop and trait
development capabilities make them an ideal partner for advancing Chromatin's
gene stacking technology," said Daphne Preuss, Chromatin's Chief Scientific Officer
"Monsanto and Chromatin structured this non-exclusive partnership to facilitate
the development of Chromatin's technology for commercial and humanitarian uses,"
Preuss said. "Chromatin is pleased to partner with a company that shares its goal
of broadly expanding mini-chromosome capabilities."
Chromatin's mini-chromosome technology offers one way to stack multiple value-added
traits by using a single heritable piece of the plant's own DNA to deliver several
genes. Monsanto will evaluate Chromatin's stacking technology for use in conjunction
with its existing technologies to explore more efficient methods of stacking traits.
"Farmers are increasingly turning to stacked trait technologies so that they can
get more benefits out of a single seed," said Robert T. Fraley, Ph.D., Monsanto
executive vice president and chief technology officer. "Chromatin's expertise
in gene stacking technology will be an important resource as we look to deliver
a broader variety of both input traits such as insect and weed control and beneficial
consumer traits to improve nutrition of stacked trait options to our farmer customers."
"We want farmers to have access to all of our new traits in the best available
germplasm -- along with the weed and insect protection they enjoy today," Fraley
said. "By coupling Chromatin's unique technology with our in-house resources,
we believe we'll be able to deliver these high-value trait stacks faster and more
efficiently in the future."
22 May 2007
(Return to Contents)
1.31 Research identifies protein that
signals flowering in squash plants
FLOWERING LOCUS T Protein Acts as a Signal for Flowering in Cucurbits
The length of the day relative to night, or photoperiod, is a strong determining
factor for the induction of flowering in many plant species. Short day (SD) plants
require a short day length (or more precisely, a long night) in order to flower.
These are plants that flower as the days grow shorter, such as in the fall in
temperate regions. Long day (LD) plants will flower when nights are short (and
days are long), and typically flower in late spring or early summer. SD crops
include rice and maize, and LD crops include wheat, barley, oats and peas. Day-neutral
plants will flower under either long or short days. In addition to its fundamental
importance in basic plant biology, understanding and manipulating the photoperiodic
control of flowering time is an important objective in crop breeding and development
programs, because it can aid in optimizing crop yields and other traits for local
Experimental evidence indicates that a flowering-inducing substance, known as
florigen, is produced in the leaves of a plant under inducing conditions, and
then is transported through the phloem to the floral meristems, where it acts
together with other factors to induce flowering. The precise nature of the florigenic
signal has eluded plant biologists for over 70 years, owing to the difficulties
attendant with the accurate detection and measurement of compounds in phloem sap,
and designing experiments to allow accurate monitoring of long-distance transport
of potential signalling compounds in plants. Some of the principal factors associated
with the photoperiodic induction of flowering are proteins known as CONSTANS (CO)
and FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT). CO does not appear to travel long distances through
the phloem, but rather, it strongly influences the production of another substance
(i.e. florigen) that does. Recent work in a number of laboratories has focused
on a role for FT protein and/or FT mRNA as the florigenic signal, and evidence
is building that the FT protein is responsible, at least in tomato, rice, and
the model plant Arabidopsis (which is in the mustard or cabbage family).
In research published this week in The Plant Cell, researchers Ming-Kuem
Lin and William J. Lucas from the University of California, Davis, together with
a number of coauthors, provide strong evidence that FT protein acts as a florigenic
signal in cucurbit plant species (squashes).
The strength of this research lies in the nature of the experimental system utilized.
The authors chose Cucurbita squash species because reliable methods for
the analysis of translocation through the phloem stream have been developed in
this system. However, most cucurbits are day-neutral plants, and to investigate
the nature of the florigenic signal effectively, it was essential to utilize an
obligate SD plant. In day-neutral plants, it is not possible to manipulate flowering
by altering the daylength. By contrast, obligate SD plants will remain in the
vegetative state until and unless inducing conditions (such as long nights) occur,
and therefore they represent the ideal system for experimental manipulation to
investigate this phenomenon. Principal investigator William J. Lucas explained,
"it is important for these experiments to use a plant that is 100% inducible;
in other words it absolutely will not flower unless it is induced. Then, with
carefully designed grafting experiments, we can precisely control the introduction
of putative florigenic signals into the translocation stream." The authors screened
nearly one hundred accessions of Cucurbita species to identify one, belonging
to the undomesticated squash species Cucurbita moschata, that remained vegetative
under LD conditions and flowered only when grown under SD conditions.
