PLANT BREEDING NEWS

 

EDITION 220

31 January 2011

 

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  Test new genetic resources portal: contribute to its evolution

1.02  Do you have work-life balance?

1.03  Foresight report highlights key role for agricultural science in addressing food security challenge

1.04  New concepts impact on the practical bases of plant breeding

1.05  New DuPont white paper outlines modern agriculture and its role in feeding the world

1.06  BreedWise reaches milestone in plant breeding education - Over 2000 students trained

1.07  Indonesia and China launch joint hybrid rice research program

1.08  New crop varieties for a changing climate

1.09  A powerful new partnership in plant science

1.10  China - Coverage ratio of improved seeds now exceeds 95%

1.11  New data, trial designs accelerating canola breeding

1.12  Statistical analysis can estimate crop performance

1.13  A new learning module on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

1.14  Reversing vitamin and mineral deficiencies by fortifying crops

1.15  UC Davis receives $25 M to lead major wheat research project

1.16  EMBRAPA to launch potato resistant to late blight

1.17  China’s new wheat variety to exceed world wheat average yield

1.18  Nepal and CIMMYT harvest fruits of partnership

1.19  Korea releases tasty new pest-proof rice

1.20  Nigeria gets improved cassava varieties

1.21  IITA releases better soybean varieties for African farmers

1.22  New seed varieties approved in Pakistan

1.23  Open letter to stakeholders from U.S. Agriculture Secretary to urge GE and non-GE coexistence

1.24 Taiwan breeders may apply for new plant varieties rights in the Chinese Mainland

1.25  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture intends to reestablish the Plant Variety Protection Board

1.26  U.S. National Agricultural Statistics Service launches new CropScape geospatial data service

1.27  U.S. Department of Agriculture authorizes Roundup Ready alfalfa for spring planting

1.28  Controversial plant biotech patents overturned

1.29  Norway pledges $50 million to campaign to collect and employ endangered wild relatives of world’s major food crops

1.30  International Potato Center publishes virtual catalogue of advanced clones and varieties

1.31  Identifying the training needs of gene bank staff in Africa

1.32  Grass germplasm collection also includes fungal endophytes

1.33  Photosynthesis trackers shine light on new rice varieties

1.34  Drought tolerant rice in development

1.35  Researchers identify genetic trait for heat tolerance in rice plants

1.36  The factors that influence yields in dry environments

1.37  UNL research looking for ways to block rice blast

1.38  Waterlogging wheat research benefits two countries

1.39  International Potato Center working on potatoes fortified with iron

1.40  Deadlines for rust screening submissions to Kenya and Ethiopia

1.41  New Stripe Rust Strain with virulence in triticale

1.42  Eyespot breakthrough welcomed

1.43  New strategy to control rust

1.44  Transfer of stripe rust resistance from goatgrass to bread wheat

1.45  University of Minnesota introduces new barley variety with improved scab resistance

1.46  Identification of salt-responsive genes in upland cotton

1.47  NIAB’s detection of barley pigment genes is step towards improving yield and disease resistance

1.48  An Australian first for lupin genome project

1.49  New discovery about how flowering time of plants can be controlled

1.50  Using genetic mapping to save wheat production - Scientists identify gene that confers resistance to stem rust

1.51  Wheat resistance genes failing, new approach needed to stop flies

1.52  Arming young scientists to combat global wheat rusts

1.53  Scientists use virus induced gene silencing in studying aphid resistance In wheat

1.54  Scientists report occurrence of natural transgenes

1.55  Gene for drought tolerance is worth money

1.56  Technique allows researchers to identify key maize genes for increased yield

1.57  Gene helps plants use less water without biomass loss

1.58  Científicos internacionales descifran el genoma del tomate

1.59  Gene discovery could increase value of non-food crops for industries outside of agriculture

1.60  A new marker developed for rice blast resistance breeding in India

 

2.  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  A new book on root genomics

 

3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

3.01  Plant breeding and genomics are focus of new national web resource

3.02  RUSTGENE e-list launched

3.03  New stem rust resistance gene protocols hosted on MASWheat

 

4.  GRANTS AND AWARDS

4.01  USDA/NIFA announces grants to study climate change mitigation and bioenergy development

4.02  BBSRC announces research competition to combat biotic and abiotic stresses  

4.03  African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is calling for applications for its 4th cohort of fellowships

4.04  National Association of Plant Breeders 2011 Awards Announcement

 

5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.01  Research (PLANT) GENETICIST/Physiologist (Postdoc)

5.02  Position Announcments: Engagement Manager and  Strategic Scientist-Quantitative Modeling

5.03  Plant Breeder / Senior Plant Breeder

 

6.  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

 

1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES

 

1.01  Test new genetic resources portal: contribute to its evolution

 

Bioversity International, a leading organization dedicated to agricultural biodiversity research, recognizes that access to information is vital if breeders are to identify those samples of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) which will be of most immediate use to them in addressing food insecurity.

 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, about 7.4 million accessions are currently being stored in more than 1700 genebanks around the world. Add to this an undetermined number of breeders’ lines and all the genetic variation occurring in situ, and it becomes obvious that information describing the characteristics of all this germplasm is the key to its access and use. Finding that information more efficiently and easily means that breeders can address production constraints and the challenges of a changing climate more effectively to help farmers who need to produce more with less.

 

Genesys is a plant genetic resources portal that gives breeders and researchers a single access point to information of about a third of the world’s genebank accessions. These include those in the international collections managed by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR), the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Plant Germplasm System and the European Plant Genetic Resources Search Catalogue (EURISCO). Genesys adds value to these accessions by providing more than 11 million records about phenotypic characteristics in order to help breeders find the genetic variation needed by the world’s farmers. It also adds 19 environmental parameters to the 625,000 of these accessions that are geo-referenced – more than 11 million additional pieces of information.

 

Users can quickly build custom queries across all data types. For example, using Genesys, with about 15 mouse clicks and six keystrokes, a plant breeder can identify all of the red-grained wheat accessions with resistance to stem rust originating from areas in Afghanistan with an annual precipitation of between 150 and 350 mm.

 

In consultation with data providers, breeders and researchers, Genesys has been designed with the user in mind. An International Steering Committee (ISC) guided the development of Genesys. It consulted the user community and information technology experts to provide breeders with the functionality they require. With Genesys, both data providers and breeders benefit from being part of a larger system, giving their work and institutions global visibility.

 

The ongoing success of Genesys will depend largely on the sharing of information, gathered in the normal course of their work, among genebanks and researchers, including breeders.

 

“What we have demonstrated with Genesys is the proof of concept,” says Michael Mackay, the project leader. “It contains a lot of data and demonstrates how easy it can be for breeders and other plant improvement scientists to find and request the particular genetic variation they seek. A lot more needs to be done, however, and this will depend on the users – especially genebanks and breeders – who gather the information that adds value to PGRFA.”

 

Genesys will only reach its full potential if it is embraced by communities of PGRFA users to share their information Anyone can make a contribution or suggestion to how Genesys evolves by simply going to the portal at www.genesys-pgr.org and clicking on the ‘Comments and Feedback’ button at the lower right on most Genesys pages. Please complete the five question online survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5YTFX85 after giving Genesys a test.

 

Genesys is an initiative by Bioversity International in partnership with the Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and with generous support from the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

 

Contact: Michael Mackay, Bioversity International, M.Mackay@CGIAR.ORG

 

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1.02  Do you have work-life balance?

 

Cornell University and the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project is interested to know what demographic characters are associated with work-life conflict among people working in the field of plant breeding. 

 

We invite you to sign up to take a 5 minute survey regarding your work-life conflict.

 

Follow this link to sign up: https://sites.google.com/site/worklifeconflictsurveysignup/

 

You will be sent a personal email with a link to the survey.

 

Participants will receive a report of the results of the study once all the data has been collected and analyzed.

 

Contributed by Jessica Rutkoski

Jer263@cornell.edu

 

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1.03  Foresight report highlights key role for agricultural science in addressing food security challenge

 

United Kingdom

January 25, 2011

NIAB chief executive Dr Tina Barsby has welcomed the central conclusion in the Global Food and Farming Futures Foresight report that Governments around the world must increase investment in agricultural research and development to meet the food demands of a growing world population.

 

Dr Barsby called on the UK Government to lead the way in targeting funding for research to improve yields, disease-resistance and climate resilience of key crops, and to support the sustainable intensification of agriculture using the most advances technologies and practices.

 

The report, compiled by more than 400 leading experts and stakeholders over the past two years, and led by the Government’s chief scientist Professor Sir John Beddington, set out to investigate how a future global population of 9 billion people could be fed healthily and sustainably.

 

It concludes that agricultural innovation will play a key role and that every scientific tool must be considered, calling for a major injection of funds into agricultural research to reverse the declines of recent decades as successive Governments viewed farming as a low priority when food was in cheap and plentiful supply.

 

Dr Barsby said: “The Foresight report is a major piece of work examining the pressures building up on the global food system – population growth, climate change, demographic and dietary shifts, resource depletion – and the measures needed to ensure food production, and especially crop yields, can keep pace affordably and sustainably. It calls for a major rethink in our attitudes towards the funding and application of new technologies and practices in agriculture.

 

“This is extremely welcome news for NIAB as a national crop research centre combining within a single resource the specialist knowledge, skills and facilities needed to support the development of improved crop varieties, to evaluate their performance and quality, and to ensure the benefits of those advances are transferred effectively on the ground.

 

“In recent years, NIAB has invested in a strategic development of the Institute’s capabilities to help revitalise the connection between the science base and practical agriculture, providing a unique resource to address key global challenges of food security, climate change and sustainable development.

 

“With an expanding crop research programme, leading edge scientific and advisory services, and unrivalled skills in seed and variety evaluation, NIAB is uniquely placed to build on its 90 year heritage and help address the urgent global need to produce more food with reduced impact on the environment,” she concluded.

 

More news from: NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany)

 

Website: http://www.niab.com

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=14165&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.04  New concepts impact on the practical bases of plant breeding

 

The former hypotheses about heredity were relatively simple. Modern methods have highlighted the importance of a number of phenomena that were formerly seen as exceptions, and discovered a series of new ways of expression of inheritance. Heredity turns out to be so much more complex than anyone (except perhaps Barbara McClintock) had thought before year 1995.

 

Living beings are also able to invent ways to cope with environmental change, and steps towards evolution against stress often involve epigenetic modifications. Thus it is timely to wonder how this may affect breeding practice and methodology. Living beings act as highly sophisticated systems in which organized and regulated components interact with each other, and in which relationships with the environment are very finely tuned. The study of heredity has entered subtle roads that were not previously recognized as important.

 

Those who like to gain better grasp of the new concepts may be interested in the recent book: Genome Instability and Transgenerational Effects (Kovalchuk & Kovalchuk, eds., 2010)”. The last chapter (by Comeau et al.) offers a viewpoint about how those new elements of knowledge could apply to plant breeding, and help develop ways to make breeding more efficient, more rapid, and yet less costly per unit progress. Those ideas could have major impact to help meet the complex genetic challenges of the future for many crop species, and are readily applicable even for developing countries.

 

Source: https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=11809

 

Contributor’s Note:

This story below is actually in part a follow-up of discussions I had with Dr Don Wallace a year before he passed away.

 

We found most traits interact with lots of others, as Wallace described himself in his work on beans, and this is not always in an apparently logical manner (at least to the human observer).

 

His book on the interaction of phenology with all traits was a precursor of our broader theory.

 

The new theory and current successes are discussed in chapter 19 in the book quoted below.

 

We are looking for international contacts interested in trying new ideas.

The brief text above is mine, reviewed by Dr Kovalchuk and one of the coauthors of chapter 19.

 

We should get better success in very difficult endeavours in quantitative genetics provided we change our approaches.

 

In this respect, the systematic approach that we propose has no equivalent.

 

André Comeau

Germplasm developer at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada since 1971

And.comeau@sympatico.ca

 

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1.05  New DuPont white paper outlines modern agriculture and its role in feeding the world

 

Wilmington, Delaware, USA

January 24, 2011

DuPont Executive Vice President Jim Borel discusses how agriculture will help to increase global food production in a new report. “Agricultural Innovation in the 21st Century: Optimistic Science Meets Global Demand” details how new approaches in agriculture can be applied in innovative ways to boost local production around the world.

 

“We can meet the global challenges of food only if we embrace contributions from all sources, if we empower collaboration, if we ensure that farmers can choose the seeds and other products that work best for them, and if we enhance the ability of farmers in all parts of the world to be as productive as possible,” Jim said.

 

The report explains there is no one-size-fits-all solution in agriculture, and solutions to the looming global food challenge must be addressed with a holistic approach.

 

“Meaningful scientific breakthroughs seldom occur in the isolation of a single laboratory,” Jim said. “Collaboration is often the spark plug that ignites the next big idea. In our increasingly complex and interconnected world, it is collaboration that brings together all the different elements that must combine to actually create a solution.”

Read the full paper.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=14156&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.06  BreedWise reaches milestone in plant breeding education - Over 2000 students trained

 

The Netherlands

December 1, 2010

Today, too few students are training for careers in plant breeding to meet current demands. Concomitantly, the number of university plant breeding programs is declining. There are few programs available for educating students in this field outside of the traditional graduate-level education system. In order to alleviate this situation, universities are reemphasizing classical plant breeding training. To aid this, a small number of programs have been developed in recent years, focusing on education of professionals while working in their plant breeding organizations.

 

One person and a small company from The Netherlands have done more than their fair share of training plant breeders. Ms. Idy van Leeuwen (photo) has taught plant breeding for the last 18 years, starting with the Plant Breeding Institute in Wageningen. In the beginning of 2004, she founded BreedWise; a company specialized in education and consultancy in the plant breeding sector. In this relatively short period, BreedWise organized a variety of courses that were attended by over 2,000 professionals working in the seed industry. The courses range from very basic that are offered to non-technical management to very advanced technical courses.

 

It is hard to measure the impact BreedWise and Idy have on raising the competency in the plant breeding industry, especially in The Netherlands. Kees Reining, the research director of Rijk Zwaan sums it up, "Idy van Leeuwen has a long time experience in teaching plant breeders. With her company, BreedWise, she is the preferred (in company) teacher of most of the Dutch seed companies. Her plant breeding course has boosted the professional career of many of our breeders."

 

In 2009, the Plant Breeding Academy at UC Davis partnered with BreedWise to bring the Academy to Europe. The European Plant Breeding Academy (EPBA) was successfully launched in March of 2010, with participants from six European countries, Thailand and Israel.

 

The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center is pleased to have BreedWise as the principal partner in Europe: "It has been a pleasure leveraging Idy's expertise to develop the European Plant Breeding Academy. Her professionalism and dedication to ensuring plant breeders are trained in The Netherlands and now across Europe is unmatched. Idy is a welcomed partner to the Plant Breeding Academy” says Allen Van Deynze, SBC Research Director and one of the Plant Breeding Academy founders.

 

"Idy is an ultimate professional when it comes to teaching plant breeding. She has a unique ability to adjust the level of teaching, catering to a variety of students that range from having non-technical backgrounds all the way to advanced post-graduate level experiences." - Rale Gjuric, Director of the Plant Breeding Academy.

 

While the primary focus is still plant breeding, BreedWise recently offered an International Course on Seed Physiology that attracted participants from a number of countries. Kent Bradford, Academic Director of SBC UC Davis, was an invited instructor in that course, and was highly impressed with the overall organization and high level of the course content: "While Idy's BreedWise courses are well known in The Netherlands, her involvement in the European PBA is bringing her talents to a broader audience throughout Europe."

 

The BreedWise and UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy cooperation continues by offering its second class, beginning in October 2011. For application information please visit www.pba.ucdavis.edu.

 

Congratulation to Idy van Leeuwen and BreedWise on a significant milestone in plant breeding education. To learn more about BreedWise visit: www.BreedWise.nl.

 

The Plant Breeding Academy was developed by the Seed Biotechnology Center in direct response to industry concerns over the reduced number of plant breeders being trained in academic programs. To- date, 36 plant breeders have completed the PBA and 30 additional students are participating in the Plant Breeding Academies. The director of the Plant Breeding Academy is Dr. Rale Gjuric. More information on the Plant Breeding Academy can be obtained at http://pba.ucdavis.edu.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=12886&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.07  Indonesia and China launch joint hybrid rice research program

 

Beijing, China

December 30, 2010

A technical research program aimed at developing best hybrid rice variety for Indonesia jointly conducted by Indonesian and Chinese scientists was launched here on Wednesday with the effective research period set to due in 2013.

 

The launching of the research, that was apparently a translation of improving relations between the two countries, was conducted by representatives of Indonesia's agricultural ministry and China's well-regarded crop varieties development firm, Long Ping Hi Tech, witnessed by Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Zhang Qiyue at the ministry's premises.

 

Through such a program, Indonesia will send its agricultural scientists and officials to be trained in China, developing best training programs for Indonesian farmers in selecting the best hybrid rice variety that fits with the country's soil and natural condition.

 

The program was designed to be effective within three years starting from April this year, to last in 2013. China has sent its scientists to Indonesia since April this year as an advance, preparing the success of this program.

 

"Indonesia has been well regarded to have the world's best hybrid rice. Such a cooperation is good to assure the food security for the future generation. The future's food security depends on the researches we are conducting now. Such a cooperation needs to be developed further," Haryono, Director General at the Indonesian Agricultural Ministry's Research and Development section told Xinhua on the sidelines of the launching ceremony.

