The Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB) brings you:

PLANT BREEDING NEWS

EDITION 196
1 December 2008

An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant Breeding

Clair H. Hershey, Editor
chh23@cornell.edu

Sponsored by FAO/AGPC and Cornell University, Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics

-To subscribe, see instructions here
-Archived issues available at: FAO Plant Breeding Newsletter


1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES
1.01  Meetings that changed the world -- Bellagio 1969: the green revolution
1.02  FAO's latest "Food Outlook" forecasts record world cereal harvest, but troubles loom ahead
1.03  Food insecurity’s dirty secret
1.04  Pollinator decline not yet affecting agriculture
1.05  Vietnam to test GM crops in 2009-10 and launch commercial plantings in 2011
1.06  Major wheat producing countries agree on roadmap to battle wheat stem rust disease strain Ug99
1.07  Quality traits and breeding approach: Triticum aestivum
1.08  An innovative ratooning technique for rapid propagation of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) in Côte d’Ivoire
1.09  1.65 million people in Africa benefit from cassava's comeback
1.10  IITA develops new drought-tolerant cassava
1.11  Bean rust (Uromyces appendiculatus) disease resistance
1.12  ARS scientists develop drought-hardy soybean lines
1.13  International team develops "waterproof" rice
1.14  Researchers discover way to double rice yield in drought-stricken areas
1.15  Siam Blue Hardy Water Lily
1.16  World experts welcome wind of change in Africa’s rice research
1.17  International food aid alone cannot solve the global malnutrition crisis
1.18  New genetic resources for cereal crops
1.19  University of Adelaide researchers identify new sources of stem and leaf rust resistance in wild grasses relatives of wheat
1.20  Evolution of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) after recent introduction into a South Pacific Island system
1.21  University of Adelaide researchers identify new sources of stem and leaf rust resistance in wild grasses relatives of wheat
1.22  Movement on the resistance front exposes wheat killers
1.23  New Striga-resistant maize for Africa and Asia
1.24  Annuals converted into perennials - Only two genes make the difference between herbaceous plants and trees
1.25  Stanford researchers investigate how plants adapt to climate
1.26  USDA/ARS scientists identify key gene that protects sorghum in acidic soils
1.27  Not Your Garden-Variety Tomato
1.28  A big bunch of tomatoes?
1.29  Scientists locate ‘large-fruit’ gene in tomato
1.30  Root-knot nematode resistant bell peppers
1.31  Indigenous African eggplant is becoming popular with African seed companies, farmers, and consumers
1.32  Increasing calcium in carrots and other vegetables
1.33  Increasing grain yield and improving adaptation of pearl lupin (Lupinus mutabilis)
1.34  Growing a better decaf
1.35  Gene-silencing technique to be deployed against soybean fungus
1.36  Plants grow bigger and more vigorously through changes in their internal clocks
1.37  New molecular-biological approaches to apple breeding
1.38  Chlorophyll fluorescence to assess drought performance
1.39  Cell polarity in plants linked to endocytosis
1.40  A step toward disease-resistant crops, sustainability

2.  PUBLICATIONS
2.01  TWAS Supplement to NATURE Publishing Group
2.02  Bioengineered Crops as Tools for International Development: Opportunities and Strategic Considerations
2.03  Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology
2.04  Summary of presentations and lectures in the Breeding and Genetic Resources of Five-Needle Pines Conference

3.  WEB RESOURCES
3.01  The new version of the GIPB Knowledge Resource Center
3.02  Launch of the African Crop Science Society website
3.03  GIPB: looking for societies and associations dealing with plant breeding, use of plant genetic resources, biotechnology, and related issues

4  GRANTS AVAILABLE
4.01  FY 2009 International Science and Education RFA
4.02  USDA-DOE Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program

5  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS
5.01  Monsanto Plant Breeding and Scientific Career Postings
5.02  Graduate Research Assistantships at Colorado State University
5.03  Graduate Assistantship in Plant Breeding, Texas A&M University

6  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

7  EDITOR'S NOTES

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1.  NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES

1.01  Meetings that changed the world -- Bellagio 1969: the green revolution

A new series of essays looks back at scientific meetings that had world-changing consequences. This series covers six scientific meetings that had such a great impact, they can be said to have changed the world. Each piece is written by an expert who attended the conference in question. The authors recall what it was like to live through these momentous occasions, and reflect upon the events' broad and lasting legacies.
Nature 455, 137–138 (11 September 2008) doi:10.1038/455137b
Full Text | PDF

One of the essays covers a watershed meeting for the world of plant breeding -- Bellagio 1969: The green revolution
Agriculture in developing countries was transformed when scientists met aid officials and convinced them to invest in research. Lowell S. Hardin was there, and believes today's food crisis demands a similar vision.
Nature 455, 470 (25 September 2008) doi:10.1038/455470a
Full Text | PDF (subscription required for full access)

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1.02  FAO's latest "Food Outlook" forecasts record world cereal harvest, but troubles loom ahead

Rome, Italy
World cereal production is expected to hit a new record this year as high prices boosted plantings under generally favorable weather conditions, FAO said today in the latest issue of its "Food Outlook", a bi-annual commodity publication. World cereal production is forecast to be large enough to meet anticipated utilization in the short-run, and help replenish much depleted global stocks.

But the agency warned that the current financial crisis will affect agricultural sectors in many countries negatively, including those in the developing world.

Greater uncertainty

This year's record cereal harvest and the recent fall in food prices should, therefore, not create a false sense of security, said Concepcion Calpe, one of the report's main authors.

"For example, if the current price volatility and liquidity conditions prevail in 2008/09, plantings and output could be affected to such an extent that a new price surge might take place in 2009/10, unleashing even more severe food crises than those experienced recently," Calpe said.

"The financial crisis of the last few months has amplified downward price movements, contributed to tighten credit markets, and introduced greater uncertainty about next year's prospects, so that many producers are adopting very conservative planting decisions," Calpe said.

The report stresses that most of the recovery in cereal production took place in developed countries, where farmers were in a better position to respond to high prices. Developing countries, on the contrary, were largely limited in their capacity to respond to high prices by supply side constraints on their agricultural sectors.

Implications for the poor

The sharp 2007/2008 rise in food prices has increased the number of undernourished people in the world to an estimated 923 million. Lower international commodity prices have not yet translated into lower domestic food prices in most low income countries.

"There is a real risk that as a consequence of the current world economic problems people will have to reduce their food intake and the number of hungry could rise further," Calpe said.

Long-term challenges

The report says that world agriculture is facing serious long-term issues and challenges that need to be urgently addressed. These include land and water constraints, low investments in rural infrastructure and agricultural research, expensive agricultural inputs relative to farm-gate prices, and little adaptation to climate change.

To feed a world population of more than nine billion people by 2050 (around six billion today) global food production must nearly double.

Population growth will take place mostly in developing countries and for the greater part in urban areas. A shrinking rural work force will thus have to be much more productive. This will require more investments in agriculture, machinery, tractors, water pumps, combine harvesters etc., as well as more skilled, better-trained farmers and more efficient supply chains.

Facts and figures
World cereal production in 2008/09 is expected to increase by 5.3 percent, reaching 2.24 billion tonnes.

World wheat production, 677 million tonnes forecast for 2008/09, is expected to hit a new record following larger expected crops in Europe, North America and Oceania.

Higher rice production (450 million tonnes forecast for 2008/09) and decline in world prices should ease the situation consumers faced earlier this year.

World coarse grains production (forecast 2008/09: 1.11 billion tonnes) is expected to more than meet expanded utilization.

Global fish production is forecast to increase by only one percent in 2008, sustained by firm growth in aquaculture. The difficulties of many banks heavily involved in the financing of world capture fisheries and aquaculture development are also limiting credit availability to the sector.

This year, developing countries will have born the brunt of escalated food import costs. The burden of purchasing food on international markets for the most economically vulnerable countries rose by about one third from the previous year. This will be the largest year-to-year increase on record. Due to higher food prices, the number of hungry people rose by 75 million in 2007.

Source: SeedQuest.com
6 November 2008

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1.03  Food insecurity’s dirty secret

Attempts to incrase crop yields in sub-Subharan Africa have failed repeatedly since the 1960s because soil quality has been ignored. The Green Revolution of the 1970s bypassed sub-Saharan Africa, and is stalling n the rice-wheat system of South Asia and elsewhere because of soil degradation, organic matter and nutrient depletion, and excessive withdrawal of ground water. Average yields of grain crops in sub-Subharan Africa have stagnated below 1 ton per hectare since the 1960s, with dire consequences o human well-being and ecosystem services. The problem of food insecurity, affecting 854 million people, is worsened by increases in the price of rice, wheat and other food staples and by global warming.

Proven soil management technologies, to be promoted in conjunction with improved varieties, include no-till farming, water conservation, and integrated nutrient management. The yield potential of improved varieties can only be realized if grown following optimal soils and agronomic management. Rather than giving handouts as emergency aids, resource-poor farmers must be compensated for ecosystem services (e.g., trading C credits) to promote technology adoption and soil restoration.
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Source: Excerpted and summarized by the editor, PBN-L, from the Letters section of Science, 31 October 2008, vol 322, pp. 673-674, by Rattan Lal, the Ohio State University

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1.04  Pollinator decline not yet affecting agriculture

The well documented worldwide decline in the population of bees and other pollinators  is not, at this stage, limiting global crop yields, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). The loss of insect pollinators is brought about by a combination of diseases, reduction in native vegetation and the use of insecticides, among other factors. Concerns over food availability amid decrease in the population of pollinator insects prompted the research, CSIRO entomologist Saul Cunningham says.

The scientists rated the crops on how much they depended on pollinators for maximum production. Depending on the crop, this dependence ranges from zero to 100 percent. For example, cereal crops like wheat don't need to be pollinated but at the other end of the scale, unpollinated almond trees produce no nuts. The team found that between 1961 and 2006 the yields of most crops have consistently grown at about 1.5 per cent a year because of improvements in agriculture. Furthermore, they found out that there is no difference in relative yield between pollinator dependent and non-dependent crops.

However, Cunningham says that the study detected warning signs that demand for pollinators is still growing and some highly pollinator-dependant crops are suffering.

Read the news release http://www.csiro.au/news/Pollinator-Decline.html The paper published by Current Biology is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2008.08.066

Source: CropBiotech Update
7 November 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.05  Vietnam to test GM crops in 2009-10 and launch commercial plantings in 2011

Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnam will put some genetically modified (GM) crops on experimental production from now to 2010, said Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat before the National Assembly on Nov. 11.

Under a plan approved by the Government, those crops will be grown on a wide mass scale from 2011.

To facilitate the introduction of biotechnology into agriculture, the Agricultural Genetics Institute has prepared a set of regulations on assay and assessment of GM crops.

According to experts, the use of biotechnology in Vietnam may increase the corn output up by 28 percent from 4.5 tonnes per ha currently, while lowering the cost of insect and disease prevention by 100 USD per ha.

The Ho Chi Minh City Biotechnology Center said it plans to buy insect and disease-resistant corn seeds from the Philippines , whose natural conditions are similar to Vietnam’s. GM crops have been permitted in 23 countries with productivity proved much higher than traditional crops.

Source: Vietnam News Agency via SeedQuest.com
12 November 2008

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1.06  Major wheat producing countries agree on roadmap to battle wheat stem rust disease strain Ug99

Rome, Italy and New Delhi, India
Representatives of major wheat producing countries have called for urgent coordinated action to prevent and control the wheat stem rust disease strain Ug99, FAO said today. The fungus is capable of causing heavy damage to wheat crops and is a major threat to food security.

In a declaration adopted by the International Conference on Wheat Stem Rust Ug99 - A Threat to Food Security in New Delhi (6-8 November 2008), countries pledged to strongly support prevention and control of the wheat stem rust as a matter of national policy and international cooperation.

Affected countries and countries at risk should develop contingency plans to prevent rust epidemics that could result in devastating yield losses. Countries should share surveillance information and a global early warning system should be immediately established.

Plant breeding research should be intensified and international cooperation enhanced to develop new Ug99 resistant varieties. Quality seeds of rust resistant wheat varieties should be multiplied nationally and distributed to needy farming communities.

Over 130 participants from ministries of agriculture of 31 countries, senior policy makers, researchers, seed producers and plant production experts attended the meeting, jointly organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Government of India, FAO and its Borlaug Global Rust Initiative partners.

Responding to the threat
"We will continue supporting countries in building national capacities for research, extension, plant protection and seed production and get the support of the international community for achieving our common goals in responding to the wheat rust global threat and improving livelihoods through enhanced food security," said Modibo Traore, FAO Assistant Director-General, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department.

A new virulent strain of the wheat stem rust disease, called Ug99 after its discovery in Uganda in 1999, has spread from East Africa to Yemen, Sudan and in late 2007 to Iran. Currently there is no evidence that the fungus has spread to any other country. A recent field survey, funded by Cornell University in the US, showed that Ug99 is not present in India, Pakistan, Egypt and China.

It is estimated that as much as 80 percent of all wheat varieties planted in Asia and Africa are susceptible to the new strain. The spores of wheat rust are mostly carried by wind over long distances and across continents.

Supporting countries
FAO has recently launched its Wheat Rust Disease Global Programme that supports 29 countries in East and North Africa, the Near East and Central and South Asia, that are either affected or at risk of the disease and that account for 37 percent of global wheat production. FAO supports countries in emergency prevention, contingency planning, the release of improved varieties, seed multiplication and the training of farmers.

The New Delhi meeting called upon the international community, donors and international organizations to increase assistance to national and global initiatives to combat the disease. Ug99 campaigns should involve the FAO Wheat Rust Disease Global Programme and the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative.

Source: SeedQuest.com
12 November 2008

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1.07  Quality traits and breeding approach: Triticum aestivum

Sameena Sheikh
CCSHAU, Hisar Haryana, India
Wheat types and classes are defined based on trading purpose as grain hardness (soft, medium-hard, hard), color (red, white amber) class/subclasses and grouped into grades depending on grain soundness and cleanliness while chemical properties these are classified based on moisture (14% moisture desirable), protein (albumin, globulin, gliadin and glutenin).Gliadin and glutenin together form gluten 10-13% desirable for chapatti making.

Grain Quality and quality improvement characters-Grain hardness depends upon milling properties, baking quality and genetic control. Early screening is not effective.

Protein: comprised of gluten that accounts for 78-85% total wheat endosperm protein which is large complex composed of mainly polymeric and monomeric protein glutenins and gliadins respectively and is controlled by genes located on complex loci in group 1 and group.6

Flour: Bread and noodles must be white with no discoloration or yellow pigment, High alpha amylase activity have negative effect on baking dough properties as hydrolyze flour starch excessively, PPO–polyphenoloxidase /tyrosinase enzyme complex located on the bran layer cause product discoloration.

Chapatti: Five useful subjective criteria: Coloramber golden color, Appearance -bold and uniform, Aroma, Taste and Pliability.

Bread type: Leavened bread, Steamed bread and Flat bread.

Chapatti characteristics: Preference for varieties which are having bold, sound, uniform and lustrous amber golden color, flour creamish tinge, no brown coloration, Uniform pleasing flavor, complete rapid puffing during baking, and tear easily.

