PLANT BREEDING NEWS

 

EDITION 202

30 June 2009

 

An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant Breeding

 

Clair H. Hershey, Editor

chh23@cornell.edu

 

Sponsored by GIPB, FAO/AGPC and Cornell University’s Department 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  World hunger projected to reach a historic high in 2009

1.02  Nature Genetics editorial argues for the importance of genetics research in reducing hunger

1.03  Africa’s sleeping giant - 400 million hectares of Guinea savannah land ripe for commercial farming

1.04  Agriculture is essential for facing climate change, says FAO

1.05  Projected food, energy demands seen to outpace production

1.06  Ethiopian scientist named 2009 World Food Prize Laureate

1.07 Novel upland rice variety bred using marker-assisted selection and client-oriented breeding released in Jharkhand, India

1.08  IAR Samaru recommends release of 27 new maize varieties/hybrids

1.09  IRRI-bred rice varieties for the Philippines

1.10  Bean varieties released in Ecuador using CIAT materials and methodology

1.11  Chilean Highbush blueberry varieties for export

1.12 University of Almeria researchers genetically improve castor-oil plants to produce new bio-lubricants

1.13  AGRA and JICA cement new partnership to double Africa’s rice production

1.14  Seed exchange among farmers key to transgene presence in Mexican maize

1.15  Scientists seek easier access to seed banks

1.16  First result of benefit-sharing mechanism for FAO treaty; push for farmers’ rights

1.17  11 projects announced in Tunis to receive grants from treaty on food plant genes

1.18  New study finds that sharing genetic resources key to adaptation to climate change in Africa

1.19  Protecting the food crops of the future

1.20  Domestication of Capsicum annuum chile pepper provides insights into crop origin and evolution

1.21 Scientists disclose discovery of gene conferring drought tolerance in corn plants

1.22  Scientists find solution to fungal disease threatening soybean in Africa

1.23  New efforts to counter ramularia

1.24  Shatter resistant Brassicas

1.25  Disease resistance traits isolated from oat varieties in South America assist in the development of improved fusarium resistance in Canadian oats

1.26  INRA researchers identify new aphid resistance gene

1.27  A new gene to combat possible build-up of resistance in Bollworm Insects in Bt Cotton

1.28  Melon research sweetened with DNA sequence

1.29  SG Biofuels advances efforts to develop cold-tolerant Jatropha

1.30  Scientists identify pollen self incompatibility gene

1.31  "Junk" DNA proves to be highly valuable

1.32  Genetic fingerprinting makes rice breeding easier

1.33  GM crops without foreign genes

1.34  Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics to develop molecular tools to dissect the molecular control of hybrid vigour in cereal crops

1.35  An integrated genetic and cytogenetic map of the cucumber genome

1.36  Suberin plays vital role in plant nutrient absorption

1.37  Scientists find proteins that can dampen an overactive plant immune system

1.38  Mechanisms of aluminum tolerance in wheat

1.39  Is this the beginning of the end of plant breeding

1.40  Study finds DNA barcoding requires caution without closer examination

 

2.  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  ISAAA publishes "Biotech Crops in India: The Dawn of a New Era"

2.02  Modification of Seed Composition to Promote Health and Nutrition

2.03 Gamma Field Symposia Vol. 46: Recent Fruit and Potentiality of Mutation Breeding  now online

2.04  Investing in Agriculture: Far-Reaching Challenge, Significant Opportunity

 

3.  WEB RESOURCES

3.01 Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis: presentations made at the May 2009 symposium “Seed Biotechnologies: Filling the Gap between the Public and Private Sector”

3.02  New website for Cereal Rust Reports

3.03  Forum of Plant Molecular Breeding

3.04 First the Seed Foundation launches website focusing on seed industry education

3.05  SciEdit helps polish developing country science papers

 

4.  GRANTS AVAILABLE

4.01  New African Crop Science Society Awards 2009

4.02 Graduate Assistantship, offered in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University

 

5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.01  Senior Technical Advisor-Technical Director, Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI)

5.02  Plant Breeding Academy Director, Seed Biotechnology Center

 

6.  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

 

1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES


1.01  World hunger projected to reach a historic high in 2009

 

Rome, Italy

One sixth of humanity undernourished - more than ever before

 

World hunger is projected to reach a historic high in 2009 with 1 020 million people going hungry every day, according to new estimates published by FAO today.

 

The most recent increase in hunger is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis that has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment. This has reduced access to food by the poor, the UN agency said.

 

"A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. "The silent hunger crisis — affecting one sixth of all of humanity — poses a serious risk for world peace and security. We urgently need to forge a broad consensus on the total and rapid eradication of hunger in the world and to take the necessary actions."

 

"The present situation of world food insecurity cannot leave us indifferent," he added.

 

Poor countries, Diouf stressed, "must be given the development, economic and policy tools required to boost their agricultural production and productivity. Investment in agriculture must be increased because for the majority of poor countries a healthy agricultural sector is essential to overcome poverty and hunger and is a pre-requisite for overall economic growth."

 

"Many of the world's poor and hungry are smallholder farmers in developing countries. Yet they have the potential not only to meet their own needs but to boost food security and catalyse broader economic growth. To unleash this potential and reduce the number of hungry people in the world, governments, supported by the international community, need to protect core investments in agriculture so that smallholder farmers have access not only to seeds and fertilisers but to tailored technologies, infrastructure, rural finance, and markets," said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

 

"For most developing countries there is little doubt that investing in smallholder agriculture is the most sustainable safety net, particularly during a time of global economic crisis," Nwanze added.

 

"The rapid march of urgent hunger continues to unleash an enormous humanitarian crisis. The world must pull together to ensure emergency needs are met as long term solutions are advanced," said Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme.

 

Hunger on the rise

Whereas good progress was made in reducing chronic hunger in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, hunger has been slowly but steadily on the rise for the past decade, FAO said. The number of hungry people increased between 1995-97 and 2004-06 in all regions except Latin America and the Caribbean. But even in this region, gains in hunger reduction have been reversed as a result of high food prices and the current global economic downturn (see background note).

 

This year, mainly due to the shocks of the economic crisis combined with often high national food prices, the number of hungry people is expected to grow overall by about 11 percent, FAO projects, drawing on analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

Almost all of the world's undernourished live in developing countries. In Asia and the Pacific, an estimated 642 million people are suffering from chronic hunger; in Sub-Saharan Africa 265 million; in Latin America and the Caribbean 53 million; in the Near East and North Africa 42 million; and in developed countries 15 million in total.

 

In the grip of the crisis

The urban poor will probably face the most severe problems in coping with the global recession, because lower export demand and reduced foreign direct investment are more likely to hit urban jobs harder. But rural areas will not be spared. Millions of urban migrants will have to return to the countryside, forcing the rural poor to share the burden in many cases.

 

Some developing countries are also struggling with the fact that money transfers (remittances) sent from migrants back home have declined substantially this year, causing the loss of foreign exchange and household income. Reduced remittances and a projected decline in official development assistance will further limit the ability of countries to access capital for sustaining production and creating safety nets and social protection schemes for the poor.

 

Unlike previous crises, developing countries have less room to adjust to the deteriorating economic conditions, because the turmoil is affecting practically all parts of the world more or less simultaneously. The scope for remedial mechanisms, including exchange-rate depreciation and borrowing from international capital markets for example, to adjust to macroeconomic shocks, is more limited in a global crisis.

 

The economic crisis also comes on the heel of the food and fuel crisis of 2006-08. While food prices in world markets declined over the past months, domestic prices in developing countries came down more slowly. They remained on average 24 percent higher in real terms by the end of 2008 compared to 2006. For poor consumers, who spend up to 60 percent of their incomes on staple foods, this means a strong reduction in their effective purchasing power. It should also be noted that while they declined, international food commodity prices are still 24 percent higher than in 2006 and 33 percent higher than in 2005.

 

The 2009 hunger report (The State of Food Insecurity in the World, SOFI) will be presented in October.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26584.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

19 June 2009

 

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1.02  Nature Genetics editorial argues for the importance of genetics research in reducing hunger

 

This editorial argues for the importance of genetics research in reducing hunger. The world's food supply needs to double by 2050 without increasing demand for water or fuel, one-sixth of the world's population is going hungry already, and agricultural genetics is "one of the easier parts of solution," according to the editorial. Rational breeding schemes, shortcuts with the use of molecular markers, transgenic technology, and recognition of the genetic resources of locally adapted heritage strains may all be used in the effort to put well-tested and robust crop lines in the hands of local growers, it says. Another point made by the editorial is that "adequate nutrition has a much larger impact on global health outcomes than any medical intervention."

 

The editorial can be viewed online at http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v41/n6/full/ng0609-635.html 

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26514.htm

 

Source:The Meridian Institute's Food Security and Ag-Biotech News via SeedQuest.com
11 June 2009

 

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1.03  Africa’s sleeping giant - 400 million hectares of Guinea savannah land ripe for commercial farming

 

Rome, Italy

A vast stretch of African savannah land that spreads across 25 countries has the potential to turn several African nations into global players in bulk commodity production, according to a study just published by FAO and the World Bank.

 

The book, entitled Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant - Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond, arrives at its positive conclusions by comparing the region with northeast Thailand and the Cerrado region of Brazil.

 

At the moment only ten percent of the Guinea Savannah zone, a vast area of around 600 million hectares of land from Senegal to South Africa, with 400 million hectares suitable for farming, is actually cropped.

 

Physically challenged
The Cerrado and northeast
Thailand, like the Guinea Savannah both had physical disadvantages; abundant but unreliable rainfall patterns, poor soils and a high population density in the case of Thailand; and remoteness, soils prone to acidity and toxicity and low population in the case of the Cerrado.

 

In both countries, successive governments created the conditions for agricultural growth “characterized by favourable macroeconomic policies, adequate infrastructure, a strong human capital base, competent government administration, and political stability,” according to the publication.

 

Indeed, Africa is better placed today to achieve rapid development in agriculture than either northeast Thailand or the Cerrado when their agricultural transformation took off in 1980, the study argues.

 

There are a number of reasons for this: rapid economic, population and urban growth providing diverse and ample domestic markets; favourable domestic policy environments, improved business climates in many countries; increased foreign and domestic investment in agriculture; and the use of new technologies.

 

Small farmer growth
If development is to be equitable and social conflict is to be avoided, then a smallholder-led agricultural transformation such as the one undergone by
Thailand is a better model than that which happened in Brazil with large-scale farming led by wealthy farmers, the study finds.

 

“Commercial agriculture in Africa can and should involve smallholders to maximize growth and spread benefits widely,” said Michael Morris, Lead Agricultural Economist with the World Bank in Madagascar.

 

“Large-scale mechanized production does not offer any obvious cost advantages, except under certain very specific circumstances and is far more likely to lead to social conflict,” he said.

 

The experience of Thailand and Brazil shows that when smallholder farmers are involved in development, then poverty reduction is greater and local demand stimulated.

 

In the case of low-value staples however, it is unlikely that land-constrained households farming 1-2 hectares or less will be able to earn sufficient income to exit poverty. The emerging pattern of commercial agriculture in the African Guinea Savannah therefore must provide diversification opportunities for producers of low-staples, the publication argues.

 

Environmental costs
Changing the use of land in the Guinea Savannah to agriculture will inevitably bring some environmental costs, the study found, but that agriculture can also benefit the environment.

 

“Commercialization of agriculture through intensification can reduce environmental damage by slowing the spread of agriculture into fragile and/or environmentally valuable lands,” said Morris.

 

“However intensification brings with it risks of environmental damage through destruction of vulnerable ecosystems and the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides.”

 

As agricultural intensification takes place, governments must take care to monitor environmental impacts and implement measures to reduce or avoid damage. “Fortunately, there is a wealth of experience from other countries on which to draw,” said Guy Evers, Africa Service Chief in the FAO Investment Centre.

 

The publication is a shortened version of a larger study drawn up by officials from the World Bank with technical advice from FAO experts and funding from Italy.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26605.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

22 June 2009

 

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1.04  Agriculture is essential for facing climate change, says FAO

 

Climate change mitigation from agriculture could also benefit hunger and poverty reduction

 

Rome, Italy

Agricultural mitigation in developing countries can make farming more resilient to the vagaries of climate change and can also reduce hunger and poverty, FAO said in a policy brief for climate change negotiators currently meeting in Bonn/Germany.

 

"If agriculture in developing countries becomes more sustainable, if it increases its productivity and becomes more resilient against the impact of climate change, this should help to reduce the number of currently around one billion hungry people and offer better income and job opportunities," said Alexander Mueller, FAO Assistant Director-General.

 

"Millions of poor farmers around the globe could help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Peter Holmgren, FAO focal point for the UN climate change negotiations.

 

"But this requires massive investments and information — to change unsustainable farming methods and to train farmers in mitigation practices. A new global climate agreement, to be adopted in Copenhagen in December, therefore needs to include agriculture," Holmgren added.

 

Current global funding arrangements such as the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism are not reaching farmers in poor countries, Holmgren said.

 

New and more flexible financing mechanisms are needed that offer incentives to farmers, including smallholders, so that they may participate in greenhouse gas emission reductions and removals.

 

The scope of the Clean Development Mechanism, for example, could be expanded in order to include reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, wetlands, croplands and grasslands, in order to realize the high potential for sequestering carbon in soils and above ground biomass.

 

Funding for climate change activities in agriculture in developing countries should be new and additional and should be clearly separate from official development aid, while opportunities to use funding from different sources in mutually reinforcing ways should be fully exploited.

 

Agriculture — a source and a sink

Agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gasses accounting for 14 percent of global emissions. Land use changes such as deforestation account for an additional 17 percent.

 

Between 1990 and 2005, emissions by agriculture in developing countries increased by around 30 percent and are expected to rise further.

 

But sustainable farming practices offer important options to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and, at the sme time, to increase agricultural productivity.

 

Soil carbon sequestration through reduced tillage, improved grassland management and restoration of degraded lands, forms the major part of mitigation potential from agriculture.

 

Other mitigation options include more efficient use of fertilizer, improving water and rice management planting trees, altering forage and sustainable use of animal genetic diversity.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26380.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

3 June 2009

 

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1.05  Projected food, energy demands seen to outpace production

 

MADISON -- With the caloric needs of the planet expected to soar by 50 percent in the next 40 years, planning and investment in global agriculture will become critically important, according a new report released today (June 25).

 

The report, produced by Deutsche Bank, one of the world's leading global investment banks, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, provides a framework for investing in sustainable agriculture against a backdrop of massive population growth and escalating demands for food, fiber and fuel.

 

"We are at a crossroads in terms of our investments in agriculture and what we will need to do to feed the world population by 2050," says David Zaks, a co-author of the report and a researcher at the Nelson Institute's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.

 

By 2050, world population is expected to exceed 9 billion people, up from 6.5 billion today. Already, according to the report, a gap is emerging between agricultural production and demand, and the disconnect is expected to be amplified by climate change, increasing demand for biofuels, and a growing scarcity of water.

 

"There will come a point in time when we will have difficulties feeding world population," says Zaks, a graduate student whose research focuses on the patterns, trends and processes of global agriculture.

 

Although unchecked population growth will put severe strains on global agriculture, demand can be met by a combination of expanding agriculture to now marginal or unused land, substituting new types of crops, and technology, the report's authors conclude. "The solution is only going to come about by changing the way we use land, changing the things that we grow and changing the way that we grow them," Zaks explains.

 

The report notes that agricultural research and technological development in the United States and Europe have increased notably in the last decade, but those advances have not translated into increased production on a global scale. Subsistence farmers in developing nations, in particular, have benefited little from such developments and investments in those agricultural sectors have been marginal, at best.

 

The Deutsche Bank report, however, identifies a number of strategies to increase global agricultural productions in sustainable ways, including:

 

  • Improvements in irrigation, fertilization and agricultural equipment using technologies ranging from geographic information systems and global analytical maps to the development of precision, high performance equipment.
  • Applying sophisticated management and technologies on a global scale, essentially extending research and investment into developing regions of the world.
  • Investing in "farmer competence" to take full advantage of new technologies through education and extension services, including investing private capital in better training farmers.
  • Intensifying yield using new technologies, including genetically modified crops.
  • Increasing the amount of land under cultivation without expanding to forested lands through the use of multiple cropping, improving degraded crop and pasturelands, and converting productive pastures to biofuel production.

 

"First we have to improve yield," notes Zaks. "Next, we have to bring in more land in agriculture while considering the environmental implications, and then we have to look at technology."

 

Bruce Kahn, Deutsche Bank senior investment analyst, echoed Zaks observations: "What is required to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population in a warming world is to boost yield through highly sophisticated land management with precision irrigation and fertilization methods," said Kahn, a graduate of the Nelson Institute. "Farmers, markets and governments will have to look at a host of options including increased irrigation, mechanization, fertilization and the potential benefits of biotech crops."

 

The Deutsche Bank report depended in part on an array of global agricultural analytical tools, maps, models and databases developed by researchers at UW-Madison's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. Those tools, including global maps of land supply for crops and pasture, were developed primarily for academic research, says Zaks. The Deutsche Bank report, he continues, is evidence that such tools will have increasing applications in plotting a course for sustainable global agriculture.