The authors then used the potyvirus Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV)
as a delivery vector to test whether long-distance movement of FT mRNA
and/or FT protein was required for floral induction. The choice of a potyvirus
vector was important as these plant viruses do not produce sub-genomic RNA species,
whose presence could lead to confounding results. The authors found that C.
moschata plants could be induced to flower under the normally non-inducing
LD conditions following ectopic expression of FT by the ZYMV vector. Analysis
of such induced plants showed that the infection zone of ZYMV was not coincident
with the plant's floral meristems, indicating that FT mRNA is unlikely
to be the florigenic signal in this system. Next, heterografting studies were
conducted using flowering Cucurbita maxima (pumpkin) stocks (the stock
is the portion below the graft union containing the roots) grafted to non-induced,
LD-grown C. moschata scions (the portion above the graft union). These
experiments led to flowering of the C. moschata scions, indicating efficient
transmission of a florigenic signal from the C. maxima stocks through the
phloem into the scions. Analyses performed on phloem sap collected from these
flowering C. maxima stocks failed to detect the presence of FT mRNA, but
revealed the presence of FT protein in the translocation stream.
This research provides some of the most solid evidence to date that FT protein
acts as a florigenic signal.
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation; U.S. Department
of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences’ Energy Biosciences Program; and New
Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.
The research paper cited in this report is available at the following link:
Ming-Kuem Lin, Helene Belanger, Young-Jin Lee, Erika Varkonyi-Gasic, Ken-ichiro
Taoka, Eriko Miura, Beatriz Xoconostle-Cazares, Karla Gendler, Richard A. Jorgensen,
Brett Phinney, Tony J. Lough, and William J. Lucas: FLOWERING LOCUS T Protein
May Act as the Long-Distance Florigenic Signal in the Cucurbits.
(Return to Contents)
2.01 Intellectual Property Management in Health
and Agricultural Innovation: A Handbook of Best Practices
I am pleased to announce that Intellectual Property Management in Health
and Agricultural Innovation: A Handbook of Best Practices has been released
earlier last week at BIO in Boston. Prepared by and for policy-makers, leaders
of public sector research establishments, technology transfer professionals, licensing
executives, and scientists, the Handbook offers up-to-date information and strategies
for utilizing the power of both intellectual property and the public domain. Eschewing
ideological debates and general proclamations, the authors always keep their eye
on the practical side of IP management. The Handbook provides substantive discussions
and analyses of the opportunities awaiting anyone in the field who wants to put
intellectual property to work.
The Handbook is a suite of 157 chapters and prefatory comments, composed
by nearly 200 authors from East, West, North and South. The companion Executive
Guide distills the key points of each chapter into simple language and places
them in the context of evolving best practices. The books will be distributed
for free to low- and middle-income countries (subject to availability of funding
and support for distribution).
Please visit www.ipHandbook.org to order online.
“This Handbook... is a valuable guide in helping to navigate the complex
but rewardingworld of an increasingly global innovation system.”
Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
“At the dawn of the 21st century the world created an unprecedented wave of
public–private partnerships. For such investments to bear fruit as public goods
it is paramount to manage intellectual property with the public interest in mind.
This Handbook provides expert guidance to do just that and will assist
in developing new capabilities in low- and middle-income countries.”
Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation
“For all who believe, as I believe, that developing countries canand
shouldparticipate in and benefit from an interconnected world of innovation,
this book is an indispensable guide.”
Mahmoud F. Fathalla, Professor and former Dean, Medical School at Assiut
University, Egypt, and Chairperson of the WHO Advisory Committee on Health Research
“Intellectual property (IP) has become a much richer field of endeavor as
it has moved from isolationism in the world of policy to a position of engagement.
[This Handbook] will serve as an invaluable resource in this challenging
–– From the Foreword of Francis Gurry, Deputy Director General, WIPO
“This Handbookwhich really transcends the category of handbooks
altogether is a must read for anyone who deals with intellectual property.”