Parameters: Water absorption -68%,Sedimentation value 30-37ml ,Medium strong flour, stretchable, elastic and non-sticky dough, Polshenke value 100-150 mint, Bakingstrength 15-20cm2, stability100-130mm,Extensibility 20-27 mm,Sugar content 2.5%, Maltose >150 mg /10g, Flour protein 10-13%,True digestibility –93%,Net protein utilization –47 %,Negligible Tryrosingre activity-impart brownish tinge to dough. Presence of HMWGS 20 present in C306 is clue for screening test.

Factors influencing chapatti quality: Grinding method--destruction of diastatic enzymes high during milling because of high temperature compared to hand driven chakki. Blending-up to 20% with topoica, triticale, bajra, groundnut, soyabean, bengal gram.

Environmental factors: Protein content (inverse relationship lysine content over different environment), low Heritability (protein, yellow pigmentation in early generation), High heritability (grain protein and sedimentation value in advance generation) and N-fertilizer dose (increase protein and gluten content).

Leavened bread (Popular in almost all parts of world) types: Pan breads (hard to medium hard, strong gluten content,medium to high flour protein and low yellow pigment),Hearth bread(semi hard to hard crust uneven distributed crumb structure) and Level of damaged starch (high dough water absorption). Breeders can use grain hardness estimates, flour protein (>13%), medium to high value of sedimentation and low yellow pigment.

Flour noodles: White salted (WSN): bright, creamy white smooth and soft slightly elastic intermediate flour protein soft to semi hard grain .Yellow alkaline (YAN): light yellow to yellow, more elastic than WSN high protein and gluten content. Instant bag noodles.

Cookies and cakes: Soft wheat flour as have limited ability to form visco-elastic dough coupled with low water absorption capacity.

(Editor’s note: the following tables are not included in this summary. Please contact the author for the complete text)

1.Wheat quality characteristics for diverse end uses:
(end use/grain hardness/grain protein (%)/gluten (dough) strength type)

2. Composition of different parts of wheat kernel
(tissue/crude protein/lipid/starch)

3. Amino acids composition of wheat flour and protein fraction (g/16g N)
(amino acids/wheat/flour/albumen/globulin/gliadin/glutenin)

GLUTEN PROTEINS AND THEIR GENETIC CONTROLS:
Glutenins
High Mra(Glu-A1 Glu-B1 Glu-D1 1AL 1BL 1DL),LOW Mra(Glu-A3 Glu-B3 Glu-D3 1AS 1BS 1DS)Gliadins g and w(Gli-A1 Gli-B1 Gli-D1 1AS 1BS 1DS),a and b(Gli-A2 Gli-B2 Gli-D2 6AS 6BS 6DS ).HMWG subunits synthesized from DNA cloned in E.coli incorporated in wheat flour so that dough strength can be enhanced by increasing polymers subunits in the gluten subcomplex.

Breeders aim: NIR analysis to select for low level of damaged starch and low protein content, to develop wheat cultivars for specific food market and understand genetic control of specific grain components and to find Relationship between grain composition and processing qualities for rapid identification and manipulation of quality related traits by using quick -Reliable, low cost methodologies.

(editor’s note: the following table is not included in this summary: Key quality characteristics sought by breeders. Please contact the author for the complete text)
are as -

Genetic factors:
Major genes
: high protein content-Frondoso, Frontiers, Atlas66, Nap Hal, Additive and nonadditive genetic variance gluten strength, Additive genetic variance protein content, dough stiffness, viscosity, elasticity, Non additive genetic variance dough slakning, MS restorer lines agropyron derivatives (SD 69103) – increase protein content, King Rye chro. No 2 homologous to group 5 –increase lysine content by 9%. Effect of genotype x environment interactions of quality improvement: protein and loaf volume highly correlated and relatively low measure of physical dough properties. Conventional approaches: Pedigree, modified pedigree and mass selection and Bulk selection. Biotechnology in quality improvement: Anti sense gene construct suppress expression of some deleterious characters, Neutralization undesirable yellow flour pigment associated with yield enhancing gene complex (Lr19) located on 7D and Identify molecular marker milling and dough handling properties of complex heritability single gene located on chromosome 5D controlling grain hardiness e.g. molecular marker identified from t. diccoides to select common and durum wheat with higher grain protein. Futuristic approach to develop varities to match C 306: Genotypes-creamish tinge flour, required level of yellow pigment, toidentify factor/grain components responsible for luster relevance in chapattis quality, Varieties-high water absorption potential, max. retention capacity, High mol.wt Dextrins- prolong storage capacity, Tryrosine activity impart brownish tinge-to be negligible level ,to gather Information on compounds like appetizing aroma and taste in C306,Find clue Presence of HMWGS 20 in C 306 and some other for chapatti- quality.

Contributed by Sameena Sheikh
CCSHAU, Hisar Haryana, India
sameena07@gmail.com

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1.08  An innovative ratooning technique for rapid propagation of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) in Côte d’Ivoire

N’Zué B. and Zohouri G.P. 2008. Researchers at Centre National de Recherche Agronomique (CNRA), www.cnra.ci. Côte d’Ivoire.1 nboni1@yahoo.fr, gpzohouri@yahoo.fr

To face the insufficiency of planting material of cassava, researchers of root and tuber crops programme of CNRA, in Côte d’Ivoire, developed a new technique of rapid propagation of cassava by ratooning.

The technique is based on the classic cropping system. Cuttings used for planting are normal size (4 to 6 knots or 20 to 30 cm). The planting density is 10 000 plants per ha and can reach 15 625 plants per ha if soils are very fertile. Ratooning occurs 7 months after planting and it consists entirely to cut the stems at 10 cm from soil on growing plants. These stems are cut into cuttings which are also planted. This new planting can also be ratooned at 7 months. Stumps regenerate new stems. The harvest of stems and tuberous roots takes place at 8 months after ratooning.

While thus proceeding during a 15 months cycle, rate of multiplication reaches 35 cuttings/plant; it means that an area of 35 ha can be planted from an initial area of 1 ha. In additive, the ratooning technique triples the rate of classic propagation. The loss of yield and dry matter content due to ratooning was not significant and was estimated at less than 5 %.

The technique is simple, less expensive and easily reproducible on farm. The method allows providing a lot of cuttings in a short period of time. Therefore, it could contribute to rapid diffusion of new cassava varieties.

Contributed by Boni N'zué
 nboni1@yahoo.fr
CNRA, Côte d'Ivoire

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1.09  1.65 million people in Africa benefit from cassava's comeback

Following years of massive crop losses caused by a devastating virus, farmers from Africa's Great Lakes Region are once again harvesting healthy cassava, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Cassava is one of Africa's most important staples, with each person in the region consuming 80 kilograms of the crop per year. So when a virulent strain of the cassava mosaic disease (CMD) decimated harvests in countries such as Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, consequences were disastrous. In Uganda alone, the disease destroyed 150 000 hectares of cassava.

FAO, in collaboration with the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), has spearheaded the distribution of virus-free planting materials to some 330,000 smallholders in countries struck by the virus. The UN agency estimates that the improved crop now benefits a total of some 1.65 million people.

Eric Kueneman Chief of FAO's Crop and Grassland Service said "Having cassava back on the table is of major importance, especially to the region's most vulnerable, who have been hit hard by this year's global food crisis." He added that increasing the production of local crops, such as cassava, is a pillar of FAO's response to the food crisis, which threw an additional 75 million people into poverty in 2007 alone.

Read the complete article at http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/8490/icode/

Source: CropBiotech Update
21 November 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.10  IITA develops new drought-tolerant cassava

A new cassava variety, TMS92/0067, developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria has been found to be well adapted to the dry or drought-prone areas in the semi-arid zones of sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, farmers are expected to enjoy 6-10 times better yields.

 IITA says the new variety was widely tested in farmers' fields in Burkina Faso and the Chad in West Africa, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa. The variety demonstrated high resistance to several diseases such as the Cassava Bacterial Blight (CBB) and Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD). The variety also has excellent hosting qualities to Typhlodromalus aripo, an effective biological control agent of the cassava green mite.

Read IITA's press release at http://www.iita.org/cms/details/news_feature_details.aspx?articleid=1897&zoneid=342

Source: CropBiotech Update
7 November 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.11  Bean rust (Uromyces appendiculatus) disease resistance

By Aloísio Sartorato, former Embrapa Rice and Bean scientist (Embrapa Arroz e Feijão, C. P. 179, CEP 75375-000 Santo Antonio de Goias, Brazil). alsartorato@gmail.com

Bean rust is a very important diseases in several bean production areas of Brazil. This disease is caused by the fungus Uromyces appendiculatus. Control measurements of the disease includes aerial spray of fungicides and the use of resistant genotypes. Nowadays, consumers have demonstrated high preference to the consumption of organic foods, i.e., food production without the use of fungicides or any other  dangerous chemical.  So, the most important way to control the disease is through resistant cultivars. However, as it does occur with other bean diseases, the fungal pathological variability makes the development of new resistant cultivars more difficult. As a result new sources of disease resistance have to be identified. Seven experiments, each one including one U. appendiculatus isolate, were undertaken under greenhouse conditions to identify a genotype with the broadest resistance spectrum. Five seeds of each genotype were sown in a 2,0 kg aluminum pot (3 parts of soil + 1 part of sand). Plants were inoculated 14-16 days after seeding and disease was recorded 14 days after inoculation using a 1 to 6 scale (Stavely, JR, Freytag, GF, Steadman, JR & Schwartz, HF. The bean rust workshop. Annual Report of the Bean Improvement Cooperative, v. 26, p. 4-6, 1983). Plants exhibiting grades 1 to 3 were considered resistant and 4 to 6 susceptible. Genotypes ARC 100-4, BRS REQUINTE, CNFC 07824, CNFC 08017, CNFC 08063, CNFC 08075, JURITI, LARANJA and SUPREMO were resistant to all seven isolates (different pathotypes) tested. Some of this genotypes showed complete resistance (including hypersensitive reaction) to most isolates. Others cultivars besides presenting these symptoms to some isolates also showed  incomplete resistance (grade 3) to others isolates.   These genotypes together with those that were resistant to six isolates (ARC 100T-5, CNFC 08013, CNFC 09461, CNFM 07958, OPNS 0331 – MAJESTOSO, PÉROLA and PONTAL) must have their resistance reaction confirmed. Besides, they have to be tested to a greater pathogenic variability of the fungus before being introduced in a bean breeding program to develop more resistant cultivars to this disease.

Contributed by Aloísio Sartorato
alsartorato@gmail.com

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1.12  ARS scientists develop drought-hardy soybean lines

Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) will soon release advanced soybean breeding lines that carry slow-wilting traits. Field trials have demonstrated that the new soybean varieties perform well under drought conditions, and also show good yield when rainfall is plentiful. The slow-wilting lines yield 4 to 8 bushels more than conventional varieties under drought conditions, depending on the region and environment.

The new soybean lines were developed by 'Team Drought', a group of researchers at five universities led by ARS plant geneticist Thomas Carter. For more than 25 years, Carter has been working on transferring slow-wilting characteristics from Asian landraces, which are foreign "introductions," into U.S.-adapted varieties.

Using conventional breeding methods, Carter and his team develop hundreds of new breeding lines each year, for a total of more than 5,000. The scientists have identified five soybean lines that consistently stand up to drought.

Read the full article at http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=1261

Source: CropBiotech Update
7 November 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.13  International team develops "waterproof" rice

An international team of researchers hopes that flood-tolerant rice plants will be available to smallholder farmers in flood-prone areas within the next two years. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is leading this initiative through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tests in farmers' fields in Bangladesh and India have shown that "waterproof" versions of popular varieties of rice can withstand two weeks of complete submergence. The varieties are identical to their susceptible counterparts, but recover after severe flooding to produce abundant yields of high-quality grain.

University of California Riverside's Julia Bailey-Serres, a professor of genetics, is leading the work to determine how Sub1A, a gene in a low-yielding traditional Indian rice variety, confers flood tolerance in the new varieties of rice. "Sub1A effectively makes the plant dormant during submergence, allowing it to conserve energy until the floodwaters recede," said Bailey-Serres of the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences and the Center for Plant Cell Biology.

Read UC's media release at
http://newsroom.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?id=1974

Source: CropBiotech Update
21 November 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.14  Researchers discover way to double rice yield in drought-stricken areas

Scientists from University of Alberta, Canada have found a group of genes in rice that they say enables a yield of up to 100 percent more in severe drought conditions. Jerome Bernier, in collaboration with scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and Central Rainfed Upland Rice Research Station in India, measured the effect of a previously reported, large-effect quantitative trait locus (QTL) on grain yield and associated traits in 21 field trials. QTLs are regions in the DNA that are associated with particular phenotypic traits. The team found that the relative effect of the QTL on grain yield increased with increasing intensity of drought stress, "from having no effect under well-watered conditions to having an additive effect of more than 40 percent of the trial mean in the most severe stress treatments."

Bernier and colleagues hypothesize that the new genes stimulate the rice plants to develop deeper roots, enabling it to access more of the water stored in the soil. The discovery marks the first time this group of genes in rice has been identified, and could potentially bring relief to farmers in countries like India and Thailand, where rice crops are regularly faced with drought.

Read the full article at http://www.expressnews.ualberta.ca/article.cfm?id=9784 The paper published by the journal Euphytica is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10681-008-9826-y

Source: CropBiotech Update
21 November 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.15  Siam Blue Hardy Water Lily

In order to get a Blue Hardy Water Lily that has been rather difficult (similar to triticale), many red flower cultivars of nymphaea subgenus of the temperate have been pollinated by the tropical blue flower water lily of the brachyceras subgenus in Thailand.  An only and recently successful crossing yielded only one pod or fruit with 244 seeds, from which only 39 seeds germinated, yielding 20 good hybrid plants.  They have different distinct flower characteristics with rather red, pink as well as white and blue colors.  The prominent hybrid plant with beautiful blue-purple flower has been named as Siam Blue Hardy and proved to be a hybrid between nymphaea and brachyceras subgenera by the PCR-RFLP markers, as well as other inherited plant characteristics, for example, ovary carpel, leaf, rootstock or rhizome.  The DNA fingerprints based on the PCR-RFLP technique of ITS (internally transcribed spacer) sequence, using AluI, RsaI and MseI restriction enzyme, yielded very good indication of parents and offspring relationship.

Principle investigator- Pairat Songpanich, Rubber Research Institute, Department of Agriculture, Bangkok 10900, Thailand (prs230@yahoo.com)
Vipa Hongtrakul, Department of Genetics, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900, Thailand (fscivph@ku.ac.th)

Articles about Siam Blue Hardy
http://www.watergardenersinternational.org/journal/3-2/pairat/page1.html
http://www.watergardenersinternational.org/journal/3-2/pairat/history.html
http://www.watergardenersinternational.org/journal/3-4/pairat/page1.html

Contributed by Jinda Jan-orn
jjanorn@yahoo.com

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1.16  World experts welcome wind of change in Africa’s rice research

Cotonou, Benin
An international Scientific Advisory Committee has hailed the changes in the new research thrusts of the Africa Rice Center (WARDA), stating that the Center has very high responsibilities as it is “the strategic crossroads of rice research for Africa today.”