 

Contact: David Zaks
zaks@wisc.edu
University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

Source: EurekAlert.org

25 June 2009-06-30

 

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1.06  Ethiopian scientist named 2009 World Food Prize Laureate

 

Gebisa Ejeta developed drought- and weed-resistant sorghum, enhancing Africa’s food supply

 

Dr. Gebisa Ejeta of Ethiopia has been named winner of the $250,000 World Food Prize for  his monumental contributions in the production of sorghum, one of the world’s five principal cereal grains, which have dramatically enhanced the food supply of hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was the featured speaker as Dr. Ejeta was announced as the 2009 Laureate at a ceremony at the U.S. State Department on June 11 that also featured Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, World Food Prize President Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, and World Food Prize Chairman John Ruan III, among others. 

 

Dr. Ejeta’s personal journey would lead him from a childhood in a one-room thatched hut in rural Ethiopia to the height of scientific acclaim as a distinguished professor, plant breeder, and geneticist at Purdue University. His work with sorghum, which is a staple in the diet of 500 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa, began in Ethiopia in the 1970s. Working in Sudan in the early 1980s, he developed Hageen Dura-1, the first ever commercial hybrid sorghum in Africa. This hybrid variety was tolerant to drought and out-yielded traditional varieties by up to 150 percent.

 

Dr. Ejeta next turned his attention to battling the scourge of Striga, a deadly parasitic weed which devastates farmers’ crops and severely limits food availability. Working with a colleague at Purdue University, he discovered the biochemical basis of Striga’s relationship with sorghum, and was able to produce many sorghum varieties resistant to both drought and Striga. In 1994, eight tons of Dr. Ejeta’s drought and Striga-resistant sorghum seeds were distributed to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Yield increases were as much as four times the yield of local varieties, even in severe drought areas.

 

“By ridding Africa of the greatest biological impediment to food production, Dr. Ejeta has put himself in the company of some of the greatest researchers and scientists recognized by this award over the past 23 years,” said Vilsack.  “The Obama Administration is inspired by the tireless efforts of Dr. Ejeta has demonstrated in the battle to eliminate food insecurity and is committed to employing a comprehensive approach to tackle the scourge of world hunger.”

 

Dr. Ejeta’s scientific breakthroughs in breeding drought-tolerant and Striga-resistant sorghum have been combined with his persistent efforts to foster economic development and the empowerment of subsistence farmers through the creation of agricultural enterprises in rural Africa. He has led his colleagues in working with national and local authorities and nongovernmental agencies so that smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs can catalyze efforts to improve crop productivity, strengthen nutritional security, increase the value of agricultural products, and boost the profitability of agricultural enterprise – thus fostering profound impacts on lives and livelihoods on broader scale across the African continent.

 

“Even while he was making breakthroughs in the lab, Dr. Ejeta took his work to the field,” said Clinton. “He knew that for his improved seeds to make a difference in people’s lives, farmers would have to use them – which meant they would need access to a seed market and the credit to buy supplies.”

 

 “Dr. Ejeta’s accomplishments in improving sorghum illustrate what can be achieved when cutting-edge technology and international cooperation in agriculture are used to uplift and empower the world’s most vulnerable people,” added Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, founder of the World Food Prize. “His life is as an inspiration for young scientists around the world.”

 

The 2009 World Food Prize will be formally presented to Dr. Ejeta at a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol on October 15, 2009. The ceremony will be held as part of the World Food Prize’s 2009 Borlaug Dialogue, which focuses on “Food, Agriculture and National Security in a Globalized World.” Further information about the Laureate Award Ceremony and Symposium can be found at www.worldfoodprize.org.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26500.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

11 June  2009

 

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1.07  Novel upland rice variety bred using marker-assisted selection and client-oriented breeding released in Jharkhand, India

 

Bangor, Gwynedd, United Kingdom

A novel upland rice variety, Birsa Vikas Dhan 111 (PY 84), has recently been released in the Indian state of Jharkhand. It was bred using marker-assisted backcrossing with selection for multiple quantitative trait loci (QTL) for improved root growth to improve its performance under drought conditions. It is an early maturing, drought tolerant and high yielding variety with good grain quality suitable for the direct seeded uplands and transplanted medium lands of Eastern India.

 

This is the first example of a rice variety bred through the combined use of marker-assisted selection and client-oriented breeding, and is a rare success story for the use of marker-assisted selection to improve a quantitative trait. It out-yields the recurrent parent by 10% under rainfed conditions.

 

The variety was developed in a collaborative partnership between CAZS Natural Resources, Bangor University, UK; Gramin Vikas Trust, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India and Birsa Agricultural University (BAU), Ranchi, Jharkhand, India. The target QTL were first identified by Adam Price (now at Aberdeen University, UK) and Brigitte Courtois (CIRAD, France/IRRI, Philippines).

 

Kalinga III was chosen as the recurrent parent for desirable traits that had been identified in participatory trials, and because farmers in western India states had already adopted it outside its initially recommended area.

 

Three genomic regions carrying root growth QTL on chromosomes 2 (root length), 9 (root thickness) and 11 (root penetration) were transferred from the donor Philippines variety Azucena into the recurrent parent Kalinga III. Selected backcrossed lines were crossed to pyramid the QTL. Selection was made in early generations using RFLPs and in later generations using microsatellite markers flanking QTL on chromosomes 2 (RM221-RM213), 9 (RM242-RM201) and 11 (RM229-RM206). The maximum length of an introgressed region was 40 cm on chromosome 2. Background selection was made for Kalinga III alleles on target chromosomes but it was not complete across all other chromosomes.

 

In participatory trials, farmers selected it for its superior phenotypic performance. Farmer-selection was made in the target environment of farmers’ fields in Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal from 2001 and in low-fertility soil of GVT-BAU Research Farm, Ranchi.

 

The release of Birsa Vikas Dhan 111 has paved the way for certified seed production in Jharkhand, which has a population of over 21 million people, of whom 44% live in poverty. Rice is the staple food. About 46% of the land is rainfed upland, where rice is grown by resource-poor smallholder farmers (most have less than 2 ha of land) who depend on agriculture and migrate to find other work. Low and erratic rainfall cause frequent droughts across the region.

 

Other news from Birsa Agricultural University  /  from Gramin Vikas Trust

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26472.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

10 June 2009

 

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1.08  IAR Samaru recommends release of 27 new maize varieties/hybrids

 

Maize production in Nigeria has given farmers adequate food and income, thus economic empowerment. its potentials for foreign exchange earnings are great. It is in the light of this development that  IAR Samaru, responsible for genetic improvement of maize organized a national seminar at which IAR Breeders and other Stakeholders considered 27 new maize varieties tested for different traits including high yields, earliness, Striga  resistance, drought and other stresses tolerance and recommend them for release to farmers by the National Committee for Registration and Release of crop Varieties.

 

The Seminar was Chaired by the Head, Department of Plant Science, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria, Dr M. F. Ishiyaku who is a cowpea breeder. The seminar was  attended by   stakeholders including the Executive Director, National Agricultural Seed Council, Scientists from International Institute of  Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, University of Ilorin, Seed Companies, research staff and students  and other National Agricultural Research Institutes. The breakdown of the varieties recommended is: Institute for  Agricultural Research Samaru 3 varieties, Institute for  Agricultural Research and Training Ibadan 2 varieties, collaborative research and development between IITA and National Agricultural Research System produced 22 varieties and hybrids including 6 devloped with Premier Seed Company . Prof S. G. Ado presented those developed by IAR, Dr Ajala, those of IITA & those in collaboration with Premier Seeds and the IAR. Dr Olaoye presented those developed by IITA with University of Ilorin while Dr. Olokojo presented those developed by IAR &T Ibadan.

 

The lagerly interactive seminar presentation drew comments, suggestions and commendation from the audience.

·           That plant breeders should pick up the challenge to be releasing new crop varieties with the same frequency as their counterparts in other parts of Africa especially Southern and Eastern Africa.

·           The seminar was attended by Professor D. A Aba, Prof. C. A Echekwu, Prof. Smith of Agronomy Department, among others.

·           The seminar revealed how maize keep on expanding the production frontiers attributed to varieties that addresses different stresses including drought and Striga.

 

The varieties were recommended for different ecologies of Nigeria from the forest zone to sudan savanna zone through the lowland and mid-attitude zones. Some of the varieties are early maturing (95 days to maturity). Others are medium 100 days to maturity while the rest are late maturing (120 days to maturity). Some of the varieties have drought tolerance to mitigate the effects of global warming and climate change while others are Striga resistant or tolerant to withstand the devastating effect of the witch weed.

 

Contributed by Shehu G. Ado

shehuga@gmail.com

 

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1.09  IRRI-bred rice varieties for the Philippines

 

Three new rice varieties designed to help Filipino farmers grow more  rice in difficult conditions have been officially recommended for approval for release in the Philippines. Developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), one is a flood-tolerant variety, one is drought-tolerant, and one is salt-tolerant

 

Read more at

http://beta.irri.org/index.php/Home/What-s-New/IRRI-bred-rice-varieties-for-the-Philippines.html

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.10  Bean varieties released in Ecuador using CIAT materials and methodology

 

June 2009

Ecuador's National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIAP), through its National Program of Andean Legumes and Grains, released three new bean varieties applying the CIAL participatory methodology, designed by CIAT, and using plant material developed by this Center.The three varieties-INIAP-429 Paragachi Andino, INIAP-430 Portilla, and INIAP-480 Rocha-were released to farmers of the provinces of Carchi and Imbabura.

 

Source: CIAT: http://www.ciat.cgiar.org/newsroom/release_39.htm

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.11  Chilean Highbush blueberry varieties for export

 

Peter D S Caligari1, 3, Jorge B Retamales2, 3, Gustavo A Lobos2, 3

 

1 Instituto de Biología Vegetal y Biotecnología, Universidad de Talca, Chile

2 Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad de Talca, Chile

3 Genberries Ltda, Campus Lircay, Talca, Chile

 

Since the late eighties, the production of blueberries in Chile, particularly for export to countries in the Northern hemisphere has increased year on year so that in 2000 Chile only exported about 4,000 tons while in 2007 it exported 24,370 tons and the increase continues.  Fruit export is the product of varieties bred in USA, which is also, of course, the biological centre of origin.  There are a number of breeding programmes in USA and each has its own characteristic selection pattern and priorities.  Although these breeding programmes cover a range of environmental (E) and husbandry conditions, they do not necessarily produce varieties that are ideally suited to any of the particular Chilean growing conditions, soil types, etc. or to the extended postharvest life needed for shipment to overseas markets.  The aim of the Genberries breeding programme, based in the VII Region of Chile (Lat. 34-36º S), is to produce varieties that are more optimally adapted to the conditions of the central area of Chile.  This will be achieved by selecting amongst the crosses of suitable germplasm (G), principally Northern Highbush genotypes, under the conditions prevailing in a range of regions of the country that are, or could, be suitable for growing blueberries.  Two rounds of crosses have been carried out and the seedlings of the initial round are currently growing in the field.  A subsequent GxE trial will be established in the coming months.  The aim will be to produce suitable varieties of high yield and fruit quality which will further help the export from Chile during the “window” of no production of fruit in the target areas such as USA, Asia and Europe.

 

We are always interested in developing more interactions and contacts and would be particularly keen to trial any new genotypes or varieties on a collaborative basis.

 

Contributed by Peter Caligari

pcaligari@utalca.cl

 

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1.12 University of Almeria researchers genetically improve castor-oil plants to produce new bio-lubricants

 

Almeria, Spain

Almeria-based researchers, led by Federico García Maroto, have genetically improved castor-oil plant so as to use it as a factory to produce bio lubricants. This research project, part of a national macro project, is developed through the sub-project titled 'Desarrollo de nuevas variedades de ricino y sus aceites', funded with 157,139 euros by the previous Spanish Ministry of Education and Science and Innovation in collaboration with the universities of Málaga and Seville, the Institute of Fat, and the Institute of Sustainable Agriculture of Córdoba.

 

So far, scientists of the University of Almeria have identified and donated a series of genes that are responsible of the biosynthesis of lipids that can be used to obtain transgenic castor-oil plants with an acid profile appropriate for the different requirements of bio lubricants. More specifically, the idea is to obtain an oil with a higher concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic and palmitic), which are the compounds required to classify an oil as a bio lubricant.

 

Another one of the objectives to be attained is the identification and characterisation of specific regulatory genetic sequences, called promoters, which drive the expression of such genes to the seeds of castor-oil transgenic plants. A promoter is a specific part of the gene responsible for the creation or accumulation of a desired product in certain tissue or organ.

 

With such modification, in the case of castor-oil plants, the idea is for fatty oils to get accumulated in the seed without affecting other parts of the plant, thus avoiding negative agronomic effects. Almeria experts have already managed to isolate and clone the desired promoters and their behaviour is currently being checked - with good results- in tobacco plants. The use of this species to validate the developed method is due to the fact that they are a traditionally used model system.

 

The team of scientists is also working on the introduction of genes into castor-oil plants with a technique that is effective and reproducible for the production of generally applicable bio lubricants. That is, they aim to make a great battery of bio lubricants with different applications: automobile industry, aero generators, industrial engines and motors, etc.

 

Moreover, the Institute of Sustainable Agriculture of Córdoba is developing the agronomic aspect of castor-oil plants. The aim of two-folded: on the one hand, to obtain varieties adapted to current culture conditions in Spain, and on the other hand, that they have a high performance level to obtain high quality oil for lubricants, and therefore, a high content of oleic acid and antioxidant compounds.

 

The general aim of the project carried out at a national level, called Biovesin, is to create environmental friendly lubricants using last generation vegetal oils and biodegradable additives selected due to their optimal performance for each use, with a good cost-performance relation. Such study is coordinated by Dr. Rafael Garcés of the Institute of Fat, in Seville, which is part of the Spanish National Research Council.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26651.htm

 

Source: Andalucía Innova via SeedQuest.com
25 June 2009

 

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1.13  AGRA and JICA cement new partnership to double Africa’s rice production

Tokyo, Japan

Twelve African countries deliver national rice development strategies with support from the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD)

 

One year almost to the day after the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) jointly launched a major initiative aimed at doubling Africa’s rice production by 2018, AGRA and JICA are entering into a long-term pact that builds on the strengths of each organization to reach their ambitious goal.

 

The pact will be formalized at the second General Meeting of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), which will be held in Tokyo on June 3-4, 2009. Mr. Kofi Annan, Chair of the AGRA Board of Directors, will attend the signing ceremony, along with Madam Sadako Ogata, President of JICA. Dr. Namanga Ngongi, Agra’s President, and Mr. Kenzo Oshima, Senior Vice President of JICA will sign the agreement on behalf of their organizations.

 

“In its first year, CARD has been instrumental in nurturing the development of national strategies to increase the productivity and production of rice,” says Dr. Ngongi. “Deepening cooperation between AGRA and JICA is an important step toward significantly boosting rice production by Africa’s smallholder farmers, which will reduce costly food imports and move the continent further toward food security.”

 

CARD is a consultative group of major donors, rice research organizations and a number of other development entities, which together are working with 21 African countries to strengthen their ability to produce this valuable commodity. Current CARD members include AGRA, FAO, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), JICA, the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), NEPAD and the Africa Rice Center (WARDA). The main target of the CARD initiative is reflected in the Yokohama Action Plan, which was one of the main documents adopted at the recent TICAD IV (The Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development) held in Yokohama, May 2008.

 

Since its inception one year ago, CARD has focused on supporting the efforts of 12 countries to develop more effective National Rice Development Strategies. This “first wave” of African rice producing nations includes Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.

 

With the support of the CARD Secretariat, which is hosted by AGRA, all 12 counties have produced the first versions of their strategies. During the CARD meeting, Coalition members will discuss how to best support the national plans while refining them through policy dialogues. In the coming year, CARD will work on similar strategies with the “second wave” of rice-producing countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, The Gambia and Togo).

 

“Our partnership with AGRA moves JICA further along its critical path of engagement in agricultural development in Africa,” says Mr. Oshima. “We have a rich history of national, regional and international partnerships for change, and CARD’s effectiveness thus far bears witness to the potential of our collaboration. Rice specialists in Japan – indeed, from all over Asia and other parts of the world – are eager to bring their expertise to bear on transforming Africa’s rice sector.”

 

Currently, the demand for rice in sub-Saharan Africa is double the rate of population growth and, at about 5.8% per year, consumption is growing faster than that of any other major staple food. Across Africa, local production has been unable to keep up with the rate of increase in demand. In the past 50 years, rice production in Africa has increased to 14.60 million tons (from about 3.14 million tons), much of that increase based on expanding the area devoted to the crop. During the same five decades, Asia has increased rice production on a much grander scale, to about 570 million tons (up from some 200 million tons), with most of this coming from higher yields on existing farmland.

 

“Rice is quickly becoming a major staple food for urban and rural consumers alike,” says Mr. Hiroshi Hiraoka, Coordinator of the CARD Secretariat. “African production increases, which have been achieved mainly by expanding the area devoted to rice, are not keeping pace with demand.”