Pramilla Senanayake, FRCOG, Chair, Global Forum for Health Research,
MIHR, and the Concept Foundation
(Return to Contents)
5. POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS
5.01 Postdoctoral position on “Quantitative genetics of garden rose
architecture: architectural analysis and genetic determinism”
at INRA in Angers (France)
A post-doctoral position is available from September 2007 to August 2009 in the
UMR GenHort (Genetics and Horticulture, National Institute of Agronomical Research,
INRA) at Angers (France). Our group is working on the comprehension of flowering
and architecture of garden roses by genetic and molecular approaches. The post-doc
will work on a joint project with the eco-physiological team of the UMR SAGAH
(Agronomical Science Applied to Horticulture). The objective of this multidisciplinary
project is to understand the genetic and environmental determinism controlling
the elaboration of garden rose architecture.
In the post-doctoral project, we proposed to analyze the segregation of characters
that influenced plant architecture. The driving objective of this research will
be to 1) to phenotype the progeny of two populations with architectural components
2) to determine the architectural variables presenting heritability and 3) to
analyze the genetic determinants of these variables.
In the group, two progenies have been obtained from crosses between roses of contrasting
architecture. A genetic map was built from one population and different loci controlling
traits of interest were mapped (Crespel et al, 2002; Hybrand Saint Oyant et al,
2007). Due to the complexity of architecture in woody perennial plants, the scoring
of topological and geometrical data will be done on a “simple” system: branches
of the year on roses grown in the field. For data scoring and analysis, tools
developed by the AMAPmod platform ALEA (Clermont-Ferrand and Montpellier, France)
will be used. Based on the statistical analysis, the variables will be selected
according to the heritability, correlation and easiness of measurement. A QTL
analysis will be performed on the selected variables to analyze the genetic determinants.
Applicants should not be French and should have a PhD in plant biology with a
strong background in quantitative genetic and plant development. Knowledge of
the AMAPmod platform will be a plus.
Applications including cover letter, curriculum vitae, and the names of two referees
should be sent to:
Fabrice FOUCHER ( Fabrice.Foucher@angers.inra.fr)
UMR Génétique et Horticulture (GenHort)
tel: 33 (0)18.104.22.168.75
(Return to Contents)
5.02 Assistant professor position in the area of tree
fruit genetics and breeding available in the department of Horticulture at Clemson
POSITION AND QUALIFACTIONS: 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.
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. Applications
should be sent electronically via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
(Return to Contents)
5.03 Associate in Research position available in the
laboratory of Dr Amit Dhingra at Washington State University
Washington State University is seeking a highly motivated, talented and creative
scientist for a plant genomics project. Position is initially available for two
years with the possibility of extension. We are looking for an individual with
the demonstrated ability to primarily carry out research and manage labs. The
individual will be responsible for implementing experiments as well as upkeep
of lab equipment, ordering lab supplies, and training students in the lab. The
successful candidate must have strong interest in plant molecular biology, bioinformatics,
genomics and tissue culture. Required: a B.S. degree. Preferred: 1) a M.S.
degree 2) prior experience in basic plant molecular biology techniques such as
DNA extraction, cloning of PCR products, DNA sequencing, RT-PCR, plant growth,
plant transformation, computer programming, and general microbial techniques;
3) ability to interact and work collaboratively with others. Application review
begins immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Application
material should include a brief cover letter outlining interests and qualifications,
curriculum vitae, transcripts and the names and email addresses of three references
(please send all materials as a single PDF file). Email application materials
to Dr. Amit Dhingra, Dept. of Horticulture
& Landscape Architecture, WSU, P.O. Box 646414, Pullman, WA 99164-6414.
Fax: (509)335-8690; e-mail: email@example.com. AA/EE0/ADA
Contributed by Sook Jung
(via Anne Marie Thro, firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Return to Contents)
5.04 Pasture Plant Breeder - Leadership potential
- Unique Opportunity
Cropmark Seeds Limited is a seed company and research organisation based in
Christchurch New Zealand specialising in the development and marketing of unique
pasture seed varieties. The company’s R&D programme is focussed on delivering
agronomically the best performing pasture seed varieties that have an application
in New Zealand and other countries worldwide.