The changes include:
-A clear focus on the development of the next generation varieties for Africa in partnership with national partners, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) – building on the NERICA® success.
-Greater linkages with development organizations operating at village level to close yield gaps and enhance rice productivity in farmers’ fields
-Increased emphasis on the lowland ecology which has high potential for sustainable rice expansion and diversification in the continent
-Introduction of rice value-chain research to study ways to increase the competitiveness of the Africa rice sector
-Greater emphasis on capacity building and rice information exchange

The Scientific Advisory Committee comprising three top rice experts from the world – Prof. Takeshi Horie from Japan, Dr Alain Ghesquière from France and Dr Neil Rutger from USA – made these comments at the recent Research Days organized by the Center to review its 2008 activities and plan for the next year.

WARDA Deputy Director General Dr Marco Wopereis presented the Center’s restructured research programs and the outline of a new Strategic Plan for 2010 and beyond, which is being developed in close consultation with its national partners.

A major part of the Research Days meeting was devoted to strategic research issues in the areas of genetic diversity and improvement; water management; weed management; integrated pest management; evolution of rice networks, training and extension linkages; seed systems; learning and innovation system; impact assessment; policy; and value chains.

The Committee advised the researchers to maximize the use of the rich gene pool of the African rice species; give importance to systems approach; increase the involvement of social scientists; and pay attention to research support staff who are valuable for the overall performance.

In its evaluation of WARDA’s 2008 activities and achievements, the Committee expressed its appreciation for the progress in the number of scientific publications by WARDA scientists – compared to 2007 – particularly in partnership with national scientists.

The Committee members were extremely pleased with the successful research alignment between WARDA and IRRI, which they considered to be of great benefit to Africa’s rice producers and consumers. 

Participants of the Research Days meeting included the Chairs of ROCARIZ rice network and African Rice Initiative, the Coordinator of the West Africa Productivity Program, scientists from all WARDA research stations and partners from IRRI and IITA-Cotonou as well as the Director General of Gabon’s national program who was visiting WARDA to explore the possibilities of future collaboration.

Representatives from WARDA’s National Experts Committee, comprising the Directors General of WARDA’s 22 member States also attended. WARDA is a unique Center of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) because of its status as an association of African member States.

Speaking on this special bonding, WARDA Director General Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck stated that WARDA and its national partners jointly develop, manage and evaluate research projects. “WARDA’s strength depends on the strength of its national partners.”

Source: SeedQuest.com
24 November 2008

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1.17  International food aid alone cannot solve the global malnutrition crisis

In an editorial in this week's PLoS Medicine, the journal's editors discuss some of the controversies surrounding international food aid, and conclude that "donor-supported food programs are not enough as a long term strategy" for addressing malnutrition.

At a recent two-day meeting in New York City, organized by Columbia University's Institute of Human Nutrition and the humanitarian organization Médecins sans Frontières, nutrition experts called on the international community to urgently focus its efforts on delivering more food aid, of better quality, to prevent and treat malnutrition in the highest-burden areas.

"Such an emergency measure," say the PLoS Medicine editors, "is clearly needed to bring down death rates as quickly as possible­but it is not a sufficient long-term approach to the global malnutrition crisis." The editors argue that a broader and longer-term strategy is needed to address global food insecurity. Such a strategy, they say, would include "an array of policies to stimulate local agricultural and economic development­particularly the economic and social empowerment of women, the primary caregivers in most households."
http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050235

Source: PLoSMedicine@plos.org via EurkAlert.org
24 November 2008

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1.18  New genetic resources for cereal crops

Washington, DC
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
By Don Comis

An Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist has developed a special population of plants of the wild grass Brachypodium distachyon (Brachypodium) that will help speed up scientists' search for genes that could help wheat and other major crops resist diseases such as Ug99, a form of stem rust that threatens 80 percent of the world's wheat.

The plants developed by ARS plant geneticist David Garvin are the first recombinant inbred line (RILs) population of Brachypodium. This means offspring of each line in the population will retain the same genetic identity in perpetuity, according to Garvin, who works at the ARS Plant Science Research Unit in St. Paul, Minn. This allows scientists to more efficiently explore the genetic and molecular basis of a range of traits.

Previously, Garvin had developed earlier versions of populations segregating for genes and traits, but those populations permitted only one look at the genetics of a given trait. With the new RILs, all the offspring of each line will always have the same genes, so scientists around the world can repeat experiments as often as they desire.

The ability to work with large numbers of plants with the same genetic makeup gives scientists the opportunity to obtain highly accurate information on the number of genes that control a trait. This provides a strong start toward identifying the location of these genes on Brachypodium chromosomes.

It took Garvin more than three years to create the RILs. The research involved crosses and growing the entire population to maturity repeatedly to fix the genetic make-up of each plant. He has many additional RIL populations nearing completion.

ARS is a scientific research agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Source: SeedQuest.com
13 November 2008

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1.19  University of Adelaide researchers identify new sources of stem and leaf rust resistance in wild grasses relatives of wheat

Australia
University of Adelaide researchers have identified new sources of stem and leaf rust resistance in wild grass relatives of wheat sourced mostly from the ‘fertile crescent’ of the Middle East.

The research project, supported by growers and the Australian Government through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), has helped position the Australian grains industry to better defend against emerging rust races such as the virulent Ug99 stem rust pathogen, which scientists believe may pose a serious threat to global wheat supplies.

Project supervisor Dr Ian Dundas, of the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at the University of Adelaide, said the project was part of a concerted global effort helping to underpin the sustainability of wheat cultivation.

“Australia is in an excellent position to combat the threat of cereal rust,” Dr Dundas said. “This is one of many projects under the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program (ACRCP) developing new sources of rust resistance for growers.

“Nearly two decades ago, the ACRCPAustralian research organisations and GRDC recognised the danger to the economic viability of Australian wheat producers from the emergence of new strains of rust and began investing heavily in this type of research. In the long term, this work will assist Australia’s competitive advantage in the global market place.

“Finding alternative sources of resistance is vitally important. Diversity in resistance genes and variation in sources of resistance is one of our best defences when confronting any new rust pathotypes.”

The project has involved working with wheat breeding lines which contain chromosome fragments from uncultivated relatives of wheat.

“These are mostly wild grasses from the region in the Middle East where modern bread and durum wheat species originated,” Dr Dundas said. “The fertile crescent is a centre of genetic diversity.”

In a recent project, Dr Dundas’ team has identified three new sources of stem rust resistance from the species Triticum speltoides, and two new sources of leaf rust resistance from the species Triticum searsii and Triticum tripsacoides.

Plant pre-breeding is not a fast process. Dr Dundas said there was considerable work to be done before the newly identified genes found their way into wheat varieties for Australian growers.

“Provided the resistance sources meet our expectations, we could see them in wheat varieties within the next 10 years,” he said.

“An important step will be testing wheat breeding lines with the newly identified resistance genes in the field. We’ve been working with scientists in the United States, where they will test these lines for resistance to the Ug99 stem rust pathogen.

“This virulent form of stem rust was identified in Uganda in 1999 and has now spread into the Middle East.”

The GRDC is a major investor in the fight against cereal rust and part of a world-wide collaboration of scientists working to overcome the threat of Ug99. The GRDC said immediate priorities for effective rust management were growing resistant wheat varieties, managing the ‘green bridge’ of volunteer growth, and responding to outbreaks with strategic fungicide applications.

Growers can access detailed information about rust management by visiting www.grdc.com.au/rustlinks

Source: SeedQuest.com
17 October 2008

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1.20  Evolution of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) after recent introduction into a South Pacific Island system

The contribution of sex to the diversification of a clonally propagated crop

J. Sardos, D. McKey, M.F. Duval, R. Malapa, J.L. Noyer, and V. Lebot

Abstract:
Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is a clonally propagated crop that was introduced into the South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu in the 1850s. Based on a survey conducted in 10 different villages throughout the archipelago, we present here a study of its diversity. Farmers’ knowledge about cultivation cycle and sexual reproduction of cassava was recorded during group interviews in each village. Using a set of 11 SSR markers, we genotyped the 104 landraces collected and 60 supplementary accessions from a within-landrace study (12 landraces _ 5 plants). Out of the 104 landraces collected, we discovered 77 different multilocus genotypes and the within-landrace study identified several polyclonal landraces. Our data suggest a number of hypotheses about the dynamics of diversity of cassava in Vanuatu.

Conclusion
The genetic diversity of cassava in Vanuatu that we have revealed in this study is much higher than expected: more than a single clone was introduced into the country and vegetative propagation is not the only process involved in its cultivation and diversification. Since the crop is clonally propagated, many authors have in the past argued that sex could not contribute to the genetic diversification of cassava. However, our results show that although landraces are indeed clonally propagated, this mode of reproduction cannot account for all of the diversity observed. Our unpublished observations show that Vanuatu farmers do sometimes clonally propagate volunteer seedlings; the results of this study suggest that this practice has had an important impact on the dynamics of diversity. With such a mixed clonal–sexual system, genetic diversification can be extremely rapid in farmers’ fields (Elias et al. 2001). The selection and clonal propagation of volunteer seedlings appears to be the main factor contributing to the rapid diversification of cassava in Vanuatu. The dynamics of this process should thus be studied in detail. Vanuatu’s socioeconomic system ensures circulation of clones, including new ones propagated fromvolunteer seedlings, throughout the islands and thereby homogenizes the genetic diversity at the country scale. Meanwhile, fixation of somatic mutations and reshuffling by recombination continue to generate genotypic diversity. In 1993, the tragic consequences of the introduction of the taro leaf blight fungus into Samoa (Naidu and Umar 2003) abruptly revealed the need to enhance the genetic base of vegetatively propagated crops in the Pacific region. In the case of cassava in Vanuatu, we recommend the use of the geographic distribution of allelic diversity, already proposed for the conservation of minor root crops (Lebot et al. 2005), to assess diversity and enhance it where needed. Introductions of new clones in strategic places would be a means for the introduction of alleles of interest (e.g., for synthesis of carotene). Considering the dynamics in place in Vanuatu, these alleles would spread throughout the country by means of cuttings and naturally enter the preexisting system, favoring the recombination and capture of new genotypes possessing the targeted attribute. In which time period recombination and capture of such genotypes can occur is still a point to clarify. This study might be the first step for further investigations on this topic. In the 10 villages, the distribution of clones holding drastically different alleles on this set of SSR loci followed by cassava’s surveys and genotyping after different time periods would help to determine the speed of the process.

Contributed byVincent Lebot
lebot@vanuatu.com.vu
CIRAD, Vanuatu

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1.21  University of Adelaide researchers identify new sources of stem and leaf rust resistance in wild grasses relatives of wheat

Australia

Key points:
• GRDC-funded project delivers new sources of rust resistance to breeders
• Diversity in resistance sources critical to providing robust defence against emerging rust pathotypes
• Australia in ‘excellent’ position to defend against stem, leaf rust

University of Adelaide researchers have identified new sources of stem and leaf rust resistance in wild grass relatives of wheat sourced mostly from the ‘fertile crescent’ of the Middle East.

The research project, supported by growers and the Australian Government through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), has helped position the Australian grains industry to better defend against emerging rust races such as the virulent Ug99 stem rust pathogen, which scientists believe may pose a serious threat to global wheat supplies.

Project supervisor Dr Ian Dundas, of the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at the University of Adelaide, said the project was part of a concerted global effort helping to underpin the sustainability of wheat cultivation.

“Australia is in an excellent position to combat the threat of cereal rust,” Dr Dundas said. “This is one of many projects under the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program (ACRCP) developing new sources of rust resistance for growers.

“Nearly two decades ago, the ACRCPAustralian research organisations and GRDC recognised the danger to the economic viability of Australian wheat producers from the emergence of new strains of rust and began investing heavily in this type of research. In the long term, this work will assist Australia’s competitive advantage in the global market place.

“Finding alternative sources of resistance is vitally important. Diversity in resistance genes and variation in sources of resistance is one of our best defences when confronting any new rust pathotypes.”

The project has involved working with wheat breeding lines which contain chromosome fragments from uncultivated relatives of wheat.

“These are mostly wild grasses from the region in the Middle East where modern bread and durum wheat species originated,” Dr Dundas said. “The fertile crescent is a centre of genetic diversity.”

In a recent project, Dr Dundas’ team has identified three new sources of stem rust resistance from the species Triticum speltoides, and two new sources of leaf rust resistance from the species Triticum searsii and Triticum tripsacoides.

Plant pre-breeding is not a fast process. Dr Dundas said there was considerable work to be done before the newly identified genes found their way into wheat varieties for Australian growers.

“Provided the resistance sources meet our expectations, we could see them in wheat varieties within the next 10 years,” he said.

“An important step will be testing wheat breeding lines with the newly identified resistance genes in the field. We’ve been working with scientists in the United States, where they will test these lines for resistance to the Ug99 stem rust pathogen.

“This virulent form of stem rust was identified in Uganda in 1999 and has now spread into the Middle East.”

The GRDC is a major investor in the fight against cereal rust and part of a world-wide collaboration of scientists working to overcome the threat of Ug99. The GRDC said immediate priorities for effective rust management were growing resistant wheat varieties, managing the ‘green bridge’ of volunteer growth, and responding to outbreaks with strategic fungicide applications.

Growers can access detailed information about rust management by visiting www.grdc.com.au/rustlinks

Source: SeedQuest.com
17 October 2008

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1.22  Movement on the resistance front exposes wheat killers

Australia
Necrotrophic diseases of wheat, such as yellow spot and Stagonospora nodorum (also known as Septoria and glume blotch), kill plant host cells and cost Australian growers at least $170 million per year.

But recent research offers a way to improve wheat resistance breeding.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) supported Australian Centre for Necrotrophic Fungal Pathogens (ACNFP) at WA’s Murdoch University has established major research programs to define mechanisms of pathogenicity and plant disease resistance.

Professor Richard Oliver, ACNFP Director and GRDC Western Region Panel Deputy Chair, along with his team at Murdoch, has discovered how a special class of toxins produced by the pathogen, known as host specific toxins (HSTs), are critical to the virulence of this disease in wheat.

Unlocking the way HSTs are involved in causing disease has improved understanding of wheat resistance and susceptibility to necrotrophic fungal diseases.

Professor Oliver explained that HSTs are molecules toxic only to the host of the disease and are mostly harmless to other plants.

Further, only specific genotypes, or forms of the host, are sensitive to the toxin.

Professor Oliver and his team have demonstrated that the pathogen Stagonospora nodorum, cause of glume and S. nodorum blotch of wheat, interacts with its host via a specific and complex set of HSTs which are encoded on separate genes.

Genetic analysis of the host has shown that, in most cases, sensitivity to the toxin is a dominant trait in the host plant.

According to Professor Oliver, studying resistance to Stagonospora nodorum has been complex, due to differing plant resistance and susceptibility at the seedling, adult and glume stages.

But the team has identified several HST genes carried by necrotrophic fungal pathogens.

“One HST in the wheat pathogen, Pyrenophora tritici-repentis, which causes yellow leaf or tan spot, is known as ToxA and is identical to a gene in the genome of Stagonospora nodorum,” Professor Oliver said.

