PLANT BREEDING NEWS

 

EDITION 229

23 November 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  Food shortages and plant genes

1.02  Farmer education and technology adoption crucial to feeding world population of seven billion

1.03  Seed Central Research and Technology discusses genomics and plant breeding

1.04  Seed CentralTM Forum featured Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky, UC Davis Professor & HHMI-GBMF researcher

1.05  UC Davis and BGI announce partnership to establish state-of-the-art genome center in Sacramento, California

1.06  A distance education program for plant breeding to be shared by multiple universities

1.07  Kenya’s rust screening facility mitigates world wheat threat

1.08  Global food security, environmental quality targeted in UC Davis-Wageningen UR partnership

1.09  University of the Philippines to launch PH Genome Center in Los Baños soon

1.10  Study shows that drought-tolerant maize is critical to increasing maize production in West Africa

1.11  New breeds of broccoli remain packed with minerals

1.12  NDSU helping develop better beans

1.13  Scientists identify stem rust resistant landraces

1.14  New rice varieties offer benefits to US growers

1.15  Cassava virus spreading in East Africa

1.16  HarvestPlus-China field day exhibits maize hybrids in southwestern China

1.17  Frost-tolerant Eskimo carrot wins NIAB award

1.18  New partnership to improve seed supplies of vital anti-malarial plant

1.19  UPOV marks 50 years; breeders seek more enforcement, civil society wants in

1.20  GM cotton in Colombia - Gender issues

1.21  Bancos de Sementes do Nordeste fortalecem a agricultura familiar

1.22  Crop diversity myths persist in media, according to study by a University of Illinois expert in intellectual property law

1.23  Diversity of cabbage species explained

1.24  FAO says traditional crops key to facing climate change - On 10th anniversary, international plant genetics treaty funds new projects

1.25  Pillar of maize: A special salute to scientists who uncovered its domestication and diversity

1.26  Brazilian virus-resistant beans

1.27  Australian wheat breeders given tools to reduce grain defects

1.28  Breakthrough in the production of flood-tolerant crops

1.29  Stem rust-resistant wheat landraces identified

1.30  A revolution in field pea breeding has resulted in two bacterial blight resistant varieties

1.31  Feeding a Hungry Planet - The Promise of Biotechnology

1.32  How plants sense low oxygen levels to survive flooding

1.33  ICRISAT-led global team cracks pigeonpea genome

1.34  Identification of genes involved in natural product biosynthesis in pomegranate

1.35  Scientists identify QTL involved in grain weight of rice

1.36  Genome-scale network of rice genes to speed the development of biofuel crops

 

2.  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  Recent publications from UC Davis study detail the education and training needs for future plant breeders

2.02  FAO/IAEA Plant Breeding and Genetics Newsletter 27

2.03  2011 BGRI Technical Workshop Proceedings

 

3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

3.01  Updated plant genebank system available soon

3.02  UPOV launches redesigned website

3.03  FAO Biotechnology Forum hosting an e-mail conference on strengthening partnerships for the benefit of smallholders in developing countries

3.04  New FAO Biotechnology website

3.05  AIB Tomerius and UC Davis Plant Breeding AcademySM to develop software for teaching of plant breeding

 

 

4.  GRANTS AND AWARDS

4.01  Grants awarded to support horticultural research in developing countries

4.02  Monsanto's Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program

4.03  Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research

 

5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.01  Monsanto PhD level Breeder Job Postings

 

6.  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

 

1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES


1.01 
Food shortages and plant genes

 

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

October 31, 2011

The global population hit the 7 billion mark Monday 31 October. However, 850 to 925 million people are already experiencing food shortages and with only 46 per cent of the 2.3 billion metric tons of cereal grain produced daily being consumed by humans, the world’s new population faces food insecurity.

 

La Trobe University Professor of Botany, Roger Parish, and his team have been working on new technology for hybrid seed production which will not only have considerable economic advantages for Australian agriculture but may also be a line of defence as food supplies decline.

 

‘We have discovered a ‘Godfather’ gene that acts as a master switch in the pollen production process. We can manipulate the activity of the gene. It can be turned off to prevent pollen production and allow crossing with the pollen of a different line—outbreeding. The gene is subsequently reactivated in the hybrid plant, thereby ensuring pollen production occurs and hybrid grain is produced.’

 

‘This gene is present in wheat, barley, canola, cotton and rice meaning the technology is applicable to all these important crops,’ says Professor Parish.

 

‘Hybrid vigour is a way to increase yield in plants and in this world where we are running out of food very quickly, any way to increase production is important and hybrid vigour can increase production by up to 30 per cent,’ says Professor Parish.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=22002&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.02  Farmer education and technology adoption crucial to feeding world population of seven billion

 

Brussels, Belgium

31 October 2011

Declaration for Farmer Choice calls for new action on empowering farmers to feed seven billion today and nine billion by 2050 

 

The United Nations estimates that by the end of today the world’s population will have quietly shot past seven billion. In the past decade the world has grown by nearly a billion people, and since 1940 the population has more than tripled. To meet the challenge of feeding this exponentially growing world, the plant science industry has created innovative technologies that provide farmers with the means to boost yields, increase farm income and protect natural resources. However for these tools to meet the challenge of feeding the next billion people, nations must ensure farmers have access to these sustainable, science-based technologies while investing in the next generation of innovation. To support this effort, CropLife International is launching the Declaration for Farmer Choice, a new framework built on five principles that can empower farmers with the knowledge and freedom to determine what they need in order to grow crops successfully and sustainability.

 

“Today, our world stands at a crossroads; we have surpassed seven billion inhabitants and will surpass eight billion in the next 15 years. To feed these individuals we must empower farmers to improve their land and livelihoods by providing access to new agricultural technologies,” explained Howard Minigh, President and CEO of CropLife International. “As the international community prepares for the June 2012 RIO+20 Earth Summit, the Declaration for Farmer Choice will provide a basis for discussion on how to foster sustainable farming practices while improving farmer’s lives, especially in the developing world.”

 

Through its five principles, the Declaration for Farmer Choice creates a foundation to determine how to achieve green agriculture while improving yields and increasing farm incomes.

 

The Declaration for Farmer Choice calls for:

 

“Under the Declaration for Farmer Choice, farmers are recognized as the best and most knowledgeable stewards of their unique plot of land, and green agriculture is comprised of a mosaic of sustainable agricultural solutions and practices that farmers can choose from,” said Minigh. “We urge individuals and organizations to sign on to the Declaration and support these basic principles.”

 

At launch, several organizations have already joined CropLife International in supporting the Declaration for Farmer Choice. The International Seed Federation, Truth about Trade and Technology, Pan African Agribusiness & Agroindustry Consortium, and the International Fertilizer Industry Association have pledged their support and will join CropLife in demonstrating to the public and private sector the importance of allowing farmers the freedom to choose the tools that are best for their land and livelihoods.

 

To learn more about the Declaration for Farmer Choice and to find out how to sign on, visit www.ActionforAg.org/get-involved

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21925&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.03  Seed Central Research and Technology discusses genomics and plant breeding

 

Seed Central hosted a program on November 9th that featured Dr. Richard Michelmore, Director of the UC Davis Genome Center, and Dr. Allen Van Deynze, Research Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center. Dr. Michelmore provided an overview of the services and capabilities of the Genome Center and a vision of the future for genomics and plant breeding. Dr. Van Deynze illustrated current applications of genomic information to plant breeding with examples from tomato and pepper. This was followed by a brainstorming session to discuss concepts for a Collaborative Research Laboratory that would bring together university and seed industry scientists on the UC Davis campus.

 

The next Seed Central Research and Technology program will be held on February 9, 2012.  The objectives of Seed Central are to:

• strengthen the dialogue between UC Davis and the seed industry

• facilitate research collaborations and technology transfer between university and industry

• strengthen the benefits of operating within a dynamic and innovative industry cluster for all participants. 

Visit us to join Seed Central and learn about the benefits.

 

Source: Seed Biotechnology Center November 2011 Enews

 

Contributed by Donna Van Dolah

Seed Biotechnology Center

dlvandolah@ucdavis.edu

 

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1.04  Seed CentralTM Forum featured Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky, UC Davis Professor & HHMI-GBMF researcher

 

Seed Central and the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis and SeedQuest, hosted a networking event at UC Davis on Wednesday, November 9th.  Dr. Dubcovsky spoke to a group of 100 scholars, industry professionals and researchers. Dr. Dubcovsky’s research illustrates the power of modern genetics and biotechnology approaches in delivering new tools to breeders. In his keynote address, he shared the successes of the USDA-NIFA CAP consortia of 55 universities aimed at improving barley and wheat breeding. The next Seed Central Forum will be held on December 8, 2011 and the featured speaker is Dr. Florence Negre-Zakharov, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis.  To learn more about the topic and to register for the event visit: Investigating fruit volatile metabolism: toward improving crop flavor quality

 

Source: Seed Biotechnology Center November 2011 Enews

 

Contributed by Donna Van Dolah

Seed Biotechnology Center

dlvandolah@ucdavis.edu

 

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1.05  UC Davis and BGI announce partnership to establish state-of-the-art genome center in Sacramento, California

 

Davis and Sacramento, California, USA

October 25, 2011

The University of California, Davis, and BGI, the world’s largest genomic institute, based in China, have signed a historic agreement that will change the landscape of genomic sciences in California and the Western states, and foster critical breakthroughs in the areas of food security and human, animal and environmental health. The new partnership will establish a state-of-the-art BGI sequencing facility for immediate use on the UC Davis Health System campus in Sacramento, and initiate planning for a permanent BGI Davis Joint Genome Center.

 

The new sequencing facility will be used to support research initiatives and collaborations and leverage existing strengths across the Davis and Sacramento campuses in human and animal health and medicine, food safety and security, biology, and the environment. When complete, the permanent center will occupy about 10,000 square feet on the health system campus in Sacramento, initially adding approximately 20 high-skilled jobs. Ultimately, the center will increase UC Davis’ DNA sequencing capability approximately tenfold and generate an estimated 200 new jobs in the Sacramento region.

 

A signing ceremony for the BGI Davis Partnership was held Monday night at the UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento. Participating in the ceremony were Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis; Jun Wang, executive director of BGI, headquartered in Shenzen, China; and Greg Wang, chief executive officer of BGI Americas, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. Also taking part were Qin Xu, the mayor of Shenzhen, and Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento.

 

“UC Davis brings to this partnership phenomenal faculty conducting cutting-edge research on food, health, energy and the environment, while BGI is a world leader in genome sequencing and analysis,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “Together, as partners, UC Davis and BGI will be able to take on the biggest challenges in biology, medicine and the environment — right here in Sacramento.”

 

As envisioned under the agreement, UC Davis faculty and students will gain access to the capabilities and expertise of one of the world’s premier genomics and bioinformatics institutes, 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.

 

Hailing the new partnership, BGI’s Jun Wang stated, “UC Davis is among the top research universities in the U.S., especially in the areas of agricultural, environmental and biological research, and we look forward to a highly productive relationship between our two institutions.

 

“Given BGI’s expertise in genomic sequencing and bioinformatics, we expect our partnership with the university and the establishment of the planned permanent BGI Davis Joint Genome Center to lead to significant scientific breakthroughs for the betterment of mankind and our planet,” Wang said.

 

Lewin, who oversees the university’s $684 million annual research enterprise, said the partnership will have far-reaching impacts: “This marks the official start of a scientific partnership between two world-class institutions, and a platform for the potential expansion of our relationship in the future. It will provide exciting new opportunities for both UC Davis researchers and for BGI, and a catalyst for bringing new companies and businesses into the city of Sacramento.”

 

Having access to world-class genomic sequencing and bioinformatics capabilities on campus “will enable UC Davis faculty to attack bigger and more ambitious problems, as well as to compete for bigger grants and projects by expanding cooperation and collaboration teams in agriculture and health,” said Bart Weimer, professor of population health and reproduction at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the university’s leadership team assembled to work with BGI on the partnership.

 

"As mayor of Sacramento, I'm excited to forge a new friendship with BGI and the people of Shenzhen,” said Johnson. "Today's signing is an essential step in advancing a positive partnership with UC Davis, BGI, and the entire Sacramento region and I'm honored to be a part of this historic day. BGI and UC Davis are leaders in their fields and will make advancements in science and technology that have the potential to change the world. I look forward to seeing the impact it will have on the region when it comes to groundbreaking research, the economy, and future job creation."

 

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.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21788&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.06  A distance education program for plant breeding to be shared by multiple universities

 

A group of plant breeders in the U.S. is starting the process of adding a distance education program for plant breeding to be shared by multiple universities.  Faculty at various universities are already teaching plant breeding courses on-line, and there is a method for sharing courses among universities using the Ag*Idea program.  Ag*Idea is building a university without walls to expand courses and students beyond local limits.  Faculty who offer courses through Ag*Idea would make them more broadly available, and permit students to receive credit from their home institution.  It would also promote those courses more broadly, providing one-stop shopping for plant breeding students and increasing demand for the courses.