 

CARD aims to improve African rice productivity by taking a holistic approach – promoting change both on small-scale farms (for example the increased use of modern inputs and farming practices), as well as off farm by advocating post-harvest value chain improvements, increasing access to markets for small producers, and promoting enabling policies. “Our goal is to double Africa’s rice production in 10 years,” Mr. Hiraoka says, “To accomplish this, specialists from the rice-producing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world need to work together, systematically sharing their experiences and knowledge about how to promote rice in Africa. Making such cooperation a reality is the purpose behind the long-term agreement being signed by JICA and AGRA.”

 

The MoU between JICA and AGRA will strengthen their cooperation to promote rice development in Africa and to increase the flow of support to African institutions engaged in this work – all toward the realization of achieving an African Green Revolution.

 

The rice production situation in Africa mirrors the general food production challenges facing the continent – as well as the opportunities for overcoming them. AGRA’s goal is to transform smallholder agriculture through: development and widespread use of modern farming technologies and methods; promotion of appropriate policy environments; large-scale changes in soil management; and better access to local, national and regional markets. Achieving that transformation will require a large number of innovative and dynamic partnerships such as that with JICA, and increased financial support for African agriculture. The JICA/AGRA pact is a long-term commitment and represents for both organizations a determination to revolutionize rice production in Africa. This is a critical step toward improving food security and reducing poverty for millions of Africans.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26355.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

1 June 2009

 

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1.14  Seed exchange among farmers key to transgene presence in Mexican maize

 

In 2001, a controversial study conducted by researchers at the University of California Berkeley made waves when it reported the appearance of proteins from genetically modified corn in native maize varieties in Oaxaca, Mexico, the birthplace of the crop. The study's methods were criticized and its results questioned. The journal Nature eventually withdrew the study. The study nonetheless raised the need for methods and public policies for regulating the movement of genetically modified plant material into local seed stocks. A paper published by PLoS ONE recently identified informal seed exchange and grain trade as key to transgenic gene flow in Mexican maize.

 

George A. Dyer and colleagues from the University of California Davis and National Autonomous University of Mexico used enzyme-based tests, mathematical models of crop populations, and knowledge of established seed-use patterns to analyze maize seed stocks in Mexico for the presence of proteins from GM maize varieties. Dryer and colleagues claimed that the recombinant proteins Cry1Ab/Ac and CP4/EPSPS were found in 3.1% and 1.8% of the samples analyzed, respectively. The recombinant proteins were found to be most abundant in southeast Mexico but also present in the west-central region.

 

According to Dyer and colleagues, the possible spread of genetically modified seed and grain from the US might explain how the transgenic plant material found its way into West and Central Mexico, but not in the southeast, where the use of foreign seed is fairly uncommon.

 

The original article is available at

http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=9143

 

Read the paper published by PLoS ONE at

http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005734

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 5 June 2009:

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.15  Scientists seek easier access to seed banks

 

Frances Ogbonnaya believes Ethiopia's traditional wheat varieties could hold the key to staving off a global food crisis. Wheat around the world is under siege from Ug99, an especially virulent strain of the fungus that causes stem rust, a plant disease.

 

Few commercial wheats can resist the devastating strain (Science, 8 May, p. 710). That's why Ogbonnaya, a geneticist at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas in Aleppo, Syria, is using gene mapping to verify that Ethiopian durum wheats in ICARDA's collection harbor novel "slow-rusting" genes that can steel crops against the pathogen.

 

Still more genetic weapons against Ug99 might be found in Ethiopia's own seed bank, one of Africa's best and home to a vaunted collection of traditional durum wheat varieties. But unlike ICARDA, the Ethiopian seed bank isn't always open to withdrawals. In recent years, Ethiopia has been reluctant to share seeds with other countries—for reasons that threatened to drive a wedge between rich and poor countries at a contentious treaty meeting last week.

 

Free and timely access to seeds is enshrined in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which came into force in 2004. But "free and timely" is not how plant breeders describe their experience with five of the treaty's 120 signatories: China, Ethiopia, India, Iran, and Turkey. "Basically, they're closed gene banks," says Kenneth Street, a legume curator at ICARDA. That's alarming because many seed collections are vulnerable. In the past decade, Afghanistan's collection was lost when the Taliban dumped seeds to scavenge their airtight containers; Iraq's was destroyed in the most recent war; and the Philippine seed bank sustained heavy damage from a typhoon in 2006.

 

Last week, the treaty's governing body met in Tunis to review implementation and coax Current Issue Previous Issues Science Express Science Products My Science About the Journal Home > Science Magazine > 12 June 2009 > Finkel , p. 1376

 

Once bitten, twice shy.

Frances Ogbonnaya says Ethiopian durum wheats could help thwart a fungus now sweeping the globe—but Ethiopia is reluctant to share seeds.

 

CREDIT: COURTESY OF FRANCES OGBONNAYA/ICARDA reluctant nations to open their seed banks and contribute to a "doomsday vault" on Norway's Svalbard island (Science, 23 June 2006, p. 1730). At the forum, Ethiopia and other developing countries asserted that they should be compensated for custodianship and ongoing cultivation of landraces: traditional varieties adapted to local conditions. Despite tensions over such issues, a deadlock  as averted when participants found common ground on the need for a major new fund to support the work of traditional farmers. "One thing everyone here agrees on," Francisco López of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported from Tunis, is that "there won't be any agriculture in 50 years unless we have exchanges of germ plasm." According to many observers, the recalcitrance of Ethiopia and like-minded countries is a throwback to the days of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1993. A key aim of the convention was to thwart "biopiracy," by which foreigners reaped a windfall from a country's genetic resources without providing compensation. Melaku Worede, founder of the Ethiopian Gene Bank, notes that traditional knowledge of the nation's farmers gave the world prized cultivars of coffee, barley, and wheat—without any benefit for Ethiopia. In the 1980s, he says, an Ethiopian barley land-race saved NorthAmerica's crop from an epidemic of barley yellow dwarf virus, even as his country was suffering famine. The biodiversity convention was meant to redress that imbalance. Instead, countries drafted an array of bilateral seed-trade agreements so complex that they constricted the international exchange of seeds and technical know-how—the lifeblood of plant breeding.

 

That tourniquet was supposed to be undone by the genetic resources treaty, which superseded the biodiversity convention when dealing with 64 crop varieties deemed vital to global food security. In place of bilateral deals, treaty signatories in 2004 adopted a standard material transfer agreement providing access to the 64 varieties held in signatories' seed banks. Any owner of an exclusively patented variety developed from such seeds would pay a 1.1% royalty to a common FAO-administered pool to support crop biodiversity and conservation. A bone of contention for some countries is that they will not receive direct payments for sharing seeds.

 

"Countries think, ‘We give access in the here and now, but what do we get back?’" acknowledges Shakeel Bhatti, secretary of the treaty's governing body. "The benefits are nonmonetary. It's access to the biggest [seed] bank in the world—the global gene pool." Sorting out which countries should be remunerated for a valuable variety would be daunting. Pedigrees are complex, and "determining the value of any particular contribution is nearly impossible," says Cary Fowler who as executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) is charged with preserving the world's seed diversity. In a bid for faster, more tangible relief for traditional farmers, Worede made a pitch in Tunis for a biodiversity fund for developing nations on a par with GCDT. (The trust, which relies on voluntary contributions, has so far received about $120 million of a pledged $150 million.) Seed banks like Svalbard are invaluable for preserving landraces, Worede says, but so are the skills and experience that traditional farmers bring to bear in selecting seeds to breed landraces season after season. After all, he says, Svalbard's dormant accessions won't have a chance to adapt to climate change. In a remarkable and unexpected climax as the meeting drew to a close, the treaty governing body agreed to raise $116 million for a biodiversity fund that would support traditional farmers. That helped avert a crisis of confidence in the treaty, says Bhatti, who calls the meeting "a real turning point." Worede, more circumspect, describes the biodiversity fund as a "little progress." However, he says, "Anything voluntary is like the dew on a leaf: It can fall down at any time. The contributions should be binding."

 

Elizabeth Finkel is a writer in Melbourne, Australia.


Science
12 June 2009:

Vol. 324. no. 5933, p. 1376

DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1376

 

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1.16  First result of benefit-sharing mechanism for FAO treaty; push for farmers’ rights

 

By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch

Members of a global treaty on plant genetic resources this month announced 11 new projects on biodiversity conservation in research institutions, and financed by a benefit-sharing fund whose sustainability is still in doubt. The group separately acted to better protect farmers’ rights at the national level.

 

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Governing Body met in Tunis, Tunisia from 1-5 June. The treaty was established by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2001.

 

The treaty aims at promoting conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of those resources. (IPW, Biodiversity, 7 August 2008)

 

The Governing Body, the treaty’s highest organ, meets at least once every two years. It is composed of all member governments and its main function is to promote the full implementation of the treaty.

 

One of the highlights of this third session of the Governing Body was the implementation of a multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing through the treaty’s benefit-sharing fund. The fund is intended to be self-sustaining and is aimed at supporting conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

 

However, for the moment, according to the treaty secretariat, the funds of the benefit-sharing fund are voluntary contributions from the governments of Norway, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

 

The secretariat said the fund is the first multilateral mechanism providing financial support as a way to share benefits arising from access to plant genetic resources.

 

Those “who access genetic material through the multilateral system agree that they will freely share any new developments with others for further research, or, if they want to keep the developments to themselves, they agree to pay a percentage of any commercial benefits they derive from their research into a common fund to support conservation and further development of agriculture in the developing world,” the secretariat said (IPW, Biodiversity, 14 January 2009).

 

First 11 Projects

The Treaty Governing Body in 2008 issued a call for proposals for potential grantees in its first biennial cycle (2008-2009), and 471 pre-proposals were received from seven FAO regions, before the closing date of 15 January 2009. After screening by the treaty bureau, proposals were sent to experts, with a scoring template, according to Bryan Harvey of University of Saskatchewan in Canada, one of the experts.

 

Eventually eleven projects were chosen. Some of the projects include characterisation and genetic enhancement of finger millet in western Kenya; on-farm conservation of local durum and bread wheat in Morocco; and conservation, dissemination and popularisation of farmer-developed varieties by establishing village level enterprises in India. It also includes the contribution of traditional methods for the in situ conservation and management of maize in Cuba; the conservation and sustainable use of native potato diversity in Peru; and the on-farm conservation and in vitro preservation of citrus local varieties and sustainable utilisation in Egypt.

 

Most organisations who submitted the projects are publicly funded institutions such as universities, research institutes, and a gene bank.

 

Civil society representatives present at the Tunis event commented in a joint statement that “farmers were largely absent from the eleven approved projects. ”They also doubted the benefit-sharing mechanism, saying that the “money awarded … was not through the treaty mechanism but through voluntary donations made by individual countries.”

 

For the next cycle (2010-2011), authority for the execution will be delegated to the bureau. The list of treaty members that are eligible for support under the benefit-sharing fund will be prepared by the secretariat, based on a complete list of developing countries derived from the most recent World Bank classification of economies.

 

According to the Governing Body’s decision, the treaty secretary should consult within FAO in order to find interim arrangements for the disbursement of funds, project reporting and monitoring, and for the conclusion of the first project cycle.

 

All information generated by projects funded through the benefit-sharing fund shall be made publicly available within one year of the completion of the project, according to the Governing Body’s third session.

 

“Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture listed in Annex 1 of the treaty [describing the list of crops covered under the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing], resulting from projects funded by the benefit-sharing fund, shall be made available according to the terms and conditions of the multilateral system” according a secretariat source.

 

Breakthrough on Farmers’ Rights

One of the main demands of the civil society is that on-farm conservation be sustained and supported, rather than only in off-site gene banks. “Ex-situ gene banks have an important role to play. But we have been trying to save seed in gene banks for the last half century, with more failures than successes,” said Malaku Worede of Ethiopia in a Via Campesina press release. Worede is the founder of Africa’s most important gene bank and former chair of the UN Commission that led to the treaty, according to the press release.

 

Via Campesina, an international movement of peasants with members from 56 countries, issued a declaration on 2 June saying that biodiversity could not be preserved and renewed without the recognition of farmers’ rights defined by the treaty. This particularly includes those rights - defined in Article 9 - on the preservation, use, exchange and sale of their seeds, and their participation in national decision-making, as well as the protection of their traditional knowledge.

 

However, they said, the majority of the signatory countries of the treaty prohibit the exercise of these collective rights in favour of private intellectual property laws on seed benefitting a “handful of multinational see companies to proclaim their ownership of all existing biodiversity.”

 

A resolution on the implementation of Article 9 on farmers’ rights, which was seen by many as a positive step forward, was taken by the Governing Body on the last day of the session.

 

The resolution invites each contracting party to consider reviewing and, if necessary, adjusting its national measures affecting the realisation of farmer’s rights. It also encourages contracting members to submit views and experiences on the implementation of farmers’ rights as set out in Article 9, involving farmers’ organisations and other stakeholders.

 

“It is indeed a significant step towards recognition and implementation of farmers’ rights, especially since the treaty is the only international agreement that has enshrined such rights and putting high regard on the contributions of farmers to the conservation and development and sustainable use of plant genetic resources all over the world,” Corazon de Jesus from the Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE) told Intellectual Property Watch.

 

SEARICE agreed with the statement made by the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) and Via Campesina calling, among other things, for a suspension of all IP rights and other regulations that prevent farmers from saving and exchanging non-genetically modified seed, a major financial commitment to save seed in the field and to prevent biopiracy, said de Jesus.

 

She further emphasised “the need for more involvement and participation of farmers in decision-making, not just at the national level but also in international negotiations such as the treaty meetings.”

 

“There was little done or said about in-situ conservation,” said Pat Mooney from ETC, adding “that there was some recognition that the approach to in-situ project funding was both financially inadequate and far too biased toward institutions rather than farmers.”

 

“Although it [the declaration] is still toothless,” François Meienberg from the Berne Declaration told Intellectual Property Watch, “it is a step forward.”

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26601.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

22 June 2009

 

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1.17  11 projects announced in Tunis to receive grants from treaty on food plant genes

 

Rome, Italy and Tunis, Tunisia

Eleven developing countries that conserve food seeds and other genetic material from major crops will receive more than $500 000 to support their efforts according to an announcement made today in Tunis at a high-level meeting of the governing body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

 

Grants are to be awarded to projects in Egypt, Kenya, Costa Rica, India, Peru, Senegal, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Cuba, Tanzania and Morocco. It is the first time funds have become available under the benefit-sharing scheme of the Treaty, designed to compensate farmers in developing countries for their role in conserving crop varieties.

 

The projects were chosen from hundreds of applications and come on stream thanks to the generous donations of Norway, Italy, Spain and Switzerland in support of agriculture and food security.

 

The projects to be supported include: on-farm protection of citrus agro-biodiversity in Egypt, the genetic enhancement and revitalization of finger millet in Kenya and the conservation of indigenous potato varieties in Peru.

 

(List of the projects at website, below)

 

http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/20241/icode/

 

Source: FAO

2 June 2009

 

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1.18  New study finds that sharing genetic resources key to adaptation to climate change in Africa

 

Stanford and Crop Trust researchers emphasize need for collection and identification of crop varieties to address growing conditions unlike any in existence today

 

Rome, Italy

As rapidly rising temperatures in Africa threaten to scorch local varieties of maize and other food staples, the food security of many Africans will depend on farmers in one country gaining access to climatically suitable varieties now being cultivated in other African nations, and beyond, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Global Environmental Change.

 

But the study, conducted by researchers at Stanford University's Program on Food Security and the Environment and the Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust, warns that long-standing neglect of African crop collections held in genebanks means that breeders today don't have access to all of the varieties of Africa's primary cereal crops—maize, millet and sorghum—that are likely to be most helpful in allowing farmers to adapt to climate change.

 

"When we looked where temperatures are headed, we found that for the majority of Africa's farmers, climate change will rapidly move conditions beyond the range of anything they've experienced," said Marshall Burke, Program Manager at the Program on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University. "A central challenge will be finding crop varieties that can thrive – or at least survive – at these hotter temperatures."

 

Many African farmers could potentially find crop varieties in other African countries where current temperatures and conditions are similar to what they will face in the future. But researchers are particularly concerned about six countries—Senegal, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Sierra Leone—where future conditions will be unlike anything African farmers have ever encountered. And they said immediate action is needed to develop new crop varieties that will allow these countries to adapt.

 

"This is not a situation like the failure of the banking system where we can move in after the fact and provide something akin to a bailout," said Cary Fowler, head of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. "If we wait until it's too hot to grow maize in Chad and Mali, then it will be too late to avoid a disaster that could easily destabilize an entire region and beyond."

 

The release of the study comes amid growing concerns that an international climate change agreement to be finalized this December in Copenhagen will focus mainly on carbon emissions and not on helping poor populations adapt to such things as dramatically altered growing conditions.

 

For example, at an international conference last week in Bonn, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change noted that while Africans will bear the brunt of the impact, they have "benefited the least from the current climate change regime." He pointed out that funds established to help developing countries adapt to climate change "remain largely empty."

 

Researchers from Stanford and the Global Crop Diversity Trust said there is a particularly urgent need to address the situation in Africa because the potential changes are so dramatic and are likely to occur even if there are steep reductions in carbon emissions.