Evidence suggests the gene has been laterally transferred from Stagonospora nodorum to P. tritici repentis in the recent past.

“It appears that P. tritici is the recipient and Stagonospora nodorum the donor, due to a process known as lateral gene transfer, which is consistent with the finding that yellow spot was unknown as a wheat pathogen before the 1940s.

“We therefore have a theory to explain how new diseases arise and a way of improving disease resistance in wheat,” Professor Oliver said.

“Isolated HSTs can be used to test wheat varieties for their sensitivity to disease and provide wheat breeders with a new tool to determine which varieties are resistant to necrotrophic fungal pathogens.”

Professor Oliver said growers would then have new varieties more resistant to some of the major diseases affecting wheat crops.

Further, they could choose to immediately avoid susceptible varieties. Professor Oliver estimated this would save growers $30 million a year and more in the future.

Source: SeedQuest.com
19 November 2008

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1.23  New Striga-resistant maize for Africa and Asia

Looks can deceive. Striga, a deadly parasitic plant, produces a lovely flower but sucks the life and yields out of crops across Africa and Asia. A new strain of improved maize seed is helping farmers reclaim their invaded crop lands.  Work by a multilateral partnership has resulted in a promising Striga control measure that has recently started moving from the laboratory to farmers' fields. The practice is based on a type of maize with a natural mutation that allows it to resist the chemical imidazolinone-active ingredient in many herbicides. Seeds of this imidazolinone-resistant (IR) maize are coated with a herbicide and, when sown, the coated seed kills sprouting Striga, allowing the crop to flourish.

Read the newsletter article at http://www.cimmyt.org/english/wps/news/2008/sep/striga.htm

Source: CIMMYT Newsletter September 2008 via CropBiotech Update

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.24  Annuals converted into perennials - Only two genes make the difference between herbaceous plants and trees

Ghent, Belgium
Scientists from VIB at Ghent University have succeeded in converting annual plants into perennials. They discovered that the deactivation of two genes in annuals led to the formation of structures that converted the plant into a perennial. This was most likely an important mechanism in plant evolution, initiating the formation of trees.

Annuals and perennials

Annual crops grow, blossom and die within one year. Perennials overwinter and grow again the following year. The life strategy of many annuals consists of rapid growth following germination and rapid transition to flower and seed formation, thus preventing the loss of energy needed to create permanent structures. They germinate quickly after the winter so that they come out before other plants, thus eliminating the need to compete for food and light. The trick is basically to make as many seeds as possible in as short a time as possible.

Perennials have more evolved life strategies for surviving in poor conditions. They compose perennial structures such as overwintering buds, bulbs or tubers. These structures contain groups with cells that are not yet specialised, but which can later be converted when required into new organs such as stalks and leaves.

The flowering of annuals

Annual crops consume all the non-specialised cells in developing their flowers. Thus the appearance of the flower signals means the end of the plant. But fortunately they have left seeds that sense – after winter – that the moment has come to start up. Plants are able to register the lengthening of the days. With the advent of longer days in the spring, a signal is sent from the leaves to the growth tops to activate a limited number of blooming-induction genes.

Deactivating two genes

VIB researchers, such as Siegbert Melzer in Tom Beeckman's group*, have studied two such flower-inducing genes. They have deactivated them in thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a typical annual. The VIB researchers found that mutant plants can no longer induce flowering, but they can continue to grow vegetatively or come into flower much later. Melzer had found that modified crops did not use up their store of non-specialised cells, enabling perennial growth. They can therefore continue to grow for a very long time.

As with real perennials these plants show secondary growth with wood formation creating shrub-like Arabidopsis plants.

Raising the veil of evolution

Researchers have been fascinated for a long time by the evolution of herbaceous to woody structures. This research clearly shows only two genes are in fact necessary in this process. This has probably been going on throughout the evolution of plants. Furthermore it is not inconceivable this happened independently on multiple occasions.

Relevant scientific publication

The research appears in the leading journal Nature Genetics (Siegbert Melzer et al., Flowering-time genes modulate meristem determinacy and growth form in Arabidopsis thaliana).

Funding

This research was financed by VIB, UGent, IWT, FWO.
* Tom Beeckman is in charge of the Root Development research group in the VIB Plant Systems Biology department, UGent – under the management of Dirk Inzé.

VIB is a non-profit research institute in life sciences. Approximately 1100 scientists and technicians perform basic research into the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the functioning of the human body, plants and micro-organisms. By means of a strong partnership with four Flemish universities – UGent, K.U.Leuven, Universiteit Antwerpen and Vrije Universiteit Brussel – and a robust investment programme, VIB bundles the strengths of 65 research groups into one institute. Their research aims at fundamentally pushing out the boundaries of our knowledge. With its technology transfer activities VIB aims to convert research results into products for the consumer and the patient. VIB develops and disseminates a broad range of scientifically based information on all aspects of biotechnology. More information on www.vib.be.

The Universiteit Gent (UGent) is one of the largest Dutch-speaking universities, with more than 30,000 students. The course options include almost all academic courses that are offered in Flanders.

The UGent prides itself on being an open, socially engaged and pluralistic university with an international perspective. More information on www.ugent.be

Source: SeedQuest.com
9 November 2008

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1.25  Stanford researchers investigate how plants adapt to climate

By Kayvon Sharghi
How many mouths does a plant need in order to survive? The answer changes depending on climate, and some of the decisions are made long before a new leaf sprouts.

Stanford researchers have found that the formation of microscopic pores called stomata (derived from the Greek word stoma, meaning mouth) is controlled by a specific signaling pathway that blocks activity of a single protein required for stomata development. The findings are described in a paper published Nov. 14 in Science.

Stomata are found on almost every terrestrial plant on Earth. Their multiple roles include releasing moisture and oxygen into the environment, providing internal air conditioning for the plant and allowing carbon dioxide to enter the leaf, where it is converted to sugar during photosynthesis. Stomata are essential for the survival of plants and, by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, play a significant role in maintaining the health of the planet.

Using Arabidopsis thaliana, a fast-growing, flowering plant used for genetic and developmental studies, Dominique Bergmann, an assistant professor of biology, and paper co-authors Gregory Lampard, a postdoctoral fellow, and Cora MacAlister, a PhD student, found a unique structural region on a protein with 10 sites that can be modified by a well-known, environmentally-controlled signaling pathway to dictate the number of stomata a plant makes.

"Scientists have said that the environment affects plant development, but no one could point to a protein that was responsible for that response," Bergmann said. "Now we know a major target inside the cell and how it is regulated."

Knowing how this process works could be used to modify crops in order to maximize their productivity under changing climate conditions. Plants might initially benefit as a result of the increased carbon supply in the atmosphere due to global warming, Bergmann said, but would also respond to those conditions by making fewer stomata. The result? Loss of cooling through stomata could lead to widespread crop failures due to the rise in temperatures associated with global warming.

"There are circumstances where you might want to disconnect the signals plants receive from the environment so they can survive," Bergmann said.

The protein, which the researchers dubbed SPEECHLESS, initiates the first of a three-step cell division process that leads to the formation of stomata in plants. Though structurally similar to SPEECHLESS, two other proteins involved in subsequent steps do not contain the same control region that is regulated by the signaling pathway. This provides a unique mechanism for the signaling pathway to control SPEECHLESS activity in a set of stem-cell-like cells and hence the ultimate development of stomata.

"If I were designing the leaf, that would be the part I would put under really tight control," Bergmann said. "It seems as if that's what plants have done."

Certain trade-offs exist for plants having too many or too few stomata. To help determine the number of stomata a newly sprouting leaf should form, the plant takes key factors about its surrounding climate­carbon dioxide levels, temperature and humidity­into account.

To perceive these factors, the plant uses the same signaling pathway used to control SPEECHLESS activity. The study identifies a critical junction that connects how a plant can sense environmental conditions with how this information is relayed to stomatal-development pathways. Thus, development of stomata can be altered "on the fly" to better enable the plant to cope with environmental conditions.

For example, a leaf contains fewer pores when carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is in abundance and more when it is limited. If conditions change, this multi-faceted signaling system can enable fine-tuning of stomatal development.

The research was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, a Terman Award from Stanford University, and the Stanford Genome Training Program.

Kayvon Shargi is a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service.

Source: Stanford Report, via EurekAlert.org
24November 2008

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1.26  USDA/ARS scientists identify key gene that protects sorghum in acidic soils

Washington, DC
By Ann Perry
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
A gene that protects sorghum from aluminum in acidic soils has been identified by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist and cooperators.

Acidic soils, which are found around the world, often have aluminum levels that are toxic to food plants such as sorghum. This finding could help plant breeders develop sorghum varieties that can be grown by subsistence farmers who depend on this grain crop for survival.

Plant physiologist Leon Kochian leads the ARS Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca, N.Y. For this research, he collaborated with Jurandir V. Magalhaes, a scientist with Embrapa Maize and Sorghum, a branch of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), Brazil’s federal agricultural research agency.

Aluminum tolerance in wheat is regulated by the aluminum-tolerance gene ALTM1. When ALTM1 is activated, it triggers the release of malic acid, which bonds with the aluminum and neutralizes its toxic effect.

The research team found a gene in sorghum that protects the plant from soil aluminum via mechanisms that closely parallel ALTM1’s activity in wheat. In sorghum, the aluminum tolerance gene prompts the release of citric acid, which also binds to soil aluminum. But this sorghum transporter­dubbed SbMATEis not related to the ALMT1 transporter protein.

The team found that activity of SbMATE is activated in the roots of aluminum-tolerant sorghum only when aluminum is present in the soil. Under these conditions, SbMATE is most highly expressed in the first centimeter of the tip of the root. This optimizes the ability of the transporter to neutralize the aluminum and protect the sensitive root tip.

ARS and EMBRAPA researchers are now engaged in collaborative projects with plant breeders in Africa to develop aluminum-tolerant sorghum varieties for cultivation in African soils.

Read more about this research in the November/December 2008 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

ARS is a scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Source: SeedQuest.com
21 November 2008

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1.27  Not your garden-variety tomato

By Rachel Zelkowitz
Raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, ... and tomatoes? Researchers have now engineered a tomato that has the same antioxidants that give berries their red and purple shades and nutritional punch. And at least in mice, these supertomatoes seem to aid in the fight against cancer.

The magenta juice that tints your strawberry smoothies comes from a pigment in the cells called anthocyanin. This pigment also acts as an antioxidant. Cell- and animal-based research has shown that antioxidants can protect against cancer, though clinical trials have been inconclusive. Still, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, in part to ensure adequate intake of antioxidants. The message has yet to sink in; studies show that only about 23% of Americans meet those guidelines. So, researchers such as plant geneticist Cathie Martin are trying to engineer fruits and vegetables with enhanced anthocyanin content to get more bang for the bite.

Martin and colleagues at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, U.K., zeroed in on the tomato because it is eaten around the world and used in plant genetics studies. Although the fruit received high marks from nutritionists for its content of another antioxidant, lycopene, tomatoes contain no anthocyanin. Previous attempts to create an anthocyanin-rich tomato using corn genes had failed, Martin says. Through their research on snapdragons, the researchers identified two key proteins in the flowers that might trigger anthocyanin production if inserted in tomato plants. They engineered tomatoes with the genes for those key proteins and watched as purple fruit ripened on the vine. The tomatoes had about 2.8 mg of anthocyanin per gram. Raspberries have about 3.7 mg per gram, by comparison.

To determine if the purple tomatoes could help fight cancer, the researchers tested three groups of tumor-prone mice. Twenty-four mice received a normal diet, 15 ate food mixed with the dust of freeze-dried red tomatoes, and 20 nibbled rations enhanced with purple tomato dust. Mice on the control and red tomato diets lived about 142 days before dying of cancer, whereas mice on the purple tomato diet lived 182.2 days before succumbing, the researchers reported online on 26 October in Nature Biotechnology.

Because tomatoes naturally lack anthocyanin, Martin says the ability to compare the unmodified fruit with an enhanced counterpart will be a boon to researchers trying to tease out the specific nutritional powers of the pigment. "Dietary improvement is the big hope for preventative medicine," she says, but cautions that more research is needed before people can expect purple tomatoes in their grocery stores.

Jeffrey Blumberg, a nutrition scientist at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston, applauds the researchers' integration of nutrition science and plant biotechnology. But he agrees that researchers will have to answer key questions such as how much anthocyanin a person would actually metabolize from the tomatoes before the work could benefit humans. And no superfood should replace a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, Blumberg notes.

http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/1027/2

Source: ScienceNOW Daily News
27 October 2008

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1.28  A big bunch of tomatoes?

Why do poppies and sunflowers grow as a single flower per stalk while each stem of a tomato plant has several branches, each carrying flowers? In a new study, published in this week's issue of the open access journal PLoS Biology, Dr. Zachary Lippman and colleagues identify a genetic mechanism that determines the pattern of flower growth in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family of plants that includes tomato, potato, pepper, eggplant, tobacco, petunia, and deadly nightshades. Manipulation of the identified pathway can turn the well known tomato vine into a highly branched structure with hundreds of flower-bearing shoots, and may thereby result in increased crop yields.

While the development of individual flowers is well understood, the molecular mechanisms that determine the architecture of inflorescences - flower-bearing shoots - are not. The way that inflorescences branch determines the number and distribution of flowers; in peppers (capsicum) inflorescences do not branch, so flowers are singular; in tomatoes, inflorescence branching is repetitive and regular, forming a zigzagged vine The tomato mutants anantha (an) and compound inflorescence (s) have long been known to produce large numbers of branches and flowers, and the new work elucidates the underlying genetics.

Dr. Lippman, and a team of researchers drawn from three institutions in Israel, investigated inflorescence branching by studying these mutant tomato plants. They identified the genes responsible: the anantha (AN) and compound inflorescence (S) genes. S is a member of the well known homeobox gene family, which plays a crucial regulatory role in patterning both animals and plants. Lippman et al. have shown that manipulation of these genes in tomato plants can dramatically alter the architecture and number of inflorescences, and that altered activity of AN in pepper plants can stimulate branching. Variation in S also explains the branching variation seen in domestically grown tomato strains.

The two genes work in sequence to regulate the timing of development of a branch and a flower – so, for example, slowing down the pathway that makes a flower allows for additional branches to grow. While this study by Lippman et al. focuses on variations in particular nightshades, the insight leads to a new understanding of how many plants, such as trees, control their potential to branch.
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Citation: Lippman ZB, Cohen O, Alvarez JP, Abu-Abied M, Pekker I, et al. (2008) The making of a compound inflorescence in tomato and related nightshades. PLoS Biol 6(11): e288. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060288
http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0060288
Contacts:
Sally Hubbard
press@plos.org
Public Library of Science

Dani Zamir
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
zamir@agri.huji.ac.il

Source: EurekAlert.org
17 November 2008

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1.29  Scientists locate 'large-fruit' gene in tomato

Ripe, round, red, large tomatoes: they are perhaps the best known icon of summer. Most people are unaware, however, that this fruit was not always so robust. Selective breeding for thousand of years has resulted to the tomatoes we know today. Wild-type type tomatoes are often small, round berries but today's domesticated plants produce the large, round tomatoes commonly found on the store shelf. Scientists at Cornell University, led by Steven Tanksley, have pinpointed the exact location of the 'large fruit' gene in the tomato genome.