 

Some advantages of the Ag*Idea concept are:

- Students can take courses otherwise unavailable in their area

- Universities can offer courses taught by faculty with new areas of expertise

- Faculty already teaching courses on-line can add students from Ag*Idea

- Faculty get credit for teaching courses at their university

- Students get credit for taking courses at their university

- Money generated by the Ag*Idea courses is shared among participants

 

Interested faculty should contact one of the steering committee members:

- Steve Baenziger (pstephen.baenziger@gmail.com)

- Tom Hoegemeyer (thoegemeyer2@unl.edu)

- Deana Namuth-Covert (dcovert2@unl.edu)

- Jamie Sherman (jsherman@montana.edu)

- Todd Wehner, chair (tcwehner@ncsu.edu)

 

Contributed by Todd C. Wehner

Department of Horticultural Science

North Carolina State University

tcwehner@gmail.com

 

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1.07  Kenya’s rust screening facility mitigates world wheat threat

 

Many small-scale farmers in Eastern Africa have given up growing wheat because of pressure from Ug99. Kenyans confronted this hunger challenge head-on on September 30 when Hon. Gideon Ndambuki, the assistant minister of agriculture, flipped the switch for a new DRRW-funded irrigation project at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Njoro. The project will provide water for field trials of hundreds of new varieties of high yielding, yellow and stem rust-resistant wheat.

 

Irrigation improvements included a 1000 cubic meter water tank and sprinkler system that will be used on the 12 hectares of land set aside for screening international wheat germplasm for stem rust resistance as part of the DRRW project.

 

More than 200 farmers, scientists, industry partners, government officials and schoolchildren attended the field day. The event also celebrated KARI’s participation in the DRRW project, and KARI’s role as one of only two international stem rust screening nurseries.

 

KARI wheat breeders were particularly excited to showcase fields of two new high-yielding wheat varieties now available to Kenyan farmers—Eagle 10 and Robin. Both varieties come from the CIMMYT spring wheat breeding program, are resistant to yellow rust and Ug99, and showed no signs of infection in the KARI fields.

 

KARI serves the world’s wheat farmers by screening promising wheat lines for resistance to Ug99.

 

“So far, we have screened over 200,000 lines of the world’s wheat at Njoro,” said Peter Njau, director of the DRRW project at KARI-Njoro.

 

This season alone, 27,000 lines from 20 different countries are being tested against Ug99. When found to be superior yielding, they can be directly released as varieties. Nineteen varieties released in eight different countries is a direct outcome of the screening activities in Kenya.

 

Ravi Singh, distinguished scientist for CIMMYT, who accelerates the wheat breeding cycle through the Mexico-Kenya shuttle program, said, “Now it is in the hands of farmers to adopt the new varieties and promote them in their fields.” CIMMYT’s extensive breeding program in wheat depends on stacking multiple race non-specific minor genes for resistance. This strategy was part of the take-home message to participants at the 2011 Rust Screening Workshop, going on in Njoro, Sept. 26-Oct. 6. 

 

During the field day, Dr. Ephraim A. Mukisira, the director of KARI, said all Kenyans would benefit from public and private extension efforts, and bankers and government policy makers who enable progressive agronomic and market infrastructures.

 

 “Global development partners who work and serve farmers will lead to a new Kenya and a new Africa, one that embraces science and technology," said Dr. Mukisira. "The importance of wheat cannot be underscored enough. This field day has exposed us to the achievements of collaborative partnerships. You have ignited a process that will impact the lives of the rural poor and the entire population of the global community. I am sure that because of this work, next year bread prices will be half the price of today."

 

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1.08  Global food security, environmental quality targeted in UC Davis-Wageningen UR partnership

 

Davis, California, USA

November 10, 2011

Two of the world’s leading agricultural and environmental universities --¬ University of California, Davis, and Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands --¬ signed a cooperative agreement at UC Davis on Oct. 27 that will coordinate scientific research and implement business connections on major issues related to global food security, human nutrition, water and renewable energy.

 

With a global population that now tallies 7 billion, scientists and thought leaders worldwide are resolutely determining how to sustainably feed the additional 2 billion people who are expected to arrive in the next 40 years, while maintaining environmental quality and human nutrition and well-being.

 

“We are facing challenging times,” said Aalt Dijkhuizen, president and chairman of Wageningen UR. “We have to increase food production while decreasing the environmental footprint. That is a major global challenge.”

 

“This partnership will allow two of the best institutions in the world to address the challenges of environmental quality and food production,” added Neal Van Alfen, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Together we will form worldwide networks with other universities, government institutions and especially with businesses that can implement new research technologies. We will develop solutions that really have an impact.”

 

In addition to Van Alfen, UC Davis and California were represented at the signing by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Dijkhuizen was joined by Secretary-General Chris Buijink of the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, and Netherlands Consul General Bart van Bolhuis to represent Wageningen UR and the Netherlands.

 

“This partnership will bring lead scientists, businesses and government partners together to provide science-based answers, innovations and sound policy that benefit the public,” Katehi said. She stressed the need for scientists to help develop public policy.

 

Dijkhuizen noted that this “golden triangle” of private industry, government and university research institutions is an effective way to implement scientific technologies and innovations.

 

The CDFA secretary and Netherlands secretary-general highlighted the need for government in this partnership. Ross stressed the agricultural production and nutrition components of the agreement, and how they will benefit the health and well-being of general consumers, while assuring a strong agricultural future in California. Buijink said that job growth, which benefits everyone, will be a critical outcome of extending the research information and technologies to business partners in food-production, agricultural and environmental industries.

 

Water is a major issue related to food production and environmental quality, not only in the U.S. and the Netherlands but throughout the world and especially in developing areas. The consul general said that water issues will be at the forefront of research between the institutions.

 

“Research that addresses water-saving technologies in agriculture will help create new irrigation and water-storage innovations that benefit farmers, consumers and everyone who has a stake in water issues,” said van Bolhuis.

 

This agreement between UC Davis and Wageningen UR will address the pressing global issues of population growth, food security and environmental sustainability through research on efficient production and postharvest technologies, reduced energy and environmental inputs, and scientific breakthroughs in areas such as genomics, biotechnology and new biofuels.

 

The agreement will also establish scholarly exchange programs for students and postdoctoral scholars between the two universities in order to expand knowledge of global issues and technologies related to food, agriculture and the environment. The courses and workshops will provide leadership opportunities for students and postdocs who will go on to become scientists, decision makers and leaders in businesses, government, universities and other organizations.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=22190&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.09  University of the Philippines to launch PH Genome Center in Los Baños soon

 

By MARVYN N. BENANING

November 10, 2011, 4:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Agriculture Program will be launched at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños on November 28.

 

PGC executive director Dr. Carmen Padilla said the core of the PGC will be plant genetics and breeding laboratories and facilities at the Institute of Plant Breeding of UPLB.

In preparation for the formal launch, Padilla said PGC actually had a soft launch on October 20 via a symposium and a general discussion on the operations of PGC.

 

Padilla stressed PGC is envisioned to be a "world-class center of excellence in gene discovery and genomics research that effectively translates knowledge into applications beneficial to society."

 

Thus, the center will work on basic research that has strong applications on Philippine commodities, including traditional crops and biotechnology products, she added, in addition to pharmaceuticals, forensics and other issues of social and economic impact.

 

PGC’s five programs cover agriculture, health, biodiversity for drug discovery and bioenergy, forensics and ethnicity, and social, legal, and ethical issues, Padilla revealed.

 

All of these programs will be launched on November 21, said Dr. Rita Laude, Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension of UPLB and Director for the Agriculture Program of PGC.

 

Laude said that crop genomics, particularly in abaca, saba, and pili will be a priority of PGC’s Agriculture Program.

The three crops, she said, are endemic to the Philippines.

 

In her message, Dr. Padilla admitted that PGC will require a lot of hard work and capital, but she asserted that a lot more can be gained.

 

“If you know how to use it (resources) wisely, the returns are actually huge,” she said on the outputs of researches on genomics.

 

The Department of Science and Technology (DoST) has initially provided funding to support PGC health research efforts and considers genomics as one of its priority programs.

 

Moreover, the Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office (DA-BPO) provides research funds for ongoing crop genomics studies.

 

During the pre-launch mini symposium, scientists and researchers from UPLB and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) presented conducted and ongoing studies involving genomics in agriculture.

 

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/340789/up-launch-ph-genome-center-los-ba-os-soon

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.10  Study shows that drought-tolerant maize is critical to increasing maize production in West Africa

 

Ibadan, Nigeria

November 16, 2011

Access to improved seeds by smallholder farmers is a prerequisite to increased maize production in West Africa, as climate change hurts yield from traditional varieties, says a study by researchers working under the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Project (DTMA).

 

The study authored by Dr. Abdoulaye Tahirou et al notes that improved maize varieties tolerant of drought are helping farmers in addressing production risks and called for joint efforts to facilitate their wider dissemination across the subregion.

 

Consumed by more than 650 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), maize productivity in recent years has been severely threatened by frequent droughts and irregular rainfall. In West and Central Africa, 35% of the area under maize is affected by drought.

 

The DTMA Project, a partnership led by the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) and IITA, is helping farmers in cushioning the negative effect of drought by developing and disseminating maize with significantly improved drought tolerance.

 

Tahirou and colleagues found that although seed companies that are critical to the dissemination of seeds in West Africa have expanded since 2007 from about 10 formal companies to more than 22 currently in the four DTMA countries ( Nigeria, Benin, Mali, and Ghana); their production is still well below demand.

 

For instance, the total production of improved maize seeds in those countries stands at about less than 15,000 tons while more than 80,000 tons are required for Nigeria alone.

 

Presenting the findings to stakeholders at the regional meeting of DTMA partners and policymakers in Lagos, Tahirou, who is also IITA Impact Economist, urged governments in the region to tackle the challenge of poor irrigation to pave the way for an all-year-round production of improved seeds to accelerate availability and meet demand.

 

While commending member countries for adopting fairly liberal seed laws, he advised the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to step up efforts that would see the full implementation of the harmonized regional seed law.

 

“This will help countries that are lagging behind, as improved drought-tolerant maize varieties will move freely across the region,” he says.

 

“Equally important for governments in the region is to help seed companies gain access to working capital.”

 

Dr. Robert Asiedu, IITA Director of Research for Development, says a vibrant seed sector is essential to achieving the DTMA vision—a vision which aims to develop varieties that will give farmers at least one ton per hectare more maize when drought hits, improve smallholder farmer maize productivity by 20 - 30%, and reach 30 - 40 million people in SSA with these new maize varieties.

 

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Bukar Tijani described the meeting as ‘timely’.

 

He said, “I would like to stress again that this program which is an effort to mitigate the negative impact of drought on maize production and improve dissemination of relevant improved subsector development technology is most timely.”

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=22298&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.11  New breeds of broccoli remain packed with minerals

 

USDA scientists evaluated the mineral levels in 14 broccoli cultivars that had been released over a span of more than 50 years and found out that the new varieties contain the same levels of calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, sodium, phosphorous, sulfur and zinc.

 

"For broccoli cultivars grown during the past 35 years, when hybrids became the standard cultivar, evidence indicates that mineral concentrations remain unchanged," said Mark Farnham, one of the researchers. "As broccoli breeders continue to improve this crop in the future, data from this study can serve as a very useful guide in helping breeders understand the variation in mineral concentrations they should expect among their breeding stocks and also provide a realistic baseline that should be maintained as other characteristics are manipulated in the future."

 

Read more at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2011/111013.htm.

 

Source:  Crop Biotech Update 21 October 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.12  NDSU helping develop better beans

 

A 2009 project initiative called the Common Bean Coordinated Agricultural Project (BeanCAP) by North Dakota State University (NDSU) led by Phil McClean is releasing the more than 1,575 bean SNPs that would aid bean breeders in developing countries. The SNPs will be transferred to the Generation Challenge Program (GCP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

 

"This transfer is consistent with the USDA Feed the Future commitment to be actively engaged in global food security efforts," McClean says. "It supports the research objective to seek gains in productivity through adoption of improved technologies that will promote the development of more nutritious, environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient crops. Transfer of these molecular markers is consistent with a USDA strategy that envisions outcomes that will deliver scientific breakthroughs! and research to promote adoption of the best science through links with private-sector research partners and international agencies."

 

SNPs or single nucleotide polymorphism is an advanced molecular-marker system widely used to increase the efficiency of crop breeding of common beans. Common beans are considered the most important food legume that feeds about more than 500 million people in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

 

The original news can be viewed at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/newsreleases/2011/oct-10-2011/ndsu-helping-develop-better-beans

 

Source:  Crop Biotech Update 21 October 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.13  Scientists identify stem rust resistant landraces

 

Experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have identified several stem rust resistant wheat varieties and are retesting them to verify their resistance. Their research is highly important because stem rust is present in all areas where wheat is planted. Losses due to this pest could reach up to 70 percent.

 

The research team working on this project is headed by plant pathologist Mike Bonman of USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). They screened more than 3,000 wheat landraces against new races of the stem rust pathogen found in wheat fields in Kenya. Resistant landraces are being crossed with susceptible varieties of wheat to deter! mine the genes causing the resistance.

 

The ultimate objective of the research team is to find new genes for resistance to rust strain Ug99 because that strain has the ability to fight several resistance gene that have been employed in crops for the last 50 years. Their success in this study would also mean helping African growers suppress disease and reduce damage caused by the pest.

 

Visit http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2011/111024.htm for more information.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 28 October 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.14  New rice varieties offer benefits to US growers

 

Scientists at the USDA Agricultural Research Service have developed new rice varieties that offer new choices for U.S. growers and could expand market opportunities for the U.S. rice industry. The varieties were developed with the help of scientists from other institutions such as the Texas A&M University, University of Arkansas, Clemson University, and the International Rice Research Institute.

 

One of the new varieties is called JES. It is an aromatic, soft-cooking, long-grain rice which is suited for the market that depends on imports. JES is a jasmine-style rice, but has higher yields and matures a week earlier than Jasmine 85.