 

At issue is the fact that most crop varieties cultivated on African farms are "landraces"—or traditional varieties—that have been selected by farmers over the centuries due to their unique suitability to local growing conditions. But Burke and his colleagues report that by 2050, due to global warming, temperatures during the growing season in nearly all African countries will be "hotter than any year in historical experience" for that region, leaving that once well-adapted local variety suddenly unable to cope, or at least adapt quickly enough.

 

Seeking a potential solution to this problem, the researchers documented the "novel" climates expected to emerge in each African country by 2050 and compared them with present conditions across the continent. What they found is that for the majority of countries, while those novel climates will be different than anything they've ever experienced within their borders, in many cases the climates will be similar to what exists today in other nations.

 

For example, in Lesotho, a country with one of Africa's coolest climates, farmers may find their local varieties of maize suffering in the increasing heat. The answer to their problems might lie in the maize varieties now being cultivated in Mali, one of Africa's hottest countries.

 

"We know there are local varieties of maize, millet, sorghum and other crops genetically endowed with traits that would be of enormous benefit in helping African farmers in that country and others, adapt to climate change," said Luigi Guarino, Senior Science Coordinator at the Global Crop Diversity Trust. "But the genebank collections from many areas that are likely to have the widest range of diversity are either incomplete or non-existent."

 

The researcher found that there is a "set of countries whose current climate" is very similar "to many future climates." But they note that the landraces from these countries, which include Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon and Mozambique, "are poorly represented in national and international genebanks." For example, there are ten African countries where the current growing conditions for maize are very similar to what many African countries will soon face. But few landraces from these areas are to be found in major genebanks.

 

"These countries are particularly high priorities for urgent collection and conservation of maize genetic resources," the researchers advise.

 

Meanwhile, the study identified a "worrying set" of six countries—Senegal, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Sierra Leone—where future climates may end up warmer than anything currently found on the continent. According to the study, "for these countries, there is a much smaller potential pool of foreign genetic resources in which to seek heat tolerance, at least within Africa." One consequence, the researchers note, is that the countries may no longer be able to grow maize, which is generally more heat sensitive, and have to switch to food crops like sorghum and millet that are often more heat-tolerant.

 

Nonetheless, the study concludes that for most countries, there are solutions available, if the collective plant genetic resources of Africa can be effectively "managed and shared."

 

"We have seen in recent years substantial progress in conserving and sharing plant genetic resources, but the problems we are facing with climate change demand a much stronger commitment to international collaboration," said Fowler. "This study makes it clear that crop diversity is a prerequisite for successful adaptation to climate change in Africa."

 

The mission of the Global Crop Diversity Trust is to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide. Although crop diversity is fundamental to fighting hunger and to the very future of agriculture, funding is unreliable and diversity is being lost. The Trust is the only organization working worldwide to solve this problem.

 

Stanford's Program on Food Security and the Environment aims to generate innovative solutions to the persistent problems of global hunger and environmental damage from agricultural practices worldwide.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26562.htm

 

Source: Burness Communications via SeedQuest.com

17 June  2009

 

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1.19  Protecting the food crops of the future

 

Leeds, United Kingdom

Biologists are investigating how to control when plants flower - to help farmers reap a bumper harvest. The University of Leeds team will also investigate whether the flowering process can be made more robust and able to withstand predicted changes in the climate.

 

Professor of Plant Development at the University, Brendan Davies, says: “Flowers are vital to the plant reproduction process as pollination leads to the development of the fruit, where the seeds are found. Everything that we eat comes from flowering plants - even the food that is fed to livestock. This means that the long-term future of the world’s food supply would be greatly enhanced if we could predict and control flowering. Farmers need to be able to plan when their crops should be harvested and so our study has major significance for agriculture.”

 

As part of a three-year European project called BLOOM-NET, the research team has been awarded £288,000 through the EU to look into how minute changes in the way genes are expressed in plants can have a huge impact on when they flower.

 

Working with computer modelling experts, the plant scientists will build a digital model that ultimately should be able to predict the impact of changes in genetic structure in the ‘shoot apical meristem’– a small cluster of just a few cells that eventually produce the entire plant, including its flowers. The model will also calculate the impact of changes in external factors such as climate.

 

Professor Davies says: “Flowers are a plant’s reproductive organs and it is essential for breeding programmes and crop harvests that farmers and breeders are able to predict when flowering will take place. This has been done for centuries by taking note of weather patterns and varying light levels, but we can now improve on these predictions by adding in other factors such as minute changes in genetic make-up.

 

“We now know a great deal about how the genes that control flowers operate. What we want to find out is how the expression of these genes, that is the order in which they are turned on and off, helps to create a flower at a specific time and in specific environmental conditions. It we could predict, or even control this process, then over time we may be able to help farmers improve the quantity and quality of their harvests.”

More information about the project can be seen at: www.erapg.org/everyone/16790/18613/19533/19536

 

Professor Brendan Davies is Director of the Centre for Plant Sciences at Leeds and his research concentrates on plant development using molecular genetics and genomics.

 

The Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds is one of the largest in the UK, with over 150 academic staff and over 400 postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students. The Faculty is ranked 4th in the UK (Nature Journal, 457 (2009) doi:10.1038/457013a) based on results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The RAE feedback noted that “virtually all outputs were assessed as being recognized internationally, with many (60%) being internationally excellent or world-leading” in quality. The Faculty’s research grant portfolio totals some £60M and funders include charities, research councils, the European Union and industry. 

 

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK with more than 30,000 students from 130 countries and a turnover of £450m. The University is a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities and the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed it to be among the top UK research powerhouses. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015.

 

Source: SeedQuest.com
17 June  2009

 

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1.20  Domestication of Capsicum annuum chile pepper provides insights into crop origin and evolution

 

Chiles important reservoirs of genetic diversity important for conserving biodiversity

 

Without the process of domestication, humans would still be hunters and gatherers, and modern civilization would look very different. Fortunately, for all of us who do not relish the thought of spending our days searching for nuts and berries, early civilizations successfully cultivated many species of animals and plants found in their surroundings. Current studies of the domestication of various species provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.

 

A recent article by Dr. Seung-Chul Kim and colleagues in the June 2009 issue of the American Journal of Botany explores the domestication of chiles. These hot peppers, found in everything from hot chocolate to salsa, have long played an important role in the diets of Mesoamerican people, possibly since as early as ~8000 B.C. Capsicum annuum is one of five domesticated species of chiles and is notable as one of the primary components, along with maize, of the diet of Mesoamerican peoples. However, little has been known regarding the original location of domestication of C. annuum, the number of times it was domesticated, and the genetic diversity present in wild relatives.

 

To answer these questions, Dr. Kim and his team examined DNA sequence variation and patterns at three nuclear loci in a broad selection of semiwild and domesticated individuals. Dr. Kim et al. found a large amount of diversity in individuals from the Yucatan Peninsula, making this a center of diversity for chiles and possibly a location of C. annuum domestication. Previously, the eastern part of central Mexico had been considered to be the primary center of domestication of C. annuum. On the basis of patterns in the sequence data, Dr. Kim et al. hypothesize that chiles were independently domesticated several times from geographically distant wild progenitors by different prehistoric cultures in Mexico, in contrast to maize and beans which appear to have been domesticated only once.

 

Geographical separation among cultivated populations was reflected in DNA sequence variation. This separation suggests that seed exchange among farmers from distant locations is not significantly influencing genetic diversity, in contrast to maize and beans seeds, which are traded by farmers across long distances. Less genetic diversification was seen in wild populations of C. annuum from distant locales, perhaps as a result of long-distance seed dispersal by birds and mammals.

 

Across the three loci studied, Dr. Kim and colleagues found an average reduction in diversity of 10% in domesticated individuals compared with the semiwild individuals. Domesticated chiles in traditional agricultural habits, however, harbor unique gene pools and serve as important reservoirs of genetic diversity important for conserving biodiversity.

 

This work was conducted primarily by Araceli Aguilar-Meléndez as her dissertation project under the guidance of Drs. Kim and Mikeal Roose in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at the University of California at Riverside. The research was supported by the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS), El Coneso Nacional de Ciencia y Technología (CONACYT), and a gift from the McIlhenny Company. Aguilar-Meléndez, Kim, and their colleagues plan to continue research on this remarkably variable and economically important spice in Mesoamerica.

 

The Botanical Society of America is a non-profit membership society with a mission to promote botany, the field of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry into the form, function, development, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. It has published the American Journal of Botany (www.amjbot.org) for nearly 100 years. For further information, or for full access to this article, please contact the AJB staff at ajb@botany.org

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26597.htm

 

Source: American Journal of Botany

19 June 2009

 

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1.21  Scientists disclose discovery of gene conferring drought tolerance in corn plants

 

St. Louis, Missouri and Ludwigshaven, Germany

Gene provides yield stability during periods of inadequate water supply

 

Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) and BASF scientists unveiled the discovery that a naturally-occurring gene can help corn plants combat drought conditions and confer yield stability during periods of inadequate water supplies.

 

The companies stated that they will use the gene in their first-generation drought-tolerant corn product which is designed to provide yield stability to their farmer customers. This product will be the first biotechnology-derived drought-tolerant crop in the world.

 

The announcement comes at a time when recent studies, including one by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, are warning of declining crop yields and global food shortages as a result of climate change. According to a United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization report prepared for ministers of the G-8, the number and duration of dry spells, especially in already drought-prone areas, is expected to increase.

 

The companies said that the drought-tolerant corn contains the cspB gene, from Bacillus subtilis. CspB codes for an RNA chaperone, which are commonly occurring protein molecules that bind to RNAs and facilitate their function. The gene was first identified in bacteria subjected to cold stress conditions and further research has demonstrated that cspB helps plants cope with drought stress. Monsanto scientists have published those findings in a peer-reviewed paper in the journal, Plant Physiology.

 

In corn, cspB works by helping the plant maintain growth and development during times of inadequate water supply. A corn plant is particularly vulnerable to drought during reproductive growth stages. By mitigating the impact of drought on the plant, cspB helps provide yield stability. Improved yield stability is of significant value to farmers faced with unpredictable rainfall.

 

"The development of this trait demonstrates the strength of our robust discovery engine which is fueled by our ongoing investment in R&D," said Robert Fraley, Chief Technology Officer for Monsanto. "It also reflects our commitment to our farmer customers and a recognition of the investment they make in our products. Drought-tolerant corn will be another tool with which we can help them meet the challenges facing agriculture today."

 

"BASF and Monsanto's drought-tolerant corn is the first result of our plant biotechnology collaboration of which I am very proud," said Jurgen Schweden, Senior Vice President R&D, BASF Plant Science. "With our complementing technologies, we are able to bring more and better products to farmers faster," he added.

 

Monsanto and BASF noted that the drought-tolerant corn product is targeted for as early as 2012 pending appropriate regulatory approvals. Both companies also recently announced that they have completed regulatory submissions for cultivation in the United States and Canada, and for import to Mexico, the European Union and Colombia. Submissions in other import markets will follow in the months to come.

 

In any given year, 10 million to 13 million acres of farmland planted to corn in the United States may be affected by at least moderate drought. In field trials conducted last year in the Western Great Plains, drought-tolerant corn met or exceeded the 6 percent to 10 percent target yield enhancement - about 7 to 10 bushels per acre in some of the key drought-prone areas in the United States where average yields range from 70 to 130 bushels per acre.

 

Drought-tolerant corn technology is part of the R&D and commercialization collaboration in plant biotechnology between BASF and Monsanto, announced in March 2007. The two companies are jointly contributing $1.5 billion over the life of the collaboration, which is aimed at developing higher-yielding crops and crops more tolerant to adverse environmental conditions such as drought.

 

The first-generation product is part of a multi-generational family of biotech drought-tolerant products the companies plan to bring to market in the next decade. Both BASF and Monsanto continue to bolster the joint pipeline with other genes for drought tolerance as well as other abiotic stress tolerance traits. Among them is the second-generation drought-tolerant corn, currently in Phase 2 - which consists of laboratory and field testing.

 

Monsanto decided to collaborate with BASF because the company is excellently positioned to provide traits as a series of successive upgrades within a particular crop. For BASF, Monsanto's track record of commercializing traits and breeding desirable germplasm ensures that BASF's innovations quickly reach the widest base of farmers.

 

Monsanto's discovery engine - to which the company contributes $2.6 million a day - continues to screen, evaluate and advance genes with promising yield and stress tolerance characteristics.

 

Monsanto's discovery engine combines cutting-edge breeding and biotechnology research using elite germplasm from around the world to deliver the best seed-based solutions for increased on-farm productivity. Drought tolerance as well as other traits in development, such as higher-yielding soybeans and disease-resistant cotton are key to meeting the company's Sustainable Yield Commitment. In 2008, Monsanto pledged to double yields in its three core crops - corn, cotton and soybeans - by 2030 compared to a base year of 2000 - while also working to conserve resources such as water, land and energy, required to produce each unit.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26456.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

9 June  2009

 

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1.22  Scientists find solution to fungal disease threatening soybean in Africa

 

Ibadan, Nigeria

Soybean farmers in Nigeria could look to better times ahead with the release of a new soybean variety that resists the deadly Asian soybean rust, a fungal disease that could wipe out up to 80% of crops in infected fields. The rust-resistant variety is the first of its kind to be made available for cultivation in West and Central Africa.

 

Dubbed TGx 1835-10E, the variety was bred by IITA and further developed in collaboration with the National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI). Its release for general cultivation in Nigeria was approved in December 2008 and notified in June 2009 by the Nigerian National Variety Release Committee.

 

Aside from being resistant to the Asian rust, the variety is also high-yielding, averaging 1655 kg/ha grain and 2210 kg/ha fodder in field trials in Nigeria, according to Olumide Shokalu, NCRI pathologist, who oversaw the trials. It is also early-maturing, has good promiscuous nodulation character, and resists pod shattering and other prevalent diseases.

 

“The variety can be used for direct cultivation in tropical Africa or as a source of resistance genes in soybean breeding programs. It was previously released in Uganda, and has already shown excellent performance in trials carried out in Southern Africa, suggesting that it is a well-adapted variety”, says IITA soybean breeder Hailu Tefera.

 

“It has resistance genes that are effective against all currently known types of the rust fungus in Nigeria. IITA has bred several other varieties with rust resistance genes from various sources which can be deployed quickly if this variety succumbs to newer forms of the rust fungus”, adds Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, IITA pathologist.

 

In 1996 the Asian soybean rust first arrived in Africa, rapidly spreading through Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, causing up to 80% loss in yields. In 1999, farmers of Oniyo village near Ogbomosho in Nigeria found the leaves of their immature soybean crop rapidly turning brown and falling off, leaving only straggly stems. Scientists from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife confirmed the cause to be Phakopsora pachyrhizi, the causal fungus of Asian soybean rust.

 

By 2001, the fungus entered South America through Paraguay and quickly spread into Brazil and Argentina with devastating effect. In 2003 alone, Brazil lost an estimated US$2 billion in yields despite spending US$400 million on fungicides to control the disease. The disease entered the United States in 2004, but by then the country had already put in place effective measures to counter the disease.

 

The fungus is very aggressive and can produce billions of spores capable of turning lush green crops with healthy foliage into brown fields with bare stalks in 2-3 weeks.
“For most African farmers, using resistant varieties is the most viable method to control the disease as using fungicides proves too costly,” say Tefera and Bandyopadhyay.

 

Africa has complex problems that plague agriculture and people's lives. We develop agricultural solutions with our partners to tackle hunger and poverty. Our award winning research for development (R4D) is based on focused, authoritative thinking anchored on the development needs of sub-Saharan Africa. We work with partners in Africa and beyond to reduce producer and consumer risks, enhance crop quality and productivity, and generate wealth from agriculture. IITA is an international non-profit R4D organization since 1967, governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily by the CGIAR

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26678.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

26 June 2009

 

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1.23 New efforts to counter ramularia

 

A project to combat a newly emerging disease of barley is being launched. It will pull together the efforts of plant scientists, breeders and industry to prevent this disease establishing and help UK farmers produce barley cost-effectively without additional impact on the environment.

 

Finding ways to combat cereal diseases is crucial to ensure food security going into the future. Ramularia leaf spot is a fungal disease of barley that has come to prominence in the last ten years. It is a significant problem in Ireland and Scotland, and is spreading into England, with Norfolk seeing a major outbreak last year.   The disease has already taken hold in northern Europe, especially in Germany and Scandinavia, where it causes substantial yield losses.

 

The rapid increase in importance of this disease means ways of controlling the fungus and breeding resistant varieties are still in their infancy.  In order to ensure the security of our food supply, cost-effective and environmentally-benign control methods need to be developed.  Little scientific study has been carried out on the fungus to date, so CORACLE provides a timely opportunity to tackle the problem while it is still at a manageable level. 

 

CORACLE will improve the control of ramularia in the field, helping barley producers

to combat the disease and reduce fungicide applications.  The scientists and companies working on the project will take an integrated approach. In the short term, CORACLE aims to reduce the severity of ramularia outbreaks in the field and to stop the disease spreading in contaminated barley grain. In the longer term, the research will help plant breeders to produce barley varieties that are more resistant to ramularia.