The team identified mutations responsible for the evolution of large fruit by examining the sequence of the 'small-fruit' allele and the 'large-fruit' allele. Tanksley believes this study is the first step towards reconstructing events that led to the domestication of fruit development. The mechanisms identified through this study will also be applied to other agriculturally important solanum species, such as pepper, eggplant, and potato.

Read the full article at http://www.csrees.usda.gov/newsroom/impact/2008/nri/10271_tomato.html

Source: CropBiotech Update
31 October 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.30  Root-knot nematode resistant bell peppers

The root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita), a biotrophic parasite of many crops, including tomato, cotton and coffee, is responsible for global agricultural losses amounting to more than US$ 150 billion annually. The ominpresent worm is usually controlled by applying methyl bromide, an odorless, colorless gas that has severe negative effects in the environment. The pesticide has been banned for use in the United States.

Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) developed varieties of bell pepper resistant to the root-knot nematode. In a paper published by HortScience, a team of researchers led by Judy Thies tested the stability of the worm-resistant bell pepper varieties 'Charleston Belle' and 'Carolina Wonder'. Good news for pepper growers: the scientists found out that the two varieties are viable alternatives to methyl bromide for managing southern root-knot nematode in sub-tropical environments. It is important to establish whether the peppers' resistance to the nematode breaks down when they are grown in hot environments.

Read the abstract of the article at http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/43/1/188

Source: CropBiotech Update
7 November 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.31  Indigenous African eggplant is becoming popular with African seed companies, farmers, and consumers

Tainan, Taiwan

African eggplant is a traditional indigenous crop grown across sub-Saharan Africa. More locally adapted than its distant relative, the tomato, it is hardier and easier to grow and has the added benefit of producing a harvest every week for seven months or longer, creating a reliable income for farmers. Improved lines selected and promoted by AVRDC ­ The World Vegetable Center are highly sought after in local markets. Using the Center’s improved management system, farmers can earn up to twice as much compared to growing tomatoes, turning an almost forgotten indigenous crop into a major source of income.
 
The oval-shaped African eggplant fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. It is a traditional ingredient in many African dishes and grows naturally in the savannas and humid forests of East and Central Africa and the Sahel.

For years “garden eggs” (as they are commonly known in Tanzania) were literally just that­a backyard crop ignored as a potential income earner because of low-quality varieties. They were perceived as food for the poor and were subject to competition from exotic crops like tomatoes. Although maize and vegetable crops like beans or peppers are popular, African eggplant has unrivalled features that make it competitive: It’s hardy and produces regularly throughout the growing season, reducing risks for poor farmers.

Selection work conducted at the Center identified several lines as having good market potential: Tengeru White and the premiumpriced, sweet-tasting DB3, AB2, and RW14.

Promoted widely during the Center’s training courses for farmers and technicians in Tanzania, Malawi, and Uganda, the improved lines have out-yielded most traditional bitter-tasting lines. Demand from urban consumers has created a new market for DB3 and AB2.

The Center has developed an entire integrated management package for African eggplant to assist farmers and address their questions about spacing, fertilization, watering, cultivation and more.

Source: The World Vegetable Center Newsletter via SeedQuest.com
21 November 2008

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1.32  Increasing calcium in carrots and other vegetables

Washington, DC
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
By Alfredo Flores

Carrots have been modified to have higher amounts of calcium, according to studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-funded scientists who report that the research could be used to add this valuable nutrient to other crops.

The current U.S. recommended average intake of calcium for adults aged 19 to 50 is 1,000 milligrams daily. But inadequate dietary calcium is a global concern, and poor diets and exercise habits prevent many people from achieving and maintaining optimal bone health. Calcium is a key component for healthy bones.

At the Children’s Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) in Houston, Texas, CNRC professors of pediatrics Kendal Hirschi and Steven Abrams boosted calcium levels by inducing carrots to express increased levels of the gene sCAX1, which enables the transport of calcium across plant cell membranes.

To determine the bioavailability of the calcium in the modified carrots, 30 volunteers­15 females and 15 males of various ethnic backgrounds and in their early to late 20s­ate single meals containing regular or modified carrots, which were labelled with a stable isotope of calcium.

After two weeks, the researchers found that the calcium intake of volunteers who consumed the modified carrots increased by 41 percent, compared to those who ate regular carrots.

Read more about this research in the November/December 2008 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

CNRC is operated by Baylor College of Medicine in cooperation with Texas Children's Hospital and ARS, a scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Source: SeedQuest.com
19 November 2008

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1.33  Increasing grain yield and improving adaptation of pearl lupin (Lupinus mutabilis)

Australia
It may only be a few years before Australians are consuming a high protein, semi-domesticated grain eaten by the Incas a thousand years ago.

Pearl lupin (Lupinus mutabilis), a nitrogen-fixing legume very high in oil and originally from the Andes in South America, is to be developed for medium to high rainfall zones of Australia.

Its name derives from the appearance of the lustrous, spherical, pearl-white seeds.

A three year Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded project, involving the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) at The University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA), will focus on increasing grain yield and improving adaptation, with the ultimate aim being commercial release of a new variety.

It builds on previous GRDC supported work on preliminary breeding, agronomics and germplasm evaluation by Dr Jon Clements of CLIMA and Dr Mark Sweetingham of DAFWA.

CLIMA Director, Professor William Erskine, says Australian farmers presently grow narrow-leafed lupin as a nitrogen-fixing crop in broadacre farming rotations.

“But broad-leafed pearl lupins are unique among crop lupins because the seed quality is similar to soybean and it could become the cool season equivalent of that crop.

“Pearl lupins have the unusual combination for a legume of high protein, at up to 47 per cent and high oil at up to 18 per cent. A thin seed coat is an added bonus as it increases grain value and seed can be more readily dehulled,” he said.

Pearl lupins also had a good profile of amino acids relative to other legumes, lysine levels are similar to soybean and the oil has high oleic and linoleic acid.

“Traditionally eaten as a porridge with maize or quinoa, pearl lupins have potential for modern human diets in bread, sausages, cakes and yoghurt – in fact any food that soybean is currently used for,” Professor Erskine said.

“Their value for inclusion in fish and pig feed rations will also be assessed.”

CLIMA’s Dr Clements will conduct the breeding work in partnership with project supervisor, DAFWA Senior Lupin Breeder, Dr Bevan Buirchell.

“Rapid breeding cycles, combined with genotype by environment and germplasm characterisation and evaluation studies, will help us develop domesticated material with improved agronomic and disease resistance traits,” Dr Buirchell said.

The project draws on useful germplasm from the Australian Lupin Collection held at DAFWA’s South Perth site.

According to Dr Clements, the critical factors are yield and adaptation and therefore the project would evaluate lines in medium to higher rainfall regions in Western Australia and New South Wales.

“Transferring the high oil and protein characters from pearl lupin to narrow leafed lupin (L. angustifolius) would be particularly valuable, if possible,” Dr Clements said.

The group, assisted by CLIMA’s Gordon Francis, John Quealy and Dr Larissa Prilyuk, will also assess closely related South American species for possible trait transfer into the pearl lupin genepool.

Professor Erskine said CLIMA’s ongoing collaboration with DAFWA in pre-breeding pearl lupins was a good example of how two outcome focussed R&D organisations could potentially deliver rapid and beneficial outcomes to legume growers.

Source: SeedQuest.com
19 November 2008

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1.34  Growing a better decaf

Inside the race to produce a naturally low-caffeine bean

From Madagascar to Costa Rica, farmers, scientists and multinational companies have been racing to deliver an elusive product – a gourmet coffee bean that’s naturally low in caffeine.

Coffee companies have been spending millions of dollars identifying, breeding and, in some cases, genetically manipulating promising coffee varietals. They’ve rooted through seed banks, assembled teams of agronomists and tasted countless cups of coffee, all in pursuit of what some people call the industry’s holy grail, a bean that produces a great-tasting cup of “low-caf.”

The new beans have more caffeine than most decaffeinated beans, but up to 50% less caffeine than regular Arabica beans, the type used to make specialty coffees. The low-caf beans are a glossy brown and, to the untrained eye, virtually indistinguishable from other coffee beans in both appearance and smell.

Illy was one of the first companies to embark on a serious quest to embark on a serious quest to develop a flavorful, low-caf bean. In 1989, Andrea Illy, 44, the third generation of Illys to head the 75-year-old Italian roaster, learned that an American company was preparing to toss its research collection of some 185,000 coffee plants and acquired it. The collection included some 20,000 plants of a low-caffeine Arabica varietal called Laurina. The delicate varietal is known to produce high-quality beans but is also low-yielding and sensitive to disease and pests.

Mr. Illy assembled a team of nine agronomists and technicians, who spent the next five years identifying Laurina pants in the collection on which to build a low-caffeine bean. They narrowed in on 15 “mother plants” based on characteristics such as productivity and coffee quality.

The results of the earliest field tests in Brazil were so abysmal, however, that Mr. Illy considered scrapping the project. By the time Illy began conducting more successful field tests of the plant in the rich volcanic soil of El Salvador in 2000, several companies had already begun assembling low-caf teams of their own, and others were soon to follow. The Doka Estate began to experiment with the plant in Costa Rica in 2002. At an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, they observed, low yields and disease did not seem to be a problem. Other individuals and companies such as UCC Ueshima in Reunion, and Datera Coffee in Brazil also worked on low-caf coffee.

Stan Frankenthaler, executive chef and director of culinary development for Dunkin’ Brands, noted, “When you’re hybridizing for an over-expression of one attribute, the question becomes: Do I affect any other attributes within this variety? Is there any loss? Are there any other gains?”

Stephen Leach, the global buyer for coffee importer and exporter Maranatha, says it remains to be seen whether growers can keep their caffeine levels stable, since it can take years for the characteristics of a new agricultural product to stabilize.

Source: The Wall Street Journal
15-16 November 2008
(Excerpted and summarized by the editor, PBN-L)

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1.35  Gene-silencing technique to be deployed against soybean fungus

Madrid, Spain
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
By Jan Suszkiw
The soybean rust fungus Phakopsora pachyrhizi may meet its match, thanks to a gene-silencing technique that scientists of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plan to deploy to identify genes that enable plants to naturally resist this fungal foe.

Molecular biologist Kerry Pedley, at the ARS Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit at Fort Detrick, Md., will use gene silencing to discover plant genes that play a role in orchestrating defense responses to P. pachyrhizi in resistant soybeans. The fungus causes substantial losses to soybeans worldwide, and its September 2004 detection in the continental United States has accelerated efforts to protect the $18 billion U.S. soybean crop.

Gene silencing allows scientists to identify a gene's function by disabling that gene in plants or other organisms, challenging the organism in some way­such as with exposure to a pathogen­and observing the consequences that result from that gene having been "missing in action." In Pedley's studies, the gene-silenced plants will be inoculated with spores of P. pachyrhizi, and monitored for a breakdown in resistance.

Pedley's research plan was the top-ranked in a total of 450 proposals recently submitted to the ARS Postdoctoral Research Associate Program. In honor of his top ranking among the proposals, Pedley has received the agency's T.W. Edminster Award, named for a former ARS administrator, plus $120,000 to fund a postdoctoral associate position for two years.

The ultimate goal of Pedley's research is to streamline the development of new soybean cultivars that can withstand P. pachyrhizi, which causes a foliar disease that severely weakens the plant and diminishes its seed yields and quality. Pedley is collaborating with Iowa State University scientists, and this award will expand upon those efforts.

ARS officials also selected 50 other research proposals for two years of funding at $100,000 per proposal under this year's Postdoctoral Research Associate Program. Other plans approved for funding include research on development of molecular-based pesticides for control of varroa mites in honey bees, methods to produce antimicrobial cotton wipes, use of remote sensing to monitor rangelands, and replacing fish meal with grain-protein concentrates in feed for Atlantic salmon production.

ARS is a scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Source: SeedQuest.com
5 November 2008

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1.36  Plants grow bigger and more vigorously through changes in their internal clocks

AUSTIN, Texas­Hybrid plants, like corn, grow bigger and better than their parents because many of their genes for photosynthesis and starch metabolism are more active during the day, report researchers from The University of Texas at Austin in a new study published in the journal Nature.

Their research has relevance in many areas of agriculture, and could result in new methods to increase biomass for biofuels and seed production for animal feedstock and human consumption.

It has long been known that hybrid plants such as hybrid corn are more vigorous than their parents. They are larger and have more biomass and bigger seeds. The same is true for plants that are polyploid, meaning that they have two or more sets of chromosomes. Over 70 percent of all flowering plants, including many important agricultural crops such as wheat, cotton, canola, sugarcane and banana, are naturally polyploid.

Until now, the molecular mechanisms for hybrid and polyploid vigor have largely been unknown.

"Before this discovery, no one really knew how hybridization and polyploidy led to increased vigor," says lead author Dr. Jeffrey Chen, the D. J. Sibley Centennial Professor of Plant Molecular Genetics. "This is certainly not the only mechanism behind this phenomenon, but it is a big step forward."

The key, Chen and his colleagues studying Arabidopsis plants found, is the increased expression of genes involved in photosynthesis and starch metabolism in hybrids and polyploids. These genes were expressed at high levels during the day, several-fold increases over their parents.

The hybrids and polyploids exhibited increased photosynthesis, higher amounts of chlorophyll and greater starch accumulation than their parents, all of which led to their growing larger.

Also, growth vigor was higher in allotetraploid plants (polyploids formed by combining two different Arabidopsis species) than standard hybrids (formed through combining the same species).

The research team discovered a direct connection between circadian clock regulators and growth vigor in both hybrids and polyploids. Circadian clocks control growth, metabolism and fitness in plants and animals.

They found that some of these regulators, known as transcriptional repressors, were more repressed during the day in the hybrids and polyploids, leading to increases in their photosynthesis and starch accumulation.

"This connection was a bit of surprise, but it makes a lot of sense," says Chen.

With this knowledge, Chen says they can now develop genomic and biotechnological tools to find and make better hybrids and polyploids.

"We can think about screening parent plants for these genes and selecting the ones to make the best hybrids," says Chen. "This could all be done through traditional breeding techniques and could have a huge impact on generating higher biomass crops for biofuels and increasing yield in many food crops."

The hybrid vigor or "heterosis" phenomenon was first observed by Charles Darwin in 1876, and was extensively studied in corn in the early 1900s. All corn in the U.S. is hybrid.

Many of the important polyploid crops, such as wheat and cotton, are known as allopolyploids, because they are formed from two or more different species. Chen and his colleagues study standard hybrid and allopolyploid Arabidopsis, cotton and corn.
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The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (Chen), the National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program (Chen, co-principal investigator; Luca Comai, University of California-Davis, principal investigator), and the National Basic Research Program of China (Zhongfu Ni, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Chen laboratory and collaborator).

Learn more about Chen's research at polyploidy.biosci.utexas.edu.