 

Meanwhile, citing two hybrid rice strains brought on the occasion, Long Ping President Director Chen Peng said that the two strains were developed in Long Ping research development, particularly designed for Indonesian natural terrain.

 

"These two strains featured higher yield, much higher than most on the Indonesian market, and better quality. They are the achievement of our plan to develop particular stains of rice for Indonesia," he said.

 

Indonesia and China are apparently two large countries most of whose populations consume rice. The joint cooperation in hybrid rice research program between scientists in both countries is highly expected to improve the average rice production in Indonesia, and will eventually help achieve a rice self-supplied level in Indonesia.

 

Most importantly, such a cooperation would pave the way for more cooperation in the agriculture section and improve the relationship between the two countries in general.

(Source: Xinhua)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13623&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Source: Xinhua via Chinese Academy of Sciences via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.08  New crop varieties for a changing climate

 

Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, India

December 1, 2010

As climate change becomes more felt all over the world, the United Nations is currently holding a climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, which encompasses the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP16) and the sixth Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP6).

 

Speaking at the conference that runs from 29 November to 10 December, Patricia Espinosa, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and incoming President of COP16/CMP6, said "With political will and a pragmatic outlook, Cancun can be the beginning of a new era of agreements on climate change."

 

Taking a pragmatic outlook even further, the India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has gone ahead and developed climate change-ready cultivars of dryland crops.

 

ICRISAT Director General William Dar affirms, “ICRISAT is well placed to respond to the climate challenge. Along with our partners, we recognize the importance of the issue and firmly believe that our new strategy, following the inclusive market-oriented development approach, will benefit the livelihoods of communities who are the most vulnerable to climate change.”

 

ICRISAT’s research is focused on crops that are important to the livelihoods of the people of the dryland tropics. These are pearl millet, sorghum, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut. These crops have several natural evolutionary advantages to withstand global warming.

 

Both pearl millet and sorghum have high levels of salinity tolerance, so are better adapted to areas that are becoming saline due to global warming. Some of the pearl millet varieties and hybrids, developed from ICRISAT’s germplasm are able to flower and set seed at temperatures more than 42 degrees centigrade in areas such as Western Rajasthan and Gujarat in India.

 

Improved sorghum lines have also been developed that are capable of producing good yields in temperatures of 42 degrees C, and have stay-green traits that can enhance terminal drought tolerance.

 

Short-duration groundnut varieties such as ICGV 91114 have good levels of drought tolerance, and are already replacing more susceptible older varieties. For chickpea, ICRISAT has developed extra-early (85 to 90 days to maturity) and super-early (75 to 80 days) varieties that can escape terminal drought. More recently, ICRISAT researchers have identified chickpea lines that have high levels of heat tolerance, which will enable them to be grown in areas with higher temperatures during the heat-sensitive pod filling stage.

 

Modeling studies carried out at ICRISAT show that there will be a drop in agricultural productivity with climate change in the dryland tropics. However, with a combination of climate change-ready varieties plus improved agronomic practices, dryland farmers will be able to overcome the adverse impacts of a warmer world.

 

COP16/CMP6 is the 16th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) and the 6th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). The Parties refer to all the national states that signed and ratified both of the international treaties, committing to observe and comply with its terms regarding international cooperation against climate change.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=12871&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.09  A powerful new partnership in plant science

 

San Diego, California, USA

January 21, 2011

The Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the iPlant Collaborative signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 17 January 2011, in San Diego, California, USA.

 

Under the terms of this MoU, iPlant will collaborate with GCP in developing GCP’s Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP), including hosting a team of GCP software engineers (see vacancy announcements for these positions).

 

“IBP’s collaboration with iPlant is a winning combination,” said Dr Stephen Goff, iPlant’s Project Director. “The community and partnerships that the IBP brings together through GCP pools extensive global expertise in both conventional and molecular breeding technology.”

 

The IBP is mainly funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Other funders include the European Commission, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). iPlant is funded by the National Science Foundation, USA.

 

“One of the biggest constraints to the successful deployment of molecular technologies in public plant breeding, especially in the developing world, is a lack of access to informatics tools to support sample tracking, breeding logistics, data management, analysis and decision support,” observed Dr Graham McLaren, IBP’s Project Manager. “The iPlant cyberinfrastructure [CI] will allow us to develop and deploy an Integrated Breeding Workbench which will be configurable to different breeding workflows and provide the informatics support and analytical pipeline required for integrated breeding. In addition, the collaboration will give breeders throughout the world access to the products of upstream biological research necessary for effective molecular breeding.”

 

iPlant will benefit from close interactions with the highly experienced breeders from the international Centres of the CGIAR, while IBP will gain by building on the iPlant CI platform that many plant biology researchers will use for discovery research. iPlant collaborators will also benefit by gaining access to the users in the CGIAR and academic research organisations interested in supporting the humanitarian applications of the IBP, and to rich biological data which will be accessible through the iPlant CI for collaborative biological research. Taken together, such a coordinated effort will be mutually advantageous.

 

For more than a decade, the CGIAR and other partners have been working on developing the International Crop Information System (ICIS) and a fieldbook system for maize breeding. These systems will now be updated and merged for compatibility with iPlant’s CI platform, and to be scalable to the CGIAR’s new needs. iPlant is building a software developer toolkit (SDK) and application programming interfaces (APIs) and will work closely with IBP developers to facilitate building IBP’s Integrated Breeding Workbench on the iPlant CI.

 

“The Workbench and its data will be valuable components of iPlant’s Grand Challenge Project on correlating genotypic variation with phenotypic variation,” said Dr Goff. Targeted for priority development are tools for a Breeding Management System; tools for a Field Trial Management System including an Integrated Breeding Fieldbook; and tools for a Decision Support System including a Molecular Breeding

Design Tool, a Cross Prediction Tool and a tool for markerassisted recurrent selection (MARS).

 

Dr Goff concluded, “Together, IBP and iPlant's efforts will create synergy between breeders, crop genetics and genomics experts, and computational experts to help drive state-of-the-art plant science discovery into applications that will greatly benefit humanity around the

globe.”

 

The MoU was signed by Dr Jean-Marcel Ribaut, GCP Director, on behalf of GCP, and by Dr Goff for iPlant.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=14131&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.10  China - Coverage ratio of improved seeds now exceeds 95%

 

Beijing, China

December 2, 2010

The vice minister Zhang Taolin of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) stated on 30 November 2010 that the country now saw a much higher breeding level of agricultural crop varieties, with a number of newly developed varieties and combinations of major farm crop varieties like super rice, compact maize and quality wheat. As a result, the coverage ratio of improved seeds was brought up to over 95%.

 

According to MOA statistics, the share of commercial seed supply has increased from 30% in mid 1990s to 60% now, and that of hybrid maize and rice has reached 100%, respectively. And they are all beautifully packaged and labeled for sale. Thanks to greatly improved quality of seeds, there are les lawsuits caused by seed quality problems. The acceptance rates of hybrid rice and maize have reached over 95%.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=12930&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.11  New data, trial designs accelerating canola breeding

 

Australia

December 8, 2010

The delivery of better canola varieties to Western Australian growers is being accelerated by key advances in trial design and data analysis, an international plant breeding forum in Perth has been told.

 

Canola Breeders (CB) plant breeder Cameron Beeck was speaking as a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) sponsored participant at the recent ‘Collaborative Breeding Master Class’.

 

Held at The University of Western Australia (UWA), the two-week event brought together plant breeders from around the world and discussed ‘collaborative breeding’, also known as ‘participatory breeding’.

 

Collaborative breeding refers to research which is directly relevant to growers and involves them in the breeding process to provide improved crop varieties.

 

It recognises the needs of diverse agricultural systems, particularly marginal lands where farmers cannot afford expensive seed, fertiliser and chemicals.

 

Dr Beeck told the Master Class that CB’s breeding program had been enhanced by its collaboration with researchers from the GRDC funded project ‘Statistics for the Australian Grains Industry’ (SAGI).

 

Led by Professor Brian Cullis, of the University of Wollongong, and Dr Alison Smith, of Industry & Investment NSW, SAGI delivers high quality information through efficient analysis of National Variety Trial (NVT) data, and conducts statistical research to develop improved designs and analysis for plant improvement data.

 

Once tested, these methods are implemented in international plant breeding programs, as demonstrated during the Master Class.

 

“CB’s collaboration with the SAGI project has revolutionised our plant breeding in crucial areas of trial design and data analysis,” Dr Beeck said.

 

“The new designs and statistics allow us to advance more canola material through to selection, faster.

 

“We can then make decisions on what to release earlier and with more confidence than we could using traditional designs and analysis.

 

“We can also decide which canola lines we should cross, earlier, and with more confidence, leading to increased rates of genetic gain and better varieties delivered faster to WA growers.”

 

Dr Beeck, who completed a GRDC sponsored plant breeding PhD at UWA in 2006 and grew up on a farm at Gnowangerup, said the improved trial design and data analysis technology was flexible, efficient and cheap to implement.

 

“This means that, as well as benefiting Australian growers, the technology is also very useful for breeding programs in developing countries,” he said.

 

Dr Beeck said Australian plant breeders benefited from taking part in the Master Class by learning new ideas about collaborative breeding from international plant breeders, responsible for a variety of crops.

 

Breeders participating in the event came from Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, East Timor, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nepal and Tanzania.

 

The Collaborative Breeding Master Class was sponsored by The Crawford Fund; the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR); the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA); and UWA’s International Centre for Plant Breeding, Education and Research (ICBER), which is supported by the GRDC.

 

The GRDC sponsored five Australian participants in the event.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13125&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.12  Statistical analysis can estimate crop performance

 

Researchers try accounting for spatial trend in single crop field trials

 

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

December 23, 2010

Scientists at Rothamsted Research, United Kingdom, in collaboration with the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Syria have developed a method of accounting for spatial trend in single crop field trials. Spatial trend refers to the variations in crop yield and other characteristics observed when repeating this single crop field trial.

 

Usually plant breeders will grow several replicate plots to assess the breed line in different environments and then compare the results to commercial or standard varieties of the crop. When resources or seed are scarce, breeders will grow only a single plot of a test line alongside a number of other standard varieties acting as check plots.

 

“The results have shown that adjustment for spatial trend within the trials is possible and gives improved accuracy on the estimates of line performance,” says Sue Welham, one of the authors of the study.

 

A crop developed by Dr. Miloudi Nachit at ICARDA was used to illustrate spatial trend in this particular experimental design. The teams then used simulations to further demonstrate the dramatic increase in precision in estimating the performance of a line while adjusting for spatial trend. However, these measurements are not without their flaws.

 

According to Welham, “One drawback to the use of spatial adjustment is the possible subjectivity and difficulty in the choice of a model.”

 

Collaborative efforts are continuing at both facilities and the full paper is available in the November-December 2010 Issue of Agronomy Journal.

The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at https://www.agronomy.org/publications/aj/abstracts/102/6/1542.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13737&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.13  A new learning module on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

 

Bioversity International has launched a new learning module on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The module is available online on the Bioversity web site with an announcement.

 

The module, available in English, French and Spanish, aims to explain the Treaty in the context of other international agreements and how to use its Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) to exchange crop diversity. It was developed by Bioversity International and sponsored by the CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resources Programme and the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme.

 

We believe that this announcement and learning module might also be of interest to your web site users, partners and collaborators.

 

To reach the widest possible audience, we invite you to place a short note about the online launch of the learning module in your news section with a link that points to the announcement above and the IT-PGRFA Learning module found here.   

 

Contributed by Elizabeth D. Goldberg

Head, Capacity Development Unit

Bioversity International

e.goldberg@cgiar.org

 

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1.14  Reversing vitamin and mineral deficiencies by fortifying crops

 

Washington, DC, USA

December 8, 2010

Grace is 4½ years old and lives in Nanyuki, a small town north of Nairobi. She is one of millions of poor children in Africa seriously affected by vitamin A deficiency.

 

Because her diet lacks diversity, Grace consumes very few sources of vitamin A—commonly found in foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, butter, and broccoli— and is deficient in other key micronutrients. She eats mostly maize, twice a day. Grace gets sick easily, and if she does not get the nutrients her body needs, she may lose her sight.

 

Estimates show 127 million preschool children worldwide do not get enough vitamin A. And children with vitamin A deficiency are also likely to be deficient in other nutrients. Globally, micronutrient malnutrition affects more than 2 billion people—mostly women and children—increasing their susceptibility to diarrhea and other deadly illnesses and infection. When deficiencies exist in many nutrients, brain function is affected, reducing economic well-being for families and countries.

 

“Hunger and under-nutrition is such an enormous global challenge that it demands innovative technical, operational, and institutional solutions,” says Dr. Bruce Cogill, chief of nutrition at USAID.

 

That is one reason that in 2011, HarvestPlus, an alliance of over 200 agriculture and nutrition scientists and development program implementers, is on tap to receive $1.3 million from USAID to biofortify seven staple crops that represent the source of food for the vast majority of people on the planet.

 

The Agency has teamed up with the international agricultural and food research community to place better quality food—not just more food—on the agenda and on dinner plates where it is most needed. In this instance, through biofortification, researchers will use plant breeding to add iron, zinc, and vitamin A directly into staple foods. At its core, the effort is using an agricultural tool to improve global health.

 

“Nutrition is a major objective of both the Global Health and Feed the Future initiatives and is integral to USAID’s development programs across sectors,” Dr. Cogill said. “USAID health programs deliver a package of holistic nutrition interventions—and maximize benefits to women and young children by coupling these efforts with water-, sanitation-, and health system-strengthening programs.”

 

Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is designed specifically to increase sustainable market-led growth, particularly for small and rural farmers, thereby contributing to an increase in rural incomes and a reduction in the prevalence of poverty.

 

Breeding nutrients into staple foods holds great potential because the strategy reaches people who currently have limited access to viable healthcare systems or commercially processed fortified foods.

 

There are already signs of improvements in the field. Orange sweet potato packed with vitamin A is now being planted alongside traditional white sweet potato throughout East Africa. Vitamin A-rich cassava in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, high-iron beans in Rwanda, and maize high in vitamin A in Zambia are currently being adapted by agricultural research programs in those countries. In India, high-iron pearl millet is being evaluated by research organizations and seed companies in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Studies have shown that consumers of the improved varieties of sweet potato have elevated vitamin A levels; more studies are under way.

 

“It [crop fortification] is an idea whose time has come,” added EGAT Assistant Administrator Josette Lewis. “We can help channel the powers of modern agricultural technology to reduce the single largest public health problem in the world, malnutrition. The reach of biofortification could be monumental.”

 

For little Grace and children like her, biofortification of common food crops represents another tool to reverse nutrition deficiencies and provide a head start to a healthy childhood.

 

For more information see: www.harvestplus.org

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13141&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Source: USAID via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.15  UC Davis receives $25 M to lead major wheat research project

 

On January 12, University of California, Davis received $25 million to develop new varieties of wheat and barley. Jorge Dubcovsky of UC, Davis and Gary Muehlbauer of the University of Minnesota will head the research team.

 

For more information about the project visit http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=9726

 

Source: BGRI E-Newsletter, January 2011

 

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1.16  EMBRAPA to launch potato resistant to late blight

 

EMBRAPA, the Brazilian Research Corporation, will be launching its newly developed potato cultivar BRS Clara which has resistance to the late blight disease, a devastating disease not only in Brazil, but also in many parts of the world including the EU. The cultivar was developed by the Breeding Program of Embrapa Potato led by Arione Pereira. In addition to its late blight resistance, the new cultivar has a desirable tuber appearance and comparable yield with imported and locally developed potatoes.

 

To learn more about the cultivation and crop management of this potato, including the availability of seed, contact the Business Office of Embrapa Technology Transfer (Canoinhas / SC) at: Embrapa Technology Transfer Canoinhas EN-BR-280 , km 219, Bairro: Água Verde, Caixa Postal 317, CEP: 89460-000, Canoinhas, SC, or e-mail: ecan.snt@embrapa.br.

 

The Portuguese news release can been viewed at http://www.embrapa.br/imprensa/noticias/2010/novembro/4a-semana/nova-cultivar-de-batata-e-resistente-a-requeima/.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 December 2010:

 

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1.17  China’s new wheat variety to exceed world wheat average yield

 

Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences released a new high yielding wheat variety Jimai 22. According to wheat breeder expert Liu Jianjun, the average yield of Jimai 22 will exceed 600 kilograms per mu (667 square meters), which is three times higher than the world wheat yield average.

 

The new variety exhibits strong disease-resistant ability and adaptability, and is also water and heat resistant. It will be planted in 35.7 million mu in autumn and winter of 2010, which is 10 percent of China's total wheat hectarage.

 

Read more at http://www.agromail.net/5186-china-succeeds-in-breeding-super-high-yield-wheat

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 17 December 2010:

 

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1.18  Nepal and CIMMYT harvest fruits of partnership

 

After more than 20 years of consolidated effort to boost maize and wheat yield, Nepal and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) are now reaping the fruits of their hard work. The yields of wheat has improved by 85%, and the maize yield increased by 36%. This further resulted to improved lives of farmers in remote mountain areas.