 

CORACLE is coordinated by Professor James Brown of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, an institute of the BBSRC.  He said, "We still don't know very much about this disease. Over the next four years, we'll be improving our scientific knowledge of Ramularia and helping the farming industry to combat it."

 

Stuart Knight of The Arable Group, one of the CORACLE partners, outlined the threat this disease poses to UK agronomy: "Ramularia is now a UK-wide problem that can affect winter as well as spring barley. Control strategies targeted at other common pathogens may not be fully effective at minimising the impact of this disease."  

 

The Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) are research partners in the project.  Dr Simon Oxley, senior researcher at SAC, said "The launch of this project will build upon our existing knowledge about the epidemiology of the disease and resistance to fungicides. By working with plant breeders and industry in this new project, we can look to the future to develop varieties with resistance to this important disease."

 

The project consortium includes plant breeders and agro-chemical companies.  Dr Peter Werner, a breeder at KWS UK Ltd, said: "The control of diseases and pests is a very high priority to both the breeding and agro-chemical industries but to date only limited progress has been made towards Ramularia control.  We need the improved understanding of the pathology of the disease that this project offers and expect to be able to use this to aid the development of new varieties and products."

The John Innes Centre is an institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

 

www.ifr.ac.uk

www.jic.ac.uk

www.tsl.ac.uk

 

Contributed by Andrew Chapple

Assistant Press Officer

The John Innes Centre

andrew.chapple@bbsrc.ac.uk

 

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1.24  Shatter resistant Brassicas

 

An international team of scientists has cracked the problem of pod shatter in brassica crops such as oilseed rape.

 

Just before harvest, oilseed rape pods are prone to shatter, causing a 10-25% loss of seeds and up to 70% in some cases.

 

"By artificially producing a hormone in a specific region of the fruit, we have stopped the fruit opening in the related model plant Arabidopsis, completely sealing the seeds inside," says Dr Lars Østergaard from the John Innes Centre. "We need to refine the process for use in agriculture to reduce seed loss but still allowing them to be easily harvested.

 

The scientists discovered that the absence of the hormone auxin in a layer of cells in the fruit is necessary for the fruit to open. Two stripes of tissue form where no auxin is present, and these separate to open the pod.

 

It is already known that proper plant development, such as organ growth and patterning, requires specific hormones to accumulate in specific regions. This is the first time that removal of a hormone has been found to be important for cell fate and growth.

 

Oilseed rape is grown for its tiny black oil-containing seeds, prized for cooking oil and margarines low in saturated fat, and increasingly for biodiesel. The meal that remains after oil extraction is also used as a high protein animal feed.

 

Brassica plants normally disperse their seeds by a pod-shattering mechanism. Although this mechanism is an advantage in nature, it is one of the biggest problems in farming oilseed rape. As well as losing valuable seeds, it results in runaway 'volunteer' seedlings that contaminate the next crop in the rotation cycle.

 

If rape seeds are harvested early to get round the problem, immature seeds may be collected which are of an inferior quality.

 

Oilseed rape is relatively undeveloped in breeding terms when compared to wheat and other crops. It retains characteristics of a wild plant including maximising seed dispersal. JIC scientists are also researching genetic solutions to reduce pod shatter and to improve breeding of the crop.

 

The John Innes Centre is an institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

 

www.ifr.ac.uk

www.jic.ac.uk

www.tsl.ac.uk

 

Contributed by Andrew Chapple

Assistant Press Officer

The John Innes Centre

andrew.chapple@bbsrc.ac.uk

 

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1.25  Disease resistance traits isolated from oat varieties in South America assist in the development of improved fusarium resistance in Canadian oats

 

Canada

The effects of fusarium head blight in wheat and barley have been well documented over the past two decades. Mycotoxins produced by the fungi responsible can make pigs sick and cause beer to foam out of control. But much less research has been done to evaluate the effects of fusarium fungi on oats.

 

"Fusarium tends to be more of a problem in the eastern prairies and becomes less of a problem as you move further west," says Andy Tekauz, a plant pathologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, at the Cereal Research Centre in Winnipeg.

 

"We can find fusarium head blight in most Manitoba oat fields. Why it's an interesting disease, from a research point of view - I call it an insidious disease. You don't see it in oats as you do in barley or wheat, where the disease is quite obvious in-season. So the likely assumption in the past was that oats weren't affected by fusarium."

 

To quantify the effects of fusarium head blight in oats, plus identify and incorporate genetic sources of resistance, Tekauz and a group of collaborating researchers received funding from the Endowment Fund, which is administered by the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF).

 

"We wanted to find out if fusarium is a problem and if so, how big and widespread it was. For the three-year project, we sampled a number of fields to find out how many fields had fusarium and which species were involved," says Tekauz.

 

"We also wanted to look at oats from Canada and other parts of the world, to see if there was the possibility of improving the resistance level present in our commercial varieties and breeding lines."

 

Tekauz was able to demonstrate that fusarium head blight is indeed a problem in commercial oat fields, with more than 75 percent of the fields surveyed annually affected. He was able to isolate fusarium fungi from ten to 15 percent of the seed taken from those fields.

 

"In wheat, about 95 percent of the problem is caused by F. graminearum. In barley, there are a number of other species involved and these same species are also involved in oats," he says.

 

The four species include F. graminearum, F. poae, F. sporotrichioides and F. avenaceum.

 

"We find these four every year in oats when we do our surveys, but their proportion tends to change from year to year. So environment or other factors play a role in determining what levels of these fungi will be found on the seed," says Tekauz.

 

The researchers then tested Canadian oat varieties and breeding lines, plus material from elsewhere, for genetic resistance.

 

"Among Canadian oats, there was variability in fusarium head blight resistance. We were also able to identify genetic resistance in lines obtained from other countries, particularly South America," he says.

 

"The resistance we have identified in the project is currently being used in oat breeding programs in western Canada, with the aim of improving performance to fusarium head blight and reducing the levels of mycotoxins present in oats."

 

Fusarium rating system
Tekauz says that in general, oats tend to be more resistant to fusarium head blight than barley or wheat.

 

"When we put susceptible wheat and barley varieties as checks into our oat fusarium head blight nurseries, they accumulate more DON than the bulk of the oat varieties," he says.

 

"We would slot most oats into the MR to MS category - moderately resistant to moderately susceptible. In wheat and barley, there's a whole bunch you put in MS or S."

 

The researchers are currently working on a ratings system for ranking fusarium resistance in current and future oat varieties.

 

"What we're doing now is screening the western oat co-operative test, to get base-line information on fusarium resistance in our elite breeding lines. We have identified one of Brian Rossnagel's lines that was in the coop test in 2006 and 2007 that performed quite well," says Tekauz.

 

Tekauz says looking for resistance to fusarium head blight based on low DON accumulation is now a goal and priority in current Canadian oat breeding programs.

 

The Endowment Fund, the original core fund of WGRF, has supported more than 200 research projects since 1983.

 

For more information on the project check the WGRF Web site at www.westerngrains.com

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26542.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

15 June  2009

 

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1.26  INRA researchers identify new aphid resistance gene

 

Scientists at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) have identified a novel gene that confers resistance against the dreaded melon or cotton aphid Aphis gossypii. The aphid has emerged as a major problem of farmers growing cucurbits, tomato and citrus trees. Melon aphids damage plants by injecting their needle-like mouthpart into a plant's leaves and extracting sap. Aphids are also the most common vector of plant viruses.

 

The researchers identified the resistance gene, which they called Vat (virus aphid transmission resistance), in melon lines originating from India. The gene confers a double resistance phenotype: resistance to aphid infestation and resistance to viral transmission. The Vat locus has been successfully introduced to high-yielding commercial melon cultivars. The INRA researchers, led by Catherine Dogimont, now plan to introduce the gene to cotton, cucumber and other plant species susceptible to the aphid. They are also looking for orthologues of the Vat gene in species other than melon.

 

For more information, visit

http://www.international.inra.fr/

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 18 June 2009:

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.27  A new gene to combat possible build-up of resistance in Bollworm Insects in Bt Cotton

 

Development of resistance in target insect populations due to large-scale deployment of a single gene has been a concern of the scientific community since the time when transgenic crops started to cover significant areas of agricultural crops.  A possible solution to this has been to manage resistance development by deploying a range of genes with different modes of action to delay resistance development, if at all it develops.  Last month, GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee), the apex body of Government of India which decides on matters related to transgenic crops, approved for commercial cultivation, two Bt cotton hybrids, MH5125Bt and MH5174Bt, both from Metahelix Life Sciences, expressing a synthetic gene, Cry1C.  The gene is effective against Spodoptera litura, the voracious leaf eating Tobacco Caterpillar, which is assuming alarming proportions in cotton growing areas  of India.  The gene, in addition, is effective in controlling American boll worm, Helicoverpa armigera, and Spotted boll worm, Earias vitella, which are well known boll worm pests of cotton, and consume large quantity ofinsecticidal sprays to control them.  This truncated version of Cry1C gene  was conceptualized and developed at Metahelix Life Sciences (www.meta-helix.com) , a premier research-based agricultural biotechnology company located in Bangalore, entirely out of its efforts using local scientific talent and expertise.  This is a completely new gene and a new version of Bt cotton, very different from the ones already in the market.

 

With the release of hybrids expressing the Metahelix gene for commercial cultivation, the Indian farmer has now one more option to choose from in controlling the boll worm insect complex.

 

For more information on this technology, you may contact Dr. Vasudeva Rao at vasrao@meta-helix.com  

 

Contributed by M. J. Vasudeva Rao

President Ag Technologies

Metahelix Life Sciences Private Limited

Bangalore, India

vasrao@meta-helix.com

 

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1.28  Melon research sweetened with DNA sequence

 

College Station, Texas
People smell them, thump them and eyeball their shape. But ultimately, it
's sweetness and a sense of healthy eating that lands a melon in a shopper's cart.

 

Plant breeders now have a better chance to pinpoint such traits for new varieties, because the melon genome with hundreds of DNA markers has been mapped by scientists with Texas AgriLife Research. That means tastier and healthier melons are likely for future summer picnics.

 

"This will help us anchor down some of the desirable genes to develop better melon varieties," said Dr. Kevin Crosby, who completed the study with Drs. Soon O. Park and Hye Hwang. "We can identify specific genes for higher sugar content, disease resistance and even drought tolerance."

 

The results are reported in the Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Sciences.

 

Melons are fleshy, edible cucurbits grown worldwide in a multitude of varieties. Not only are they economically important, the scientists noted, but they are a favorite among consumers internationally.

 

The average person in the U.S. eats about 25 pounds of melon every year, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University.

 

Scientists from France and Spain already had completed partial maps of segments of the melon DNA sequence. The Texas researchers connected those segments with new findings in their study to complete the entire melon genome map.

 

For the study, the Deltex ananas melon was crossed with a wild melon called TGR 1551. More than 100 of the offspring from that cross were grown in the AgriLife Research greenhouses at Weslaco, Crosby noted.

 

DNA was extracted from leaf tissue collected 21 days after planting. Results from these tests were integrated into partial maps created by other researchers.

 

Previous knowledge of melon DNA was like two sets of directions - one from Miami to Houston and the other from El Paso to Los Angeles. That would make one wonder how to get from Houston to El Paso. The study by Crosby's group, in essence, devised the path from Miami to LA and all points between.

 

In addition to the complete map, the researchers located genetic markers linked to fruit sugars, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and male sterility, which is useful for developing hybrid varieties.

 

The trio said the genetic map will be helpful for future studies in identifying fruit sweetness, quality, size, shape and resistance to disease.

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26680.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

26 June 2009

 

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1.29 SG Biofuels advances efforts to develop cold-tolerant Jatropha

 

Jatropha curcas is considered a subtropical plant thriving in warm, tropical climates. It is a source of oil, yielding 200 to 300 gallons per acre when properly grown, but its efficacy and yield in colder regions has been found to be considerably lower. Recently, SG Biofuels found a collection of strains that thrive at higher elevations with considerably lower temperatures. The strains were collected from various sites in Central America at elevations ranging from 1600 meters to over 1800 meters where the average daily low temperature between December and February are typically around 45 degrees Farenheit and a freezing night temperature. These strains are now a part of a collection of Jatropha curcas species of the Genetic Resources Center, the world's largest, most diverse collection of Jatropha genetic material. The company will utilize these materials in breeding for Jatropha which can thrive and produce oil efficiently in the colder climates of the United States.

 

See press release

http://www.sgbiofuels.com/news.php?fn_mode=fullnews&fn_incl=1&fn_id=16

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 11 June 2009:

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.30  Scientists identify pollen self incompatibility gene

 

Scientists at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom have identified the elusive male-gene in the field poppy (Papaver rhoeas) that is responsible for self-incompatibility, an important mechanism that prevents inbreeding and promotes greater genetic diversity. Scientists have already identified the female gene that tells the stigma which pollens to reject or accept. But the male counterpart of this gene, the corresponding molecular label on the pollen that allows recognition of "self", has long remained elusive.

 

Reporting in the journal Nature, Noni Franklin-Tong and colleagues found that the interaction of the male and female genes triggers a cascade of chemical signals for inhibiting growth of the pollen tube. Once the pollen tube growth is inhibited, apoptosis or programmed cell death kicks in, and the "self" pollen is told to commit suicide. According to the researchers, the identification of the male gene, which they called PrpS, may provide a new way to produce F1 hybrid crops.

 

Read the original story at

http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/media/releases/2009/090601_scientists_solve_poppy_puzzle.html

Subscribers to Nature can download the full paper at

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature08027

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 11 June 2009:

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.31  "Junk" DNA proves to be highly valuable

 

Washington, DC
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
By
Alfredo Flores

What was once thought of as DNA with zero value in plants--dubbed "junk" DNA--may turn out to be key in helping scientists improve the control of gene expression in transgenic crops.

 

That's according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant pathologist Bret Cooper at the agency's Soybean Genomics and Improvement Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and collaborators at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.

 

For more than 30 years, scientists have been perplexed by the workings of intergenic DNA, which is located between genes. Scientists have since found that, among other functions, some intergenic DNA plays a physical role in protecting and linking chromosomes. But after subtracting intergenic DNA, there was still leftover or "junk" DNA which seemed to have no purpose.

 

Cooper and collaborators investigated "junk" DNA in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, using a computer program to find short segments of DNA that appeared as molecular patterns. When comparing these patterns to genes, Cooper's team found that 50 percent of the genes had the exact same sequences as the molecular patterns. This discovery showed a sequence pattern link between "junk" and coding DNA. These linked patterns are called pyknons, which Cooper and his team believe might be evidence of something important that drives genome expansion in plants.

 

The researchers found that pyknons are also the same in sequence and size as small segments of RNA that regulate gene expression through a method known as gene silencing. This evidence suggests that these RNA segments are converted back into DNA and are integrated into the intergenic space. Over time, these sequences repeatedly accumulate. Prior to this discovery, pyknons were only known to exist in the human genome. Thus, this discovery in plants illustrates that the link between coding DNA and junk DNA crosses higher orders of biology and suggests a universal genetic mechanism at play that is not yet fully understood.

 

The data suggest that scientists might be able to use this information to determine which genes are regulated by gene silencing, and that there may be some application for the improvement of transgenic plants by using the pyknon information.

 

This research was published online as an advance article on the Molecular BioSystems website, and will be published later this year in a special issue of Computational Systems Biology.

 

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

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26365.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

2 June 2009

 

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1.32  Genetic fingerprinting makes rice breeding easier

 

A fingerprint has a lot to say about a person.

 

However, fingerprinting is not solely done on humans nowadays. There is genetic fingerprinting which is a major technique in crop-biology research.

 

In the paper, “Genetic Fingerprinting: Advancing the Frontiers of Crop Biology Research,” Dr. Gabriel Romero, Cheryl Adeva and Zosimo Battad II documented how Filipino scientists seize the benefits of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) fingerprinting in crop research.

 

Fingerprinting is used to characterize a DNA that contains the traits of an organism. Through crop fingerprinting, as in humans, the crop’s traits are revealed that help breeders select the traits that they can use in the plant breeding, the scientists said.

 

Previously, DNA fingerprinting was a tedious process, until the discovery of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that has paved the way for a more convenient analysis of DNA variation, the paper said.

 

PCR magnifies a section of a DNA that makes it possible for scientists to study and/or characterize a specific trait of the crop.

 

Scientists are now using markers, which make assaying a lot more convenient. Markers are specific DNA sequences attached to a trait. Hence, the presence of a marker signifies that a trait is present.

 

Taxa identification and phylogeny, diversity analysis, hybridity testing, gene mapping, marker-aided introgression, somaclonal variation and patenting are some of the areas where genetic fingerprinting is useful, the scientists said.

 

Through genetic fingerprinting, they said, scientists can tell the sequence of events involved in the development of a rice plant, for example. This information can give inferences on traits of a rice variety.

 

For example, through genetic fingerprinting, it can be learned that PSB Rc28 is one of the parents of PSB Rc82, they said.

 

Rice varieties always interest farmers. While seeds may thrive in different conditions, there are just a few that can deliver the highest yield given challenging environments.