Contact: Dr. Z. Jeffrey Chen
zjchen@mail.utexas.edu

Source: EurekAlert.org
23 November 2008

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1.37  New molecular-biological approaches to apple breeding

Genetic engineering is of particular interest to apple breeders because it can considerably speed up the lengthy breeding process, which can take several decades. So research is increasingly focusing on approaches which, although using genetic engineering in the breeding process, ultimately leave the end plant GM-free. And if it is genetically modified, then preferably with apple genes. GMO Safety spoke to Henryk Flachowsky from the Institute for Breeding Research on Horticultural and Fruit Crops about the main areas of research and his work at the institute in Dresden-Pillnitz.

Please read the whole text: "It works just like traditional apple breeding, but it's quicker." http://www.gmo-safety.eu/en/wood/apple_rose/659.docu.html

Articles on GMO-Safety.eu can be used for journalistic purposes with acknowledgement of the source www.gmo-safety.eu . We would be pleased to receive a voucher copy. If you have any further inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Gabriele Völcker
Team GMO-Safety.eu
presse@biosicherheit.de

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1.38  Chlorophyll fluorescence to assess drought performance

Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) have developed a rapid, non-invasive technique to assess plant performance during drought. The technique measures chlorophyll fluorescence to determine how plants cope up with low-water conditions. A paper describing the method was published online ahead of print by Plant Methods.

The ANU researchers led by Barry Pogson found that found plants' viability during increasing water deficit could be measured and quantified by measuring changes to the maximum efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm), and that this was easily measurable by chlorophyll fluorometry. The versatility of the technique was verified by comparing drought performance of several Arabidopsis ecotypes to a variety of mutants with altered drought tolerance or photosynthetic efficiency. The chlorophyll fluorescence technique might complement existing methods of evaluating drought performance while also increasing the number of tools available for assessment of other plant stresses.

The paper is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1746-4811-4-27

Source: CropBiotech Update
14 November 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.39  Cell polarity in plants linked to endocytosis

The phytohormone auxin acts as a versatile trigger in many aspects of plant development. Scientists have known for some time that auxin is transported from the top to the bottom of a plant, and that the local concentration of auxin is important for the growth direction of stems, the growth of roots, and the sprouting of shoots. Different cellular responses, in many instances, are mediated by the phytohormones based on its graded distribution on plant cells. The so-called PIN proteins, localized in the cell membrane, play a vital role in cell to cell auxin distribution. Scientists, however, have long been puzzled why the PIN proteins only showed up at the bottom of a cell.

A Ghent University-led, international team of scientists have revealed a rather unusual mechanism. They found out that PIN proteins are made in the protein factories of the cell and are transported all over the cell membrane. They are engulfed by the cell membrane in a process called endocytosis. After endocytosis, the PIN proteins are then 'recycled', that is they disconnect from the membrane and move back to the cell. The proteins are subsequently transported to the bottom of the cell, where they are again incorporated in the cell membrane.

The scientists said that it is unclear why plants use a complex mechanism, but a plausible explanation is that this mechanism enables a quick response when plant cells feel a change in the direction of gravity.

For more information, read the article at http://www.vib.be/NR/rdonlyres/E8FB2BC8-3D32-4D76-BFC1-9609FA07C689/2745/20081027_ENG_JiriFriml_mechanismupanddown2.pdf The paper published by Nature is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature07409

Source: CropBiotech Update
31 October 2008

Contributed by Margaret Smith
Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell Univ.
mes25@cornell.edu

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1.40  A step toward disease-resistant crops, sustainability

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A five-year study that could help increase disease resistance, stress tolerance and plant yields is under way at Purdue University.

The $4 million project uses a new technique called "mutant-assisted gene identification and characterization," or MAGIC, to identify potentially useful gene combinations in crop species.

"If we can understand these genes better, we could engineer plants to be immune to most diseases," said principal investigator Guri Johal, an associate professor of botany and plant pathology.

First using the corn genome, the method will add to the collection of useful alleles, or pairs of genes, that create certain traits. This will improve crop gene diversity, a quality that dwindles as crops are bred. Since natural selection has preserved such alleles, they likely confer a selective advantage that increases the ability of plants to survive, Johal said.

The MAGIC technique is described in a review article published this month in the journal Crop Science.

Maize contains more genetic diversity than any other model organism, making it an ideal plant for gene exploration, Johal said. In fact, two lines of corn are more different from one another than humans are from chimpanzees, said study co-author Cliff Weil, a professor of agronomy. 

"Maize grows in places as different as northern Quebec, where it is cold and growing seasons are short, and the Mexican highlands, where it is very hot and dry," he said. "Natural adaptation to different environments has come by combining just the right sets of alleles in each variation."

MAGIC is a new tool needed to find genes, Johal said. Many recent research methods used to this end involve mutagenesis, with scientists deliberately causing a specific gene or genes to malfunction in order to determine the gene's impact on the plant.

"Mutagenesis has worked well, but we are reaching a period of diminishing returns," Johal said. "We've identified most of the genes that have effects on their own, but now we need to understand how combinations of genes interact. We suggest going back to nature to find additional genes involved in a wide range of different processes."

Any genes discovered also could benefit other plants; all use the same pathway to fight infection, Johal said.

"The same approach could be used in other organisms, such as in animals," he said. "And insights could also apply to human disease."

To map genes, scientists often cross mutant plants with crop lines that have well-described genetics. In doing so, they usually try to reduce or eliminate the impact of unknown natural variants so the information they're looking for - typically regarding the mutant gene - is not altered.

"To date most of us were taught in genetics class that when you find a mutation, for example in corn, you cross it with corn from different backgrounds, pick the background where the mutant's appearance, or its phenotype, is the most dramatically altered, and then find the genetic changes that cause the phenotype," Weil said.

But Weil and Johal are instead looking for natural genes that either enhance or diminish certain traits.

"We are basically 'mining' natural variation for genes of interest," Weil said.

The research started when Johal crossed a mutant gene that affects lesions to a couple of different inbred lines of corn. In one cross it disappeared; in another it became toxic.

"We figured the natural variations in these two inbreds were having a huge effect and decided to take advantage of a large, existing set of mapping data for the two inbreds to find out why," Weil said.

Another example is sweet corn, Johal said. The varieties most people are familiar with derive from a specific mutation that originally rendered sweet-tasting kernels small and shrunken. But researchers bred it with various lines - effectively using natural variation to their advantage - to increase kernel size.

Funding from the National Science Foundation began last month for the study, which will also include educational components. North Carolina State University researcher Peter Balint-Kurti is a review co-author and study collaborator.

"The nice thing is knowing this idea is going to work," Weil said. “"The alleles, the variation in expression and the data to map them are already there. We will find a lot of things we expected and a whole lot of things we never even imagined."

Media contact: Beth Forbes forbes@purdue.edu
Sources: Guri Johal, gjohal@purdue.edu
Cliff Weil cweil@purdue.edu

Source: EurekAlert.org
12 November 2008

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2  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  TWAS Supplement to NATURE Publishing Group

On the occasion of TWAS's 25th anniversary, the Academy and NATURE Publishing Group are pleased to announce the publication of A World of Science in the Developing World. The supplement's primary goal is to examine critical issues in science, technology and innovation and in science-based international development. The articles are written by prominent scientists, many from the developing world, who are either members of TWAS or researchers who have worked closely with TWAS over the years. Visit (and download) the supplement online at www.nature.com. -- The current issue of Nature (455, 30 October 2008) carries an editorial (' Growing stronger') arguing that "science in developing countries can withstand the current economic climate".

Source: www.twas.org

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2.02  Bioengineered Crops as Tools for International Development: Opportunities and Strategic Considerations

by Peter Gregory, Robert H. Potter, Frank A. Shotkoski, Desiree Hautea, K.V. Raman, Vijay Vijayaraghavan, William H. Lesser, George Norton, W. Ronnie Coffman
Ex. Agric. (2008), volume 44, pp. 277–299 C 2008 Cambridge University Press
doi:10.1017/S0014479708006352
Printed in the United Kingdom; now available for download at SEARCA BIC website at
http://www.bic.searca.org/docs/2008/BioengineeredCrops2008.pdf

SUMMARY
Crop bioengineering provides unique and dramatic opportunities for international agricultural development. However, we consider the technology not as a ‘silver bullet’ or panacea for crop improvement in the developing world but as an increasingly important tool that can be used to complement conventional methods of crop improvement.

The number of bioengineered crops ready for commercial release in developing countries is expected to expand considerably in the next few years. But the multi-national life sciences companies that are leading the research, development and commercialization of bioengineered crops focus primarily on major crops that have high commercial value and extensive international markets.

These companies also hold proprietary gene technology for many other crops of extreme importance to subsistence and resource-poor farmers but do not pursue product development and commercialization because of low anticipated returns. Such crops have traditionally been overlooked and are sometimes referred to as ‘orphan crops’ because of the relative lack of research and development applied to them.

We propose a strategy for the development and delivery of bioengineered crops, including orphan crops, for developing countries. Consulting local public and private sector stakeholders to determine their highest priority needs for agricultural products is the first step. This ensures local stakeholder buy-in and that we do not invest in technology that is unlikely to be adopted. Next, the feasibility of developing and delivering the product is assessed. If the result is positive, the work is organized into ‘product commercialization packages’ (PCPs) that integrate all elements of the research, development and commercialization processes. The main elements of each PCP include

(i) technology development;
(ii) policy-related issues such as intellectual property and licensing, as well as gaining regulatory approval by the relevant national authorities;
(iii) providing public information to producers and consumers about the benefits, risks and correct management of these new products; and
(iv) establishing, or verifying, the existence of marketing and distribution mechanisms to provide farmers access to planting material.

Our strategy involves integration of needsbased capacity building, socio-economic impact studies and product stewardship into each PCP. Whenever appropriate, opportunities are sought to create public–private partnerships to help leverage public funds, help absorb development costs and provide a broader distribution channel.

To illustrate how our strategy is being translated into action we include, as a case study, examples of work by the US Agency for International Development-funded, Cornell University-led Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II on the research, development and delivery of bioengineered fruit and shoot-borer-resistant eggplant varieties (Solanum melanogena) for South and Southeast Asia.
Full article: http://www.bic.searca.org/docs/2008/BioengineeredCrops2008.pdf

Source: SeedQuest.com
November, 2008

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2.03  Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology

The National Research Council (United States) report Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology (2008) evaluates some of the key research programs in plant genomics and describes how these programs support fundamental biology research and drive technological advancement. Plant genome sciences are essential to understanding how plants function and how to develop desirable plant characteristics.

REPORT IN BRIEF
http://dels.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/plant_genome.pdf
Plant genome sciences, and plant biology as a whole, contribute significantly to human health, energy security, and environmental stewardship. The National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI) has been funding and coordinating plant genome research among agencies successfully for nine years to understand how plants function and how to
develop desirable plant characteristics. Research breakthroughs from NPGI and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Arabidopsis 2010 Project, such as how the plant immune system controls pathogen defense, demonstrate that the plant genome science community is vibrant and capable of driving technological advancement. Therefore, these programs should continue in order to increase the contribution of plant science to vital areas of national interest.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
http://dels.nas.edu/plant_genome/background.shtml

RELATED RESOURCES
http://dels.nas.edu/plant_genome/resources.shtml

Educational Booklet
New Horizons in Plant Sciences a booklet derived from Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology

Educational Video
Secrets of Plant Genomes Revealed! a video from National Science Foundation/Twin Cities Public Television.

National Plant Genome Initiative
Reports from the Interagency Working Group on Plant Genomes
-Progress Report: 1999
-Progress Report: 2000
-Progress Report: 2001
- Five-year Plan (2003-2008)
-Progress Report: 2004
-Progress Report: 2005
- Progress Report: 2006
-Progress Report: 2007

Related Reports from the National Academies
The National Plant Genome Initiative: Objectives for 2003-2008

(NAS Colloquium) Protecting Our Food Supply: The Value of Plant Genome Initiatives

Source: SeedQuest.com
7 November 2008

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2.04  Summary of presentations and lectures in the Breeding and Genetic Resources of Five-Needle Pines Conference

This document is just a list of the presentations and lectures in the Breeding and Genetic Resources of Five-Needle Pines Conference. The extended version of abstracts with more detailed data will be published by Korean government very soon.
For a summary of the presentations and lectures, contact:
David Noshad
Publication coordinator
David.Noshad@NRCan-RNCan.gc.ca

The Breeding and Genetic Resources of Five-Needle Pines Conference

Welcome letter from the President of IUFRO 6
Welcome letter from the IUFRO Working group leader 7
Welcome Address from the president of the Society for Korean White Pine 8
Opening Address from the Director General of Korean Forest Research Institute 9
INVITED SPEAKERS 11
Sampling Strategy for Genetic Conservation of Pinus koraiensis in Northeast Asian Region-based on genetic variation parameters. 11
Korean successes in controling blister rust of Korean pine 11
Perspectives of Ecological and Silvicultural Aspects for the Pinus koraiensis Forest 12
Selection Breeding of Korean pine 13

PRESENTATIONS 16
Presentation title:
1. White Pine Blister Rust Resistance and Genetic Conservation of the Nine Five-Needle Pine Species of the United States 16

2. The impact of White Pine Blister Rust: The observations of “field resistance” in provenance and other trials 17

3. Ecological and genetic considerations for conservation of an endangered Mexican white pine 19

4. Genetic diversity in the Bulgarian populations of Pinus peuce GRSB. 20

5. Conservation Status and Breeding Work of Conifer Species in Vietnam with Reference to Pines 21

6. Thirty years of breeding in five needle pines in Romania: An overview 22

7. Developing Genetic Resistance in Eastern White Pine to Blister Rust through Interspecific Hybridization and Backcrossing 23

8. Provenance Variation in Western White Pine: The Impact of White Pine Blister Rust 24

9. Sustaining Pinus flexilis ecosystems of the Southern Rocky Mountains (USA) in the presence of Cronartium ribicola in a changing climate 25

10. Taxonomy and phylogeny of soft pines: a review of traditional and molecular approaches 27

11. Genetic Variation of Pinus cembra L. of the Ukrainian Carpathians by microsatellites loci 28

12. Mating System and Allozyme Heterozygosity Dynamics in Siberian Dwarf Pine Pinus Pumila (Pall.) Regel Populations 29

13. Patterns of genetic structure and diversity in western white pine (Pinus monticola) 30

14. Interspecific hybridisation as net evolution factor in 5-needle pines of Northern and Eastern Asia. 31

15. Genotypic and phenotypic diversity in Siberian stone pine: associations with soil traits and altitude 32

16. Biogeographic, ecologic and genetic impacts of global warming on Pinus monticola and other five-needled pines of western North America 33

17. Effective population size and genetic value under various genetic thinning intensities in a clonal seed orchard of Pinus koraiensis 34

18. On the genetic diversity of mature Pinus cembra stands as a response to species competition 36

19. Diallel crossing in Pinus cembra: V. Age trends in genetic parameters and genetic
gain for total and annual height growth across 16 years of testing 37

20. In vitro culture and cryopreservation of an endangered species 39

21. Pinus armandii var. amamiana 39

22. Somatic Embryogenesis in Five-Needle Pines of Canada and its application in Multi-Varietal Forestry, Research, and Conservation 39

23. Somatic embryogenesis, a tool for accelerating the selection and deployment of hybrids of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and Himalayan white pine (Pinus wallichiana) resistant to white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola). 41