 

For instance, a villager named Bissu Maya experienced improvement in her farm income after the Hill Maize Research Program (HMRP) involved her in planting maize varieties suited for the location of her farm. Since then, her harvest grew from 20-50%. "Now I have enough food and can sell some surplus to pay for my children's education," she said.

 

"The partnership that CIMMYT has maintained over the past 25 years with our research and development institutions in Nepal has been very useful and of significant value to increase maize and wheat production in the country" says Dr. K.K. Lal, one of the very first ! CIMMYT maize trainees and former Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Nepal. "This partnership should continue and be strengthened".

 

Visit http://www.cimmyt.org/en/about-us/media-resources/newsletter/869-nepal-cimmyt-partnerships-reach-the-unreachable for the complete story

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 17 December 2010:

 

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1.19  Korea releases tasty new pest-proof rice

 

The continuing research collaboration between Korea Rural Development Authority and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has released another product - the Anmi japonica rice. Anmi is a high quality medium grain rice typically grown in temperate countries. It is highly resistant to a destructive rice pest,  the brown planthopper (BPH), and also to blast, bacterial blight, and rice stripe virus.

 

The BPH resistance of the variety was developed through genetic research led by IRRI plant breeder Dr. Kshirod Jena. He said, "In 2004, we had a significant breakthrough when we were able to locate the gene Bph18 for BPH resistance. We were then able to add this gene to a BPH-susceptible elite japonica rice variety successfully employing the modern rice-breeding technique called marker-assisted breeding for the first time ever in japonica rice."&nbs! p;

 

Anmi, besides containing multiple resistance to pests is also high yielding, at more than 5.8 tons per hectare, 11% more yield than the best japonica check variety in Korea, Hwaseongbyeo.

 

The original article can be viewed at http://irri.org/news-events/media-releases/korea-releases-tasty-new-pest-proof-rice.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 December 2010:

 

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1.20  Nigeria gets improved cassava varieties

 

Four improved cassava varieties (NR 01/0004, CR 41-10, TMS 00/0203, and TMS 01/0040) were released recently by the Nigerian government. TMS 00/0203 and TMS 01/0040 were bred by scientists from Ibadan-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); while NR 01/0004 and CR 41-10 were bred by Umudike-based National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) and the Colombian-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), respectively.

 

These varieties performed well in terms of yield and pest resistance in on-farm prerelease trials in eight states in the country. The average yield observed was 31 tons per hectare, compared to the 26 t/ha yield of the local varieties. "The release of the varieties is good news for Nigerian farmers in particular and African farmers in general," says Dr. Peter Kulakow, IITA Cassava Breeder.

 

More on this news can be seen at http://www.iita.org/news-feature-asset/-/asset_publisher/B3Bm/content/nigeria-gets-improved-cassava-varieties?redirect=%2Fnews

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 14 January 2011:

 

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1.21  IITA releases better soybean varieties for African farmers

 

Three new soybean varieties developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have been released in Malawi and Nigeria. Soybean variety TGx1740-2F was developed by IITA and Malawi's Department of Agricultural Research Services (DARS), while varieties TGx1987-10F and TGx1987-62F were both developed by IITA and Nigeria's National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI).

 

Release of the Malawi variety was approved by the Agricultural Technology Clearing Committee (ATCC) on 18 January 2011, and the release of the other two was approved by Nigeria Varietal Release Committee on 2 December 2010.

 

IITA Soybean Breeder Hailu Tefera reported that TGx1740-2F exceeded the grain yield of widely grown promiscuous variety Magoye during the two-year multilocation on-station trials.

 

"In Nigeria, medium-maturing varieties TGx1987-10F and TGx1987-62F proved highly resistant to rust, bacterial blight, and Cercospora leaf spot," says Ranajit Band! yopadhyay, IITA pathologist.

 

Read the press release at http://www.iita.org/news-feature-asset/-/asset_publisher/B3Bm/content/better-soybean-varieties-offer-african-farmers-new-.opportunities;jsessionid=C78633198E3594F893E967FABB04D9E5?redirect=/news

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 28 January 2011:

 

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1.22  New seed varieties approved in Pakistan

 

Eighteen new seed varieties of various cultivation crops including ARRI-10 (wheat), CPF-246 (sugarcane), and Basmati-515 (rice) were approved by Punjab Seed Corporation during its 40th meeting on January 13, 2011. The provisional approval for the cultivation of four insect resistant Bt cotton varieties including IR-1524, F4-113, Ali AKber-802 and Neelam-121 were also extended for one year.

 

The other approved varieties are MMRI yellow, Pearl, FH-810 Hybrid, and Yousafwala hybrid of maize; pulse varieties Chakwal Masoor & Mash Arooj; and tomato hybrid LITTH-514. Other varieties are Line-07001 Ravi (melon), S-2005 (millet), F-9917 (sorghum), rye grass-1, and super late Faisalabad of Barseem and 2-KCG-020 (groundnut). These approved varieties have potential to resist diseases and are high yielding.

 

See the original article at http://www.pabic.com.pk/Approval%20of%2010%20new%20seeds%20varieties%20of%20various%20crops%20by%20Pakistan%20seed%20council.html.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 28 January 2011:

 

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1.23  Open letter to stakeholders from U.S. Agriculture Secretary to urge GE and non-GE coexistence

 

Washington, DC, USA

December 30, 2010

Complexity surrounds American agriculture today. With the recent announcement of USDA's final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa and the subsequent meeting to bring together diverse stakeholders for a dialogue, USDA has taken decisive steps toward looking at possible approaches to alfalfa production coexistence that are reasonable and practical.

 

These actions have generated tremendous interest in USDA's and my intentions regarding our ability to objectively regulate GE agricultural products and whether we are focused enough on science. I have tremendous confidence in our existing regulatory system and no doubts about the safety of the products this system has approved and will continue to approve. As a regulatory agency, sound science and decisions based on this science are our priority, and science strongly supports the safety of GE alfalfa. But, agricultural issues are always complex and rarely lend themselves to simple solutions. Therefore, we have an obligation to carefully consider USDA's 2,300 page EIS, which acknowledges the potential of cross-fertilization to non-GE alfalfa from GE alfalfa - a significant concern for farmers who produce for non-GE markets at home and abroad.

 

The rapid adoption of GE crops has clashed with the rapid expansion of demand for organic and other non-GE products. This clash led to litigation and uncertainty. Such litigation will potentially lead to the courts deciding who gets to farm their way and who will be prevented from doing so.

 

Regrettably, what the criticism we have received on our GE alfalfa approach suggests, is how comfortable we have become with litigation – with one side winning and one side losing – and how difficult it is to pursue compromise. Surely, there is a better way, a solution that acknowledges agriculture's complexity, while celebrating and promoting its diversity. By continuing to bring stakeholders together in an attempt to find common ground where the balanced interests of all sides could be advanced, we at USDA are striving to lead an effort to forge a new paradigm based on coexistence and cooperation. If successful, this effort can ensure that all forms of agriculture thrive so that food can remain abundant, affordable, and safe.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13661&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.24  Taiwan breeders may apply for new plant varieties rights in the Chinese Mainland

 

Beijing, China

December 3, 2010

The Ministry of Agriculture and the State Forestry Administration have jointly formulated the Temporary Provisions on Applicants in Taiwan Region for Rights of New Plant Varieties in the Chinese Mainland (hereinafter referred to as the “Provisions”) for the purpose of protecting the legitimate rights and interests of breeders in the region, and encouraging the breeding and use of new plant varieties. The provisions came into force on November 22, 2010.

 

The provisions states that an applicant in the Taiwan Region for such rights and relevant issues with the examining and approving authorities shall do it by entrusting an agencyin the Chinese mainland that is commissioned for such purpose and established according to law. The application documents shall be written in the simplified Chinese and the date in Gregorian calendar, except for certificates and relevant papers. Where varieties to be applied for such rights, their propagating materials for sale, with the consent of the holders of the variety rights, in the Chinese mainland for less than one year; or for sale outside the Chinese mainland for less than six years of their propagating materials of liane, crop trees, fruit trees and ornamental plants, or less than four years of the propagating materials of other plant varieties, the said varieties shall be deemed no novelty lost.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13054&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Source: Nanfang Rural Areas via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.25  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture intends to reestablish the Plant Variety Protection Board

 

Washington, DC, USA

December 13, 2010

 

Plant Variety Protection Board; Reestablishment of the Plant Variety Protection Board

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

 

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) (5 U.S.C. App.), this notice announces that the Secretary of Agriculture intends to reestablish the Plant Variety Protection Board.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

 

Paul Zankowski, USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), 10301 Baltimore Blvd., Room 401, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705-2351 or by phone at (301) 504-7475 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (301) 504-7475      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or by Internet: http://www.regulations.gov or by e-mail: Paul.Zankowski@ams.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

 

The Plant Variety Protection Act (Act) (7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq.) provides legal protection in the form of intellectual property rights to developers of new varieties of plants, which are reproduced sexually by seed or are tuber-propagated. A Certificate of Plant Variety Protection is awarded to an owner of a crop variety after an examination shows that it is new, distinct from other varieties, genetically uniform and stable through successive generations. The term of protection is 20 years for most crops and 25 years for trees, shrubs, and vines.

 

The Act also provides for a statutory Board (7 U.S.C. 2327) to be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The duties of the Board are to: (1) Advise the Secretary concerning the adoption of rules and regulations to facilitate the proper administration of the Act; (2) provide advisory counsel to the Secretary on appeals concerning decisions on applications by the PVP Office and on requests for emergency public-interest compulsory licenses; and (3) advise the Secretary on any other matters under the Regulations and Rules of Practice and on all questions under Section 44 of the Act, ``Public Interest in Wide Usage'' (7 U.S.C. 2404). Reestablishing the Board is necessary and in the public interest.

 

The Act provides that ``the Board shall consist of individuals who are experts in various areas of varietal development covered by this Act.'' The Board membership ``shall include farmer representation and shall be drawn approximately equally from the private or seed industry sector and from the sector of government or the public.'' The Board consists of 14 members, each of whom is appointed for a 2-year period, with no member appointed for more than three 2-year periods. Nominations are made by farmers' associations, trade associations in the seed industry, professional associations representing expertise in seed technology, plant breeding, and variety development, public and private research and development institutions (13 members) and the USDA (one member).

 

Equal opportunity practices, in agreement with USDA nondiscrimination policies, will be followed in all membership appointments to the Board. To ensure that the suggestions of the Board have taken into account the needs of the diverse groups served by USDA, membership shall include, to the extent practicable, individuals with demonstrated ability to represent minorities, women, and persons with disabilities.

 

The Charter for the Board will be available on the Web site at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5O59988 or may be requested by contacting the individual identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this notice.

 

USDA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (braille, large print, or audiotape) should contact USDA's Target Center at 202-720-2600 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-720-2600      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (voice and TTY).

 

To file a written complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 202-720-5964 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-720-5964      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (voice and TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Dated: December 7, 2010.

Pearlie S. Reed,

Assistant Secretary for Administration.

[FR Doc. 2010-31219 Filed 12-10-10; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-M

 

[Federal Register: December 13, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 238)]

[Notices]

[Page 77612-77613]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[DOCID:fr13de10-34]

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

[Document No. AMS-ST-10-0052]

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13246&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

SeedQuest.com

 

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1.26  U.S. National Agricultural Statistics Service launches new CropScape geospatial data service

 

Washington, D.C., USA

January 10, 2011

To provide easier access to geospatial satellite products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) today announced the launch of CropScape, a new cropland exploring service. CropScape provides data users access to a variety of new resources and information, including the 2010 cropland data layer (CDL) just released in conjunction with CropScape.

 

This new service offers advanced tools such as interactive visualization, web-based data dissemination and geospatial queries and automated data delivery to systems such as Google Earth.

 

“CropScape delivers data visualization tools directly into the hands of the agricultural community without the need for specialized expertise, GIS software or high-end computers,” said Mark Harris, NASS Research and Development Division director. “This information can be used for addressing issues related to agricultural sustainability, land cover monitoring, biodiversity and extreme events such as flooding, drought and hail storm assessment.”

 

NASS produced the 2010 CDL using satellite image observations at 30-meter (0.22 acres per pixel) resolution and collected from the Resourcesat-1 Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) and Landsat Thematic Mapper. The collection of images was categorized using on-the-ground farm information including field location, crop type, elevation, tree canopy and urban infrastructure. All prior CDL products dating back to 1997 are also hosted by CropScape.

 

CropScape was developed in cooperation with the Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. The research and development of CropScape and the NASS partnership with George Mason University reflect NASS’s continued commitment to improve U.S. agricultural production, sustainability and food security.

 

CropScape is operated by NASS’s Research and Development Division and hosted and maintained by the Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems at George Mason University. For more information about CropScape, and the Cropland Data Layer visit http://nassgeodata.gmu.edu/CropScape.

 

More news from: USDA - NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13809&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.27  U.S. Department of Agriculture authorizes Roundup Ready alfalfa for spring planting

 

St. Louis, Missouri, USA

January 27, 2011

For the first time since 2007, U.S. farmers will have the choice to plant Genuity® Roundup Ready® alfalfa. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) authorized resumption of the sale and planting of Monsanto Company’s (NYSE: MON) Roundup Ready® alfalfa.

 

“This is great news for farmers who have been waiting for the green light to plant Roundup Ready alfalfa,” said Steve Welker, alfalfa commercial lead at Monsanto. “USDA’s action gives farmers the choice to enjoy the benefits of this product, including superior crop safety and high-quality yield opportunity.”

 

Roundup Ready alfalfa was developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics International (FGI). The USDA decision comes in time for spring planting, the company noted. Monsanto, FGI and other alfalfa seed companies have varieties of Genuity Roundup Ready alfalfa seed in stock and ready for sale.

 

Roundup Ready alfalfa was commercialized in 2005. More than 5,000 farmers had planted Roundup Ready alfalfa on over 250,000 acres before a court ruling regarding USDA’s administrative process halted further sales and planting.

 

“The overwhelming positive feedback from the farmers who first planted Roundup Ready alfalfa and ongoing grower surveys indicate significant farmer interest in this product,” Welker said.

 

The final Environmental Impact Statement published by USDA in December concluded that one outcome of renewed planting could be an increase in quantity of high quality alfalfa hay produced by alfalfa growers. Roundup Ready alfalfa offers farmers healthier, faster-growing stands and hay with fewer weeds in every bale.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=14261&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.28  Controversial plant biotech patents overturned

 

The European Patent Office has overturned two controversial patents granted a decade ago on methods for breeding broccoli containing anticarcinogenic compounds and tomatoes with a reduced water content.

 

The broccoli patent was filed by Plant Bioscience Ltd, a plant science company based in Norwich, UK and the tomato patent by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture. The broccoli and tomato varieties are produced using conventional breeding techniques but also use genetic markers to locate and indentify key genes to breed the varieties with the desired traits.

 

According to EU law, biological processes for the production of plants or animals are not allowed to be patented. But the law regards marker-assisted selection as a technical process, and therefore patentable. The broccoli and tomato patents were awarded on this basis.

 

Since their approval, industry, including the Swiss agribusiness Syngenta, has contested the patents arguing that they didn’t cover just the genetic markers but also the commonly used breeding techniques. They say the breeding techniques should be regarded as a biological process, and so the patents should not have been awarded. Industry was concerned that they would have to pay the patent holders for permission to use the breeding technique.

 

After years of appeals and hearings, the cases reached the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal, its highest level of jurisdiction. In a ruling on 9 December, the board agreed with industry that the patents covered the whole selection and breeding process and therefore should not be allowed.

 

In a statement, the board says, “While technical devices or means, such as genetic markers, may themselves be patentable inventions, their use does not make an essentially biological process patentable.”

 

“A process for the production of plants involving sexually crossing whole plant genomes, and the subsequent selection of plants is not patentable. The mere inclusion of a technical step which serves to enable or assist the performance of the steps of sexually crossing the whole genomes of plants or of subsequently selecting plants does not override this exclusion from patentability,” it adds.

 

This decision does not affect the patentability of inventions or technical steps such as genetic markers.

 

Gareth Morgan, an intellectual property lawyer based at the London offices of DLA Piper, a legal service provider, says the ruling helps “clarify the law”. But he says it will change little about the day to day practices of plant scientists or breeder.

 

Source: December 13, 2010 Nature News

 

Contributed by Rodomiro Ortiz

rodomiroortiz@gmail.com

 

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1.29  Norway pledges $50 million to campaign to collect and employ endangered wild relatives of world’s major food crops

 

Global field expeditions aim to help farmers adapt to climate change by securing valuable genetic traits of key food crops

 

Rome, Italy

10 December 2010

The Global Crop Diversity Trust today announced a major global search to systematically find, gather, catalogue, use, and save the wild relatives of wheat, rice, beans, potato, barley, lentils, chickpea, and other essential food crops, in order to help protect global food supplies against the imminent threat of climate change, and strengthen future food security.

 

The initiative, led by the Trust, working in partnership with national agricultural research institutes, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Consultative Group on International  Agricultural Research (CGIAR), is the largest one ever undertaken with the tough wild relatives of today’s main food crops. These wild plants contain essential traits that could be bred into crops to make them more hardy and versatile in the face of dramatically different climates expected in the coming years. Norway is providing US$50 million towards this important contribution to food security.