Genetic improvement and leading edge research is the basis for Cropmark delivering
unique and superior performing varieties. The continuing success and growth
of our R&D programme necessitates the further need for two forage grass breeders
to fill a permanent junior (BSc/MSc) and senior (PhD or equivalent practical experience)
position available at Cropmark Seeds Ltd. (
www.cropmark.co.nz). Both of these positions involve the development of new
pasture species suitable for a range of environments through the application of
conventional breeding and appropriate biotechnologies.
The successful candidates will be required to have a basic understanding of the
plant breeding of out-crossing species and general mating systems. Although
a demonstrated working knowledge of quantitative genetics, experimental design
and statistical analyses are considered important, agronomy, cytology, plant physiology,
botany, molecular biology are also considered critical in hiring the senior breeder.
The junior breeder position requires that the successful candidate has a working
knowledge of agronomy and plant breeding.
The breeding approach will be traditional and pragmatic, and therefore “hands
on” field work (physical) will be a critical component of each position.
Individuals must be willing to be actively involved in a variety of agronomic
tasks that are critical to the success of a traditional plant breeding programme.
Candidates who have a real interest in research and the important role this plays
in enhancing the performance of varieties re disease, pests and environments,
and building on gains achieved through traditional plant breeding and genetics.
Also people with an interest in managing plant breeding and research programmes
are of interest particularly people with management/leadership potential, skills,
and/or with experience would be attractive to Cropmark.
Both positions are based in Christchurch New Zealand which is a city that provides
a high quality of life, including good schooling, parks, and leisure activities.
There are many attractions and outdoor activities in and around Christchurch,
Attractive working conditions, a competitive remuneration package, and relocation
assistance will be offered. Interested candidates should provide a CV and
letter of intent describing your interest in the position (specify Junior or Senior
Breeder) to Cropmark Seeds Limited. either by e-mail to email@example.com
or by post to PO Box 16574 Christchurch New Zealand, attention Vaughan Ormsby.
Contributed by Fiona Hagerty
Cropmark Seeds Ltd
(Return to Contents)
5.05 Central Mexico Research Leader, Chapala Area of Central Mexico
JOB SUMMARY: Lead a research program focused on the trialing of strawberry,
raspberry, blackberry and blueberry varieties in Central Mexico and developing
production systems to maximize their consumer attributes and horticultural traits.
Work with Driscoll’s US based plant breeders for strawberry, raspberry, blackberry
and blueberry and be responsible for introduction and testing of advanced selections
and new varieties of those crops from Driscoll’s US and European breeding programs.
Coordinate the testing of new varieties in locations outside of their original
area of development. Work with Driscoll’s US based plant breeders to develop
crossing strategies and testing strategies to better leverage these efforts into
Central Mexico. Work with Driscoll’s US based Production Researchers,
Plant Pathologists and Entomologists on projects to optimize grower profitability
and fruit quality in all our crops. Manage the propagation of test varieties
in cooperation with the Nursery Department. Travel frequently to research locations
in throughout Mexico and the United States of America. Occasional travel
to Europe, Australia and South America will also be required.
JOB QUALIFICATIONS: Doctor of Philosophy degree in horticultural science
or related discipline with emphasis on Plant Breeding and Genetics and a strong
background in Plant Physiology and crop manipulation. A minimum five years
work experience. Demonstrated ability to conduct innovative research and develop
practical solutions to problems facing growers. Strong organizational and
planning skills. Demonstrated ability to communicate both orally and in
writing in Spanish and English. Ability to be adaptable and flexible in
a fast paced continuously changing multi-cultural work environment. Experience
in utilizing information technologies, which include email, word processing and
spreadsheet capabilities. Dependable and reliable with good interpersonal
RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDE: Oversee trials of strawberry, raspberry, blackberry
and blueberry varieties in Central Mexico. Work with Researchers and Plant Breeders
in the US and Test Plot Managers in Central Mexico to design, implement and analyze
experiments to meet objectives of Driscoll’s Central Mexico Operations.
1. Design and implement production research to increase fruit quality and productivity
in collaboration with Driscoll’s US based researchers.
