PLANT BREEDING NEWS

 

EDITION 225

30 June 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  Plant breeders across North America poised to offer exciting solutions to major challenges Including climate change, food security

1.02  Science’s 10 hottest fields

1.03  Inclusive market-oriented development is key to a second Green Revolution

1.04  World food prices set to remain high - Record crops only just expected to meet consumption

1.05  CropLife International urges global leaders to continue investments in agricultural development

1.06  American Society of Agronomy , Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America develop a position statement on climate change

1.07  Climate to wreak havoc on food supply, predicts report

1.08  Global warming has already reduced the global yields of key crops, say scientists

1.09  Putting nature back into agriculture - Save and Grow farming model launched by FAO

1.10  OECD report: A Green Growth Strategy for Food and Agriculture

1.11  2011 World Food Prize honors former presidents of Ghana, Brazil

1.12 Resistant potato varieties make the difference between having enough to eat – or not

1.13 Breeder’s tool kit to boost sustainable wheat farming

1.14  'Super varieties' of wheat expected to boost yields and block deadly threat to food security

1.15  Cereals 2011: Plant breeding can deliver on sustainability challenges

1.16  Cereals 2011: Wheat breeding research taps into global gene pool

1.17  All wheat varieties will have to be replaced

1.18  3rd Generation hybrid rice breeding technology developed in China

1.19  China establishes national lab for hybrid rice research

1.20  Scientists develop fast growing, Striga-resistant sorghum

1.21  Eliza, Clara, Ana e Cristal: cultivares de batata da Embrapa mostram seu potencial

1.22 CIAT’s new Brachiaria hybrids for Africa

1.23  University of Delaware Research Foundation funds the creation of efficient and modern software tools for plant breeders in developing countries

1.24  1000Minds software: a generic solution to any problem that involves ranking or allocating resources

1.25  Codex debate over biotechnology definition goes full circle

1.26  U.S. Department of Agriculture amends the Federal Seed Act regulations

1.27  Protecting plant varieties in Canada

1.28  Meeting regarding plant breeding rights

1.29  Plant Variety Protection Office is going paperless

1.30 South Africa: When It Comes To Plant Breeding Rights, It's Wise To Call On The Experts

1.31  World Intellectual Property Organization seminar: Intellectual Property is spearhead of agricultural innovation, solution to food shortage

1.32  Peru declares 10-year moratorium on GM seeds

1.33  New FAO Chief accepts GMOs, not seed monopolies

1.34 Impacts of GE crops on biodiversity

1.35  25,000 germ plasm accessions in the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University genebank

1.36  Cavemen grew GM rice over 10,000 years ago?

1.37  Cotton genetics, a work in progress - Research shows that sufficient genetic variation exists in cotton cultivars to continue improving agronomic performance

1.38 Assam tribe's rice varieties win recognition

1.39 Breeding wheat for Fusarium head blight resistance -Scientists turn to an exotic Chinese wheat cultivar in search of disease resistant genetics

1.40  Gene flow may help plants adapt to climate change

1.41  Global plant database set to promote biodiversity research and Earth-system sciences

1.42  Towards the next generation of pest resistant plants

1.43 U.S. Department of Agriculture funds projects across the country to advance pest and disease management and disaster prevention

1.44  Scientists make low-acrylamide potatoes

1.45  'Super wheat' resists devastating rust

1.46  Drought tolerant GM wheat makes great progress in China

1.47  Stem rust resistant wheat could be unveiled soon, say scientists

1.48  Resistance to recombinant stem rust race TPPKC in wheat

1.49  Breeding wheat for blight resistance

1.50  Unique gene combinations control tropical maize response to day lengths

1.51  Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) grants permit for sorghum bio-fortification research

1.52  Beta-carotene content of banana genotypes from Uganda

1.53  Researchers discover key for identifying gender in date palm trees

1.54  Plant breeders to use genomic selection to improve crops in developing countries

1.55 Chinese genomics giant BGI and UC Davis form partnership

1.56  Developing Cold-Chipping Potato Varieties by Silencing the Vacuolar Invertase Gene

1.57  The trends and future of biotechnology crops for insect pest control

1.58  Rationalizing investment and effort in whole genome sequencing for harvesting applied benefits

1.59  U.S. National Center for Genome Resources and KeyGene in agreement to boost genome sequence assemblies

1.60  Embracing science-based technologies is critical to increase agricultural productivity and enhance global food security

 

2.  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  Training guide on forest genetic resources

2.02  Call for papers: ISABB Journal of Food and Agricultural Sciences

2.03  ABDC-10 proceedings: Biotechnologies for Agricultural Development

2.04  FAO Biosafety Resource Book

2.05  Annual Report now available from the Seed Biotechnology Center

2.06  Biotechnology for Sustainability

2.07  Gamma Field Symposia Vol. 48: Elucidation of resistance mechanisms to abiotic stresses and the application for molecular breeding

2.08 Transgenic Horticultural Crops: Challenges and Opportunities

 

3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

3.01  Pre-breeding for Effective Use of Plant Genetic Resources – a new e-learning course

 

4.  GRANTS AND AWARDS

 

(None submitted)

 

5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.01  Research Associate, Plant Science Department, South Dakota State University

5.02 Senior Corn Breeder, India  

5.03  Line Development Breeder-004PB

5.04  Commercial Breeder-004P9

5.05  China Vegetables Research & Development Lead (Vegetables Division)-003XP

5.06  Commercial Breeder - Greenville, OH-004OD

5.07  Multi Season Program (MSP) & Double Haploid (DH) Manager-004PC

5.08  Genome Analyst-00305

5.09  Cotton Breeder - Australia-001FC

5.10  Cotton Discovery Breeding Lead-0041T

5.11  Tomato Breeder (Vegetables Division)-00300

 

6.  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

 

1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES

 

1.01  Plant breeders across North America poised to offer exciting solutions to major challenges Including climate change, food security

 

May 31, 2011—Seth Murray, a corn breeder at Texas A&M, and his team of graduate students are breeding new hybrids of blue and red corn lines and studying their antioxidant potential. Antioxidants have desirable health benefits and the research could lead to viable new corn varieties cith high antioxidant content. “This research is really exciting because if we can increase antioxidants in our diet hopefully that will lead to a healthier population, a healthier planet,” says Murray.

 

Murray’s innovative corn research was just one of many projects highlighted at the joint annual meeting of the Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee and the National Association of Plant Breeders held at Texas A&M in College Station May 23-25, 2011. Plant breeders from across North America had a chance to share their cutting edge research with colleagues and peers.

 

Around 200 delegates from public and private sectors heard from a wide range of speakers on topics directly impacting plant breeding ranging from intellectual property, to breeding for climate change. There was also much discussion on promotion and education strategies, as plant breeding is more critical now than ever before, with funding and the number of plant breeders declining.

 

“We can’t train students appropriately without vital breeding programs behind that education so funding for public research is critical today,” says Rita Mumm, director of the Illinois Plant Breeding Center and incoming president of NAPB. Mumm says a top priority for NAPB in 2011 will be education and outreach.

 

By 2050, the number of humans is expected to exceed 9 billion. Providing food, feed fuel and fiber for this enormous population is an ominous challenge facing humankind, without significant addition of new arable lands, challenges of changing weather patterns and decreased quantity and quality of fresh water. Plant breeders are the key to developing superior crops to meet these world needs.

 

“There needs to be a sense of urgency around plant breeding as an important contributor to managing all kinds of global change, which is coming to us with increasing velocity,” says Donn Cummings, global breeder sourcing lead for Monsanto. “While these challenges are daunting and complex, agricultural innovation delivered with the aid of plant breeding innovation remains central to our well being.”

 

Several prestigious awards were also handed out at the meeting. Dr. Jules Janick received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his leadership in basic and applied research in the genetic enhancement of apple and pear, ornamental plants, vegetables, and medicinal herbs. Professor Janick has carried out pioneering work in the genetics of sex determination and made important contributions to the field of somatic embryogenesis and synthetic seed technology. He is also founder and editor of Plant Breeding Reviews and Horticultural Reviews, which have become sourcebooks of technical information in both fields.

 

Dr. Sterling Brooks Blanche received the Early Career Award from the NAPB for his excellent contribution to plant breeding in a short time. He started as a medium-grain rice breeder with LSU AgCenter and was involved in the release of eight cultivars. He has numerous publications and has been associated with $2.1 million of grant funding since 2006.

 

Shelby Repinski received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award for continued involvement in the plant breeding community. As an upcoming UC Davis graduate, she is a coauthor on three publications on the Delphi study on plant breeding curriculum. Repinski is the first graduate student liaison for the PBCC where she actively coordinated and recruited graduate students to be involved in the plant breeding community.

 

Sponsors of the annual meeting include: Pioneer Hi-Bred International, United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, Cotton Inc., Texas A&M AgriLIFE, Douglas Scientific, DNA Landmarks, Fluidigm, Illumina, Ceres, Sorghum Checkoff, American Takii.

 

The Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee serves as a forum regarding issues and opportunities of national and global importance to the public and private sectors of the U.S. national plant breeding effort.

 

The National Association of Plant Breeders was begun as an initiative of the Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee and is the advocacy group that represents plant breeders in federal, state, commercial and non-government organizations.

 

Contact:

Pat Byrne, Communications and Outreach Chair

National Association of Plant Breeders

Ph: 970-491-6985 

patrick.byrne@colostate.edu

www.plantbreeding.org

 

Julie McNabb, Editor

Seed World

Ph: (204) 725-3361

jmcnabb@issuesink.com

www.seedworld.com

 

Contributed by Allen van Deynze

avandeynze@ucdavis.edu

 

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1.02 Science’s 10 hottest fields

 

June 24, 201

By Clive Cookson

 

(Editor’s note PBN-L: Full description provided only for the fields related to agriculture. Note especially “Plants to feed the world.”)

 

Understanding the genome

The sequencing of the 6 billion chemical “letters” of human DNA was completed in draft in 2000 and in final form in 2003. But clinical benefits have arrived more slowly than the initial hype suggested. This is mainly because the human genome actually works in a much more complex way than predicted by the late-20th-century model.

 

Twenty-first-century research shows that we have only 21,000 genes, one-fifth of the number predicted when the project started, and that just 1.5 per cent of the genome consists of conventional protein-coding genes. Efforts are under way to understand the vital regulatory and other functions of the non-coding regions of the genome, once dismissed wrongly as “junk DNA”.

 

Extra planets – and extraterrestrials?

 

The composition of the cosmos

 

Leap for quantum computing

 

Graphene, the ‘wonder material’

 

Embryonic stem cells and regenerative medicine

 

Global warming: the future

Climate change has risen to the top of the political controversy list. But if the majority of experts are right and human activities are driving the world toward a warmer and more unstable climate, then the question of how to reduce its potentially catastrophic impact is one of the most important fields in science.

Opposition has not cut significantly the funding for research. Scientists are working to convert the broad predictions of global warming into more specific, detailed forecasts of how particular regions will be affected. The time period during which weather forecasts morph into climate prediction – between one and 10 years ahead – is especially fertile ground.

 

Plants to feed the world

With the population set to pass 7 billion this year and rising to 9 billion in mid-century, the world faces a formidable challenge. If everyone is to be fed without appalling environmental consequences, the yield of staple crops must increase enormously. Some plant scientists are still licking their wounds from the onslaught against genetically modified crops. But there is an intensified effort, among public-sector laboratories and industry companies, to breed better plants for farmers. This involves both direct genetic modification to make plants more resistant to stress and disease and the use of genomic information to accelerate improvement through conventional breeding.

 

The ‘plastic brain’

 

Disaster management

 

Source: Financial Times

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/bedd6da8-9d37-11e0-997d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1R53WCiJg

 

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1.03  Inclusive market-oriented development is key to a second Green Revolution

 

Hyderabad, India

 June 17, 2011

“An inclusive market-oriented development approach will revolutionize agriculture and ensure food and nutritional security and income security of the smallholder farmers and the poor in the developing world,” said Director General William Dar of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

 

Addressing the global summit on Green Revolution II – Growth Engine for Transformation, Dr Dar highlighted the need for an inclusive market-oriented development or IMOD to empower smallholder farmers in overcoming poverty, hunger and a degraded environment through better and resilient farming, leading them to a dynamic state from subsistence to market-oriented agriculture.

 

He stressed that developing countries must give highest priority to agriculture, and increase public investment that will enable smallholder farming to achieve greater productivity and profitability. Dr Dar also underscored that India can become a global model in making smallholder agriculture as a nation’s engine to transformation.

 

Organized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) with ICRISAT as its knowledge partner, the summit was held on 15 June at Hotel Taj Deccan in Hyderabad. The event brought together multi-sectoral stakeholders to deliberate on sharing scientific innovations and services to propel India’s agricultural growth.

 

“The Indian agricultural sector needs to be revamped to meet future demand and nutritional security of this huge population. A second Green Revolution with a focus on holistic development of the agriculture sector is imperative to support smallholder farmers in sustaining their livelihoods,” said MrDilip Modi, President of ASSOCHAM. He added that provision for end-to-end services, solutions to problems faced by farmers and providing linkages to markets are significant to facilitate access to better technology and other resources.

 

One of the highlights of the summit was the launch of the ASSOCHAM-ICRISAT study on Second Green Revolution: Role in Transforming Indian Agriculture. Based on the study, the next green revolution in India should be focused on a convergence strategy for the public and private sectors and civil society and research and educational institutions to devise a mechanism in sustaining enhanced productivity, providing opportunities for agricultural growth and boosting the economy.

 

Around 150 delegates participated in the conference, which included farmer entrepreneurs. The Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) also participated in the conference exhibition by showcasing successful cases of ICRISAT’s Public-Private-People Partnership (PPP) initiatives.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18340&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.04  World food prices set to remain high - Record crops only just expected to meet consumption

 

Rome, Italy

7 June 2011

High and volatile agricultural commodity prices are likely to prevail for the rest of this year and into 2012 according to the latest analysis published today in FAO's biannual Food Outlook.

 

The report cites a sharp rundown on inventories and only modest overall production increases for the majority of crops as reasons for continuing strong prices.

 

The next few months will be critical in determining how the major crops will fare this year, the report noted. Although prospects are encouraging in some countries such as the Russian Federation and Ukraine, weather conditions, featuring too little and in some cases too much rain, could hamper maize and wheat yields in Europe and North America.

 

"The general situation for agricultural crops and food commodities is tight with world prices at stubbornly high levels, posing a threat to many low-income food deficit countries," according to David Hallam, Director of FAO's Markets and Trade Division.

 

Slight drop in May food prices

International food prices, which earlier this year soared to levels seen in the 2007-8 food crisis, dropped a modest one percent in May. The FAO Food Price Index averaged 232 points in May from a revised estimate of 235 points in April but was still 37 percent above May 2010.

 

Declines in international prices of cereals and sugar were responsible for the slight decrease in the May index, more than offsetting increases in meat and dairy prices.

 

Current prospects for cereals in 2011 point to a record harvest of 2,315 million tonnes — a 3.5 percent increase over 2010, which marked a one percent drop over 2009.

 

Wheat

Global wheat output is expected to be 3.2 percent up from last year's reduced crop, mostly reflecting improved yields in the Russian Federation.

 

World production of coarse grains is set to climb 3.9 percent, exceeding the record set in 2008. Most of the increase is expected from the Russian Federation and the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

 

Although preliminary, world paddy production prospects are for a record harvest of 463.8 million tonnes — a two percent increase over last year on expectations of improved weather conditions.

 

World cereals stocks at the close of the crop seasons in 2012 are put at 494 million tonnes, up only two percent from sharply reduced opening levels.

 

Export ban removal

Demand for cereals has also been increasing so that the 2011 crop, even at record levels, is expected to barely meet consumption, providing support to prices. But "the Russian Federation's announcement that it will remove its cereals export ban from July 2011 could help relieve some of that pressure," according to FAO's grain analyst, Abdolreza Abbassian.

 

In the oilseeds market, supplies in 2011/12 may not be sufficient to meet growing oil and meal demand, implying further reductions in global inventories.

 

By contrast, the global supply and demand balance for sugar points to some improvements, supported by large anticipated production in 2010/11, which is likely to surpass consumption for the first time since 2007/08.

 

Record meat prices

Regarding meat, high feed prices, disease outbreaks and depleted animal inventories were forecast to limit the expansion of global meat production to 294 million tonnes in 2011 — only one percent more than 2010. The international meat price index hit a new record at 183 points in May 2011 and a combination of strong import demand and limited export availability pointed to a further firming of prices in the next few months.

 

Following two consecutives years of low prices, fish markets have rebounded this year. Production in 2011 is heading to a record but prices are likely to be supported by strong demand from the developing countries.

 

Food import bill

In international food trade, the global food import bill is expected to reach a new record of $1.29 trillion in 2011 — 21 percent more than in 2010. Low-Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) would be hardest-hit since they would likely have to spend respectively 27 and 30 percent more on food imports than last year.

 

Expenditures on imported foodstuffs for vulnerable countries could account for roughly 18 percent of their total import bills compared to a world average of around seven percent.

 

Futures market under scrutiny

The report highlights some of the differences in the way investors behaved in the price surge of 2010/11 versus 2007/08. Much has been done to improve market transparency but more is needed according to guest experts contributing to a Special Feature in Food Outlook.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18017&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.05  CropLife International urges global leaders to continue investments in agricultural development

 

Brussels, Belgium

June 6, 2011

In observance of World Environment Day, CropLife International calls on global leaders attending the G20 Meeting in Cannes, France to increase investments in agricultural research and development. Farming challenges such as climate change, limited natural resources, and population growth can only be addressed through agricultural innovations. Advances in farming tools and technologies have enabled the more efficient use of resources, decreased agriculture’s environmental footprint, as well as increased crop productivity. Agricultural developments help preserve the environment, as well as drive economic development for farmers, local communities, and national governments.

 

Over the past 20 years, agriculture has depended on science to become increasingly environmentally friendly while boosting farm incomes. Practices like no-till agriculture have improved farmers’ ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to produce more food on current land in production. In fact, in 2009 alone, the use of modern biotech crops with no-till agriculture prevented the release of 17.7 billion kilograms of greenhouse gases while increasing worldwide farm income by 10.8 billion dollars. However, with the global population increasing towards 9 billion by 2050 and 10 billion by 2100, further innovation will be needed to increase the tools available to farmers.

 

“In 2010, the share of private sector investment in agriculture continued to rise. This investment has produced technologies benefiting our planet and farmers worldwide. However, it is not enough, “said Howard Minigh, President and CEO of CropLife International. “In celebration of World Environment day we urge nations to increase their investment in agriculture. By investing in technology, knowledge building, and predictable regulatory frameworks, countries can instill confidence in continued private investment and increase the tools available to farmers.”

 

In the next three to five years, crop varieties that can withstand drought, boost yields, and provide increased nutrition will reach markets around the world. These crops will reduce poverty by increasing farm incomes and provide for healthier families. But more will be needed to increase production by 70% in the next 40 years, and innovation in agriculture will be essential. The private sector will continue to invest and provide new tools for farmers; however, the efforts of governments in ensuring proper infrastructure and knowledge to use these tools will be crucial.

 

“Agricultural innovations improve farming efficiency and enable sustainable farming practices, as well as maintain and improve crop productivity, and support secure incomes for farmers worldwide,” continued Minigh. “In order to continue this course of advancement, countries must make the commitment to science, innovation, and agricultural research and development. The agricultural community strongly encourages our global leaders to make a strong commitment to agriculture and to food security and economic development worldwide.”

