PLANT BREEDING NEWS

 

EDITION 206

30 October 2009

 

An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant Breeding

 

Clair H. Hershey, Editor

chh23@cornell.edu

 

Sponsored by GIPB, FAO/AGP 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  British Society of Plant Breeders welcomes Royal Society call for major new investment in food crop improvement

1.02  New center to bring Cornell University agricultural innovations such as transgenic drought- and salt-tolerant rice available in China

1.03  Agricultural research ‘should be open access’, says Editor-in-Chief of Science

1.04  HOPE project to boost sorghum and millet production in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

1.05  Uganda produces first ever genetically modified cotton

1.06  Uganda: after decades of war, a new rice variety helps farmers resume their lives

1.07 Drought-hardy maize ready for field trials

1.08  Key players in African seed sector meet to accelerate drive for seed systems serving African smallholder farmers

1.09  Wageningen University Plant Sciences Group, Cornell University and the International Potato Centre (CIP) partner to control Phytophthora

1.10  Study on plant breeding education to be conducted at the University of CaliforniaDavis

1.11  Panel calls for an ethical framework for intellectual property and climate change

1.12 AGRA launches policy initiative to empower Africa to shape home-grown agricultural policies

1.13  U.S. Agriculture Secretary announces $7 million in funding for agricultural plant genomics, genetics and breeding research

1.14  U.S. Agriculture Secretary launches the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

1.15  On horizon 2050 - billions needed for agriculture, according to an FAO discussion paper

1.16  Bioversity International and the International Potato Center release key access and utilization descriptors for cultivated potato genetic resources

1.17  The amazing maze of maize evolution - Study on maize domestication may help improve crop yields

1.18  Evidence for the emergence of new rice types of interspecific hybrid origin in west African farmers’ fields

1.19  Study confirms classic theory on the origins of biodiversity

1.20  From Teosinte to maize, an evolutionary farce?

1.21  Chinese wild plantain became ''milestone'' of storage objective of UK seed bank

1.22  University of Idaho scientists use genetic markers to develop potatoes that fry up light even after cold storage

1.23  Disabling instead of adding: a novel way of breeding disease-resistant plants

1.24  Scientists closer to drug-free Cannabis plants

1.25  Productive corn plants with the right resources

1.26 New pulse varieties to boost growers' options

1.27 ARS releases corn lines resistant to diseases, aflatoxin contamination

1.28  Sibling recognition in plants

1.29  Changing smell of plants announces pathogen attack

1.30  U.S. National Science Foundation awards 32 new projects for plant genome research

1.31  University of California Riverside researchers develop genetic map for cowpea, accelerating development of new varieties

1.32  A genetic mutation at the origin of the development of female flowers in the melon

1.33  Unraveling of the sorghum genome will help improve dryland crops

1.34  Structure of phytohormone receptor reveals new ways of improving

drought tolerance

1.35  Identification of elongation trait in Malaysian rice varieties using molecular markers

1.36  United States Department of Agriculture awards $11 million for applied plant genomics research, education and extension

1.37  GCP News -- Issue 41

1.38  4th Newsletter of the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR)

 

2.  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  Tall Fescue for the Twenty-first Century - New book tells the story of scientific advancement through the lens of turf and forage research

2.02  Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development

2.03 IFPRI report: "Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation"

 

3.  WEB RESOURCES

3.01  New portal for plant genomics will support research into improved crops

3.02  Update on the Plant Breeding Forum listserv from GIPB

 

4.  GRANTS AVAILABLE

4.01  2010 Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship

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

4.03  Third Call for Proposals: Enhancing the value of crop diversity in a world of climate change

 

5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.01  Breeding-related position annoncements from Monsanto International

5.02  National Education Program Leader (NIFA-USA)

5.03  Senior Scientist, Genetic Diversity, Bioversity International

 

6.  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

 

1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES

 

1.01  British Society of Plant Breeders welcomes Royal Society call for major new investment in food crop improvement

 

United Kingdom

21 October 2009

The Royal Society’s call for the Government to invest up to £100 million per year of new money in over the next decade as part of a £2 billion ‘grand challenge’ on global food crop security has been welcomed by the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB).

 

The report, entitled Reaping the benefits: Science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture, was published by the Royal Society following an 18-month review of biological approaches to enhancing food crop production, to which BSPB contributed.

 

In particular, BSPB supports the Royal Society’s recommendation that new public sector funding should be used to establish pre-breeding programmes for the major UK crops as soon as possible, to ensure a long-term, consistent commitment to germplasm improvement, and to train the next generation of plant breeders.

 

BSPB also endorses the report’s strong message about the need for urgent, joined up action on a range of fronts – not only through investment in the genetic improvement of food crops but also through greater emphasis on crop management and agricultural practices.

 

“We welcome the Royal Society’s clear statement that the UK has a responsibility to take a leading role in providing the scientific solutions to mitigate future food shortages. Plant breeding offers the only route to market for the improvements in yield, pest and disease resistance, and resilience to climate change which are identified in the report as critical to increase crop production in line with population growth,” said Dr Thomas Jolliffe, BSPB Chairman.

 

“But while BSPB members provide the delivery mechanism to on-farm application, the limited revenue streams available to plant breeders from seed royalties do not currently allow significant investment in speculative or long-term research targets. We therefore welcome the Royal Society report’s emphasis on the need for renewed public sector investment in pre-breeding and translational crop science, to ensure the huge advances in our basic scientific understanding of plant genetics can be transferred into valuable crops and products.”

 

“Alongside crop improvement through plant breeding, the Royal Society also recognises the urgent need to ensure farmers are equipped with the knowledge and practices needed to realise the genetic potential on offer. BSPB strongly supports the report’s emphasis on the importance of crop management, and the need to revitalise investment in recently neglected disciplines of agronomy and soil science,” said Dr Jolliffe.

 

Website: http://www.bspb.co.uk

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=11072&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.02  New center to bring Cornell University agricultural innovations such as transgenic drought- and salt-tolerant rice available in China

 

Ithaca, New York, USA

27 October 2009

A new center may help make such Cornell agricultural advances as transgenic drought- and salt-tolerant rice available in China.

 

A Sept. 24 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Cornell and the Department of Science and Education of China's Ministry of Agriculture facilitated the creation of the Sino-U.S. Ray Wu Agricultural Technology Innovation Center at Cornell.

 

"The MOU reflects the fact that we really want to work together," said Alan Paau, vice provost for technology transfer and economic development. "We want to be doing things that not only benefit our researchers' understanding of the real problems in China, but we also want to help China benefit through our domain expertise."

 

Similarly, the Chinese may have new technologies and innovations that may be of value here and may use Cornell's expertise to help advance them. "Innovations will come from both sides," said Paau.

 

In early December, a delegation from China's Ministry of Agriculture will visit Ithaca to negotiate the center's operating and funding details. Most of the funding for the center is expected to come from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, with Cornell providing support and coordination for projects.

 

An initial project may include sending animal vaccines to China. The vaccines, developed at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, have already worked well in the United States and Europe. Cornell may also help Chinese researchers engineer drought- or salt-tolerant rice that were developed by Wu, the late Cornell professor of molecular biology and genetics, who was widely recognized as a father of plant genetic engineering. The new center is named after Wu to honor his career and efforts to help China improve life sciences education standards, among other things.

 

The center will be led by Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization, which manages technology and innovation projects coming out of Cornell's colleges with the involvement of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine. The center's main activities will be to work with China's ministry to select, monitor and acquire funding for meaningful projects.

 

"When the Chinese tell us what they need, we will work with the colleges to find out what might apply," said Paau. "We are excited to collaborate with China in agriculture since it is one of the most friendly and practical applications for what we do," said Paau. "For the Chinese to appreciate Americans helping them feed the people, while at the same time raising food safety standards and sustainability of the environment, is a very good thing to do."

 

The MOU was signed Sept. 24 by Paau; Michael Kotlikoff, the Austin A. Hooey Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine; Jan Nyrop, senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and the Chinese director general for the Department of Science and Education of China's Ministry of Agriculture.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=11194&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.03 Agricultural research 'should be open access', says Editor-in-Chief of Science

 

New Delhi, India

29 September 2009

by T. V. Padma

Providing open access to agricultural research in India will help drive development and reduce poverty, says Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science.

 

Alberts said information and communication technologies (ICTs) enable a new form of knowledge-sharing whose potential has not been "adequately exploited". He was speaking at a meeting on open access in agriculture, held at the International Centre for Crop Research for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, this month (7–8 September).

 

Given that agriculture is a "critical component" of India's science sector and that the country has a tremendous advantage in terms of diversity in agricultural science and practice, providing open access to agricultural research results could improve in national and state policymaking, Alberts said.

 

Sharing agricultural knowledge and know-how throughout the world would have great advantages, he says. "We need to link researchers together into not only highly productive, interactive communities, but also to use ICT to connect them and their resources to extension workers and farmers everywhere."

 

Stevan Harnad, Canada research chair in cognitive sciences at the University of Montreal, Quebec, pointed out at the meeting that universities and libraries subscribe to only a fraction of the roughly 25,000 peer-reviewed journals that are published worldwide, in all languages and all disciplines.

 

This means "research is having only a fraction of its potential usage and impact".

 

India's Agricultural Research Service Scientists' Forum (ARSSF) agrees that the country's crop research journals should be made open access. Sridhar Gutam, ARSSF joint secretary, told SciDev.Net that it is time the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) took a policy decision on open access journals.

 

In January, India launched 'AgroPedia', an online repository of agricultural information (see India debuts agricultural Wikipedia).

 

Gutam says that there is a broad understanding among the ICRISAT meeting participants that an open access agricultural research publications repository will be created within AgroPedia, where participants will be able to deposit their research articles.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10776&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SciDev.Net via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.04  HOPE project to boost sorghum and millet production in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

 

Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, India

15 October 2009

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has launched a new project that aims to increase food security for smallholder farmers in dryland areas of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The project, Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of Sorghum and Millets in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, will be undertaken by 50 partners led by ICRISAT in ten countries of sub-Saharan Africa and four states in India. HOPE is supported by an $18 million, four-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Through the development and delivery of improved crop varieties and training in crop management practices, HOPE will increase small-scale farmer yields by 35 to 40% during the first four years of the project. These improved varieties of sorghum and millet will be disseminated to 110,000 households in sub-Saharan Africa and 90,000 in South Asia. Within ten years, the project should benefit more than 2 million households in these continents.

 

Dr William D Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, says, “Scientists estimate that yields could be doubled or even tripled from their current low levels if farmers use the right crop varieties, fertilizer and other management techniques. Capturing even a modest portion of these potential gains would generate major impacts in reducing food insecurity.”

 

The demand for dryland crops, such as sorghum and millet, is growing as a number of major global issues continue to impact the world’s food security. Trends include: the increasing global demand for livestock feed; the growing use of nutritious foods with high levels of iron, fiber and calcium for weaning children, nursing mothers, and the gluten intolerant; rising fertilizer prices forcing a shift to crops that require limited fertilizer; an increasing global population requiring more food; and the diversion of crops such as corn into the bioethanol market.

 

The dryland areas in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are among the poorest and most food-insecure regions. This project aims to improve food and nutritional security by increasing production of sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet. To accomplish this, it will offer smallholder farmers access to improved seed varieties, farming techniques and information, financial support, and fertilizer. In turn, ICRISAT expects these resources to increase market access and demand for sorghum and millet, creating additional revenue for poor farmers and fundamentally change the development assistance needed in these regions.

 

Part of the project is dedicated to capacity building, primarily targeting national program scientists participating in the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’s (AGRA) Program for Africa’s Seed System (PASS) program. ICRISAT will provide scientific supervision by a senior sorghum/millet breeder to such students.

 

The project will be managed by ICRISAT under an agreement between the Government of India and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

 

This grant is part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Agricultural Development initiative, which is working with a wide range of partners to provide millions of smallholder farmers in the developing world with tools and opportunities to boost their yields, increase their incomes, and build better lives for themselves and their families. The foundation is working to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain—from seeds and soil to farm management and market access—so that progress against hunger and poverty is sustainable over the long term.

 

More news from: ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10929&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.05  Uganda produces first ever genetically modified cotton

 

Kampala, Uganda

13 October 2009

Uganda has started producing its first-ever genetically-modified cotton to increase its production.

 

The cotton- being tasted by scientist at the National Semi-Arid Resource Research Institute at Serere in Soroti, are showing early indicators of pest-resistance and herbicide-tolerance.

 

The Director of the research institute, Dr.Thomas Areke says Bt cotton that have ability to withstand bollworms and Ht cotton that tolerates roundup chemicals sprayed to destroy weeds were planted in July, in confined fields trial sites at Serere and Mubuku in Kasese district.

 

He says the crops are vigorously growing and have flowered without any disease, pest or weed infestations.

 

He says they ventured into improving the crop by biotechnology to get varieties that would increase productivity and benefit farmers.

 

He observed that since the population is increasing and land reducing, government must look into improving technologies that can enhance production.

 

In Uganda, GM cotton is a second genetically modified crop currently being tested with the first one being bananas,at Kawanda Agricultural research institute.

 

The testing however, come at a time when genetically modified crops are facing criticism all over the world. Those opposing the technology claim the crops may have future side-effects to human beings.

Copyright 2009 © Ultimate Media

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10915&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Ultimate Media via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.06 Uganda: after decades of war, a new rice variety helps farmers resume their lives

 

New NERICA cultivar plays a key role in FAO project to help displaced farmers

 

About 1.5 million internally displaced people are gradually moving back to their original lands after more than 20 years living a precarious existence in the refugee camps of northern Uganda.

 

Their return is being helped by an FAO/Uganda NERICA project, which is introducing innovative, rice-based farming systems to increase food security and reduce poverty in Uganda. Funding was provided by Japan (US$1.5 million 2008-2010).

 

Read:  http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/35606/icode/

 

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1.07  Drought-hardy maize ready for field trials

 

Johannesburg, South Africa

6 October 2009

Drought-resistant maize varieties will be making their way from the greenhouse to the field as soon as South African scientists get the regulatory green light.

 

The researchers at the University of Cape Town in South Africa have genetically engineered maize to contain four genes from the indigenous, desiccation-resistant Xerophyta viscosa plant — commonly known as the 'resurrection plant'.

 

It has taken the research team five years to identify the genes that give X. viscosa its ability to withstand 95 per cent dehydration, and transfer this genetic material into maize.

 

The X. viscosa genes act as a signal to the maize plant to go into survival mode when it becomes dehydrated, explains Jennifer Thomson, microbiologist at the University of Cape Town and leader of the five million South African rand (US$670,000) research project funded by The Maize Trust.

 

The modified plant is expected to withstand environmental conditions that currently result in a greatly reduced harvest — such as late rains.

 

"We are ready to see how the maize performs in one of South Africa's driest areas," Thomson told SciDev.Net, adding that she hopes to start field trials early in 2010 after negotiating biosafety regulations controlling the cultivation of genetically modified organisms in South Africa.