 

Charleston Gold, the other new variety, is an improvement of the Carolina Gold and contains genetic material coming from cultivars in the Philippines and India. It is high yielding, disease resistant, and has good cooking quality.

 

Read more information about these new varieties at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct11/food1011.htm.

 

Source:  Crop Biotech Update 04 November 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.15  Cassava virus spreading in East Africa

 

Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) is on the verge of becoming an epidemic in East Africa. Experts of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) say that the disease has been found in previously unaffected areas particularly where cassava is a major food crop. People in Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda depend on the crop for food.

 

"None of the cassava varieties currently being distributed to farmers seem to be tolerant to the effects of CBSD. We urgently need to get information on the extent and severity of the outbreak, and to support investments to identify disease-tolerant varieties and coping strategies for farmers," said Jan Helsen, leader of FAO's European Union-funded Regional Cassava Initiative in Eastern and Central Africa.

 

Helsen says National Cassava Steering Committees have been set up to manage the response to the disease."Thanks to the foresight of, and the scientific support from, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), efforts are underway to understand the epidemiology of the disease, but more support will be needed for this work, and to select and bring on CBSD-tolerant varieties," Helsen added.

 

The FAO media release is at http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/94313/icode/.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 18 November 2011:

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.16  HarvestPlus-China field day exhibits maize hybrids in southwestern China

 

At the HarvestPlus-China (HPC) Annual Meeting for 2011 in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China, two Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (YAAS)-developed hybrids, Yunrui 8 and YR506, were the focus of the field day.

 

Yunrui 8 is a high quality maize hybrid developed using CIMMYT germplasm and an elite YAAS inbred.  It was released in Yunnan in 2005, and was recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture for use in southern China in 2010. Uptake by farmers in the region has been rapid, and the hybrid now covers 0.5 million ha; providing the farmers with a USD 118 million net increase in income.

 

YR506 is finishing its second year of regional testing and offers farmers the first high yielding, provitamin A hybrid adapted to their needs. It is derived from national program germplasm and high provitamin A germplasm from HarvestPlus collaborations with the US.

 

Source: CIMMYT Informa 1768

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.17  Frost-tolerant Eskimo carrot wins NIAB award

 

14 November 2011

The 2011 NIAB Variety Cup has been awarded to the Nickerson-Zwaan carrot variety Eskimo, bred by Vilmorin, in recognition of its unique frost tolerance and resulting commercial impact.

 

The award acknowledges varieties that have made a major contribution to crop productivity through improved quality, disease resistance, grower return or commercial success, and can be drawn from the entire spectrum of horticultural, ornamental and agricultural crops. 

 

“The NIAB Variety Cup was first awarded in 1986 to the cauliflower White Rock, and the vegetable sector has held its own ever since winning in 1997, 2009 and again this year.  Both new and established varieties are considered in the process and Eskimo is a perfect example of the latter,” said Dr Tina Barsby, Director of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany.

 

NIAB TAG’s Bruce Napier explained that when Eskimo was commercially launched in 2003 it represented a step forward in carrot breeding with its frost tolerance, which has since contributed to improved quality, yield and pack-out results from open-field situations late into the winter. 

 

“Eskimo’s win recognises its steady market growth, year-on-year, through good performance and as pressures on cost and availability of straw continued to rise.  Uncovered crops of Eskimo did particularly well in 2010 surviving the early, hard frosts in November, with between zero and 20% field losses compared to potential 100% losses in competitor varieties. Since then the vast majority of the variety’s growers have increased volumes for harvest in winter 2011,” sad Mr Napier.

 

Commenting on the award John De Soyza, Range Manager at Nickerson-Zwaan UK Ltd said: “We’re very honoured in receiving the NIAB Variety Cup award for Eskimo.  A lot of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into the commercial development of the variety over the years and we’re delighted that its benefits to the industry have been shown to be real and consistent.

 

“Congratulations to our team who were involved in bringing the variety to the market.  It has truly been a joint effort between our sister breeding company Vilmorin, who had the foresight to begin introducing frost tolerance into hybrid carrots some 20 years ago, and the product development and commercial teams who worked so well together to launch the variety.

 

“However all this would have been impossible to achieve without the active support of our grower partners who cooperated with us to make the variety the success that it is.  It’s greatly satisfying to have been part of something that has been a significant benefit to growers and receive the Variety Cup award with many thanks to both NIAB and the carrot growing industry,” finished Mr De Soyza.

 

For further information contact:

Bruce Napier, Vegetable Specialist, NIAB TAG

bruce.napier@niab.com

 

Mark Sutherland, Nickerson-Zwaan Ltd

msutherland@nickerson.co.uk

 

Ros Lloyd, Communications Manager, NIAB

ros.lloyd@niab.com

 

NIAB

NIAB is a major international centre for plant science, crop evaluation and agronomy, with headquarters in Cambridge and regional offices across the country. NIAB spans the crop development pipeline, combining within a single resource the specialist knowledge, skills and facilities required to support the improvement of agricultural and horticultural crop varieties, to evaluate their performance and quality, and to ensure these advances are transferred into on-farm practice through efficient agronomy.

 

With an internationally recognised reputation for independence, innovation and integrity, NIAB is ideally placed to meet the industry’s current and future research, information and knowledge transfer needs.

 

As NIAB TAG we conduct field crops research and provide impartial variety and crop husbandry information. The NIAB TAG knowledge base is drawn from extensive staff expertise, research data and field trials from over 20 locations in England. It is widely utilised by the agricultural community and through the NIAB TAG Network influences more than 20% of the UK’s

arable area.

 

For more information log onto www.niab.com or follow us on Twitter@niabtag

 

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1.18  New partnership to improve seed supplies of vital anti-malarial plant

 

At the Artemisinin Conference in Hanoi, the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) and East-West Seed announced a new partnership to ensure that high yielding seeds from improved varieties of Artemisia annua will rapidly be made available for global cultivation.  CNAP, at the University of York, has partnered with leading tropical seed company East-West Seed to produce Artemisia seeds in commercial quantities.  This new supply of improved seed will help build up a robust supply chain for the production of Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs), the World Health Organisation recommended treatment for malaria.

 

Through the partnership, large-scale commercialization and distribution of the seeds to Artemisia growers are expected in 2012, targeting 20% of the global Artemisia cultivation acreage.  Annual global demand for ACTs is expected to increase beyond the current level of 250 million treatments to up to 310 million by 2015 and the new high yielding seeds will help achieve the strategic aims of universal coverage of ACTs and access to treatments.

 

Past field trial results demonstrate that all the newly available varieties will perform well in various growing conditions and under diverse regional agricultural practices.  In the trials, plants have been assessed for abundance of yield, robustness, and resistance to pests and diseases.

 

Bert van der Feltz, VP Sales and Marketing, said ‘Through this new partnership with CNAP, East-West Seed can count itself among the many organizations and individuals -- national governments, donor foundations, research institutions, universities, pharmaceutical companies and individual philanthropists – who are committed to the elimination and eradication of malaria.’ Dianna Bowles, one of the Co-Principal Investigators at CNAP said ‘I am delighted that we have successfully partnered with East-West Seed.  This provides an excellent opportunity for the new Artemisia varieties developed at York to make a real difference to the fight against malaria.’  Ian Graham, the CNAP Director and Co-Principal Investigator on the project, said ‘This partnership with East-West Seed is excellent for the project and demonstrates CNAP’s commitment to delivery as well as top quality research’.

 

Contacts in CNAP and East-West Seed

 

CNAP

Caroline Calvert:

Tel:+44(0)1904 328763

Fax: +44(0)1904 328830

Email: caroline.calvert@york.ac.uk

 

East-West Seed

Michael McDaniel

Tel: +66-2-831-7788

Fax: +66-2-923-7794

Email: michael.mcdaniel@eastwestseed.com

 

The CNAP Artemisia Research Project

The Artemisia Research Project involves dedicated teams of molecular biologists, plant breeders and horticulturalists led by Professor Dianna Bowles and Professor Ian Graham. With funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CNAP has been developing improved varieties of Artemisia annua to stabilise supplies of artemisinin for the production of ACTs.  The latest genetic and analytical technologies have been used to accelerate and enhance traditional plant breeding to generate the new, non-GM improved varieties. In 2010 the researchers published the first genetic map of Artemisia annua.

www.york.ac.uk/org/cnap/artemisiaproject

 

Contributed by Elspeth Bartlet

Communication Strategist, Green Ink

e.bartlet@greenink.co.uk

 

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1.19  UPOV marks 50 years; breeders seek more enforcement, civil society wants in

 

Geneva, Switzerland

October 20, 2011

By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch

This week the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Union is often criticised by civil society as being opaque, but plant breeders seem reasonably content with the latest version of the convention. However, some breeders that do not rely on seeds to reproduce their plants are seeking a clarification in the convention to prevent illegal use of their protected varieties.

 

UPOV is an intergovernmental organisation headquartered in Geneva, in the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) main building. The declared objective of the UPOV Convention is “the protection of new varieties of plants by an intellectual property right.”

 

The UPOV Convention was adopted in 1961, after the Diplomatic Conferences held in Paris in 1957 and 1961, and it entered into force in 1968. The first Convention was then amended in 1972, 1978, and 1991.

 

As of July 2011, UPOV had 70 member countries [pdf]. According to the UPOV website, one of the conditions of membership is the “development of a law in conformity with the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention (UPOV Convention).”

 

Asexually Reproduced Varieties

There are two types of plants: those propagated by seeds, and those reproduced from grown plants in ways such as cuttings, which are described as asexually reproduced, said Edgar Krieger, secretary general of an international association of plant breeders of reproduced ornamental and fruit varieties (CIOPORA). CIOPORA considers the production of its breeders as horticulture rather than agriculture. Both agriculture and horticulture have matching interests but also different, specific needs, he told Intellectual Property Watch in an interview.

 

CIOPORA, headquartered in Geneva but with an operating office in Hamburg, Germany, is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The group is advocating for strong intellectual property protection for breeders of the asexually reproduced varieties on a worldwide basis, Krieger said. Most fruits and a large number of ornamental species, such as roses, carnations, geraniums and poinsettias, belong to the asexually reproduced varieties, he said.

 

The particularity of asexually reproduced varieties is that they are easily reproduced “true to type”, he said. “It is very easy, from one plant or part of a plant, to multiply and duplicate the exact same plant variety and there are no technical means to restrict duplication,” he said. The majority of asexually reproduced plants are bred by traditional breeding or natural or induced mutations, he added.

 

According to Krieger, there are too many loopholes in the UPOV Convention to efficiently protect asexually reproduced plants. CIOPORA has been an observer at UPOV for 50 years, and it sees “many positive developments,” he said. “UPOV plays a huge role in harmonisation” and in disseminating “the idea of plant protection into the world.”

 

But, according to Krieger, the main concern in the current UPOV 1991 Convention is the lack of a clear definition of propagating material, which is protected under the Convention. Propagating material is parts of the plant that can be used for reproduction. Another concern is that the harvest material, such as apples or cut flowers, is protected but under conditions and limitations.

 

CIOPORA represents over 65 percent of all plant breeders’ rights, titles and plant patents granted worldwide. As such, the largest users of the system with over 1200 species are CIOPORA members.

 

CIOPORA would like a broad definition of propagating material, Krieger said, such as that “any plant or part of a plant, which is capable to produce an entire new plant true to type should be considered as propagating material,” he said. Last year, CIOPORA made a proposal for a definition. A UPOV commonly agreed definition of such material could be applied by members in their legislation, he said.

 

Another concern is the farmers’ exception, Krieger said. This exception gives the possibility for a farmer to use his harvest of a protected variety on his own premises for further sowing. The list of crops is at the discretion of each country, he told Intellectual Property Watch. If the farmers’ exception is extended to asexually reproduced crops, “then the whole system is ineffective.” The farmers’ exception normally applies to agriculture only, and on a specific list of crops, but some countries extend it to horticulture, he said.

 

“Regarding the scope of right we need to have control over the material of a variety beyond propagating material.” Everything that is not propagating material is harvest material and “we need to have a grip on harvest material,” he said.

 

It is important to extend the protection of the asexual varieties beyond propagating material to avoid infringement, he said. For example, if a farmer buys a licence for a specific apple tree, then all derived products, such as apple juice or jam, can be traded freely. However, if there is no licence on the apple tree, then the right holders must have a way to control the apple juice or the jam, Krieger said.

 

The goal of CIOPORA, he said, is to get better enforcement tools in many parts of the world, like higher qualification of courts. CIOPORA is also working with the World Customs Organization on infringement of breeders’ rights.

 

Civil Society Demands Transparency

Meanwhile, on 3 October, the Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES) sent a letter to UPOV Vice-Secretary General Peter Button, with detailed recommendations to the UPOV working group on rules concerning observers.

 

In particular, the letter [pdf] asks that all UPOV documents be made publicly available. The UPOV website operates with two layers of restricted areas, they said, which filters access to selected users. According to APBREBES, “as an intergovernmental organization UPOV’s activities must be consistent with the principles of transparency, accountability and participation.” They added that UPOV’s sister organisation WIPO makes all working documents and meetings reports publicly available.

 

The letter also asks that all observers are invited to join UPOV’s work to achieve “a balanced representation of the different stakeholders and interests.” APBREBES asks UPOV to “ensure balanced representation of different stakeholder groups, especially farmer organizations and other public interest civil society groups, in all its meetings.”

 

Finally the letter requests that UPOV allows participation of observers in the Consultative Committee.