 

To learn more about innovation within the plant science industry, contact CropLife International or visit www.croplife.org.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18003&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.06  American Society of Agronomy , Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America develop a position statement on climate change

 

USA

June 2, 2011

The 10,000-plus members of the American Society of Agronomy , Crop Science Society of America , and Soil Science Society of America develop a position statement on climate change.

 

The significance of climate change to the practice of agriculture, soils, and land management has led the 10,000-plus members of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) to develop a position statement on climate change, based on a review of current scientific knowledge and understanding.

 

In the statement, the societies warn that a changing climate could have large impacts on the future ability of agriculture to provide food, feed, fuel and fiber, as well as vital “ecosystem services” such as pollination, natural pest management and erosion control.

 

“Food and energy security, water availability and quality, and climate change adaptation and mitigation are some of the greatest challenges facing our society,” says Chuck Rice, President of the Soil Science Society of America, a panel member, and a distinguished professor of soil microbiology at Kansas State, “Appropriate management of soils offers the potential to provide solutions for each of these challenges.”

 

“The increasing climate variation will impact our ability to efficiently produce food and feed and to ensure a more stable production system we will need to understand the components of resilient crop production systems,” said Jerry Hatfield a member of the panel that produced the paper and a past President of the American Society of Agronomy, “A focus on adaptation, mitigation, and resilience has be treated as a combined set of endpoints if we are meet the food security challenges under an uncertain climate.”

 

The statement reflects the consensus of a panel of scientists with national and international expertise in climate processes and impacts, mitigation strategies, and adaptation methods for natural and managed ecosystems.

 

The full statement, which can be accessed at each of the society’s web sites under the Science Policy Position Statements/Reports area, includes the following points:

 

• Increases in ambient temperatures and changes in related processes are directly linked to rising anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

 

• The potential impacts of climate change on the ability of agricultural systems, including soil and water resources, to provide food, feed, fiber, and fuel, and maintain ecosystem services (e.g., water supply and habitat for crop landraces, wild relatives, and pollinators) are major concerns.

 

• Changes in temperature have already begun to affect crops, water availability, and pests in some areas. These effects are projected to become increasingly severe as climate change becomes more pronounced.

 

• The agricultural sector faces a significant challenge: to increase production for the purpose of providing food security for 9 billion people by the middle of the 21st century, while also protecting the environment and enhancing function of global ecosystems. Rising and more volatile food prices are also threatening food security, and the challenge is further compounded by climate change impacts that now require mitigation. Therefore, agricultural practices must be developed to mitigate climate change, adapt cropping systems to expected changes, meet future demands for food, feed, fiber, and bioenergy, and protect natural resources.

 

• Agricultural activities account for 10-15% of total global emissions of the three main greenhouse gases – CO2, CH4, and N2O – although estimates vary. While agricultural, forest, and grazing land-management emit greenhouse gases, many opportunities exist to mitigate these emissions and to sequester carbon in the soil and in the biomass of perennial vegetation.

 

• The global mitigation potential for agriculture is estimated to range between 5,500 and 6,000 Mt CO2-eq/yr through the large-scale application of practices that improve productivity, reduce GHG emissions, and conserve soil.

 

• For the agricultural sector to anticipate and respond to climate change, the research and development community must develop the knowledge and methods required to ensure food security and ecosystem services. As a result, intensified and focused research is needed in several broad areas in agronomy, crop science, and soil science.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=17951&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

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1.07  Climate to wreak havoc on food supply, predicts report

 

Areas where food supplies could be worst hit by climate change have been identified in a report.

 

By Jennifer Carpenter

 

Description: Map of malnourished children

 

Some areas in the tropics face famine because of failing food production, an international research group says.

 

The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) predicts large parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will be worst affected.

 

Its report points out that hundreds of millions of people in these regions are already experiencing a food crisis.

 

"We are starting to see much more clearly where the effects of climate change on agriculture could intensify hunger and poverty," said Patti Kristjanson, an agricultural economist with the CCAFS initiative that produced the report.

 

A leading climatologist told BBC News that agriculturalists had been slow to use global climate models to pinpoint regions most affected by rising temperatures.

 

This report is the first foray into the field by the CCAFS initiative. To assess how climate change will affect the world's ability to feed itself, CCAFS set about finding hotspots of climate change and food insecurity.

 

Focusing their search on the tropics, the researchers identified regions where populations are chronically malnourished and highly dependent on local food supplies.

 

Then, basing their analysis on the climate data amassed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the team predicted which of these food-insecure regions are likely to experience the greatest shifts in temperature and precipitation over the next 40 years.

 

Mapping hunger

By overlaying the maps, the team was able to pinpoint which hungry regions of the tropics would suffer most.

Continue reading the main story

 

“In many places in Africa you are really going to need [a] revolution in farming systems” said Bruce Campbell CCAFS director

 

With many areas in Africa predicted to become drier, countries such as South Africa which predominately farm maize have the option to shift to more drought resistant crops.

 

But for countries such as Niger, in western Africa, which already supports itself on very drought resistant crop varieties, like sorghum and millet, there is little room for manoeuvre, explains Bruce Campbell, the director of CCAFS.

 

"West Africa really stands out as problematic. Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali. They are already dependent on sorghum and millet.

 

"In many places in Africa you are really going to need [a] revolution in farming systems," he says.

 

"We need everything we can lay our hands on," said Sir Gordon Conway, professor of international development at Imperial College London.

 

Governments are aiming to limit the average increase in temperature to 2C by the end of the century, he explained. But if temperatures continue to follow their current trajectories "we are on for a 3-4C increase", Sir Gordon explained.

 

If this was correct "things get very alarming", the professor said.

 

Professor Martin Parry, a visiting professor at the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London, who co-chaired one of the working groups in the IPCC's last climate assessment, responded to the report by saying he thought that CGIAR, the parent body to the CCAFS, had been slow to move into the field of climate change as a key area of research. But he added that this step was very welcome.

 

But he cautioned: "This gives us a better local picture of where the most vulnerable areas might be… but it doesn't make strong enough connections between the changes in the weather and its impacts on yields."

 

This made it difficult to plan for adaptations, Professor Parry told BBC News.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13628374

 

Source: Science reporter, BBC News

 

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1.08  Global warming has already reduced the global yields of key crops, say scientists

 

June 3, 2011

Source: SciDev.Net

Maize and wheat production have been 3.8 and 5.5 per cent lower, respectively, than they would have been without the temperature rises associated with climate change since the 1980s, according to the statistical analysis.

 

Rice and soya yields have dropped in some parts of the world and risen in others, so overall the warming has not changed their net global production.

 

Linking climate change to food prices for the first time, the scientists, led by David Lobell of Stanford University, United States, have shown that these losses have probably led to at least a six per cent rise in food prices between 1980 and 2008.

 

The news comes as the UN this week (3 May) revised upwards its population prediction for the planet — to 10.1 billion by 2100.

 

"Without successful adaptation, and given the persistent rise in demand for maize and wheat, the sizeable yield setback from climate change is likely incurring large economic and health costs," said the team, whose work was published in Science yesterday (5 May).

 

The team developed two models of crop productivity using data from countries around the world. Both models included complex factors such as the increases in yield from technological advances in farming, but one included the actual increase in global temperatures between 1980–2008, while the other kept the temperature constant at 1980 levels.

 

For maize, warming was linked with a reduced yield of around eight per cent in Brazil and seven per cent in China, but an increase of about one per cent in India. In Africa, there were significant yield drops in Egypt, Mozambique and Uganda, but substantial increases, linked to temperature drops, in Kenya, Tunisia and Zambia.

 

Wheat productivity in the developing world was significantly reduced in Afghanistan, Brazil, Iraq, Libya and Morocco.

 

And, although the global productivity of soya remained level, Brazil experienced a drop of five per cent, and Paraguay 7.5 per cent, while Argentina showed a 2.5 per cent increase.

 

The study did not take into account the fertilising effect of extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — thought to increase yields for rice and soy but have no effect on maize and wheat.

 

"We are not saying climate change is the only or even a major cause of price increases for major commodities," Lobell told SciDev.Net. "Most people would say biofuel and trade policies are probably more important for food price rises. But what we are saying is that climate change is also a factor."

 

Gerald Nelson, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in the United States said the results demonstrated that "the way climate plays out in individual locations in the future is going to be very important for global effects".

 

For developing countries it underlined the urgency of adapting agriculture to climate change — and building better infrastructure so that farmers can benefit from higher prices for their crops, he said.

 

Link to full paper in Science

 

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1.09 Putting nature back into agriculture - Save and Grow farming model launched by FAO

 

Rome, Italy

13 June 2011

FAO today announced the launch of a major new initiative intended to produce more food for a growing world population in an environmentally sustainable way.

 

FAO's call for sustainable crop production intensification, more than half a century after the Green Revolution of the 1960s, is contained in a new book, Save and Grow published by FAO's Plant Production and Protection Division.

 

Smallholder farmers

The new approach calls for targeting mainly smallholder farmers in developing countries. Helping low-income farm families in developing countries – some 2.5 billion people – economize on cost of production and build healthy agro-ecosystems will enable them to maximize yields and invest the savings in their health and education.

 

Green Revolution technology saved an estimated one billion people from famine and produced more than enough food for a world population that doubled from three to six billion between 1960 and 2000.

 

New millennium

However, the present paradigm of intensive crop production cannot meet the challenges of the new millennium. In order to grow, agriculture must learn to save.

 

The Save and Grow approach draws partly on conservation agriculture (CA) techniques which do away with or minimize ploughing and tilling, thus preserving soil structure and health. Plant residues provide cover over fields and cereals cultivation is rotated with soil-enriching legumes.

 

Precision farming

Other techniques developed by FAO and its partners over the past several years as part of the Save and Grow toolkit include precision irrigation, which delivers more crop for the drop, and "precision placement" of fertilizers, which can double the amount of nutrients absorbed by plants.

 

Integrated pest management, whose techniques discourage the development of pest populations and minimizes the need for pesticides, is yet another key element.

 

Such methods help adapt crops to climate change and not only help grow more food but also contribute to reducing crops' water needs by 30 percent and energy costs by up to 60 percent. In some cases crop yields can be increased six-fold, as shown by trials with maize held recently in southern Africa. Average yields from farms practicing the techniques in 57 low-income countries increased almost 80 percent, according to one review.

 

Ecosystems approach

The Save and Grow model incorporates an ecosystem approach that draws on nature's contribution to crop growth – soil organic matter, water flow regulation, pollination and natural predation of pests. It applies external inputs at the right time and in the right amount – no more and no less than plants need.

 

The approach builds on lessons learned from the Green Revolution of the 1960s which focused on raising crop production without much attention to the environment.

 

Biodiversity

Decades of intensive cropping may have degraded fertile land and depleted groundwater, provoked pest upsurges, eroded biodiversity and polluted air, soil and water and it can be noted that the yield growth rate of major cereals is declining.

 

To feed a world population projected at 9.2 billion in 2050, which involves meeting double the demand for food in developing countries, there is no option but to further intensify crop production. To eradicate hunger and meet demand by 2050, food production needs to increase by 70% in the world and 100% in developing countries.

 

The key to meeting the challenge lies in sustainable crop production intensification, or Save and Grow. But this will involve a shift from a homogeneous model of crop production to farming systems that are knowledge-intensive and adapted to specific locations.

 

Support to farmers

It will also require significant support to farmers so they can learn the new practices and technologies, while governments will also need to strengthen national plant-breeding programmes so as to deploy new seed varieties that are resilient to climate change and use external inputs more efficiently.

 

Policymakers must provide incentives for adoption of the new model such as rewarding good management of ecosystems. The key is boosting agricultural investment. Developed countries should increase the share of agriculture in official development assistance to the developing world. Developing countries themselves should allocate a larger part of their national budgets to the agriculture sector. And domestic and foreign private investments need to be increased.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18206&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

SeedQuest.com

 

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1.10  OECD report: A Green Growth Strategy for Food and Agriculture

 

Paris, France

June 22, 2011

A major shift in farm policy and practice is needed if a growing world population is to be fed without over-exploiting scarce natural resources or further damaging the environment, according to a new OECD report.

 

A Green Growth Strategy for Food and Agriculture: Preliminary Report says governments can avoid a conflict between growth and the environment if the right incentives are put in place.

 

With the world’s population expected to rise by a third between now and 2050, analysts estimate that an additional one billion tonnes of cereals and 200 million tonnes of meat would need to be produced annually between now and then to feed everyone.

 

The report identifies three priority areas where coherent action is required:

Farming and fisheries are particularly vulnerable to climate change and will need to adapt to shifting temperature and rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and to extreme weather events.

 

Business as usual is not an option and adjustments to policies and practices will be needed. But in the longer term, the report adds, greener agriculture would reinforce environmental sustainability, economic growth and social well-being.

 

The full report is available here.

 

You can obtain further information on OECD work on agriculture, food and fisheries online at: www.oecd.org/agriculture.

 

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Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.11  2011 World Food Prize honors former presidents of Ghana, Brazil

 

Washington, D.C., USA

June 21, 2011

Winners illustrate how top-level leadership and sustained commitment can dramatically reduce hunger

Two former presidents who led the drastic reduction of hunger and poverty in their countries were named the winners of the 2011 World Food Prize in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department today.

 

The World Food Prize Foundation is honoring John Agyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, for creating and implementing government policies that alleviated hunger and poverty in their countries. They were commended in remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.

 

“President Kufuor and President Lula da Silva have set a powerful example for other political leaders in the world,” said Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize, in making the announcement. “Thanks to their personal commitment and visionary leadership, both Ghana and Brazil are on track to exceed the UN Millennium Development Goal – to cut in half extreme hunger before 2015.”

 

“The battle to end hunger was Dr. Borlaug’s lifelong pursuit, and remains one of the great challenges of our day, requiring both a worldwide commitment to innovation and investment in agriculture, as well as country and local strategies,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Presidents Kufuor and Lula da Silva have advanced food security for their people by pursuing innovative policies and programs, and their leadership and work stand as a model to all nations working to meet the moral imperative of feeding the world.”

 

“President Kufuor and President Lula da Silva have set the gold standard for presidential leadership in tackling the global challenges of poverty and hunger,” said Administrator Rajiv Shah. “By helping train the next generation of forward-thinking leaders, we can build upon the legacy of Norman Borlaug and the inspirational work of this year’s World Food Prize laureates to deliver meaningful results in food security and nutrition for people in developing countries across the world.”

 

Under President Kufuor's leadership, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan African country to cut in half the proportion of its people who suffer from hunger, and the proportion of people living on less than a dollar per day, on course to meet UN Millenium Development Goal 1. Continuing Ghana's tradition of stability, President Kufuor prioritized national agricultural policies: Ghana saw a reduction in its poverty rate from 51.7 percent in 1991 to 26.5 percent in 2008, and hunger was reduced from 34 percent in 1990 down to 9 percent in 2004.

 

A guiding principle for President John Kufuor during the entirety of his two terms as president of the Republic of Ghana (2001-2009) was to improve food security and reduce poverty through public- and private-sector initiatives. To that end, he implemented major economic and educational policies that increased the quality and quantity of food to Ghanaians, enhanced farmers' incomes, and improved school attendance and child nutrition through a nationwide feeding program.

 

President Lula da Silva made it clear, even before he took office as president of Brazil in 2003, that fighting hunger and poverty would be a top priority of his government. More than 10 government ministries were focused on the expansive Zero Hunger programs, which provided greater access to food, strengthened family farms and rural incomes, increased enrollment of primary school children, and empowered the poor. Zero Hunger very quickly became one of the most successful food and nutritional security policies in the world through its broad network of programs, including: the Bolsa Familia Program; the Food Purchase Program; and the School Feeding Program.

 

Over the eight years of his administration, President Lula da Silva's commitment and vision achieved dramatic reductions in hunger, extreme poverty and social exclusion, thereby greatly enhancing the lives of Brazil's people. During his tenure, UN Millennium Development Goal 1 was exceeded as Brazil reduced by half its proportion of hungry people, with 93 percent of children and 82 percent of adults eating three meals a day, and also reduced the percentage of Brazilians living in extreme poverty from 12 percent in 2003 down to 4.8 percent in 2009.

 

These two leaders will be formally awarded the World Food Prize at the 25th Anniversary Laureate Award Ceremony at the Iowa State Capital on October 13, in conjunction with the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, themed “The Next Generation: Confronting the Hunger Challenges of Tomorrow.”

 

The World Food Prize was created in 1987 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug, to recognize individuals who have contributed landmark achievements in increasing the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

 

The winners released the following statements regarding their selection:

 

"l am overjoyed that in this time of increasing food crisis around the world, l should be adjudged as deserving of this great award for the role l played in boosting agriculture in my country, Ghana, during my tenure as President," said President Kufuor.

 

“I am convinced that what was important during my administration was the result of the partnership with the Brazilian population," said former president Lula da Silva. "I am really moved to know Brazil was chosen as a country that achieved good policies regarding agriculture and hunger. Brazil has a lot to show in the area of food security. And we want to share our experience with other countries, especially with African country and poor countries in Latin America – both our technical knowledge, and from the point of view of food productivity and distribution."

 

Full biographies and more information is available at www.worldfoodprize.org/laureates.

 

The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, The World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States.

 

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1.12  Resistant potato varieties make the difference between having enough to eat – or not

 

La Molina, Lima, Peru

June, 2011

Excessive rains and an increased presence of late blight disease devastated the Cusco region of Peru in January-February 2010, which was declared a national emergency area. The food security of communities in the Paucartambo province of that region was maintained in large part thanks to two late blight resistant potato varieties, called Pallay Poncho and Puka Lliclla, developed by the International Potato Center.

 

“Three years after their formal release, the yield of these two potatoes was about 8-times higher than any of the 150 native potato varieties grown by these communities during this particularly wet season,” explains Stef de Haan, a potato breeder at the Center (known by its Spanish acronym, CIP), adding “it made the difference between having enough to eat or not.”

 

Pallay Poncho and Puka Lliclla give yields

of around 15-16 tons per hectare, compared to 5 tons per hectare with the traditional native potatoes. In 2010, the late blight resistant variety yields held up, while those of the local varieties was only around 2 tons per hectare, due to high damage from the fungus-like late blight disease.

 

Back in 2003, CIP joined forces with the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and Peru’s National Institute of Agrarian Innovation (INIA) to conduct participatory varietal selection after late blight wiped out the native potato harvest of a large farming community in Paucartambo. It was the first time that late blight had occurred at this high altitude.

 

“The rise in temperature due to climate change makes formerly untouched areas fall victim to the potatoes most feared disease,” says CIP agronomist, Manuel Gastelo, “And each year, late blight has become even worse.”

 

Twenty Andigena clones with late blight resistance were evaluated and selected by the 200 families in the affected area. After 5 years, and in close collaboration with the community, two clones with the best properties were locally selected and officially released by INIA as the new varieties, Pallay Poncho and Puka Lliclla. The small-scale Andean farmers, averse to risk, grow them along with numerous native varieties. The improved varieties do not replace local ones, but they are used as a sort of insurance in case traditional varieties get damaged by disease.

 

“Three years after their formal release, the yield of these two potatoes was about 8-times higher than any of the 150 native potato varieties grown by these communities during this particularly wet season,” explains Stef de Haan, a potato breeder at the Center (known by its Spanish acronym, CIP), adding “it made the difference between having enough to eat or not.”

 

Pallay Poncho and Puka Lliclla give yields of around 15-16 tons per hectare, compared to 5 tons per hectare with the traditional native potatoes. In 2010, the late blight resistant variety yields held up, while those of the local varieties was only around 2 tons per hectare, due to high damage from the fungus-like late blight disease.