 

"Field tests would be conducted under strictly controlled conditions and with the assistance of the Department of Agriculture," she says.

 

Leon du Plessis, head of The Maize Trust, says Thomson's project may prove important in averting famine in Africa but it will be a few years before its success can be assessed.

 

"Most Africans are dependent on maize as a staple so such an initiative, if successful, will go a long way to providing food security for this region," he says. "It will also help stabilise the price of maize, which fluctuates dramatically at the moment."

 

Maize containing an insect-resistance gene is grown in developing countries including the Philippines and South Africa. Drought resistant maize is being trialled in Asia (see A-maizing: Asia's drought-resistant maize varieties) while maize resistant to maize streak virus (see GM maize gives virus nowhere to hide) is in development.

 

Efforts are also underway to engineer maize with nutritional benefits (see GM corn comes a step closer to a complete meal).

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10894&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.08  Key players in African seed sector meet to accelerate drive for seed systems serving African smallholder farmers

 

As famine and food shortages threaten millions, AGRA intensifies efforts to deliver high yield, drought resistant crops to poor farmers

 

Bamako, Mali

5 October 2009

At a time when failing harvests are once again threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions across Africa, 300 agriculture scientists, entrepreneurs, farmers’ organizations and governments from across the continent have gathered to accelerate a massive effort to develop and deploy higher-yield, disease and drought resistant crop varieties of Africa’s most important food crops.

 

The meeting brings together a wide range of experts from 20 countries who collectively form the heart of the Program for Africa’s Seed Systems (PASS), a $150 million initiative launched two years ago by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to bring improved varieties of rice, maize, millet, sorghum and other food staples to millions of Africa’s smallholder farmers.

 

The reports over the last month of a drought-induced famine potentially affecting 20 million people in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda provide yet another reminder of the challenges facing African agriculture and add a new sense of urgency to the PASS effort.

 

“Without a viable, sustainable system that provides our farmers with improved higher yielding and disease- and drought-resistant varieties of our food crops, Africans will continue to be uniquely vulnerable to food crises,” said Dr Namanga Ngongi, President of AGRA.

 

In its short existence PASS has moved rapidly to spur the development and distribution of improved seeds for African farmers, who must now rely on poor quality seed saved from previous harvests or distributed by aid groups. As reported at the conference, PASS’ work across the seed value chain has already resulted in training over 100 African crop scientists, funding some 40 crop breeding programs, steering 65 new, high-yield crop varieties into the field, providing start-up capital for 32 African seed companies who have collectively produced approximately 6,000 MT of certified seed, and enlisting 5,000 agro dealers who in 2008 alone provided smallholder farmers with $45 million worth of seed and farm inputs.

 

State of Africa’s Seed Sector

Yet, enormous challenges remain, with bottlenecks at nearly every link in the seed value chain. One crucial area addressed repeatedly by conference participants was the need to develop a strong private sector of local companies producing and disseminating high quality, certified seed.

 

“No region of the world has developed a seed system without seed companies,” said Dr Joseph DeVries, Director of PASS. “A strong, African-based commercial seed sector devoted to serving smallholder farmers has long been a missing link in creating a sustainable seed system. Today we are forging that link.”

 

A new study released at the conference documents the state of the seed sector in four West African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and Benin. A total of only eleven seed companies were identified, eight of them in Nigeria.

 

“Except for Nigeria, there are not enough seed companies in West Africa to drive a viable seed sector,” said study co-author and AGRA Policy Officer Augustine Langyintuo. “We must increase the number of seed companies if smallholder farmers are to be able access improved seed and grow more food.”

 

The study, conducted under the auspices of the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Project, found that demand for improved maize seed far outweighs supply. From 1997 to 2007 in West Africa, only one-third of farmers’ demand was met. This number, however, masks huge differences within the region.

 

In Niger, for example, improved seed covers only 4% of farmer needs, according to Maizama Issourfou of ALHERI, the first private seed company delivering improved seeds directly to resource poor farmers in Niger.

 

The situation in Eastern Africa and Southern Africa is similar. Although there are more private seed companies in existence, significant obstacles have historically inhibited their ability to scale up production of improved seed. In 2007, the total amount of improved seed produced was only 9% greater than a decade ago, despite the presence of many more seed companies.

 

Obstacles to developing a robust seed systems in Africa include lack of access to credit; only 1 percent of commercial bank financing goes to agriculture. Also a problem is lack of access to seed production and processing equipment. In Northern Ghana for example, there is only one seed processing unit to service over 50 seed growers, according to Joseph Bapule with Savanna Seed Services Company, Ltd.

 

Government policies have also created obstacles by slowing the release of proven new varieties; providing weak oversight to seed regulatory systems; and enforcing unnecessary barriers to seed trade barriers.

 

However, conference participants reported that things have begun to change.

Innovative companies, new seeds and policies making a difference.

 

Despite the many challenges, in the past two years PASS grantees have demonstrated that they are far from insurmountable and, moreover, that throughout Africa demand is high for improved varieties that can allow farmers to boost their harvest and better withstand threats such as drought and disease.

 

An assessment by AGRA earlier this year found that nearly all the PASS sponsored seed producers in 13 countries have sold 100 percent of their seed. Most indicated they could have sold more. Also, in only two years, investments in 24 small and medium sized seed companies and cooperatives have helped them double production, from 2656 metric tons to 5284 metric tons. PASS hopes to see these totals rise to 13,000 tons by the end of this year.

 

AGRA is also strengthening the agro- dealer networks in eight countries in Eastern and Southern Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Rwanda), and three countries in West Africa (Ghana, Nigeria and Mali). These agro-dealers reach tens of thousands of farmers with affordable high quality seed, fertilizer and other inputs. In just four countries—Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and ZambiaAGRA has funded the training of 4,426 agro-dealers, leading to the certification of 3,612 agro-dealers. They have collectively sold nearly US$2,000,000 of inputs to farmers.

 

PASS grantees attending the Mali conference are bringing a number of other reports of progress. For example:

·         In Mali, the seed company Faso Kaba has in two years produced and sold 348 MT of certified seeds of maize, sorghum, groundnut and rice, exceeding the target of 170 MT. It reached 30,000 farmers with the seed, and trained 150 stockists.

·         The public research system of Mali, meanwhile, has released three new, hybrid sorghum varities and plans to release five hybrid maize varieties before the end of the year. Next year, it hopes to register a new generation of upland rice varieties, also bred locally.

·         In June of this year, Uganda released three new, hybrid maize varieties which are now being commercialized by the country’s rapidly growing private seed industry. In Uganda, as in several other countries where PASS operates, the growth of the seed industry is limited not by farmer demand for improved seed (which always remains high), but by the availability of new, locally-adapted varieties and sufficient seed producers to multiply and market them.

·         In Rwanda, PASS-supported scientists are developing improved varieties of drought tolerant and disease resistant beans and stress tolerant maize. PASS also has invested in a Rwandan seed company that is producing and distributing to smallholder farmers improved varieties of maize, beans, sorghum, cassava and soybeans.

·         In Malawi, local seed companies combined to produce nearly 500 MT of improved maize and legume seed which will shortly go out for sale to local farmers. Some 250 MT of this seed was also of locally-bred and produced hybrid maize, which is highly sought after by local farmers.

·         In Mozambique, PASS-supported scientists are developing disease-resistant maize and stress-tolerant sorghum and rice varieties. PASS is supporting two national seed companies, one of which already has produced and distributed 1,285 metric tons of improved varieties of maize, cowpeas, sorghum and sunflower; bought and installed its own seed processing facility and recruited and trained a network of 38 agro-dealers. This year, for the first time, Mozambican seed companies will begin production of hybrid maize seed for marketing to local farmers.

·         In Uganda, PASS support has enabled 10,000 bean farmers to increase yields and provided smallholder farmers in 23 districts with 10,557 banana trees resistant to a rapidly spreading and devastating fungus.

 

More news from: AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10780&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.09 Wageningen University Plant Sciences Group, Cornell University and the International Potato Centre (CIP) partner to control Phytophthora

 

Wageningen, The Netherlands

October 2009

General Director of the Plant Sciences Group Ernst van den Ende recently signed an agreement with the American Cornell University and the International Potato Centre (CIP) in Peru to control Phytophthora. The potato disease causes major crop losses and poor quality harvests around the world. It is very hard to control and attempts to make potatoes resistant against the disease have proved difficult. The DURPH project (durable resistance against Phytophthora through cisgenic marker-free modification), subsidised by the Dutch government and started by PRI in 2005, has attracted a great deal of interest from around the world.

 

Using new technologies, PRI implanted genes from the wild potato into cultivated potato to achieve sustainable resistance within a short time period. This method also allows the simultaneous implementation of multiple resistances, making it even harder for the fungus to break through. Anton Haverkort, DURPH project leader, responded a while back to a presentation by Cornell University at a conference in India: “I noticed that Wageningen has different methods, so maybe we should get together and exchange thoughts.” The meeting eventually resulted in the research project in which the CIP is involved as an international organisation in developing countries. 

 

“This initiative is completely in line with the Dutch agriculture ministry’s goal to use the results of our research and our technologies for stacking genes to benefit developing countries,” stresses Anton. One of the focal points of the agreement is making the results available for countries whose food supply depends mainly on their potato cultivation, especially those in East Africa and East Asia. The three project partners will be actively looking for ways to ensure these countries benefit from the cooperation based on their specific requirements.

 

In addition to the development of resistant varieties, the new joint international project aims to design a cultivation system that includes so-called resistance management.  This should minimise the risk of the potato disease breaking through the resistance.

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.10  Study on plant breeding education to be conducted at the University of CaliforniaDavis

 

Davis, California, USA

16 October 2009

Plant breeding is currently under stress – the global demand for breeders is greater than the current educational system has been producing. Companies are having difficulty finding well trained plant breeders, slowing the progress of agricultural research. The need to strengthen public plant breeding programs and educate more professional plant breeders is critical if we are to continue producing improved crop varieties to provide food for an increasing population.

 

Researchers at UC Davis are initiating a study aimed at gaining consensus on the most essential curriculum components for educating plant breeders. Through an iterative process, a diverse group of experts with highly specialized knowledge of plant breeding will be surveyed to elicit ideas and suggestions for educational program content. Over 250 participants from all over the world will be asked to complete the three rounds of this survey, with each round building on the responses gleaned through the prior round. This consensus-based approach will lead to a comprehensive analysis of content and practical experiences that will guide the design of modern plant breeding curricula. Following conclusion of the analysis, all results will be publically available to the international community.

 

“Plant breeders continually provide the world with necessary advances in crop varieties; however, their numbers are diminishing due to retirements and fewer educational programs offering plant breeding degrees,” says Dr. Allen Van Deynze, Director of Research at the Seed Biotechnology Center and co-founder of the Plant Breeding Academysm. “The scope of this study provides every participant an equal voice to help improve the training experiences of future breeders and will result in a clear understanding of how to focus educational programs to get the best results.”

 

Dr. Cary Trexler, a professor in the College of Education at UC Davis will lead this study in cooperation with the Seed Biotechnology Center. Funding for this study is being provided through the generous support of private companies, university departments, and individual contributors.

 

Additional information regarding this study is available at http://sbc.ucdavis.edu.

 

Please email breedingstudy@ucdavis.edu or contact Jamie Shattuck at (530) 752-9985 with questions or to help support this study.

 

Website: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu

 

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Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.11 Panel calls for an ethical framework for intellectual property and climate change

 

Bangkok, Thailand

16 October 2009

By Kaitlin Mara, Intellectual Property Watch

Normal negotiation strategy is unlikely to result in an impact on climate change, since the most important stakeholders in fighting it - not yet born - have no seat at the negotiating tables, said a panel last week in Bangkok. An ethical approach is a better way to achieve results, speakers said, and an ethical take on intellectual property rights and alternative forms of innovation may have a place in new climate-friendly economic models.

 

The changes needed will be extraordinary: In order to meet United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change targets for reductions in emissions by 2015, there will need to be a tenfold increase in carbon productivity, said economist Nitin Desai, a former senior UN official, who also chaired the panel.

 

This is “comparable to the increase in labour productivity throughout the entire industrial revolution,” he added.

 

“This is an aspect [of fighting climate change] that we are not facing up to,” said Desai. The “industrial revolution wasn’t just about technology: it was a whole new world. It’s the scale … that is not being adequately recognised.”

 

In particular, basic ethical principles of responsibility are useful in looking at ways to tackle the climate issue, said Desai. The collection of speakers was hosted by the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI), a nongovernmental agency which looks at matters of energy, environment, and development, and took place on 8 October.

 

Ethical questions on climate change include not just a fair allocation of responsibilities, obligations and costs in fighting it, said Manish Shivastava, a research associate at TERI who is working on a paper entitled “Technology, Ethics, and IPR: The Dilemma in Climate Change Governance.” They also include a fair allocation to benefits, to the right to development and to various resources, and an elimination of differences in exposure to consequences and unequal protection.

 

Intellectual Property, Ethics, and Climate Change

As technology is a key factor in combating climate change, ethical issues raised include who will commit what kinds of support for the development and dissemination of technology - generally, developed countries are seen as responsible for financial support, and developing countries as responsible for building favourable policy environments (tariff structures or foreign investment policies) for technology to come in, Shivastava said. And there is general agreement that IP rights encourage innovations and private investment in research and development, said Shivastava.

 

“But as a side effect, they add cost to users,” he said, both directly (by increasing prices) and indirectly (by increasing transaction costs for acquiring a needed bundle of technologies, or gaining ability to use a technology if a firm is unwilling to licence).

 

But IP in environmental technology may not look the same as it has in previous debates, such as over pharmaceuticals, in particular as related to HIV/AIDS medications in Africa.

 

“Most people think about IP and the high cost, taking the example of pharma,” but this may be a different situation, said another speaker who declined to be identified. In pharmaceuticals, the “cost of R&D is so high that IP can constitute something like 90 percent of the price of a technology.” But in green energy the IP is likely not to constitute more than about 10 percent of the product, the speaker asserted.

 

“There is a clear difference with pharmaceuticals, where IP is linked to a product” than “in the case of energy or environmental technology” which is “much more complex [and necessitates looking] at IP as a part of overall cost, and how to manage cost to make deployment happen,” said Anand Patwardhan, a professor at the Indian Institute

 

of Technology in Mumbai, with a background in environment, technology and public policy.

 

If there is a paradigm-shifting technology where the problem is IP rights, then there is already the option of compulsory licensing in the World Trade Organization Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) agreement, the speaker said, which applies to any product and is not limited to pharmaceuticals.

 

Open Sourcing for the Environment

It is “definitely true that IPR is a social contract that balances public and private interest,” said Patwardhan, adding that “to the extent that there’s a public interest in more rapid development, you might want to think less about compulsory licences but more about how to encourage development that’s more open.” In open source development, “the ability to work collaboratively is enhanced” and “actually speeds up the technology cycle and makes it more diverse.”