 

ABPREBES members include: Berne Declaration (Switzerland); Center for International Environmental Law (USA); Community Technology Development Trust (Zimbabwe); Development Fund (Norway); Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (Nepal); Searice – The Southeast Asia Regional Initiative for Community Empowerment (Philippines); and Third World Network (Malaysia).

 

The UPOV Administrative and Legal Committee met on 17 October, and the Administrative and Legal Committee Advisory Group met on 18 October, as well as the working group on rules concerning observers. The Consultative Committee met today, and the Council met on 20 October. On 21 October, a closed symposium on Plant Breeding for the Future will take place.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21679&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.20  GM cotton in Colombia - Gender issues

 

As part of its IFPRI Discussion Papers series, the International Food Policy Research Institute recently published "Women cotton farmers: Their perceptions and experiences with transgenic varieties. A case study for Colombia" by P. Zambrano and co-authors. The paper explores the differences in perceptions and experiences of men and women in the main cotton regions of Colombia regarding genetically modified cotton. See http://www.ifpri.org/publication/women-cotton-farmers-their-perceptions-and-experiences-transgenic-varieties or contact P.Zambrano@cgiar.org for more information.

 

Source: Update 3-2011 of FAO-BiotechNews

http://www.fao.org/biotech/biotech-news/en/

 

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1.21  Bancos de Sementes do Nordeste fortalecem a agricultura familiar

 

Brazil

October 24, 2011

ABRATES

Por Redação: Pantal News/Governo Federal

Livre de atravessadores, produção se torna mais ecológica e sustentável.

 

Sementes da Paraíba, que estavam desaparecendo com a erosão e o desmatamento, agora estão no estoque coletivo de sementes em bancos comunitários. Já são 16 bancos, com a participação de 381 sócios, que armazenam 25 toneladas de sementes. Além de palestras sobre a importância do resgate das sementes locais para o fortalecimento da agricultura familiar, o Centro de Educação Popular e Formação Social (CEPFS) capacitou 211 agricultores na confecção de silos. O acesso às sementes se dá por empréstimo ou troca, na hora certa para o plantio.

 

Os bancos comunitários também funcionam como espaços de armazenamento de grãos, estratégicos para a segurança alimentar e nutricional das famílias. "Antes as famílias se submetiam a negociar sementes e sua produção com atravessadores, tendo que devolvê-las com acréscimo de 100% após a colheita do ano seguinte", conta o responsável pela tecnologia social, José Rego Neto.

 

Outra vantagem é o impacto positivo no equilíbrio ambiental, uma vez que permite o resgate, a multiplicação e a preservação de sementes adaptadas à região. O processo de implantação promove uma nova abordagem com o manejo adequado dos recursos naturais, incluindo reflorestamento dos quintais e unidades produtivas.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21760&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.22  Crop diversity myths persist in media, according to study by a University of Illinois expert in intellectual property law

 

Champaign, Illinois, USA

November 2, 2011

The conventional wisdom that says the 20th century was a disaster for crop diversity is nothing more than a myth, according to a forthcoming study by a University of Illinois expert in intellectual property law.

 

Law professor Paul Heald says overall varietal diversity of the $20 billion market for vegetable crops and apples in the U.S. actually has increased over the past 100 years, a finding that should change the highly politicized debate over intellectual property policy.

 

“The conventional wisdom, as illustrated in the July 2011 issue of National Geographic, holds that the last century was a disaster for crop diversity,” he said. “In the mainstream media, this position is so entrenched that it no longer merits a citation.”

 

To support their conclusions, Heald and co-author Susannah Chapman, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of Georgia, studied thousands of commercially available varieties of 42 vegetable crops from 1903 to 2004, as well as varieties of apples from 1900 to 2000.

 

“When we began this study, we started with the assumption that every year we advanced in the 20th century there would be fewer and fewer varieties offered for sale commercially,” Heald said.

 

But when the researchers went to Washington to study varieties available in historical commercial seed and nursery catalogs, they were surprised by what they found as they worked through the years 1900 to 1930.

 

“There was no evident sign of decline, so we decided to step back and take a snapshot of 1903 and 2004, two years where others had collected full data on all important vegetable crops,” Heald said. “We came to this with the exact same preconceptions as everyone else, but we couldn’t ignore facts that were smacking us in the face.”

 

According to Heald, the reason no one questioned the conventional wisdom of a crop diversity crisis earlier is that the narrative “resonates so completely with assumptions made in all the socio-biological fields.”

 

“Humans generally cause significant environmental damage, so this false notion of waning crop diversity fits an accepted narrative,” Heald said. “It reconfirms what people already believe, and that belief is certainly bolstered by people’s casual observations about lack of diversity in the supermarket.”

 

Heald says the lack of choice in the fruit and vegetable section of grocery stores creates the impression that there’s a diversity crisis.

 

“Since we don’t see the diversity, it must not be there,” he said. “It fits in with a narrative of bad environmental news. There’s no doubt the 20th century was a bad century for the environment, so it must also have been a bad century for crop diversity. But it turns out this is one area in the last century that was pretty good. So all these factors bundled together led to a consensus that was never questioned and never really explored systematically until now.”

 

According to the study, 40 percent of the diversity gains the researchers found were from imports, but only 3 percent of gains could be traced to patents and less than 1 percent from biotechnological innovation.

 

“The influx of immigrants from South America and Asia have really brought a lot of new germplasm into the U.S.,” Heald said. “Seeds stored in suitcases and purses can move around the world without anyone knowing or the government playing any significant role. On the other hand, government stimulus, like patent law, plays a role in only 3 percent of diversity gains, with biotech innovation constituting less than 1 percent.”

 

In the debate between economists who believe that patent law is essential to increasing plant diversity through innovation, and anthropologists and ethno-botanists who believe that patents destroyed plant diversity in the 20th century, Heald says the study demonstrates that both sides are wrong.

 

“The story of vegetables and apples in the 20th century is a story of markets working without government intervention, so it’s really a confluence of liberal and conservative dogma,” he said. “You see immigrants, off-the-grid seed savers, small farmers and local gardeners preserving and innovating. They create what appears to be a very efficient market for diversity in the absence of significant legal regulation.”

 

The study also includes the caveat that corn may be the exception to the influence of the patent system, as federal property rights play a more prevalent role in the ubiquitous crop, as well as with soybeans and cotton.

 

“The interesting question is, ‘Why do firms patent these new strains of corn?’ ” Heald said. “Some agricultural economists would say that patents allow a firm to capture a certain segment of the market, but people who study varieties of patented corn say that it’s more of a phenomenon of defensive patenting, where you patent something because you don’t want to be sued by someone else when they try to patent the exact same thing. Since patent suits can be expensive, it’s easier and safer to patent what you produce.”

 

But to become a player in the corn market, you may need as big of a patent portfolio as the competition, Heald says.

 

“There’s also the sense – and this has been borne out in other industries, such as computer technology – that you want to create this huge arsenal of patents that you can wield as a big club in the market,” he said. “If that’s true, then, ironically, it may be inefficient to have patent protection, if the public gets too much of this sort of game-playing and legal jockeying.

 

“So the interesting question is, do you really need patent protection to stimulate new kinds of corn? That, of course, is going to turn on how expensive it is to create a new strain, and how easy to appropriate the technology.”

 

Heald’s study will be published in the University of Illinois Law Review.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=22010&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.23  Diversity of cabbage species explained

 

Wageningen, The Netherlands

November 7, 2011

The cabbage family is well-represented in the vegetable section of the supermarket. The Brassica oleraciea. Its sister species Brassica rapa produced vegetables such as the Chinese cabbage and the turnip. But it is not clear quite where this large natural variety came from. Plant scientists guess that there is an extremely large genetic variation in cabbage plants. The genome of the Chinese cabbage, published in this month's Nature Genetics, supports this explanation.

 

Flowering time

'The genome of the Chinese cabbage, a B. rapa crop, does indeed provide evidence of this', explains Guusje Bonnema, assistant professor of Plant Breeding at Wageningen University and member of the international research team. ´We see a strikingly large number of genes that regulate flowering time. This varies according to crop type from twenty days to as much as two years.´ There is a clear link, then, between gene abundance and diversity. The hypothesis is further supported by the large number of genes involved in the hormonal system, which governs the formation of the plant.

 

The researchers also have an explanation for the source of these extra genes. It has been known for a while that the brassicas tripled their genetic material between five and nine million years ago. This is quite a common occurrence in plants, and afterwards, 'superfluous' genes mutate and disappear en masse. But a few groups of genes do seem to be kept and this made the eventual diversity of cabbage possible. The newly-mapped DNA sequence provides more than a fundamental insight into the characteristics of cabbage. 'The research is especially of use to the breeding sector', says Bonnema. 'Breeders always need markers'. Such markers in the genome reveal the presence of a particular gene, such as one for virus resistance, for example. Breeders can then select for this gene, making it easier to cross-breed genes into other species.

 

Rob Ramaker

The above article was written by the editorial staff of Resource, the bi-weekly newspaper for Wageningen University and Research centre.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=22119&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.24  FAO says traditional crops key to facing climate change - On 10th anniversary, international plant genetics treaty funds new projects

 

Rome, Italy

14 November 2011

Traditional food crops and other plant varieties worldwide are in urgent need of protection from climate change and other environmental stresses, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today, as it observed the tenth anniversary of the international treaty to protect and share plant genetic resources.

 

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf called on countries to develop specific policies to conserve and make wider use of plant varieties for generations to come. He lauded the injection of $6 million made available through the treaty to help farmers of traditional crops adapt to climate change.

 

"The conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture are key to ensuring that the world will produce enough food to feed its growing population in the future," Diouf said.

 

Diouf pointed out that the global gene pool of more than 1.5 million samples of plant genetic material governed collectively and multilaterally by signature countries under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture "constitutes the basis for more than 80 percent of the world's food derived from plants and it is possibly our most important tool for adapting agriculture to climate change in the years to come."

 

The Treaty's ‘Benefit-sharing Fund' is being used to support farmers and breeders in 21 developing countries to adapt key crops to the new conditions brought on by climate change, floods, droughts, plant pests, plant diseases and other factors.

 

"The effects of climate change on agriculture do not respect national borders, they cover entire agro-ecological zones," said Shakeel Bhatti, Secretary of the International Treaty. "For this reason, this portfolio of projects is taking a pioneering approach in generating a global knowledge base. Some of these projects will help us to establish clear priorities and action plans across borders for future actions."

 

Peru's Potato Park

One such project is based in a potato sanctuary in Peru, where community members combine traditional knowledge with efforts to conserve native varieties, improve agricultural production and ensure food security.

 

"When I was a little girl, native potatoes were cultivated in the lower lands. Today, lower zones are much hotter than before and it is not possible to cultivate potatoes anymore. As a result, we need to cultivate them much higher in the mountain," said Francisca Pacco, Potato Park Guardian.

 

During a recent knowledge-exchange session with visitors from Ethiopia, Pacco and other Potato Park residents showed how they used local knowledge of wind patterns, native plants and other factors to change the locations and timing for local potato cultivation. With support from the Benefit-sharing Fund, Potato Park residents are also increasing income-generating activities.

 

Recognition of farmers' work

"Farmers are the key actors in the conservation and sustainable use of food crops and they struggle with all the changes that are happening. If we work hard with a solid scientific basis and the integration of farmers, we will see results in two years when these projects will be over," said Zoila Fundora, a Cuba-based expert from the panel that evaluated the new projects approved.

 

"The fund helps farmers, in a very practical way, to adapt to climate change and contributes to food security by recognizing that one part of the solution is in the huge diversity of crops", said David Cunningham, a panel expert from Australia.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=22246&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.25  Pillar of maize: A special salute to scientists who uncovered its domestication and diversity

 

An extraordinary session of the ASA/CSSA/SSSA convention in San Antonio, Texas, during 16-19 October 2011, honored researchers who have dedicated their professional lives to understanding and using the diversity of the amazing food crop, maize, and its wild relatives Tripsacum and teosinte. Entitled “The mysteries of maize: A recognition of pillars in maize science,” the session paid tribute to the careers of Major Goodman, Hugh Iltis, Takeo Ángel Kato Yamakake, Wilfredo Salhuana, José de Jesús Sánchez González, and H. Garrison Wilkes, as well as CIMMYT’s own Suketoshi Taba and José Crossa.

 

Source: CIMMYT Informa 1771:

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.26  Brazilian virus-resistant beans

 

by Lucia de Souza on 18 October 2011

A homemade, high potential benefit-driven development from the public sector

Beans are an important food item, mostly in the developing world. Unfortunately, the golden mosaic virus infection is a serious constraint causing severe grain losses in Brazil and South America. The National Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) approved the genetically modified golden mosaic virus-resistant beans developed by the Brazilian public Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) linked to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply. This work is an example of a public-sector effort to develop useful traits, such as resistance to a devastating disease, in an “orphan crop” cultivated by poor farmers throughout Latin America. It is a milestone as it is the first fully “publicly funded homemade” recombinant biotechnology crop improvement strategy that has reached this stage in a developing country.

 

Why are the virus-resistant beans so important?

Feijoada

Beans are highly nutritious and one of the most important legume consumed by over 500 million people in Latin America and Africa. In Brazil it is regularly an indispensable item of the everyday diet, often combined with rice and eaten by all social classes in all parts of the nation. They are found in a great variety of types with different sizes, colors and tastes consumed throughout the country. Perhaps, the most typical Brazilian dish is the ‘feijoada”, a black beans stew. The local consumption is around 16 kg per person every year. Given its high protein (15 to 33%) content besides B vitamins and minerals as iron, calcium and phosphorus, beans provide a high nutritional value meal. Moreover, beans are the major source of protein for the economically disadvantaged.