 

Back in 2003, CIP joined forces with the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and Peru’s National Institute of Agrarian Innovation (INIA) to conduct participatory varietal selection after late blight wiped out the native potato harvest of a large farming community in Paucartambo. It was the first time that late blight had occurred at this high altitude.

 

“The rise in temperature due to climate change makes formerly untouched areas fall victim to the potatoes most feared disease,” says CIP agronomist, Manuel Gastelo, “And each year, late blight has become even worse.”

 

Twenty Andigena clones with late blight resistance were evaluated and selected by the 200 families in the affected area. After 5 years, and in close collaboration with the community, two clones with the best properties were locally selected and officially released by INIA as the new varieties, Pallay Poncho and Puka Lliclla. The small-scale Andean farmers, averse to risk, grow them along with numerous native varieties. The improved varieties do not replace local ones, but they are used as a sort of insurance in case traditional varieties get damaged by disease.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18073&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.13 Breeder’s tool kit to boost sustainable wheat farming

 

Norwich, England, United Kingdom

May 24, 2011

A new project being led by the John Innes Centre is to develop a ‘breeder’s tool kit’ that will help breed wheat varieties that produce higher quality flour and reduce wastage, boosting the economic and environmental sustainability of wheat farming in the UK. Working with four breeding companies (RAGT, Limagrain, KWS and Lantmännen SW Seed) and the HGCA will ensure that this toolkit will be exactly what is needed to drive discoveries from fundamental research into improved varieties.

 

A harvested wheat crop is normally assessed for several quality attributes that influence the ability of its flour to make bread and also affect the money paid to farmers by millers. One such parameter is called Hagberg Falling Number (HFN), which is an indirect measure of the properties that a loaf of bread will have. For example, wheat with low HFN will produce poor quality bread that is very difficult to slice because of sticky crumb.

 

Millers and other end-users avoid buying wheat grain that has a HFN value below a fixed number. In the last decade, an average of 28% of UK wheat grown for bread has failed to make the grade, and instead was sold for animal feed, which attracts a significantly lower price.

 

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and HGCA, the cereals and oilseeds division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) are funding a LINK project that will apply the latest scientific knowledge to developing varieties with consistently high HFN.

 

What determines the HFN of wheat isn’t fully understood, but it is heavily influenced by environmental conditions. Cold wet periods in the summer are thought to promote pre-harvest sprouting and reduce HFN, and the unpredictability of the UK climate makes predicting or controlling HFN very difficult. Wheat found to have too low an HFN for bread-making reduces efficient use of resources and contributes to waste in the food chain. Farming practices and management aren’t able to reduce the effect of the climate, so there has been much interest in selecting varieties through plant breeding, but this has been hampered by a lack of knowledge about genetic factors that influence HFN.

 

Previous work involving Rothamsted Research, the JIC , University of Nottingham, Harper Adams University College and a large industrial consortium, which was also funded by Defra–BBSRC-HGCA LINK, took the first steps in discovering regions of the wheat genome that affect HFN. The new project will take this and use it to develop a ‘breeder’s tool kit’ that will allow the four breeding partners to exploit this new knowledge of the genome to produce varieties with consistently higher HFN. This will involve using latest technologies to hone in on the regions, to provide genetic maps that breeders can use to navigate the wheat genome and focus breeding efforts on identifying the genes affecting HFN. The researchers will investigate how these genetic regions affect other important traits, such as yield, and how best the different regions can be combined to work together to produce high HFN values which would be independent of weather conditions.

 

The £1.34 million pound 4 year project started in November 2010 and is funded by Defra, the BBSRC and HGCA. Project partners include RAGT, Limagrain, KWS and Lantmännen SW Seed.

 

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1.14  'Super varieties' of wheat expected to boost yields and block deadly threat to food security

 

Scientists at wheat symposium suggest growing risk to wheat crops; warn of need to replace wheat in fields in path of evolving pathogen

 

St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

June 9, 2011

Source: Borlaug Global Rust Initiative via EurekAlert!

Five years after the launch of a global effort to protect the world's most important food crop from variants of Ug99, a new and deadly form of wheat rust, scientists say they are close to producing super varieties of wheat that will resist the potent pathogen, while boosting yields by as much as 15 percent.

 

According to research to be presented at a global wheat rust symposium in Minneapolis starting June 13, scientists report that variants of the Ug99 strain of stem rust are becoming increasingly virulent and are being carried by wind beyond the handful of countries in East Africa where they had been identified.

 

New data show that key Ug99 variants have now been identified across all of eastern and southern Africa and that it may only be a matter of time before the spores travel to India or Pakistan, and even Australia and the Americas.

 

"We are facing the prospect of a biological firestorm, but it's also clear that the research community has responded to the threat at top speed, and we are getting results in the form of new varieties that are resistant to rust and appealing to farmers," said Ronnie Coffman, who heads the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project at Cornell University, which is coordinating the fight against the disease. "But the job of science is not over. Declining support for public agricultural research got us into this problem with Ug99. Unless that changes, the problem is likely to arise again in a few years. We are dealing with a constantly-evolving pathogen, and we need to stay at least one step ahead of it at all times."

 

Coffman and his colleagues note that significant obstacles will have to be overcome before the new varieties of wheat can replace susceptible varieties that cover most of an estimated 225 million hectares of wheat fields throughout the breadbaskets of South Asia, the Middle East, China, Europe, Australia and North America.

 

"Now it's a question of whether nations are willing to invest the political and economic capital necessary for agricultural research to secure the world's wheat supply," Coffman said.

 

Norman Borlaug created the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, or BGRI, in 2005, after confirming that a new stem rust strain called Ug99 could overcome a crucial resistance gene (Sr31) that had been widely used in the world's wheat breeding programs to protect the world's wheat crop from the disease. Borlaug sounded the alarm as only he could. The Nobel Laureate had taken on stem rust in the past, succeeding in breeding high-yielding, rust-resistant wheat in the 1950s and 1960s, after the pathogen had claimed 40 percent of the wheat crop in the US and Canada. Borlaug is credited with saving millions of people from starvation worldwide with rust-resistant varieties that improved yields at the same time.

 

Up to 90 percent of wheat now in production, including most wheat grown in the Americas, Asia and Africa—is susceptible to Ug99 and its variants. Concern that damage could be inflicted on wheat fields around the world has prompted a vigorous international response spearheaded by the BGRI as scientists contemplate unprecedented losses to a crop that is the main source of sustenance for millions of people.

 

Researchers at Penn State and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are adapting a system that was used to forecast soybean rust movements to track how Ug99 might travel from Africa by winds into the wheat-growing regions of the US.

 

Strategies for Spurring Introduction of Ug99-Resistant Wheat

The move to protect the world from Ug99 is focused not on creating a single variety of wheat that can withstand the disease, but, rather, on conferring genetic resistance in wheat and transferring these traits to local varieties.

 

Two factors could accelerate widespread adoption of Ug99-resistant wheat: the rapid spread of yellow rust and the high food prices and grain shortages that have played a role in the political volatility that has roiled the Middle East.

 

Ravi Singh, a wheat breeding expert at the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT), and colleagues from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and the USDA will report this week on new varieties of wheat under development at CIMMYT that have resistance to all three rusts of wheat: stem rust, yellow rust and leaf rust. Some of the new varieties yield 10 to 15 percent more than current cultivars.

 

"We have made tremendous progress on the science side but now we need to see progress on the development side," Singh said. "Scientists can only do so much. We need to see national governments making the investments in seed systems development, including seed production and distribution. In many areas there will need to be support and leadership from wealthy countries and international institutions to carry these innovations into farmers' fields."

 

New data being presented at the conference will confirm that yellow rust is now common in the world's wheat-growing regions, causing up to 40 percent of losses in countries in the Middle East and Africa, for example.

 

Scientists from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) will present new research that shows that yellow rust epidemics have spread rapidly in major wheat-producing regions over the last few years. Yellow rust appears to be adapting to warmer conditions and moving into areas where the disease has not previously caused economic losses.

 

Scientists see the growing demand for yellow rust-resistant wheat as an opportunity to disseminate new high-yield varieties resistant to multiple pathogens, including yellow rust and stem rust.

 

For instance, investigators from the EIAR will report that a particularly destructive bout of yellow rust in August 2010 greatly accelerated work in Ethiopia to develop and distribute locally-adapted varieties that had resistance to both yellow and stem rust.

 

Tracking Ug99

Surveillance data on the spread of Ug99 underscore the urgency of developing and disseminating rust-resistant varieties.

 

David Hodson, with the Global Cereal Rust Monitoring System at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will offer an update showing that Ug99 or variants are now confirmed in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Eritrea. "Future spread of these variants outside of Africa is inevitable," he says.

 

One source of particular concern is Yemen, where Ug99 is well-established in wheat growing regions and prevailing winds could carry the pathogen towards South Asia. Hodson said there is "good circumstantial evidence" that the stem rust now in Iran—where unfavorable environmental conditions and national containment measures have so far prevented it from causing major problems—drifted some 2,000 kilometers from Yemen.

 

But Yemen's unrest has presented additional challenges to monitoring and containing the disease and has made it very difficult to deploy resistant wheat varieties. Rust-resistant varieties recently distributed to Yemen from CIMMYT perished in quarantine. However, Hodson noted that, despite difficult conditions, surveillance partners in Yemen recently conducted a comprehensive assessment of a majority of the key wheat-growing areas.

 

The spores that cause stem rust disease can ride air currents out of Africa to South Asia and, potentially, from southern Africa to Australia as well. They can also hitch a ride unwittingly on infected travelers clothing and cross continents without warning. "I am confidant Ug99 is not in South Asia at the moment but it is really only a matter of time," says Hodson. "When it will arrive and whether it will readily establish itself when it gets there are the very big questions that we cannot yet answer."

 

Hodson said the good news is that there are now over 20 countries contributing data to the Ug99 surveillance and monitoring system, compared to only two in 2007, with efforts underway to add 10 more. New technologies, like remote sensing, and the use of smart phones to enter and transmit field data, may improve Ug99 tracking in the future.

 

The meeting in St. Paul is part of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI), led by Cornell University, the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). For a complete program, including June 13's groundbreaking and field day activities, please see: http://www.globalrust.org/traction/permalink/about218

 

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1.15  Cereals 2011: Plant breeding can deliver on sustainability challenges

 

15 June 2011 | By Teresa Rush

PLANT breeding is well-placed to deliver the genetic innovation required to meet the combined global challenges of food security, climate change and environmental protection.

 

That is the view at least of the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB), which believes all five of the key challenges identified in the Government’s recent Foresight report can be addressed, either in part, or significantly, by enhancing the rate of innovation in new crop varieties.

 

Speaking on the eve of Cereals 2011, BSPB chairman Nigel Moore highlighted a range of sustainability issues to which improved varieties could make a positive contribution. These included nutrient and water use, biodiversity and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

“The Foresight report envisages a central role for advances in plant breeding, both through increased crop yields and by developing more climate-resilient varieties to keep pace with emerging pests and diseases and to cope with greater weather extremes arising from climate change,” said Mr Moore.

 

“We must now turn these high-level recommendations into practical action.”

 

He warned, however, that current rates of genetic gain in wheat and barley yields might not be sufficient to meet food security targets. There was a need for increased and more focused investment by the public and private sectors in crop-specific targets for yield and resource-use efficiency, he said.

 

From a plant breeding perspectivekey requirements included an efficiently functioning value chain able to deliver returns to innovators, and evidence-based policy making and regulation.

 

“Sustainability as a principle is undoubtedly one that productive agriculture can embrace,” said Mr Moore. Recent developments had been positive in terms of supporting and recognising the value of genetic improvements delivered to growers and markets by plant breeders but many challenges remained, he added.

 

http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/arable/cereals-2011-plant-breeding-can-deliver-on-sustainability-challenges/39668.article

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.16  Cereals 2011: Wheat breeding research taps into global gene pool

 

15 June 2011 | By Teresa Rush

RESEARCH projects seeking to identify new wheat genetic material for plant breeders were among the projects demonstrated on the Velcourt stand at Cereals.

 

Projects underway at NIAB TAG in partnership with the John Innes Centre and the Wheat Genetic Improvement Network (WGIN) were taking slightly different approaches but had the same aim, said Velcourt technical director Keith Norman.

 

“We are now looking at the wheat gene pool on a global scale and pulling out traits that are desirable,” he said.

 

Material emerging from the WGIN project highlighted some of the diversity available in terms of traits such as crop height, nitrogen use efficiency and flowering date. Differences in flowering date, for example, had implications for how varieties reacted to drought or other crop stresses, as well as influencing the length of the grain fill period.

 

“All of this information is given to breeders for use in their own crossings. This is where breeders need genetic markers to pinpoint what is worth keeping and what needs to be thrown out,” said Mr Norman.

 

http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/arable/arable-news/cereals-2011-wheat-breeding-research-taps-into-global-gene-pool/39680.article

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.17  All wheat varieties will have to be replaced

 

Johannesburg, South Africa

June 22, 2011

Winds carried ash clouds from a volcano in Chile thousands of kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean to affect flights in South Africa on 19 June, so it is possible that the spores of the variants of a deadly mutant fungus, Ug99, a wheat stem rust that surfaced in South Africa in 2009, could travel to Australia - one of the world's four main wheat exporters - in the same way.

 

David Hodson, who heads the Global Cereal Rust Monitoring System at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noted that this has happened three times before - the last time in 1973. Spores of the fungus travelled from South Africa to Australia in 1969, causing outbreaks almost four years later that destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of wheat.

 

The fungus, which causes rust-coloured patches on the infected parts of the plant, is spread by spores that can survive harsh winters. They germinate in warmer conditions and are usually transported by the wind - but sometimes even on clothing - over long distances and across continents.

 

Countries like the US are using models to study air currents and rainfall to track how the spores of the fungus might travel from Africa, where the newest outbreaks have been reported.

 

The fungus has begun mutating rapidly in the last few years, earning it the title of the "polio of agriculture". The new mutations or "races" of this feared disease, which can destroy entire fields of wheat, have acquired the ability to defeat two of the most important stem rust-resistant genes, used widely in most of the world's wheat breeding programmes.

 

The new mutants of Ug99 have been found in 11 countries, all in Africa and the Middle East: Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Eritrea.

 

The newest mutation, or race, of Ug99 was discovered in 2009 in South Africa. In 2007 another was found in the wheat-growing belt of South Africa's Western Cape Province.

The other two variations of Ug99 were found in 2006 and 2007 in Kenya, from where they spread rapidly to Ethiopia and then across the Red Sea to Yemen and Iran. Ethiopia and Kenya had serious wheat rust epidemics with considerable yield losses in 2007.

 

All wheat has to be replaced

Up to 90 percent of wheat varieties in the world are susceptible to Ug99 and its variants, and all of them will eventually have to be replaced by new “super” varieties that are resistant to the deadly pathogen, said Ronnie Coffman, head of the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat Project at Cornell University and Ravi Singh, a senior scientist in plant genetics and pathology at the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT).

 

The scientists spoke to IRIN after a global meeting on the disease in mid-June in St Paul-Minneapolis in the US, organized by the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative.

 

Getting countries to replace their existing wheat varieties with new rust-resistant strains will take a lot of investment and political commitment, Coffman and Singh acknowledged.

 

The potent pathogen poses a bigger threat to developing countries. About half of the 600 million tons of wheat produced every year is grown in these countries, where cost generally keeps the use of fungicide low; capacity and technology to monitor the movement of the fungus are usually inadequate, and "many have not been replacing their wheat varieties with hardier ones for as long as 10 years," said Singh.

 

A global effort was launched to protect the world's most consumed cereal from the variants of Ug99. Five years later, in 2010, scientists said they were closer to producing super varieties of wheat that will resist the lethal fungus and improve yields by as much as 15 percent. But it will take another few years for the varieties to be tested in local conditions in various countries.The new super wheat varieties have several minor rust-resistant genes pooled together. It is more difficult for the fungus to attack and break down the pooled genes, giving them an edge over single rust-resistant genes.

 

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged some funding to help Ethiopia replace its older varieties with the new super wheat that is resistant to stem rust, said Coffman. "We need more initiatives like these."

 

In the meantime, fungicides are an option. "You don't have to replace all the varieties with the super variety if you use fungicide regularly," said Zak Pretorius, professor of plant pathology at the University of the Free State, in South Africa, who characterized the new variants of Ug99 discovered there.

 

Farmers in South Africa and rich countries such as the US and Canada can afford fungicides, unlike those in poor countries. The cost of applying fungicide pushes up production costs by about 40 percent in Kenya, where wheat is grown mostly by small-scale farmers.

 

Monitoring

With relatively poor defences against the fungus in most developing countries, the need for surveillance is critical. South Africa probably has the know-how to track the movement of the pathogen, said Pretorius, "but we have not got around to organizing it".

 

There are other challenges too, such as the unrest in the Middle East, which has affected monitoring and containing the disease in countries like Yemen. Rust-resistant wheat varieties distributed to Yemen recently perished in quarantine, said CIMMYT's Singh.

 

FAO's Hodson said he was studying wind movements and other environmental factors to track the fungus. "But we do need better surveillance systems in place in countries, for which you need funds." He noted that the number of countries contributing information to Ug99 surveillance has grown from two in 2007 to 20 today.

 

Donors and the private sector have stepped forward to help, said Cornell's Coffman. Denmark set up a Global Rust Reference Centre at its Aarhus University in 2008, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to help countries and institutions across the world with research.

Yellow rust and climate change

Yellow rust, another fungal infection, is an even greater threat to wheat crops at the moment, the St Paul-Minneapolis conference heard. "It caused up to 40 percent of crop losses in Syria in 2010," said Hodson. It also caused heavy losses in Ethiopia, Tajikistan and Iran in 2010.

 

The rust appears to be adapting to warmer conditions and moving into areas where it has not been recorded before. Singh and Hodson said warmer winters seemed to be allowing time for the pathogen to develop.

 

"Our super wheat varieties are also resistant to yellow rust, so it makes a sound economic case to replace all varieties,” said Singh. “You get more for the price of one."

 

Photo: USDA

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18478&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: IRIN News SeedQuest.com

 

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1.18 3rd Generation hybrid rice breeding technology developed in China

 

Prof. Xingwang Deng, chief scientist at the State Crop Molecular Design Engineering Technique Research Center in China, and his team developed a new strategy referred to as "3rd Generation Hybrid Breeding Technique" for rice. It solves the problem of limited access to germplasm faced by the three-line-hybrid system and the instability of male sterile line stands of the 2-line hybrid system used in rice breeding.

 

The Ministry of Science and Technology lauded this scientific breakthrough during the 11th Five-Year Plan Exhibition where it was featured as a major science and technology achievement.

 

For the news in Chinese visit http://www.most.gov.cn/kjbgz/201009/t20100920_82153.htm.

 

.Source: Crop Biotech Update 17 June 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.19  China establishes national lab for hybrid rice research

 

Beijing, China

June 29, 2011

China established a national laboratory for hybrid rice research Saturday in central Hunan Province, aiming to cultivate rice that will bring yields of 15 tonnes per hectare.

 

The lab was established in Changsha City, capital of Hunan, with the support of Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center and Wuhan University. Yuan Longping, Zhu Yingguo and Xie Hua'an, top scientists in cultivating hybrid grains, will lead researches in the lab.

 

The goal of the lab is to cultivate a super grain that can yield more than one tonne of rice per mu of farmland, or 15 tonnes per hectare, said Yuan Longping, academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and head of the lab's researches.