 

Desai agreed. “With climate, we’re talking about process, not product,” he said, referring to the need for an economic paradigm shirt. “So we need a structure … like a transparency requirement.” This fits, he said, into the open source model of revealing source code.

 

Other solutions suggested by Shivastava included waivers on royalties for publicly funded technology, patent pools, or patent commons where rights holders pledge conditional waivers on their royalties.

 

Several participants also mentioned how critical it is that financing for both development and diffusion be provided.

 

Also contributing as research fellows of TERI, though not on IP issues, were Nitu Goel, who wrote on ethics in funding for adaptation to climate change, and Neha Pahuja, who spoke about measurable, reportable and verifiable goals.

 

Website: http://www.ip-watch.org

 

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Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.12  AGRA launches policy initiative to empower Africa to shape home-grown agricultural policies

 

Des Moines, Iowa, USA and Nairobi, Kenya

15 October 2009

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) today launched an initiative to empower African governments to shape home-grown agricultural policies that provide comprehensive support to smallholder farmers. The initiative is supported by a US$15 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

With an initial focus on five countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique and Tanzania), the initiative will strengthen African agricultural policy-making capacity through training agricultural policy analysts; bolstering policy think tanks; establishing data banks to support evidence-based policy development; and coordinating national policy hubs. It will focus on policies that support farmers in the areas of seeds; soil health; markets and trade; land rights; women’s rights; equity; environmental sustainability; and climate change.

 

“Unlike farmers everywhere else in the world, African farmers, most of whom are women, receive little or no support from their governments,” said Mr. Kofi A. Annan, Chairman of the AGRA Board and former Secretary-General of the United Nations. “We must change this. The new support to AGRA from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is coming at the right time for Africa, where strong national policy action is essential to end poverty and attain African food security.”

 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced this grant at the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, along with a package of nine agricultural development projects totaling $120 million to address long-term food security.

 

“Melinda and I believe that helping the poorest smallholder farmers grow more and get it to market is the world's single most powerful lever for reducing hunger and poverty,” Gates said.

 

For this to happen, African farmers need enabling agricultural policies. But Africa’s agricultural policy system is in shambles, following decades of externally-driven policies which gutted public support for agriculture and created a vacuum in Africa’s agricultural policy capacity. External policies imposed through “structural adjustment” programs left tens of millions of farmers locked in poverty, unable to invest in their farms or to access markets.

 

“We cannot abandon our farmers and be surprised that Africa is in a food crisis,” said Dr. Akin Adesina, AGRA’s Vice President of Policy and Partnerships. “We must replace ‘policies of abandonment’ with policies of comprehensive support for smallholders. African institutions must lead by developing evidence-based and locally relevant policies to transform African agriculture into a sustainable, competitive and highly productive system.”

 

“Our goal is not to set policy for African countries, but to empower countries, and move beyond policy analyses into policy action,” said Dr. Namanga Ngongi, President of AGRA. “We will give voice to African farmers.”

 

To ensure that new policies benefit smallholders, the program will strengthen farmers’ policy advocacy platforms, with a special focus on women farmers, to help them gain full and equal access to land security, farm technologies, markets, finance, and extension services.

 

AGRA is helping to give African farmers and policy-makers a voice they have lacked for decades,” said Stephen Wazira, Minister of Agriculture of Tanzania. “We need policies that unlock the potential of agriculture, feed our people and support economic development. This initiative will further empower our government to put policy to work for smallholder farmers.”

 

Policy Impacts

According to Adesina, the tide is turning in favor of African farmers, as nations such as Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Mali, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana and Nigeria are taking new bold steps to revitalize agriculture.

 

Many more countries are signing up to the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) to provide at least ten percent of their budget in support of agriculture. As these funds become available, effective, locally-determined policies to guide investments will be even more critical. “AGRA will further bolster CAADP efforts at national and regional levels. Success of the green revolution at country levels across Africa is critical for countries to achieve the 6% agricultural growth target that African Presidents agreed to under CAADP” said Adesina.

 

Policy impact can already be seen in countries like Malawi and Rwanda which are providing comprehensive support to their farmers. Government policies, including seed and fertilizer vouchers for poor farmers, have helped transform Malawi from a net importer to a net exporter of maize for four years running, and fueled a national economic growth rate of seven percent. In Rwanda, policies which increased farmers’ access to quality seed and fertilizers have boosted food production for two straight years. Food production grew by 15% in 2007 and 16% in 2008, as the country embarked on a green revolution program. This has improved national food security, even as 20 million people in neighboring countries must depend on food aid for survival.

 

AGRA stresses that across African nations, there is no single policy solution for promoting smallholder agriculture. While farmers need direct support, equally important are accelerated investments in public goods such as agricultural research, extension, small-scale irrigation and roads.

 

“In the long-term, the ability of Africa’s smallholder farmers to adequately feed the continent depends on a policy environment that improves access to agricultural technologies, assures market access, stabilize food prices for the poor, protects the environment and helps farmers adapt to climate change,” said Annan. “That is why this AGRA policy initiative is so important.”

 

Organizations such as the Economic Commission for Africa, African Development Bank, Africa Union-NEPAD, Regional Economic Communities, the African Economic Research Consortium and the International Food Policy Research Institute will be key partners in the policy initiative.

 

“We will coordinate with these and other organizations to accelerate comprehensive policies and investments for rapid agricultural growth. Millions of African farmers can no longer wait,” Ngongi said.

 

AGRA works across sub-Saharan Africa and maintains offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Accra, Ghana.

For more information see: www.agra-alliance.org  

 

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Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.13 U.S. Agriculture Secretary announces $7 million in funding for agricultural plant genomics, genetics and breeding research

 

Washingtonm, DC, USA

14 October 2009

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $7 million in grants for research on the biology of plant processes and traits which can be used to breed crops with enhanced value and resilience to climate stress. The research will increase understanding of plant biology from the genome to the field, and provide a foundation for the development of plant varieties with increased yield, reduced production cost, and enhanced quality and nutritional value.

 

“At a time when disruptive climate change threatens production of some of the world’s staple foods, some of the biggest gains we can make in ending world hunger will involve development of stress-resistant crops,” said Vilsack. “Drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant, and saline-resistant crops will not only offer tremendous improvements for farmers around the world, but also position American farmers competitively in the world market.”

 

These grants are awarded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), previously the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, under the new Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program to provide funding for fundamental and applied research, extension and education to address food and agricultural sciences.

 

Awards have been selected for:

University of California, Davis, Calif., $448,000

University of California, Davis, Calif., $447,000

University of California, Riverside, Calif., $1,000,000

• USDA ARS Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Unit, Aberdeen, Idaho, $450,000

Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $997,000

Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $441,000

University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., $150,000

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $450,000

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $449,000

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $448,000

University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb., $282,000

Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $1,000,000

Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., $448,000

• USDA FS Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis, Ore., $454,545

 

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

 

More news from: USDA - NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture)

 

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1.14  U.S. Agriculture Secretary launches the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

 

Washington, DC, USA

8 October 2009

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) with a major speech regarding the role of science and research at USDA. At an event at the National Press Club with John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Vilsack outlined his vision for addressing the some of the world's major challenges over the coming decades:

 

Below are excerpts from Vilsack's prepared remarks:

"The opportunity to truly transform a field of science happens at best once a generation. Right now, I am convinced, is USDA's opportunity to work with the Congress, the other science agencies, and with our partners in industry, academia, and the nonprofit sector, to bring about transformative change. We can build on recent scientific discoveries - incredible advances in sequencing plant and animal genomes, for example. We have new and powerful tools -- biotechnology, nanotechnology, and large-scale computer simulations -- applicable to all types of agriculture.

 

"These discoveries and tools come not a moment too soon. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that food production will need to double by 2050 to meet demand, and this has to happen in an environment where our production system already is under threat. For every one degree increase in temperature from global warming, we expect a 10 percent drop in yields. Water is in increasingly short supply in the U.S. and abroad for drinking, for irrigation, and for livestock production. Climate change already is disrupting farming and grazing patterns and food production, and not just overseas -- many sectors of the U.S. agricultural economy are exceptionally vulnerable to climate stress.

 

"USDA science needs to change to respond to these pressures, to ensure the sustainability of the American food, fuel, and fiber system and to address some of America's - and the world's -- most intractable problems. Ultimately - our success in science has to be matched by impact in society. Already [Under Secretary of Research, Education, and Economics Raj Shah] has begun an in-depth and systematic analysis of our research programs, their goals, and their outcomes to help me better match available resources to critical outcomes for solving national and international problems.

 

"Formed in the main from the existing Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, NIFA will be the Department's extramural research enterprise. It is no exaggeration to say that NIFA will be a research "start-up" company - we will be rebuilding our competitive grants program from the ground up to generate real results for the American people. To lead NIFA, President Obama has tapped a preeminent plant scientist from the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis - Roger N. Beachy, winner of the Wolf Prize in Agriculture and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

"I want USDA science to focus most of its resources on accomplishing a few, bold outcomes with great power to improve human health and protect our environment:

·         USDA science will support our ability to keep American agriculture competitive while ending world hunger. At a time when disruptive climate change threatens production of some of the world's staple foods, some of the biggest gains we can make in ending world hunger will involve development of stress-resistant crops.

·         USDA science will support our ability to improve nutrition and end child obesity. At USDA we want to take the nutrition and food choice insights we have gained from our science to test out some new approaches to school lunches, breakfast and our other nutrition assistance and education programs.

·         USDA science will support our efforts to radically improve food safety for all Americans. Each year in the U.S. alone, food-borne pathogens like E. coli kill 5,000 people and sicken 75 million more; the cost to the economy from these infections exceeds $35 billion.

·         USDA science will secure America's energy future. President Obama has set ambitious but achievable goals for securing America's energy future from new domestic sources, including 60 billion gallons a year from biofuels by 2030. We plan to focus specifically on rapidly improving the amount and quality of plant-based feedstocks that will be the source of biofuels.

·         USDA science will make us better stewards of America's environment and natural resources. We believe that research in this priority area will identify agricultural operations in the United States that, within 10 years, will be net carbon sinks.

·          

"President Obama this spring pledged to invest more heavily in the nation's basic sciences, and to commit as much as 3 percent of America's GDP to science. Agricultural science needs to be part of that strategic investment strategy. Focus, scale, and impact - these are the levers Raj, Roger, and I will use to launch a new paradigm for the science that underpins our food, agriculture, and natural resources systems research.

 

"I am asking today for a commitment of will and energy to bring about our generation's new era of agricultural science. I look forward to charting a course together to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery in the agricultural sciences, speed the application of new knowledge to address challenges facing US and global food and agriculture, and translate new knowledge into tangible benefits for the American people and the world."

 

More news from: USDA - NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture)

 

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1.15  On horizon 2050 - billions needed for agriculture, according to an FAO discussion paper

 

Rome, Italy

8 October 2009

Net investments of $83 billion a year must be made in agriculture in developing countries if there is to be enough food to feed 9.1 billion people in 2050, according to an FAO discussion paper published today.

 

Agricultural investment thus needs to increase by about 50 percent, according to the paper prepared for the High Level Experts’ Forum on How to Feed the World in 2050, Rome 12-13 October 2009. Some 300 top international specialists will attend the meeting.

 

Required investments include crops and livestock production as well as downstream support services such as cold chains, storage facilities, market facilities and first-stage processing.

 

Private investment essential

The projected investment needs to 2050 include some $20 billion going to crops production and $13 billion going to livestock production, the paper said. Mechanization would account for the single biggest investment area followed by expansion and improvement of irrigation.

 

A further $50 billion would be needed for downstream services to help achieve a global 70 percent expansion in agricultural production by 2050.

 

Most of this investment, in both primary agriculture and downstream services, will come from private investors, including farmers purchasing implements and machinery and businesses investing in processing facilities.

 

Public investment also necessary

In addition, public funds will also be needed to achieve a better functioning of the agricultural system and food security, the paper said. Priority areas for such public investments include: i) agricultural research and development; ii) large-scale infrastructure such as roads, ports and power, and agricultural institutions and extension services; and iii) education, particularly of women, sanitation, clean water supply and healthcare.

 

But in 2000 total global public spending on agricultural research and development totalled only some $23 billion and has been highly uneven. Official Development Assistance (ODA) to agriculture decreased by some 58 percent in real terms between 1980 and 2005, dropping from a 17 percent share of aid to 3.8 percent over the period. Presently it stands at around five percent.

 

Of the projected new net investments in agriculture, as much as $29 billion would need to be spent in the two countries with the largest populations – India and China. As far as regions are concerned, sub-Saharan Africa would need about $11 billion invested, Latin America and the Caribbean $20 billion, the Near East and North Africa $10 billion, South Asia $20 billion and East Asia $24 billion.

 

Regional differences

The projections point to wide regional differences in the impact of new investments when translated into per capita terms. Given different population growth rates, Latin America, for instance, is expected to almost halve its agricultural labour force while sub-Saharan Africa will double its own. This means that by 2050 an agricultural worker in Latin America would have 28 times the capital stock – or physical assets such as equipment, land and livestock – available as his or her colleague in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Foreign direct investment in agriculture in developing countries could make a significant contribution to bridging the investment gap, the paper said.

 

But political and economic concerns have been raised about so-called “land grab” investments in poor, food-insecure countries. Such deals should be designed in such a way as to maximize benefits to host populations, effectively increasing their food security and reducing poverty

 

Website: http://www.fao.org

 

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1.16  Bioversity International and the International Potato Center release key access and utilization descriptors for cultivated potato genetic resources

 

September 2009

This list consists of an initial set of characterization and evaluation descriptors for cultivated potato utilization.

This strategic set of descriptors, together with passport data, will become the basis for the global accession level information portal being developed by Bioversity International with the financial support of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. It will facilitate access to and utilization of cultivated potato accessions held in genebanks and does not preclude the addition of further descriptors, should data subsequently become available.

 

Download the descriptors

Corporate Author: Bioversity International; International Potato Center (CIP)

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 7

Format: PDF, On-line

Language: En

 

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1.17 The amazing maze of maize evolution - Study on maize domestication may help improve crop yields

 

St. Louis, Missouri, USA

2 October 2009

Understanding the evolution and domestication of maize has been a holy grail for many researchers. As one of the most important crops worldwide and as a crop that appears very different from its wild relatives as a result of domestication, understanding exactly how maize has evolved has many practical benefits and may help to improve crop yields.

 

In the October issue of the American Journal of Botany (www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/96/10/1798), Dr. Marina Dermastia and colleagues published their research comparing corn kernel development to its closest wild relative: teosinte. This research overturns some commonly held beliefs on the domestication of maize because, unexpectedly, many traits seen in the cellular development of maize kernels that were previously attributed to the process of domestication were observed in the development of the teosinte kernels by Dermastia and her colleagues. "Although the teosinte kernels are morphologically so different from that of maize, their inside is not, Dermastia said. "Although we did not expect fundamental differences between maize and teosinte, the similarities were striking."