24. Practical study for ex situ conservation of endangered species Pinus armandii Franch. var. amamiana (Koidz. Hatusima 42

25. Impact of three silvicultural treatments on growth, light-energy processing and related needle-level adaptive traits of Pinus strobus from two regions 43

26. Impact of three silvicultural treatments on weevil incidence, growth, phenology, and branch-level dynamics of Pinus strobus from large and small populations 45

27. Effect of ectomycorrhizal fungi on the growth of Korean pine 47

28. Nut Production of  Korean Pine  Forests  in the  Russian  Far East  and Problems of Sustainable Forest  Management 48

29. Factors Affecting Seed Production in Pinus monticola and P. albicaulis 50

30. Initial symptom development of Pinus koraiensis seedlings artificially inoculated with pathogenic pine wood nematodes 52

31. Pinus maximartinezii rzedowski (white pine) a Mexican genetic resource that is endemic and endangered species. 53

32. A molecular analysis of Pinus parviflora native to Ulreung Island in Korea: Is P. armandii native to Korea? 54

33. Current local control of white pine blister rust caused by Cronartium ribicola in Kangwon province, South Korea 55

34. A needle rust fungus Pinus koraiensis, Coleosporium neocacaliae, new to Korea 56

35. Effect of Accelerated Aging on Germinability and Vigor of Korean pine (Pinus Koraiensis) Seeds 57

36. A preliminary in vitro investigation into characterization of resistance against white pine blister rust 58

37. Physiological responses of Pinus koraiensis to potassium chloride 59

38. Relationship between cone abundance and cone characteristics of Pinus koraiensis 60

39. Provenance Variation and Provenance-Site Interaction in Korean Pine (Pinus koraiensis S. et Z.) in Central Korea 61

40. An Assessment of Genetic Variation of Pinus albicaulis Populations from Oregon and Washington in Relation to Height Increment, Phenology, and Form 62

41. Growth Performance of Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) among Provenances at Four Plantations in Korea 64

42. Clonal variation of seed production by means of cone analysis in a seed orchard and an archive of Pinus koraiensis 65

43. Estimation of combining ability in height growth from a control pollinated progeny test of Pinus koraiensis 66

44. Identification of Armillaria species on Korean Pine forests in Korea 67

45. Outcrossing Rates of Korean Pines in Natural Population of Mt. Seorak in Korea Revealed by cpSSR Marker Analysis 68

46. Analysis of Mating System of Pinus koriensis in Natural Population of Mt. Seorak in Korea on Basis of Allozyme Markers 69

47. A developmental and ultrastructural study of male and female sterility in western white pine (Pinus monticola) 70

48. A proteomic approach to identify differentially expressed proteins in sterile pollen cones of Western White Pine (Pinus montilcola): Initial list of proteins. 72

49. Intercontential phylogeography of the white pine blister rust fungus, Cronartium ribicola 74

Species Index 75

Contributed by David Noshad
Publication coordinator
David.Noshad@NRCan-RNCan.gc.ca

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3.  WEB RESOURCES

3.01  The new version of the GIPB Knowledge Resource Center

We are very pleased to publicly launch the new version of the Knowledge Resource Center, the GIPB website!

Here it is:  http://km.fao.org/gipb/.
This effort has been carried out with the major aim to make all contents more easily accessible for all.

We encourage you to visit the GIPB web-site periodically and check our continuous updated information and resources.

All comments and suggestions are more than welcome! Please, send them to gipb@fao.org.

With our best regards,
GIPB Team

Contact us: gipb@fao.org

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3.02  Launch of the African Crop Science Society website

We are very pleased to publicly launch the African Crop Science Society website!
Here it is:  http://www.acss.ws. This effort has been carried out with the major aim to make all contents more easily accessible for all.

We encourage you to visit the ACSS web-site periodically and check our continuous updated information and resources.

All comments and suggestions are more than welcome! Please, send them to acss@acss.ws or ahmed_kz@yahoo.com.

Contributed by Kasem Zaki Ahmed
The President, African Crop Science Society Council
ahmed_kz@yahoo.com

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3.03  GIPB: looking for societies and associations dealing with plant breeding, use of plant genetic resources, biotechnology, and related issues

We are very pleased to publicly announce you that our "Tree" is looking for you!

 Visit our website and see it on http://km.fao.org/gipb/

This new tool has been developed to gather information in a more participatory approach. We are now looking for societies and associations dealing with plant breeding, use of plant genetic resources, biotechnology, and related issues willing to share their knowledge with others!

So, if you are included in one of these categories and you want to be part of our network just....SHARE IT WITH US!

Soon other  "calls for information" will be launched on the GIPB website. Visit us regularly!

With our best regards,
GIPB Team

GIPB Knowledge Resource Center: http://km.fao.org/gipb/
http://km.fao.org/gipb/
Contact us: gipb@fao.org

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4.  GRANTS AVAILABLE

4.01  FY 2009 International Science and Education RFA

I would appreciate your assistance in spreading the word that the FY 2009 RFA for the International Science and Education competitive grants program has been published.  All U.S. 4-year institutions that award BS level degrees are eligible to apply.

The ISE supports research, extension, and teaching activities that will enhance the capabilities of American colleges and universities to conduct international collaborative research, extension and teaching.  ISE projects are expected to enhance the international content of curricula; ensure that faculty work beyond the U.S. and bring lessons learned back home; promote international research partnerships; enhance the use and application of foreign technologies in the U.S.; and strengthen the role that colleges and universities play in maintaining U.S. competitiveness.

The RFA can be found on the CSREES website at: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/educationinternationalscience.cfm. The closing date for this program is January 16, 2009.  The only change in the FY09 program from the previous year is that the maximum amount per award has been increased from $100,000 to $150,000.  If you have any questions, please contact me at pfulton@csrees.usda.gov

Contributed by Patty Fulton
International Programs
CSREES, USDA
via Ann Marie Thro
athro@csrees.usda.gov

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4.02  USDA-DOE Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program

The latest solicitation for the joint USDA-DOE Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program http://genomicsgtl.energy.gov/research/DOEUSDA/awards.shtml has just been issued and posted at http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/plantfeedstock.cfm

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), hereby announce their interest in receiving applications for genomics-based research that will lead to the improved use of biomass and plant feedstocks for the production of fuels such as ethanol or renewable chemical feedstocks. Specifically, applications are sought for fundamental research on plants that will improve biomass characteristics, biomass yield, or sustainability. Systems biology approaches to identify genetic indicators enabling plants to be efficiently bred or manipulated, or research that yields fundamental knowledge of the structure, function and organization of plant genomes leading to improved feedstock characterization and sustainability are also encouraged.

Significant advances in breeding, molecular genetics, and genomic technologies provide an opportunity to build upon the existing knowledgebase of plant biology to be able to confidently predict and manipulate their biological function for bioenergy resources. Specific areas of interest include:
o        Elucidation of the regulation of gene networks, proteins and metabolites for manipulation of plant feedstocks for improved productivity and sustainability, and improved water use efficiency and nutrient utilization

o        Elucidation of the regulation of gene networks, proteins and metabolites for advanced understanding of carbon partitioning and nutrient cycling in plant feedstocks.

o        Comparative approaches to enhance fundamental knowledge of the structure, function, and organization of plant genomes leading to innovative strategies for feedstock characterization, breeding or manipulation.

The grants.gov link is:
  https://e-center.doe.gov/iips/faopor.nsf/UNID/57206B3A42BC5EA7852574FF006BA8E6?OpenDocument

Preapplications are required; the deadline is 12/09/2008 by 04:30 PM Eastern Time
Preapplications referencing Funding Opportunity Announcement
DE-PS02-09ER09-03 should be sent as PDF file attachments via e-mail to:
SCbiomass.genomics@science.doe.gov with "Preapplication
DE-PS02-09ER09-03" as the subject.

No FAX or mail submission of preapplications will be accepted.

Potential applicants are required to submit a brief preapplication that consists of a cover page plus two to three pages of narrative describing the research objectives, the technical approach(s), and the proposed team members and their roles. The intent in requesting a preapplication is to save the time and effort of applicants in preparing and submitting a formal project application that may be inappropriate for the program. Preapplications will be reviewed relative to the scope and research needs as outlined in the summary paragraph and in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. The preapplication must identify, on the cover sheet, the title of the project, the institution or organization, principal investigator name, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address. No budget information or biographical data need be included, nor is an institutional endorsement necessary.

Contributed by Ann Marie Thro
athro@csrees.usda.gov

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5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.01  Monsanto Plant Breeding and Scientific Career Postings

Below is a list of Monsanto Plant Breeding Related and Scientific Careers that are currently listed on web at www.monsanto.com under "Careers".  Interested parties can apply on line for these jobs.  More detailed descriptions, including applicant requirements, are available by searching using the Req# :
Job Title            Location                Req #

Breeding Statistician, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009261
Cotton Breeder, Haskell, TX, mons-00009368
Cotton Discovery Breeder, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009436
Line Development Breeder, Woodland, CA, mons-00009474
New Trait Developers (Peppers & Cucurbits), Woodland, CA, mons-00009600
Soy Discovery Breeding Lead, Ankeny, IA, mons-00009860
Trait Integration Breeder, Arlington, WI, mons-00009613
China Commercial Breeder, Changchun, China, mons-00009399
China Line Development Breeder, Changchun, China, mons-00009400
Commercial Breeder, Lahore, Pakistan, mons-00007237
Commercial Breeder, Phitsanulok, Thailand, mons-00008915
Commercial Breeder, General Santos, City, Philippines, mons-00008923
Cotton Breeder, Narribri, Australia, mons-00009193
INTL Corn Germplasm Center Lead, San Juan de Abajo, MX, mons-00007856
Line Development Breeder, Phitsanulok, Thailand, mons-00008394
Line Development Breeder, Phitsanulok, Thailand, mons-00008920
Line Development Breeder – Argentina, Fontezuela, Argentina, mons-00009536
Technology Development Executive, St. Louis, US, (Tropics), mons-00007740
Analytical Chemist, Ankeny, IA, mons-00009831
Applied Bioinformatics Team Lead, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009631
Biochemist Scientist, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00008885
Bioinformatician, St., Louis - Creve Coeur, mons-00009116
Bioinformatics Scientist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009805
Bioinformatics Scientist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009844
Biostatistician, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009098
Biostatistician, Research, Triangle Park, NC, mons-00009517
Biotechnology Quality Manager, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009618
Breeding Modeling Scientist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009170
Chemical Engineer, St. Louis - Creve Coeur, mons-00009077
Corn Crop Team Operations Manager, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009725
Data Manager, Middleton, WI, mons-00009286
Data Manager, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009516
Double Haploid Optimization Research Scientist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009121
Double Haploid Optimization/Disease Scientist, Huxley, IA, mons-00009183
Enzymologist/Protein Biochemist, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009816
Event Manager/Molecular Biologist, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009619
Field Plant Physiology Data Manager, To Be Determined, mons-00007682
Imaging Engineer, St. Louis - Creve Coeur, mons-00009432
INTL Corn Research Data Manager, St. Louis, US, mons-00009483
LIMS Development Scientist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00008329
Marker Discovery Team Lead, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009802
Mechanical Engineer, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009010
Molecular Biologist, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009353
Molecular Biologist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009549
Patent Scientist, St. Louis – Chesterfield, mons-00008518
Pathology, Disease Resistance Testing Lead, Woodland, CA, mons-00009708
Post Doctoral Researcher, Woodland, CA, mons-00009175
Post-Doc, Woodland, CA, mons-00008804
Protein Analytics Immunoassay Team Lead, St. Louis – Chesterfield, mons-00009641
Protein Analytics Lead, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00008992
Research Chemist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009667
Research Molecular Biologist, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009097
Research Scientist, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00008462
Research Scientist, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009393
Research Scientist, Felda, FL, mons-00009815
Research Scientist/Molecular Biologist, St. Louis – Chesterfield, mons-00009321
Research Scientist-Automation, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009322
Scientific Business Analyst, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009185
Scientific Business Analyst, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009425
Scientist Lead - Molecular Marker Laboratory, Woodland, CA, mons-00009216
Scientist, Corn Transformation System Improvement, Mystic, CT, mons-00009405
Scientist, Molecular Biologist, St. Louis – Chesterfield, mons-00009283
Scientist, Molecular Biology, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009488
Scientist-Plant Biologist, Davis, CA, mons-00009557
Senior Contract Manager, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009164
Senior Electrical Engineer, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009018
Senior Molecular Biologist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00007861
Senior Production Engineering Lead, Creve Coeur, MO, mons-00009017
Senior Research Geneticist, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009468
Sr. Scientist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009418
Statistical Geneticist, Ankeny, IA, mons-00008840
Statistical Geneticist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009260
Statistician, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009031
Systems Biologist, Huxley, IA, mons-00009424
Testing and Operations Manager, Waterman, IL, mons-00009710
Trait-Marker Discovery: Scientist Lead (Cucurbits), Woodland, CA, mons-00009586
Western Ohio/Eastern Indiana Farm Manager, Indiana, mons-00008772
Yield Arabidopsis Discovery Project Lead, Research, Triangle Park, NC, mons-00009594
China Data Analysis and Marker Lead/Coordinator Zhenzhou, China, mons-00009397
Costa Rica DNA Laboratory Manager, Canas, Costa, Rica, mons-00008521
Registration/PVP/QMS Coordinator, Zhenzhou, Hainan, China, mons-00009704
Research Agronomist, Saskatoon, Canada mons-00009670
Testing Operational Manager (TOM), Various locations, China, mons-00009703
Trait-Marker Discovery: Scientist Lead (Brassicas), Wageningen, Netherlands, mons-00009587
Biotechnology Information Manager, St. Louis, Chesterfield, mons-00009630
Breeding Application Developer, Williamsburg, IA, mons-00009476
Breeding Business Analyst, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009189
Breeding Business Analyst, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009190
Breeding Process Analyst, Williamsburg, IA, mons-00009671
Data Analysis Quality Control, Woodland, CA, mons-00009160
Data Manager/Database Design, Middleton, WI, mons-00009592
IT Manager, St., Louis – Chesterfield, mons-00008808
Lead LIMS and IT Developer, Ankeny, IA, mons-00009078
Seed Treatment Technologist, St. Louis, Creve Coeur, mons-00009259

Contributed by Donn Cummings, Global Breeder Sourcing Lead, Monsanto
(Ph. 765-482-2962, ext. 23) and David Feldman, Scientific Recruiter, Global Breeding and Breeding Technology (Ph. 314-694-2809)
10 November 2008

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5.02  Graduate Research Assistantships at Colorado State University

Two graduate research assistantships in wheat breeding and genetics are available in the Soil & Crop Sciences Department of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. One assistantship is for a Ph.D. student to work on a project to improve drought tolerance in winter wheat by utilizing synthetic hexaploid germplasm. The other assistantship is for either a Ph.D. or M.S. student, who will focus on one of several areas, including inheritance and molecular marker tagging of pest resistance (Russian wheat aphid, wheat streak mosaic virus, wheat rusts); end-use quality improvement; or germplasm enhancement and QTL mapping of drought stress tolerance traits. The assistantships are available beginning in Spring, Summer, or Fall, 2009, and include a 12-month stipend plus tuition. Because of the funding sources, preference will be given to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. For more information, see detailed descriptions posted at http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/SoilCrop/grad/grad_program.htm.