2. Recommend crossing strategies utilizing Driscoll’s proprietary genetic material
as well as non-proprietary material to US based plant breeders to further variety
development for Central Mexico. Stay abreast of variety developments in
Driscoll’s US Breeding programs to leverage these efforts in the Central Mexico
3. Oversee weekly field evaluations of selections and advanced trials during periods
of fruit production for strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry selections
and varieties. Coordinate and complete customer evaluations and market evaluations
as needed from all districts.
4. Collect, analyze and report evaluation data from variety trails and research
trials to peers and the DSO growers. Develop basic cultural recommendations for
new varieties. Provide said recommendation to the grower community at the release
of a variety. Report to growers on developments and progress on a regular basis.
5. Manage propagation and digging of selections for all Central Mexico variety
trials in cooperation with the nursery department in the US & Mexico.
Work with Driscoll’s Nursery on the importation of plants for research and variety
6. Procure and manage facilities for general laboratory work, greenhouse facilities
and other facilities needed to support the breeding and production research efforts
in Central Mexico.
7. Supervise Test Plot Managers based in Jocotopec, Los Reyes and Zamora.
8. Ensure the safekeeping of Driscoll’s Operacionies/Servicios confidential and
proprietary information and materials.
9. Represents Driscoll’s Operacionies/Servicios in an ethical and business-like
manner in all interactions with growers, co-workers, suppliers, customers, and
the business community at large.
10. Maintains a safe and professional work area.
11. Performs other duties as instructed by supervisor.
Contributed by Margie Way, Recruiter
(Return to Contents)
5.06 Test Plot Supervisor, Strawberry Breeding, San Quintin,
Baja California, Mexico
CLASSIFICATION: Year round
JOB SUMMARY: Under general direction of the Strawberry Breeder, coordinate
the planning, planting, harvest and data collection for all test plots in Baja,
JOB QUALIFICATIONS: B.S. Degree in plant or agriculture-related field.
Must be able to collect data in the field using computers. Proficient with
computer applications (spreadsheet, email, and internet). Detail-oriented
and effective verbal and written skills required. Must have good organizational
skills, basic math and other analytical abilities, and the ability to multi-task.
Must maintain a valid driver license for Baja, Mexico and be able to lift 30 pounds.
Must be able to work on weekends and extended hours when requested. Bilingual
Farming: Coordinate plant importation with Mexico and US Nurseries.
Supervise test plot planting dates in conjunction with grower. Ensure
proper labeling and maintenance of test plots. Walk the fields, scouting
for crop troubles. Coordinate with the test-plot grower to implement pest
control, irrigation and plant nutrition programs. Complete work including
data collection and harvest in a timely and efficient manner. Maintain accurate
records throughout growing season in response to changes in field and test plots.
Breeding and Development: Manage harvest labor to collect accurate yield
data. Coordinate shipments of fruit for fruit quality evaluation.
Implement and supervise ongoing local fruit quality testing program. Under
general supervision of the Strawberry Breeder and Research Department Manager,
coordinate research studies in areas such as transportation, fruit-quality and
new cultural practices.
General Responsibilities: Works as a team member with supervisory
personnel and grower in ensuring a smooth and efficient work flow. Supervises
test plot technicians to ensure efficiency and accuracy in data collection process.
Ensures the security of Driscoll’s proprietary and confidential information and
material. Follows Company policies and practices while representing Driscoll’s
in an ethical and business-like manner in all interactions with employees, growers,
customers, etc. Performs other duties as instructed by Supervisor/Manager
Contributed by Margie Way, Recruiter
(Return to Contents)
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
NEW OR REVISED ANNOUNCEMENTS
9 - 12 October, 2007. IV Baltic Genetical Congress, to be held in the
Daugavpils University, Latvia. Sponsored by The Federation of Genetical Societies
of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the Latvian Society of Geneticists
and Breeders and the Daugavpils University. http://www.biology.lv/geneticcongress
Specialists of all fields of genetics and applied genetics (breeding) from the
Baltic States and all current and potential partners from other countries are
Traditionally, structure of the Congress will include plenary sessions (invited
speakers), symposia (speakers, selected by the Organising Committee from submitted
presentations) and poster sessions.