 

Some of the traits thought to be unique to maize but now also found in teosinte include an early programmed cell death for cells in part of the kernel and accumulation of phenolic and flavonoid compounds in the walls of these cells. These developmental changes strengthen the cells, protect them against decay and disease, and increase water conductance. According to Dermastia, "We suggested previously that this process was important for the establishment of the water and assimilate flow to the developing maize kernel…in the teosinte kernel, we not only detected programmed cell death…but also all other phenomena described as related to the transport into the maize kernel." The presence of these traits in teosinte kernels suggests that they are not a consequence of maize domestication.

 

Other developmental traits they observed in the teosinte kernels included the presence of an enzyme that controls the flow of sugar in the developing seed, which appears to be a common mechanism for sugar uptake in both maize and teosinte.

 

Dermastia and her colleagues did observe one difference between seed development in teosinte and maize. Endoreduplication, the process of a cell duplicating its DNA without subsequent cell division, is a phenomenon that occurs in the endosperm of cereals, which is the nutritious part of the seed. An increasing rate of endoreduplication results in cells with greater DNA content and, subsequently, increased gene expression and greater sink capacity for the developing seed. Dermastia and her colleagues observed that the distribution of cells with high DNA content in maize differs from that of teosinte. In maize, these cells are found in the upper part of the endosperm, while in teosinte they are distributed throughout the endosperm. The researchers hypothesize that this difference may be related to more efficient starch deposition in maize as a result of domestication.

 

"Our study indicates that the main differences, beside the teosinte fruitcase and its absence in maize, might lay in the process of endoreduplication in endosperm, Dermastia said. "Knowing the process in more depth might be an important step in improving a most important crop."

 

The full article in the link mentioned is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary at www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/96/10/1798.

 

A cellular study of teosinte Zea mays subsp. parviglumis (Poaceae) caryopsis development showing several processes conserved in maize

Marina Dermastia, Ale Kladnik, Jasna Dolenc Koce and Prem S. Chourey

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. In 2009, the Special Libraries Association named the American Journal of Botany one of the Top 10 Most Influential Journals of the Century in the field of Biology and Medicine.

 

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1.18 Evidence for the emergence of new rice types of interspecific hybrid origin in west African farmers’ fields

 

Edwin Nuijten, Robbert van Treuren, Paul C. Struik, Alfred Mokuwa, Florent Okry, Be´ la Teeken, Paul Richards

 

Abstract

In West Africa two rice species (Oryza glaberrima Steud. and Oryza sativa L.) co-exist. Although originally it was thought that interspecific hybridization is impossible without biotechnological methods, progenies of hybridization appear to occur in farmer fields. AFLP analysis was used to assess genetic diversity in West Africa (including the countries The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Togo) using 315 rice samples morphologically classified prior to analysis. We show evidence for farmer interspecific hybrids of African and Asian rice, resulting in a group of novel genotypes, and identify possible mechanisms for in-field hybridization. Spontaneous back-crossing events play a crucial role, resulting in different groups of genetic diversity in different regions developed by natural and cultural selection, often under adverse conditions. These new groups of genotypes may have potential relevance for exploitation by plant breeders.

 

Future advances in crop development could be achieved through co-operation between scientists and marginalized farmer groups in order to address challenges of rapid adaptation in a world of increasing socio-political and climatic uncertainty.

 

Copyright: _ 2009 Nuijten et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

 

For more information contact: Edwin.Nuijten@wur.nl

 

Contributed by Luigi Guarino

luigi.guarino@gmail.com

 

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1.19  Study confirms classic theory on the origins of biodiversity

 

11 September 2009

A team of researchers at Cornell University lead by Anurag Agrawal have conducted a series of studies on applying phylogenetic  approaches to study the history of life and the co-evolution of plants and insects and how their interactions lead to greater diversification of both groups. One of the studies featured in the series and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is on how milkweeds diversify to follow the 1964 theory of adaptive radiation by scientists Paul Ehrlich and Peter Raven. It is a process when species rapidly multiply and diversify for a time as they colonize new resources and then level off.

 

The report said that, "As milkweeds developed prickly, hairy leaves, highly toxic chemicals (cardenolides) and gooey white latex that gums up a predator's mouth, the monarch butterfly caterpillars evolved to become immune to the toxins, learned to cut the veins in the leaves to drain the latex before they ate them and shaved off l! eaf hairs with adopted mouth." However, instead of the milkweeds continuing to adapt and develop more defenses against the caterpillars, the plant has increased its ability to grow leaves back quickly - a phenomenon that slightly deviates from the principle.

 

With this discovery the team is aiming for more studies on plant/ insect interaction. "It's still a mystery why there are 300 times more herbivorous insects than bird species, but now we are able to implicate traits of both plants and insects that have given rise to so many species," said Agrawal. "The interaction between plants and insects has been part of their adaptive radiation."

 

See the report

at http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Sept09/AgrawalMilkweed.html

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update11 September 2009

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.20  From Teosinte to maize, an evolutionary farce?

 

An article in the American Journal of Botany titled A cellular study of teosinte Zea mays subsp. parviglumis (poaceae) caryopsis development showing several processes conserved in maize 1 dissected the possible evolution of the domesticated maize from teosinte, the wild relative of maize. The study by a group of researchers from the National Institute of Biology and Department of Biology, Slovenia, and University of Florida, USA led by Dr. Marina Dermastia revealed that many traits seen in the cellular development of maize kernels that were previously attributed to the process of domestication were observed in the development of the teosinte kernels.

 

The group observed some maize traits associated with seed development that can be found in teosinte including: programmed cell death, accumulation of phenolic compounds in the walls of these cells, and the presence of an enzyme that controls the flow of sugar in the developing seed. These traits of t! eosinte kernels suggest that they are not a consequence of maize domestication.

 

One interesting observation is that the distribution of cells with high DNA content, which is a result of endoreduplication, in maize differs from that of teosinte. In maize this high density DNA content is distributed throughout the endosperm, while it is in the upper part of the teosinte endosperm. This difference maybe a direct consequence of maize evolution.

 

The full article is downloadable at

http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/reprint/96/10/1798?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&andorexacttitle=and&andorexacttitleabs=and&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&fdate=10/1/2009&resourcetype=HWCIT

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 10 October 2009

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.21  Chinese wild plantain became ''milestone'' of storage objective of UK seed bank

 

Beijing, China

26 October 2009

Kew Millennium Seed Bank of UK held a ceremony on October 15th to welcome the wild plantain seeds from China as the No. 24200 wild plant seed preserved by this organization and 'helped' to fulfill its tenth goal of the collection.

 

Kew Millennium Seed Bank planned to collect 242,000 kinds of wild plant seeds and thus the wild plantain seeds from China became a "milestone" for its storage project.

 

Wild plantains used to be widely distributed in Yunnan province and several neighbouring countries. It is one of the major foods of wild Asian elephants. Local residents there also eat its young stem and flower. However, it is decreasing due to changes of climate and natural environment in recent years. Preservation of the seed in Kew seed bank will help to protect the wild plantain and its gene resources, said Yang Xiangyun, researcher of Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

 

Built in 2000, Kew Millennium Seed Bank is one of largest seed banks in the world. The bank focuses on endangered wild plants and carries out scientific research on collected seeds.

 

Kew Millennium Seed Bank planned to increase its kinds of preserved wild plant seeds into more than 60,000 in 2020, fulfilling 25% target of the seed bank's storage plan, according to Paul Smith, principal of Kew Millennium Seed Bank.

 

Yang is supervisor of the Germ Plasm Bank of Wild Species in Southwest China. The bank is a major scientific project built in China in recent years. It has preserved several thousand of plant seeds. And the number is keep growing.

 

Chinese and English plant research institutions often exchange seeds and make mutual backup so as to enhance protection and research of plants.

 

More news from: Chinese Academy of Sciences

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=11165&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.22  University of Idaho scientists use genetic markers to develop potatoes that fry up light even after cold storage

 

Kimberly, Idaho, USA

23 October 2009

In Idaho and across the nation, freshly harvested potatoes are in the early days of a storage season that—for some varieties—could continue through next August. When held at temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, they won’t develop cold-induced “sweetening”—an undesirable process in which sugars within spuds produce dark fries that are unacceptable to consumers—but they’re more likely to sprout, lose moisture and develop storage-related diseases.

 

At the University of Idaho, postharvest physiologist Sanjay Gupta suspects we could have cold-stored potatoes and enjoy eating them, too. “That would be a very significant improvement,” he said. “Cold sweetening has been a problem for the potato industry for a very long time.”

 

Gupta has teamed with Richard Novy, Aberdeen-based USDA Agricultural Research Service potato breeder, and two Midwestern scientists to select breeding lines for their resistance to cold-induced sweetening. Potatoes that could be stored at or below 42 degrees Fahrenheit and still fry up light wouldn’t need as many sprout inhibition treatments, Gupta said. As living seed, they would respire less at colder temperatures, thereby retaining moisture and weight, and would be less prone to plant diseases.

 

While at the University of Minnesota, Gupta began developing two biochemical markers that reveal a potato’s propensity to tolerate cold storage. One of the biochemical markers is a protein called UDP-Glucose pyrophosphorylase that controls the formation of sucrose from the potatoes’ starches; the other, acid invertase, controls the formation of the reducing sugars glucose and fructose from sucrose. Together, they indicate not only how well a variety can be stored at lower temperatures but for how long.

 

Gupta refined the markers at the University of Idaho’s Kimberly Research and Extension Center. Along with Martin Glynn of the USDA-ARS in East Grand Forks and Joe Sowokinos of the University of Minnesota, he then used the markers to screen about 300 experimental clones and commercial varieties from a dozen North American breeding programs. The markers predicted with about 90 percent accuracy a potato’s response to storage temperatures.

 

“Understanding the underlying mechanism of cold-sweetening is a big benefit to breeders,” said Novy. “We can intercross parents having divergent cold-induced sweetening resistance and make greater gains, because many of their offspring will be more resistant than either parent.”

 

By choosing the right parents, breeders could significantly accelerate the development of potatoes with the level of cold-sweetening resistance the market seeks, Gupta said.

 

Website: http://www.uidaho.edu

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.23 Disabling instead of adding: a novel way of breeding disease-resistant plants

 

Researchers at the Wageningen UR in the Netherlands are focusing on a novel strategy for breeding plants resistant to diseases: disabling genes instead of adding resistance genes. Turning off the expression of genes using molecular techniques have been used for many years to improve crop quality, but according to the Wageningen researchers, it has not been used to increase resistance of crops to pathogens in order to mimic recessive mutations. Wageningen professors Yuling Bai, Evert Jacobsen and Richard Visser explain this approach in a review article published by Molecular Breeding.

 

In the paper, Bai and colleagues discussed the latest findings on plant factors that are activated by pathogen effectors to suppress plant immunity, the so-called susceptibility genes. The first susceptibility gene, called Mlo, was found in barley. This gene was found to be non-functional in powdery mildew-resistant plants. Silencing Mlo in Arabidopsis resulted to plants that can resist the disease.

 

The new breeding strategy is still controversial among plant scientists and breeders, according to the scientists. "We have already been discussing this strategy for two and a half years," said Jacobsen. "Not everybody is convinced of its potential. People say: gene silencing is old, we need resistance genes. But you have to investigate new techniques and strategies - that's the task of a university." Jacobsen and his team is now investigating the genes in potato involved in late blight susceptibility.

 

Read the original story at

http://www.wur.nl/UK/newsagenda/news/Novel_breeding_strategy_for_plant_resistance.htm

 

The paper is available for download at

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11032-009-9323-6

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 18 September 2009

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.24  Scientists closer to drug-free Cannabis plants

 

Researchers are closing in on developing drug-free Cannabis plants. A team of scientists from the University of Minnesota have identified almost all the genes involved in the biosynthetic pathway tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. With the genes identified, the scientists can now devise ways to silence them, for instance using RNA interference. The researchers said that studying these genes can also lead to new drugs for pain and nausea.

 

David Marks and colleagues, reporting in the Journal of Experimental Botany, found that the genes are highly expressed in tiny hairs covering the flowers of Cannabis plants. The researchers have identified specific polyketide synthase genes that are highly expressed in the hairs. In marijuana, the hairs accumulate high amounts of THCA, whereas in hemp the hairs have little (marijuana and hemp are different breeds of Cannabis sativa).

 

Hemp varieties have THCA levels at or below 0.3 percent, while the average THCA content of marijuana can reach 30 percent. Hemp has once been a popular crop, an important source of strong, industrial fiber and nutritious oil. But after the drug legislation, its cultivation was banned because of the fear that hemp planting could mask the growth of marijuana.

 

The findings may also prove important to the beer industry. According to the researchers, the polyketide synthase genes identified in cannabis plants are closely related to those from hop. Hop plants produce humulone, the bitter compound that gives beer its distinctive taste, and xanthohumol, which has several potential health beneficial properties. The biosynthetic pathways that produce these compounds are almost identical to the THCA pathway, according to the scientists. Thus, studying the Cannabis genes might provide information for improved understanding of hop biochemical pathways.

 

The open access article is available ! at http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erp210

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 18 September 2009

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.25  Productive corn plants with the right resources

 

Increasing corn productivity may have to do with the crop's ability to respond to intense crowding and low nitrogen availability, said an article published in the online version of Agronomy Journal. The paper authored by Purdue University scientists led by agronomy professor Tony Vyn was conducted for three years involving 4,000 individual plants which were observed in detail from seedling emergence. The individual plants were exposed to three different plant densities and three different nitrogen rates.

 

Results showed that competition is enhanced at high plant densities, especially when nitrogen is limiting. Nitrogen like other nutrients becomes more essential at high plant densities. In addition, anthesis-to-silking interval is crucial in increasing final grain yield. If there is competition, plants will tend to shed pollen on time, but the emergence of the silk in the corn ear is delayed, resulting to low seed set and yield.

 

This research is important in the standpoint of the corn industry as they develop hybrids that can withstand high plant densities and limiting nitrogen.

 

The full article can be downloaded at

https://www.agronomy.org/publications/agronomy-journal/view/101-6/aj09-0082-pub.pdf

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 10 October 2009

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.26  New pulse varieties to boost growers' options

 

New varieties of legume - two lentils, a chickpea and a broad bean - will be introduced to Australian growers by the Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA). The varieties will be launched in association with its commercial seed partners at field days in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria in October. Brochures related to the varieties' advantages, areas of adaptation, agronomic and disease management information and marketing arrangements will be available for each variety.

 

The pulses will have improved yield, harvestability, disease resistance, tolerance to abiotic stresses, quality and weed management. This initiative is a part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to bring new and improved pulse varieties over a period of five years.