 

Currently Brazil is the largest producer, responsible for approximately 20% of the global production. It is estimated that the domestic production should reach 3.8 million tons in the 2010/2011 period. This is mostly an achievement of small farmers (less than 100 hectares) responsible for approximately 70% of the country’s production. In spite of this high domestic production, Brazil does not produce enough to meet its own needs.

 

The major threat to the farmer’s plants, causing losses of up to a 100%, is the golden mosaic virus, which is transmitted by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci in a persistent and circulative manner. That means that once the insect gets the virus it will transmit the disease to the crop its whole life. Only one to three whiteflies per plant in a field are enough to infect all plants. With the spread of the disease throughout Latin America, hundreds of thousands of hectares were either abandoned or could not be cultivated without heavy use of insecticides with limited efficacy. This kind of control has resulted in the development of insecticide resistance, adverse environmental effects, and health hazards to field workers throughout the region. In Brazil alone, annual losses vary between 90,000 and 280,000 tons. That would be enough to feed up to 18 Million adults in the country. There are 180 to 200 thousand hectares that are not suitable for cultivation.

 

The long way to develop the virus-resistant beans.

The search for bean varieties resistant to the golden mosaic virus (BGMV) begun in the 70′s. It was hoped to obtain plants immune to this disease through conventional breeding methods. Thousands of lines were evaluated for natural resistance or immunity to the disease, but the extensive screening of common bean germplasm found no genotypes with satisfactory level of resistance to BGMV. With the advent of genetic engineering new strategies have been employed in addition to conventional breeding. Finally a successful strategy was found. The strategy was the use of RNA interference (RNAi) that mimics natural silencing mechanisms. Infected plants naturally produce silencing mechanisms that interfere with the virus in the bean cells, unfortunately not effective enough against this disease. The new “vaccinated” variety produces small fragments of RNA that will activate its defense mechanism to silence the viral rep gene, which leads to the synthesis of an essential protein for the replication of the virus. Consequently, without this protein, replication of the virus is compromised and the plants become resistant to the disease.

 

Safety and the way from research to seed market

Safety precautions for modern agricultural biotechnologies start at the very beginning of the research at the lab, and continue through the different phases of the development. Only when detailed scientific assessments determine it to be innocuous is the new development considered for commercial use. Prior to the submission for the commercial release, a comparison between the virus-resistant beans and its parental conventional/non-modified variety in all the ecosystems where the beans are cultivated in Brazil had been conducted by a consortium of 10 research centers over several years. Results showed that the transgenic beans do not differ in the environmental impact compared to its non-engineered parent beans. Additionally, the transgenic beans offer the advantage of reducing insecticides that have being used to kill the whiteflies that transmit the golden mosaic virus during the past decades. The new virus resistant beans are also considered as safe for consumption as the currently cultivated beans. On that ground, CTNBio, the multidisciplinary commission responsible for making science-based, technical assessments for the safety of genetically engineered products approved the beans for commercial release.

 

Approvals by CTNBio may be followed by an examination from the National Biosafety Council (CNBS) on the socio-economic convenience and opportunities of national interest.

 

There are in any case, further steps to be pursued on the way to market the seeds, such as the incorporation of the trait into cultivars suited to the different local conditions, the registration of the variety and production of the seeds. The following step is the law inspired by the UPOV Convention (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants), legislation that came with the intend of protecting the rights of developers of plant varieties, no matter if obtained through conventional breeding or modern biotechnology, while encouraging investment in research and development. According to the legislation, any plant variety with a minimum of clearly new distinguishable characteristics goes through a process to be registered.  After the approval of registration the new variety enters the fields of seed production. Farmers will probably have to wait another 2 to 3 years to see the virus-resistant beans.

 

For more information

Do you want to know more about the virus resistant beans? See for example: Kenny Bonfim et al; RNAi-Mediated Resistance to Bean golden mosaic virus in Genetically Engineered Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris); MPMI Vol. 20, No. 6, 2007 (Link) and Aragão and Faria, First transgenic geminivirus-resistant plant in the field, Nature Biotechnology Vol. 27, 1086-1088, 2009 . (link)

Do you want to know more about the Brazilian legislation on biosafety? See: CTNBio webpage (http://www.ctnbio.gov.br/index.php/content/view/12840.html )

 

http://www.biofortified.org/2011/10/brazilian-virus-resistant-beans/

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.27  Australian wheat breeders given tools to reduce grain defects

 

Australia

October 14, 2011

Australian wheat breeders have been equipped with new tools to assist the development of varieties which, at harvest, are less likely to be downgraded in quality due to grain defects.

 

Research funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has produced new germplasm, screening methods and selection tools to speed up the production of varieties less susceptible to pre-harvest sprouting, late-maturity alpha-amylase (LMA) and black point (BP).

 

In seasons with extreme damage, sprouting and black point can cost Australian growers hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

LMA is genetic defect which, like sprouting, may be triggered by environmental conditions and results in the production of alpha-amylase - an enzyme which can degrade grain starch - measured by ‘falling number’ tests at delivery.

 

But unlike sprouting, there is no physical evidence of the defect on the grain itself.

 

University of Adelaide ‘pre-breeders’, under a GRDC project, have developed new screening processes which are helping plant breeders eliminate LMA.

 

LMA screening is now an important step in variety classification and has greatly reduced the risk that new varieties posing a high risk would be released to growers.

 

“This is significant because LMA has traditionally been very difficult to screen for and get rid of,” University of Adelaide Associate Professor Daryl Mares said.

 

He said screening for sprouting and black point had also been difficult and expensive.

 

“However, in collaboration with local and international researchers, the projects based at the University of Adelaide have identified genetic material which influences these defects, and developed new molecular marker tools,” Associate Professor Mares said.

 

“These tools will speed up the time it takes for breeders to identify wheat lines with enhanced resistance to sprouting and black point and which have greatly reduced risk of LMA.

 

“This is because molecular screening can be conducted by breeders in the laboratory, free from the complicating effects of environmental factors associated with field testing.”

 

Associate Professor Mares said the results of the ‘grain defects’ research would significantly reduce the incidence and severity of defects at harvest in the future, as better varieties became available to growers.

 

“This will in turn lead to reduced risk and increased or more reliable returns for growers, and flow-on benefits for the marketing of Australian wheat,” he said.

 

Under new GRDC-funded research projects, pre-breeding research into grain defects is continuing at the University of Adelaide.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21628&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.28  Breakthrough in the production of flood-tolerant crops

 

Nottingham, United Kingdom

October 23, 2011

This week thousands of families lost their homes and crops as flood waters swept across Central America. In Thailand huge tracts of farmland were submerged as the country faced its worst flooding in 50 years. Across the globe agricultural production is at risk as catastrophic flooding becomes a world-wide problem.

 

Prolonged flooding drastically reduces yields by cutting off the supply of oxygen crops need to survive. Now experts at The University of Nottingham, working in collaboration with the University of California, Riverside, have identified the molecular mechanism plants use to sense low oxygen levels. The discovery could lead, eventually, to the production of high-yielding, flood-tolerant crops, benefiting farmers, markets and consumers across the globe.

 

The mechanism controls key proteins in plants causing them to be unstable when oxygen levels are normal. When roots or shoots are flooded and oxygen levels drop these proteins become stable.

 

The research is published on Sunday October 23 in the prestigious journal Nature.

 

Michael Holdsworth, Professor of Crop Science in the School of Biosciences at Nottingham said: “We have identified the mechanism through which reduced oxygen levels are sensed. The mechanism controls key regulatory proteins called transcription factors that can turn other genes on and off. It is the unusual structure of these proteins that destines them for destruction under normal oxygen levels, but when oxygen levels decline, they become stable. Their stability results in changes in gene expression and metabolism that enhance survival in the low oxygen conditions brought on by flooding. When the plants return to normal oxygen levels, the proteins are again degraded, providing a feedback control mechanism”.

 

As Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Australia, the UK and America have all fallen victim to catastrophic flooding in recent years tolerance of crops to partial or complete submergence is a key target for global food security. Starved of oxygen, crops cannot survive a flood for long periods of time, leading to drastic reductions in yields for farmers.

 

Professor Holdsworth’s work, in collaboration with Professor Julia Bailey-Serres, a geneticist and expert in plant responses to flooding at the University of California, Riverside, is just the beginning.

 

The team expects that over the next decade scientists will be able to manipulate the protein turnover mechanism in a wide range of crops prone to damage by flooding.

 

Professor Bailey-Serres said: “At this time, we do not know for sure the level of conservation across plants of the turnover mechanism in response to flooding. We have quite a bit of assurance from our preliminary studies, however, that there is cross-species conservation. Our experiments on Arabidopsis show that manipulation of the pathway affects low oxygen stress tolerance. There is no reason why these results cannot be extrapolated to other plants and crops. Still, we have many research questions to answer on the turnover mechanism. What we plan to do next is to nail down this mechanism more clearly.”

 

Professor Holdsworth, an international expert in seed biology had the first hint of the discovery while investigating the regulation of gene expression during seed germination. He connected the mechanism of degradation of key regulatory proteins with changes in the expression of genes associated with low oxygen stress that Bailey-Serres has studied extensively.

 

Professor Holdsworth said: “The puzzle pieces fell quickly into place when the expertise of the two teams was combined.”

 

The work was carried out by Professor Holdsworth and his team in the School of Biosciences in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Riverside in the United States, Rothamsted Research in the United Kingdom and University Pierre and Marie Curie, France.

 

The work was funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Malaysian government through MARA, the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA), and the US National Science Foundation.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21726&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.29  Stem rust-resistant wheat landraces identified

 

Washington, DC, USA

October 24, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have identified a number of stem rust-resistant wheat varieties and are retesting them to verify their resistance.

 

Stem rust occurs worldwide wherever wheat is grown. Over a large area, losses from stem rust can be severe, ranging from 50 to 70 percent, and individual fields can be destroyed.

 

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant pathologist Mike Bonman at the agency's Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit in Aberdeen, Idaho, and his colleagues screened more than 3,000 wheat landraces from the National Small Grains Collection against new races of the stem rust pathogen found in wheat fields in Kenya. Landraces with confirmed resistance are being crossed with susceptible wheat to determine the genetic basis of the resistance.

 

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and the research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

 

Field trials in Kenya to screen for resistance are vital to this work, according to Bonman, who worked at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for 9 years before coming to ARS. He is now working collaboratively with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) near Mexico City, and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).

 

Excellent procedures have been developed by CIMMYT and KARI personnel to promote rust disease in the nursery, enabling Bonman to evaluate which ARS accessions are resistant to rust. According to Bonman, CIMMYT facilitates the nursery and site logistics, and ARS helps with evaluating the level of rust development in wheat varieties.

 

The research team's goal is to find new genes for resistance to a rust strain called Ug99, because that strain has the capacity to overcome many of the resistance genes that have been used for the past 50 years. This work will help Africa's growers now and will help suppress disease and reduce damage in developing countries. It also will prepare the United States for Ug99 if the disease arrives here, according to Bonman.

 

Read more about this and other cooperative studies between ARS and international research partners in the October 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21735&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.30  A revolution in field pea breeding has resulted in two bacterial blight resistant varieties.

 

PBA percy and oura, named after two inland beaches, are new low-risk field pea crop options for bacterial blight. Both varieties have high yield potential in short growing seasons and low rainfall areas. Caused by a pathogen, bacterial blight is widespread in Victorian field pea crops but the severity varies from season to season.

 

NSW DPI research agronomist Dr Eric Armstrong said the bacterial blight-resistant varieties were long in the making. Dr Armstrong said percy and oura were erect varieties with improved disease resistance and seed quality.

 

"They are a product of the last 10 years of dry seasons and have performed well with yields similar to kaspa in good years," he said.  "In drier years, their yield is 50 per cent better than kaspa."

 

Grain is marketable as the conventional Australian dun type, which is exported to Asia for dhal and pea flour, as well as stock feed. NSW DPI pulse pathologist Kurt Lindbeck said bacterial blight resistance had been overlooked as an important trait for many years.

 

"This is a major step forward - percy and oura are the first generation of reliable, stable field peas for southern NSW and Victoria," Mr Lindbeck said.

 

Mr Lindbeck said bacterial blight epidemics might be triggered by frost.  "Bacterial blight is not a disease we see every year," he said. "The last major epidemic was in 2005.

 

"During a frost, the epidermis of the plant is ruptured, allowing the bacteria to penetrate. Post-emergent herbicides can provide entry points to trigger the disease."

 

Bacterial blight can also survive on old field pea stubbles. r Lindbeck said 1300 breeding lines of field peas were being screened for blight resistance at Wagga Wagga in a 2.5ha dedicated nursery.

 

NSW pulse research scientist Dr Chris Blanchard said a lack of pulse crops in southern Australia had concerned industry experts.

 

"We have ironed out the bugs and hopefully these new varieties will be attractive to people to grow," Dr Blanchard said.

 

More than 50 per cent of national field pea production is exported, with the majority of crops grown in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. In southern NSW, most field peas are sold for stock feed but demand is sporadic. Pulse Australia development officer Trevor Bray said field peas grew well on in-crop rainfall. He said their shallow root systems left behind moisture for the following crops.