July 15, 2007 – abstract submission, registration
September 15, 2007 – late registration
Prof. Isaak Rashal
President of the Latvian Society of Geneticists and Breeders
Chairman of the Organizing Committee
Contributed by Helmut Knuepffer
15–19 October 2007. 10th International Plant Virus Epidemiology
Symposium: Controlling Epidemics of Emerging and Established Plant Virus
Diseases - The Way Forward, Hyderabad, India
Organized by: ICRISAT and International Society for Plant Pathology
The past two decades have seen tremendous advances in the fields of plant virus
epidemiology and control through use of conventional and modern techniques significantly
contributing to the effective management of numerous virus diseases. At the same
time several unknown viruses have emerged in new niches and several established
viruses have become resurgent, greatly affecting the productivity of crops. This
International Plant Virus Epidemiology Symposium, held for the first time in Asia,
will provide a forum of experts for exchange of information on causes for virus
epidemics, with a principal focus on virus disease control. We invite you to take
part in the symposium and present your latest research results.
The 10th IPVE theme will feature the latest developments
in research and applied plant virology in various technical sessions and poster
presentations, post-symposium field trips and countless opportunities to network
with colleagues from all over the world. A panel of elite virologists from all
over the world will address the theme from multiple perspectives.
This symposium is held under auspices of the International Plant Virus Epidemiology
Committee (IPVE) of the International Society for Plant Pathology (ISPP) and hosted
by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT),
situated in Hyderabad, India.
For further details, registration and abstract submission, please visit
Contributed by P. Lava Kumar, Scientist – Virology, ICRISAT, Patancheru, India
22-26 October 2007. VI LatinAmerican and Caribbean Meeting on Ag Biotechnology,
REDBIO2007-CHILE, [VI Encuentro LatinaAmericano y del Caribe de Biotecnologia
Agropecuaria], Vina del Mar, Chile.
The Latin America and the Caribbean Meetings on Agricultural Biotechnology (REDBIO)
are organized since 1995 and are the largest of its kind in the region. These
meetings are organized every three years by the REDBIO network, altogether with
a national institution of the country guest. This year the meeting will be held
in Chile in the city of Vina del Mar from October 22nd to October 26th.
The meeting will be organized by the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA),
REDBIO and FAO.
REDBIO2007-Chile is expected to draw approximately 800 people involved to biotechnology
research and its applications, laboratories, universities and biobusiness from
more than 40 countries and 5 continents.
This event will enable public and private sector participants from REDBIO and
other interested parties from different countries to examine biotechnological
advances, policy and economic factors that impact their environment for investment
in agricultural biotechnology. The event is designed to generate debate and recommendations
about selected topics that will be disseminated through the REDBIO affiliates
throughout Latin-American countries.
The main topics of REDBIO2007-Chile include: Genomics, Abiotic/Biotic Stress,
plant breeding, Bio-Business, Gene flow, bioethics, intellectual properties, etc.
The inaugural conference will be in charge of Dr. Sydney Brenner, Nobel prize
in Physiology and Medicine, year 2002.
http://www.redbio2007chile.cl/ and www.redbio.org
Organizing Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
Contributed by Juan Izquierdo
26-30 November 2007. II International Vavilov Conference. Crop Genetic
Resources in the 21st Century: Current Status, Problems and Prospects,
to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia. (N.I. Vavilov’s 120th Anniversary).
Organized by The Scientific Council of the N. I. Vavilov All-Russian Research
Institute of Plant Industry (VIR)
Abstracts due before 1st August 2007. The Organizing Committee
reserves the right to select the reports for oral presentation after the deadline
when all the abstracts are accumulated here. Proceeding from the results of such
selection, a detailed scientific programme will be made up and distributed
among the prospective participants.
Please be reminded that your presentations are required to be associated with
one of the following topics:
1) significance of Vavilov’s theoretical heritage for modern science;
2) plant genetic diversity as a basis for food, bioresource and environmental
3) vital aspects of in situ and ex situ conservation of plant genetic
4) modern technologies in researching and broadening plant genetic diversity;
5) the role of plant genetic resources in the world’s breeding achievements;
6) information technologies in plant genetic resources management and evaluation.
Contributed by Helmut Knuepffer
* 2006-2008. Plant Breeding Academy, University of California,
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
For more information: (530) 754-7333, email firstname.lastname@example.org, http://sbc.ucdavis.edu/Events/Plant_Breeding_Academy.htm
*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
* 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."