 

For details, see the news at

http://www.grdc.com.au/director/events/mediareleases?item_id=2D82181EE4FCE4DCAE36E42E1D7CA6E0&pageNumber=1

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 10 October 2009

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.27  ARS releases corn lines resistant to diseases, aflatoxin contamination

 

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), in collaboration with colleagues from the Nigeria-based International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), have released six new inbred corn lines with resistance to aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxins are among the most potent carcinogens known to man. They are produced by species of the Aspergillus fungus, most notably A. flavus, in groundnuts, cassava, yam and corn.

 

"These six lines have demonstrated good resistance against aflatoxin accumulation in laboratory and field tests," says Robert Brown, ARS plant pathologist. "They have also been shown to possess other commercially desirable corn traits, including resistance to southern corn leaf blight and southern corn rust."

 

The hybrid corn varieties are the product of a decade long collaboration between Brown and Abebe Menkir researcher at the IITA. The collaborators first screened a! nd then combined the top aflatoxin-resistant lines found in the U.S.  with those found in Central and West Africa.

 

Brown has also identified a kernel protein, PR-10, produced by the Aspergillus-resistant corn varieties. In laboratory tests, this protein was found to destroy A. flavus RNA and to inhibit fungal growth. These results show that this protein may play an important role in corn resistance against A. flavus growth and aflatoxin contamination.

 

Read more at

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct09/corn1009.htm

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 16 October 2009

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.28  Sibling recognition in plants

 

Two groups of researchers confirmed that plant siblings grown close to each other in the soil tend not to compete with each other compared to when they are grown with non-siblings. The phenomenon was observed first by Susan Dudley of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada in 2007 and was confirmed recently by Harsh Bais of the University of Delaware. "Plants have no visible sensory markers, and they can't run away from where they are planted," Bais says. "It then becomes a search for more complex patterns of recognition."

 

Using wild populations of Arabidopsis thaliana, Bais, together with student Meredith Bierdrzycki, confirmed that the length of the longest lateral root and of hypocotyls of siblings planted close to each other are shallower, indicating non-competition. But, when they are grown with non-siblings, they rapidly grow more roots to take up water and mineral nutrients in the soil, and compete with each other. In addition, leaves of these plant siblings often will touch and intertwine compared to strangers that grow rigidly upright and avoid touching.

 

When added with sodium orthovanadate, a root secretion inhibitor to the set-up, stranger recognition is abolished. Identification and control of the root recognition signal will find application in field and landscape crops.

 

See the news at http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2010/oct/plantsiblings101409.html

 

The full article will be available at: http://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/cib/article/10118/

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 16 October 2009

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.29  Changing smell of plants announces pathogen attack

 

Tomato plants under attack from the Botrytis fungus give off an aromatic substance that can be measured in greenhouses, scientists at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands discovered. Botrytis or gray mold is an important disease in global tomato cultivation, normally controlled using chemical pesticides.

 

Through a series of tests, Roel Jansen and colleagues showed that tomato plants infected by Botrytis fungus give off more methyl salicylate into the greenhouse air. Often the plants emit sufficient amounts of this hormone substance for it to be measurable in the air. The researchers believe that detection of volatile compounds in the  greenhouse air presents a new way of preventing and managing disease and plague problems in greenhouse horticulture. "If you can identify a plague in a greenhouse on time there will be even less need for pesticides," Jansen says. "The trend in greenhouse horticulture is for fewer but larger greenhous! es. An outbreak of a disease or plague therefore forms an even greater threat as it can easily spread throughout the entire greenhouse."

 

Read more at

http://www.wur.nl/UK/newsagenda/news/smell191009.htm

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 October 2009

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.30  U.S. National Science Foundation awards 32 new projects for plant genome research

 

Projects will better define plant responses to changing environments and contribute to our understanding of genetic processes in economically important plants

 

Washington, DC, USA

20 October 2009

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made 32 new awards totaling $101.6 million during the twelfth year of its Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP).

 

These awards--which cover two to five years and range from $500,000 to $10.4 million--support research and tool development to further knowledge of genome structure and function. They will leverage sequence and functional genomics resources to increase understanding of gene function and interactions between genomes and the environment in economically important crop plants such as corn, cotton, rice, soybean, tomato and wheat.

 

"Clearly, we are now beginning to see the breadth of the effects of NSF investments in plant genomics. The knowledge gained in these projects will serve as the basic foundation that will ultimately enable plant biologists and breeders to develop crop plants that are higher yielding and better able to adapt to a changing environment," said James P. Collins, former NSF assistant director for biological sciences.

 

The new awards--made to 53 institutions in 30 states--include international groups of scientists from Africa, Asia, Europe and Central and South America.

 

First-time recipients of PGRP awards include Bowie State University, Brigham Young University, Central Michigan University, College of Wooster, Hamline University, Miami University, Montclair State University, New College of Florida, HudsonAlpha Institute, University of Buffalo and the University of Maryland-College Park.

 

The development of a wealth of genomics tools and sequence resources developed over the past 12 years of the PGRP continues to enable exciting, new comparative approaches and predictive modeling to uncover gene networks that regulate plant development and growth in changing environments.

 

Projects include:

·         Research led by teams at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Davis; University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign; University of Missouri, Columbia; University of Virginia; and Yale University that will address new, testable hypotheses for the mechanism(s) of hybrid vigor in plants.

·         An interdisciplinary effort led by Cornell University/U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to study the gene effects and interactions that underlie variation in complex traits in maize and its wild relative, teosinte. In collaboration with scientists in Mexico and Africa, this project will provide resources and information critical for developing the ability to model and predict phenotype from genotype.

·         Research led by the University of Texas-Austin to elucidate the basic physiological and molecular responses to field imposed drought stress in switchgrass as a first step to modeling plant performance in response to future climate change.

·         An international consortium led by the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research/USDA-ARS to complete the sequence of the tomato genome and to develop computational web-based tools and resources that will enable basic and applied research in the Solanaceae.

·         Research led by Indiana University to generate a diverse collection of sequence and biological resources for the continued study of the Compositae, one of the largest, most diverse, and most economically important plant families of over 40 domesticated species that include lettuce, sunflower and safflower as well as some of the world's most noxious weeds

·          

The PGRP, which was established in 1998 as part of the National Plant Genome Initiative coordinated by the Interagency Working Group on Plant Genomes of the National Science and Technology Council with representatives from USDA, U.S. Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, NSF, U.S. Agency for International Development, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Office of Management and Budget, works to advance the understanding of the structure and function of genomes of plants of economic importance.

 

This year's awards were selected from a pool of outstanding proposals, many of which leverage data and other resources previously produced with PGRP funding and/or funding from USDA-ARS, USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, and Department of Energy. The interdisciplinary projects, which leverage resources across multiple agencies, highlight the success of the NPGI in enabling transformational research with the potential to address urgent societal needs.

 

Complete list of 2009 PGRP awards: http://www.nsf.gov/bio/pubs/awards/pgr.htm

 

Website: http://www.nsf.gov

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=11057&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.31 University of California Riverside researchers develop genetic map for cowpea, accelerating development of new varieties

 

Map also facilitates genetic improvement of several other legumes

 

Riverside, California

13 October 2009

Cowpea, a protein-rich legume crop, is immensely important in many parts of the world, particularly drought-prone regions of Africa and Asia, where it plays a central role in the diet and economy of hundreds of millions of people.

 

Cowpea provides food that complements starchy staple crops such as corn, cassava, sorghum and millets to offer a well-rounded diet, much as beans and other grain legumes complement maize- and rice-based diets in Latin America and other places. Due to its hardy nature, cowpea plays a key role in sustaining food security for both people and their livestock.

 

But breeding new cowpea varieties with desirable traits, such as disease resistance, pest resistance and drought tolerance, is a time-consuming and laborious process that can take a decade from concept to release.

 

A challenge facing cowpea breeders, therefore, is how to accelerate the production of new and improved cowpea varieties in order to both meet the needs of a growing world population and provide the productivity gains needed by farmers to improve their economic standing.

 

Now a team of scientists at the University of California, Riverside has responded to this challenge by developing a high-density “consensus genetic map” of cowpea that accelerates conventional breeding severalfold and facilitates the production of new varieties of not only cowpea but also other legumes, particularly soybean and common bean (near relatives of cowpea).

 

To build the map, the scientists first modified and then applied advanced genetic tools developed from human genome investigations that only recently have been applied to a few major crop plants.

 

“The consensus map is a consolidation of six individual genetic maps of cowpea, and is far more representative of the cowpea genome than earlier maps,” said team leader, Timothy Close, a professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. “We now have a reliable, powerful tool that marks a paradigm shift in crop-breeding technology.”

 

Study results appear Oct. 13 in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

The consensus genetic map of cowpea is a dense and detailed roadmap of its genome (a genome is a complete genetic blueprint). The map has approximately 1000 molecular markers throughout the genome. The markers, which are like signposts directing a motorist to a destination, are associated with traits desired for breeding and used to more deliberately design and assemble new superior varieties.

 

“All you need is a marker near a gene of interest,” explained team member Philip Roberts, a professor in the Department of Nematology, who currently leads UCR’s Bean/Cowpea and Dry Grain Pulses Collaborative Research Support Program — a highly successful project, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, that has assisted African institutes in developing improved cowpea varieties. “With a marker-based map we can look into any trait desired in cowpea. The resolution of the map is such that we can accurately locate the position of genes that are contributing in a major way to various traits we’d like to see built into new cowpea varieties.”

 

Close explained that cowpea is closely related to soybean at the genome level, allowing for the kind of cross referencing that would have been unfeasible without the consensus genetic map.

 

“A good number of genes are conserved across species,” he said. “By looking at a marker on a cowpea chromosome, we can cross reference it to information on, say, the soybean genome, based on the DNA sequences of the marker. This facilitates knowledge transfer between these species, so advances made in cowpea can be translated into valuable information for soybean, and vice versa. The result is a tremendous acceleration in marker development to support the breeding process.”

 

Cowpea, which originated in Africa, also is commonly referred to as southern pea, blackeye pea, crowder pea, lubia, niebe, coupe or frijole. In the United States, cowpea is popular in the south, where it is known as black-eyed peas and other names. California primarily grows the blackeyed cowpea type.

 

“It took us nearly ten years to breed ‘California Blackeye No. 50,’ our newest blackeye cowpea variety for California growers, using conventional breeding methods,” said Jeff Ehlers, a specialist in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences with more than 20 years of experience conducting genetic research on cowpea in California and Africa. “With the new technologies and map information now at hand this could have been done in half this time. The new consensus map will greatly expand our ability to locate valuable genes and incorporate them into new varieties.”

 

UCR is host to a collection of more than 5,000 cowpea varieties from around the world. These genetically diverse varieties offer a treasure-trove of genes of potential value to breeders seeking to build better cowpea varieties.

 

UCR researchers have been providing assistance to African scientists for several decades. In the late 1970s, Anthony Hall, a professor emeritus of crop physiology in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, pioneered research on cowpea at UCR. His research on cowpea physiology contributed to a deeper understanding of the legume’s adaptation to drought, heat and poor soils, and his efforts with several African breeders helped develop highly successful varieties in Senegal, Sudan and Ghana. He also led the effort to establish a genetic map for cowpea, published in 1997.

 

Close, Roberts and Ehlers were joined in the research by UCR’s Wellington Muchero, the first author of the research paper, and Ndeye Diop, both of whom are postdoctoral researchers and hail from Africa, as well as Prasanna Bhat, Raymond Fenton, Steve Wanamaker, and Marti Pottorff. Other coauthors on the research paper are Sarah Hearne and Christian Fatokun of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria, and Ndiaga Cisse of the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research.

 

The two-year research effort was funded by the Generation Challenge Program (GCP) through a grant to the GCP from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and from the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Collaborative Research Support Program.

 

Website: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10914&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.32  A genetic mutation at the origin of the development of female flowers in the melon

 

Paris, France

22 October 2009

A team of INRA researchers in Evry (Joint Research Unit for Plant Genomics, INRA-CNRS-Evry University) has recently identified the genetic mechanism by which a male flower becomes female in the melon. Most flowering plants have hermaphrodite flowers possessing both male and female organs. However, more than 4000 species, including melon, develop unisexual flowers, only male or female. The researchers have recently identified the mechanism by which these unisexual flowers are formed. They have identified a gene implicated in controlling the formation of female organs.

 

The study of genes governing sex determinism in the melon is of major agronomic importance. It could lead to better yield by favouring the formation of female flowers at the origin of fruit production. The results are published online on the site of the journal NATURE.

 

The sex determinism of the melon is governed by two genes, andromonoecy (A) and gynoecy (G). The multiple interactions between them result in a distribution of different sexual types. Thus depending on the genetic mixing occurring at each generation, the plants can bear male flowers and female flowers, or bear male flowers and hermaphrodite flowers, or bear female flowers only, or hermaphrodite flowers.

 

Sex determinism in melon leads to the development of unisexual or hermaphrodite flowers from a bisexual flower primordium. In a previous publication, the researchers characterised the A gene which codes for an enzyme which is active during the development of female flowers and implicated in the synthesis of ethylene, a hormone known to modify sex determinism. They showed that a mutation in this A gene, acquired during evolution, led to the inactivation of the enzyme and the development of male organs in the female flowers and therefore of hermaphrodite flowers.

 

After having studied the natural variations of the genomic region responsible for gynoecy (plants bearing female flowers only) in 500 melon varieties from all parts of the world, the researchers publish today their results which explain the formation of female flowers in melon and more broadly the ballet of interactions between the A and G genes at the origin of sex determinism in melon (see diagram below). The scientists show here that a mutation close to the G gene, found in one of the varieties collected, leads to epigenetic modifications1 and represses the expression of this gene, thus enabling the formation of female organs. The inhibition of the expression of the A gene by the G gene is in turn lifted and the male organs do not develop. A female flower is formed.

 

These results are of major agronomic importance, as a greater production of female plants (at the origin of fruit formation) improves yield. They make it possible to envisage the control of flower development in melon, and also in other species. This research also sheds light on the original epigenetic mechanisms involved in the evolution of plants.

 

1 An epidgenetic mutation is a mutation which does not change the DNA sequence. In this specific case, the mutation is caused by the insertion of a transposable element. These elements are mobile DNA sequences present in all living organisms. Their ability to move in the genome can lead to genetic mutations or epigenetic modifications of the expression of neighbouring genes.

 

 

Diagram summing up the interaction between the A and G genes at the origin of the formation of male and female sexual organs in melon flowers. In the first case, the G gene inhibits the expression of the A gene, thus enabling the development of the male organs and preventing the development of the female sexual organs. A male flower is thus formed.

 

In the second case, the non expression of the G gene enables the expression of the A gene. As it has not mutated, it prevents the development of male organs. A female flower is thus formed.

 

In the third case, the A gene is mutated. It is thus no longer opposed to the development of male sexual organs. Moreover, the G gene is not expressed, which leads to the development of female organs. A hermaphrodite flower is thus formed.