 

China has cultivated a rice variety that can yield about 900 kg per mu. "To reach a higher level, researchers will have to combine conventional hybrid techniques with molecular technologies," Yuan said.

 

Another goal of the lab is to promote super grain to other parts of the world to benefit more people, he added.

Hybrid rice on average produce 7.2 tonnes of rice per hectare, 1.4 tonnes more than traditional varieties. Around 600 million hectares of paddy fields in China are planted with hybrid rice, or about 57 percent of the total.

 

"The productivity of one tonne per mu is not our ultimate goal. We believe hybrid rice can yield 1.5 tonnes of rice per mu in the fertile land of Changsha," he said.

 

The lab also has a transgenic research facility. "We cannot simply give up scientific research for some safety concerns. Researches into transgenic grain must be continued," Yuan said.

Source: Xinhua

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18642&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Xinhua  via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.20 Scientists develop fast growing, Striga-resistant sorghum

 

Researchers from the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) developed Striga-resistant sorghum, which can also mature within two months. The study was conducted under the project "Fighting Striga: Resistance genes deployed to boost sorghum productivity". The objective of the study was to use modern biotechnology techniques to identify traits for Striga-resistant sorghum. They were able to develop 50 sorghum lines that can produce 3.6 tons of grain per hectare. Though the current sorghum varieties can yield more grains than the new lines, they are highly susceptible to Striga which can lead to yield losses of up to 100 percent.

 

"There is a potential of raising sorghum production to 61.2 million tonnes on 17 million hectares of farmland that are threatened due to Striga infestation. The 300 million people in Africa who depend on sorghum will attain food security and have better lives," said Dr. Charles Mugoya, head of ASARECA's Agro-Biodiversity and Biotechnology Programme (Agrobio).

 

Visit http://allafrica.com/stories/201106221217.html for the rest of the story.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 24 June 2011

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.21  Eliza, Clara, Ana e Cristal: cultivares de batata da Embrapa mostram seu potencial

 

Brazil

June 28, 2011

Está na hora de plantar batatas! Para os produtores de grande parte do país, especialmente o estado de Sčo Paulo, que já finalizaram a colheita de sua produćčo, agora é o momento certo de iniciar a nova safra. A Embrapa Transferźncia de Tecnologia (Brasília, DF), unidade da Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa), vinculada ao Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento, disponibiliza no mercado, para os produtores, as batatas BRS Eliza, BRS Ana, BRS Clara e BRS Cristal. Todas melhoradas pela pesquisa e com potencial de produćčo para todo o país.

 

Essas cultivares sčo resultado do programa de melhoramento genético da batata da Embrapa, que envolve trźs Unidades de Pesquisa da empresa – Embrapa Clima Temperado (Pelotas, RS), Embrapa Hortalićas (Brasília, DF) e Embrapa Transferźncia de Tecnologia/Escritório de Negócios de Canoinhas (Canoinhas, SC).

 

A mais nova cultivar lanćada pela Embrapa é a BRS Clara, resultado de parceria entre as Unidades da Embrapa Clima Temperado, Embrapa Transferźncia de Tecnologia e Embrapa Hortalićas, além da contribuićčo do Instituto Agronômico do Paraná - Iapar.

Lanćada em 2010, essa cultivar tem ciclo médio de cem dias, com bom aspecto vegetativo, exceto o enrolamento fisiológico característico das folhas, que atinge relativamente boa cobertura do solo. Apresenta um elevado potencial produtivo, com alta percentagem de tubérculos graúdos, tendo resistźncia alta ą requeima e moderada ą pinta-preta. Observa-se, também, que nčo há problemas com distúrbios fisiológicos nos tubérculos.

 

Destaca-se na cultivar uma grande facilidade de manejo e brotaćčo e de controle de requeima. No período mais quente do ano, deve ser comercializada imediatamente após a colheita, devido ą perda de qualidade da película. Tem uso preferencial para preparaćčo de saladas e outros pratos semelhantes.

 

BRS Ana é uma cultivar lanćada em 2007, adequada para fritura ą francesa, com potencial de processamento na forma de palitos pré-fritos congelados e de flocos. Foi desenvolvida pelas Unidades da Embrapa Clima Temperado, Transferźncia de Tecnologia (Escritório de Canoinhas), e Hortalićas. Suas características de maior destaque sčo a aparźncia, o rendimento de tubérculos, peso específico e qualidade de fritura.

 

Os tubérculos tźm película vermelha, levemente áspera, polpa branca, formato oval e olhos rasos. Seu potencial produtivo é alto. No ecossistema subtropical, apresentou maior produtividade que as cultivares mais plantadas no país, quando cultivada no outono, e nčo diferiu na primavera. Apresenta, também, menor exigźncia em fertilizantes que as principais cultivares importadas e também mostra moderada tolerČncia ą seca. A BRS Ana possui suscetibilidade moderada ą requeima e boa resistźncia ą pinta preta, apresentando baixa degenerescźncia de sementes por viroses, conferida pela resistźncia ao vírus Y da batata, e baixa incidźncia ao vírus do enrolamento da folha da batata.

 

BRS Eliza, lanćada em 2002, é outra cultivar desenvolvida pelo programa de melhoramento da Embrapa Clima Temperado. Possui um elevado potencial produtivo, com tubérculos de boa aparźncia e resistźncia ą requeima e ą pinta preta. Tem menor exigźncia em fertilizaćčo que as principais batatas importadas, o que possibilita sua utilizaćčo tanto em sistema de produćčo convencional como orgČnico.

 

Possui bom nível de resistźncia de campo ąs principais doenćas fúngicas foliares, ą requeima e ą pinta preta. Porém, é suscetível ao vírus Y da batata, ao vírus do enrolamento da folha (Potato leafroll vírus - PLRV) e ą canela preta (Pectobacterium sp.). A cultivar apresenta ciclo médio, hábito de crescimento ereto, com porte médio. Tubérculos com formato oval; película amarela e lisa; polpa amarela clara e olhos rasos. Possui período de dormźncia médio.

 

Na culinária, sua aptidčo é para o cozimento objetivando o preparo de purź e pratos afins, com teor de matéria seca baixo. Os melhores locais para o plantio dessa cultivar sčo as regiões Sul, Sudeste e Centro-Oeste.

 

Lanćada em 1996, a batata Cristal foi desenvolvida pelo Programa de Melhoramento Genético de Batata da Embrapa Clima Temperado. Apresenta moderado potencial produtivo de tubérculos de boa aparźncia e potencial de utilizaćčo em sistema de produćčo orgČnica. Possui resistźncia de campo a requeima (Phytophthora infestans) e ą pinta preta (Alternaria solani) e bom nível de resistźncia ao vírus Y da batata (Potato vírus - PVY). Apresenta, ainda, ciclo médio, hábito de crescimento ereto, com porte médio-baixo. Os tubérculos possuem formato oval-alongado; película amarela, um pouco áspera; olhos rasos; polpa amarela intensa.

 

Com período de dormźncia médio, a Cristal é de uso múltiplo, com aptidčo ą fritura na forma de palitos e cozimento para a elaboraćčo de saladas, purź e pratos afins, com teor de matéria seca médio-alto. A melhor época do ano para plantar a batata Cristal é no inverno, nos estados do Sul do país.

 

Consumo variado - A batata é uma cultura originária do Peru e um dos vegetais mais utilizados nas cozinhas de todo o mundo. Ocupando a quarta posićčo entre as principais culturas produzidas mundialmente, a batata apresenta grande importČncia na produćčo agrícola nacional. A produćčo mundial anual de batata supera 300 milhões de toneladas em uma área de 19 milhões de hectares.

 

O Brasil produz cerca de 2,8 milhões de toneladas por ano. As regiões Sudeste (Sčo Paulo e Minas Gerais) e Sul (Paraná, Santa Catarina e Rio Grande do Sul) do Brasil sčo as que mais se destacam na produćčo, sendo que o estado de Minas Gerais é o principal produtor brasileiro. O rendimento médio nacional é de aproximadamente 22 toneladas por hectare, rendimento ainda considerado baixo, mas que é 45% maior do que o praticado há 10 anos no país. Tais produtividades sčo alcanćadas devido ąs modernas técnicas de cultivo empregadas pelos produtores, associadas a cultivares mais produtivas que sčo desenvolvidas pelos programas de melhoramento genético da cultura.

 

O projeto desenvolvido atualmente pela Embrapa “Melhoramento genético de batata para ecossistemas tropicais e subtropicais do Brasil” tem também a participaćčo do Instituto Agronômico do Paraná - Iapar e da Empresa Pesquisa e Extensčo Rural de Santa Catarina - Epagri, além de contar com a cooperaćčo técnica de diversas instituićões nacionais e internacionais. O projeto conta, também, com o apoio de órgčos de ATER - Assistźncia Técnica e Extensčo Rural e de organizaćões de produtores, com destaque para Associaćčo da Batata Brasileira (ABBA), Associaćčo dos Bataticultores de Minas Gerais (ABASMIG), Associaćčo dos Bataticultores da Regičo de Vargem Grande do Sul (ABVGS) e a Cooperativa Mista dos Pequenos Agricultores da Regičo Sul (Coopar).

 

Este projeto visa desenvolver novas cultivares tanto para sistemas de produćčo convencional quanto orgČnico e melhorar a base genética para resistźncia a vírus, com źnfase no PVY, resistźncia a doenćas, com foco em requeima, pinta-preta e murcha-bacteriana, resistźncia a insetos e pragas e ao acúmulo de aćúcares redutores. Sčo ainda desenvolvidas aćões visando identificar raćas e/ou estirpes de agentes causadores das principais doenćas, bem como para melhorar os sistemas de produćčo de semente pré-básica.

 

Para saber mais sobre as cultivares, inclusive sobre a disponibilidade de sementes, procure o Escritório de Negócios da Embrapa Transferźncia de Tecnologia, em Canoinhas/SC ou as instituićões abaixo:

 

Escritório de Negócios da Embrapa Transferźncia de Tecnologia em Canoinhas/SC:

Rodovia, BR 280, KM 219 - Bairro Água Verde

Caixa Postal 317

CEP 89.460-000 - Canoinhas, SC

Telefone: (47) 3624-0127

E-mail: encan.snt@embrapa.br

 

Embrapa Clima Temperado

Rodovia BR-392, km 78, 9ľ Distrito, Monte Bonito

Caixa Postal 403

96001-970 – Pelotas – RS

Telefone: (53) 3275-8100 – Fax: (53) 3275-8221

Site: www.cpact.embrapa.br

E-mail: sac@cpact.embrapa.br

 

Embrapa Hortalićas

Rodovia BR 060, Km 09

CEP 70359-970 – Gama – DF

Caixa Postal 218

Telefone: (61) 3385-9000; Fax: (61) 3556-5744

E-mail: sac@cnph.embrapa.br

Site: www.cnph.embrapa.br

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18616&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.22  CIAT’s new Brachiaria hybrids for Africa

 

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has been conducting Brachiaria breeding since 1988. Brachiaria is the leading species of grass suitable for livestock forage. New hybrids boast of superior forage quality, yield and adaption that could lead to productivity and profitability for the milk and meat producer. An agreement was recently forged between CIAT and Dow AgroSciences to bring the new hybrids to Africa, where the grass species originated.

 

Under the agreement, Dow AgroSciences will evaluate and commercialize the new Brachiaria hybrids developed by CIAT's Tropical Forages Program starting in 2011.

 

"Our agreement with Dow AgroSciences, which focuses major commercial and technical resources on livestock productivity, represents an important step toward ensuring that productive new grass hybrids can spread as quickly and widely as possible to bolster global food security," said Joe Tohme, research director for CIAT's Agrobiodiversity Research Area.

 

For more on this news, see  http://www.dowagro.com/newsroom/corporate/2011/20110621a.htm.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 24 June 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.23  University of Delaware Research Foundation funds the creation of efficient and modern software tools for plant breeders in developing countries

 

Newark, Delaware, USA

June 10, 2011

Many developing countries lack the proper software and statistical expertise needed for modern plant breeding.

 

Jong-Soo Lee, assistant professor of food and resource economics, will evaluate plant breeding software and lay the statistical groundwork for an “automated analysis methodology.”

 

This is part of a team effort at the University of Delaware to develop an open-source software package to assist plant breeders of various skill levels in the development of superior crop cultivars.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18190&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.24  1000Minds software: a generic solution to any problem that involves ranking or allocating resources

 

Otago, New Zealand

Making important decisions often involves a whole range of criteria – and the more information you have to consider, the harder it can be to find an answer.

 

So it's no surprise that decision-support software is coming into its own. Since 2003, 1000Minds software has been helping people and organisations to make decisions in a wide range of areas. And, in the last year or so, things have really taken off.

 

The idea for 1000Minds originated in the mid 1990s when Associate Professor Paul Hansen (photo, right) (Department of Economics) was trying to find the best way to prioritise patients for surgery.

 

"I had a 'eureka' moment while on sabbatical in Sweden in 2001 and then worked on it with Franz Ombler (photo, left) who, amongst other things, is a great software developer. Now we have a generic solution to any problem that involves ranking or allocating resources," says Hansen.

 

The software has patents in New Zealand, Australia and the US, with Canada in the pipeline, and has won two innovation awards and reached the finals of other national and international competitions, most recently in partnership with the University for creating "Otago Choice" (on the University's website www.otago.ac.nz/otagochoice), which helps prospective students to choose courses based on their personal preferences. The tool has been used 50,000 times in the two years it has been available.

 

1000Minds currently has about a dozen commercial users, across six countries. It has been used continually since 2004 by New Zealand's Ministry of Health for prioritising patients for elective health services – and since 2008 in Canada for the same purpose. In the UK it is used for prioritising social assistance to people in need. The US Department of Defence bought a licence – but hasn't disclosed how it's being used.

 

Hansen and Ombler offer free use for approved researchers and students. Worldwide, 15 universities and research organisations are using the software, with some 80 projects, including PhDs and masters' degrees, completed or under way.

 

"The greatest thing for me is the number of researchers who are using it," says Hansen. "There's some great research coming out of Otago using 1000Minds. People are really picking this up and finding cool applications."

 

Hansen, who has been on sabbatical in India, is particularly excited about a project to discover the most suitable grasses and stock to farm in particular conditions. It's led by Dr Peter Fennessy, a consultant with Dunedin-based AbacusBio Ltd and a member of Genetics Otago.

 

"Peter and Otago PhD researcher Tim Byrne are using 1000Minds to discover the most desirable genetic traits to breed in grasses for Australia and in sheep for Ireland," says Hansen.

 

"I didn't appreciate just how vital this kind of thing was until I saw what was happening in India, where the green revolution has saved hundreds of millions from starvation by developing rice and wheat strains best suited to local conditions."

 

In the US, 1000Minds is the engine for a survey to help the community of Martha's Vineyard to decide on an acceptable location for a proposed offshore wind farm. Renewable energy co-operative Vineyard Power believes the community living near any future turbines should have a say in where they are installed. 1000Minds helps make sense of the many issues involved.

 

New users of 1000Minds are signing up on a daily basis, says Hansen.

 

"It's gaining momentum, feeding on its own success. We haven't come up with something quite as useful as penicillin, but we haven't come up with another atomic bomb either – it's somewhere in between.

 

"It may sound corny, but it's really nice to have developed something that can help in so many areas. The key thing is that people are using it and that's fantastic."

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18152&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.25  Codex debate over biotechnology definition goes full circle

 

By Sarah Hills , 09-Jun-2011

 

After years of debate around the issue of labelling of genetically modified or engineered foods the Codex Committee on Food Labelling has decided to abandon work on a definition of the term biotechnology.

 

It had been argued by some that adopting a compilation of Codex texts did not go far enough to give the needed guidance on labelling of GM/GE foods and that a definition was still needed in the standard as it made reference to biotechnology in relation to allergens.

 

Codex texts are voluntary benchmarks for the food industry that help harmonise national food legislation and regulation

 

But whilst agreeing on the compilation of texts applicable to GM/GE food labelling, the committee decided at its recent 39th Session to abandon work on a definition of the term biotechnology for inclusion in the General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods.

 

This was because, it was argued, that such definitions were already included in the existing Codex texts on biotechnology.

 

The International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) has been monitoring the Codex discussions on this issue as GMO ingredients are also used in food supplement products.

 

It said the decision amounted to Codex “abandoning” its definition and labelling work on GMOs.

 

David Pineda EreĖo, IADSA’s regulatory affairs director, told FoodNavigator.com: “Since Codex could not reach a consensus on this issue after more than ten years of discussion, it was agreed not to develop specific Codex provisions on the definition and labelling of GMOs and to develop a compilation of Codex texts relating to the labelling of foods derived from modern biotechnology instead.”

 

He added that it ends “years of discussion in which the CCFL was divided between those proposing process-based GMO labelling and those proposing that GMOs should be declared on the label only when they are present in the final product”.

 

The Codex Alimentarius Commission was established by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization and its internationally recognized food standards help ensure consumer health and fair trade practices.

 

A spokesperson for Codex and the FAO told FoodNavigator.com: “At the 39th session we achieved agreement on a Compilation of Codex texts relevant to labelling of foods derived from modern biotechnology (still to be adopted by the Commission in July).

 

“Concerning definitions, this text will refer to the already adopted Principles for the Risk Analysis of Foods Derived from Modern Biotechnology (CAC/GL 44-2003), which contain relevant definitions and thus do not need to be repeated.”

 

He added that when the work on this topic started some years ago there were no definitions of biotechnology in Codex at all, and it was planned that any guidance on labelling foods derived from biotechnology would become part of the General Standard for Labelling of Prepackaged Foods.

 

However, the spokesman said: “Now the situation is different and this was the main argument for discontinuation.”

 

http://www.foodnavigator.com/Legislation/Codex-debate-over-biotechnology-definition-goes-full-circle

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.26  U.S. Department of Agriculture amends the Federal Seed Act regulations

 

Washington, DC. USA

June 2, 2011

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has amended the Federal Seed Act (FSA) regulations. Amendments to the FSA regulations include: update the nomenclature of some agricultural and vegetable seeds listed per current usages on the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature; amend the list of prohibited noxious-weed seeds; update the seed testing regulations to reflect improvements in seed testing technology and methods; update the noxious-weed seed tolerances; update the seed certification regulations; and clarify the labeling requirements for seed treated with the most toxic class of chemical compounds.

 

These updates are periodically needed in order to maintain consistency with other federal and state agencies, as well as changes in industry practice.

 

“Ultimately, the harmonizing of state and federal testing procedures reduces the burden on small entities shipping seed in interstate commerce by allowing the same test to meet regulatory requirements for inter- and intra-state shipments,” said Dr. Richard Payne, AMS Seed Regulatory and Testing Branch Chief.

 

The final rule will be published in the June 2, 2011, Federal Register. The final rule will be effective July 5, 2011.

 

For more information, contact Dr. Richard C. Payne, Chief, Seed Regulatory and Testing Branch, Livestock and Seed Program, AMS, USDA, 801 Summit Crossing Place, Suite C, Gastonia, N.C. 28054-2193; telephone (704) 810-8884; fax (704) 852-4109; or richard.payne@ams.usda.gov.

 

 http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=17950&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.27  Protecting plant varieties in Canada

 

Susan Chao

Protection for new plant varieties has been available for just over twenty years in Canada.  As new technologies are sought for increasing and improving crop production, Plant Breeders’ Rights help to encourage such innovation by rewarding plant breeders with exclusive rights to sell, and to produce for sale, the reproductive material of their new plant variety. 