 

“All our crops were originally developed from wild species—that’s how farming began,” explained Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. “But they were adapted from the plants best suited to the climates of the past. Climate change means we need to go back to the wild to find those relatives of our crops that can thrive in the climates of the future. We need to glean from them the traits that will enable modern crops to adapt to new, harsher and more demanding situations. And we need to do it while those plants can still be found.”

 

Crop wild relatives make up only a few percent of the world’s genebank holdings, yet their contribution to commercial agriculture alone is estimated at more than US$100 billion per year. One example dates back to the 1970s, when an outbreak of grassy stunt virus, which prevents the rice plant from flowering and producing grain, decimated rice harvests across Asia. Scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) screened more than 10,000 samples of wild and locally-cultivated rice plants for resistance to the disease and  found it in a wild relative, Oryza nivara, growing in India. The gene has been incorporated into most new varieties since the discovery.

 

“This project represents one of the most concrete steps taken to date to ensure that agriculture, and humanity, adapts to climate change. At a more fundamental level, the project also demonstrates the importance of biodiversity and genetic resources for human survival,” said Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment and International Development of Norway, which is providing the initial budget of US$50 million to fund the work on 23 global food crops: alfalfa, bambara groundnut, banana, barley, bean, fava bean, chickpea, cowpea, finger millet, grass pea, lentil, oat, pea, pearl millet, pigeon pea, potato, rye, rice, sorghum, sunflower, sweet potato, vetch and wheat. The work is scheduled to take 10 years, from determining where to collect, through to having material ready for crop breeding programs.

 

Although plant breeders have incorporated many traits from the wild relatives of our crops over the years, the plants have never been comprehensively collected or conserved, according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust. As a result, valuable traits are largely unavailable to plant breeders and farmers and many are at risk of being lost forever due to climate change and rapid habitat loss. According to the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a major partner in the project, one-fifth of the world’s plants are threatened with extinction.

 

It is widely understood that, irrespective of the outcomes at the United Nations’ climate change conference in Cancún, the coming decades will see ever more challenging conditions for agriculture. The forecasts for declining yields are particularly frightening for the developing world. For example, yields for maize in Southern Africa, a vital crop in a region which already suffers from chronic hunger, are predicted to fall by up to 30 percent within just 20 years. The standard response until now has been that new, hardier varieties of our crops will be required. “We are taking a step back and challenging the lazy assumption that new crop varieties will just materialize out of thin air,” said Solheim.

 

“The aim of the project is to collect wild crop diversity and put it into the crop breeding pipeline before this treasure is lost from the wild forever. This is a two-fold race against time—the race to adapt agriculture to climate change, and the race to collect biodiversity before it is lost forever. We are extremely excited to support a project that will help insure our common future, and look forward to other donors adding their support so that more crops can be included.” Norway showed its deep commitment to conserving the world’s plant biodiversity in 2008, when it built the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, offering a secure Arctic home for millions of seed samples collected from around the world.

 

“Diversity equals resilience in the biological world, which is why this project is vital to the survival of agriculture,” said Paul Smith, Director of the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a key partner in the project announced today. Kew’s unparalleled experience in wild plant collecting and seed biology will be brought to bear not just on a conservation problem, but on the whole issue of food security, added Smith.

 

According to the partners, the scale of loss in the wild is not the only urgent factor. On average, a new crop variety takes 7-10 years to breed, so it is essential for the work to begin now, before the effects of climate change begin to wreak havoc on food production. “Improving food security means helping farmers today,” said Solheim, “but also taking steps to ensure they will be able to adapt to changes in the future. If we wait until the climate has changed, it will be too late. Delaying adaptation is short-sighted and the poor will pay the heaviest price.”

 

The program will target critical traits in the wild relatives of crops that are essential, especially in the developing world, where climate change could cause production declines of between 10 and 30 percent or more. Wild relatives of crop plants tend to be much more diverse than their domesticated cousins. They grow in a wider variety of climates and conditions. The Global Crop Diversity Trust will draw in climate change experts, biodiversity conservationists and agricultural scientists. Scientists will work with national governments and local partners on the ground, and the species to be collected all fall under the auspices of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. All materials will be collected and be publicly available under the terms of that Treaty.

 

Collecting is only the first step. The aim is not simply to collect and conserve, but to use and thus benefit from this diversity. However, these wild plants cannot be used straight away in a crop breeding program—as wild plants contain many characteristics that are undesirable for crops, along with the desirable ones. The 10-year scope of the project will therefore ensure that collected seed can be grown and crossed with existing breeding lines, a process known as “prebreeding,” to see if the traits of interest can then be introduced effectively into domesticated plants. Once this is done, the diversity is available to all plant breeders, everywhere.

 

Preservation and Progress

Samples will be conserved in a number of sites around the world, including the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and the genetic material and information will be shared electronically and openly. The project will also provide training to partners in the developing world in identifying and handling wild species and in plant-breeding techniques. “Variable temperatures, pests, diseases, droughts and floods are agricultural problems that have always been with us,” said Fowler, “but climate change will be like putting such traditional agricultural problems on steroids.” This initiative will create an unprecedented resource for developing “climate-ready” food crops.

 

For example, wild plants could address the issue of rice’s temperature sensitivity. At a critical stage in rice flowering, a one degree Celsius change in temperature can cut yields by 10 percent. Most high-yield rice varieties flower during the heat of the day, but some wild rice relatives flower at night. “With climate change, temperatures rising by a few degrees could cut yields by 30 to 40 percent,” said Fowler. “But if we could just incorporate the characteristic of night-flowering from wild rice into farmed rice, we could save millions of tons of rice, and thousands of lives. That would pay for the project many times over.”

 

“This is a game changer,” said Fowler. “This project will provide us with enormous amounts of diversity, and will provide plant breeders and farmers around the world with access to that diversity. We’re going to find resistance to diseases and pests that farmers have never had before. If—and it remains an ‘if’—we are to adapt agriculture to climate change, we need to stack the odds heavily in the farmers’ favor. This does just that.”

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13290&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.30  International Potato Center publishes virtual catalogue of advanced clones and varieties

 

Lima, Peru

January 6, 2011

The International Potato Center has published a Catalogue of Advanced Clones, available online and on DVD, which provides up to the minute information on the potato advanced clones and varieties available for worldwide distribution from the Center. The catalogue contains detailed information on 220 advanced clones and 55 improved varieties of potato.

 

Directed at national research programs, universities, producers associations and private companies, the catalogue is an important resource for any researcher or institution interested in obtaining candidate varieties of potato with biotic resistance (to pest and disease), high yield, and potential for both fresh consumption or processing.

 

The catalogue’s design resembles that of an online shopping site. Users can search in two ways: by variety name or clone number, or by selection criteria (morphology, pest and disease resistance, agronomical characteristics, etc.). Both options will give the user information on technical characteristics, worldwide distribution area, and postharvest performance features, as well as illustrations of the plant, tuber, and flowers.

 

Clicking on the shopping cart icon assigned to each entry will generate an order request for that clone or variety. Once you have completed your desired selection, the system will request additional information. A specialist from the Center’s Acquisition and Distribution Unit will then get back to you in order to complete the necessary documentation to send the order.

 

“The clones in the catalogue contain sources of resistance to late blight and potato viruses and disease. They are the result of years of research and selection aimed at creating new varieties in different agro-ecological environments. Some have already been tested in specific regions and conditions,” says Stef De Haan, Coordinator for Red LatinPapa (Ibero- American Network for Innovation in Potato Breeding and Dissemination).

 

Red LatinPapa is a partner of CIP in this initiative. This third update of the catalogue takes full advantage of the latest technological advances. The site is available in three languages: English, Spanish and Chinese. “The decision to translate into Chinese was made bearing in mind that China is the world’s largest producer of potatoes, and that CIP will very shortly have a headquarters for Asia and the Pacific there. The translation was made possible thanks to the collaboration of Chinese student Li Qingquan, from the Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Science, who trained in breeding for more than a year at CIP”, said De Haan.

 

The catalogue also comes as a free DVD for users in countries or locations across the developing world where there may be Internet connection problems,

 

For more information on clones and/or varieties, please contact CIP’s Acquisition and Distribution Unit. (CIP-ADU@cgiar.org).

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13734&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.31  Identifying the training needs of gene bank staff in Africa

 

Launch of Kew's 'Difficult' Seeds Project webpages

 

Kew has recently launched webpages for the ‘Difficult’ Seeds Project, which supports crop gene banks and farmers in the conservation of plants used for food and agriculture in Africa. The project is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and has been funded by the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The webpages contain information about the project and 160 profile pages for species that have been identified as being difficult to handle, store or use.

 

At stakeholder workshops held in Burkina Faso and South Africa, Kew worked with managers to identify the training needs of gene bank staff in Africa. These workshops were followed in 2007 by four training workshops (two conducted in English and two in French), to which we invited gene bank technicians from various institutes across the African continent. At these workshops we also got the opportunity to work with local farmers in the host contries and to share information on the appropriate handling and storage of seeds.

 

As a result of these workshops, we have put together a list of 220 species that were identified as being difficult to handle, store or use, and have developed species profile pages for 160 of these, to overcome any difficulties.We have also provided training resouces and useful links to enable gene banks to run training courses amongst their staff, and with farmers and community seed groups.

 

http://www.kew.org/science-research-data/kew-in-depth/difficult-seeds/index.htm

 

Contributed by Vanessa J Sutcliffe

Training Specialist

Millennium Seed Bank Partnership

Seed Conservation Department

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

v.sutcliffe@kew.org

 

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1.32  Grass germplasm collection also includes fungal endophytes

 

Washington, DC, USA

January 27, 2011

One of the world's largest collections of cool-season forage and turf grasses is located at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station (WRPIS), operated in Pullman, Wash., by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

 

It could also be said that the station is, by default, among the largest collections of endophytes, a specialized group of Neotyphodium fungi that live symbiotically within the tissues of certain grasses—tall fescue among them.

 

The endophytes' presence can be a mixed bag, however. On the one hand, they help their grass hosts tolerate stresses like drought and they produce metabolites that repel insect pests. But some of the metabolites—notably, ergot alkaloids—can cause fescue toxicosis in grazing livestock.

 

Fortunately, intensive research over the past several years has identified new endophyte strains that don't cause fescue toxicosis, but that still confer desirable benefits to grass.

 

According to Stephen Clement, who recently retired as an entomologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Pullman, research organizations in the United States and abroad are increasingly mining the WRPIS collection to identify new strains of these nontoxigenic endophytes. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

 

Mindful of the interest in the collection, Clement and colleagues with the ARS Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit in Corvallis, Ore., conducted research to ensure that the station's current seed regeneration practices are suitable for maintaining viable stores of the endophytes.

 

Clement had been conducting studies to better characterize the diverse grass-endophyte associations in the collection and to determine what effect this has on feeding by insect pests. In recent research, Clement observed a decline in the survival of cereal leaf beetles—invasive pests of Pacific Northwest seed nurseries—that fed on endophyte-infected grasses, including the wild tall fescue Lolium arundinaceum.

 

Read more about this research in the January 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=14246&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.33  Photosynthesis trackers shine light on new rice varieties

 

Beaumont, Texas, USA

December 1, 2010

What looks like a flock of giant, robotic geese in a field near Beaumont is actually new technology shedding light on how scientists can develop better varieties of rice.

 

Specially designed equipment is monitoring photosynthesis in 14 rice varieties at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Beaumont, according to Dr. Ted Wilson, director and lead scientist on the study.

 

"Photosynthesis is the engine that drives crop growth, development and yield. By understanding the physiology behind photosynthesis better, we can use this information to determine what plants to select in a plant breeding program, with the end result being a more efficient and faster rate of developing new varieties," Wilson said. "In a nutshell, the faster one can develop a new variety, the greater the rate of yield increase and thus grower income."

 

In field studies, Wilson and his team are looking at a series of inbred rice varieties and their offspring, which are called hybrids. The idea is to try to determine the inheritance of different traits and how much of the photosynthetic rates of a variety can be inherited from the male and female plants.

 

Each variety is grown under a different cage which is automatically measured 58 times in 15-second increments during a three-day period. This is repeated over the growing season, totaling more than 635 measurements of five minutes for the plants in each cage, Wilson explained.

 

"We also measure detailed information on light interception, allocation of carbohydrates to different parts of the plant and uptake of nitrogen. So, we can get information on how much we're able to predict how a particular variety responds to a particular environment," Wilson said.

 

He said that the more light a plant is able to intercept, the greater the plant's growth and, hence, its yield. The study is comparing results of different varieties to see if some are able to intercept light better than others.

 

Wilson explained that a plant uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and sugars, which are the building blocks for plant growth and respiration.

 

"The plant allocates the sugars to different parts of the plant -- the roots, leaves, stem, and grain -- dynamically throughout the season as the crop grows," he said. "The manner in which this allocation occurs determines whether you end up with a plant that is largely vegetative at one extreme, or ends up using a lot of its 'energy' to produce, say, grain at the other extreme."

 

The goal of a rice breeding program, Wilson added, is to produce a plant that has enough vegetation to support the greatest amount of grain yield.

 

"This is very much a balancing act. If you select for a plant type that sends most of its energy to producing grain too soon, the plant will be small and stunted," he said. "At the other extreme, if you select for a plant type that puts most of its early and mid-season growth into vegetation, you can end with a very late maturing plant that has too much vegetation that costs the plant too much energy to maintain, which can result in a plant that either matures its grain too late or which cannot support much grain."

 

The team is considering three years of detailed data as part of its continuing rice breeding program.

 

"Our ultimate goal is to develop a new variety of rice, so we are working very closely with Dr. Omar Samonte who is a plant breeder and partner on this research, and Jim Medley who is the lead technician who keeps the project going," he said.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=12866&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source:  SeedQuest.com

 

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1.34  Drought tolerant rice in development

 

IRRI scientists test rice crops to eliminate dependency on flooding lowland rice fields

 

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

November 30, 2010

Rice production faces the threat of a growing worldwide water scarcity. Approximately, 75% of the world’s rice is grown in flooded, lowland conditions. Lowland rice crops either rely on irrigation or rain water to provide adequate growing conditions. The food security of millions of people depends on the availability of water.

 

Scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have developed a rice crop that is not only drought tolerant but high yielding despite the lack of water. These genotypes have been dispersed to other Asian countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

 

The study was funded by the Asian Development Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and can be found in the November – December 2010 issue of Crop Science.

 

Originally, researchers planted different rice genotypes on two separate plots at IRRI headquarters in Los BaĖos. The field plots were of similar soil fertility and the crops were equally managed apart from receiving different amounts of water. Initial analysis found rice crops grown in drought like conditions show a decrease in plant height, harvest index, and grain yield.

 

Nevertheless, upon repeating the experiment, IRRI scientists were able to identify 26 second-generation aerobic rice genotypes that produced significant yields compared to the first generation crops. The rice crops subjected to less water yielded 50% more than the previous generation and further gains are expected as the cycle is repeated.

 

The use aerobic rice is a relatively new, but necessary trend. Aerobic rice crops eliminate the need for flooding, instead using long root systems to extract moisture from the soil. Water is still necessary to maintain the crop, however not at the volume used in lowland rice before.

 

Dr. Dule Zhao, one of the authors of the study, says, “Aerobic rice is a good strategy for coping with the increasing water shortage and ensuring rice food security in tropical regions. A breeding protocol is key to the success of a breeding program in developing new aerobic rice varieties.”

 

Aerobic rice breeding studies are continuing at IRRI. Researchers are attempting to develop rice crops that are drought tolerant and also weed competitive and high quality.

 

The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at https://www.crops.org/publications/cs/abstracts/50/6/2268.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=12902&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.35  Researchers identify genetic trait for heat tolerance in rice plants

 

Stuttgart, Arkansas, USA

December 6, 2010

University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture research on the effects of high nighttime temperatures on rice grain yield and quality has identified genetic differences in rice varieties that were less affected by the heat than other varieties. The findings could lead to future development of more heat-tolerant rice varieties, said Paul Counce, a plant physiologist based at the Division's Rice Research and Extension Center near Stuttgart.

 

The summer of 2010 was the hottest on record in Arkansas, as measured by average daily temperatures over a 24 hour period, Counce said. The difficulty of keeping fields adequately irrigated contributed to the lowest statewide rice yields since 2001, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated at 142 bushels per acre. Another likely factor was high nighttime temperatures, Counce said. Rice millers also reported that grain quality was significantly below average.

 

Research in the Division of Agriculture's Rice Processing Program on the effect of high temperature on rice yield and quality has identified genes that appear to be associated with tolerance to high temperatures, Counce said.

 

It has been documented that the flowers on rice plants do not open properly when the temperature is above 95 F, which hinders pollination and results in blank hulls with no grain inside and smaller, lighter kernels, Counce said. However, nighttime temperatures are usually moderate during flowering in late spring or early summer.

 

Research over several years by Counce and others in the Rice Processing Program has documented that blanks and lower-quality kernels can also result from high nighttime temperatures during the grain-filling stage in mid-summer, which occurred frequently in 2010.

 

The research team studied the genetic coding of enzymes that carry out the grain filling process and found that the enzyme starch synthase appears to be most affected by nighttime temperatures. In one of the rice varieties least affected by high night temperatures, the genes that code expression of starch synthase were relatively unaffected by night temperature, Counce said.