In response to recent events, organizers are arranging for special speakers to
share information about Colony Collapse Disorder, an ailment increasingly in the
news. In addition, a post-conference opportunity has been scheduled with Rod Peakall,
co-author of the GenAlEx (short for 'Genetic Analysis in
Excel'), a user-friendly cross-platform package for population genetic
analysis that runs within Microsoft Excel™
*1-6 July 2007. The 5th International Symposium on Molecular Breeding
of Forage and Turf (MBFT2007), Sapporo, Japan. Register for the meeting and
call for abstracts following the instruction available at http://www.knt.co.jp/ec/2007/mbft/
For further information, please contact: Prof. Toshihiko YAMADA,
Contributed by Prof. Toshihiko YAMADA
*19-20 July 2007. Native Wildflower Seed Production Research Symposium
For information about this symposium hosted by the University of Florida
on July 19-20, 2007 go to: www.wildflowersymposium.com.
Topics to be addressed include: genetics, production practices, pollination, harvesting,
conditioning, storage, and wild-collected seed.
*30 July – 24 August 2007. Wheat Chemistry and Quality Improvement,
CIMMYT headquarters in Mexico. For more details visit: http://www.cimmyt.org/english/wps/training/calendar.cfm
or contact Petr Kosina p.kosina@CGIAR.ORG
*12-14 August 2008. International symposium on induced mutations in higher
plants, Vienna, Austria. Organised by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear
or contact email@example.com for more information.
*12 – 16 August 2007. The Potato Association of America 91st Annual Meeting,
Shilo Inn Conference Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho. http://www.conferences.uidaho.edu/PAA/
*14 – 23 August 2007. Advanced Course in Modern Breeding Techniques.
Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries in collaboration with
the Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB),
Ghent University, Belgium A course for students, scientists, industry, involved
in breeding. http://www.ipbo.UGent.be REGISTRATION
DEADLINE : JUNE 15, 2007
*20-31 August 2007. Laying the Foundation for the Second Green Revolution,
2007 Rice Breeding Course, IRRI, the Philippines.
For additional information, contact
Dr. Edilberto D. Redoña
Course Coordinator, Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Division
Dr. Noel P. Magor
Head, Training Center
*3-4 September 2007. 5th International Symposium on New Crops and Uses: their
role in a rapidly changing world, University of Southampton, Southampton,
For further information please contact:
Nikkie Hancock (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Colm Bowe (E-mail: CB13@soton.ac.uk)
Please downlowd the registration
* 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.
*17 Sept. – 12 Oct. 2007. Plant genetic resources and seeds: Policies conservation
and use. Awassa, Ethiopia, 17-28 September; Debre Zeit, Ethiopia, 1-12 October
2007. Visit website:
genetic resources and seeds Policies, conservation and use - Ethiopia, September
17 – October 12, 2007
*17 – 19 September 2007. First International Symposium on Chili Anthracnose,
Convention Center, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea. http://www.avrdc.org/anthracnose/index.html
Contacts: Paul Gniffke, email@example.com
and Dae-Geun Oh, firstname.lastname@example.org
*17-20 September 2007. Translational
Seed Biology: From Model Systems to Crop Improvement Symposium, UC Davis.
An international symposium focusing on the transfer of knowledge of seed biology
developed through studies of model systems to improve the agricultural and nutritional
value of crops will be held on September 17-20, 2007 at UC Davis. This exciting
symposium will include more than 35 distinguished speakers. For more information,
including registration, go to: Seed
contact Sue at: email@example.com for questions and
*19-21 September 2007. New Approaches to Plant Breeding of Orphan Crops in
Africa, Bern, Switzerland. http://www.botany.unibe.ch/deve/orphancrops/.
Registration: until the end of April 2007 by email or fax to one of the organizers.