 

Plant Breeders’ Regime in Canada - Differences

Canada is a member country of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).  Plant breeders and applicants should be aware, however, that Canadian laws do not currently follow the latest version of the UPOV Convention and therefore there are some differences in the protection afforded to plant varieties in Canada. 

 

First, there is no grace period for disclosure of the reproductive, or propagating, material of plant varieties.  To obtain a grant of a Plant Breeders’ Right in Canada, the propagating material of a new plant variety must not have been previously sold in Canada before filing the application with the Plant Breeders’ Rights Office.  The definition of “sell” under the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act is rather broad and includes: “agree to sell, or offer, advertise, keep, expose, transmit, send, convey, or deliver for sale, or agree to exchange or to dispose of to any person in any manner for a consideration.” 

 

In addition, the Act defines “advertise”, in relation to a plant variety, even more broadly to include bringing to the notice of the public any communication with the intention of promoting the sale of the propagating material of the plant variety. 

 

If the plant variety was sold outside of Canada, then there is a six- year grace period for woody plants and their rootstocks, while other varieties have a four-year grace period before filing.

 

Secondly, the Plant Breeders’ Right lasts for eighteen years from grant.

 

Furthermore, the protection afforded in Canada does not extend to conditioning (cleaning and seed treating) and stocking (saving, storing or possessing) the propagating material. 

 

Eligibility for Protection and Filing Requirements

In order to be eligible for protection in Canada, the new plant variety must be distinct, uniform and stable.  A variety is distinct if it has one or more characteristics that are measurably different from all other varieties which are known to exist within common knowledge at the time of filing the application.  A variety is uniform when the relevant characteristics are homogeneous, allowing for variation that is predictable and commercially acceptable.  Finally, a variety is stable when it is true to its description over successive generations.

 

The plant breeder, its employer, or a legal representative of same can apply for a Plant Breeders’ Right, provided they are citizens or residents of a member country of the UPOV.  Foreign applicants filing into Canada will need to appoint a Canadian agent.  In either case, an assignment and/or an authorization form must accompany the application.

 

Other requirements for the application include a description of the origin and breeding history of the plant variety, the manner in which the propagating material will be maintained, a description of the variety, and a statement regarding the uniformity and stability of the variety.  The plant variety must be associated with a proposed name, or denomination, as chosen by the applicant and approved by the Examiner.    Apart from vegetatively propagated crops, samples of the propagating material are required.  Documents supporting the distinctness of the variety, such as photographs and a detailed description of the characteristics, are needed.  The results of comparative tests and trials to demonstrate that the plant variety is a new variety are also required.

 

Procedural Considerations to Obtain Protection   

The examination process involves a formal review for compliance with the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act and Regulations, and a site examination of trial results comparing the variety with reference varieties.  Trials must be done in Canada and scheduling for the site examination begins every May 1 for the tests taking place during the summer of that year.  It may be possible to have this testing completed through the purchase of foreign tests and trials from Plant Breeders’ Rights Offices in UPOV member countries if accepted by the Canadian Office.

 

Publication of the description of the variety in the Plant Varieties Journal allows for third parties to oppose.  If there is no opposition, then a Certificate of Registration is issued.  Maintenance fees are due annually following the grant of the Plant Breeders’ Right.

 

Consider Plant Breeders’ Rights

Although there may be differences in the extent of protection in Canada under the Plant Breeders’ Rights regime, with Canada’s agricultural tradition, Plant Breeders’ Rights should not be dismissed as an option to provide the benefits of access to foreign varieties and the development of Canadian innovation. 

 

 http://www.mbm.com/News/Newsletter/Articles/HTML/Jun11/Plant_Varieties.html

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.28  Meeting regarding plant breeding rights

 

Islamabad—Today chairman IPO (intellectual Property organization) Hameed Ullah Jan Afiridi chaired a meeting regarding plant breeding rights. He said that organization is responsible to save intellectual rights but due to previous ignorance, it itself doesn’t have “plant breeding law” but we have submitted the bill to standing agricultural committee and have written for approval. Until and unless we have no law of plant breeding we cannot achieve intellectual recognition of our plant varieties, “he said”.

 

Director IPO, Mr. Misaq told to Chairman that our variety of rice had been taken by Indian Sikhs, and there they named it “Shabnam” and now this is recognized over the world by Indian patents. He added further that we have hundreds of mangoes varieties but until and unless, we have not formulated laws of “PBR” we will be unable to protect and get international recognition of these varieties.

 

Chairman said, “we are rich in genetic and human resources but we need to pay immediate attention to protect national assets. Chairman said that in next meeting, it will be decided in the presence of expert officers and seeds industrialists, that weather patents or suigenics is better to attract “EU” and international market.

 

He also added, it will be decided in next meeting weather IPO should be signatory of “UPOV” (Union of Protection of Plant Varieties) or we need not it. Chairman who is hot enthusiast for improvement of organization said that there is zero tolerance to corruption and no place of shirker here.

 

http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=97761

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.29 Plant Variety Protection Office is going paperless

 

Washington, DC, USA

June 14, 2011

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that the Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) is going green. For 40 years, the PVPO has done its business using paper. Many of the office’s daily functions, including processing applications for Certificates of Protection, rely on using paper. The PVPO is going paperless to reduce costs and streamline its workflow.

           

“Working with electronic documents will allow the office to speed up its efficiency and be more flexible,” said Administrator Rayne Pegg, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). “Staff will be able to perform their essential tasks from anywhere in the world.”

 

The beginning step for moving to a paperless system is to scan all of the paper documents that the office has accumulated. To date, nearly 80 percent of all application and certificate files have been scanned. Those that have been issued a Certificate of Protection are available on the PVPO's website. As new applications and correspondence are received, they also are being scanned to make them available to the examining staff. A fully electronic online filing process is not yet available, but applicants may submit their application documents by email. With credit card payment and direct deposit availability, both of which have been authorized since 2005, applicants no longer need to send any paper documents to the PVPO.

 

Previously, Certificates of Protection were done on paper that was bound inside of a cover with a copy of the signed cover kept with the rest of the paper. The new certificate will have a different look. The application documents will not be copied and bound inside of the cover with grommets and green ribbon. Instead, the issued certificate will be a single sheet of paper that is signed by the Secretary of Agriculture and the PVPO commissioner. The former style of certificate will be available for an additional fee.

 

AMS administers the Plant Variety Protection Act, which provides time limited marketing protection to developers of new plant varieties ranging from farm crops to flowers which are reproduced by seeds or tubers. For additional information about the Plant Variety Protection Act, contact the Plant Variety Protection Office by calling (301) 504-5518, faxing (301)504-5291, emailing PVPOmail@usda.gov, or visiting www.ams.usda.gov/PVPO.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18282&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.30 South Africa: When It Comes To Plant Breeding Rights, It's Wise To Call On The Experts

 

Plant breeders' rights (PBRs), rights granted to the breeders of new varieties of plants, give them exclusive control over the propagating material – seeds, cuttings, divisions and tissue culture – and harvested material – such as cut flowers, fruit and foliage – of a new variety of plant for a number of years. However, David Cochrane, Partner at Spoor & Fisher and a specialist in plant breeders' rights, says that imminent amendments to  legislation as well as globalisation are making it more important that plant breeders consult intellectual property experts when it comes to the protection of their rights.

 

"Precisely because plant breeding is such a long-term and expensive pursuit, ensuing that you secure your rights as a breeder is critical," he says. "Without PBRs, the breeder may not receive full return on investment

 

http://www.mondaq.com/x/136680/Biotech+Life+Sciences+Healthcare/When+It+Comes+To+Plant+Breeding+Rights+Its+Wise+To+Call+On+The+Experts

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.31  World Intellectual Property Organization seminar: Intellectual Property is spearhead of agricultural innovation, solution to food shortage

 

Geneva, Switzerland

June 28, 2011

The World Intellectual Property Organization recently stepped into the agriculture field with its first seminar on the use of intellectual property to increase productivity. In the seminar, proponents of IP rights defended the value of protection and the necessity of relying on technology to answer the needs of an inflated world population.

Available only for IP-Watch subscribers.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18596&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.32 Peru declares 10-year moratorium on GM seeds

 

June 10th, 2011

Peru’s congress has approved a new law banning the cultivation of transgenic seeds but genetically-modified (GM) imports will still be allowed, website Agraria.pe reported.

 

Scientist Dr Alexander Grobman Tversky has criticized the move as cutting the lifeblood of several Peruvian innovations such as moth-resistant potatoes and leaf spot-resistant papayas, in an interview with website Agronecociosperu.com.

 

“This disease (leaf spot) is wiping out thousands of hectares of papaya in the jungle. Around 50 project profiles have been developed that use the tool of genetic engineering and could be conducted with different crops and livestock,” Grobman Tversky was quoted as saying.

 

“If the potato created in Peru is not accepted here it could be brought to other countries like India. Regarding the GM papaya, the strains of the virus that attack papayas are different in every country, so Colombia, the Philippines and Vietnam are developing their own transgenic papayas that are resistant to the virus, as was done in Hawaii.

 

“A moratorium of any length of time for GM crops benefits Peru’s competing countries, and certain NGOs whose funds come from external financing.”

 

The Romanian-born scientist, who is president of Semillas Penta Del Peru S.A., told Agronegocios Peru transgenic food development was an important means to fight hunger, while the moratorium would also lead to large financial losses for the country.

 

“There are around one billion hungry or malnourished people in the world. Every year there are around 100 million more mouths to feed. The expansion of agriculture is limited by a lack of adequate land, unless more forests are harvested. The availability of irrigation water is increasingly scarce,” he was qutoed as saying.

 

“There are several national costs in the delay of accepting GM crops that can be quantified economically, like what was done by the IFPRI (International Food Polciy Research Institute) and Goncalves in Brazil, calculating that the delay of six years in Brazil to develop GM soybeans behind Argentina, led to a loss of US$6 billion.”

 

He said Peru also had six universities offering postgraduate programs in modern biotechnology, but the new law created a disincentive for students to study in the area and could lead to a brain drain.

 

The law will be in effect for the next 10 years with the aim of preventing negative effects on biodiversity, while a technical commission has also been created to evaluate and prevent risks from the use of transgenics, Agraria reported.

 

The evaluation report will need to be submitted within the next two years, while the Ministry for Environment will still need to set an environmental land management policy in relation to the moratorium.

 

Related stories: Peru’s agricultural minister resigns

 

http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2011/06/10/peru-declares-10-year-moratorium-on-gm-seeds/

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.33  New FAO Chief accepts GMOs, not seed monopolies

 

The newly elected head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization today expressed tolerance for genetically modified crops but not for monopolies on seeds.

 

José Graziano da Silva of Brazil was elected FAO director general this week and will take office on 1 January 2012. He has been a senior field officer for FAO since 2006, according to a UN press release.

 

During a 27 June press conference, Graziano da Silva said that “biofuels were not ‘a silver bullet,’ but should not be demonized; the science of genetically modifying crops should not be discarded, but there should be no monopoly on seed sales; land grabs are important in theory, but their impacts so far are “minimal;” and food prices are liable to continue being volatile,” the UN said in another release.

 

In a 25 June speech, he outlined his proposed programme for when he takes office. He included five main goals, according to the UN: “eradicating hunger, promoting a shift to sustainable food production, ensuring greater fairness in global food management, swiftly implementing agreed internal FAO reforms, and expanding South-South cooperation.”

 

The science of genetically modified crops likely refers to the positive impact it can make on agriculture. Monopolies on seed sales likely refers to increased patenting of seeds, which some see as reducing availability in developing countries.

 

In the election he received 92 of 180 votes cast by FAO member states in the second round of balloting, defeating Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaube, a former foreign minister of Spain, the UN said.

 

Mr. Graziano da Silva, 61, will be the eighth person – and first from Latin America – to lead the FAO since it was established in 1945. His term will expire on 31 July 2015, but he will be eligible to run for a second, four-year term. He succeeds Jacques Diouf, who has served as FAO Director-General since 1994.

 

http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2011/06/27/new-fao-chief-accepts-gmos-not-seed-monopolies/?utm_source=post&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alerts

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.34  Impacts of GE crops on biodiversity

 

June 2, 2011

Source: ISB News Report

by Janet E. Carpenter

The potential impact of genetically engineered (GE) crops on biodiversity has been a topic of interest specifically in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity. In a recent review, I took a biodiversity lens to the substantial body of literature that exists on the potential impacts of GE crops on the environment, considering the impacts at three levels: the crop; farm; and landscape scales. Overall, the review finds that currently commercialized GE crops have reduced the impacts of agriculture on biodiversity, through enhanced adoption of conservation tillage practices, reduction of insecticide use, and use of more environmentally benign herbicides.

 

Full article

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=17973&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.35 25,000 germ plasm accessions in the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University genebank

 

June 5, 2011

COIMBATORE: The one-year-old gene bank of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has 25,000 germplasm accessions as it has realised the need to conserve crop biodiversity, a top scientist said here today.

 

The University has taken into account one traditional variety is being abandoned at regular intervals across the world, John Joel, head, PGR, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, said.

 

Dr Ramiah Gene Bank on the premises of Plant Genetic Resources of Centre for Plant Breeding and Genetics can store seeds of 50,000 germ plasm accessions and another 50,000 in mid-term storage conditions, Joel said.

Description: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/images/pixel.gif

The bank, with a collection of cereals and millets, oilseeds, vegetables and food legumes, has fulfilled the long felt need and dream of plant breeders, which would help provide resources to accelerate plant breeding activities, in developing varieties to meet changing food demands, Joel said.

 

Collections in the past one year has resulted in deposits of more than 10,000 germ plasm accessions (in various numbers) like Ragi, Bajra, Maize, Sorghum, Sesame, Soyabean, green gram, black gram, chikpea, horse gram, conserved in medium and short-term storage facilities, Joel said.

 

He said loss of genetic diversity of some of the world's crops has accelerated in recent decades, with many becoming increasingly susceptible to diseases, pests and environmental problems, adding that biodiversity has to be saved from unforseen diseases and extinction and ensure availability.

 

He said seeds of germ plasm accessions at RGB are packed in vacuumed aluminium pouches and kept in medium-term storage facilities at 0-5 degree Celcius as active collections, where they are expected to remain viable for 10 to 30 years and up to 50 years in long-term storage depending on species and initial seed quality, he claimed.

 

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-06-05/education/29622629_1_germ-plasm-storage-gram

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.36  Cavemen grew GM rice over 10,000 years ago?

 

June 7, 2011

LONDON: If you think genetically-modified rice is a modern day practice, think again, even cavemen were growing the GM variety more than 10,000 years ago, a new study has found.

 

The research by a team from the Kobe University in Japan showed that the ancient humans selected different strains of the rice and mixed their genes to create an ideal version of the crop, which had led to higher yields and better cultivation.

 

The discovery was made after researchers carried out a genome analysis of wild rice alongside two sub-species with different histories. This showed that the lengths of stems was shortened by variants in a gene called SD1, the Daily Mail reported.

Description: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/images/pixel.gif

According to lead researcher Dr Masanori Yamasaki, SD1 is one of the most important genes in modern rice breeding over the last fifty years. Over time the mutations in SD1 yielded rice with shorter stems, sturdier stalks and greater grain output.

 

Dr Yamasaki and his team found these are fixed in one sub-species of modern domesticated rice, but not in wild rice. In addition much lower levels of genetic diversity were observed in the SD1 gene of the domesticated sub-species compared with wild rice.

 

This suggests that the SD1 gene had been subjected to artificial selection during early rice domestication, the researchers reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

Dr Yamasaki and his colleagues believe that ancient humans took an interest in the height of the rice plants and selected shorter ones with specific SD1 gene characteristics. Plant domestication, according to the researchers, involves the genetic modification of wild species to create a new plant to meet human needs.

 

They said: "During this domestication ancient humans subjected common agronomic traits to artificial selection, thereby increasing the seed or fruit size, synchronisation of growth and flowering, loss of seed dispersal, changes in plant architecture and other characteristics comprising the 'domestication syndrome'. These traits have contributed to more efficient cultivation, higher yields and more valuable products for human use. Consequently crop species have undergone extensive selection for these agronomically important traits and genes impacted by artificial selection can be essential genetic factors in the domestication process. These findings indicate SD1 has been subjected to artificial selection in rice evolution, suggesting ancient humans already used the green revolution gene."

 

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-06-07/news/29629765_1_wild-rice-gm-rice-rice-plants

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.37  Cotton genetics, a work in progress - Research shows that sufficient genetic variation exists in cotton cultivars to continue improving agronomic performance

 

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

June 8, 2011

Research has shown genetic improvement among cotton germplasms of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service’s (USDA-ARS) Pee Dee program, following 70 years of cotton breeding.

 

As pressure to increase the quality and quantity of cotton production systems rises globally, assessing the success of breeding methods is an important task.

 

Eighty-two germplasm lines developed since 1935 were used in the research and separated into separate groups based on their breeding cycle. These germplasm lines, as well as current commercial cultivars, were tested for agronomic and fiber quality in 14 southeastern U.S. production environments over a three year period. The data gathered was used to estimate the Pee Dee germplasm program’s impact on genetic improvement.

 

The results show that genetic agronomic traits have improved approximately 3% per breeding cycle, while fiber quality performance decreased 1% per breeding cycle. These results show that the negative relationship between lint yield and fiber quality has been minimized through the various breeding methods in the past 70 years.

 

The Pee Dee cotton germplasm program suggests that sufficient genetic variation in cotton cultivars exists to improve agronomic performance and help meet the global demand for both the fiber quality and lint yield of cotton. The research conducted at USDA-ARS is ongoing, and should determine the origin of the beneficial fiber genetics found in the Pee Dee germplasm collection.

 

You can find the complete results from the study in the May-June 2011 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/51/3/955.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18099&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.38  Assam tribe's rice varieties win recognition

 

Cooked Miaotong rice remains fresh for at least three days

 

Sushanta Talukdar

 

Two traditional rice varieties produced by the Singphos — Miaotong and Khawlung, used in making topola bhaat, a delicacy of the tribe and popular with tourists — are set to earn the status of being the first registered farmers' variety from Assam under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority regime.

 

Pranab Talukdar, Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics of the Assam Agricultural University told The Hindu that the biodiversity management committee of the Singpho community had authorised the university to register Miaotong and Khawlung as the first registered farmers' variety from Assam.

 

“Once registered, the Singpho community will enjoy an exclusive right for commercial production of these varieties and also a share of the benefit, if anyone outside the community, with its consent, cultivates tem on a commercial scale,” said Dr. Talukdar.

 

The specialty of Miaotong is that cooked rice remains fresh for at least three days. Miaotong-soaked water is also used as shampoo, according to community elders.

 

Topola bhaat, aromatic rice cooked in Koupat (broad leaf of a plant variety), is a special Singpho delicacy prepared from purely organic and aromatic glutinous type traditional fine rice varieties like Miaotong and Khawlung.

 

Akashi Sarma, Principal Scientist, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, and her student Preeti Rekha Talukdar collected nine accessions of Singpho landraces to study the genetic parameters.

 

The study revealed that traditional Singpho rice landraces Khawlung, Miaotong, Rongapikhi (lalpikihi) and Kulapikhi could be considered parents in a hybridisation programme with quality grain and selection procedures to exploit both additive and non-additive genes.

 

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2116215.ece

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.39  Breeding wheat for Fusarium head blight resistance -Scientists turn to an exotic Chinese wheat cultivar in search of disease resistant genetics

 

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

June 21, 2011

Fusarium Head Blight is a devastating fungal disease of wheat that affects grain yield and grain quality throughout the world. In addition to shriveling wheat grains, this blight also produces a fungal toxin. Breeding wheat for resistance to this blight reduces damage and toxin levels in wheat.