 

These findings suggest that it might be possible to incorporate specific genes for increased tolerance of high night temperatures into future rice varieties, Counce said.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13077&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.36  The factors that influence yields in dry environments

 

Australia

December 6, 2010

The combined contribution of plant breeding and agronomy to improved grain yield in low rainfall environments is currently being assessed by a South Australian Research and Development Institute-led research team.

 

Headed up by SARDI Associate Professor Victor Sadras and research officer Chris Lawson, the team is undertaking the assessment as part of a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) project, Improving Crop and Farm Water Use Efficiency in Australia.

 

Speaking at the recent Hart Field Day in South Australia, they explained that the research has a particular emphasis on the Mid North of SA but involves trials of wheat varieties representative of those that are well adapted to conditions in Western Australia (Mace), central New South Wales (Livingstone) and central Queensland (Kennedy), as well as SA’s Mid North (Gladius).

 

These four wheat varieties are being compared at Hart and at Buntine in WA (both winter dominant rainfall sites), at Gatton in Queensland (summer dominant rainfall) and at Condobolin in NSW (capturing the transition from winter to summer dominant rainfall).

 

When completed in 2011, the trials will enable the researchers to answer the question: what are the traits that contribute to local adaptation of wheat in environments with contrasting rainfall patterns, and how do these traits interact with cropping practices?

 

The research is also involving trials of 13 historic varieties of wheat released between 1951 and 2007 and which have been widely grown in SA.

 

Researchers are closely monitoring the phenology, growth, water use, capture of radiation and yield attributes of these varieties in three locations, including Hart.

 

When completed in 2012 these trials will provide answers to the question: what has been the rate of genetic improvement in yield in SA over the last five decades, and what are the traits that have contributed to the improvement in yield and water use efficiency.

 

Partly funded by GRDC, the trial work involves assistance from Hart Field-Site Group trials manager Peter Hooper, NSW Industry & Investment research agronomist Neil Fettell, CSIRO WA scientist Dr Steve Milroy, and Richard Routley from the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation in Queensland.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13061&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.37  UNL research looking for ways to block rice blast

 

Rice blast caused by Magnaporthe oryzae is one of the major diseases of rice. Global efforts to understand the pathogen and to control its spread have been going on for decades. can reduce rice yield by up to 30 percent per year and a related organism can affect other cereals such as wheat. Currently, rice blast is spreading havoc in Arkansas, USA, and a related species has been found in wheat in Brazil.

 

In a journal article of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln plant pathologist Richard Wilson and his colleagues discovered a genetic switch that regulates plant infection by signaling to the fungus that it is in a nutrition rich environment. This signal will trigger infection and establishment of the disease. These scientists have now renewed their efforts to control the switch and the related processes so that a targeted control of the disease can be developed.

 

See the original ne! ws at http://citnews.unl.edu/ianrhome/ianrnews/static/1012200.shtml

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 December 2010:

 

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1.38  Waterlogging wheat research benefits two countries

 

South Perth, Western Australia

December 16, 2010

Researchers at the Department of Agriculture and Food are identifying elite germplasm to help breed new waterlogging tolerant wheat varieties.

 

The methodology from the project is also being used to develop waterlogging tolerant wheat varieties in India with three Indian research institutes as part of a projected funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

 

The department is mid-way through the four year collaboration with the University of Adelaide to identify suitable material that is tolerant to waterlogging and associated micro-element toxicities, which also has improved disease resistance.

 

Up to 40 per cent of agricultural land in WA can be affected by waterlogging, which can significantly reduce crop yields.

 

Department research officers Tim Setter and Irene Waters recently visited the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute (PBI) at Cobbitty, NSW, where plants from the trial were screened for resistance to leaf, stem and stripe rust.

 

A total of 1200 plants with high waterlogging and aluminium tolerance were tested, of which only one per cent had acceptable rust resistance.

 

Dr Setter said although the selection pressure was extreme, there was still some useful material that could be used in the next season’s trials.

 

“New South Wales has had an extremely wet year, which resulted in extreme stripe rust infections,” he said.

 

“The lines tested were developed from the WA variety Tammarin Rock and a doubled haploid breeding line, both of which have good waterlogging tolerance.

 

“The best performers will now also be used in a backcrossing program using parents from the University of Sydeny PBI to improve disease resistance. Lines will be screened next year at the waterlogging tolerance screening facility at Katanning.”

 

Waterlogging tolerance screening involves sowing 5,000-10,000 pots per year containing different soil types planted with more than 400 wheat and barley breeding lines in a 200 metre square pond at the department’s Great Southern Research Institute at Katanning.

 

The seedlings used include commercial varieties, local breeding lines, as well as germplasm from India.

 

Dr Setter said an interdisciplinary approach was required to develop waterlogging tolerant wheat varieties.

 

“Waterlogged soils have low levels of oxygen, which affect the plants’ capacity to exclude potentially toxic elements like boron, aluminium and sodium. Waterlogging also increases the availability of other elements in the soil like iron and manganese,” he said.

 

“The challenge for plant physiologists and plant breeders is to develop germplasm that is not only waterlogging tolerant but also tolerant to micro-element toxicity and has disease resistance.

 

“Plant breeding is a slow process but significant gains are being made by research in the target environments.”

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13363&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.39  International Potato Center working on potatoes fortified with iron

 

Lima, Peru

January 18, 2011

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world – affecting 50% of pregnant women and 40% of preschool children in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization. Since potatoes are naturally good sources of iron, the International Potato Center (known by its Spanish acronym CIP) is working to add further nutritional value through breeding, or biofortification, of potato. It is a very promising alternative for improving health in poor communities, where access to meat is limited and people cannot afford commercially fortified foods and vitamin supplements.

 

The bioavailability of iron in potato is also important, and can be greater than that from cereals and legumes. Potatoes have high levels of ascorbic acid, which promotes iron absorption. They also have low levels of phytic acid, which inhibits of iron absorption. CIP efforts are focused on identifying and breeding varieties that are rich in both iron concentration and bioavailability.

 

Health consequences of iron deficiency include impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children, and reduced work productivity in adults. In the Peruvian highlands, up to 60% of preschool children suffer the stunting effects of malnutrition, with iron deficiency as the main contributing factor.

 

The potato is recognized as a key food staple, but its potential for combating malnutrition is not well known or exploited. “For example, in Huancavelica in the Peruvian highlands, women and children consume an average of 800g and 200g of potato per day, respectively,” explains Gabriela Burgos, who leads the Quality and Nutrition Laboratory at CIP. “So improving iron concentrations and bioavailability in potato can have real impact in these areas.”

 

Five years ago, with funding from the HarvestPlus program, CIP started to screen the potato germplasm in its genebank for micronutrients (iron, zinc, vitamin C, and phenolic). Initial screening of 579 native Andean potato varieties and 315 improved varieties showed a wide variation for iron and zinc concentration and a large genetic diversity that could be exploited in breeding programs.

 

CIP agronomist Walter Amorós explains: “We selected a group of potatoes for their high levels of iron, and we have done a whole series of crosses with them and studied the progeny,” he says. “From a baseline iron content of 19mg / k, we’ve achieved levels as high as 40mg / k after two selection cycles.”

 

The bioavailability of iron in potato is also important, and can be greater than that from cereals and legumes. Potatoes have high levels of ascorbic acid, which promotes iron absorption. They also have low levels of phytic acid, which inhibits of iron absorption. CIP efforts are focused on identifying and breeding varieties that are rich in both iron concentration and bioavailability.

 

Health consequences of iron deficiency include impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children, and reduced work productivity in adults. In the Peruvian highlands, up to 60% of preschool children suffer the stunting effects of malnutrition, with iron deficiency as the main contributing factor.

 

The potato is recognized as a key food staple, but its potential for combating malnutrition is not well known or exploited. “For example, in Huancavelica in the Peruvian highlands, women and children consume an average of 800g and 200g of potato per day, respectively,” explains Gabriela Burgos, who leads the Quality and Nutrition Laboratory at CIP. “So improving iron concentrations and bioavailability in potato can have real impact in these areas.”

 

Five years ago, with funding from the HarvestPlus program, CIP started to screen the potato germplasm in its genebank for micronutrients (iron, zinc, vitamin C, and phenolic). Initial screening of 579 native Andean potato varieties and 315 improved varieties showed a wide variation for iron and zinc concentration and a large genetic diversity that could be exploited in breeding programs.

 

CIP agronomist Walter Amorós explains: “We selected a group of potatoes for their high levels of iron, and we have done a whole series of crosses with them and studied the progeny,” he says. “From a baseline iron content of 19mg / k, we’ve achieved levels as high as 40mg / k after two selection cycles.”

 

The bioavailability of iron in potato is also important, and can be greater than that from cereals and legumes. Potatoes have high levels of ascorbic acid, which promotes iron absorption. They also have low levels of phytic acid, which inhibits of iron absorption. CIP efforts are focused on identifying and breeding varieties that are rich in both iron concentration and bioavailability.

 

Health consequences of iron deficiency include impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children, and reduced work productivity in adults. In the Peruvian highlands, up to 60% of preschool children suffer the stunting effects of malnutrition, with iron deficiency as the main contributing factor.

 

The potato is recognized as a key food staple, but its potential for combating malnutrition is not well known or exploited. “For example, in Huancavelica in the Peruvian highlands, women and children consume an average of 800g and 200g of potato per day, respectively,” explains Gabriela Burgos, who leads the Quality and Nutrition Laboratory at CIP. “So improving iron concentrations and bioavailability in potato can have real impact in these areas.”

 

Five years ago, with funding from the HarvestPlus program, CIP started to screen the potato germplasm in its genebank for micronutrients (iron, zinc, vitamin C, and phenolic). Initial screening of 579 native Andean potato varieties and 315 improved varieties showed a wide variation for iron and zinc concentration and a large genetic diversity that could be exploited in breeding programs.

 

CIP agronomist Walter Amorós explains: “We selected a group of potatoes for their high levels of iron, and we have done a whole series of crosses with them and studied the progeny,” he says. “From a baseline iron content of 19mg / k, we’ve achieved levels as high as 40mg / k after two selection cycles.”

 

The future challenge is to combine these cultivars with CIP’s advanced breeding lines that have disease and pest resistance, high yield, and high acceptance from farmers.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13976&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.40  Deadlines for rust screening submissions to Kenya and Ethiopia

 

The screening facilities of East-Africa cater to two cycles per year. It is important to strictly adhere to deadlines. Material received after the season-specified deadline given below will be sown in the next season.

 

DEADLINES FOR SENDING MATERIAL FOR SCREENING:

Spring wheat:

Main season: 1st week of May (Kenya and Ethiopia)

Off-season: 1st week of November (Kenya); 30 November (Ethiopia)

Winter wheat: Vernalization requirement prior to planting in field (minimum 8 weeks in advance depending on the material sent).

For information and the protocols for sending germplasm for screening in Kenya and Ethiopia visit http://www.globalrust.org/traction/permalink/screening38. Or contact Sridhar Bhavani (Kenya): s.bhavani@cgiar.org or Dr. Bedada Girma (Ethiopia): Bedada_g@yahoo.com.

 

Source: BGRI E-Newsletter, January 2011

 

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1.41  New Stripe Rust Strain with virulence in triticale

 

The University of Sydney’s Colin Wellings reports that testing completed by the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program has shown a new stripe rust pathotype that is a threat to several popular tritcale varieties. The research was supported by growers and the Australian government through the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) of Australia.

 

For more information about the cereal rust control program at the University of Sydney, visit http://sydney.edu.au/agriculture/plant_breeding_institute/cereal_rust/index.shtml

 

Source: BGRI E-Newsletter, January 2011

 

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1.42  Eyespot breakthrough welcomed

 

Wheat breeders in the UK have been studying how to control the eyespot disease caused by two different, co-existing fungal species, Oculimacula yallundae and Oculimacula acuformis in the crop. Resistance to the disease has always been based on the presence of Pch2 gene but it has been less effective against O. yallundae.

 

In a research study by Paul Nicholson of the John Innes Centre, a new resistant gene that is effective against both eyespot pathogens has been identified in the French wheat variety Cappelle Desprez. The variety which is also the source of Pch2 gene has been crossed with several commercial varieties and some progenies showed partial protection.

 

The report published in the Theoretical and Applied Genetics describe the identification of this new gene that is present in Cappelle Desprez but on a different chromosome than Pch2. The gene confers significant resistance to both eye! spot pathogens at seedling and adult stage.

 

The original news article can be seen at http://www.jic.ac.uk/corporate/media-and-public/current-releases/101129eyespotbreakthrough.html

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 December 2010:

 

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1.43  New strategy to control rust

 

Stem rust has been and still is a devastating disease of wheat worldwide. Its initial discovery and spread in the 1950s was controlled by the development of resistant varieties at that time. A new race of stem rust named Ug99 was discovered in 1999 in Uganda, in which the previously used resistance is no longer effective.

 

In efforts to overcome this new stem rust strain, scientists at the University of California-Davis, Kansas State University and the USDA Cereal Disease Laboratory in Minnesota have mapped and characterized resistance gene Sr35. Molecular markers and candidate genes associated with the gene can be used to accelerate the development of wheat varieties with Sr35 gene. Stable resistance against Ug99 can be achieved however with a deployment of the Sr35 gene with other resistance genes.

 

According to Jorge Dubcovsky, the author of the study, "The presence of multiple resistance genes is expected to extend the dur! ability of resistance, since the probability of simultaneous mutations in the pathogen to overcome multiple resistance mechanisms is much lower than the probability to overcome individual mutations."

 

To view the original news, visit https://www.crops.org/news-media/releases/2010/1220/440/. Abstract is available at https://www.crops.org/publications/cs/abstracts/50/6/2464

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 December 2010:

 

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1.44  Transfer of stripe rust resistance from goatgrass to bread wheat

 

China has the largest area affected by stripe rust among all the bread wheat-producing countries in the world. Stripe rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici, is a common wheat disease in cool and temperate areas, thus scientists are searching for sources of adult-plant resistance gene for breeding. Dengcai Liu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and colleagues, reported the transfer of stripe rust resistance from goatgrass (Aegilops variabili) to bread wheat through resistance breeding. The resulting line, TKL2(R) was crossed with a susceptible sister line TKL2(S). Through the genetic analysis of the offspring, it was discovered that the adult-plant resistance to stripe rust pathogen is encoded by a single dominant gene. The gene is important in wheat breeding in China because it was observed to confer resistance to pathogens endemic to the country.

 

Read the original article published by African! Journal of Biotechnology at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB/abstracts/abs2011/10Jan/Liu%20et%20al.htm

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 14 January 2011:

 

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1.45  University of Minnesota introduces new barley variety with improved scab resistance

 

The Minnesota Agricultural Experiment station of the University of Minnesota has released Quest, its first malting variety with enhanced resistance to Fusarium head blight or scab. Quest accumulates half the level of deoxynivalenol (DON), the toxic compound produced by the Fusarium fungus causing scab. This new variety exhibits similar yield with Tradition and Lacey, the varieties that cover 70 percent of the Midwest barley hectarage.

 

"Quest's resistance derives from barley varieties that trace back to China and Switzerland," said Kevin Smith, who heads the barley breeding program at the University. This study is being supported by the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, Minnesota Small Grains Initiative, and the American Malting Barley Association.

 

Read the complete article at http://www.maes.umn.edu/news/2011/new-uofm-barley-variety.asp

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 14 January 2011:

 

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1.46  Identification of salt-responsive genes in upland cotton

 

Cotton, the world's main source of natural fiber, is the second most salt tolerant crop next to barley. However, salinity is still a problem of cotton growers because it affects productivity of cotton plants. Some of its known effects are reduction in seedcotton yield and fruiting bolls. At present, not much information is known about salt-responsive genes in cotton. Thus, Laura Rodriguez-Uribe of the New Mexico State University and colleagues investigated the salt-responsive genes in upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) which has been exposed to 200nM sodium chloride (NaCl). Gene profiling was done through microarray analysis and it was found out that only 25 out of 720 salt-responsive genes are actively expressed. Gene annotation also revealed that some of these genes are involved in known biological pathways associated with salt stress such as lipid metabolism, cell wall str! ucture, and membrane synthesis. Further analysis of these genes could be used to develop varieties of cotton with better tolerance to high salinity.

 

For more information, read the research article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2010.10.009.

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Dept of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.47  NIAB’s detection of barley pigment genes is step towards improving yield and disease resistance

 

Scientists at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) have identified the genes that encode important visible differences in barley. The breakthrough is a major step forward in unravelling the genetic determinants controlling traits including yield, quality and disease resistance.

 

The DNA variants identified control a range of characters, from the eye-catching variations in barley awn-pigmentation to the shape and the structure of the ear, fundamental to differences in yield. In one case, the scientists were able to show that the absence of purple pigment, or anthocyanin, in the plant is probably controlled by a natural mutation within a gene thought to regulate the pigment’s biosynthetic pathway.

 

The collaborative investigation between UK scientists at NIAB, the Scottish Crop Research Institute and the University of Birmingham, as well as interested commercial partners, established and characterised a comprehensive set of UK barley varieties using state-of-the-art DNA profiling techniques. The Cambridge-based NIAB research team pinpointed stretches of barley DNA code associated with observed variation in characters using statistical techniques pioneered in human genetics called ‘association mapping’.