 

More news from: INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.33  Unraveling of the sorghum genome will help improve dryland crops

 

Patancheru, India

October 2009

The announcement of the unraveling of the genome of sorghum, one of the mandate crops of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), will strengthen the Institute’s research for the improvement of sorghum and other food crops.

 

The sequencing of the sorghum genome was announced in a scientific article published on 29 January 2009 in the journal Nature. The global team of scientists that reported the genome sequencing was led by Prof Andrew Paterson of the University of Georgia, USA, and included ICRISAT’s Cereal Breeder, Dr C Tom Hash.

 

Sorghum is the second food crop from the grass family to have its genome fully sequenced. The first one was rice. Sorghum is the first crop with the more efficient C4 photosynthesis system to be sequenced. Sugarcane, maize and pearl millet are other grasses with the C4 photosynthesis system that should benefit from this.

 

Plants that have a C4 photosynthesis system have a competitive advantage over plants possessing the more common C3 carbon fixation pathway under conditions of drought and high temperatures. While a significant portion of the water taken up by C3 plants is lost through transpiration, this loss is much lower for C4 plants, demonstrating their advantage in a dry environment.

 

According to Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, the unraveling of the sorghum genome is the first such breakthrough for a dryland agricultural crop that is adapted to drought. “The sequence of sorghum genome will provide us a better understanding on genes that make sorghum, as compared to other cereals, more drought tolerant.”

 

ICRISAT will combine the new knowledge on the sorghum genome sequence with its expertise on molecular-marker assisted crop selection and breeding to develop improved sorghum varieties and hybrids for desirable traits, say with improved drought tolerance or improved disease resistance.

 

Candidate genes identified for drought tolerance or pest resistance can be used to understand natural variation in ICRISAT’s sorghum germplasm collection comprising of more than 36,000 accessions with a final objective to identify superior variants for using in breeding crops.

 

The genome sequence is already contributing to development of additional molecular markers for economically important sorghum traits, and for identification of specific genes that control them. This in turn is leading to more efficient crop breeding methods – particularly those based on marker-assisted selection for naturally occurring genetic variation – which will reduce the time required to develop grain, forage, and sweet sorghum varieties and hybrids having improved agronomic performance, stress tolerance, pest resistance and product quality.

 

The availability of genome sequence data should enhance genomics-assisted breeding in sorghum. For instance, a few hundred molecular markers, genomics tools that are used in marker-assisted selection, were available in sorghum until 2 to 3 years ago; genome sequence data has now provided more than 71,000 microsatellite marker candidates.

 

“We believe that availability of genome sequence combined with modern genomics approaches should boost our breeding activities to develop the desirable breeding lines. Genes identified in sorghum would not be useful only for sorghum but other cereal/plant species as well, especially for enhancing drought tolerance,” Dr Dar said.

 

The paper published in Nature shows that different cereals such as rice, wheat, barley, maize, sorghum and pearl millet show similarities in gene number and gene order, since they derived from a common ancestor. This allows the use of genomic resources from one cereal species to improve another species. For instance, based on the sequence data of sorghum and rice, molecular markers have been developed and are being used in pearl millet, another mandate crop for ICRISAT.

 

Sorghum, a mandate crop of ICRISAT, is the fifth most important and relatively drought tolerant cereal crop that is the dietary staple of more than 500 million people in more than 30 countries of semi-arid tropics. It is grown on 42 m ha in 98 countries of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.

 

ICRISAT has been working for more than three decades for improving sorghum for food and feed proposes. Furthermore, sweet sorghum has emerged as a feedstock for ethanol production. It gives food/feed, fodder and fuel, without significant trade-offs in any of these uses in a production cycle. ICRISAT has pioneered the sweet sorghum ethanol production technology, and its commercialization.

 

Having the genome sequence of sorghum is significant landmark of genomics research for sorghum community in particular and biofuel community in general.

 

More news from: ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10889&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.34  Structure of phytohormone receptor reveals new ways of improving

drought tolerance

 

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute and the University of  California, San Diego have produced a three-dimensional representation of the important phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA), attached to its target protein called PYR1. ABA is produced by plants in large amounts during times of stress, and particularly during conditions of drought. Plants under the influence of this hormone begin to conserve water. However, the exact molecular mechanism by which ABA helps plants tolerate drought remains poorly understood. Understanding the inner workings of this molecule may help scientists design new ways to protect crops against prolonged dry periods, potentially improving crop yield worldwide.

 

The search for the molecules that regulate the ABA signaling pathway has been going on for sometime. Recently, a team of researchers, led by Sean Cutler, successfully pinpointed a protein that plays a linchpin role in the relay of ABA signals: PYR1.

 

Cutler's wor! k led to the current study. "This early research with Sean led to new important questions," said Julian Schroeder, co-author of the research. "We wanted to know if abscisic acid bound specifically to the PYR1 protein as a hormone receptor or whether it acted like a glue between PYR1 and partner proteins."

 

The research showed that two copies of PYR1 fit snugly together in plant cells. There, they are targeted by abscisic acid. Each copy of the PYR1 molecule has an internal open space like the inside of a tin can, and when a hormone molecule comes along, it fits neatly into one of the two spaces. This induces part of the PYR1 protein that the team calls the "lid" to close.

 

"One possible way to translate this research to agricultural products would be to design chemicals to mimic the action of abscisic acid," noted EliGetzoff, co-author of the paper. "Such chemicals would then be sprayed on crops to protect them in the face of looming drought."

 

The paper published by Science is available to subscribers at

http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1181829

For more information, read http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/science/10-09Drought.asp

 

A related article can be found at http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/sentarticle/default.asp?ID=4138

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 October 2009

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University

mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.35  Identification of elongation trait in Malaysian rice varieties using molecular markers

 

Mohamad, O., Hadzim, K., Azlan, S., Abdullah, M. Z., Salwa, A. S. & Nur Samahah, M. Z.

 

Cooked rice grain elongation, aroma and amylose content are key determinants of high quality rice varieties (Golam et al., 2004). A mutant breeding line developed jointly by UKM and MARDI in early 1970s through induced mutations was discovered to show elongation trait in its cooked rice akin to that of Basmati 370 and Domsiah; and it was named Mahsuri mutant  (Hadzim et al., 1994). Subsequently, this trait was transferred into elite breeding lines to develop high quality rice varieties such as MRQ50 and MRQ74. 

 

The aim of this research is to screen and identify rice grain elongation trait in Malaysian rice varieties using PCR-based molecular markers. PCR amplification analysis using 10 sets of primers shows that eight out of ten synthesised primers are functional. Of these, RM211 primer set is found to be promising to be used as a selection marker for identifying elongation trait. The amplicons obtained from elongation and non-elongation varieties (Basmati 370 & MR219) are visually similar in size (approx. 110 bp). Although the amplicons recovered from both elongation and non-elongation varieties cannot not be discriminated via agarose gel electrophoresis; however, they show significant differences in their DNA sequences. The sequencing results using BLAST analysis show that the amplicon from the control elongation variety (Basmati 370)  is 114 bp whereas from control non-elongation variety (MR219) is 111 bp. Based on the sequence analysis, it is found that 87% of the amplicon from Basmati 370 is identical to both (1) Oryza sativa (japonica cultivar-group) genomic DNA, chromosome 2 (GenBank Accession No: AP008208.1) and (2) Oryza sativa Japonica Group genomic DNA, chromosome 2, BAC clone: OSJNBa0026E05 (GenBank Accession No: AP005647.3). As for MR219, it is found that 81% of the amplicon is identical to those two genomic DNA sequences. This important finding is corroborated by the work of Ge et al. (2005) working with QTLs in chromosome 2 for elongation trait. Using similar approach undertaken by Bradbury et al. (2005), we are currently designing a putative primer(s) to differentiate between elongation versus non-elongation varieties. Chromosome walking is being employed to generate molecular marker(s) to complement the approach.

 

(Excerpted from a poster exposition presented at Main Gallery, PECIPTA 2009, 8-10 October 2009, KLCC)

 

For more information contact Mohamad bin Osman

School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

mbopar2004@yahoo.com

 

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1.36  United States Department of Agriculture awards $11 million for applied plant genomics research, education and extension

 

Washington, DC, USA

7 October 2009

Agriculture Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Rajiv Shah today announced more than $11 million in Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) awards to significantly advance research, education and extension in applied plant genomics.

 

"CAP grants represent an investment in improving the human condition," Shah said. "These research dollars yield the best returns because we are focusing on the areas we know advances have a high likelihood for real impact."

 

North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., will receive a $2.5 million CAP award to focus on legume genetics and genomics, specifically on the health and nutritional aspects of this important food crop. Applications of this project could lead to legume varieties with higher nutritional values. Because humans consume more legumes than any other crop, this research has the potential to reduce cholesterol and sugar levels, which in turn can prevent or alleviate certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The North Dakota team will also develop an online learning community teaching consumers about nutritional genetics and genomics and how healthy foods move from the field to the table.

 

Additional CAP awards to Michigan State University, East Lansing; the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; and the University of California-Davis will link together expertise from USDA, public institutions, private institutions and industry to significantly advance research, education and extension in tomato, potato, barley and tree breeding programs.

 

CAP awards combine significant funding over time and across institutions to support discovery and applications and promote communication leading to innovative science-based solutions to critical and emerging national priorities and needs. These grants are awarded by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), previously the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, under the new Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program to provide funding for fundamental and applied research, extension, and education to address food and agricultural sciences.

 

Award amounts are:

·         University of California, Davis, Calif., $2,500,000

·         Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $3,750,000

·         University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn., $955,000

·         North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., $4,000,000

·          

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.  

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10819&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.37 GCP News -- Issue 41

 

22 October 2009

(Selected items by the editor, PBN-L)

In this issue of GCP News, it is with great pleasure that we announce the latest opportunity from SP5, by means of the Genotyping Support Service’s 3rd call for proposals.

 

We also share resources and feedback from two Annual Research Meetings, and report on GCP governance reforms, winners of an SP5-funded PhD scholarship, updates from GCP project collaborators, as well as news from GCP’s network of partners.

 

GCP’s 2009 ARM resources and 2008 ARM survey results now online

For four days in September, GCP researchers from around the globe joined forces on African soil for GCP’s Annual Research Meeting held in Bamako, Mali. Materials from the event, including presentations, rapporteur reports, posters and photographs, are now available online.

 

During the planning and preparatory stages of this major event, GCP was keen to take on board the feedback of participants who had taken part in the previous year’s ARM, to ensure an even more fruitful and gratifying experience for our invitees this time around. The results of our 2008 ARM survey, which also included a key, non-ARM question on future GCP investments, is also online.

 

GCP's TLI partners publish results on genetic map for cowpea

Collaborators of GCP's Tropical Legumes Improvement (TLI) project have made noteworthy headway in their research through the development of a high-density consensus genetic map of cowpea which promises to accelerate conventional breeding and ease the production of new cowpea and other legume varieties. More

 

…and from GCP’s network of partners and collaborators

Agropolis–CIRAD and Genoscope unite for sequencing project on banana genome

GCP partner Agropolis–CIRAD, together with Genoscope (France), is undertaking a project focusing on the sequencing of the banana genome. Project collaborators aim to establish a catalogue of genes contained in banana, with the results to be deposited in public databases. More

 

For previous issues of GCP News, see http://www.generationcp.org/enewsletter.php

 

Source: GCP-News—Issue 41

 

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1.38  4th Newsletter of the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR)

 

As part of the build up to  the 15th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15 UNFCCC), this newsletter looks at climate change, indigenous communities and agrobiodiversity.

 

Climate change exacerbates the difficulties already faced by indigenous communities including political and economic marginalization, loss of land and resources, human rights violations, discrimination and unemployment. Climate change poses threats and dangers to the survival of indigenous communities worldwide, even though indigenous peoples contribute the least to greenhouse emissions. Indigenous peoples are vital to and active in the many ecosystems inhabiting their lands and territories and may, therefore, help enhance the resilience of these ecosystems. In addition, indigenous peoples interpret and react to the impacts of climate change in creative ways, drawing on traditional knowledge and other technologies to find solutions, which may help society at large cope with impending changes.

 

PAR's project on climate change collects information about the use of agrobiodiversity to adapt to climate change. The work aims to facilitate a dialogue between rural communities and researchers all over the world. It is also building a knowledge base that can be used to increase recognition for the multitude of adaptation practices communities are already undertaking. Bringing together and providing a synthesis of these practices will help users to access and test them and identify those that work best in different situations. Documented adaptation practices can also be used to advocate stronger involvement for marginal groups in developing climate change responses. 

 

In this newsletter you will find a report of the highlights and outcomes from an e-discussion forum held earlier this year and from a workshop held recently in Chiang Mai, Thailand which involved researchers, representatives of indigenous peoples and civil society members. We have also identified a few of the many  stories and experiences about how different communities  are using agrobiodiversity to adapt to climate change.

 

We hope the information will be of interest to those who are engaged in agrobiodiversity and climate change research. The newsletter is intended to be a means for continuous information-exchange amongst stakeholders in agrobiodiversity research. Your ideas and feedback are always welcome. To ensure our newsletter is up-to-date and meets your diverse needs, please send your comments, suggestions and keep us informed by email at platformcoordinator@cgiar.org

 

or visit us www.agrobiodiversityplatform.org/climate_change.

 

Please contribute to our form  "Charting adaptation to climate change using agrobiodiversity".

You can read more about the international workshop "The use of agrobiodiversity by indigenous peoples and rural communities in adapting to climate change", which took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand, 17-20 June 2009 at:

·         The use of agrobiodiversity by indigenous peoples and rural communities in adapting to climate change

·         Agenda, Background documents, Fieldtrip and Papers

Presentations

 

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2  PUBLICATIONS

 

2.01  Tall Fescue for the Twenty-first Century - New book tells the story of scientific advancement through the lens of turf and forage research

 

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

1 October 2009

A new book, Tall Fescue for the Twenty-first Century, documents the history, science, and applications of tall fescue, a cultivated pasture grass that is playing an increasing role in protecting soil and water and enhancing animal agriculture.

 

It features contributions from prominent scientists from around the world who address an array of topics, including history, ecology, management, pest, quality, and genetic improvement. The book is published by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.

 

Beginning with the discovery of a green Kentucky pasture and the spiral of poor animal performance that followed, the study of tall fescue is an ongoing puzzle, with an intricate series of biochemical and physiological processes and interactions among animals, plants, fungi, and the environment. Its story reveals how science develops and moves through disciplines, challenges, and new advances in research and technology.

 

The future of tall fescue is linked with the future of an environmentally conscious, energy-efficient, productive animal. It will continue to be a desirable grass for sustaining livestock where soils are too steep, too wet, too dry, too rocky, too shallow, too high in elevation, or too remote for cultivated crops. Tall fescue will also play an increasing role in environmental sustainability, protecting soil and water while enhancing the aesthetics of urban and agricultural landscapes.