 

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/10/31/397591_grain-and-hay.html

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.31  Feeding a Hungry Planet - The Promise of Biotechnology

 

Kent Bradford was recently featured in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Outlook publication. “We only have two choices to feed nine billion people by 2050”, said Bradford. “Either we increase yields on the land that is already in agricultural production, or we expand agriculture onto new land. Those are the only two options. For the entire article go to CA&ES Outlook.

 

Source: Seed Biotechnology Center November 2011 Enews

 

Contributed by Donna Van Dolah

Seed Biotechnology Center

dlvandolah@ucdavis.edu

 

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1.32  How plants sense low oxygen levels to survive flooding

 

Riverside, California, USA

October 23, 2011

Breakthrough finding by UC Riverside and The University of Nottingham researchers could lead to production of flood-tolerant crops

 

As countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam and parts of the United States and United Kingdom have fallen victim to catastrophic flooding in recent years, tolerance of crops to partial or complete submergence is a key target for global food security. Starved of oxygen, crops cannot survive a flood for long periods of time, leading to drastic reductions in yields for farmers.

 

Experts at the University of California, Riverside and The University of Nottingham now report they have discovered how plants sense low oxygen levels to survive flooding – a finding that could lead eventually to the production of high-yielding, flood-tolerant crops, benefiting farmers, markets and consumers everywhere.

 

Specifically, the researchers identified the molecular mechanism involved. This mechanism controls key plant proteins, causing them to be unstable when oxygen levels are normal. When roots or shoots are flooded and oxygen levels drop, these proteins become stable.

 

“When a plant cell is starved for oxygen, it cannot efficiently generate adenosine triphosphate or ATP, the high-energy molecule plants use for energy storage,” explained Julia Bailey-Serres (photo, right, with UC Riverside graduate student Seung Cho Lee), one of the key researchers participating in the study and a professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside. “Because the plant cannot generate enough energy to sustain normal growth, it tries a different approach: it taps into its energy reserves, resulting in more sugars breaking down, as opposed to when oxygen is available, in order to produce ATP. These subtle changes in metabolism are characteristic of low oxygen stress in plant and animal cells. It’s similar to the production of lactic acid in our bodies when we exercise. We produce lactic acid as a by-product because we are not producing energy aerobically.”

 

The study describing the oxygen-sensing protein turnover mechanism appears online Oct. 23 in Nature.

 

“The mechanism controls key regulatory proteins called transcription factors that can turn other genes on and off,” explained Michael Holdsworth, a professor of crop science at the University of Nottingham who co-led the research project with Bailey-Serres. “It is the unusual structure of these proteins that destines them for destruction under normal oxygen levels, but when oxygen levels decline, they become stable. Their stability results in changes in gene expression and metabolism that enhance survival in the low oxygen conditions brought on by flooding. When the plants return to normal oxygen levels, the proteins are again degraded, providing a feedback control mechanism.”

 

Bailey-Serres, a member of UCR’s Institute for Integrative Genome Biology and an international expert in plant responses to flooding, has been working since 2003 on the cellular mechanisms that regulate submergence tolerance in rice. Her lab has focused on SUB1A, a gene responsible for tolerance of complete submergence in rice and found only in some low-yielding rice varieties in India and Sri Lanka. Her lab is renowned for having characterized the roles of the SUB1A gene that has been bred into modern rice varieties to allow plants to survive two weeks or longer of complete submergence caused by Monsoon rains.

 

In the current work, the researchers performed their experiments on Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant used widely in plant biology laboratories as a model organism. SUB1A-like proteins are present in other plants, including Arabidopsis. While the protein turnover mechanism targets SUB1A-like proteins in Arabidopsis, the researchers found, to their surprise, that rice SUB1A is resistant to the protein turnover mechanism.

 

“We think that SUB1A’s ability to evade destruction by the protein turnover mechanism under normal oxygen levels may allow it to provide its benefit to submerged rice plants,” Bailey-Serres said. “The SUB1A gene is switched on by ethylene gas that accumulates inside cells during submergence. Since the protein does not require a scarcity of oxygen to be stable, it can go to work early to aid the plant.”

 

Holdsworth, an international expert in seed biology and a protein turnover mechanism called the “N-end rule pathway of targeted proteolysis,” had the first hint of the discovery while investigating the regulation of gene expression during seed germination. He connected the N-end rule pathway to the Arabidopsis SUB1A-like proteins and their regulation of genes associated with low oxygen stress that Bailey-Serres has studied extensively in Arabidopsis.

 

“The puzzle pieces fell quickly into place when the expertise of the two teams was combined,” he said.

 

The research team expects that over the next decade scientists will be able to manipulate the protein turnover mechanism in a wide range of crops prone to damage by flooding.

 

Bailey-Serres and Holdsworth and were joined in the study by Seung Cho Lee (co-first author), a graduate student, and Takeshi Fukao, an associate specialist in botany and plant sciences, at UCR; Daniel Gibbs (co-first author), Nurukhikma Md Isa, Silvia Gramuglia, George W. Bassel, and Cristina Sousa Correia at The University of Nottingham; Francoise Corbineau at the Université Pierre & Marie Curie, France; and Frederica L. Theodoulou at Rothamsted Research, United Kingdom.

 

Bailey-Serres’s group was supported by grants from the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the US National Science Foundation. Holdsworth’s group was funded for this research project by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

 

Article:

Homeostatic response to hypoxia is regulated by the N-end rule pathway in plants

Daniel J. Gibbs, Seung Cho Lee, Nurulhikma Md Isa, Silvia Gramuglia, Takeshi Fukao, George W. Bassel, Cristina Sousa Correia, Françoise Corbineau, Frederica L. Theodoulou,  Julia Bailey-Serres & Michael J. Holdsworth

Nature

Year published:  (2011)  DOI: doi:10.1038/nature10534

Received 13 June 2011 Accepted 05 September 2011 Published online 23 October 2011

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21742&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.33  ICRISAT-led global team cracks pigeonpea genome

 

First legume genome sequence to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the dryland tropics

 

Hyderabad, India and Shenzhen, China, 07 November 2011 – Once referred to as an “orphan crop” mainly grown by poor farmers, pigeonpea is now set to join the world’s league of major food crops with the completion of its genome sequence.

 

The completed genome sequence of pigeonpea is featured as an advance online publication on 06 November 2011 on the website of the journal Nature Biotechnology, the highest ranked journal in the area of biotechnology. The paper provides an overview of the structure and function of the genes that define what makes a pigeonpea plant. It also reveals valuable clues on how the genomic sequence can be useful to crop improvement for sustainable food production particularly in the marginal environments of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Years of genome analysis by a global research partnership led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Hyderabad, India have resulted in the identification of 48,680 pigeonpea genes. A couple of hundred of these genes were found unique to the crop in terms of drought tolerance, an important trait that can be transferred to other similar legume crops like soybean, cowpea or common bean that belong to the same family.

 

In the fight against poverty and hunger amid the threat of climate change, highly nutritious, drought-tolerant crops are the best bets for smallholder farmers in marginal environments to survive and improve their livelihoods.

 

Pigeonpea, grown on about 5 million hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America, is a very important food legume for millions of the poor in the semi-arid regions of the world. Known as the “poor people’s meat” because of its high protein content, it provides a well-balanced diet when accompanied with cereals.

 

“The mapping of the pigeonpea genome is a breakthrough that could not have come at a better time. Now that the world is faced with hunger and famine particularly in the Horn of Africa brought about by the worst drought of the decades, science-based, sustainable agricultural development solutions are vital in extricating vulnerable dryland communities out of poverty and hunger for good,” says ICRISAT Director General William D. Dar.

 

“Modern crop improvement technologies for smallholder farmer crops such as pigeonpea will be crucial to speed up the development of improved varieties that can provide high yields and improved livelihoods, and at the same time meet the challenges of marginal environments and the threat of climate change and scarce natural resources," adds Dar.

 

Rajeev Varshney, the lead scientist and coordinator for the pigeonpea genome sequencing project explains how this breakthrough will unlock pigeonpea’s potential.

 

“Having the pigeonpea genome sequence as a reference will significantly speed up and reduce the cost of screening the ‘good genes’ within the stored pigeonpea seed collections in genebanks like that of ICRISAT. This also means dramatically reducing the cost of developing new improved varieties for farmers,” says Varshney.

 

“At the moment, in general, it can take 6-10 years to breed a new variety. With the use of this genome sequence data, in the future, we could be breeding a new variety in just about 3 years.” he adds.

 

"The pigeonpea collaboration with ICRISAT is a milestone in the partnership between India and China, showcasing the excellent working dynamics and understanding among Indian and Chinese genomics scientists. I hope more partnerships like this will be established in the future, and I believe this will surely bring a significant difference to the whole world," says Professor Huanming Yang, Chairman of BGI-Shenzhen, the world’s largest genomics institute and a key partner of this project.

 

India is the largest producer of pigeonpea, but crop productivity in the country, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa, is only less than 1 ton per hectare. An improved understanding of the pigeonpea genome will have a major impact on improved crop productivity, tackling pests and disease constraints in production, and improved resistance to harsh environments and the future variable climate.

 

Pigeonpea is the first “orphan crop”, the first “non-industrial crop” and the second food legume (after soybean) with a completed genome sequence.

 

It is also the first time that a Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) supported Center like ICRISAT has led the genome sequencing of a food crop.

 

The sequencing was accomplished by a global research partnership, the International Initiative for Pigeonpea Genomics (IIPG), led by ICRISAT with partners such as BGI – Shenzhen (China), US research laboratories like University of Georgia, University of California-Davis, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and National Centre for Genome Resources, European research institutes like the UK-based National University of Ireland Galway and also support from the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme, US National Science Foundation and in-kind contribution from the collaborating research institutes.

 

For more information, please contact r.k.varshney@cgiar.org

 

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1.34  Identification of genes involved in natural product biosynthesis in pomegranate

 

The peel of pomegranate fruit is high in natural plant products like hydrolysable tannins and anthocyanins. These plant products have important roles in human nutrition and fruit quality, however, information about the genes involved in the biosynthesis of these products are very limited. Thus, Nadia Nicole Ono from the University of California Davis, and colleagues sequenced a portion of pomegranate's genetic code (transcriptome) that is transcribed into RNA molecules.

 

The sequences provided hints about possible genes responsible for the biosynthesis and regulation of hydolyzable tannin, anthocyanin, flavonoid, terpenoid, and fatty acid. The pomegranate fruit peel transcriptome set provides a valuable platform for natural product biosynthetic gene and marker discovery in pomegranate.

 

The work also proves that transcriptome sequencing is an economical and effective approach in studying natural product biosynthesis, identification of desirable genes for agriculture, and discovering of molecular markers for non-model specialty crops.

 

Read the full article at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1744-7909.2011.01073.x/abstract.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 28 October 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.35  Scientists identify QTL involved in grain weight of rice

 

Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) GS5 was found to control rice grain weight by Prof. Qifa Zhang and his team at the National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Huazhong Agricultural University. After 10 years of effort, Prof. Qifa proved that high level expression of GS5 can speed up cell cycle, which was related with the transverse division and broadening of the hull, and then speed up the filling and growth of endosperm. As a result, the grain becomes bigger/heavier, and grain yield of per plant is increased. Thus, GS5 plays a key role in rice domestication and breeding, and make great contribution to biodiversity of grain size. Discovery of GS5 could potentially lead to molecular breeding of high yielding rice varieties.

 

Results were published in the journal Nature Genetics. Read the abstract at http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ng.977.html#/access.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 28 October 2011

 

Contributed by Margaret E. Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.36  Genome-scale network of rice genes to speed the development of biofuel crops

 

Joint BioEnergy Institute researchers create RiceNet for predicting genetic functions  in rice

 

California, USA

November 2, 2011

The first genome-scale model for predicting the functions of genes and gene networks in a grass species has been developed by an international team of researches that includes scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a multi-institutional partnership led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Called RiceNet, this systems-level model of rice gene interactions should help speed the development of new crops for the production of advanced biofuels, as well as help boost the production and improve the quality of one of the world’s most important food staples.

 

Description: Description: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/wp-content/uploads/Ronald-illustration.jpg

This graphic is a full-size view of a RiceNet layout, color-coded to indicate the likelihood of network links; red for higher and blue for lower likelihood scores. (Image from Ronald, et. al)

 

“With RiceNet, instead of working on one gene at a time based on data from a single experimental set, we can predict the function of entire networks of genes, as well as entire genetic pathways that regulate a particular biological process,” says Pamela Ronald, a plant geneticist who holds joint appointments with JBEI, where she directs the grass genetics program, and with the University of California (UC) Davis, where she is a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and at The Genome Center. “RiceNet represents a systems biology approach that draws from diverse and large datasets for rice and other organisms.”

 

Rice is a staple food for half the world’s population and a model for monocotyledonous species – one of the two major groups of flowering plants. Rice is especially useful as a model for the perennial grasses, such as Miscanthus and switchgrass, that have emerged as prime feedstock candidates for the production of clean, green and renewable cellulosic biofuels.

 

Given the worldwide importance of rice, a network modeling platform that can predict the function of rice genes has been sorely needed. However, until now the high number of rice genes– in excess of 41,000 compared to about 27,000 for Arabidopsis, a model for the other major group of flowering plants – along with several other important factors, has proven to be too great a challenge.

 

Ronald is the corresponding author of a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that describes how JBEI researchers, working with researchers at the University of Texas in Austin, and Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, overcame the challenge and developed a network that encompasses nearly half of all rice genes. The paper is titled “Genetic dissection of the biotic stress response using a genome-scale gene network for rice.”