 

Varietal recommendation, therefore, is crucial and genetic fingerprinting is useful in diversity analysis, measuring the level of genetic similarities or differences among materials. Decoded traits of a variety are good inputs in rice breeding. This will guide the breeders in selecting the traits they can transfer to another variety.

 

Moreover, genetic information provides good input in conservation. There are germplasms requiring stringent measures for conservation. Gene-banking is very important to maintain a repository of varieties so that at the advent of environmental woes, such as pests and diseases, there would be ready substitutes for farmers.

 

In making hybrid-rice varieties where 50:50 parental contribution is crucial, genetic fingerprinting is also very useful.

 

Scientists claim that proper identification and selection is crucial for “proper identification and varietal protection, genetic identity stability, complete characterization and measurement of crop genetic diversity, and for uniformity of appearance and agronomic performance of produced variety that will meet the demand of the farmers and consumers.”

 

Genetic fingerprinting gives precise results, minimizing mistakes in the breeding process.

 

Rice outputs

In plants, as in humans, there are recessive and dominant traits.

 

Recessive traits are characteristics not commonly expressed by plants that show a uniform trait. Hence, if the physical appearance will be the sole basis for some traits possessed by a rice plant, that will not be very accurate.

 

Through the use of markers, the recessive genes are identified, easily making it possible for scientists to select properly the traits that they want to incorporate into another variety.

 

Tubigan 7 (NSIC Rc142) and Tubigan 11 (NSIC Rc154) are the first two products of marker-aided selection. They have resistance genes Xa4 and Xa21 against bacterial leaf blight.

 

Somaclonal variation refers to the variations seen in plants via plant-tissue culture. The variations may be in the form of mutation, such as alteration of the cell’s ability to repair damaged and mutated DNA.

 

The team, led by Dr. Nenita Desamero, uses somaclonal variation to breed varieties that can live in drought-prone areas. IVC-2 and IVC-21 are the first two products of somaclonal variation in rice breeding that qualified in the National Cooperative Trial.

 

Prospects

Genetic fingerprinting can strengthen the claims for patenting rice varieties. The physical appearance of varieties cannot exactly express the distinction between two almost similar varieties. Through genetic fingerprinting, the traits within the variety can be seen and, hence, strengthen the claim of plant breeders.

 

There’s no way back from here. Genetic fingerprinting solely used before on humans has found its way to hasten the breeding process, having immense impact on crop-biology research in general.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26586.htm

 

PhilRice, Nueva Ecija, The Philippines
June 15, 2009

Source: Business Mirror via SeedQuest.com

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1.33  GM crops without foreign genes

 

by Kimani Chege,

Scientists have unveiled a new way of altering the genetic sequence of a crop to produce a desired trait without needing to introduce foreign genes.

 

The technique could be less controversial than conventional genetic modification because it does not involve transferring a gene from another species.

 

Scientists used a set of enzymes to "subtly change" a tobacco plant's DNA to make it herbicide resistant.

 

The enzymes — known as zinc finger nucleases — can be engineered in the lab to target specific genes, introducing changes known to cause the desired trait.

 

Until now there has been no efficient way of making such changes to plant genes.

 

Daniel Voytas, director of the US-based University of Minnesota Center for Genome Engineering and the lead author of the research says: "We changed a few letters in the genetic code of a native plant gene and made the plant resistant to herbicide. In most genetically modified crops, herbicide resistance is conferred by adding a foreign gene, usually from bacteria."

 

The researchers hope the technique will revolutionise how crops are genetically modified.

 

"We need to test this technology and compare it with traditional methods of gene transfer. I think ... precise DNA sequence modifications that do not introduce foreign DNA will be preferred over traditional approaches," Voytas told SciDev.Net.

 

Voytas says the technique requires only standard molecular biology laboratories and competence in introducing DNA into plants — resources that are available in many parts of the developing world. He also says capacity to do such work should be increased in developing countries.

 

Kamonji Wachiira, an environmental consultant based in Ottawa, Canada, says the technique sounds promising but seems to be largely untested.

 

There are also concerns about its effectiveness, and the usual biosafety issues associated with genetic modification, says Wachiira. He adds that the zinc finger nucleases could have unpredictable effects on several genes. "The new trait may well be accompanied by latent, recessive or unintended but risky traits."

 

The research was published in April in Nature.

 

Full article in Nature:
High-frequency modification of plant genes using engineered zinc-finger nucleases

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26479.htm

 

Source: SciDev.Net via SeedQuest.com

8 June  2009

 

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1.34  Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics to develop molecular tools to dissect the molecular control of hybrid vigour in cereal crops

 

New South Wales, Australia

Funding through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme was recently announced by Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

 

The Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics received $300,000 for a project to look at the development of cutting edge molecular tools to dissect the molecular control of hybrid vigour in cereal crops.

 

CPCG Scientist Dr Dan Waters said hybrid cereals have much higher yields, higher levels of adaptation to different environments and require less water and produce more grain from less land. However, identifying the best parent combinations for hybrid breeding is hit and miss.

 

By developing a better molecular understanding of hybrid vigour, some of the guess work will be taken out of hybrid cereal breeding and we will develop better hybrid cereals sooner.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26440.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

June, 2009

 

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1.35  An integrated genetic and cytogenetic map of the cucumber genome

 

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005795

Yi Ren, Zhonghua Zhang, Jinhua Liu, Jack E. Staub, Yonghua Han, Zhouchao Cheng, Xuefeng Li, Jingyuan Lu, Han Miao, Houxiang Kang, Bingyan Xie, Xingfang Gu, Xiaowu Wang, Yongchen Du, Weiwei Jin, Sanwen Huang

 

Abstract

The Cucurbitaceae includes important crops such as cucumber, melon, watermelon, squash and pumpkin. However, few genetic and genomic resources are available for plant improvement. Some cucurbit species such as cucumber have a narrow genetic base, which impedes construction of saturated molecular linkage maps. We report herein the development of highly polymorphic simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers originated from whole genome shotgun sequencing and the subsequent construction of a high-density genetic linkage map. This map includes 995 SSRs in seven linkage groups which spans in total 573 cM, and defines ~680 recombination breakpoints with an average of 0.58 cM between two markers. These linkage groups were then assigned to seven corresponding chromosomes using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). FISH assays also revealed a chromosomal inversion between Cucumis subspecies [C. sativus var. sativus L. and var. hardwickii (R.) Alef], which resulted in marker clustering on the genetic map. A quarter of the mapped markers showed relatively high polymorphism levels among 11 inbred lines of cucumber. Among the 995 markers, 49%, 26% and 22% were conserved in melon, watermelon and pumpkin, respectively. This map will facilitate whole genome sequencing, positional cloning, and molecular breeding in cucumber, and enable the integration of knowledge of gene and trait in cucurbits.

 

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005795

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26406.htm

 

Source: PLOS via SeedQuest.com

4 June 2009

 

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1.36  Suberin plays vital role in plant nutrient absorption

 

Suberin is a waxy substance found between some plant cells. It primarily prevents water from penetrating tissues. But there's more to suberin than meets the eye. Scientists from Purdue University, by studying a mutant Arabidopsis plant that produces twice as much suberin as normal varieties, believe that manipulating the substance may lead to plants that better absorb nutrients. Their work appears in the current issue of PLoS Genetics.

 

David Salt and colleagues discovered which pathways particular nutrients use to get into plant shoots based on suberin concentration. By adjusting the amount of suberin in roots, plants could be engineered to allow for easier absorption of beneficial nutrients. Plants with more suberin were found to contain less calcium, manganese and zinc, and high sodium, sulfur and selenium in their leaves. "Just like animals, plants want to select the things they take in," Salt said. "They want a certain amount of potassium or a certain amount of nitrogen." The amount of suberin they produce allows them to choose how much they get.

 

Salt and colleagues also observed that plants with twice the amount of the waxy substance activated a defense mechanism to keep from wilting. Since suberin was restricting water absorption, the plant allowed less transpiration, or evaporation of water from the leaves. Manipulation of suberin might also lead to the development of plants

that use water more efficiently.

 

The scientific paper is available at

http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000492

 

For more information, visit

http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2009a/090522SaltSuberin.html

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 29 May 2009:

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.37  Scientists find proteins that can dampen an overactive plant immune system

 

Plants have their own version of the immune system, and pretty much like the human immune system, it is very prone to overreacting. If the system overreacts to pathogens, it can stunt plant growth and educe seed production. Researchers at the University of Minnesota important suppressors that negatively regulate immune responses in the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana. Better understanding of the plant immune system, the scientists say, will allow breeders to create crops with more durable safeguards against pathogens.

 

The plant immune system works this way: Pathogens deploy effector proteins to mess up with the plant's immune system. These effectors trigger an immune response by activating specific plant resistance proteins. The resistance proteins, in turn, are regulated by suppressors to achieve minimal side effects to the plant while providing optimal responses to pathogens. The suppressors act as guards to prevent the plant immune system from overreacting.

 

In the study published by the Plant Journal, Walter Gassmann and colleagues examined plants with genetic mutations that resulted in heightened plant immunity. By examining this mutation, researchers were able to identify specific genetic components that may negatively regulate the immune system and thus contribute to an appropriate immune response.

 

The complete article is available at

http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2009/0527-Gassman-plant-defense.php

 

Download the papers published by The Plant Journal and Plant

Signaling and Behavior at

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03669.x

 

and

http://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/10/article/7682/

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 29 May 2009:

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.38  Mechanisms of aluminum tolerance in wheat

 

Plants are not the biggest fans of aluminum, especially in acidic soils. Because of soil acidity, aluminum from minerals dissolves in the soil and gets converted to its toxic form: the Al3+ cation. Aluminum toxicity in acidic soils is a big problem in crop production in as much as half the world's arable land, mostly in developing countries have acidic soils. Aluminum toxicity has also been a big headache for Australian farmers. Approximately 50 percent of Australia's agricultural land has a surface pH of 5.5 or lower.

 

Researchers at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO) have identified two mechanisms for aluminum tolerance in wheat. The scientists found that some wheat plants secrete malate, an organic acid best known for giving tartness to fruits such as apple, in their root tips. Malate binds with the toxic metal to produce a stable compound that is harmless to plants. Other plants like wheat tolerate aluminum toxicity by producing citric acid. Citric acid binds aluminum ions very effectively, preventing the toxic metal from entering the roots. The CSIRO scientists have identified the genes responsible for these activities and are looking to include the trait in new wheat varieties.

 

The original article is available at

http://www.csiro.au/files/files/pqn2.pdf

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 11 June 2009:

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept. of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.39  Is this the beginning of the end of plant breeding

 

by Staff Writers
Washington DC
No human is a clone of their parents but the same cannot be said for other living things. While your
DNA is a combination of half your mother and half your father, other species do things differently. The advantage of clonal reproduction is that it produces an individual exactly like an existing one-which would be very useful for farmers who could replicate the best of their animals or crops without the lottery of sexual reproduction.

 

Clonal reproduction of crop species took a step closer to being realised with new research published in PLoS Biology this week.

 

The type of cell division that creates eggs and sperm is called meiosis, and it differs from 'normal' cell division (mitosis) because instead of producing two genetically identical daughter cells, it produces four cells each containing only half of the parental amount of DNA. Meiosis occurs in all species that reproduce sexually, from microorganisms such as yeast to plants, animals and human beings.

 

This new paper blurs the line between the two different types of cell division by showing a plant where three specific mutations are experimentally combined. These divisions are normally meiotic - which make pollen and egg cells - and are replaced by mitotic divisions.

 

The work, by a team of researchers in France and Austria, is potentially very important commercially, because it makes the creation of stable new mutant crops-such as plants of a different colour, or with a different yield, etc.-much simpler. It is now much closer to being po ssible to reproduce a plant that produces perfect potatoes, maize or rice, without the lottery of reassortment that each meiotic division and ensuing fertilization introduces.

 

The first steps of both meiosis and mitosis are the replication of the dividing cell's DNA. Once replication has occurred, the chromosomes condense into tightly bound structures, and in mitosis these form an X shape in which each half of the X is a chromatid, comprising one complete copy of the chromosome. The double-chromatid chromosomes line up along the centre of the cell.

 

In mitosis, the two chromatids are pulled apart-the X is divided along one axis of symmetry-and these then pass into two genetically identical daughter cells.

 

In meiosis, there are two lining up and dividing phases. The first lining up is of homologous chromosomes-all chromosomes in an adult cell have a partner, members of the partnership coming from the mother and father of the cell-and these homologous chromosomes are each made up of two chromatids.

 

The first division divides homologous pairs of chromosomes while the second meiotic division is just like the mitotic di vision: the chromosomes line up at the middle of the new cell and the chromatids divide at the centre of the X.

 

Thus the differences between mitosis and meiosis are that meiosis has two rounds of division; co-segregation of sister chromatids at the first division; and recombination that occurs during the first division-a swapping over process that adds more genetic diversity to offspring. The new work, led by Raphael Mercier, identifies a gene that controls one of these three features-entry into the second meiotic division-in the sexual plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

 

By combining a mutation in this gene with two other previously described mutations-one that eliminates recombination and another that modifies chromosome segregation-the authors have created a strain of plant (called MiMe for 'mitosis instead of meiosis') in which meiosis is totally replaced by mitosis.

 

MiMe plants produce pollen and eggs that are genetically identical to their parent. If MiMe eggs are self-fertilized by MiMe sperm, the offspring plant has twice as much DNA as the parent generation, and has all the genes from this single parent.

 

Thus the authors have made a form of asexual reproduction possible in a normally sexual species. Turning meiosis into mitosis is not enough to reach clonal reproduction, but it's a giant leap towards it. This has potential revolutionary applications in crop improvement and propagation.

 

http://www.seeddaily.com/reports/Is_This_The_Beginning_Of_The_End_Of_Plant_Breeding_999.html

 

Source: SeedDaily.com

16 June 2009

 

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1.40  Study finds DNA barcoding requires caution without closer examination

 

Research on potatoes points to using multiple means of identifying species

 

The goal of DNA barcoding is to find a simple, cheap, and rapid DNA assay that can be converted to a readily accessible technical skill that bypasses the need to rely on highly trained taxonomic specialists for identifications of the world's biota. This is driven by a desire to open taxonomic identifications to all user groups and by the short supply of taxonomists that do not even exist in many groups. Although DNA barcoding is being rapidly accepted in the scientific literature and popular press, some scientists warn that we are being too hasty in wholeheartedly embracing this technique. Dr. David Spooner, a researcher with the USDA and an expert in the potato and tomato family (Solanaceae), offers just such a cautionary note against accepting this technique without closer examination in his recent article, "DNA Barcoding will Frequently Fail in Complicated Groups: An example in Wild Potatoes" in the June 2009 issue of the American Journal of Botany.

 

One of the critical issues surrounding the DNA barcoding debate is that using a section of DNA may not adequately distinguish among closely related species or complex groups. Moreover, in plants, there is still much debate over which gene sequence region should be used and its reliability. In animals, the 5' segment of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) is relatively established as a barcoding marker, but Spooner highlights many groups where COI fails to distinguish species. The COI region fails completely for plants because it evolves at a slower rate in plants and has a much more variable sequence. The search for alternative barcoding regions in plants is especially problematic. Although several gene sequences have been proposed for plants, none of them serves as a universal barcode marker. Regions that have been proposed for plants include a section of the nuclear ribosomal DNA: the internal non-transcribed spacer region (ITS); and various plastid regions to include the trnH-psbA intergenic spacer and the plastid genes rpoC1, rpoB, and matK.

 

Spooner tested the utility of barcoding in a well-studied but complex plant group, wild and cultivated potatoes (Solanum section Petota). Section Petota includes over 200 species and is widespread throughout the Americas. In his study, 63 ingroup species and 9 outgroup species (in the genera Solanum, Capsicum, and Datura) were used. DNA was extracted from young leaves of single plants. Spooner tested the most frequently suggested DNA barcoding regions for plants: ITS, trnH-psbA, and matK. He found that none of these regions were very accurate at distinguishing or serving as markers for species boundaries in the section Petota. There was too much intraspecific variation in the nuclear ITS region, and the plastid markers did not have enough variation and thus failed to group together some well-supported species. Section Petota is a complex group because, among other things, there is much hybridization among species; some of the species have multiple divergent copies of their DNA arising from past hybridization (allopolyploidy); there is a mixture of sexual and asexual reproduction; and there is possible recent species divergence. Such complications are not uncommon in many plant groups. Spooner concludes that a variety of morphological and molecular approaches are needed, and we cannot rely on a DNA barcode alone to distinguish among species in complex groups such as section Petota.

 

Spooner extrapolates from the taxonomic difficulties of section Petota to many other groups possessing similar biological traits, and points out that DNA barcoding needs to be accepted with great caution as these groups have not been tested with the technique. He also urges caution against limiting the identification, or in some cases even the definition of a species to a small sequence of DNA. He suggests that the search for a DNA barcoding marker or limited set of such markers that reliably identify the majority of life forms will be a continuously elusive goal

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26661.htm

 

Source: American Journal of Botany  via SeedQuest.com

24 June 2009

 

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2  PUBLICATIONS

 

2.01  ISAAA publishes "Biotech Crops in India: The Dawn of a New Era"

 

"Biotech Crops in India: The Dawn of a New Era" is the latest in a series of biotech documents produced by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) South Asia Office, New Delhi.