 

Interest in Tall Fescue for the Twenty-first Century should not be limited to forage and turf scientists. This book provides current, science-based insights for researchers in disciplines ranging from ecology, forage, turf, and seed sciences to animal and nutrition sciences. It is also a valuable resource for practitioners, such as seed, cattle, and turf producers, as well as conservation managers. Even those without a specific interest in cultivated pasture grass may find significance in the themes of scientific inquiry central to the tall fescue story and its role in the advancement of agriculture.

 

“The past half century has been a most astounding time for those of us fortunate enough to have been involved in research and teaching about tall fescue....The whole 35-year process has seemed akin to a complicated detective novel, complete with some distracting issues and alleged but innocent perpetrators,” says Tall Fescue in the Twenty-first Century editors H.A. Fribourg, D.B. Hannaway, and C.P. West, on their role in tall fescue research.

 

The book was edited by Henry A. Fribourg, University of Tennessee; David B. Hannaway, Oregon State University; and Charles P. West, University of Arkansas. View the full Table of Contents here: https://portal.sciencesocieties.org/Downloads/pdf/B40725.pdf

 

Tall Fescue for the Twenty-first Century is 540-pages, hardcover, and is available for $150 from ASA-CSSA-SSSA at www.societystore.org, or call 608-268-4960 or email books@agronomy.org

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=11038&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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2.02 "Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development"

 

 A new publication from the International Food Policy Research Institute

 

Washington, DC, USA

8 October 2009

Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development

by David J. Spielman and Rajul Pandya-Lorch

 

New booklet highlights diverse case studies of successful policies, programs, and investments in agricultural development that have reduced hunger and poverty.

 

Full book launch November 12, 2009.

 

View the booklet.

 

More news from: IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10835&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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2.03  IFPRI report: "Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation"

 

Washington, DC, USA

2 October 2009

http://www.ifpri.org/publication/climate-change-1

 

Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation

Gerald C. Nelson, Mark W. Rosegrant, et al.

 

New report on climate change projects 25 million more malnourished children in 2050. The impact of climate change on poor people can be averted with $7 billion additional annual investments in rural development.

 

The Challenge

The unimpeded growth of greenhouse gas emissions is raising the earth’s temperature. The consequences include melting glaciers, more precipitation, more and more extreme weather events, and shifting seasons. The accelerating pace of climate change, combined with global population and income growth, threatens food security everywhere.

 

Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Higher temperatures eventually reduce yields of desirable crops while encouraging weed and pest proliferation. Changes in precipitation patterns increase the likelihood of short-run crop failures and long-run production declines. Although there will be gains in some crops in some regions of the world, the overall impacts of climate change on agriculture are expected to be negative, threatening global food security.

 

Populations in the developing world, which are already vulnerable and food insecure, are likely to be the most seriously affected. In 2005, nearly half of the economically active population in developing countries—2.5 billion people—relied on agriculture for its livelihood. Today, 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas.

 

This Food Policy Report presents research results that quantify the climate-change impacts mentioned above, assesses the consequences for food security, and estimates the investments that would offset the negative consequences for human well-being.

 

This analysis brings together, for the first time, detailed modeling of crop growth under climate change with insights from an extremely detailed global agriculture model, using two climate scenarios to simulate future climate. The results of the analysis suggest that agriculture and human well-being will be negatively affected by climate change:

 

·         In developing countries, climate change will cause yield declines for the most important crops. South Asia will be particularly hard hit.

·         Climate change will have varying effects on irrigated yields across regions, but irrigated yields for all crops in South Asia will experience large declines.

·         Climate change will result in additional price increases for the most important agricultural crops–rice, wheat, maize, and soybeans. Higher feed prices will result in higher meat prices. As a result, climate change will reduce the growth in meat consumption slightly and cause a more substantial fall in cereals consumption.

·         Calorie availability in 2050 will not only be lower than in the no–climate-change scenario—it will actually decline relative to 2000 levels throughout the developing world.

·         By 2050, the decline in calorie availability will increase child malnutrition by 20 percent relative to a world with no climate change. Climate change will eliminate much of the improvement in child malnourishment levels that would occur with no climate change.

·         Thus, aggressive agricultural productivity investments of US$7.1–7.3 billion are needed to raise calorie consumption enough to offset the negative impacts of climate change on the health and well-being of children.

- Report

- Appendix 1: Methodology

- Appendix 2: Results by World Bank Regional Grouping of Countries 

 

More news from: IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10736&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Source: IFPRI via SeedQuest.com

 

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3.  WEB RESOURCES

 

3.01  New portal for plant genomics will support research into improved crops

 

Hinxton, United Kingdom

7 October 2009

Today sees the launch of Ensembl Plants – a freely available web resource for plant genomics research – by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBLEBI), in partnership with the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA. Ensembl Plants allows researchers worldwide to access and visualise the results of genomescale experiments in different plant species. By pinpointing the genetic basis of beneficial characteristics such as drought and pest resistance, Ensembl Plants will make it easier for scientists to improve the productivity and health of crops – an important step towards meeting growing global food requirements over the coming decade.

 

Paul Kersey, leader of the Ensembl Genomes team at EMBL-EBI, said: “Ensembl Plants makes the results of genome-scale experiments available to the whole scientific community. The interface is familiar to researchers as it is already in use for the visualisation of information about the genomes of other species, making this new resource very accessible.”

 

The first release includes genome data from new research funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Richard Mott from the University of Oxford’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, along with Paula Kover from the University of Bath, have sequenced the genomes of 17 strains of the thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana. Arabidopsis was the first plant to have its genome sequenced, and is an important reference point for applied plant research. In addition to providing a detailed catalogue of variation in the Arabidopsis genome, the project serves as a pilot for the application of high-throughput sequencing methods to plant genomes.

 

Richard Mott said: “Now that we have 17 Arabidopsis genomes represented in the database we have an incredibly powerful tool for plant genetics research. This will allow us to identify useful genetic traits that are likely to be found throughout the plant kingdom.” “Researchers across the world can then use that information to improve crops, contributing towards efforts to increase food production and adapt crops to changing climates,” added Paula Kover.

 

Ensembl Plants has been co-developed by EMBL-EBI and the group of Doreen Ware who run the Gramene database at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA. Gramene already utilises the Ensembl open source software system, originally developed by EMBL-EBI and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, for studying the genetic differences between plant species. The Ensembl Plants and Gramene groups will collaborate to maintain a common set of reference databases, integrating experimental data generated on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

The launch of Ensembl Plants completes the set of new Ensembl-powered portals (for bacteria, protists, fungi, and invertebrate metazoa) launched by EMBL-EBI during 2009.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=10828&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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3.02 Update on the Plant Breeding Forum listserv from GIPB

 

GIPB is pleased to announce the launch of the Plant Breeding Forum listserv, an e-mail based forum for plant breeding and related fields. The purpose of PBForum-L is to create a means for plant breeders and those in related fields to interact easily on a regular and informal basis, with inquiry, discussion and debate. PBForum-L complements PBN-L, the Plant Breeding News, a monthly e-newsletter (http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/AGPC/doc/services/pbn.html) and the global forum feature of the GIPB website

(http://km.fao.org/gipb/index.php?option=com_content&task=section&id=46&Itemid=210).

 

Who will benefit by subscribing?

The users of PBForum-L should include public and private-sector plant breeders, students, teachers, research administrators, the seed industry, policy-makers, farmers, and others.

 

Some of the ways you can use the forum:

•    Pose a question

•    Ask for advice about your research

•    Request collaboration in a project

•    Comment or seek input on an issue of broad relevance to the plant breeding community

•    Suggest ways to support the positive outcomes from plant breeding

•    Make known to subscribers your willingness to provide input and support in an area of expertise

 

 

In order to participate you will need to subscribe:

1.    Address an e-mail to: mailserv@mailserv.fao.org.

2.    Leave the subject line blank.

3.    In the message area, type: SUBSCRIBE PBForum-L

4.    You can unsubscribe at any time

You will receive a confirmation message of your subscription, and details on how the listserv works.

 

PBForum-L is a moderated listserv:

The moderator will check each message prior to distribution, to prevent issues like spamming, flaming or other inappropriate postings. You will not need a username or a password. However, the moderator will require that each message include the name of the sender. These measures will make the listserv very user-friendly, and keep it relevant and free of distractions for subscribers. The forum structure and function will evolve based on user inputs and needs.

 

In order to post a message:

1.    Address it to PBForum-L@mailserv.fao.org

2.    Write a short descriptive subject line

3.    State the specific purpose of your posting. Type a brief and clear question or comment.

4.    Include your name in the post.

 NOTE: You can post items in the language of your choice. However, there will be no translation.

 

To respond to someone else’s posting: simply use the reply function of your e-mail.

 

Questions? Write to the PBForum-L moderator: clair.hershey@fao.org

 

SIGN UP TODAY!

To: mailserv@mailserv.fao.org

Subject: blank

Message: SUBSCRIBE PBForum-L

 

More news from: GIPB (Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building)

 

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4.  GRANTS AVAILABLE

 

4.01  2010 Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship

 

The aim of the Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship Fund is to encourage the conservation and use of plant genetic resources by enabling outstanding young scientists to carry out relevant, innovative research outside their own countries for a period of between three months and one year.

 

For more information scroll down or click on the links below.

·         Current Vavilov-Frankel Fellows

·         2010 Call For Applications

·         A History of the Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship

 

www.bioversityinternational.org/about_us/fellowships/vavilov_frankel_fellowship.html

 

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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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4.03  Third Call for Proposals: Enhancing the value of crop diversity in a world of climate change

 

Award Scheme

Global Crop Diversity Trust in coordination with Generation Challenge Programme

 

Farming throughout the world is underpinned by the vast genetic diversity of agricultural plants. This diversity provides the means for adapting crops to meet rapidly changing climatic conditions, with their diverse effects on the magnitude and frequency of both biotic and abiotic stresses. More than 6 million samples ofdifferent crops are currently maintained in some 1,500 collections around the world, representing humanity’s most important resource in the struggle to feed its ever-expanding population under changing climates, shifting pests and diseases and increasing energy costs. Yet, in spite of its importance, much of this genetic storehouse remains untapped – a neglect that largely arises from the fact that much of it has yet to be adequately characterized and evaluated. We do not know enough about the collections we are conserving. A lack of readily available and accurate data on key traits can severely hamper plant breeders’ efforts to identify material they can use in their efforts to breed new varieties for the new climates most countries will experience in the coming decades.

 

Recognizing this bottleneck to the use of collections, and the urgency of the need, the Global Crop Diversity Trust initiated in 2007 a competitive grants scheme to support the evaluation of crop genetic resources. The grants will enable breeders and others to screen germplasm collections for important phenotypic characteristics and to make the information generated publicly available. The scheme is supported by funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Grains Research and Development Corporation of Australia.

 

This is the Third call under this Award Scheme. All interested parties are hereby invited to submit proposals for consideration by the Trust for an award in early 2010. This call is being made in coordination with the complementary call of the Generation Challenge Programme.

 

The Genotyping Support Services (GSS) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research’s (CGIAR) Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) promotes the use of molecular markers to assess the potential value of germplasm by linking grantees with genotyping facilities they may not otherwise have access to. The call for proposals by GSS targets breeding programmes and/or germplasm collections in national agricultural research systems (NARS), academia, and civil society organisations in developing countries. The third call for proposals is open now, further information is available at  http://www.generationcp.org/sp5/?da=09166016 .

 

All applications for the Third Awards must be received by the Trust by 31 December 2009.

 

For information on the strategies see

http://www.croptrust.org/main/strategies.php?itemid=82[http://www.croptrust.org/main/strategies.php?itemid=82]

 

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5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

5.01 Breeding-related position annoncements from Monsanto International

 

Look for detailed listings at: www.monsanto.com under Careers. Applications and resumes may be entered online.

 

Monsanto International R&D Positions outside of USA

Position

Location

Req. no.

Education

Bioinformatics Scientist

Beijing, CN

mons-00010477

PhD

Breeder Spinach

Wageningen, NL

mons-00010344

PhD or MS

Collaboration Manager

Beijing, CN

mons-00010480

PhD or MS

Commercial Breeder

General Santos City, PH

mons-00008923

PhD

Communication Lead

Beijing, CN

mons-00010473

BS/MS/PhD

Computational Biologist

Beijing, CN

mons-00010474

PhD

Corn Conversion Breeder

Uberlandia, BR

mons-00010740

PhD

Data/GIS Specialist

Beijing, CN

mons-00010536

BS

Data Manager and Database Administrator

Beijing, CN

mons-00010478

BS or MS

Entomology lead

Conchal, BR

mons-00010736

PhD

Farm Management

Conchal, BR

mons-00010743

PhD or MS

Herbicide specialist

Conchal, BR

mons-00010742

PhD

Lead Bioinformatics Scientist

Beijing, CN

mons-00010476

PhD

Lead Computational Biologist

Beijing, CN

mons-00010475

PhD

Line Development Breeder - Lichtenburg

Lichtenburg, ZA

mons-00010723

PhD

Line Development Breeder

Phitsanulok, TH

mons-00008394

PhD

Patent Scientist

Beijing, CN

mons-00010481

MS

Project and Relationship Manager

Beijing, CN

mons-00010479

PhD or MS

Research Associate

Ghaziabad, IN

mons-00010655

PhD or MS

Research Associate- Hot Pepper - Hainan,China

Various locations, CN

mons-00010559

MS

Senior Research Associate Lead ' Tissue Culture

Campinas, BR

mons-00010735

PhD

Sugarcane Statistical Geneticist

Campinas, BR

mons-00010724

PhD

Technology Development Operations Manager - China

Beijing, CN

mons-00010183

PhD or MS

Technology Alliances Manager

Beijing, CN

mons-00010482

PhD or MS or MBA

Testing Operations Manager - Cotton Breeding Site in Canas Costa Rica

Canas, CR

mons-00010739

BS+

 

Monsanto International R&D Positions within the USA

Position

Location

Organization

Education

Applied Plant Physiologist-000K6

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Agronomic & Environmental Assessments

PhD

Chemistry Trait Lead-000D4

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Operations

PhD

Commercial Breeder-000LG

North America-USA-Mississippi

Commercial Breeding

PhD

Controlled Environment Testing Lead-000E0

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Bio-Evaluations

PhD or MS

Corn Drought Development Research Associate-000J4

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Trait Development

MS

Corn Traits Specialist-000OS

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Bio-Evaluations

PhD or MS

Corn Transformation Scientist-0008F

North America-USA-Connecticut-Mystic

Transformation Technologies

PhD

Crop Transformation SI Research Scientist-000O9

North America-USA-Wisconsin-Middleton

Transformation Technologies

PhD

Entomology Bioassay Lead-000AC

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Agronomic Traits

PhD or MS

Environmental Modeling Scientist-000B4

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Line Development Breeding

PhD

Evolutionary Genomics Scientist-000LL

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Genomics Technology

PhD

Field Research Associate-000B5

North America-USA-Georgia-Leesburg

Line Development Breeding

MS

Gene Expression Technology Lead-000KS

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Genomics Technology

PhD

Genotyping Coordination Lead-0008L

North America-USA-Iowa-Ankeny

Molecular Breeding Tech

PhD

Global Field Pathology Manager (Vegetables division)-0009N

North America-USA-California-Woodland

Quality Assurance

PhD or MS

Hydro and Ecology Mgt Systems Scientist-000K1

Hydro and Ecology Mgt Systems Scientist-000K1

Crop Analytics and Automation

PhD or MS

Lead Scientist - Statistical Geneticist-000D8

North America-USA-Iowa-Ankeny

Breeding

PhD

Line Development Breeder-000ID

North America-USA-Mississippi

Line Development Breeding

PhD

Molecular Entomology Lead-000AN

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Agronomic Traits

PhD

Patent Scientist-000AD

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Biotech Strategy, Ops & Prospecting