Dr. Zerihun Tadele firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Dr. Cris Kuhlemeier email@example.com
*8-12 October 2007, Ca' Tron di Roncade, Italy. Evaluation of risk assessment
dossiers for the deliberate release of genetically modified crops. A practical
course organised by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
in collaboration with the Istituto Agronomico per l'Oltremare. Closing date for
applications is 27 April 2007. See http://www.icgeb.org/MEETINGS/CRS07/BSF2_8_12_October.pdf
or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
*8 - 12 October 2007. The 10th Triennial Symposium of the International Society
for Tropical Root Cops - Africa Branch (ISTRC-AB) will take place from in
Maputo, Mozambique. The theme will be “Root and Tuber Crops for Poverty Alleviation
through Science and Technology for Sustainable Development."
Pre-registration is avilable until 30 April 2007, abstracts are due on
1 May 2007, and full papers must be submitted by 31 July 2007.
Download the announcement and application here.
*8-19 October 2007. Molecular approaches in gene expression analysis for crop
improvement, New Delhi, India. A theoretical and practical course organised
by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Closing
date for applications is 15 May 2007. See http://www.icgeb.org/MEETINGS/CRS07/ND_8_19_October.pdf
or contact email@example.com for more information.
*9-14 October 2007. 4th International Rice Blast Conference, Hunan, China.
More information at http://www.4thirbc.org.
*22-26 October 2007. VI Encuentro Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Biotecnologma
Agropecuaria (REDBIO 2007), Viqa del Mar and Valparamso, Chile.. See http://www.redbio2007chile.cl/ or contact
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
* 27-31 October 2007. 8th African Crop Science Society Conference, El Minia,
Sponsored by The African Crop Science Society (ACSS) and Minia University. (The
deadline for registration was 30 April 2007). For more complete information
*3-7 March 2008. International Symposium “Underutilized Plants for food, nutrition,
income and sustainable development,” Arusha, Tanzania. http://www.icuc-iwmi.org/Symposium2008/
*21-24 July 2008. Cassava: meeting the challenges of the new millennium.
First scientific meeting of the Global Cassava Partnership – GCP-I, Institute
of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries, Ghent University, Belgium. http://www.ipbo.ugent.be/cassava.html
* 14-18 September 2008. The 12th International Lupin Conference,
Fremantle, Western Australia email@example.com. http://www.lupins.org/
*7-12 December 2008. International Conference on Legume Genomics and Genetics
IV Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. http://www.ccg.unam.mx/iclgg4/
(Return to Contents)
7. EDITOR'S NOTES
Plant Breeding News is an electronic forum for the exchange of information
and ideas about applied plant breeding and related fields. It is published every
four to six weeks throughout the year.
The newsletter is managed by the editor and an advisory group consisting of Elcio
Guimaraes (firstname.lastname@example.org), Margaret Smith (email@example.com), and Anne
Marie Thro (firstname.lastname@example.org). The editor will advise subscribers one to two
weeks ahead of each edition, in order to set deadlines for contributions.
Subscribers are encouraged to take an active part in making the newsletter a useful
communications tool. Contributions may be in such areas as: technical communications
on key plant breeding issues; announcements of meetings, courses and electronic
conferences; book announcements and reviews; web sites of special relevance to
plant breeding; announcements of funding opportunities; requests to other readers
for information and collaboration; and feature articles or discussion issues brought
by subscribers. Suggestions on format and content are always welcome by the editor,
at email@example.com. We would especially like to see a broad participation
from developing country programs and from those working on species outside the
major food crops.
Messages with attached files are not distributed on PBN-L for two important reasons.
The first is that computer viruses and worms can be distributed in this manner.
The second reason is that attached files cause problems for some e-mail systems.
PLEASE NOTE: Every month many newsletters are returned because they are undeliverable,
for any one of a number of reasons. We try to keep the mailing list up to date,
and also to avoid deleting addresses that are only temporarily inaccessible. If
you miss a newsletter, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will re-send it.
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 email@example.com.
RECEIVE THE NEWSLETTER AS AN MS WORD® ATTACHMENT
If you prefer to receive the newsletter as an MS Word attachment instead of
an e-mail text, please write the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org and request this option.
To subscribe to PBN-L: Send an e-mail message to: email@example.com.
Leave the subject line blank and write SUBSCRIBE PBN-L (Important: use ALL CAPS).
To unsubscribe: Send an e-mail message as above with the message UNSUBSCRIBE PBN-L.
Lists of potential new subscribers are welcome. The editor will contact these
persons; no one will be subscribed without their explicit permission.
(Return to Contents)