 

This publication aims to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date status of the field trials and commercialization of biotech crops in India in 2008. It also includes the most authoritative coverage and statistics of Bt cotton, including hectarage of Bt cotton hybrids planted in India, numbers of farmers growing hybrids and approval of different events and hybrids in India from 2002 to 2008. This document summarizes the national and farm-level impact during the last seven years of commercialization of Bt cotton in India, taking into account seven independent studies conducted by public institutions.

 

Experiences of many Bt cotton farmers from various cotton growing states have been illustrated in this publication as well.

 

'The Dawn of a New Era' is the beginning of biotech-led transformation of agriculture in India. Improved seeds, being the carrier of both the state-of-the-art technology and superior genetics, is the most important input for growth in agriculture. This new era also offers tremendous investment opportunities for both public and private institutions as highlighted in the document.

 

This publication draws substantially from the content of ISAAA Brief 39 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2008, authored by Dr. Clive James.

 

For a hard copy of "Biotech Crops in India: The Dawn of a New Era" contact ISAAA South Asia office, New Delhi, India at b.choudhary@cgiar.org or knowledge.center@isaaa.org

 

Download an e- copy at http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/downloads/The-Dawn-of-a-New-Era.pdf

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26574.htm

 

Source: CropBiotech Update via SeedQuest.com

18 June  2009

 

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2.02  Modification of Seed Composition to Promote Health and Nutrition,

A new book offers the most up-to-date information on biotechnological improvements of seeds

 

Washington, DC

Agricultural Research Service, USDA
By
Alfredo Flores

Biotechnology offers a realistic means to not only improve important seed components, but also to boost the overall nutritional quality of seeds, according to a recently published book edited and partly written by Hari B. Krishnan, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist.

 

The book, "Modification of Seed Composition to Promote Health and Nutrition," can serve as a textbook for students as well as a primer for scientists, according to Krishnan, a molecular biologist at the ARS Plant Genetics Research Unit in Columbia, Mo.

 

Published by the Crop Science Society of America, the new book contains the most up-to-date information on biotechnological improvements of seed composition from some of the world's leading scientists in the field.

 

Biotechnology holds promise to help improve food production to deal with the world's growing population, according to Krishnan. Food production will have to be increased significantly over the next 40 years to feed the predicted world population of 9 billion people by 2050.

 

Krishnan and his collaborator Joseph Jez at Washington University in St. Louis also wrote a chapter in the book, titled "Sulfur Assimilation and Cysteine Biosynthesis in Soybean Seeds: Towards Engineering Sulfur Amino Acid Content." In that chapter, Krishnan wrote about his work on soybeans, which are an excellent source of protein for humans and animals. The protein quality of soybeans could be enhanced by using genetic engineering to increase the sulfur amino acid content of the beans, which would greatly improve their nutritive value.

 

Krishnan and his research team have created transgenic soybean plants that express a protein from maize that is rich in the essential amino acid methionine. Krishnan and other scientists are currently manipulating key enzymes involved in sulfur assimilation in soybeans, thereby boosting methionine levels in this important crop. According to Krishnan, methionine is important in human health because it is a raw material for protein synthesis and indirectly regulates a variety of cellular processes.

 

More information on the book can be found at the Crop Science Society of America website.

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

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26544.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

16 June  2009

 

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2.03  Gamma Field Symposia Vol. 46: Recent Fruit and Potentiality of Mutation Breeding  now online

The Gamma Field Symposia Vol. 46 has been placed online and can be accessed at the link http://www.nias.affrc.go.jp/eng/gfs/index.html. The 46th Gamma Field symposium entitled Induction and genetic analysis of agronomically useful gene by mutations was held on July 11-12, 2007 in Mito, Ibaraki, Japan.  The keynote address, Soybean genome research, was presented by Dr. Kyuya Harada, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences. Eight lecturers were also invited to present results of their research: Dr. H. Kouchi (National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences: Molecular genetics of symbiotic plant-microbe interactions using a model legume, Lotus japonicus), Dr. S. Utsumi (Kyoto University: Diverse research on soybean storage proteins using mutant lines), Dr. M. Takano (National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences: Isolation and characterization of pytochrome mutants in rice), Dr. T. Izawa (National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences: Molecular biology of abscission), Dr. Jian Feng Ma (Okayama Unversity: Isolation and characterization of rice mutants defective in Si uptake and sensitive to Al.), Dr. H. Yasui (Kyushu University: Genetic analysis of host plant resistance to the leafhopper species in rice), Dr. Y. Hase (Japan Atomic Energy Agency: UV-resistance gene identified by the analysis of UV-resistant Arabidopsis mutants.) and Dr. E. Nitasaka (Kyushu University: Morphological mutants induced by transposable elements in the Japanese morning glory.).

 

This English publication includes the contributed papers from the invited lecturers written above and the questions and discussions (in Japanese) addressed following the presentations during the symposium. In Japan, about 230 direct-use mutant varieties generated by using irradiation, chemical mutagenesis and in vitro culture, have been registered and released.  About 60 % of these were induced by gamma ray irradiation. This high percentage of gamma ray irradiated mutants indicates that mutation breeding via gamma ray irradiation is an effective and highly successful approach for the generation of commercial cultivars.  In addition, about 200 indirect-use (hybrid) mutant varieties primarily generated in rice have found value as parental breeding germplasm resources in Japan.

 

In Japan, the contribution of direct- and indirect-use mutants generated through gamma ray irradiation is significant.  In 2005, two direct-use cultivars and 97 indirect-use cultivars contribute approximately 12.4% of the total area (1,702,000 ha) for rice cultivation in Japan.  The semi-dwarf gene (sd-1) generated in rice is perhaps one of the most significant contribution to the breeding of rice in Japan and much of the world.  For soybean, similar gamma-ray induced mutants (4 direct-use cultivars and 4 indirect-use cultivars) cover nearly 9.4 % out of the total cultivation area (ca. 142,000 ha) of soybean.  These results indicate that agronomically useful mutations, induced by irradiation mutagenesis, have contributed directly and significantly to food production in Japan.

 

The 1st Gamma Field symposium was held in 1962. During its 46-year history, we have selected various themes related to mutation and breeding, and have invited leading scientists with expertise in these areas as lecturers to provide information on a wide variety of related topics. It is our sincere hope that the series of Gamma Field Symposia series, including this issue, will help plant breeders and researchers to realize the contribution that mutation breeding has made to the plant sciences.

 

Contributed by Hitoshi Nakagawa

Director, Institute of Radiation Breeding, NIAS

ngene@affrc.go.jp

 

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2.04  Investing in Agriculture: Far-Reaching Challenge, Significant Opportunity

 

Deutsche Bank report indicates that projected food and energy demands will outpace production

 

Madison, Wisconsin

With the caloric needs of the planet expected to soar by 50 percent in the next 40 years, planning and investment in global agriculture will become critically important, according a new report released today.

 

The report, produced by Deutsche Bank, one of the world's leading global investment banks, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, provides a framework for investing in sustainable agriculture against a backdrop of massive population growth and escalating demands for food, fiber and fuel.

 

"We are at a crossroads in terms of our investments in agriculture and what we will need to do to feed the world population by 2050," says David Zaks, a co-author of the report and a researcher at the Nelson Institute's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.

 

By 2050, world population is expected to exceed 9 billion people, up from 6.5 billion today. Already, according to the report, a gap is emerging between agricultural production and demand, and the disconnect is expected to be amplified by climate change, increasing demand for biofuels, and a growing scarcity of water.

 

"There will come a point in time when we will have difficulties feeding world population," says Zaks, a graduate student whose research focuses on the patterns, trends and processes of global agriculture.

 

Although unchecked population growth will put severe strains on global agriculture, demand can be met by a combination of expanding agriculture to now marginal or unused land, substituting new types of crops, and technology, the report's authors conclude. "The solution is only going to come about by changing the way we use land, changing the things that we grow and changing the way that we grow them," Zaks explains.

 

The report notes that agricultural research and technological development in the United States and Europe have increased notably in the last decade, but those advances have not translated into increased production on a global scale. Subsistence farmers in developing nations, in particular, have benefited little from such developments and investments in those agricultural sectors have been marginal, at best.

 

The Deutsche Bank report, however, identifies a number of strategies to increase global agricultural productions in sustainable ways, including:

  • Improvements in irrigation, fertilization and agricultural equipment using technologies ranging from geographic information systems and global analytical maps to the development of precision, high performance equipment. 
  • Applying sophisticated management and technologies on a global scale, essentially extending research and investment into developing regions of the world. 
  • Investing in "farmer competence" to take full advantage of new technologies through education and extension services, including investing private capital in better training farmers. 
  • Intensifying yield using new technologies, including genetically modified crops. 
  • Increasing the amount of land under cultivation without expanding to forested lands through the use of multiple cropping, improving degraded crop and pasturelands, and converting productive pastures to biofuel production.
  •  

"First we have to improve yield," notes Zaks. "Next, we have to bring in more land in agriculture while considering the environmental implications, and then we have to look at technology."

 

Bruce Kahn, Deutsche Bank senior investment analyst, echoed Zaks observations: "What is required to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population in a warming world is to boost yield through highly sophisticated land management with precision irrigation and fertilization methods," said Kahn, a graduate of the Nelson Institute. "Farmers, markets and governments will have to look at a host of options including increased irrigation, mechanization, fertilization and the potential benefits of biotech crops."

 

The Deutsche Bank report depended in part on an array of global agricultural analytical tools, maps, models and databases developed by researchers at UW-Madison's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. Those tools, including global maps of land supply for crops and pasture, were developed primarily for academic research, says Zaks. The Deutsche Bank report, he continues, is evidence that such tools will have increasing applications in plotting a course for sustainable global agriculture

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26662.htm

 

Source: The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison via SeedQuest.com

25 June 2009

 

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3.  WEB RESOURCES

 

3.01  Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis: presentations made at the May 2009 symposium “Seed Biotechnologies: Filling the Gap between the Public and Private Sector”

 

Davis, California
The Seed Biotechnology Center (SBC) was started in the spring of 1999 when one half-time employee was hired to work with Professor Kent Bradford, the newly named Director.  Ten years later, the SBC has grown into a hub for research, education and outreach.  It is with great pride the SBC celebrates its 10th anniversary.

 

To help commemorate its accomplishments, the SBC recently hosted a symposium entitled “Seed Biotechnologies: Filling the Gap between the Public and Private Sector.”  This two-day event brought together 169 people, including 84 researchers in the private sector, to discuss most advanced techniques to improve crop plants.  Topics discussed included facilitation of conventional plant breeding through the use of molecular markers, use of biotechnology to create novel traits and varieties, commercialization of new technologies and germplasm, and the education of current and future plant breeders and scientists.

 

“It was humbling to see the great turnout,” said Dr. Allen Van Deynze, Director of Research for the SBC.  “We were particularly pleased to see the interactions between industry scientists and academics, exactly what the Seed Biotechnologies Symposium aimed to foster.”

 

Since its inception, Dr. Bradford has strived to improve seed technologies for agricultural and consumer benefit.  The Seed Biotechnologies Symposium is a great example of this vision and commitment to strengthen the seed community.   “A goal of the SBC is to bring outstanding scientists from around the world to California where local scientists in the seed industry can learn about their work and interact with them.  The excellent keynote speakers invited to the symposium, as well as our own elite scientists from the University of California, provided an exciting view of the current state of plant genetics and breeding,” stated Bradford.

 

However, this celebratory event offered more than just an update on the progression of research in the field.  Bradford continued by saying that “in addition to the symposium itself, the opportunities for networking and development of collaborative projects resulted in new initiatives that will be the focus of future work at the SBC.”

 

Thank you to all those who joined us May 11-12, 2009, for helping us create such a sucessful symposium! 

 

Due to the large number of requests, we have requested  permission from the speakers to provide the audience members with access to the slides. PDF versions of the presentations are shown below:

 

Symposium presentations (PDF)
-    Blumwald, Eduardo - Engineering drought tolerance in crops
-    Bradford, Kent - Commercialization/regulation of new varieties
-    Bradford, Kent - First 10 years of the Seed Biotechnology Center
-    Causse, Mathilde - Improvement of sensory quality in tomato
-    Chi-Ham, Cecilia - Technology transfer in the public sector
-    Dirks, Rob - Plant breeding revised and reversed
-    Freymark, Peter - Education of plant scientists; an industry perspective
-    Jahn, Molly - Educating the next generation of plant breeders
-    Kridl, Jean - Nitrogen use efficiency in crops
-    McElroy, Jeff - Biomass supply chain and breeding for energy
-    Michelmore, Richard - Molecular markers for lettuce improvement
-    Osborn, Tom - Molecular assisted selection in vegetables
-    Van Deynze, Allen - Private/public partnerships


 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26423.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

5 June  2009

 

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3.02  New website for Cereal Rust Reports

 

Sydney, Australia

The Univeristy of Sydney's Plant Breeding Institute has got a new web site and web address:

Plant Breeding Institute (general site)

 

http://www.agric.usyd.edu.au/plant_breeding_institute/index.shtml

 

Cereal Rust Reports, Annual Pathogenicity Survey Reports, Dispatch Forms
http://www.agric.usyd.edu.au/plant_breeding_institute/cereal_rust/reports_forms.shtml

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26404.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

4 June 2009

 

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3.03  Forum of Plant Molecular Breeding

 

There is a forum of Plant Molecular Breeding that was initialed by the Ministry of Scientific Research and The Ministry  of Communication of Egypt. Kindly check the attached link

http://www.nubios.nileu.edu.eg/forum/epmb

 

Contributed by Amr Farouk Abdelkhalik, Ph.D.

State Ministry of Higher Education And Scientific Research

The Minister Office

Strategic Planning And Technical Support Center

Egypt

 

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3.04  First the Seed Foundation launches website focusing on seed industry education

 

Alexandria, Virginia
The First the Seed Foundation announced today the launch of its new Web site promoting education and outreach on the importance and value of seeds. The Web site was officially debuted by the Foundation President Thomas F. ("Bud") Hughes (photo) of Verdant Partners LLC at the 126th Annual Convention of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), where the not-for-profit Foundation itself had been launched one year prior.

 

The new Web site will be a tool to advance projects now underway as a result of founding donors who helped established the Foundation's initial funding. The Foundation's first projects include Web-based and multi-media educational curricula on the importance of seeds for grade schools, development of an introductory video on the seed industry's role in American agriculture, the distribution of seed and informational kits to schools and youth organizations and promoting the impacts of quality seeds on every person's life who eats food or uses agricultural products.

 

The mission of First the Seed Foundation is to conduct education, outreach and communication on the value of crops and food produced from seed. "We, as the seed industry, have a great story to tell about our contributions to American agriculture, and ultimately, to the lives of people around the world," said ASTA President and CEO Andy LaVigne. "The Foundation will provide a platform to educate today's world and tomorrow's work force about the importance of the seed industry."

 

Other events at the convention related to the Foundation included a special children's learning project in which seed education was provided as children planted seeds in flower pots to be used as special centerpieces at the convention's Gala Banquet the next evening.

 

Today's consumer demands healthy food for their bodies, improved feed for livestock, better fiber for the clothes they wear and cleaner fuel for the vehicles they drive. Recent advancements in seed innovation using plant technologies have helped to meet the growing market demand for agricultural products in an efficient and environmentally sustainable way. The progress made by the seed industry in the last 20 years is greater than ever before; however, very few people are aware of the contributions of the industry to their everyday lives or of the wide array of careers available in crop agriculture.

 

Fewer than 2 million Americans are actively engaged in farming, yet agriculture generates some 22 million jobs in the United States, mostly located off-farm. The efficiency of today's U.S. farmers allows this small population to produce 16 percent of the world's food supply, freeing others to pursue different occupations and career paths. Many are not aware of the science and technology that drives agriculture solves its many challenges and offers many opportunities.

 

The highest priority of First the Seed Foundation is the education of today's youth. Future Foundation projects include development of life-sciences curriculum including seeds for high schools, the distribution of career kits for high school and college students, and establishment of important educational partnerships. Tax deductible contributions can be made online or by contacting First the Seed Foundation, located within the ASTA office.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/june/26610.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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3.05  SciEdit helps polish developing country science papers

 

Naomi Antony

http://www.jyi.org/sciedit/

 

SciEdit adapts texts in accordance with the standards of journals such as Nature

SciDev.Net/Nightingale

 

A free editing service for developing country researchers who are trying to publish their work has been launched by students from leading academic institutions.

 

The service, SciEdit, is run by a team of undergraduate and postgraduate students in Canada, Europe and the United States. They aim to provide detailed editorial feedback in accordance with the standards of journals such as Nature and Science — where many of them have been published.

 

SciEdit is the brainchild of the Journal of Young Investigators — a student-led, peer-reviewed journal for undergraduates with members from more than 30 academic institutions including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Shandong Normal University in China.

 

"There's a lot of innovative [research] going on in developing countries … and it's not being represented well in international literature, unfortunately," Justin Chakma, a researcher at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health in Canada and co-founder of SciEdit, told SciDev.Net.