 

“Barley does not yet have a complete genome sequence available, but by combining association mapping with comparative analysis of gene content in related plant species, we’ve been able to focus in on the likely genetic variant that determines whether barley can produce anthocyanin,” says NIAB plant scientist Dr James Cockram.

 

 “Our results are just the tip of a very large iceberg,” says Dr Donal O’Sullivan, study leader in NIAB’s Genetics and Breeding Research Programme.

 

“By showing that we can use approaches from human genetics and apply them successfully in crops, we will now be able to investigate the natural genetic variation that controls agronomically important traits in barley, as well as other crops.

 

“This includes tackling complex traits geared to providing better information and improved varieties to farmers in the future. These may also be crucial in meeting an increased food demand from a growing world population, as well as confronting the challenges of climate change and reduced availability of land, water, and fertiliser,” says Dr O’Sullivan.

 

As well as opening up further research opportunities the results may also prove to be an additional method in variety evaluation, seed certification, and seed testing, lowering costs and reducing the potential for human error.

 

The study reports on a series of botanical characters usually collected in the process of NIAB’s day-to-day work in carrying out exact variety descriptions for regulatory purposes.

 

“For a grant of Plant Breeders’ Rights to be awarded a variety must be distinct, uniform and stable, otherwise known as DUS. These characters are not heavily influenced by growing conditions so were ideal for the project. Some are important in their own right and can impact on performance and quality. They are also relevant to breeders as they can prove the variety is pure,” explains Dr Cockram.

 

The researchers were fortunate to have access to a treasure trove of DUS varietal measurements accumulated since NIAB began variety trials as far back as 1919. This database extends to complicated multi-site and multi-season measurements including yield, disease, agronomic and quality characters, and not just in barley which featured in this study but to all major UK arable crops.

 

Recreating such datasets would be expensive today. Now that the techniques for mining and analysing historic variety trial data, has been successfully road-tested, the research team can explore the full potential of this data to reveal economically important genetic variation in more complex characters.

 

As part of a similar project in wheat, scientists at NIAB and the John Innes Centre (UK) are also using association mapping to locate genes controlling resistance to yellow rust, one of most important diseases constraining global wheat yields.

 

“We’ve already made rapid advancements in our understanding of the genetics of yellow rust resistance, which will help us breed new wheat varieties with increased natural resistance to this damaging disease,” says Dr O’Sullivan.

 

BACKGROUND

‘Genome-wide association mapping to candidate polymorphism resolution in the unsequenced barley genome’ is available as a PDF document (5.5 MB size) from ros.lloyd@frontfoot.uk.com

 

The study is a collaborative investigation between NIAB, the Scottish Crop Research Institute and the University of Birmingham, alongside barley breeding and malting, brewing and distilling industry partners.

 

http://www.niab.com/pages/id/265/Genetics_and_Breeding_Research

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13078&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.48  An Australian first for lupin genome project

 

Australia

December 7, 2010

As part of the first major plant genome sequencing project managed in Australia, CSIRO researchers will soon start sequencing the narrow leaf lupin genome.

 

Being conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Food and Genomic Medicine (CFGM) in Perth, WA, the three-year, $1.5 million project will enable researchers and breeders to accelerate lupin crop improvements such as drought tolerance, disease resistance and optimal flowering time.

 

The research team will build upon established resources and employ powerful next-generation sequencing technologies and innovative bioinformatics techniques in their efforts to sequence the genome.

 

Lupins, members of the legume family, are a valuable winter rotation crop that farmers can use to prevent diseases surviving from season to season in cereal crops such as wheat. They have the added benefit of fixing nitrogen in the soil.

 

Lupins are also a good source of protein and dietary fibre and CSIRO scientists have already identified genes in lupins which produce proteins that impact on the nutritional content of the grain.

 

Studies conducted by the CFGM have shown these proteins have important wide ranging benefits for humans and may provide cardiovascular health benefits in terms of increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing blood pressure. The proteins could potentially reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity by increasing a person’s sensitivity to insulin and creating the sensation of being ‘full’.

 

Responsibility for overseeing the research project was awarded to the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research-based CFGM by the Grains Research and Development Corporation following a competitive national tender process.

 

The CFGM team will interact with national and international collaborators in China, Europe, Japan and the USA with sequencing and bioinformatic expertise to help gain and analyse the sequence data. The majority of the project will be conducted at the new CSIRO/University of Western Australia joint Crop Genomics laboratory at Floreat, in Perth WA and will be led by Professor Karam Singh (photo)  (CSIRO/UWA).

 

The project’s results will be published online for public access benefiting lupin researchers, lupin breeders and the broader community.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13086&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.49  New discovery about how flowering time of plants can be controlled

 

Sweden

December 7, 2010

Researchers at UmeĆ Plant Science Center in Sweden discovered, in collaboration with the Syngenta company, a previously unknown gene in sugar beets that blocks flowering. Only with the cold of winter is the gene shut off, allowing the sugar beet to blossom in its second year. The discovery of this new gene function makes it possible to control when sugar beets bloom.

 

Researchers at UmeĆ Plant Science Center in Sweden discovered, in collaboration with the Syngenta company, a previously unknown gene in sugar beets that blocks flowering. Only with the cold of winter is the gene shut off, allowing the sugar beet to blossom in its second year. The discovery of this new gene function makes it possible to control when sugar beets bloom.

 

The new findings were recently published in the prestigious journal Science.

Scientists at UmeĆ Plant Science Center and the international company Syngenta, in a joint study of genetic regulation in the sugar beet, have discovered an entirely new principle for how flowering can be controlled. The study, which was co-directed by Professorn Ove Nilsson, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), and Syngenta scientist Dr. Thomas Kraft, showed that there is a gene in the sugar beet that was previously unknown.

 

“When we studied a gene in the sugar beet that usually stimulates blooming in other plants, we made a very surprising discovery: in the sugar beet evolution has developed a ‘sister gene’ that has taken on the exact opposite function, namely, to inhibit blossoming. For biennial sugar beets this means that they can’t flower in their first year. Once the plants have been exposed to the cold of winter at the end of the first year, the ‘gene blockade is lifted,’ and the sugar beets can bloom in their second year of life,” says Ove Nilsson about the function of the newly discovered flowering gene.

 

The researchers speculate that the development of the inhibiting sister gene was an important factor in enabling biennial sugar beets to evolve from an annual to a biennial plant. Furthermore, plant researchers in UmeĆ and Landskrona have shown that it is possible to manipulate the “flowering gene” in such a way as to leave the gene constantly “turned on,” that is, to block blooming, and thereby prevent it from being turned off after winter.

 

“In that way it’s possible to fully control the flowering time of the sugar beet. This enables us to develop a so-called ‘winter beet,’ that is, a sugar beet that can be planted in the autumn and then will continue to grow throughout the following growth season without blossoming,” says Thomas Kraft at Syngenta Seeds.

 

“A winter beet has be a high priority for sugar beet growers, since it is estimated to be able to increase the yield by about 25 percent and at the same time allow a more extended harvesting period. Traditional breeding has failed to produce such a plant. Syngenta Seeds is now going to move on to more in-depth tests of this potential new winter beet.”

 

The research work in this project has been primarily conducted by an industrial doctoral candidate, Pierre Pin, with funding from the Swedish Research Council and Syngenta Seeds AB.

 

Original publication: Pierre A. Pin, Reyes Benlloch, Dominique Bonnet, Elisabeth Wremerth-Weich, Thomas Kraft, Jan J. L. Gielen, Ove Nilsson. An Antagonistic Pair of FT Homologs Mediates the Control of Flowering Time in Sugar Beet. Science, 3 December 2010.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13107&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Source: Expertsvar/ExpertAnswers via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.50  Using genetic mapping to save wheat production - Scientists identify gene resistant to stem rust

 

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

December 20, 2010

Stem rust disease has the potential to devastate wheat production worldwide. In the 1950s, large epidemics spread across North America and through other parts of the world. Developing a stem rust resistant gene stopped the spread of the disease. In 1999, a new race of stem rust was discovered in Uganda and identified as Ug99. Previously developed stem rust resistant genes are no longer effective against Ug99.

 

Fortunately, researchers at the University of California-Davis, Kansas State University, and the USDA Cereal Disease Laboratory in Minnesota have mapped and characterized a gene resistant to Ug99 and its derivatives, known as Sr35.

 

Scientists identified molecular markers closely flanking the gene on the long arm of one of the gene’s chromosomes, and then used comparative genomics to identify a small set of candidate genes among the collinear genes in rice and the model grass species. These candidate genes and molecular markers can be used to accelerate the deployment of Sr35 in wheat breeding programs.

 

Having a precise genetic map of Sr35 is the first step towards potentially cloning the gene. Cloning Sr35 will provide a perfect tool for the understanding of the resistance mechanisms against Ug99. However, certain genetic imperfections would need to be reduced before it is introduced to commercial wheat varieties.

 

While Sr35 is effective against Ug99, its derivatives, and another broadly virulent strain of stem rust originally found in Yemen; it cannot counter all the known forms of the disease. Since stem rust is airborne, outbreaks can spread in very little time. Therefore, Sr35 should be deployed with other stem rust resistant genes to successfully defend wheat production.

 

According to Jorge Dubcovsky, the author of the study, “The presence of multiple resistance genes is expected to extend the durability of resistance, since the probability of simultaneous mutations in the pathogen to overcome multiple resistance mechanisms is much lower than the probability to overcome individual mutations.”

 

The study was funded by the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Results of the study can be reviewed in full detail in the November-December 2010 issue of Crop Science.

 

The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at https://www.crops.org/publications/cs/abstracts/50/6/2464.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13487&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.51  Wheat resistance genes failing, new approach needed to stop flies

 

West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

January 24, 2011

Many of the genes that allow wheat to ward off Hessian flies are no longer effective in the southeastern United States, and care should be taken to ensure that resistance genes that so far haven't been utilized in commercial wheat lines are used prudently, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture and Purdue University scientists.

 

An analysis of wheat lines carrying resistance genes from dozens of locations throughout the Southeast showed that some give little or no resistance to the Hessian fly, a major pest of wheat that can cause millions of dollars in damage to wheat crops each year. Others, even those considered the most effective, are allowing wheat to become susceptible to the fly larvae, which feed on and kill the plants.

 

Wheat resistance genes recognize avirulent Hessian flies and activate a defense response that kills the fly larvae attacking the plant. However, this leads to strains of the fly that can overcome resistant wheat, much like insects becoming resistant to pesticides.

 

"The number of genes available to protect wheat is limited. There really aren't that many," said Richard Shukle, a research scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Crop Production and Pest Control Research Unit and Purdue adjunct associate professor of entomology. "In the Southeast, having multiple generations of Hessian fly each year enhances the ability of these flies to overcome wheat's resistance."

 

Sue Cambron, a USDA Agricultural Research Service research support scientist, received Hessian flies from 20 locations in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Louisiana and used them to infest 21 varieties of wheat that each contained different resistance genes, most of which have been deployed in commercial wheat, and a few that haven't yet. While the study did not include all of the 33 named resistance genes, it did show that only five of the 21 genes evaluated would provide effective resistance to flies in the Southeast, and none was effective in all the Southeast locations.

 

"Even some of the newer genes that haven't been deployed in cultivars weren't too effective," Cambron said.

 

That's because flies have likely interacted with, and adapted to, those genes already, said Brandi Schemerhorn, a USDA-ARS entomologist and Purdue assistant professor of entomology. She said it's possible that some of the genes were introduced to flies unintentionally in plots where wheat cultivars with those genes were being tested for suitability to Southeast climates. The resistance genes also could have come from other plants, such as rye, and the flies may already have started to overcome those genes.

 

Schemerhorn said she suspects a certain number of flies in any population have the ability to overcome any wheat resistance gene, which defends against the flies' ability to feed on the plant and starves the insect larvae. When a resistance gene kills off some of the flies, the survivors breed and eventually establish a population that renders the gene ineffective.

 

"We're creating a system in which the fly is becoming more virulent," Schemerhorn said. "What we have to do is slow down that adaptation or virulence."

 

Shukle and Schemerhorn suggest stacking genes in a wheat cultivar. There are only a few genes that haven't been deployed, and they believe combining two of those would be the best option.

 

"With a small number of identified resistance genes, we can't afford to release wheat lines with only one resistance gene," Shukle said. "If you deploy two different resistance genes, it's unlikely that a population of flies could overcome both of them."

 

Schemerhorn is working to combine two of the unreleased genes for testing with Hessian fly populations.

 

The USDA funded the research. Shukle, Schemerhorn and Cambron collaborated with David Buntin, a University of Georgia professor of entomology; Randy Weisz, a North Carolina State associate professor of crop science and small grains specialist; Kathy Flanders, an Auburn University associate professor of entomology; and Jeff Holland, a Purdue associate professor of entomology. Their findings were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

 

(Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=14141&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.52  Arming young scientists to combat global wheat rusts

 

To address the looming threat of Ug99 and the related spreading variants of wheat stem rust, members of the BGRI organized the second hands-on training course this year, entitled “Standardization of stem rust field notes and germplasm evaluation, with discussions on yellow and brown rust.”   

 

Source: BGRI E-Newsletter, January 2011

 

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1.53  Scientists use virus induced gene silencing in studying aphid resistance In wheat

 

Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) technology is one of the emerging reverse genetic approaches in cereal crops. The use of VIGS in studying aphid defense gene function in wheat has not been explored. Thus, Leon van Eck of Colorado State University, and colleagues, used barley stripe mosaic virus (BSMV) to target and silence a WRKY53 transcription activator and a phenylalanine-ammonia-lyase (PAL) gene which are both suspected of stimulating aphid defense in wheat.

 

They inoculated the resistant wheat with VIGS constructs and observed that the WRKY53 levels decreased, reaching almost the same level as that of the susceptible wheat. At the same time, the PAL expression also decreased, which may imply that both genes are in the same defense response network.

 

Aphid infestation is higher in the silenced plants and there was an increase in the fitness of the aphids compared with those feeding on the control plants. Therefore, it ! is confirmed that WRKY53 and PAL have significant functions in garnering positive resistance against aphids.

 

Read the abstract of this study at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-7652.2010.00539.x/abstract.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 December 2010:

 

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1.54  Scientists report occurrence of natural transgenes

 

One of the issues about genetic engineering is the "unnatural" mixing of genes from different species. However, a team of researchers from Lund University, Sweden led by Pernilla Vallenback has proven that transgenes can occur in nature. They discovered that a gene (PgiC2) has been transferred into sheep's fescue (Festuca ovina) from a genetically different kind of grass, probably Poa palustrus (or a close relative). Based on the results of genome walking, it was shown that only a small potion of the DNA was transferred. This is the first reported case of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) or the transfer of genes between distantly related genomes by other techniques aside from sexual fertilization.

 

The mode of gene transfer is still unknown because it happened probably 700,000 years! ago. But the presence of transposition associated properties suggests that the HGT occurred through a vector.

 

Read the research article published by PLoS ONE at http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0013529.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 10 December 2010:

 

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1.55  Gene for drought tolerance is worth money

 

Wageningen, The Netherlands

January 6, 2011

 

The Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen UR has entered into a licensing agreement with the French biotechnology firm Biogemma. The French are going to use a gene patented by PSG to increase drought tolerance in wheat.

 

Five years ago, Wageningen UR Plant Breeding identified genes that make the model plant Arabidopsis (rock cress) better able to withstand drought. The sequential order of genes was patented. 'We have already used these genes in rice varieties and in potatoes with positive results', says Ton den Nijs of the Plant Sciences Group. And now they are being applied in wheat.

 

There are two options for developing wheat varieties that need less water. The first option is to incorporate the sequence of genes found in Arabidopsis in wheat. 'However, we can also look for homologues - comparable sequences of genes in wheat', says Den Nijs. 'Then you screen various wheat varieties in gene banks to determine whether they have the sequence of genes for this trait.'

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13831&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.56  Technique allows researchers to identify key maize genes for increased yield

 

Ithaca, New York, USA

January 10, 2011

A study published online in Nature Genetics on Jan. 9 has identified the genes related to leaf angle in corn (maize) -- a key trait for planting crops closer together, which has led to an eight-fold increase in yield since the early 1900s.

 

The study, led by researchers from Cornell and the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) at Cornell and North Carolina State University, is the first to relate genetic variation across the entire maize genome to traits in a genomewide association study. The researchers have so far located 1.6 million sites on the maize genome where one individual may vary from another, and they used those sites to identify the genes related to changes in leaf angle that have allowed greater crop density.

 

Yield increases have mostly resulted from adaptations made by breeders to maize so crops can be planted closer together. Along with changes in roots and nutrient uptake that also play roles in increased crop densities, the leaves of maize crop plants have become more upright to maintain access to sunlight in crowded plots.

 

The team of researchers found that natural mutations in genes that affect ligules -- the first thick part of the leaf where it wraps around the stalk -- contributed to more upright leaves. Also, the changes in leaf angle result from many small genetic effects added together; while leaf angles may vary from one maize variety to another by up to 80 degrees, the biggest effect from a single gene was only 1.5 degrees.

 

"Although each gene and variant has a small effect, we can make very accurate predictions," said Ed Buckler, the paper's senior author, a USDA-ARS research geneticist in Cornell's Institute for Genomic Diversity and a Cornell adjunct associate professor of plant breeding and genetics. Lead authors include Feng Tian, a postdoctoral researcher in Buckler's lab, and Peter Bradbury, a computational biologist with the USDA-ARS in Ithaca.