 

“RiceNet builds upon 24 publicly available data sets from five species as well as an earlier mid-sized network of 100 rice stress response proteins that my group constructed through protein interaction mapping,” Ronald says. “We have conducted experiments that validated RiceNet’s predictive power for genes involved in the rice innate immune response.”

 

Ronald and her team also showed that RiceNet can accurately predict gene functions in another important monocotyledonous crop species, maize.

 

A RiceNet Website is now available that allows researchers from all over the world to use it. At JBEI, RiceNet will be used to identify genes that have not previously been known to be involved in cell wall synthesis and modification. JBEI researchers are looking for ways to increase the accessibility of fermentable sugars in the cell walls of feedstock plants.

 

“The ability to identify key genes that control simple or complex traits in rice has important biological, agricultural, and economic consequences,” Ronald says. “RiceNet offers an attractive and potentially rapid route for focusing crop engineering efforts on the small sets of genes that are deemed most likely to affect the traits of interest.”

 

Co-authoring the PNAS paper with Ronald were Insuk Lee, Young-Su Seo, Dusica Coltrane, Sohyun Hwang, Taeyun Oh and Edward Marcotte.

 

Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=22009&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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2  PUBLICATIONS

 

2.01 Recent publications from UC Davis study detail the education and training needs for future plant breeders

 

November 15, 2011

 DAVIS—Plant breeders have an essential role in improving our economic crops to meet the expanding needs of a growing global population. If envisioned improvements in crop productivity and adaptation to climate change are to be realized, plant breeders skilled in modern science and technology and knowledgeable about local needs must be well prepared for new challenges and opportunities.

 

To help meet the growing global demand for plant breeders, UC Davis researchers undertook a study to determine the most important components needed for professional success in this field. Information was collected from more than 200 experts in the field regarding the knowledge, experiences and skills most important in a plant breeding graduate program.

 

Two peer-reviewed publications have been published recently from this study. Both journal articles are available free through Open Access for use by researchers globally:

 

·         Miller, J.K., Repinski, S.L., Hayes, K.N., Bliss, F.A., Trexler, C.J. Designing Graduate-Level Plant Breeding Curriculum: A Delphi Study of Private Sector Stakeholder Opinion. Journal of Natural Resources & Life Science Education. 2011. 40, 82-90.

 

·         Repinski, S.L., Hayes, K.N., Miller, J.K., Trexler, C.J., Bliss, F.A. Plant Breeding Graduate Education: Opinions about Critical Knowledge, Experience and Skill Requirements from Public and Private Stakeholders Worldwide. Crop Science. 2011. 51, 2325-36.

 

The compiled data will help educators prepare high-quality plant breeders, while still working to retain the individual strengths offered by different universities. Through the diverse opinions detailed in this study about program development and curriculum design processes, students can be better prepared for the future.

 

This study was initiated by Dr. Fredrick Bliss, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Plant Sciences. Dr. Bliss and Dr. Cary Trexler, Associate Professor in the School of Education at UC Davis, lead the team in conducting this global study. The project was facilitated by the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center and supported by various companies, agencies and individuals. Additional information and the raw data regarding this study can also be found online at http://sbc.ucdavis.edu/education/delphi_results.html.

 

For more information about this study, please contact us at sbc@ucdavis.edu.

 

Contributed by Susan DiTomaso

scditomaso@ucdavis.edu

 

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2.02  FAO/IAEA Plant Breeding and Genetics Newsletter 27

 

The July 2011 newsletter from the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture is now available. This 36-page newsletter, issued twice a year, gives an overview of their past and upcoming events (meetings, training courses etc.), ongoing projects and publications. The editorial discusses the challenge of achieving food security under the pressure of climate change. See http://www-naweb.iaea.org/nafa/pbg/public/pbg-nl-27.pdf (5.2 MB) or contact k.allaf@iaea.org to request a copy.

 

Source: Update 3-2011 of FAO-BiotechNews

http://www.fao.org/biotech/biotech-news/en/

 

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2.03 2011 BGRI Technical Workshop Proceedings

 

The 2011 BGRI Technical Workshop Proceedings are available in pdf format—entire book or in sections for easier download.  http://globalrust.org

The BGRI has consolidated its many training and educational opportunities into one place on the website:http://www.globalrust.org/traction/project/knowledge. There you will find links to training videos, slideshow presentations from BGRI workshops, workshop proceedings, and special presentations (http://www.globalrust.org/traction/permalink/knowledge17), These enhanced presentations feature video and audio synced with the Powerpoint slides, copies of the papers for download, and links to all available references so you can track down relevant journal articles.

 

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3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

 

3.01  Updated plant genebank system available soon

 

Washington, DC, USA

October 26, 2011

A free, user-friendly online database system for managing the world's plant genebanks will be launched this year, thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

 

The international project involves updating a germplasm management system called GRIN, originally developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The updated system, called GRIN-Global, will be initiated at CGIAR centers by December 2011, and in the United States in 2012.

 

ARS uses GRIN—the Germplasm Resources Information Network—to manage agricultural data on plant genetic resources at various genebank sites.

 

Using GRIN-Global, other nations will have the ability to document their plant germplasm and deliver that information worldwide, according to Peter Cyr, information technology specialist and project leader at the ARS North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa. Each genebank will have its own local version of the GRIN-Global software, which is capable of supporting different languages.

 

Curators can customize the system to fit their specific needs and keep track of genetic material origins, traits and properties. They can maintain a more accurate inventory status, noting which seeds, plants and tissues are available and how much. In addition, GRIN-Global will make it possible to keep records of requests for seed and plant material.

 

Public researchers also will have access to germplasm information and material in the system. Scientists, educators and other germplasm users will be better informed about material in genebanks and find it easier to choose exactly the samples they need.

 

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency. The development of GRIN-Global supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21811&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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3.02  UPOV launches redesigned website

 

Geneva, Switzerland

November 1, 2011

The redesigned UPOV website has been launched today. Some of the features of the redesigned website include the following:

 

In addition, please note that the Council agreed, at its forty-fifth ordinary session, held in Geneva on October 20, 2011, that the documents of the Administrative and Legal Committee (CAJ), Technical Committee (TC) and Technical Working Parties (TWPs), which were formerly only accessible to members and observers, would be made publicly accessible by removal of the password requirement. The Council also agreed that the removal of the password be arranged to coincide with the launching of the redesigned UPOV website on November 1, 2011.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=21972&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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3.03  FAO Biotechnology Forum hosting an e-mail conference on strengthening partnerships for the benefit of smallholders in developing countries

 

"Strengthening partnerships in agricultural biotechnologies for the benefit of smallholders in developing countries: Discussing North-South, South-South, Public-Private cooperation and more"

 

Rome, Italy

November 2011

Conference 17 runs from 14 November to 9 December 2011, and is entitled "Strengthening partnerships in agricultural biotechnologies for the benefit of smallholders in developing countries: Discussing North-South, South-South, Public-Private cooperation and more". Its goal is to enable a fruitful discussion and exchange of experiences about partnerships in agricultural biotechnologies to benefit smallholders in developing countries, covering issues such as the potential pitfalls and benefits of different kinds of partnerships; lessons learned and best practices from past experiences; and relevant advice that can be provided to developing countries or their national research organizations on the subject. The conference covers the crop, forestry, livestock, fisheries/aquaculture and agro-industry sectors, and encompasses the broad range of biotechnologies that are used in these sectors.

 

This conference is open to everyone, is free and will be moderated. To join the Forum (and also register for the conference), send an e-mail to mailserv@mailserv.fao.org leaving the subject blank and entering the following text on two lines:

 

subscribe BIOTECH-L

subscribe biotech-room1

 

People who are already Forum members should leave out the first of these two lines to register for the conference.

 

A background document is being finalized and will be sent to Forum members before the conference begins and placed on this Forum website. For more information, contact biotech-mod1@fao.org.  

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=22068&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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3.04  New FAO Biotechnology website

 

A new version of the FAO Biotechnology website has just been launched, with a new look and structure to make it more accessible and user-friendly. Among its new features are a Press Room, a photo gallery and a multilingual search engine, allowing the user to search within all the webpages, documents, news items and e-mail conferences hosted on the site since its original launch over ten years ago. Responding to the requests from its member countries, FAO has been at the forefront in recent years in providing high-quality, updated, science-based, neutral information on agricultural biotechnologies to its Members and their institutions. In doing so, one of its main instruments has been the FAO Biotechnology website, which was launched in English in 2000 and expanded in 2001 to include Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish and in 2007 to include Russian. The new website has a different link structure than the old one, so we encourage you to update your bookmarks or favorites with the new website links. See the new website at http://www.fao.org/biotech/en/ (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). Comments on the new site are warmly welcome, at biotech-website@fao.org.

 

Source: Update 3-2011 of FAO-BiotechNews

http://www.fao.org/biotech/biotech-news/en/

 

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3.05 AIB Tomerius and UC Davis Plant Breeding AcademySM to develop software for teaching of plant breeding

 

AIB Tomerius and UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center have agreed to collaborate on development of software for teaching of plant breeding.  The use of the teaching software will be incorporated in the Plant Breeding AcademySM (PBA) curriculum.

 

Dr. Alexandra Tomerius runs a consulting and training business based in Wolfenbuettel, Germany, focused on software supported plant breeding optimization.

 

Dr. Tomerius is a graduate of the prestigious University of Hohenheim.  After spending several years working in the plant breeding industry, she dedicated her carrier to consulting in the area of plant breeding optimization.  The software supports the model calculations or simulations of variables involved in plant breeding.  It delivers the comparisons of different breeding schemes in terms of selection gain per unit time and money.

 

“We recognized the educational potential of Dr. Tomerius’ software and are very happy to be involved in such development.  It will give our students an excellent tool to learn complex interactions of variables involved in plant breeding in the most interactive way.  The software use is planned to be included in the PBA curriculum starting with next class of European Plant Breeding AcademySM” – says Dr. Rale Gjuric, Director of the Plant Breeding Academy.

 

The UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy is a postgraduate program that teaches the fundamentals of plant breeding, genetics and statistics through lectures, discussion, and field trips to public and private breeding programs. Employers appreciate the opportunity to provide their valued employees advanced training without disrupting their full-time employment.  Participants attend six 6-day sessions in six countries. The instructors are internationally recognized experts in plant breeding and seed technology.

 

For more information on the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy visit http://pba.ucdavis.edu

 

For more information on AIB Dr. Alexandra Tomerius visit http://www.ing-tomerius.de/

 

 

 

4.  GRANTS AND AWARDS

 

4.01  Grants awarded to support horticultural research in developing countries

 

The Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP), funded by USAID, has awarded $2 million to support two comprehensive and wide‐reaching projects to improve livelihoods through horticulture in the developing world. At $1 million each, the three‐year projects add a research based approach to horticultural development by focusing on seed systems and African indigenous vegetables in Bangladesh, Nepal, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The Horticulture CRSP is located at University of California, Davis and supports US and international partners to conduct research, training, and outreach to countries with the greatest need. These projects build on the success and momentum of thirty completed and ongoing Horticulture CRSP projects. “I am excited about both projects and their potential to impact smallholder farmers.” says Elizabeth Mitcham, Associate Director of Horticulture CRSP. The seed systems project, “Seed Systems – Improving Seed Quality for Smallholders” is led by Kent Bradford of the University of California, Davis and a team of scientists, innovators, and extension experts in Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Thailand. Their project will demonstrate and disseminate a new technology to dry seeds in humid climates using desiccant beads. This offers a sound, affordable, and adaptable method to preserve viable seeds where high temperature and humidity would spoil seeds that are stored using traditional practices. Dr. Bradford’s team will create a sustainable market-based system to utilize this new technology in eight African and Asian countries.

 

Nuts and Bolts of US Regulatory Dossiers for Genetically Engineered Crops

This program is being held in cooperation with the USDA-APHIS, EPA, and the FDA.  The workshop is unique in that it will allow crop developers and others interested in the US regulatory system for biotechnology to learn the specifics of regulatory dossiers directly from the regulators.  Detailed discussions will focus on three case studies that are actual examples of traits at various stages of the regulatory process: one that has cleared the regulatory process (Plum), and two others that have started the process (potato and peanut). For more information and registration visit SCRA Website. 