 

Most international scientific journals are written in English, making it difficult for non-native English speaking scientists to compete, says Chakma.

 

"Prospective authors may be unfamiliar with editorial conventions, face pressure to write in English and be uncertain about which journals to submit to," he says.

 

He adds that smaller journals may reject manuscripts that require more editing than they can afford to provide.

 

"Most of what we offer is along the lines of the grammar, the conventions, the style that you need," he explains. "But we also offer, if [the researchers] want, feedback on the science because we have graduate students across a variety of disciplines."

 

Response so far to SciEdit has been quiet — "about ten manuscripts". All of these have been submitted to journals and are awaiting acceptance. Feedback from the authors — in China, India and Nepal — has been positive so far. "[The service] has helped them to tighten their writing; tighten their arguments."

 

Chakma says that their service would complement that of AuthorAID, run by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), which, he says, offers higher-level scientists who may have less time to spare.

 

Julie Walker, head of publishing support at INASP, welcomes SciEdit: "There is definitely a need for these kinds of projects and services."

 

Source: SciDev.net

22 June 2009

 

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4.  GRANTS AVAILABLE

 

4.01  New African Crop Science Society Awards 2009

 

The African Crop Science Society (ACSS), the African's largest general scientific society, is accepting entries for the 2009 ACSS Crop Science Awards.  This year we are pleased to announce that Prof. Nagib Nassar, University of Brasilia, Brazil has provided a generous endowment that will ensure the future of the awards program. The endowment allows us to offer an award in the research in cassava breeding for the first time, for the best research in cassava breeding submitted to the biannual ACSS conferences. Winner will receive US $500 and certificate to be presented at the 9th ACSS Conference in the 28th of September to the 1st of October 2009, Cape Town, South Africa (http://www.acss2009.up.ac.za/).

 

Beside cassava breeding award, at the same time at 9th ACSS conference, 2009, Cape Town, South Africa, more ACSS awards will be presented as fellow:

 

ACSS Council Awards 2009:

1-ACSS Award to a woman researcher for outstanding contribution to crop production in Africa.

2-ACSS Award to a scientist for outstanding contribution to crop production in Africa.

 

9th ACSS Conference, LOC prizes (certificate and cash):

1-Scientific paper at the conference that had the greatest impact on resource poor agriculture in Africa.

2-Scientific paper presented at the conference with the best contribution towards cassava breeding in Africa (as mentioned above).

3-Best and second best oral presentation.

4-Best and second best poster presentation.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Please visit African Crop Science society website at: http://www.acss.ws/default.aspx?t=a_history&s=2#aw and the 9th African Crop Science Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, September 28 - October 1, 2009. http://www.acss2009.up.ac.za/cformat.htm

 

Contributed by Prof. Kasem Zaki Ahmed.

President, African Crop Science Society;

acss@acss.ws

www.acss.ws

 

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4.02  Graduate Assistantship, offered in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University

 

The Monsanto Graduate Assistantship, offered in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University, supports outstanding students pursuing a doctoral degree in applied plant breeding and genetic improvement of crops. In addition, Monsanto supports one assistantship in cotton production.

 

A total of 14 assistantships—each providing a $24,000 annual salary, individual health insurance, and funds for all required fees and tuition—will be awarded to both U.S. and international students.

 

Requirements:

• Earn a minimum 3.5 grade point average in all master’s level graduate course work

• Demonstrate an aptitude for research

• Provide three letters of recommendation from professors or employers with knowledge of applicants research and academic abilities

• Successfully complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

• Successfully 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. On-line application to graduate studies at Texas A&M University can be found at http://admissions.tamu.edu.

Additional items to be provided by the applicant are: • A statement providing sufficient background information to demonstrate the student’s aptitude to conduct plant breeding or cotton production research

• Identification of the area of plant breeding research to be

pursued and its importance to the agricultural industry

• A one- to two-page letter of support from the department sponsor or major professor which includes a dissertation title and objectives

 

Students applying to the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences must send these additional items 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

 

Students applying to the Department of Horticultural Sciences must send the additional items to the attention of David Byrne, Department of Horticultural Sciences, 2133 Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2133 (d-byrne@tamu.edu).

 

Selection Procedure:

Applications will be reviewed by an interdepartmental committee that includes faculty members from the departments of Horticultural Sciences, Soil and Crop Sciences, Entomology, and Plant Pathology and Microbiology, along with the associate dean for graduate programs.

 

Preference will be given first to candidates who have earned a master of science degree outside Texas A&M. Second preference will be given to those who have earned a master of science degree from the university but earned an undergraduate degree elsewhere. Candidates who have earned both bachelor and master of science degrees from the university are not eligible for this assistantship.

 

Additional Information:

The award is for a maximum of three years plus one academic semester. Students must maintain satisfactory research progress and meet all other Texas A&M University enrollment requirements.

 

If an Experiential Learning Assignment with Monsanto is requested by Monsanto, the student will remain enrolled at Texas A&M University and on the Monsanto Assistantship with additional salary from Monsanto to help cover costs. The Monsanto Assistantship will be extended to cover the length of the Experiential Learning Opportunity.

 

Contributed by C. Wayne Smith

Professor and Associate Head

Department of Soil and Crop Sciences

Texas A&M University

cwsmith@tamu.edu

 

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5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

5.01 Senior Technical Advisor-Technical Director, Great Lakes Cassava Initiative  GLCI)

 

Band:                        E

FLSA:                        Exempt

Dept./Location:        East Africa Regional Office (EARO)/Nairobi, Kenya

Supervised by:        GLCI Chief of Party

Req. No.:                   I 09 059

 

Background:

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is implementing a 4-year grant funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to coordinate a range of activities to increase cassava productivity and sustainability at scale in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and UgandaCRS is partnering with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to lead a network of regional associations and agricultural institutions, country-level agricultural research organizations and local civil society implementing organizations. The vision of the Great Lakes Cassava Initiative (GLCI) is to address the current cassava disease epidemics and enhance productivity and resilience of poor cassava farmers by assisting more than 1 million cassava farm families with access to improved, preferred, disease-tolerant planting materials and agronomic support to increase cassava productivity by more than 25%, laying the foundation to exploit emerging growth markets.

Functional Relationships:

The Technical Director (TD) is supervised by and works closely with the GLCI Chief of Party (COP) to ensure the successful implementation of the GLCI Project. The TD directly supervises the GLCI technical support team of Objective Team Leaders (OTL) for the Seed, Farmer Groups, and Training, and directly manages program compliance of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in the implementation of the Disease Objective. The TD also contributes to the Planning and Partnership Objective managed by the COP. He/she represents the GLCI project on technical issues to the principal donor, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as other international and national actors in the Cassava sector such as the National Agriculture Research Systems (NARS), the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Green Revolution in Africa/Program for Africa’s Seed Systems (AGRA/PASS), Cassava Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); institutions such as NARS.

Specific Job Responsibilities:

 

1.         Represent the GLCI Project on technical issues to principle agriculture stakeholders, with emphasis on international and national agriculture institutions. Together with Country Representative and/or Head of Programming, represent CRS/GLCI to Donors, Government agriculture ministriess and other technical bodies

2.         Directly manage the relationship with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); ensure contract compliance and monitor IITA’s performance in the implementation of activities under the disease objective of the GLCI project; Ensure productive collaboration, and information sharing between the GLCI/OTLs, IITA, NARS, and other agriculture research and testing institutions

3.         Together with the COP, ensure all activities associated with the Planning and Partnership objective are implemented with emphasis on project coordination and collaboration with regional and international agriculture organizations working in cassava, and the development of country level implementation plans with the country program staff and OTLs

4.         Represent CRS/GLCI at various functions and events to promote the work of the program as warranted; Raise the profile of CRS within the international agriculture research and development community and create funding opportunities through participation and networking

5.         Together with OTL’s, manage collaboration and coordination with other organizations working in cassava production in East Africa; facilitate integration of GLCI with other BMGF funded cassava activities – e.g. AGRA/PASS; ensure communication and collaboration with sister projects (e.g. C:AVA) on Cassava markets implemented by National Research Institute (NRI); Collaborate as needed with CRS regional and HQ-based technical support staff on issues related to the GLCI project implementation

6.         In collaboration with the chairperson of TAC and COP lead the planning of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meetings

7.         Supervise the daily work of the OTLs and provide coaching and mentorship support to them; implement CRS Performance Management Process and provide regular guidance and support to, all direct reports; ensure timely submission of annual performance plans, staff development planning; with the support of the Chief of Party, assist and guide OTL team members on performance and Human Resources administration issues

8.         Together with the GLCI Technical Support Team, support the GLCI project implementation within the six GLCI countries and ensure that the GLCI project’s technical targets are met; track progress along each objective and ensure timely submissions of narrative and financial reporting in compliance with grant requirements

9.         Together with COP manage annual budget and activity planning process with the GLCI technical support team; ensure that the planning process results in on-time submissions to the donor and facilitates the availability and timely distribution of funds to meet project activity requirements

10.    Ensure regular, timely and accurate programmatic reporting of the project activities by the OTL Team, in compliance with the grant requirements and reporting schedules; and review all reports prior to submission to COP for review and approval

11.    Manage technical support contracts with research/testing institutions for disease testing, other virology research scientists, and consultants contracted to support GPS activities

 

Supervision: 

Directly supervises GLCI Team Leader, Farmer Group Team Leader, and Training Objective Team Leader

 

Key Working Relationships:

Internal: GLCI COP, OTLs GLCI, Regional and HQ technical staff

External: IITA, NARS, ASARECA, AGRA/PASS, CAVA, COMESA, FAO, NARS, NRI, key donors, and agriculture ministries

 

Qualifications:

1.      PhD in agricultural science preferred, Masters with significant experience required

2.      8-15 years demonstrated professional experience in the field of agriculture and specialization in vegetatively-propagated crops with at least five years work experience in developing countries;

3.      Experience in research with national and international research institutions with demonstrated ability to manage research partner relationships;

4.      Substantial experience in designing, implementing and managing large, complex multi-country agriculture projects and compliance with Donor regulations;

5.      Experience interacting with government agencies, host country governments, and international donor agencies;

6.      Proven leadership, strategic planning/execution, and representation at high levels;

7.      Proven ability to build and motivate teams of diverse and talented personnel;

8.      Effective analytical, planning and organization skills:

9.      Demonstrated commitment to support Civil Society Organizations;

10. Proven experience in building, strengthening and sustaining institutional linkages;

11. Excellent English language oral and written communication skills; fluency in and proven ability to work in French;

12. Proficiency in Microsoft Office suite, including Word, Excel and Outlook required;

 

EOE/M/F/D/V

 

To apply for this position please go to our website at http://www.crs.org.

 

Contributed by Ted Henning

Catholic Relief Services

Recruitment Specialist

ehenning@crs.org

 

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5.02  Plant Breeding Academy Director, Seed Biotechnology Center

 

University of California, Davis

The Seed Biotechnology Center <http://sbc.ucdavis.edu/>  (SBC), a program of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, is seeking a Director for the Plant Breeding Academy. The SBC serves as a focal point for interaction between the seed industry and the research and educational resources of the University of California, Davis. It coordinates and conducts research and provides extension information, continuing education, including the Plant Breeding Academy, and public service related to agricultural biotechnology.

 

The Plant Breeding Academy <http://pba.ucdavis.edu/>  (PBA) offers a University Certificate in Plant Breeding to working professionals in the seed industry.  The current PBA program consists of six sessions each 6 days in length offered over a two year period.  The three core instructors are all university faculty with active plant breeding programs.  Class size is limited to insure intensive student-instructor interaction.  The PBA has achieved international recognition and is expanding by establishing a European Plant Breeding Academy (EPBA). Other opportunities for future expansion are being explored.

 

The Director will serve as the academic and administrative leader of the PBA. The Director will report to Professor Kent Bradford, the Academic Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center.  In addition to managing and improving the current PBA, the Director will be responsible for establishing the new Academies by hiring additional instructors, establishing the curriculum, recruiting participants and coordinating all logistical arrangements.  The position is a full time (11 month) academic appointment with full benefits and will be split between two title codes:  Academic Coordinator II and University Extension Teacher.

 

Selection criteria include a M.S. degree required with a Ph.D. in a plant science discipline preferred; evidence of strong managerial and administrative skills to develop and lead an international education program; demonstrated ability or potential to develop and instruct courses in plant breeding subjects, and a working knowledge of current plant breeding practices.  An established plant breeder who has released commercial varieties is preferred.

 

To learn more about the position and to apply go to:

http://recruitments.plantsciences.ucdavis.edu/

For information regarding the Plant Breeding Academy, go to http://pba.ucdavis.edu

For questions, contact Sue DiTomaso, Manager of Outreach, UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center, via email at scditomaso@ucdavis.edu

Position is open until filled, but applications should be received by July 31, 2009 for full consideration.

 

The University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

 

Contributed by Susan DiTomaso

scditomaso@ucdavis.edu

 

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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.

 

22-23 July 2009. Breeding for Resistance to Whitefly-transmitted Viruses, University of Florida/IFAS, Plant Pathology Department, Royal Plaza Hotel in the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida

www.conference.ifas.ufl.edu/whitefly 

 

3-5 August 2009. 3rd Annual Plant Breeding Workshop, National Association of Plant Breeders,  Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. http://cuke.hort.ncsu.edu/gpb/pr/pbccmain.html

 

10-14 August 2009. 14th Australasian Plant Breeding & 11th Society for the Advancement of Breeding Research in Asia & Oceania Conference, Cairns Convention Centre, Tropical North Queensland, Australia
http://www.plantbreeding09.com.au/Home/tabid/1129/Default.aspx

 

1-16 September 2009. Rice Breeding Course: Laying the Foundation for the Second Green Revolution. International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines

Email/web contact information

Dr. Edilberto D. Redoña

Course Coordinator

e.redona@cgiar.org

or

Dr. Noel P. Magor

Head, Training Center

IRRITraining@cgiar.org

 

2-4 September 2009. Meeting of the Biometrics in Plant Breeding section of Eucarpia, Dundee, Scotland UK.

 http://www.scri.ac.uk/events/forthcomingevents/eucarpia2009

 

7-9 September 2009. International Conference on Heterosis in Plants: Genetics and molecular causes and optimal exploitation in breeding, University of Hohenheim. Stuttgart, Germany. www.uni-hohenheim.de/heterosis

 

 8–10 September 2009. 2nd World Seed Conference: Responding to the challenges of a changing world, FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy

Visit the 2nd World Seed Conference website for more information.

 

9 September 2009. Registrations open for the first of the John Innes Centenary Events  More»
Advances is available in both PDF and HTML format at
www.jic.ac.uk/corporate/about/publications/

 

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

 

24-27 September 2009. Foundations Centennial Meeting: A celebration of 100 years of private grape breeding with North American Vitis, Sweet Briar College and Chateau-A, Virginia.

http://chateau-z.com/downloads/Foundations%20Centennial%20Meeting%20announcement.pdf

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.  http://www.acss2009.up.ac.za.

 

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

 

13-16 October 2009. 12th International Cereal Rusts and Powdery Mildew Conference, Antalya, Turkey

12th ICRPMC-2009, Antalya (http://www.icrpmc2009.org and http://www.crpmb.org

 

1-5 November 2009. Footprints of Plant Diversity in the Agricultural Landscape. (A symposium of the CSSA/ASA/SSSA annual meetings, Pittsburgh, PA, USA).

https://www.acsmeetings.org/

Division contact:  2009 Division Chair Ann Marie Thro,

athro@csrees.usda.gov

 

2 November – 6 December 2009. UPOV distance learning course

Introduction to the UPOV System of Plant Variety Protection under the UPOV Convention

The UPOV Distance Learning course (DL-205 - Introduction to the UPOV System of Plant Variety Protection under the UPOV Convention)

 

6 to 9 November, 2009, Lima Peru. 15th Triennial Symposium of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops: Tropical Roots and Tubers in a Changing Climate: A convenient opportunity for the World, The International Potato Center, Lima, Peru. http://www.cipotato.info/

 

9-12 November 2009. OECD-GenomeAssociation-OZ09, The International Centre for Plant Breeding Education and Research (ICPBER), The University of Western Australia, Perth. www.oecd-genomeassociation-oz09.com

 

9-13 November 2009. TDWG Annual Conference,  Congress Center ‘Le Corum’ in downtown Montpellier, France. Organized by Agropolis International and Bioversity International.

Detailed information at: www.tdwg.org/conference2009

 

24-26 November 2009. 60th Plant Breeders Conference, Raumberg, Gumpenstein, Austria

Registration form online at www.saatgut-austria.at

 

26 to 30 April 2010. The 5th International Food Legumes Research Conference (IFLRC V) and 7th European Conference on Grain Legumes (ECGL VII), Convention Center of Kervansaray Hotel, Lara, Antalya Turkey. http://www.iflrc-ecgl.org

 

2-5 August 2010. 10th International Conference on Grapevine Breeding and Genetics, Geneva, New York, USA.
http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/grapebreeding2010/

 

 2010. Hanoi, Vietnam to host 3rd International Rice Congress in 2010

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).

 

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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.

 

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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