 

The genomewide association study method allows researchers to examine a corn plant's genome and predict a trait with 80 percent accuracy. This would be analogous to predicting the height of a person by sequencing and analyzing their genes, or genotyping a seed to predict traits of the plant, said Buckler. The methodology may be applied to other traits, crops and species, including animals.

 

"This method will allow the intelligent design of maize around the world for high-density planting, higher yields and disease resistance," said Buckler.

 

In this study, the researchers had the advantage of making controlled crosses in maize plants to capture a great deal of genetic variation in the population of maize they studied, something that cannot be done when studying human genetics. The study offers proof that variation in traits is the sum of many small effects in genes, a hypothesis that has also been proposed by some human geneticists.

 

Also in the Jan. 9 online issue of Nature Genetics, a companion paper by the same research team, but led by those at USDA-ARS and North Carolina State University, used the same technique to identify key genes associated with southern leaf blight in maize.

 

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and USDA-ARS.

 

James Holland, a researcher at USDA-ARS and North Carolina State University, is also a senior co-author of the study.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13817&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest..com

 

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1.57  Gene helps plants use less water without biomass loss

 

West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

January 11, 2011

Purdue University researchers have found a genetic mutation that allows a plant to better endure drought without losing biomass, a discovery that could reduce the amount of water required for growing plants and help plants survive and thrive in adverse conditions.

 

Plants can naturally control the opening and closing of stomata, pores that take in carbon dioxide and release water. During drought conditions, a plant might close its stomata to conserve water. By doing so, however, the plant also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide it can take in, which limits photosynthesis and growth.

 

Mike Mickelbart, an assistant professor of horticulture; Mike Hasegawa, a professor of horticulture; and Chal Yul Yoo, a horticulture graduate student, found that a genetic mutation in the research plant Arabidopsis thaliana reduces the number of stomata. But instead of limiting carbon dioxide intake, the gene creates a beneficial equilibrium.

 

"The plant can only fix so much carbon dioxide. The fewer stomata still allow for the same amount of carbon dioxide intake as a wild type while conserving water," said Mickelbart, whose results were published in the early online version of the journal The Plant Cell. "This shows there is potential to reduce transpiration without a yield penalty."

 

Mickelbart and Yoo used an infrared gas analyzer to determine the amount of carbon dioxide taken in and water lost in the Arabidopsis mutant. Carbon dioxide is pumped into a chamber with the plant and the analyzer measures the amount left after a plant has started to take up the gas. A similar process measures water lost through transpiration, in which water is released from a plant's leaves.

 

Analysis showed that the plant, which has a mutant form of the gene GTL1, did not reduce carbon dioxide intake but did have a 20 percent reduction in transpiration. The plant had the same biomass as a wild type of Arabidopsis when its shoot dry weight was measured.

 

"The decrease in transpiration leads to increased drought tolerance in the mutant plants," Yoo said. "They will hold more water in their leaves during drought stress."

 

Of the 20 genes known to control stomata, SDD1 was highly expressed in the mutant. SDD1 is a gene that is responsible for regulating the number of stomata on leaves. In the mutant, with GTL1 not functioning, SDD1 is highly expressed, which results in the development of fewer stomata.

 

Mickelbart said the finding is important because it opens the possibility that there is a natural way to improve crop drought tolerance without decreasing biomass or yield. He said the next step in the research is to determine the role of GTL1 in a crop plant.

 

The National Science Foundation and a Binational Agricultural Research and Development Award funded the research.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13825&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.58  Científicos internacionales descifran el genoma del tomate

 

Madrid, Spain

January 11, 2011

Un grupo de científicos provenientes de 13 países distintos han descifrado el genoma del tomate, uno de los cultivos más importantes del mundo. El descubrimiento permitirá estudiar mecanismos genéticos para el mejoramiento del sabor, nutrición y calidad de la especie. Según ha publicado Sol Genomics Network en su página web, el tomate tendría unos 45 mil genes y aunque el genoma ha sido completamente secuenciado, todavía no ha sido ordenado, etapa que esperan se alargue en el tiempo.

 

Investigadores del Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria argentino (INTA), equipo que lideró el grupo de genómica estructural y funcional, recalcaron que “el genoma humano comenzó en la década de los noventa y aún hoy siguen liberándose versiones corregidas”, por lo que en el terreno del tomate aún queda mucho trabajo por hacer.

 

Fernando Carrari, integrante del Instituto de Biotecnología del INTA Castelar, afirmó que “conocer la estructura genómica de los propios recursos naturales es la información más valiosa que podamos tener. No sólo es necesario conservar la variabilidad, sino también utilizarla en beneficio de la producción local”.

 

Este avance se suma a los descubrimientos hechos en los últimos aĖos sobre nuevas variedades de tomate. El pasado mes de diciembre un equipo de científicos de la Universidad Pontificia Católica de Chile desarrolló un tomate transgénico que imuniza contra la hepatitis y el cólera. Meses antes un grupo de investigadores japoneses logró líneas de tomates transgénicos que expresan altos niveles de miraculina, una glicoproteína capaz de modificar los sabores amargos en dulces.

 

Investigadores del Instituto Nacional de Investigación Genómica Vegetal en Nueva Delhi (India), desarrollaron también en 2010 una variedad de tomate transgénico que permanece fresco durante más de 30 días después de la recolección.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13830&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.59  Gene discovery could increase value of non-food crops for industries outside of agriculture

 

Ardmore, Oklahoma, USA

December 29, 2010

Scientists at The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation have uncovered a gene responsible for controlling key growth characteristics in plants, specifically the density of plant material.

 

Denser plants have more biomass without increasing the agricultural footprint, meaning farmers and ranchers can produce more plant material from the same sized field. Plants that have increased density hold great potential to be used to produce biofuels, electricity and even advanced materials, like carbon fiber.

Description: http://www.seedquest.com/visuals/image/2010/noble.jpg

The image on the left shows a normal cross section of a stem as viewed under ultraviolet light. The areas in red are chlorophyll. The blue areas are lignin. The image on the right is a cross section of stem from the model plant, Arabidopsis, in which a newly discovered gene has been removed. Noble Foundation scientists have proven that the plant without this gene produces dramatically more lignin, cellulose and hemicelluloses, increasing its density and biomass production. (The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation)

 

"This is a significant breakthrough for those developing improved plants to address pressing societal needs," said Richard Dixon, D. Phil., director of the Noble Foundation's Plant Biology Division. "This discovery opens up new possibilities for harnessing and increasing the potential of crops by expanding their ranges of use. These plants will be part of the next generation of agriculture which not only impacts food, but many other vital industries as well."

 

Huanzhong Wang, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dixon's lab, found a gene that controls the production of lignin in the central portions of the stems of Arabidopsis and Medicago truncatula, species commonly used as models for the study of plant genetic processes. Lignin is a compound that helps provide strength to plant cell walls, basically giving the plant the ability to stand upright. When the newly discovered gene is removed, there is a dramatic increase in the production of biomass, including lignin, throughout the stem.

 

Research targeting plants that are grazed by animals has historically focused on reducing lignin production within the plant. However, increasing lignin in non-food crops, such as switchgrass, may be desirable for increasing the density of the biomass and producing more feedstock per plant and, therefore, more per acre.

 

"In switchgrass, as the plant matures, the stem becomes hollow like bamboo," Dixon said. "Imagine if you use this discovery to fill that hollow portion with lignin. The potential increase in biomass in these new plants could be dramatic. This technology could make plants better suited to serve as renewable energy sources or as renewable feedstocks to produce advanced composite materials that consumers depend on every day."

 

Additionally, further research with collaborators at the University of Georgia revealed that removal of the gene also can increase the production of carbohydrate-rich cellulose and hemicellulose material in portions of the plant stem. These are the components of a plant that are converted to sugars to create advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic-derived ethanol or butanol. More celluloses and hemicelluloses mean more sugars to use for carbohydrate-based energy production.

 

"Science often progresses in increments," Dixon said. "Every once in a while, though, you have a significant breakthrough that helps redefine the research. This is certainly one of those moments for our advanced feedstock program."

 

This project is supported by the United States Department of Energy and the Oklahoma Bioenergy Center. It builds upon decades of research by Dixon's group, which has already demonstrated the ability to reduce lignin in plants as well as modify its composition and characteristics.

 

The potential lies in the combination of these current and past discoveries to maximize the usefulness of agricultural crops; achieve more from less through the application of technology; and design agricultural feedstocks to produce sustainable sources for energy and other valuable industrial products.

 

This research was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) as well as selected as an Editors' Choice feature in Science. Since its establishment in 1914, PNAS is one of the world's most cited, multidisciplinary scientific serials that publishes cutting-edge research reports, commentaries, reviews and perspectives. Science is regarded as the world's leading journal for original scientific research, global news and commentary.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13613&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.60  A new marker developed for rice blast resistance breeding in India

 

Scientists at the Crop Improvement Section, Directorate of Rice Research, Rajendranagar, Hyderabad, India have for the last 10 years been conducting research on the management of rice blast, a devastating disease of rice. The  group led  by Dr. Sheshu Madhav has recently developed a functional marker for one of the major blast resistance genes which has been observed to show resistance against many isolates of the blast pathogen in India.

 

The scientists through a large allele mining effort have identified a novel allele for the blast gene, Pi54 MAS.  The functional marker is very useful for enhancing the precision and accuracy in marker-assisted selection (MAS) of target gene(s) with minimum effort, time and cost. Further validation of this marker in 105 diverse rice genotypes showed its utility in routine deployment of blast resistance in rice breeding programs.

 

The work is published  in the onlin! e journal Molecular Breeding, Dec 4, 2010 issue at http://www.springerlink.com/content/535662l427w2p974/. For more information, email the author Dr. Sheshu Madhav at sheshu_24@yahoo.com

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 December 2010:

 

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2  PUBLICATIONS

 

2.01  A new book on root genomics

 

Root Genomics

Antonio Costa de Oliveira, Federal University of Pelotas, RS, Brazil;

Rajeev K Varshney, ICRISAT, Patancheru, India

(Editors)

 

CONTENTS

1 Introduction to Root Genomics

Antonio Costa de Oliveira and Rajeev K. Varshney

 

2 EST-Based Approach for Dissecting Root Architecture in Barley Using Mutant Traits of Other Species

Beata Orman, Aleksander Ligeza, Iwona Szarejko,

and Miroslaw Maluszynski

 

3 Genomics of Root–Microbe Interactions

Ulrike Mathesius and Giel E. van Noorden

 

4 Plant Genetics for Study of the Roles of Root Exudates and Microbes in the Soil

Aparna Deshpande, Ana Clara Pontaroli, Srinivasa R. Chaluvadi, Fang Lu, and Jeffrey L. Bennetzen

 

5 Impact of the Environment on Root Architecturein Dicotyledoneous Plants

Veęronique Gruber, Ons Zahaf, Anouck Diet, Axel de Zeęlicourt, Laura de Lorenzo, and Martin Crespi

 

6 Mechanisms of Aluminum Tolerance

Owen A. Hoekenga and Jurandir V. Magalhaes

 

7 Root Responses to Major Abiotic Stresses in Flooded Soils

Rogerio O. Sousa and Antonio Costa de Oliveira

 

8 Genomics of Root Architecture and Functions in Maize

Roberto Tuberosa, Silvio Salvi, Silvia Giuliani, Maria Corinna Sanguineti, Elisabetta Frascaroli, Sergio Conti, and Pierangelo Landi

 

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Overview

With the predicted increase of the human population and the subsequent need for larger food supplies, root health in crop plants could play a major role in providing sustainable highly productive crops that can cope with global climate changes. While the essentiality of roots and their relation to plant performance is broadly recognized, less is known about their role in plant growth and development.

 

Root Genomics” examines how various new genomic technologies are rapidly being applied to the study of roots, including high-throughput sequencing and genotyping, TILLING, transcription factor analysis, comparative genomics, gene discovery and transcriptional profiling, post-transcriptional events regulating microRNAs, proteome profiling and the use of molecular markers such as SSRs, DArTs, and SNPs for QTL analyses and the identification of superior genes/alleles. The book also covers topics such as the molecular breeding of crops in problematic soils and the responses of roots to a variety of stresses.

 

• A valuable source of information for scientists in plant sciences and genomics as well as in applied fields of agriculture and crop plant breeding

 

Springer

2011. 1st Edition. xiv, 318 p. Hard cover

ISBN: 978-3-540-85545-3

► $ 189.00 ►

 

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3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

 

3.01  Plant breeding and genomics are focus of new national web resource

 

As global food needs increase, so does the need for crops that can be efficiently and safely produced.  Traditional plant breeding methods have served well in the past and breakthrough technologies are now available to aid this process.  These breakthroughs include key information on the genetics, or “genomes” of crops. A group of researchers and educators from America’s land-grant universities, government agencies and industry, have banded together to create the first-ever internet resource aimed at quickly putting basic research on crop genomes into practice through plant breeding programs across the U.S. to more efficiently improve crops. The resource is a new online community housed at eXtension (pronounced E-extension), www.extension.org, at the www.extension.org/plant_breeding_genomics.

 

eXtension resource areas

The researchers and educators working on this project are what the new national U.S. Cooperative Extension System project calls an eXtension Web Community. This group, the Plant Breeding and Genomics (PB&G) community of practice, is one of many within eXtension.  Other communities in eXtension include geospatial technology; corn and soybean production; cotton production; horticulture; pest management; science, engineering and technology for youth; organic agriculture; bee health and more.  There are currently 37 published resource areas. Each community continues adding new information on a regular basis. New communities are also being added every month.

 

Putting Research into Practice

Development of crop varieties through plant breeding has traditionally focused on selection of the best plant lines based on traits (phenotypes).  In the past decade, research has yielded extensive databases of gene sequences and of the complete genetic makeup (genomes) of entire plants.  As sequencing technology improves, available information to aide in crop improvement is expanding rapidly.  This basic research information is utilized when linking important agricultural traits to genetic sequence variations and incorporating this knowledge into crop improvement strategies. 

 

David Francis, associate professor at The Ohio State University noted, “The eXtension portal provides an entry point into the research knowledge of the Land-Grant University System. We’ve developed a resource to help train the next generation of plant breeders, help current professionals keep abreast of new developments, as well as inform growers and processors about the technological advances that bring them new varieties.”

 

In 2009 the international community was still working to complete the first draft of the tomato genome sequence, in 2010 two draft sequences became public.  The research community expects as many as 100 Solanaceae genomes to be available within the next year or two. This complements whole genome sequences already known in key crops such as potato, rice, poplar, soybean, maize, cotton and cucumber to mention a few. David Francis explained, “This information explosion means that practitioners need resources for continuing education to keep up with new developments.”

 

Dave Douches, a Michigan State University potato breeder, and leader of the Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project (SolCAP) highlighted the need for this eXtension outreach effort, “SolCAP developed over 5.7 GB of sequence data for three potato varieties, we mined this data for genetic differences and developed a tool that allows breeders and their support crews to quickly survey breeding populations for 8,300 genetic differences.  The outreach material will help the breeding community make better use of genetic information and will increase the likelihood that plant breeding will benefit from genotype-based selection processes”.

 

Allen Van Deynze, director of research for the Seed Biotechnology Center at the University of California, Davis emphasized the importance of accessibility to information “The goal of the Plant Breeding and Genomics resource on eXtension is to act as a portal to the vast number of public databases in crops and genetic and genomic resources.”

 

Resource for Agricultural Producers 

Another important function of the eXtension site will be to provide up to date production information on new varieties available to agricultural producers.  Members of the barley Coordinated Agricultural Project (Barley CAP) provided a template for this goal by including information on barley production practices and other basic barley information needed by barley producers and growers. 

 

Gary Muehlbauer, professor at the University of Minnesota and lead PI of the Barley Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP), emphasizes that “providing helpful information on barley improvement efforts is a central goal of eXtension and CAPs”. He states that the barley grower site on eXtension “highlights information available for growers regarding planting and production of existing varieties, as well as those improved through the genomics and breeding efforts of Barley CAP research”.

 

An example of information provided for producers and plant breeders alike is the Barley CAP-produced podcast on the threat of a new rust virus.  Barley, like all crops, is attacked by disease-causing organisms. One potential threat, which can dramatically reduce yield and quality, is the fungus, Ug99, first detected in Uganda in 1999. “Although Ug99 is not yet confirmed in the U.S., this highly virulent strain is spreading in Africa and to the Middle East and will ultimately come to the U.S.” Brian Steffenson, plant pathologist at the University of Minnesota, points out.  He states “what concerns barley researchers and growers is that most U.S. varieties are susceptible to the fungus”.

 

Barley CAP researchers, partnering with the USDA-ARS Ug99 Cereal Rust Initiative, screened over 2000 U.S. breeding lines in Africa, identified Ug99 resistance in several advanced barley lines and were able to find molecular markers associated with the resistance. Leading this study, Steffenson shares that, “the genomics efforts of Barley CAP made it possible to identify the genes responsible for resistance and develop the tools that will dramatically accelerate breeders’ efforts to develop stem rust-resistant barley varieties for growers”.