 

Resistance to Fusarium Head Blight in wheat is controlled by strands of DNA linked to genes that cause specific traits. These are present in an exotic Chinese wheat cultivar not adapted to the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, where soft red winter wheat is grown.

 

A team of scientists at the University of Maryland, University of Kentucky, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture led by José Costa introduced three Fusarium Head Blight resistant lines from the Chinese cultivar into the adapted red winter wheat cultivar McCormick.

 

Eight wheat lines with different combinations of traits were developed and tracked using molecular markers. These wheat lines were tested for blight resistance over two years in four environments, including one greenhouse and three field evaluations.

 

According to Costa, a wheat line that combined two specific traits expressed the highest resistance and lowest toxin content across all four environments. These results indicated that the combination of these two genes would be most effective in breeding for improved blight resistance in soft red winter wheat in the mid-Atlantic region.

 

Results from the study were published in the 2011 May-June issue of the journal Crop Science. This study was funded by the USDA, the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, the Maryland Crop Improvement Association, and the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board.

 

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/articles/51/3/924

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18452&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.40  Gene flow may help plants adapt to climate change

 

Davis, California, USA

June 28, 2011

The traffic of genes among populations may help living things better adapt to climate change, especially when genes flow among groups most affected by warming, according to a UC Davis study of the Sierra Nevada cutleaved monkeyflower. The results were published online June 27 by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

The findings have implications for conservation strategies, said Sharon Strauss, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and an author of the study.

 

“In extreme cases where we might consider augmenting genetic resources available to imperiled populations, it might be best to obtain these genes from populations inhabiting similar kinds of habitats,” Strauss said.

 

Graduate student Jason Sexton, with Strauss and Kevin Rice, professor of plant sciences, studied the monkeyflower (Mimulus laciniatus), an annual plant that lives in mossy areas of the Sierra at elevations of 3,200 feet to 10,000 feet.

 

Mountain gradients are useful for studying the effects of climate change, Strauss said, because they enable scientists to reproduce the effects of climate change without changing other factors, such as day length. The plants are already living across a range of temperatures, with those at lower elevations exposed to warmer conditions.

 

Sexton cross-pollinated monkeyflowers from two different locations at the warm, low-elevation edge of the plants’ range with monkeyflowers from the middle of the range. All the hybrids were then grown in the field at the low end of the range.

 

As the researchers observed the growing monkeyflowers, they were able to test two contrasting predictions about how gene flow should affect plants at the edge of the range. The first prediction was that any mixing of genes from a wider population would help plants adapt to warming conditions. The second was that genes from the center of the range that did not help plants adapt would dilute any adaptive genes, negating their benefit.

 

“Gene flow” describes the movement of genetic traits within and among populations, as individual animals or plants breed.

 

To answer these questions, the researchers measured how the mixing of genes from different elevations affected the plants’ ability to live at the warm edge of their range, through traits such as time for seedlings to emerge, time to flowering and overall reproductive success.

 

The study showed that the first prediction was true – gene flow did help the plants adapt to a warmer environment.

 

“We generally found that there were benefits from gene flow, but gene flow from other warm-edge areas was most beneficial,” Strauss said.

 

Sexton noted that hybrids of monkeyflowers from two warm-edge populations did better than either of their parents, perhaps because the populations had been using different genes to adapt to warm environments.

 

“When added together, their performance jumped,” he said.

 

Often considered genetically meager, edge populations should be high-priority conservation targets since they may possess adaptations to their unique environments, Sexton said.

 

The work was funded by the California Native Plant Society, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Science Foundation. Sexton is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18612&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.41  Global plant database set to promote biodiversity research and Earth-system sciences

 

Wageningen, The Netherlands

June 29, 2011

The world’s largest database on plants’ functional properties, or traits, has been published. Scientists compiled three million traits for 69,000 out of the world's ~300,000 plant species. The achievement rests on a worldwide collaboration of scientists from 106 research institutions. The initiative, known as TRY, is hosted at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena (Germany).

 

Alterra, part of Wageningen UR, contributed to the TRY database by providing the IRIS seed-trait database that Wim Ozinga compiled during his PhD study. In addition, Koen Kramer provided both an extensive database on heathlands and photosynthetic parameters for tree growth modelling. These data sources are also input to the ALTERRAITS database as it is being compiled for the Dutch KB-IV project on “Life History Strategies” and the EU-funded project BACCARA to study the role of diversity for ecosystem functioning.

 

Plant traits

Plant traits – their morphological and physiological properties – determine how plants compete for resources, e.g. light, water, soil nutrients, and where and how fast they can grow. Ultimately they determine how plants influence ecosystem properties such as rates of nutrient cycling, water use and carbon dioxide uptake.

 

Release TRY database

A major bottleneck to modelling the effects of climate change at ecosystem and whole-earth scales has been a lack of trait data for sufficiently large numbers of species. The first release of the TRY database was published this week in the journal Global Change Biology. “After four years of intensive development, we are proud to present the first release of the global database”, says Jens Kattge, senior scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and lead author of the publication.

 

“This huge advance in data availability will lead to more reliable predictions of how vegetation boundaries and ecosystem properties will shift under future climate and land-use change scenarios,” points out Dr Ian Wright from Macquarie University. “The TRY global database also promises to revolutionise biodiversity research, leading to a new understanding of how not only the numbers of species (biodiversity) but also the variation among species in their traits (functional diversity) together effect ecosystem functions and services.”

 

The availability of plant trait data in the unified global database promises to support a paradigm shift in Earth system sciences. “Global vegetation models commonly classify plant species into a small number of plant functional types, such as grasses or evergreen trees, but these do not capture most of the observed variation in plant traits”, explains Christian Wirth, Professor for Plant Ecology at the University of Leipzig, one of the initiators of the project. Indeed, analyses of the TRY database demonstrate for the first time on a global scale that most of the observed trait variation is represented by differences among plant species. In contrast, plant functional types, such as used in global vegetation models, contribute much lesser to the trait variations, for several traits only as little as 25%. This example illustrates the advantages of trait-based vegetation models, facilitating a more realistic and empirically grounded representation of terrestrial biodiversity in Earth system models. Such models may not only be helpful to predict the development of future climate, carbon sequestration or ocean levels but also provide a basis for mitigation strategies.

 

The TRY initiative, developed under the auspices of IGBP (International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme) and DIVERSITAS (International Programme of Biodiversity Science), is unique as a collaborative initiative, too, being at the same time communal and worldwide. As Prof Sandra Díaz from IMBIV-CONICET puts it: “The scale of the challenges we are facing demands new ways of doing science, both in terms of the size of the networks and databases, and the high degree of collaboration.”

 

Original publication:

TRY – a global database of plant traits

Global Change Biology (2011), doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02451.x

 

Homepage: http://try-db.org

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18641&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.42  Towards the next generation of pest resistant plants

 

June 2, 2011

Plants and insects have co-existed for at least 400 million years. During this time, plants have evolved numerous strategies to attract insects as pollinators, while deterring them from consuming the plant. One exquisite example of this finely tuned plant-insect interaction is the defensive function of proteinase inhibitors (PIs) in solanaceous plants. Understanding how insects respond to PIs on a case-by-case basis will provide valuable knowledge that may enable the development of PIs as a viable transgenic plant protection technology.

 

Full article

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=17955&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: ISB June 2011 News Report via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.43  U.S. Department of Agriculture funds projects across the country to advance pest and disease management and disaster prevention

 

Washington, DC, USA

June 7, 2011

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is allocating $50 million, provided by Section 10201 of the 2008 Farm Bill, for projects that prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment.

 

"USDA is continuing its partnership with states, industry and other interested groups under the 2008 Farm Bill to prevent the entry of invasive plant pests and diseases, quickly detect those that may slip in and enhance our emergency response capabilities," said Vilsack. "I am pleased with the wide range and record number of project suggestions. They will provide strong protection to America's agricultural and environmental resources, and many will help nursery and specialty crop growers to flourish as the economy continues to recover."

 

Funding is offered to many states and U.S. territories to implement projects at universities, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private companies and tribal organizations. These projects will advance the Farm Bill goals of early pest detection and the identification and mitigation of agricultural threats.

 

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) made a concerted effort to engage external stakeholders, such as the National Plant Board, Specialty Crops Farm Bill Alliance and USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and U.S. Forest Service, in designing the evaluation criteria for the suggestions. More than half of the suggestion reviewers came from outside of APHIS.

 

The FY 2011 funding plan and list of projects are posted at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/section10201.

The selection of the suggestions was not a competitive grant process. Suggestions were evaluated on their alignment with Section 10201 goals, the expected impact of the project, and the technical approach. In addition, the reviewers considered how the suggestions would complement ongoing USDA programs and other Section 10201 projects.

 

The selected projects were organized around six Section 10201 goal areas: enhancing plant pest/disease analysis and survey; targeting domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum; enhancing and strengthening pest identification and technology; safeguarding nursery production; enhancing mitigation capabilities; and conducting outreach and education about these issues. Examples of specific projects include a nationwide survey of honey bee pests and diseases, the monitoring of high-risk international and domestic pathways for invasive species, applied research to combat citrus pests, the exploration of the feasibility of an audit-based certification system to prevent the movement of infested nursery stock, and a national public awareness campaign on invasive pests and targeted eradication efforts for plum pox virus.

 

Over the last two years, Section 10201 projects have played a significant role in many USDA successes in protecting American agriculture and educating the public about the threat of invasive species. These successes include, among many others, the eradication of plum pox virus in Pennsylvania and a recent Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak in Florida, surveys for European grapevine moth in California, the 2010 national survey of honey bee pests and diseases and the production of a documentary ("Lurking in the Trees") to increase public awareness of the Asian longhorned beetle—a serious pest of hardwood trees—that has been broadcast widely on public television.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18092&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.44  Scientists make low-acrylamide potatoes

 

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

June 9, 2011

What do Americans love more than French fries and potato chips? Not much-but perhaps we love them more than we ought to. Fat and calories aside, both foods contain high levels of a compound called acrylamide, a potential carcinogen.

 

First discovered in foods in 2002, acrylamide is produced whenever starchy foods are fried, roasted or baked, meaning it's found in everything from doughnuts to coffee beans. But fries and chips are relatively high in acrylamide compared to most starch-based snacks, and potato processors are eager to change that.

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison plant geneticist Jiming Jiang, a professor of horticulture, has a solution. As described in the current issue of Crop Science, his lab has developed a promising new kind of potato that helps cut acrylamide, an innovation he created with support from USDA-ARS plant physiologist Paul Bethke, an assistant professor of horticulture. As a bonus, those potatoes also could help producers significantly reduce food waste.

 

The problem starts with storage. Because fry and chip processors need potatoes year round, most of the fall harvest goes into storage, where low temperatures can cause simple sugars to accumulate in the tubers, a phenomenon known as "cold-induced sweetening" in the industry. During cooking, those sugars react with free amino acids to produce acrylamide. The same reaction also causes fries and chips to turn dark brown during processing, making them unsalable.

 

Jiang's solution is to insert a small segment of a potato's own DNA back into its genome. The extra DNA helps block a single gene - the vacuolar acid invertase gene, which codes for an enzyme - that's responsible for converting sucrose into glucose and fructose, the sugar culprits that cause both acrylamide formation and browning. Through this process Jiang has created a number of potato lines that produce very little acrylamide when cooked.

 

"Regular potato chips can have acrylamide levels up around 1,000 parts per billion," says Jiang. "Ours are down around 200." Jiang's process, potentially of enormous use to the food industry, is now being patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

 

But because they are genetically modified (GM), Jiang's potatoes can't be grown for consumption in the United States, where only a handful of GM crops have been approved and widely cultivated.

 

Jiang hopes that will change and notes that GM versions of corn and soybeans, which are now added to many processed food items, contain DNA from other species. The extra DNA in his low-acrylamide potatoes, on the other hand, comes from the potato genome itself.

 

Down the line, especially if scientists confirm acrylamide's link to human cancer, consumers may have to make an interesting choice: accept a new genetically modified crop or cut back on fries and chips.

 

Developing Cold-Chipping Potato Varieties by Silencing the Vacuolar Invertase Gene

 

Lei Wua, Pudota B. Bhaskar, James S. Busse, Ruofang Zhanga, Paul C. Bethke and Jiming Jiang

 

Abstract

Accumulation of reducing sugars during cold storage is a persistent and costly problem for the potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) processing industry. High temperature processing of potato tubers with elevated amounts of reducing sugars results in potato chips, fries, and other products that are unacceptable to consumers because of their bitter taste and unappealing dark color. More problematically, such products contain increased amounts of acrylamide, a neurotoxin and a potential carcinogen. We have demonstrated that silencing of the potato vacuolar acid invertase gene VInv can prevent reducing sugar accumulation in cold-stored tubers. Using this approach we developed VInv silencing lines using RNA interference (RNAi) from four potato cultivars grown currently for potato chip production in North America. Accumulation of reducing sugars during cold storage was reduced by 93% or more in all RNAi lines that had >90% reduction of VInv transcript. Potato chips produced from these lines were light colored and significantly lower in acrylamide than controls. Changes in growth and tuber yield were not associated with VInv suppression using RNAi. We demonstrate that silencing of VInv is an effective approach to control the cold-induced sweetening problem in potato.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18122&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.45  'Super wheat' resists devastating rust

 

June 17, 2011

'Super varieties' of wheat resistant to the deadly stem rust fungus Ug99 could replace wheat in affected areas in as little as two years — if farmers can be persuaded to adopt them, according to an expert.

 

First discovered in Uganda some 13 years ago, Ug99 is increasingly virulent. It is spreading throughout East and Southern Africa, and spores have also reached as far afield as Iran and Yemen. Wheat breeders had been working on promising resistant varieties in Njoro, Kenya, in the hopes that one of them could combat the fungus.

 

Now they have bred new varieties with good resistance and with up to 15 per cent better yields than today's varieties, said Ronnie Coffman, head of the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat Project at Cornell University, United States.

 

Stem rust, also known as black rust, is even more damaging than stripe (or yellow) rust which has wiped out about 40 per cent of harvests in Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

 

The new varieties, developed by wheat breeding expert Ravi Singh and colleagues at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, are resistant to both rusts. They were unveiled at the 2011 Borlaug Global Rust Initiative's Technical Workshop in Minneapolis, United States, this week (13–16 June).

 

The varieties were developed by combining several plant resistance genes, which individually give low levels of resistance but when found together in the same plant make it more difficult for the Ug99 pathogen to unravel their combined defences, providing better resistance.

 

"We're trying to raise awareness of these materials and convince farmers that they should adopt them before [wheat rust] grows endemic — especially in countries such as Ethiopia," said Coffman.

 

Coffman said that the two most critical countries to tackle are Ethiopia and Yemen. However, as Yemen's political unrest has impeded anti-wheat rust efforts — material recently sent to the country by CIMMYT perished in customs — breeders are initially focusing their efforts on Ethiopia.

 

"We believe that farmers in Ethiopia will accept the new varieties," he said. "There is a major outbreak of yellow rust (stripe rust) there. It is not nearly as devastating as stem rust, but it's significant and farmers want something resistant to it.

 

"These new varieties are resistant to both rusts so we're hopeful that the incidence of yellow rust will cause them to accept the new varieties. Unless farmers have an incentive that they can see, they don't tend to accept new varieties."

 

He said that if the incentive works, the whole of Ethiopia could be growing resistant strains in just two years — and this same timetable could apply to the entire East African region. "But it's a big if," he added.

 

Singh said: "We need to see national governments making the investments in seed systems development, including seed production and distribution. In many areas there will need to be support and leadership from wealthy countries and international institutions to carry these innovations into farmers' fields."

 

Borlaug Global Rust Initiative's educational video about stem rust

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18405&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Naomi Antony, SciDev.Net

SeedQuest.com

 

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1.46  Drought tolerant GM wheat makes great progress in China

 

June 17, 2011

Source: Crop Biotech Update

China is making great progress in the development of drought tolerant wheat. This was the assessment of experts during the on-site exhibition-meeting of China's major program "Abiotic-tolerant GM Wheat New Variety Development" held at the National GM Wheat Pilot Trial Experimental Base in Shijiazhuang Academy of Agricultural Sciences on May 26, 2011. Sixty participants from 12 units including the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Chinese Academy of Agriculture (CAAS), and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) took part in the meeting.

 

"Many drought tolerance GM wheat lines have been developed within two years since the program was launched. Genes used for transformation were cloned from soybean and wheat, and all these genes are our own intellectual properties," said Professor Youzhi Ma, chief scientist of this program. He reported that "46 GM wheat lines have been tested in pilot trial of which 4 have advanced to Environment Release trial. A batch of elite drought tolerant wheat lines with production application prospect was developed after multi-locus characterization in 2009 and 2010. "

 

Officials from MoA gave positive comments on the progress of drought-tolerant GM wheat and recommended the following: (1) Strengthen the management of GM biosafety assessment to ensure biosafety during the whole process of R&D; (2) Inform the public about the technology; and (3) Establish joint innovation teams to speed up the progress of new GM variety development.

 

Original news item: http://www.caas.net.cn/caas/news/showNews.asp?id=9107

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18481&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.47  Stem rust resistant wheat could be unveiled soon, say scientists

 

Nairobi — Scientists say they are close to producing super varieties of wheat that can resist a new strain of wheat rust called the Ug99, and boost yields by as much as 15 per cent.

 

The researchers from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research and the US Department of Agriculture say the new varieties have resistance to all three wheat rusts: stem rust, yellow rust and leaf rust.

 

This could be a significant breakthrough, five years after the launch of global efforts to protect the crop from variants of this deadly new form of wheat rust.

 

In Kenya for example, the Ug99 pathogen has seen the annual wheat production of 350,000 tonnes drop by about a third, forcing the country to rely on imports in order to meet its demand of a million tonnes.

 

Peter Njau, the head of Durable Rust Resistance Project and wheat breeder at the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute, said the wheat rust had among other challenges increased the cost of production by 40 per cent.

 

"The new resistant varieties will come in handy as they posses important characteristics including improved yield performance, drought tolerance as well as regional suitability," Mr Njau told The EastAfrican.

 

According to research presented at a global wheat rust symposium in Minneapolis last week, scientists reported that variants of the Ug99 stem rust are becoming increasingly virulent and are being carried by wind beyond East Africa where they were identified. They say that up to 90 per cent of wheat around the world is susceptible to Ug99 and its variants.

 

Ronnie Coffman, who heads the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project at Cornell University, which is co-ordinating the fight against the disease said new data showed that key Ug99 variants have now been identified across East and Southern Africa and that it may only be a matter of time before the spores travel to India or Pakistan, and even Australia and the Americas.

 

"We are facing the prospect of a biological firestorm, but it's also clear that the research community has responded to the threat at top speed, and hence the new superior varieties," said Mr Coffman. "But the job of science is not over. Declining support for public agricultural research got us into this problem with Ug99. Unless that changes, the problem is likely to arise again in a few years. We are dealing with a constantly-evolving pathogen, and we need to stay at least one step ahead at all times."

 

Mr Coffman noted that governments must be willing to invest in the political and economic capital necessary for agricultural research to secure the world's wheat supply.

 

Researchers at Penn State University and USDA are now adapting a system that was used to forecast soybean rust movements to track how Ug99 might travel from Africa by winds into the wheat-growing regions of the US.

 

Susceptible varieties cover most wheat fields throughout the breadbaskets of South Asia, the Middle East, China, Europe, Australia and North America, estimated at over 225 million hectares.