PhD or MS

Pipeline Analytics Team Lead-000NZ

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Crop Analytics and Automation

PhD

Plant Physiology Scientist-00095

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Agronomic Traits

PhD

Plant Protection Discovery Science Lead-000DY

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Bio-Evaluations

PhD

Post Doc Researcher - Fruit Quality (Vegetables Division)-000IZ

North America-USA-California-Woodland

Nutrition

PhD

Process Analyst - Trait Integration-000B9

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Trait Integration

PhD or MS

Protein Biochemist-000M2

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Yield & Stress Traits

PhD

Regulatory Affairs Manager-000KA

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Regulatory Affairs

PhD or MS

Research Scientist-000JR

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Pipeline Products Regulatory

PhD or MS

Research Scientist-000O1

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Transformation Technologies

PhD

Research Scientist-000PA

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Agronomic Traits

PhD

Research Scientist (Molecular biologist)-000NU

North America-USA-Wisconsin-Middleton

Transformation Technologies

PhD

Research Scientist-Bioinformatics-000K5

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Genomics Technology

PhD

Soy Intrinsic Yield Lead - Oilseeds Technology-000BD

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

NA Commodity

MS

Soybean Pathology and Discovery Lead-000NK

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Soybean Breeding

PhD

Statistical Geneticist-000CP

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Soybean Breeding

PhD

Statistical Geneticist-000NP

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Cotton Breeding

PhD

Statistician-000K8

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Regulatory Strategy & Ops

MS

Trait Discovery Scientist - Pathology (Vegetables Division)-0009J

North America-USA-California-Woodland

Genetic Resources

PhD or MS

Trait Geneticist - Cucurbits (Vegetables Division)-000EF

North America-USA-California-Woodland

Genetic Resources

PhD

Trait Geneticist - Tomato (Vegetables Division)-000B2

North America-USA-California-Woodland

Genetic Resources

PhD

Trait Marker Discovery Lead - Sugarcane-000BT

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Molecular Breeding Tech

PhD

Trait-Marker Discovery Scientist - Wheat-000BO

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Molecular Breeding Tech

PhD

Weed Control Strategy and Development Lead-000DZ

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Global Bio-Evaluations

PhD or MS

Wheat Transformation System Improvement Scientist-0009O

North America-USA-Missouri-St. Louis

Transformation Technologies

PhD

 

Contributed by C Donn Cummings

Global Breeder Sourcing Lead

Monsanto

donn.cummings@monsanto.com

 

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5.02  National Education Program Leader (NIFA-USA)

 

JOB SUMMARY

NIFA advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations.  NIFA is committed to supporting programs with results that serve all Americans and improve lives worldwide.

 

You will serve as a National Education Program Leader in the Science and Education Resources Development unit of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).  You will perform critical tasks in four broad areas which include: (1) Network and collaborate with partners and stakeholders to identify mission-relevant problems, opportunities and issues requiring Federal attention and support;(2) Conceive, formulate, and execute programs and activities to respond to existing or emerging problems, opportunities and issues through the development and application of science-based knowledge; (3) Administer and manage programs and activities to develop and apply science and knowledge; and (4) Evaluate and assess the quality, outcomes and impacts of these programs

 

Who may apply: All U.S. Citizens

 

You may use the following link to view and/or apply for this position: 

 

http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/a9csrees.aspx

 

Closing date: December 7, 2009

 

Contributed by Ann Marie Thro

National Program Leader, Plant Breeding and Genetics

National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA

athro@nifa.usda.gov

 

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5.03  Senior Scientist, Genetic Diversity, Bioversity International

 

For further information on Bioversity International, consult the Web page at http://www.bioversityinternational.org

 

Bioversity International undertakes, encourages and supports research and other activities aimed at improving the well being of present and future generations of people by enhancing conservation and the deployment of agricultural biodiversity on farms and in forests, with special emphasis on the needs of developing countries. The organization is active in over 100 countries worldwide, and has more than 300 staff working from some 20 country offices. It is one of 15 centres supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Bioversity’s headquarters are located in Maccarese, near Rome, Italy. Bioversity is now seeking a well qualified candidate for the position of: Senior Scientist, Genetic Diversity.

 

To feed a rapidly increasing population it is crucial to tap into the full range of traits in the diversity of crop varieties and their wild relatives that have been selected over thousands of years for a multiplicity of conditions and qualities. Under the supervision of the Director, Understanding and Managing Biodiversity Programme, and based at the Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, the incumbent will:

_ Provide scientific leadership, coordination and facilitation of research to overcome constraints to the enhanced use of plant genetic resources. More specifically, having in-depth expertise in at least one of the areas listed below, the Senior Scientist will build the necessary links to develop a cohesive programme of work encompassing all four areas:

1. Identifying and understanding the extent and distribution of genetic diversity in agricultural biodiversity, particularly of crop plant genetic resources and wild populations of useful plants;

2. Developing ways of sampling and monitoring genetic diversity applicable to evaluating the status and trends of important genepools;

3. The application of molecular genetics and genomics tools to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of both conservation and use of genetic resources;

4. Promoting the use and deployment of genetic diversity through activities such as prebreeding and base broadening of cultivars under production and promoting links to more general plant breeding, including breeding by farmers.

 

He/she will be expected to further develop such a research agenda, to be implemented in collaboration with national partners and other institutions;

_ The Senior Scientist will play a key role in the development of fundraising proposals to support

collaborative research in this area, as well in development the capacity of partners;

_ As a member of the Sub-Saharian Reginal Office, he/she is expected to be an excellent team player and to contribute to the delivery of outputs at regional level.

 

Qualifications and Competencies:

Essential qualifications and competencies:

_ A PhD in genetics or conservation genetics with an emphasis on plant populations, or in plant breeding.

_ At least ten years of experience working with research partners on topics related to agrobiodiversity and plant genetic resources; preferably research experience on the subject of biodiversity and the use of genetic resources; applied field experience in developing countries.

_ Broad knowledge about modern genetics/genomics technologies and their potentials to contribute to research themes related to the use of plant genetic resources.

_ Knowledge about population genetic structure and dynamics and their relevance to use (breeding) and conservation/monitoring.

_ Knowledge of research methods, including methods for genetic diversity assessment, germplasm enhancement, crop improvement and population genetics and their application in use- related programmes.

_ Demonstrated competency in communication and interpersonal skills complemented by a commitment to and demonstrated track record of working within multi-disciplinary teams and in multi-cultural environments.

_ Excellent English language skills, both verbal and written.

_ Demonstrated ability to write proposals and generate funds for research.

_ A substantial and sustained record of achievement and innovation through project development,

implementation and delivery of results and demonstrated publication record.

 

Desirable qualifications and competencies

_ Knowledge of CGIAR system will be an advantage.

_ Working knowledge of Spanish, French, Arabic or Russian.

_ Experience and networks in Africa an advantage.

 

Terms and conditions:

This is a Senior Scientist, internationally recruited, position for which Bioversity International offers an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary, non-contributory retirement plan, medical insurance and leave provisions. All benefits are denominated and paid in US Dollars. The initial contract will be for a period of three years subject to a probationary period of one year.

 

Applications:

 Please apply online through the following link: Bioversity Employment Opportunities Webpage by clicking the “Apply” button. Alternatively, via e-mail to: bioversityvacancy@cgiar.org including a letter of application, curriculum vitae in English (that includes date of birth, gender and nationality) and the names and full contact details of at least three referees (telephone, fax and e-mail address); or via mail to: Human Resources Office, Bioversity International, Via de Tre Denari, 472/a, 00057 Maccarese, Rome, Italy; or via Fax to (39) 06 6118 341 no later than 29 November 2009. Please quote the source of advertisement.

 

Bioversity is an equal opportunity employer and strives for staff diversity in gender and nationality.

All received applications will be acknowledged, but only short listed applicants will be further contacted.

With effect from 1 December 2006, IPGRI and INIBAP operate under the name "Bioversity International", Bioversity for short. This new name echoes our new strategy, which focuses on improving people’s lives through biodiversity research.

 

Contributed by Ehsan Dulloo

Bioversity International

e.dulloo@cgiar.org

 

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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.

 

(Various Dates) Course offerings at UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy andt the European Plant Breeding Academy

 

The Plant Breeding Academy (PBA) was established at the University of California, Davis in 2006 to address the challenge of the reduced number of plant breeders being trained in academic programs around the world.  To date, 38 agricultural professionals from 12 countries have participated in the first two classes of this premier program that includes lectures, discussion, and field trips to public and private breeding programs. Employers appreciate the opportunity to provide their valued employees advanced training without disrupting their full-time employment.

 

Class III of the PBA will begin in September, 2010.  The sessions will be held in Davis, California.  The instructors are internationally recognized experts in plant breeding and seed technology.

 

Building on the success of the first two classes of the PBA, UC Davis is partnering with European seed companies, institutions, and associations to offer the European Plant Breeding Academy.  Class I will begin in March, 2010.  The six 6-day sessions will be held in Enkhuizen, The Netherlands; Angers, France; Barcelona, Spain; Gatersleben, Germany; and Davis, California over two years.  All instruction will be in English. The instructors, selected from around Europe and the United States, are nationally and internationally recognized experts in plant breeding and seed technology. 

 

Class size is limited to 20 to encourage group discussion. See http://pba.ucdavis.edu to apply to both the European PBA and PBA Class III or contact Joy Patterson at jpatterson@ucdavis.edu.

 

+++++++++++

 

(Various Dates) University of Nebraska–Lincoln offers four plant breeding mini-courses for seed industry professionals

 

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Distance Education & Life-Long Learning Program

 

Professional development opportunities in plant breeding at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln

The Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln offers four plant breeding mini-courses that are excellent professional development opportunities for seed industry personnel, producers and other agribusiness professionals. The courses are available via distance delivery, so participants are able to further their educational and career goals without having to be present in a traditional classroom. Students have the option of participating in lectures in real time, as well as viewing archived lectures online. The courses are available for noncredit professional development, CEU credit, and regular academic credit at UNL. Instructors are Dr. P. Stephen Baenziger, Eugene W. Price Distinguished Professor, and Dr. Thomas Hoegemeyer, Professor of Practice and former CEO of Hoegemeyer Hybrids.

 

The noncredit registration fee for each course is $150*. Special package pricing is available for the three mini-courses offered during the Fall 2009 semester.

 

For more information or to register, please visit the above-listed Web site or contact Cathy Dickinson, cdickinson2@unl.edu.

 

Online courses for Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 include:

Germplasm and Genes

·         September 29 – November 3, 2009

·         Course focuses on the importance of creating the necessary genetic variation resources for conventional and modern plant breeding programs. 

Cross-Pollinated CropBreeding

·         November 5 – December 10, 2009

·         Course emphasizes standard breeding methods and theories associated with population movement of cross-pollinated crops and self-pollinated crops that are forced to cross-pollinate. 

Advanced PlantBreeding Topics

·         March 3 – April 8, 2010

·         Topic for 2010 is heterosis. Course will focus on the genetic hypotheses and quantitative genetic analyses of heterosis, new tools for studying heterosis, prediction of heterosis and hybrid performance, heterotic groups and organization of germplasm, and the mechanisms for making hybrids.

Contact:

Cathy Dickinson

Admin. Associate

Department of Agronomy & Horticulture

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

279 Plant Sciences Hall

Lincoln, NE 68583

Voice: 402.472.1730

E-mail: cdickinson2@unl.edu

 

http://www.seedquest.com/News/releases/2009/july/26934.htm

 

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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 – 4 December. Joint FAO/IAEA International Training Course on Novel Biotechnologies and Molecular Technologies for Enhancing Mutation Induction Efficiency, Seibersdorf, Austria. Technical Officer: Chikelu Mba

 

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)

 

2-6 November 2009. REDBIO Argentina III International Course: "Introduction to laboratory management of in vitro plant tissues culture", Institute of Floriculture. CNIA-CIRN-INTA Address: de los reseros and Nicolas Repetto s / n. Hurlingham, Buenos Aires, Province, Argentina.

 

For more details, please contact: akato@cnia.inta.gov.ar, aescandon@cnia.inta.gov.ar, malderete@cnia.inta.gov.ar, mpdelatorre@cnia.inta.gov.ar

 

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

 

16-17 November 2009. Application of Genomics Technologies in Plant breeding, Sixth training course of ICRISAT-CEG, ICRISAT Campus at Patancheru, Greater Hyderabad, India.

 

For details contact: Rajeev Varshney, r.k.varshney@cgiar.org).

 

16-20 November 2009. Fourth and Final RCM on Pyramiding of Mutated Genes Contributing to Crop Quality and Resistance to Stress Affecting Quality, Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Scientific Secretary: Q.Y. Shu

 

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

Registration form online at www.saatgut-austria.at

 

2-4 December 2009. First ECOSA International Seed Trade Conference (ECOSA2009), Residence Lara & SPA hotel in Antalya, Turkey

 

Cotact: Zewdie Bishaw, Head, Seed Section, ICARDA, z.bishaw@cgiar.org

 

20-21 December 2009. National Workshop on“Spices and Aromatic plants in 21st century India, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, S K N College of Agriculture, (Rajasthan Agricultural University), Jobner 303329

Workshop web address– www.sknjobner.org

 

2-5 February 2010. International Conference on "Green Plant Breeding Technologies", Vienna, Austria.

Note the 5 November early registration deadline.

 

http://www.univie.ac.at/greenbreeding/

zudrell@mondial-congress.com

                                                                                   

12-13 February 2010. Seeds for Global Food Security, Indian Seed Congress, Bangalore, India.

 

16-17 February 2010. 4th Breeding with Molecular Markers Course, The Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davi

For more information, contact Jeannette Martins at jmartins@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-4984. Seed Biotechnology Centre at UC Davis

 

23-26 February 2010. International Conference on Molecular Aspects of Plant Development, Vienna, Austria.

http://www.univie.ac.at/mapd/

 

Advanced course on Applications of bioinformatics in plant breeding

·         Dates and venue: 12–16 April 2010, Zaragoza, Spain