 

Contributors

Experienced researchers and extension personnel in the United States contributed to the new site. The effort is led by SolCAP, a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)-funded program focused on potato and tomato.  SolCAP recruited a community of experts from a wider range of Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAP). The Barley CAP, another ongoing CAP project, played a pivotal role in organizing a template for other groups to develop information pages geared toward growers' needs. Other educational information in the CAP eXtension materials included those developed by Wheat CAP and Rosaceae CAP (RosBREED). The PBG community currently has 195 members who represent 30 universities and federal agencies, 11 educational institutions outside of the USA, and 5 industry groups.  Over forty individuals representing 15 Universities and agencies have directly written, edited, and reviewed the content, which includes articles, videos, and tutorials.  Content continues to be written and updated, with new information to be published monthly.

 

 Terry Meisenbach, a Communications and Marketing expert with eXtension explained, "eXtension is a direct response to concerns about information quality on the Internet. Users can access eXtension with the same confidence they access their own state extension networks.”

 

 eXtension is an educational partnership of more than 70 land grant universities helping Americans improve their lives with access to timely, objective, research-based information and educational opportunities. eXtension's interactive Web site is customized with links to local Cooperative Extension sites. Land-grant universities were founded on the ideals that higher education should be accessible to all, that universities should teach liberal and practical subjects and share knowledge with people throughout their states. eXtension is an educational resource designed to help people acquire skills and knowledge to help them grow and empower them to improve their quality of life. eXtension takes the best university-based research and turns it into practical information people can use to solve today’s problems and develop skills to build a better future.

 

 Contacts:

 David Douches, douchesd@msu.edu

 David Francis,   The Ohio State University, francis.77@osu.edu

 Heather Merk,  The Ohio State University, merk.9@osu.edu

 Allen Van Deynze,  Seed Biotechnology Center, University of California, Davis, avandeynze@ucdavis.edu

 Lynette Spicer, Iowa State University, lynette.spicer@extension.org

 Karen Hertsgaard, Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences, North Dakota State University, karen.hertsgaard@ndsu.edu

Peggy G. Lemaux, University of California, Berkeley,  lemauxpg@berkeley.edu

Barbara Alonso, University of California, Berkeley, balonso@berkeley.edu

 

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3.02  RUSTGENE e-list launched

 

Many workers around the world are making great progress on enhancing resistance to the cereal rusts. As new methods and materials are developed, there is a greater need to rapidly share information about how to use them most effectively. Toward that end, Bob Bowden (USDA-ARS, Manhattan, KS) and Erick De Wolf (Kansas State University) have started a new email listserv called RUSTGENES. The purpose of the listserv will be to promote international discussion on the use and stewardship of resistance genes for cereal rusts, with an emphasis on wheat stem rust. Topics that might be addressed include: phenotyping, resistance sources, germplasm releases, markers, gene postulation, regional deployment strategies, pyramiding, breeding strategies, performance, information resources, etc.  To avoid spam messages, this is a controlled access listserv.  Only listserv members will be able to post messages. If you are interested in joining the list, please send a message to Bob Bowden (rbowden@ksu.edu) or Eric DeWolf (dewolf1@ksu.edu) and they will add your email address. Please also include your full name in the message.

  

Source: BGRI E-Newsletter, January 2011

See complete newsletter online 

 

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3.03  New stem rust resistance gene protocols hosted on MASWheat

 

Colin Hiebert, Tom Fetch and collegues recently reported in Theoretical and Applied Genetics that two Canadian hard red spring cultivars of wheat—  “Peace” and “AC Cadillac” — are resistant to Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici race Ug99 and its variants at the seedling stage and in the field.  

 

Source: BGRI E-Newsletter, January 2011

 

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4.  GRANTS AND AWARDS

 

4.01  USDA/NIFA announces grants to study climate change mitigation and bioenergy development

 

Davis, California

January 12, 2011

Roger Beachy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced today two Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) awards to the University of California-Davis that have implications for both climate variability and the development of a promising new sustainable bioenergy source.

 

“I am pleased to formally announce two significant investments by USDA in science that will impact agriculture. In one of these exciting projects, a team of researchers will tease out the impacts of changes in climate on crop yields and identify genetic loci that can be incorporated in breeding of barley and wheat to tolerate changes that accompany change in climate. The second research team will generate and use genomics information to provide an understanding of genes and genetics in conifers to help in developing new bioenergy sources,” Beachy said. “Each of these projects feature transdisciplinary, regional, integrated teams, including scientists from institutions that represent underserved populations - an approach that represents a new paradigm in how USDA science can best solve critical issues facing agriculture today.”

 

NIFA awarded a research team led by UC Davis researcher Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky $25 million to develop new varieties of wheat and barley. The work will focus on the biological and abiotic stresses that are caused, at least in part, by changes in weather patterns. The Dubcovsky-led Triticeae Coordinated Agricultural Project (T-CAP) is composed of 55 university and USDA researchers, breeders and educators from 21 states. The team will identify favorable gene variants for disease resistance, water and nitrogen use efficiency and yield improvement from a diverse representation of barley and wheat germplasm to mitigate impacts of climate variability on agricultural productivity. The 5-year project will also develop a Plant Breeding Education Network to train 30 new doctoral students in plant breeding and provide educational opportunities for 100 undergraduate students interested in plant improvement.

 

Beachy also announced a $14.6 million NIFA award to a team led by Dr. David Neale to sequence the loblolly pine genome, and the genomes of two other conifers: sugar pine and Douglas fir. Pine genomes are extremely large at 10 times the size of the human genome. The genome sequence of these important species will accelerate breeding efforts and are expected to enhance their uses as feedstocks for biofuels and biopower. Increased planting of fast growing varieties of loblolly pine and other agroforestry crops will also contribute to carbon sequestration and help to mitigate the effects of climate change.

 

UC Davis is the lead institution on the 5-year Loblolly Pine Genome CAP and will be joined by the Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute, Washington State University, Texas A&M University, Indiana University and the University of Maryland. The pine germplasm to be sequenced comes from the North Carolina State University Cooperative Breeding Program and was produced by a mating made by the Virginia Department of Forestry.

 

Both awards were made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program and was established by the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI supports work in six priority areas: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; 4) renewable energy, natural resources and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities.

 

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. More information is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=13863&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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4.02  BBSRC announces research competition to combat biotic and abiotic stresses  

 

DEADLINE FOR OUTLINE PROPOSALS: March 31, 2011.

For details about the call for proposals go to http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/scprid/

For more information about the initiative visit http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2011/110111-pr-developing-countries.aspx

 

 Source: BGRI E-Newsletter, January 2011

 

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4.03  African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is calling for applications for its 4th cohort of fellowships.

 

Application deadline is March 25, 2011.

 Borlaug Global Rust Initiative Announcement

 

Up to 70 African women scientists from 11 countries—including Liberia for the first time—who are conducting agricultural research in selected disciplines will be chosen. 

 

AWARD is a professional development program that strengthens the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science, empowering them to contribute more effectively to poverty alleviation and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. AWARD is a project of the Gender & Diversity Program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). 

 

For more information and application forms visit http://www.awardfellowships.org/home.html

 

 Contributed by Cally Arthur

BGRI

 

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4.04  National Association of Plant Breeders 2011 Awards Announcement

 

The National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) is pleased to announce its Awards Program for 2011. This year the NAPB is sponsoring two awards that will be presented at our Annual Meeting May 23-25 at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.

 

Early Career Award - recognizing a successful individual active in the plant breeding field.

 

Life Time Achievement Award - recognizing an individual who has given distinguished long-term service to the plant breeding field in such areas as research, education, outreach and leadership.

 

These awards will highlight the achievements of individuals and are not based on the nature or source of employment. The nominee does not have to be a member of the NAPB.

 

A description of each award and the procedures for nominating a candidate are included with this announcement and on our website http://www.plantbreeding.org/napb/Awards/Awards.html

 

Annual NAPB Meeting information can also be found at the meeting site http://www.plantbreeding.org/napb/Meetings/Meetings.html

 

Nominations are currently being accepted and the final deadline is March 1, 2011 (5:00 pm Pacific time). For inquiries or questions please contact the Awards Chair Karen Moldenhauer.

 

EMAIL NOMINATION PDFs TO BOTH

 

        Dr. Karen Moldenhauer, Rice Research & Extension Ctr., PO Box #351, Stuttgart, AR 72160 (870)673-2661   kmolden@uark.edu

 

        Dr. Sterling Blanche, LSU AgCenter, 8105 Tom  Bowman Drive, Alexandria, LA 71302 (318)229-5635 sblanche@agcenter.lsu.edu

 

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NAPB EMAIL LIST MAINTENANCE:

 

Join the email list for the National Association of Plant Breeders (US)

 

If you are not yet a member of NAPB and wish to join NAPB's email list, please notify the NAPB Secretary by email, at your earliest possible convenience.  (If you include your full name and professional contact information, NAPB can add that information to the spreadsheet or database, unless you indicate that you prefer otherwise.)

 

David Stelly

NAPB Secretary

stelly@tamu.edu

 

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5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

5.01  Research (PLANT) GENETICIST/Physiologist (Postdoc)

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Crop Improvement and Protection Unit, Salinas, California, invites applications for a Research (Plant) Geneticist/Physiologist (Postdoctoral Research Associate) position GS-11 ($67,963.00 per annum). Two-year appointment with a possibility of extension. Selectee will conduct research to identify heat-tolerant lettuce and spinach genotypes for adaptation to global warming and low land cost areas of California. Characterize the mechanism and traits involved in heat-tolerance in lettuce and spinach. Study the inheritance of heat-tolerant traits. Adapt, modify or develop new methods, techniques and/or procedures to satisfy the needs of the research. This position requires a Ph.D. in plant breeding, genetics, horticulture, crop science, agronomy, plant physiology, biological sciences or a related field. Knowledge of current methods and techniques used in plant stress physiology is preferred but not required. Certain citizenship restrictions may apply. For application instructions, see http://www.afm.ars.usda.gov/divisions/hrd/hrdhomepage/vacancy/pstdclst.htm (Announcement # RA-11-039-L), or send a cover letter describing qualifications, a resume with names, addresses, and phone numbers of three references, college transcripts, and a one-page abstract of Ph.D. thesis to Dr. Beiquan Mou, USDA-ARS, 1636 E. Alisal Street, Salinas, CA 93905. (831) 755-2893, beiquan.mou@ars.usda.gov.  The position is open immediately until filled. USDA/ARS is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

 

Contributed by Beiquan Mou

Research Geneticist

Agricultural Research Service

beiquan.mou@ars.usda.gov

 

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5.02  Position Announcments: Engagement Manager and  Strategic Scientist-Quantitative Modeling

 

Monsanto is passionate about using science and technology to improve agriculture. Monsanto scientists are conducting the research and development (R&D) to revolutionize plant breeding and biotechnology. The Technology Pipeline Solutions (TPS) team within IT works directly with the Monsanto scientists to develop software platforms that enable these research and development efforts. The accepted candidates will join the emerging field of IT systems informatics leveraging their training to play a key role in defining and delivering breakthrough science in high throughput R&D business platforms (Breeding, Breeding Technology, Biotechnology and Compliance) for Monsanto.

 

Engagement Manager-Job Number 001QA

This position is responsible for creating strategic alliances between the business units and TPS. The Engagement Manager will predict, define and develop high-level business scenarios that are projected in the 1-2 year timeframe in one of the R&D platforms and propose software solutions to implement those scenarios. The candidate must have demonstrated excellent interpersonal and communication skills to successfully partner with the R&D organizations to understand the opportunities and identify systems solutions. In addition, the candidate must successfully interact with business analysts and technical architects to define and develop these solutions.

 

Qualifications: MS in Computer Science, Biology, Agronomy, Plant Sciences, or Chemistry and/or comparable work experience in Agriculture or Biotechnology required. PhD is highly desired. Experience with agricultural research and/or business and strong working knowledge of Excel, Access and other Microsoft software is highly desirable. The candidate must have demonstrated the ability to foster and maintain relationships with new and existing IT and business clients at all levels of the organization. The candidate must have the ability to listen and translate clients' needs into multiple solution possibilities via written proposals and estimates.

 

Strategic Scientist-Quantitative Modeling, Job Number 001DY

Required experience/skills: PhD or completion expected in the next 6 months in Quantitative Genetics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics and/or an engineering discipline or equivalent degree; creating predictive models and strategies to drive scientific decisions; proficient in computational modeling, simulation, data analysis; strong programming skills and ability to build predictive models from complex data  (either in an academic or professional environment);  3+ years experience with Statistical packages (R, Matlab, SAS); strong publication record in peer reviewed journals. Desired skills: Advanced knowledge of various forms of statistical and analytical techniques; machine learning; scientific programming (Perl, C/C++, Java); experience with Quantitative Genetics Modeling; experience working with agricultural/biological scientific data is highly desired.

 

Interested applicants may forward resume to pam.keck@monsanto.com and/or submit application on line; please reference this ad in your cover letter. Monsanto is an equal opportunity employer; we value a combination of ideas, perspectives and cultures. EEO/AA Employer M/F/D/V. www.monsanto.com

 

Contributed by Pam Keck

Pam.keck@monsanto.com

 

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5.03  Plant Breeder / Senior Plant Breeder

 

POSITION DESCRIPTION

 

The Company

Canola Breeders is a small private company with technical operations centred in Perth, commercial operations centred in Melbourne, and a growing market share in Australia as a result of innovative technology and skills in breeding and seed production, international connections, and an energetic marketing and sales/agronomy team.

Canola Breeders developed and commercialised the first triazine tolerant hybrid canola in the world, and as a result is expanding rapidly in the Australian hybrid canola market. 

Canola Breeders is a unique canola breeding company with four investors including a grower research investment company COGGO Ltd, the Grains Research and Development Corporation, The University of Western Australia and Norddeutsche Pflanzenzucht Hans-Georg Lembke KG (NPZ Lembke).  Further details may be found at www.canolabreeders.com

 

The Position

We seek a qualified plant breeder (PhD or equivalent) with around five years relevant experience who will operate the canola breeding program in close consultation and collaboration with the Research Director.

The position is located at The University of Western Australia field station at Shenton Park, near the centre of Perth, where the field and glasshouse facilities and staff are located.  The position will provide technical leadership and direction to several research and technical assistants in the field, glasshouse, laboratory and IT areas, and will work in close collaboration with staff in the technical and commercial divisions of the company.

 

Ideal Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will be an experienced plant breeder with exceptional technical and communication skills, and a team player who is willing to fit into the company structure and contribute at all levels.  The candidate will understand commercial as well as research goals of the company.  The candidate will be willing and able to travel extensively in Australia and internationally, and will provide timely and concise reports on technical and marketing intelligence to the company.  The candidate will be equally capable and comfortable speaking to farmers, agronomists and peers in canola breeding. 

The ideal candidate will:

-       have a high level of observation skills and ability to accurately record and report observations;

-       have a solid understanding of plant breeding for high performing, competitive varieties;

-       be reliable and trustworthy with leadership skills,

-       adhere to CB company policy and Code of Conduct and represent CB professionally;

-       be a qualified and motivated plant breeder who contributes to the plant breeding profession at a high level, and who strives for continuous improvement within the CB breeding program;

-       be willing and able to work in a breeding team with the Research Director (Principal Plant Breeder);

-       be a competent supervisor of CB technical staff in laboratory, glasshouse, office and field;

-       generate a strong field presence and to represent CB at field days and industry meetings when required;

-       communicate well at all levels in CB and with partner companies and external organisations;

-       achieve breeding outcomes on time and within budget;

-       implement new and efficient analytical methods and data management systems in conjunction with the Research Director and external experts, and supervise and train IT staff towards these goals;

-       evaluate new breeding and molecular technologies and integrate new technologies in collaboration with the Research Director and external experts, and supervise and train molecular breeding staff towards these goals;

-       work with CB seed production teams to ensure high quality CB variety seed is delivered on time to market

-       be qualified to drive, and have a safe driving record and experience driving in rural and remote areas

 

Status:

-       The position reports to the Research Director (Principal Plant Breeder)

-       The position participates as a key member of the CB Technical, Seed Production and Marketing Teams.

-       The position is based in Perth, Western Australia, with frequent travel throughout the major canola growing regions of southern Australia and internationally.

 

Key Responsibility Areas:

Under limited supervision of, but in close consultation with, the Research Director:

-       plan, document and implement the CB breeding goals on time and within budget, and report on progress against goals;

-       organise and supervise field, glasshouse, laboratory and IT staff and external service providers in the maintenance, harvest and processing of field and glasshouse experiments;

-       ensure a safe working environment in the CB canola breeding program at UWA Shenton Park Field Station and at field sites across southern Australia and internationally as required;

-       communicate with specialists, investigate and implement new systems of trial design, data collection, data analysis, data reporting, and integrate new technologies to improve efficiency of CB’s breeding program;

-       design and implement an appropriate crossing program to meet CB breeding goals;

-       design and implement secure seed storage and seed retrieval systems for CB;

-       plan and supervise technical management of variety registration trials and prepare documents for variety registration;

-       advise CB executive on issues relating to canola breeding as required.

 

Personal Attributes:

-       strong interpersonal skills with an ability to manage people and negotiate outcomes for the benefit of CB;

-       highly self-motivated, with proven ability to work autonomously and in teams;

-       high level of competency in computer skills

-       a high attention to detail

-       excellent communication skills

-       effective team player 

 

Contributed by Duncan Wyse

Duncan@agpeople.com.au

 

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