 

http://allafrica.com/stories/201106270665.html

 

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1.48  Resistance to recombinant stem rust race TPPKC in wheat

 

Wheat stem rust has re-emerged as a serious threat to production since the discovery of Ug99 in 1950s. Thus, the gene (SrWld1) in wheat that confers resistance to all North American stem rust races is very important, especially in hard red spring (HRS) wheat cultivars. A sexually recombined race of stem rust with virulence to SrWld1 was discovered in 1980s. This led D. L. Klindworth, a scientist from USDA-ARS, and colleagues, to determine the genetics of resistance to the race.

 

The recombinant race was tested with the set of stem rust differentials and a set of wheat cultivars composed of 36 HRS and 6 durum. Through the use of aneuploid analysis, molecular markers, and allelism tests, the location of the chromosomes were identified. Differential tests labeled the race as TPPKC, which indicates that it is different from TPMKC by having virulence to genes Sr30 and SrWld1. Seven genes in wheat were found to be effective against TPPKC. Further tests indicated that five HRS and one durum cultivar were susceptible to TPPKC, all of which had SrWld1 as their major stem rust resistance gene.

 

The researchers concluded that TPPKC will not pose a great threat similar to TTKSK but may cause loss of some cultivars if TPPKC infests the fields.

 

Read the original paper at http://www.springerlink.com/content/h7364l1672313k61/.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 June 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.49  Breeding wheat for blight resistance

 

In efforts to combat the devastating Fusarium head blight of wheat, a team of scientists led by Jose Costa of the US Department of Agriculture and composed of scientists from the University of Maryland, University of Kentucky, North Carolina State, and Virginia Tech conducted marker assisted breeding on the adapted red winter wheat cultivar McCormick. Resistance genes against the disease were obtained from three Chinese wheat cultivars which are not adapted to the US mid-Atlantic region.

 

Eight wheat lines were obtained and tested for blight resistance over two years in a greenhouse and three field evaluations. A wheat line was identified to express two specific traits showing highest resistance and lowest toxin content in all four evaluations. The report published in the journal Crop Science shows that the combination of these two genes could improve the resistance of soft red winter wheat to Fusarium head blight.

 

Read the news at  https://www.crops.org/news-media/releases/2011/0621/484/ for more details

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 24 June 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.50  Unique gene combinations control tropical maize response to day lengths

 

Tropical maize when grown in the United States were found to respond to summer day lengths by flowering late, resulting to poor yield and hindering breeding work to improve the US Corn Belt maize line. To study this problem, tropical maize from Mexico and Thailand were crossed with standard Corn Belt maize line. Scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service and North Carolina State University identified four regions of the maize genome that control much of the photoperiod response in maize.

 

Research results published in the Crop Science Society of America show that "the effects of tropical genes differed, depending on which tropical variety they were bred from." They also discovered that genes from tropical varieties did not have uniform effects on delayed flowering at the genome region, for example, one of the tropical varieties carried genes that made plants flower earlier than the standard Corn Belt variety.

 

Ongoing research is focused on identifying the specific genes controlling day length response that exist in these regions.

 

The original news can be seen at  https://www.crops.org/news-media/releases/2011/0614/480/

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 24 June 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.51  Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) grants permit for sorghum bio-fortification research

 

Another milestone for IAR biotechnology research

 

THE INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH, SAMARU,NIGERIA pioneering  confined field trial (CFT) on Maruca resistant Cowpea got  a boost as the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), through the Federal Ministry of Environment National Biosafety Office (NBO) has granted yet another permit for IAR to undertake Sorghum Bio-fortification research with a view to enhance nutrition and stave-off malnutrition and other related diseases in vulnerable groups especially  children.

 

The primary focus in this sorghum bio-fortification is incorporation of three essential elements, namely: Iron, Zinc and Pro-vitamin A into our sorghum varieties. The bio-fortification of sorghum has the potential to improve sorghum acceptance, marketability and increased widespread processing and consumption leading to more income generation, wealth creation and the overall national economic and social well-being of citizens.

 

 As it is with many other research endeavors, the African Bio-fortified Sorghum (ABS) is a collaborative work between global development partners, individual donor agencies, public and private organizations and National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs). First, among equal is Africa Harvest, a Nairobi based development agency that coordinates the global alliance to fulfill the vision and mission of the ABS project in Nigeria and Africa.

 

At IAR Samaru, the infrastructural requirements prescribed by the National, International Laws, Convention and Protocols for the conduct of bio-technology research in place to ensure the smooth conduct of biotechnology research and development.

 

IAR Samaru enjoys support in capacity building, including service provision, training and equipment from international donor agencies and other development partners involved in biotechnology research and development (R&D). The management of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), the supervisory body responsible for agricultural research policy synthesis, coordination, monitoring and evaluation (that shapes and directs national agricultural research output), as well as the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria Management, have thrown their weight behind IAR Bio-technology research endeavor.

 

It is expected that the sorghum bio-fortification research will be conducted over three years as stipulated in the permit.  The result and conclusions there-from will pave way for continuous selection and eventual release of certified bio-fortified sorghum varieties to our farmers in Africa. The ABS Project has given another impetus to the booming and flourishing beverages and confectionary markets at local, regional and continental levels within Africa with sorghum as the primary raw material.

 

Contributed by Shehu G. Ado

shehuga@gmail.com]

IAR Samaru

and

B. Tanimu

Executive Directo

IAR Samaru

 

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1.52  Beta-carotene content of banana genotypes from Uganda

 

Vitamin A deficiency is one of the prevailing health problems across the globe. Thus, improving the Vitamin A content of staple foods such as banana is considered as a sustainable approach towards optimizing Vitamin A intake for the long term. This led Robert Fungo of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Uganda and Michael Pillay of Vaal University of Technology in South Africa to determine the beta-carotene content of 47 banana genotypes from the IITA germplasm collection in Uganda. They used high-performance liquid chromatography to determine the beta-carotene levels and color meter to assess the correlation between pulp color intensity and beta-carotene content.

 

Results showed that there were varied beta-carotene levels within and among the different types of banana studied. The highest levels of beta-carotene were observed in banana genotypes from Papua New Guinea, which could be used in genetic studies on Vitamin A in banana. It was also observed that there was positive correlation between pulp color intensity and beta-carotene concentration.

 

Read the research paper at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB/PDF/pdf2011/20Jun/Fungo%20and%20Pillay.pdf.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 24 June 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.53 Researchers discover key for identifying gender in date palm trees

 

"A simple and reliable way to distinguish between male and female seedlings has long been sought, not only for agricultural purposes, but also to promote basic date palm studies, which have been hindered by dioecy and long generation times," Joel Malek, director of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar's (WCMC-Q) genomics lab said on his research published in the online edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology.

 

The researchers found that the gender is under genetic control through an X-Y system of gender inheritance similar to that of humans. Gender determination in date palm has been an age-old question for thousands of years. The economically-valuable female trees bear fruit after five to eight years, thus, determination of the gender early at its seedling stage is of primary importance to date palm growers.

 

Equipped with the 2009 draft sequence of the date palm genome, the research team will also conduct studies on salinity and high temperature tolerance, hoping to improve the date palm germplasm through genetic modification.

 

The original news can be seen at http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/June11/wcmcqDatepalm.html.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 June 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.54 Plant breeders to use genomic selection to improve crops in developing countries

 

At Cornell University's plant breeding and genetics department, researchers Mark Sorrells and Jean-Luc Jannink of USDA-ARS developed a system to increase productivity of crop varieties that smallholder farmers grow. Through the use of genomic selection, the researchers plan to boost the rate of variety improvements in maize and wheat up to three-fold.

 

In partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), genomic selection will be used to test varieties under development in the maize and wheat breeding programs considering the four efficiencies that may contribute to better yields. These include among other factors an increase in sample size of available data to examine complex, environment-dependent traits more accurately and will also allow an accelerated breeding cycle. Using genomic selection, plant breeders can help manage diversity so that the genetic gains will not be at the expense of traits needed in the future.

 

If successful, the model which received a US$3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be used to improve other important crops as well.

 

The full article can be viewed at http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/June11/GatesGenomics.html.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 June 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.55 Chinese genomics giant BGI and UC Davis form partnership

 

Shenzhen, China

June 8, 2011

The University of California, Davis, and BGI, the world’s largest genome sequencing institute, agreed yesterday to form a partnership to conduct large-scale genome sequencing and functional genomics programs, focusing initially on the areas of food security; human and animal health and wellness; and biodiversity and environmental health.

 

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and BGI Director Jian Wang signed a formal agreement to establish the BGI@UC Davis Partnership during a meeting in Shenzhen, one of China’s Special Economic Zones.

 

“This partnership will bring together the unique strengths of two world-class institutions,” Katehi said. “BGI’s resources in genome sequencing and bioinformatics, combined with UC Davis’ expertise in biology, medicine, agriculture and the environment, will bring advantages to both partners as we take on crucial issues in food, health and sustainability.”

 

BGI’s Wang added: “Genomics is laying the foundation for the future research of biology, and this cooperation plays a significant role in the development of science and education between the two sides. It’s necessary to build a new creative model for multiple-skilled talents in genomics for the future. In the past several years, BGI has invented a new model to train excellent professionals that is efficient both at up-to-date scientific knowledge and practical skills in life sciences.”

 

Genomics is a discipline of biology concerning the study of the genome, or all the genes of an organism. The field includes intensive efforts to determine the genomes of plants, animals, microbes and other living things, as a way to better understand how they grow, develop and function.

 

“UC Davis is already a powerhouse of research in biomedical and environmental sciences, and this partnership will help drive us to the next level,” said Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. “This new partnership will make possible entirely new insights into genome evolution, microbial ecology, plant biology, host-pathogen interactions and human diseases.”

 

As envisioned in the formal agreement, UC Davis faculty and students will gain access to the capabilities and expertise of one of the world’s premier genomics and bioinformatics companies, while BGI researchers will be able to access the university’s diverse resources and expertise in education and research, especially in biology, human and veterinary medicine, agriculture and the environment.

 

In the coming months, representatives of BGI and UC Davis will work out a detailed agreement for the partnership that in the future will bring to UC Davis DNA sequencing instruments and bioinformatics specialists — scientists who apply statistics and computer science to molecular biology.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18102&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.56  Developing Cold-Chipping Potato Varieties by Silencing the Vacuolar Invertase Gene

 

Lei Wua, Pudota B. Bhaskar, James S. Busse, Ruofang Zhanga, Paul C. Bethke and Jiming Jiang

 

Abstract

Accumulation of reducing sugars during cold storage is a persistent and costly problem for the potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) processing industry. High temperature processing of potato tubers with elevated amounts of reducing sugars results in potato chips, fries, and other products that are unacceptable to consumers because of their bitter taste and unappealing dark color. More problematically, such products contain increased amounts of acrylamide, a neurotoxin and a potential carcinogen. We have demonstrated that silencing of the potato vacuolar acid invertase gene VInv can prevent reducing sugar accumulation in cold-stored tubers. Using this approach we developed VInv silencing lines using RNA interference (RNAi) from four potato cultivars grown currently for potato chip production in North America. Accumulation of reducing sugars during cold storage was reduced by 93% or more in all RNAi lines that had >90% reduction of VInv transcript. Potato chips produced from these lines were light colored and significantly lower in acrylamide than controls. Changes in growth and tuber yield were not associated with VInv suppression using RNAi. We demonstrate that silencing of VInv is an effective approach to control the cold-induced sweetening problem in potato.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18122&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.57  The trends and future of biotechnology crops for insect pest control

 

June 10, 2011

Scientists Santie DeVilliers and David Hoisington from International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropic (ICRISAT) discussed in a review the current status of insect resistant GM crops and the often raised concern that its resilience is limited and that its efficacy will be compromised by insect resistance. Aside from the benefits and risks to farmers of adopting insect resistant crops, future trends and prospects for biotechnological applications were also discussed.

Read the review at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB/PDF/pdf2011/1JunConf/DeVilliers%20and%20Hoisington.pdf

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18178&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.58 Rationalizing investment and effort in whole genome sequencing for harvesting applied benefits

 

June 10, 2011

by S. R. Bhat

Whole genome sequencing of higher organisms was considered a major challenge about two decades ago. Thanks to the rapid developments in sequencing technologies, genome sequencing has now become faster, cheaper and technically less demanding. India participated in international genome sequencing projects of rice and tomato, and has independently initiated work on whole genome sequencing of Mesorhizobium ciceri and buffalo. With whole genome sequence data of more than 1500 organisms already available in public databases, and more added on a weekly basis, the excitement is waning. Considering that structural genomics is only the starting point for a detailed analysis of function, the investment in whole genome sequencing needs to be balanced with its intended downstream applications. In this article, we discuss the relevance of whole genome sequencing for agricultural applications and emphasize the need for urgent investment in development of appropriate tools, biological resources and human capacity in biotechnology and bioinformatics to reap full benefits.

Full article

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18515&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Current Science, Vol. 100, No. 11, 10 June 2011 via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.59  U.S. National Center for Genome Resources and KeyGene in agreement to boost genome sequence assemblies

 

Santa Fe New Mexico, USA and Wageningen, the Netherlands

June 14, 2011

Today, the NCGR Sequencing Center and KeyGene announced they have entered into a non-exclusive licensing agreement that will enable NCGR to market and execute sequence-based physical mapping projects using the proprietary KeyGene® Whole Genome Profiling (WGP™) technology.

 

The agreement enables NCGR to combine its sequencing and informatics capabilities with KeyGene’s physical mapping technology to deliver superior quality genome assemblies. Under the agreement NCGR and KeyGene collaborate to provide customers with a fast and comprehensive solution for genome sequencing projects.

 

KeyGene’s WGP technology is based on generating short read sequences of pooled BAC clones produced by its partner Amplicon Express. Sequence tags are used to assemble these BAC clones at high stringency based on shared regions containing identical sequence tags. A WGP map forms a high quality scaffold for the assembly of whole genome sequence data. It has been shown to be a considerable improvement on the genome assembly for a diverse set of organisms, including those with very large and complex genomes.

 

“We’re excited!”, said NCGR President Gregory May. “Many of our de novo genome projects will benefit from the WGP platform through guiding the order and orientation of our next-generation DNA sequencing-based scaffolds. We have witnessed the power of KeyGene’s technologies in improving de novo genome assemblies. We are looking forward to interacting with KeyGene’s scientists as their expertise greatly augments that of ours. Although NCGR is a non-profit research organization, this collaboration builds on our tradition of establishing partnerships with industry leading companies such as KeyGene”, May said.

 

Mark van Haaren, KeyGene’s US based VP Business Development, said: “KeyGene and Amplicon Express are very pleased with this new collaboration and the fact that NCGR has the ambition to apply the power of the WGP assembly process in their genome projects. As a company with a focus on plant breeding we are happy to collaborate with partners that can promote our technologies in their broader networks. We believe that this agreement will give a much larger customer base access to better genome assemblies that can be used as reference genomes and to support molecular breeding activities.”

 

Located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) is a private, non-profit life sciences research institute. The NCGR mission is to improve human health and nutrition by genome sequencing and analysis. NCGR objectives are improved diagnosis, control and cure of disease, and better nutrition.

 

KeyGene is a privately owned, innovative molecular genetics Ag Biotech company with a primary focus on the improvement of 6F (Food, Feed, Fiber, Fuel, Flowers and Fun) crops. KeyGene’s passion is a Green Gene Revolution approach to explore and exploit existing and induced natural genetic variation in vegetable and other 6F crops. KeyGene delivers sustainable responses to the world’s needs for yield stability & quality of vegetable and field crops. We help our strategic partners with cutting edge breeding technologies and plant based trait platforms to meet their needs. We perform strategic and applied research with more than 135 employees from all over the world, with state of the art facilities and equipment. KeyGene has its headquarters in Wageningen, the Netherlands, a subsidiary in Rockville, USA and a Joint Lab with the Shanghai Institute of Biological Sciences in Shanghai, China.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18255&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.60  Embracing science-based technologies is critical to increase agricultural productivity and enhance global food security

 

Washington, DC, USA

June 13, 2011

The Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) today published a new policy issue brief which highlights the importance of science-based technologies in sustainably addressing the mounting challenges of global hunger and food security in order to feed an anticipated nine billion people globally by 2050.

 

The policy issue brief, “Embracing Science-Based Technologies,” suggests that closing the global agricultural productivity gap between supply and demand and meeting the needs of a growing population will require the embrace of existing and new technologies and innovations that are scientifically proven to safely and effectively increase agricultural productivity.

 

“As demonstrated by the significant productivity increases that resulted from the Green Revolution, new technologies and innovation have proven to enhance food security across the globe. But the situation we face today is different; not only will the global population hit seven billion this year, but we can no longer expect productivity improvements to come from additional land, water or inputs,” said Dr. William G. Lesher, Global Harvest Initiative Executive Director. “We simply cannot meet the needs of the growing population unless we aggressively pursue and invest in new technologies and innovation, from enhanced seeds to storage, processing and transportation, to more efficient uses of irrigation.”

 

In the issue brief, GHI advocates for a science-based approach to new technologies, adequate funding for the development of innovative technologies, as well as a more effective and timely regulatory process in order for the development, approval, and adoption of new technologies to take place on a global scale, resulting in increased agricultural productivity and improved food security worldwide.

 

GHI’s first three policy issue briefs addressed the importance of agricultural research, the removal of trade barriers and the optimization of development assistance programs. GHI’s forthcoming and final issue brief will address the critical role of the private sector in addressing food security.

 

The Global Harvest Initiative was established in 2009 as a partnership among Archer Daniels Midland Company, DuPont, John Deere, and Monsanto with the goal of addressing hunger and food insecurity by sustainably closing the global agricultural productivity gap.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18205&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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2  PUBLICATIONS

 

2.01  Training guide on forest genetic resources

 

Imagine you are a forest manager working in Malaysia. An endangered Dipterocarp tree (Shorea lumutensis) endemic to peninsular Malaysia is now so reduced in number that it is restricted only to small reserves, vulnerable to natural catastrophes, and climate change. Its small populations mean that the species is also losing its genetic diversity through inbreeding. Human threats to the remaining populations continue from logging, quarrying, conversion to oil palm plantations, and land development for tourism.

 

Your challenge is to develop a genetic conservation strategy to safeguard this Dipterocarp tree in Malaysia. Your strategy must take into account sustainable ecosystems, and consider both in situ and ex situ conservation measures, as well as what resources are available.

 

Bioversity International's new Training Guide - Forest Genetic Resources (FGR)- will help practitioners make these kind of decisions which are the reality of day-to-day conservation planning. Primary forests have decreased worldwide by more than 40 million hectares since 2000, due to deforestation, selective logging and other human interventions. As a consequence conservation planning must consider the survival of individual tree species.

 

Species Genetic Conservation (Module 1) uses a mix of multi-media elements and problem-based teaching case studies to encourage participants to consider genetic diversity as a key part of the conservation planning process. The guide is a tool for teaching and learning about FGR issues both in formal education and on-the-job training

 

Contributed by Elizabeth Goldberg

Bioversity International

e.goldberg@cgiar.org

 

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2.02  Call for papers: ISABB Journal of Food and Agricultural Sciences

 

www.isabb.academicjournals.org/JFAS

ISABB Journal of Food and Agricultural Sciences (ISABB_JFAS) is an official publication of the ‘International Society of African Bioscientists and Biotechnologists (www.isabbio.org). It is a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that will be published monthly by Academic Journals (www.isabb.academicjournals.org/JFAS). ISABB_JFAS is dedicated to increasing the depth of knowledge in Food and Agricultural Sciences research with the ultimate goal of enhancing exchange of information among all scientists in the globe whose scientific findings are of interest to the continent of Africa.