Patrick F. Byrne
Patrick.Byrne@ColoState.EDU

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5.03  Graduate Assistantship in Plant Breeding, Texas A&M University

Assistantship Description:
The Monsanto Graduate Assistantship supports outstanding students pursuing a Ph.D. degree in applied plant breeding and genetic improvement of crops and one assistantship in cotton production in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. 

The preferred order of use for these Assistantships will be to: (1) recruit students currently external to TAMU and having completed or will have completed an M.S. degree, and (2) recruit students currently within TAMU completing an M.S. degree and entering a Ph.D. degree program. Students who have received both their B.S. degree and their M.S. degree at Texas A&M College Station will not be eligible except in extenuating circumstances.

Requirements:
Applicants must have earned a minimum 3.5 GPA in all M.S. graduate course work and have demonstrated aptitude for research as evidenced by three letters of recommendation from professors or employers with knowledge of their research and academic abilities.  The Graduate Record Exam is required and the applicant must meet all other requirements for admission to graduate studies at Texas A&M University.

Application Procedure:
Applicants should follow all of the guidelines and procedures to apply for graduate studies in a department offering a Plant Breeding Degree at Texas A&M University at College Station. Additional items to be provided by the applicant are: (1) a statement that provides sufficient background information to assure the committee of the student’s aptitude to conduct plant breeding or cotton production research, (2) identification of the area of plant breeding research to be pursued and its importance to the agricultural industry; and (3) a one to two page letter of support from the Department sponsor or major professor which includes a dissertation title and objectives. For students applying to the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, these additional Items should be sent to the attention of Wayne Smith, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, 2474 Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2474, cwsmith@tamu.edu, and for students applying to the Department of Horticultural Sciences, the additional items should be sent to the attention of David Byrne, Department of Horticultural Sciences, 2133 Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2133 (d-byrne@tamu.edu).  On-line application to graduate studies at Texas A&M University can be found at http://admissions.tamu.edu.

Selection Procedure:
All applications will be reviewed by a committee composed of the Associate Heads in Soil and Crop Sciences and Horticultural Sciences plus one faculty member from the Department of Entomology and one faculty member from the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology.         The Associate Dean for Graduate Programs will serve as an ex-officio member representing the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Award Amounts:
Recipients of the Monsanto Plant Breeding Assistantship will receive $24,000 annual salary,      individual health insurance, and all required fees and tuition are paid.  The award is for a maximum of 3 years plus one academic semester. Students will be required to maintain satisfactory research progress, and meet all other requirements of enrollment at Texas A&M University.  Experiential Learning Assignment with Monsanto may be requested by Monsanto in which case, the student will remain enrolled at TAMU and on the Monsanto Assistantship with additional salary from Monsanto to help cover additional housing and travel costs. If an Experiential Learning Opportunity is requested then the Monsanto Assistantship will be extended beyond the three years and one academic semester to cover the length of the Experiential Learning Opportunity.

Additional notes from Dr Wayne Smith, Texas A&M University:

TAMU has an "open applications" process and will continue that for the Monsanto Assistantships. Potential students can apply for admission for any semester.

International students are eligible

All applications go through the normal application process for admission to graduate studies at Texas A&M. However, students who are interested in being considered for one of the Monsanto Plant Breeding Assistantships should contact Dr. Bryne or Dr. Wayne Smith, as indicated in the announcement.

Contributed by Ann Marie Thro
athro@csrees.usda.gov

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6. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

*
New listings. May include some program details, while repeat listings will include only basic information. Visit web sites for additional details.

7-11 December 2008. Vth International Symposium on Horticultural Research, Teaching and Extension, Chiang Mai, Thailand. http://muresk.curtin.edu.au/conference/ishset/topic.html

7-12 December 2008. International Conference on Legume Genomics and Genetics IV Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  http://www.ccg.unam.mx/iclgg4/

(NEW) 8-10 December 2008. The National Council for Science and the Environment: Annual Conference. The theme of the conference this year is "Biodiversity in a Changing World." They expect approximately 1,000 attendees. One of the symposia focuses on agricultural biodiversity. It is being chaired by Bob Goodman of Rutgers and will include presentations by Henry Shands and/or Peter Bretting.

Conference Homepage http://ncseonline.org/conference/biodiversity/
http://www.ncseonline.org/Conference/Biodiversity/cms.cfm?id=2496

Contributed by Deborah Strauss Lynch
dstrausslynch@aol.com
via Ann Marie Thro
athro@csrees.usda.gov

9-12 December 2008. Global Potato Conference 2008. NASC Complex, New Delhi, India. http://www.gpc2008.in. For registration inquiries, contact Dr JS Minhas at minhasjs@excite.com

9-12 December 2008. Second International Symposium on Papaya, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. http://www.ishs-papaya2008.com/About%20the%20symposium.html

(NEW) 16 December 2008. Canada's National Forum on Seed: working group on variety naming and identification, Delta Winnipeg (on 350 St. Mary Ave),Winnipeg, Manitoba. http://www.nationalforumonseed.com/.

Contact:
Anne-Marie Parent
National Forum on Seed Secretariat
300-205 Catherine Street. Ottawa, ONTARIO, K2P 1C3
Canada

Source: SeedQuest.com
6 November 2008

(NEW) February-May 2009. Wheat Breeding: Addressing food security issues of 21st century. CIMMYT Ciudad Obregon & El Batan
( http://www.cimmyt.org/english/wps/events/courses/pdf/WheatBreeding_Feb_ May2009_Obregon-Batan.pdf)

Twenty-first century wheat breeders must posses the research skills and knowledge needed to design and run a sustainable modern wheat breeding program. They must be able to synthesize and use the information and knowledge about available diverse germplasm and new technologies for wheat improvement, while understanding the interdisciplinary nature of the work and roles of support disciplines such as agronomy, pathology, wheat quality, statistics, physiology, biotechnology, GIS, and the social sciences. The Wheat breeding training program meets these objectives for international wheat breeders through a comprehensive hands-on course.

Course costs US$3,200

Contributed by Petr Kosina, CIMMYT
p.kosina@CGIAR.ORG

(UPDATE) 8- 11 February 2008. Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance, Vienna.

The interest of scientists in this Conference has turned out to be so overwhelming, that we have had to select a new, larger venue ( http://www.univie.ac.at/stressplants/Venue.html) to host all participants interested in attending the meeting.  However, despite a larger venue, spaces are still limited to 460 attendees so please be sure to register soon to ensure that you don’t miss this exciting meeting!!

Please, click for registration now:
https://www.events.mondial.at/ei/getdemo.ei?id=399&s=_34W0WL1I5

View all meeting information online at http://www.univie.ac.at/stressplants/

 “Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance” will cover the following topics:
-Plant Response to Cold and Heat Stresses
- Plant Response to Drought, Salt, and Osmotic Stresses
-Plant Response to Heavy Metal and Oxidative Stresses
-Plant Response to Nutrient Stresses
-Signal Transduction of Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Plants
-Functional Genomics of Abiotic Stress Tolerance
-Breeding and Biotechnology of Abiotic Stress Tolerance

Amongst the invited speakers are internationally known names such as K. Shinozaki, W.-R. Scheible, J. Sheen, R.A. Bressan, J. Kangasjärvi, J.-K. Zhu, A.D. Amtmann, K.-J. Dietz, M.W. Humphreys, W. Weckwerth, H. Hirt  and others. The program combines plenary lectures, poster sessions, and sightseeing tours of the beautiful city of Vienna.

The conference webpage ( http://www.univie.ac.at/stressplants/) offers additional information about the city of Vienna, travel arrangements, the conference venue, registration and accommodation.

Alisher Touraev, Chair of the organizing committee
Heribert Hirt, Co-chair of the organizing committee

For any questions please contact conference organisers: stressplants.pflanzenmolbio@univie.ac.at

Contributed by Marie Baubin
baubin@mondial-congress.com

(NEW) 16 -  27 March 2009. Quantitative Genetics in Plant Breeding, NIAB, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) is to repeat its two-week intensive training course in Quantitative Genetics in Plant Breeding, after the first session held earlier this year was heavily over-subscribed.

Targeted at both existing and prospective plant breeders, the post-graduate level course aims to update practitioners on the role and application of statistical and quantitative genetics in practical plant breeding programmes.

Further details available from Chris Dixon (courses@niab.com)

(UPDATE) 17 – 20 March 2009. The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) 2009 Technical Workshop, Ciudad Obregón, Mexico

Scientists, policymakers, and others with an interest in the wheat rusts are encouraged to attend. To register for the meeting, please visit: http://guest.cvent.com/EVENTS/Info/Summary.aspx?e=e08b2cf1-dd5a-43b3-bd3e-c4b7fc2a30b1 .

Please use the registration system to make your hotel reservation. Note that the conference fee is USD $300 if you register before January 1, 2009. The fee is $400 if you register between January 1 and February 1, and $500 if you register after February 1. Information about acquiring a visa for Mexico can be found on the Visa Info tab in the registration system.

The program for the workshop is still under development. It will be posted to the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative homepage when available: http://www.globalrust.org/content.cfm?ID=46. We will be accepting posters. See the Call for Posters tab on the registration website for information.

Contact for more information:
Jenny Nelson, Assistant Coordinator
Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat Project
Cornell University
jmn99@cornell.edu

24 – 26 March 2009. Sixth International Integrated Pest Management Symposium. Transcending Boundaries, Portland, Oregon. www.ipmcenters.org/ipmsymposium09

25 – 26 March 2009. Seed Biology, Production & Quality Course. Offered by The Seed Biotechnology Center, together with UC Davis Extension.

This unique course is designed for professionals in the seed industry, crop consultants and growers to update and expand their current knowledge.  Participations will learn fundamental and specialized information on topics including seed development, production, harvesting, testing, conditioning, enhancement, storage, and quality assessment.  This course is completely updated and the instructors will include:  Dr. Derek Bewley (University of Guelph, Canada), Dr. Henk Hilhorst (Wageningen University, The Netherlands), and Dr. Kent Bradford and Dr. Allen Van Deynze from the University of California, Davis.  Watch for more information and registration details at http:sbc.ucdavis.edu.

Source: Seed Biotechnology Center E-News: September 2008

20 – 24 April 2009. VII National Symposium of Biotechnology REDBIO-ARGENTINA: "BIOTECHNOLOGY and FUTURE GLOBAL SCENARIO" , Venue: Bolsa de Comercio de la Ciudad de Rosario, Provincia de Santa Fe
http://www.redbio.org

(NEW) 25 May – 26 June 2009. Conservation agriculture: Laying the groundwork for sustainable and productive cropping systems. CIMMYT El Batan.
( http://www.cimmyt.org/english/wps/events/courses/pdf/announcement_CA_co urse_2009.pdf)

The CIMMYT CA course links the advances and multidisciplinary approach to sustainable crop management with vast experience from developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Emphasis is given to conservation agriculture and resource conserving technologies: conventional and reduced till permanent bed planting for both irrigated and rainfed conditions, using alternative crop residue management strategies. Wheat, maize, barley, and dry beans are the crops under study. Strong emphasis is placed on the importance of interdisciplinary approaches. Breeders provide a better understanding of the nature of crop management by genotype interactions. Similarly, plant pathologists furnish a better understanding of disease interactions with new tillage and crop residue management practices. The course is conducted in English.

Course costs US$6,000 (all inclusive)

Contributed by Petr Kosina, CIMMYT
p.kosina@CGIAR.ORG

26-29 May 2009. 19th EUCARPIA Conference, Genetic Resources Section, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Early registration and abstract submission: February 2009. www.eucarpia.kis.si

(NEW) June 2009 (6-8 weeks). Wheat Chemistry and Quality Improvement Course, CIMMYT El Batan ( http://www.cimmyt.org/english/wps/events/courses/pdf/WheatChemisty_6-8w eeks_mid_June2009.pdf)

Modern wheat researchers are faced with multiple responsibilities: understanding the genetic and environmental controls of specific grain components and the relationship of these components with the processing qualities, and the rapid identification and manipulation of quality-related traits based on the use of reliable, fast and low-scale quality testing methodology. The Wheat Chemistry and Quality Improvement Course aims to enhance the knowledge of participants in the theoretical and practical aspects of improving grain compositional factors that influence the end-use quality of wheat.

Course costs - US$2,000

Contributed by Petr Kosina, CIMMYT
p.kosina@CGIAR.ORG

(UPDATE) 1-5 June 2009. 6th International Triticeae Symposium. Kyoto University Conference Hall, Kyoto, Japan
Note the website recently launched for the Symposium. http://www.shigen.nig.ac.jp/6ITS/index.jsp

Contact:
Taihachi Kawahara kawatai@mbox.kudpc.kyoto-u.ac.jp
Kazuhiro Sato kazsato@rib.okayama-u.ac.jp

21–25 September 2009. 1st International Jujube Symposium, Agricultural University of Hebei, Baoding, China. www.ziziphus.net/2008

28 Sept. – 1 Oct. 2009. 9th African Crop Science Society Conference, Cape Town, South Africa. Conference theme: Science and technology supporting food security in Africa.

More information on the programme, accommodation, excursions and guidelines for abstracts, etc. will be posted on the conference web page as it become available.

11-16 October 2009. Interdrought-III, The 3rd international conference on integrated approaches to improve crop production under drought-prone environments; Shanghai, China. Conference web site: http://www.interdrought.org/. Previous Interdrought conferences at www.plantstress.com

2-5 August 2010. 10th International Conference on Grapevine Breeding and Genetics.  http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/hp/events/

(NEW) Hanoi, Vietnam to host 3rd International Rice Congress in 2010

The Philippines
The 3rd International Rice Congress (IRC2010) will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2010, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Hanoi – Vietnam will host the 3rd International Rice Congress (IRC2010) in Hanoi in 2010. The world’s largest gathering of rice scientists, researchers, and technologies, the event will also mark the 50th anniversary of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

The decision was announced in a joint statement by H.E. Minister Cao Due Phat of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and IRRI Director General Dr. Robert S. Zeigler in Hanoi today. The IRC2010 is the world’s largest rice gathering focusing on a food that feeds almost half the world.

Dr. Zeigler said he was very pleased that the IRC2010 would be held in Hanoi, especially because of Vietnam’s success with rice production over the past two decades. “Vietnam’s rice industry is outstanding and MARD’s commitment to research and the best science is an example for others to follow,” he said.

Dr. Zeigler explained that IRC 2010 will incorporate the 28th International Rice Research Conference, 3rd World Rice Commerce Conference, 3rd International Rice Technology and Cultural Expo, and the 50th anniversary celebration of IRRI.

He claimed that with its theme, “The Future of Rice,” the international congress will increase public and private support to help poor rice farmers and consumers.

IRRI and AsiaCongress Events Company Limited (Asia Congress) are the organizers of the international event.

Thousands of delegates attended the first and second international rice congresses in Beijing in 2002 and Delhi in 2006.

Source: SeedQuest.com
24 October 2008

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7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

Plant Breeding News is an electronic forum for the exchange of information and ideas about applied plant breeding and related fields. It is a component of the Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB), and is published monthly throughout the year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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