 

Call for Papers

 

ISABB_JFAS will cover all areas of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The journal welcomes the submission of manuscripts that meet the general criteria of significance and scientific excellence in this subject area, and will publish:

 

•       Original articles in basic and applied research

•       Case studies

•       Critical reviews, surveys, opinions, commentaries and essays

 

We invite you to submit your manuscript(s) to JFAS.isabb@gmail.com for publication. Our objective is to inform authors of the decision on their manuscript(s) within four weeks of submission. Following acceptance, a paper will normally be published in the next issue. Instruction for authors and other details are available on our website; www.isabb.academicjournals.org/JFAS.

 

ISABB_JFAS is also seeking qualified reviewers. African Scientists in the diaspora and/or members of the International Society of African Bioscientists and Biotechnologists are encouraged to apply by sending an email and resume to  info@isabbio.org. To register as a member of ISABB please go to www.isabbio.org

 or http://isabbio.org/?page_id=165 and you may contact me for further information on how to pay the registration fees through the following emails: info@isabbio.org and/or JFAS.isabb@gmail.com.

 

 ISABB_JFAS is an Open Access Journal

 

One key request of researchers across the world is unrestricted access to research publications. The open access format gives researchers and other users a worldwide audience that is larger than that of any subscription-based journal and thus increases the visibility and impact of published work. It also enhances indexing, retrieval power and eliminates the need for permissions to reproduce and distribute content. ISABB_JFAS is fully committed to the Open Access Initiative and will provide free access to all articles as soon as they are published.

 

Contributed by George Ude,

Associate Editor, ISABB Journal of Food and Agricultural Sciences (JFAS)

JFAS.isabb@gmail.com

http://www.isabb.academicjournals.org/JFAS

 

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2.03  ABDC-10 proceedings: Biotechnologies for Agricultural Development

 

FAO has just published the proceedings of the FAO international technical conference on "Agricultural biotechnologies in developing countries: Options and opportunities in crops, forestry, livestock, fisheries and agro-industry to face the challenges of food insecurity and climate change" (ABDC-10), that took place in Guadalajara, Mexico on 1-4 March 2010. Entitled "Biotechnologies for Agricultural Development", the 592-page proceedings are organized in two main sections. The first contains ten chapters with an extensive series of FAO background documents prepared before ABDC-10 took place. They focus on the current status and options for biotechnologies in developing countries in crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries/aquaculture and food processing/safety, as well as on related policy issues and options, in particular about targeting agricultural biotechnologies to the poor; enabling research and development (R&D) for agricultural biotechnologies; and ensuring access to the benefits of R&D. The second section contains five chapters dedicated to the outcomes of ABDC-10, namely the reports from 27 parallel sessions of sectoral, cross-sectoral and regional interest, most of which were organized by different intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and regional fora; keynote presentations; and the conference report adopted by delegates in Guadalajara on the final day of ABDC-10. See http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2300e/i2300e00.htm or contact sandra.tardioli@fao.org to receive a copy, providing your full postal address.

 

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2.04  FAO Biosafety Resource Book

 

FAO has just published the "Biosafety Resource Book", based on materials from the training courses organized by FAO from 2002 to 2010 in the framework of its biosafety capacity development projects. The training courses were tailored to meet the needs of biosafety regulators, policy-makers and members of national biosafety committees. The courses aimed to offer them background knowledge critical in the process of reviewing biosafety dossiers and biosafety-related decision-making and to acquaint them with concepts and methodologies relevant to risk analysis of GMO release and biosafety management. The book consists of five modules and special attention has been paid to avoid technical jargon and to keep the modules scientifically accurate as well as accessible to non-specialists. Module A, by O. Brandenberg, Z. Dhlamini, A. Sensi, K. Ghosh and A. Sonnino, is an introduction to molecular biology and genetic engineering. It reviews the basic scientific concepts and principles used in producing GMOs, and provides a brief description of current and emerging uses of biotechnology in crops, livestock and fisheries. Module B, by E. Hodson de Jaramillo, A. Sensi, O. Brandenberg, K. Ghosh and A. Sonnino, is dedicated to ecological aspects. It provides the necessary background information on ecology and evolution needed to analyse and understand the consequences of introducing GMOs into the environment. Module C, by A. Sensi, O. Brandenberg, K. Ghosh and A. Sonnino, is on risk analysis. It provides basic information on biological risks, concepts, principles and methodologies of risk assessment, management and communication, focusing on crop biotechnology and environmental risk assessment of GM crops. Module D, by O. Brandenberg, A. Sensi, K. Ghosh and A. Sonnino, is entitled ‘Test and post-release monitoring of GMOs’. It addresses the use and monitoring of GMOs under containment, confinement and limited field trials, as well as the monitoring of commercially released GMOs. Module E, by A.M. Zivian, A. Sensi and C. Bullón Caro, is about legal aspects. It provides an overview of the existing legal tools and frameworks on biotechnology and biosafety, and offers a thorough description of the international instruments that regulate biosafety and their interactions. See http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i1905e/i1905e00.htm or contact sandra.tardioli@fao.org to receive a copy, providing your full postal address.

 

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2.05 Annual Report now available from the Seed Biotechnology Center

 

The Seed Biotechnology Center has a newly designed annual report. The report captures our education, outreach and research activities during 2010, with an emphasis on education and the importance of partnerships.  Comments from Director Kent Bradford open the report.  Mike Campbell’s “A Glance at the Future” closes the piece.  We hope you enjoy this new document which was designed and produced by Donna Van Dolah.  We welcome your feedback and comments.

 

Contributed by Susan DiTomaso

The Seed Biotechnology Center

scditomaso@ucdavis.edu

 

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2.06 Biotechnology for Sustainability

 

Genetically engineered (GE) crops have been in commercial production since 1996 and much information is available regarding ways they are benefiting farmers and consumers. As global agriculture continues to be challenged to enhance sustainability and reduce pressures on land, water and fuel, studies are showing that GE crops will be one part of the solution. To date, research has been conducted on over 100 agricultural crops and many new promising traits have been identified. As part of a grant from the American Society of Plant Biologists, SBC has developed a website dedicated to the theme of Biotechnology for Sustainability. Here you will find information on the 5 most promising GE traits, recent peer-reviewed publications, and useful websites and opinion pieces on this topic. We hope this will provide a useful reference on how biotech traits are enhancing environmental sustainability.

 

Contributed by Susan DiTomaso

The Seed Biotechnology Center

scditomaso@ucdavis.edu

 

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2.07 Gamma Field Symposia Vol. 48: Elucidation of resistance mechanisms to abiotic stresses and the application for molecular breeding

 

The Gamma Field Symposia Vol. 48 has been placed online and can be accessed at the link http://www.nias.affrc.go.jp/eng/gfs/index.html. The 48th Gamma Field symposium entitled “Elucidation of resistance mechanisms to abiotic stresses and the application for molecular breeding” was held on July 15-16, 2009 in Mito, Ibaraki, Japan. The keynote address, Genes involved in ion-acquisition and their application for developing new crops, was presented by Prof. N. K. Nishizawa, Professor of Ishikawa Prefectural University. Prof. Nishioka was a professor of Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Science, The Univerity of Tokyo, and regarded as one of the most renowned scientists regarding mechanism of abiotic stresses in plants. Seven lecturers were also invited to present results of their research results: Prof. T. Fujiwara (The University of Tokyo: Molecular mechanisms of boron transport in plants and generation of plants tolerant to boron stress); Prof. H. Fukaki (Kobe University: Genetic regulation of lateral root development in Arabidopsis -The role of auxin signaling-); Prof. Y. Inukai (Nagoya University: Genetic improvement of root system formation for adaptation to soil moisture fluctuation stress in rice); Prof. T. Matsui (Gifu University: Heat induced floret sterility in rice: Mechanisms of occurrence and tolerance); Dr. K. Sugimoto (National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences: Genetic control of seed dormancy in rice); Prof. Y. S. Momonoki (Tokyo University of Agriculture: Characterization of the plant acetylcholine-mediated system); and Dr. I. Narumi (Japan Atomic Energy Agency: Survival strategy of a radioresistant bacterium: a review).

 

This English publication includes the contributed papers from the invited lecturers written above and the questions and discussions (in Japanese) addressed following the presentations during the symposium.

 

Mutation breeding through chronic gamma-ray irradiation of growing plants in large irradiation facilities, such as the Gamma Field in Institute of Radiation Breeding, NIAS (Hitachi-Ohmiya, Ibaraki, Japan) has been expanding in Asia. In 2009, a Gamma Greenhouse was established for the facilitation of mutation breeding through chronic gamma-ray irradiation to growing plants and in vitro materials in Agrotechnology & Biosciences Division of Malaysian Nuclear Agency (Bangi 43000 Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia). Although the history of mutation breeding is more than 50 years old and has been useful for the improvement of crops, the differences in the induced mutations between acute and chronic irradiation are not well defied or understood. The application of chronic irradiation to growing plants in the field or controlled greenhouse will be useful to elucidate the point and provide an outlet for the development of new crop varieties.

 

On 12-15 August 2008, “the FAO/IAEA International Symposium on Induced Mutation in Plant” was held for celebrating the 80th anniversary of mutation induction in plant in Vienna, Austria. The symposium was organized by IAEA and FAO through the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture cooperated with Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Chinese Society of Agricultural Biotechnology, European Association for Research on Plant Breeding, Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding, and National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, Japan. More than 400 persons from 83 countries attended the symposium. The proceedings are published as a book, “Induced Plant Mutations in the Genomic Era” edited by Q. Y. Shu from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, in 2009. The 458 page of proceedings provide details regarding accomplishments, progress and the future directions of mutation breeding.

 

The 1st Gamma Field Symposium was held in 1962 at Conference Room in the Institute of Radiation Breeding for exchanging information and discussions among scientists in national agricultural experiment stations and institutes of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, national universities and institutes of Ministry of Education, and seed companies in this new research area of mutation breeding, and for providing a seminar to students of the universities. During its 48-year history, the symposium committee has selected various themes related to mutation and breeding, and has invited leading scientists with expertise in these areas as lecturers to provide results of their research on a wide variety of related topics.

 

It is our sincere hope that the series of Gamma Field Symposia series, including this issue, will help plant breeders and researchers to realize the contribution that mutation breeding has made to the plant sciences.

 

Contributed by Hitoshi Nakagawa

Director, Biomass Research & Development Center, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO)

ngene@affrc.go.jp

 

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2.08  Transgenic Horticultural Crops: Challenges and Opportunities

 

Published by CRC Press

Editor(s): Beiquan Mou, USDA-ARS, Salinas, California, USA; Ralph Scorza, USDA, ARS, AFRS, Kearneysville, West Virginia, USA

Price: $129.95

Cat. #: 93789

ISBN: 9781420093780

ISBN 10: 1420093789

Publication Date: June 03, 2011

Number of Pages: 364

 

Features

 

Summary

As the world debates the risks and benefits of plant biotechnology, the proportion of the global area of transgenic field crops has increased every year, and the safety and value continues to be demonstrated. Yet, despite the success of transgenic field crops, the commercialization of transgenic horticultural crops (vegetables, fruits, nuts, and ornamentals) has lagged far behind. Transgenic Horticultural Crops: Challenges and Opportunities examines the challenges for the creation and commercialization of horticultural biotechnology and identifies opportunities, strategies, and priorities for future progress.

 

A "must read" for anyone working in the fields of genetic engineering or plant breeding, for policy makers, educators, students, and anyone interested in the issues of genetic engineering of fruits, vegetables and ornamentals, this book covers:

 

The production and commercialization of transgenic horticultural crops is an enormous task—its progress and realization require an informed research community, horticultural industry, government, and body of consumers. To aid in this effort, this book provides facts, analyses and insights by leading experts in this field to inform a wide audience of students, agricultural and genetic professionals, and the interested public. Part of the global conversation on the pros and cons of transgenic foods, Transgenic Horticultural Crops aims to stimulate more interest and discussion on the subject and to promote the development of safe and sustainable genetically modified horticultural crop varieties.

 

Table of contents

Transgenic Fruit and Nut Tree Crops Review

Ana M. IbáĖez, Cecilia Agüero, Mathew A. Escobar, and Abhaya M. Dandekar

 

Transgenic Vegetables

Owen Wally, J. Jayaraj, and Zamir K. Punja

 

Transgenic Ornamental Crops

Beverly A. Underwood and David G. Clark

 

Expression and Manufacture of Pharmaceutical Proteins in Genetically Engineered Horticultural Plants

Qiang Chen

 

Transgenic Fruit Crops in Europe

Henryk Flachowsky and Magda-Viola Hanke

 

Transgenic Horticultural Crops on the African Continent

Idah Sithole-Niang

 

Transgenic Horticultural Crops in Asia

Desiree M. Hautea, Von Mark Cruz, Randy A. Hautea, and Vijay Vijayaraghavan

 

The Economic and Marketing Challenges of Horticultural Biotechnology

Steve Sexton and David Zilberman

 

Consumer Acceptance of Genetically Modified Foods: Traits, Labels, and Diverse Information

Wallace E. Huffman

Intellectual Property and the Development of Transgenic Horticultural Crops

Cecilia L. Chi-Ham and Alan B. Bennett

 

Structuring University–Private Partnerships for Developing and Commercializing Transgenic Horticultural Crops

Gordon Rausser and Reid Stevens

 

Why Are Regulatory Requirements a Significant Impediment to Genetic Engineering of Horticultural Crops?

Steven H. Strauss

 

Virus-Resistant Transgenic Horticultural Crops: Safety Issues and Lessons from Risk Assessment Studies

Jonathan E. Oliver, Paula F. Tennant, and Marc Fuchs

 

Molecular Approaches for Transgene Containment and Their Potential Applications in Horticultural Crops

Yi Li and Hui Duan

 

Prospects for the Commercialization of Transgenic Ornamentals

Michael S. Dobres

 

Genetic Engineering of Grapevine and Progress toward Commercial Deployment

Dennis J. Gray, Sadanand A. Dhekney, Zhijian T. Li, and John M. Cordts

 

http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781420093780

 

Contributed by Beiquan Mou, Ph.D.

Research Geneticist

Agricultural Research Service

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

1636 East Alisal Street

Salinas, CA 93905, U.S.A.

Office Phone: 1-831-755-2893

Mobile Phone: 1-831-596-5088

Fax: 1-831-755-2814

Email: beiquan.mou@ars.usda.gov

 

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3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

 

3.01  Pre-breeding for Effective Use of Plant Genetic Resources – a new e-learning course

 

Rome, Italy

June 1, 2011

The Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB) is pleased to announce a new e-learning course - Pre-breeding for Effective Use of Plant Genetic Resources.

 

The importance of germplasm resources for crop improvement is widely recognized by plant breeders. However over reliance on ‗safe and familiar‘ parents of similar genetic backgrounds to provide genetic traits has led to an unsustainably narrow genetic base in many crop varieties and breeding materials.

 

To balance this, previously neglected pools of heritable genetic variations need to be used to produce new and improved crop varieties, for example, ones that give a higher yield yet require fewer inputs. These kinds of variations can be found, for example, in crop wild relatives and local landraces.

 

Pre-breeding is the work to identify those desirable traits and create materials that breeders can use. Premised on close collaboration between genebank curators and plant breeders, it is the necessary first step in the use of diversity arising from wild relatives and other unimproved materials.

 

The course is designed primarily for plant breeders and germplasm curators but will be useful also to others involved in capacity building in crop improvement. It combines elements of both conventional germplasm management and plant breeding with novel molecular biology and analytical techniques.

 

This course was jointly sponsored by Bioversity International, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Crop Diversity Trust, using the GIPB platform.

 

More background information on the course can be obtained from the announcement brochure.

 

Click here to access the course or request a CD version. Please note you will need to register to access the course.

 

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

 

Website: http://km.fao.org/gipb/

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=18077&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

5.01  Research Associate, Plant Science Department, South Dakota State University

 

Plant Science Department at South Dakota State University invites applications for a Research Associate position. This is a non-faculty exempt, 100% research position with 12-month appointment renewable annually depending upon performance. The successful candidate will be a team member of the well-established and nationally-recognized soybean breeding and genetics program. He/she will work independently and corporately on and off campus with the soybean breeder, research manager/specialists, post-doc associates, graduate students and other professionals and partners.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES:

The incumbent will conduct research on soybean breeding and genetics, assist and report to the project leader in all aspects of the research program. The major duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

 

            Field plot experiment and breeding nursery design, implementation and management, including planting, crossing and harvesting;

Seed house operation and maintenance, including seed processing, packaging, distributing and labeling for various trials;

Greenhouse operation and maintenance, including planting, crossing, and harvesting;

Lab operation and maintenance, including ordering equipment, chemicals and supplies;

Observation, data collection and analysis;

Coordination of all the field, greenhouse, seed house and laboratory activities, including part-time employees hiring and supervision;

            Participation in grant proposal writing, preparing research reports/manuscripts, and professional presentation or publications

 

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED:

            B.Sc. in agronomy, crop science and/or related majors with three-year research experience, or M.Sc. in plant breeding and genetics and/or related specialties;

            Good knowledge of plant breeding and genetics, experimental design and statistical analysis, plant physiology (growth and development), crop production and management;

            Understanding of plant pathology, entomology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and agricultural machinery;

Effective oral and written English communication skills, good interpersonal skills, team spirit, self-motivation and initiative;

Result-oriented and open-minded, critical thinking and ability to solve problems in a timely manner;

Ability and flexibility to work independently and cooperatively, ability and willingness to work overtime and travel statewide during peak time, and ability and willingness to work in adverse environmental conditions including heat, cold, wind, rain, and sunshine;

            Ability to hand-lift and move a 50-pound pack;

            Good computer skills including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Agrobase, etc;

 

QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPEIENCE DESIRED/PREFERRED:

            Demonstrated experience in practical plant breeding, especially in soybean research;

            Hands-on experience in small research plots and field trials, including experience in operating agricultural machines and research equipments, such as planters, chemical sprayers, combines, cultivators, tillers, tractors, etc;

            Experience in QTL mapping and DNA marker application.

 

SALARY AND BENEFITS:

Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Benefit package includes health, dental and vision insurance, paid vacation/sick leave, and South Dakota State retirement plan.

 

UNIVERSITY/COMMUNITY:

SDSU is a land grant institution and the state's largest institution of higher education with an enrollment of approximately 12,816 students. Plant sciences have been at the core of South Dakota State University and the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences since the University’s inception in 1881. Today’s Department of Plant Science includes soil science, genetics/breeding, entomology, plant pathology, weed science, and plant science. The Department provides strong undergraduate (leading to a B.S. in Agronomy) and graduate (leading to M.S. and/or Ph.D. in Plant Science) education. The department has outstanding research programs in area including crop breeding (spring wheat, winter wheat, soybeans, corn, sunflowers and other oilseeds, and forages),genetics, soil fertility, natural resource stewardship and conservation, precision farming, weed science, plant disease, entomology, and plant molecular biology. 

 

SDSU is located in Brookings, South Dakota, a community of approximately 22,100 near the east central border of South Dakota on Interstate 29.  The city has an excellent K-12 education system, is accessible to major medical facilities, has an active cultural and social environment, and has numerous lakes and parks within driving distance.  It is 50 miles north of Sioux Falls, a city of close to 150,000.

 

APPLICATION DEADLINE:  Review will start on July 11, 2011; and continue until filled.