 

Source: Seed Biotechnology Center November 2011 Enews

 

Contributed by Donna Van Dolah

Seed Biotechnology Center

dlvandolah@ucdavis.edu

 

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4.02  Monsanto's Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program

 

The Monsanto's Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program will begin accepting applications on November 1, 2011 through February 1, 2012. The MBBISP is a competitive grants program for scholars pursuing their Phd in rice or wheat plant breeding. To learn more, please visit www.monsanto.com/mbbischolars

 or contact Dr. Ed Runge at e-runge@tamu.edu

 

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4.03  Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research

 

(PEER) is accepting proposals aimed at enhancing scientific capacity in the developing world. A partnership between USAID and the NSF, PEER aims to build scientific collaborations between the U.S. and developing nations. The program will focus on food security, agricultural development, global health, climate change, disaster mitigation, clean water, renewable energy and other areas. Deadline for proposals is November 30, 2011.

http://www.nationalacademies.org/peer

 

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5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

5.01  Monsanto PhD level Breeder Job Postings

 

Applications for the following positions can be submitted at: www.monsanto.com/careers or www.jobs.monsanto.com:

 

Plant Breeder (soybean) – Galena, MD   Job ID: 005Q6

Pepper Breeding Lead - Woodland, CA  Job ID: 00663

Trait Integration Breeder - Arlington WI  Job ID: 00635

Cotton Breeding Purity Lab Manager - Winterville MS  Job ID: 005ML

Molecular Breeding Lab Lead - Woodland CA  Job ID: 005UX

Cotton Breeding Lead - Brazil  Job ID: 005HN

Line Development Breeder - Waco NE  Job ID: 005P4

Commercial Breeder - China  Job ID: 004P9

Line Development Breeder - China  Job ID: 004PB

DH Optimization Lead – St. Louis, MO  Job ID: 002CJ

Double Haploid System Improvement Lead (Vegetables Division)  Job ID: 005ES

Corn Line Development Breeder - Sorriso, Brazil   Job ID: 005ZC

 

Contributed by: Donn Cummings

Global Breeder Sourcing Lead, Monsanto

donn.cummings@monsanto.com

 

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6. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

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

 

This section includes three subsections:

  1. DISTANCE LEARNING/ONLINE COURSES
  2. COURSES OF THE SEED BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER AT UC DAVIS
  3. OTHER MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

  1. DISTANCE LEARNING/ONLINE COURSES

 

Master of Science in Plant Breeding at Iowa State University (distance program)

 

 Professionals who would like to advance their careers now have access to the world renowned plant breeding program at Iowa State University without becoming a resident on-campus student. The Master of Science in Plant Breeding provides the same rigorous curriculum as the resident program, including access to plant breeding faculty within the Department of Agronomy.

 

Students completing the program will understand not only the fundamentals of plant breeding, but also gain knowledge of advanced concepts such as genomic selection and the challenges facing plant breeders in our global society.

 

The curriculum consists of 12 courses plus a one-credit workshop and a three-credit creative component, for a total of 40 credits. The one-credit practicum is the only course that requires attendance on campus- four days during one summer. Generally, students who have completed a degree from a College of Agriculture will meet the requirements.

Contact information is:

msagron@iastate.edu

toll-free: 800-747-4478

phone: 515-294-2999

http://masters.agron.iastate.edu

 

Maria Salas-Fernandez

Assistant Professor

Department of Agronomy

Iowa State Univ.

msagron@iastate.edu

 

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Online Graduate Program in Seed Technology & Business

 

Iowa State University

http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=48323218&msgid=597705&act=BDP

 

The Iowa State University On-line Graduate Program in Seed Technology and Business develops potential into managerial leadership.

 

Seed industry professionals face ever-increasing challenges. The Graduate Program in Seed Technology and Business (STB) at Iowa State University provides a unique opportunity for seed professionals to grow by gaining a better understanding of the science, technology, and management that is key to the seed industry.

 

The STB program offers a Masters of Science degree as well as graduate certificates in Seed Science and Technology and in Seed Business Management. Science and technology curriculum includes courses in crop improvement, seed pathology, physiology, production, conditioning, and quality. Business topics include accounting, finance, strategy, planning, management information systems, and marketing and supply chain management--including a unique new course in seed trade, policy, and regulation.

 

Contact us today for more information about how you can apply.

Paul Christensen, Seed Technology and Business Program Manager Ph.

515-294-8745, seedgrad@iastate.edu

 

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Plant Breeding Methods - Distance Education version

CS, HS 541-section 601 DE; 3 credits; lecture only

 

Prerequisite:  a statistics course

 

North Carolina State University will be offering CS,HS 541, Plant Breeding Methods in a distance education version this fall.  The instructor is Todd Wehner (tcwehner@gmail.com).

 

This is an introductory Plant Breeding course for first year graduate students and advanced undergraduate students.  The emphasis is on traditional methods of developing improved cultivars of cross-pollinated, self-pollinated, and asexually-propagated crops, and the genetic principles on which breeding methods are based.  The purpose of this course is to provide the student a general background in all areas of plant breeding.  The goal is to develop students who are knowledgeable in all of the areas of plant breeding, and to have sufficient understanding to work as an assistant breeder at a seed company, or to continue with advanced courses in plant breeding.

 

CS,HS 541 presents an overview of plant breeding methods, including germplasm resources, pollen control, measurement of genetic variances, and use of heterosis.  Special topics include genotype-environment interaction, index selection, stress resistance, polyploidy, and mutation breeding.  The course provides in-depth coverage of methods for breeding cross-pollinated, self-pollinated and asexually-propagated crops.  Courses usually taken before CS,HS 541 are genetics and statistics.  Courses taken after often include HS 703 (breeding asexually propagated crops), CS,HS 719 (germplasm and biogeography), CS,HS 720 (molecular genetics), CS,HS 745 (quantitative genetics), CS,HS 746 (advanced breeding), CS,HS 748 (pest resistance, now PP590), CS,HS 860 (breeding lab 1), and CS,HS 861 (breeding lab 2).

 

For more information on HS 541 Plant Breeding Methods, see:

http://distance.ncsu.edu/courses/fall-courses/HS.php

 

For more information on distance education at NC State University, see:

http://distance.ncsu.edu/

 

For more information on Todd Wehner, see:

http://cucurbitbreeding.ncsu.edu/

 

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Plant Breeding for non majors - Distance Education version

HS 590 (521-sections 801, 601 DE); 1 credit; lecture only

 

Prerequisites:  undergraduate biology, genetics

 

North Carolina State University will be offering HS 590, Plant Breeding for Non Majors in a distance education version this fall.  The instructor is Todd Wehner (tcwehner@gmail.com).

 

This is an introductory Plant Breeding course for first year graduate students and advanced undergraduate students.  The emphasis is on methods of developing improved cultivars of cross-pollinated, self-pollinated, and asexually-propagated crops.  The purpose of this course is to provide the student a working knowledge of the main areas of plant breeding.  The course is aimed at students interested in having a background knowledge of plant breeding, working with plant breeders, or doing breeding work in their home garden.

 

HS 590 presents an overview of plant breeding methods, including germplasm resources, male sterility, and use of heterosis.  Special topics include genotype-environment interaction, index selection, disease and insect resistance, interspecific hybridization, and mutation breeding.  The main focus is on methods for breeding cross-pollinated, self-pollinated and asexually-propagated crops.

 

For more information on HS 590 Plant Breeding Methods, see:

http://distance.ncsu.edu/courses/fall-courses/HS.php

 

For more information on distance education at NC State University, see:

http://distance.ncsu.edu/

 

For more information on Todd Wehner, see:

 

http://cucurbitbreeding.ncsu.edu/

 

 

  1. COURSES OF THE SEED BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER AT UC DAVIS

 

December 5-9, 2011 (waiting list only)

Davis, California

 

January 16-20, 2012

Wimaua, Florida

 

The purpose of Seed Business 101 is to shorten the learning curve for promising new employees and young managers.

 

This course teaches them what every employee must know about the main functional areas of a seed company in order to perform optimally in the team as quickly as possible and avoid mistakes.

Research

Production

Operations

Sales and Marketing

Administration

 

SB 101 gives new employees a broad understanding of the major aspects of a seed company’s operations and cross-departmental knowledge of best practices for profitability. The course also offers invaluable insights and perspective to seed dealers and companies offering products and services to the seed industry, including seed treatments, crop protection, seed enhancement and technology, machinery and equipment, etc.

 

During each of the 4 case studies, students assume a different functional responsibility within the company.

 

For more information please contact Jeannette Martins at UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center Phone (530) 752 4984 or jmartins@ucdavis.edu.  

 

Register online: sbc.ucdavis.edu  

 

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Seed Biotechnology Center responds to industry needs by launching SB101SM Field Crops

 

Field Crop experts, Dave Westphal and Tom Francis join the core team of instructors.  Dr. Tom Francis has over 30 years of experience in the seed business. Dr. Francis began his career with Agriculture Canada as a Research Scientist after obtaining his PhD in Genetics and Plant Breeding from the University of Guelph. He joined Northrup King in 1980 as Research Director and held various roles within that company including General Manager for the Canadian division and Vice President of Research for the U.S.  With the formation of Novartis, later Syngenta, Dr. Francis had various roles of increasing responsibility including Global Head of Product Evaluation and Assessment. Dr. Francis has been an active member of the Canadian and American seed industry and served as President for CSTA and Vice President for ASTA. Though retired from Syngenta, he continues to consult to the industry and maintains a special interest in attracting and developing new talent within the seed industry.

 

Dave Westphal is an accomplished executive possessing more than 41 years of diverse management experience in worldwide agribusiness for Cargill Inc. and Monsanto. Dave has held positions as COO, Holden’s Foundation Seeds LLC and Corn States Business Services and Hawaiian Research for Monsanto, Area Co-Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Vice Chairman Sansako Seeds, Managing Director Carnia Seeds and Vice President for Cargill Inc. in various Seed Product Line responsibilities (Cargill Hybrid Seeds/ Paymaster Seeds/ PAG SEEDS/ Bounty Hybrid Wheat) and Grain Origination, Crop Protection and Fertilizer Distribution businesses both domestic and international. Founder and CEO of D3 Consulting, LLC and joining CONTEXT, he is currently engaged in consulting activities with foundations and alliances in Africa working with start-up seed businesses.

 

Dates and Location:

·        June 11-15, 2012, Minneapolis, MN

For more information contact Jeannette Martins at jmartins@ucdavis.edu or go to SB101.

 

Source: Seed Biotechnology Center November 2011 Enews

 

Contributed by Donna Van Dolah

Seed Biotechnology Center

dlvandolah@ucdavis.edu

 

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Breeding with Molecular Markers Course 2012

 

Location and Dates:

UC Davis – Conference Center

February 14-15, 2012

 

Who should attend?

This course is designed for professional plant breeders who want to learn when and how molecular tools can be integrated in their breeding programs. It is also an opportunity for breeders who are already using these tools to expand their knowledge of new strategies and technologies.

 

Topics include:

•        Types and availability of molecular markers

•        Working with quantitative trait loci

•        Maker– assisted selection

•        Using association studies in breeding

•        Effects of population structure on applications of molecular markers

•        Hands- on software demonstrations to analyze traits with molecular markers

•        New breeding strategies with markers

 

For more information contact: jmartins@ucdavis.edu  or (530) 7524984

 

Donna Van Dolah

Seed Biotechnology Center

One Shields Ave., Mail Stop 5

Davis, CA 95616

Tel: 530-752-2159

Fax: 530-754-7222

dlvandolah@ucdavis.edu

 

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European Plant Breeding Second Class Starts October 2011

 

Applications are now being accepted for the second class of the European Plant Breeding Academy beginning in October of 2011. The integrated postgraduate program, which is not crop specific, teaches the fundamentals of plant breeding, genetics, and statistics  through lectures, discussion, and field trips to public and private breeding programs. Employers appreciate the opportunity to provide their valued employees advanced training without disrupting their full-time employment. Participants will attend six 6-day sessions in five countries. The instructors are internationally recognized experts in plant breeding and seed technology.

 

For more information on the UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy or the Plant Breeding Academy in the United States visit http://pba.ucdavis.edu or contact Joy Patterson, jpatterson@ucdavis.edu

 

For more information and application process visit http://pba.ucdavis.edu/PBA_in_Europe/PBA_in_Europe_Class_II/.

 

EPBA Class II locations and dates:

Week 1:   Oct 17-22, 2011                    

Location:  Gent, Belgium

Partners:  FlandersBio

 

Week 2:   Mar 5-10, 2012                     

Location:  Angers, France

Partners:  Vegepolys,   Fédération Nationale des Professionnels des Semences Potageres et Florales (FNPSP)

 

Week 3:   June 25-30, 2012                   

Location:  Gatersleben, Germany

Partners: The German Plant Breeders' Association (BDP), Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK)

 

Week 4:   Oct 8-13, 2012                      

Location:  Enkhuizen, Netherlands

Partners:  Seed Valley, Naktuinbouw

 

Week 5:   Mar 4-9, 2013                       

Location:  Barcelona, Spain

Partners:  Asociacion Nacional de Obtentores Vegetales (ANOVE), CRAG [a consortium between  Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentaries (IRTA)Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB)]

 

Week 6:   June 24-29, 2013                  

Location:  Davis, CA

Partners:  Seed Biotechnology Center, UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences

 

 

  1. OTHER MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

The following meetings are noted for Chiang Mai, Thailand during 2011 and 2012:

 

-International Symposium on Tropical and Subtropical Fruit (29 Nov.-2 Dec. 2011)

-Twenty-second Congress of International on Orchids and Ornamental Plants (9-12 Jan. 2012)

-The 12th SABRAO Congress (13-16 Jan. 2012 in The Plant Breeding Challenges in the Global Dynamism

-International Symposium on Banana (23-26 Jan. 2012)

-Regional Symposium on International  Conference on Tropical and Subtropical Plant Diseases (7-9 Feb. 2012)

For more information: www.royalflora2011.com  and peyanoot@hotmail.com or royalflorasymposium2011@yahoo.com

 

+++++++++++

 

October 2011 to June 2013. European Plant Breeding Academysm Class II scheduled to start in Fall 2011

 

Applications are now being accepted.

 

European Plant Breeding Academy class II will begin its academic year in Fall 2011.  This is a professional development course designed by the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis to increase the supply of professional plant breeders.

 

For more information on the UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy or the Plant Breeding Academy in the United States visit http://pba.ucdavis.edu or contact Joy Patterson, jpatterson@ucdavis.edu.

 (See also Section B above for further details)

 

27 November – 3 December 2011. 9th Triennial Regional Cassava Workshop on “Sustainable Cassava production in Asia for Multiple Uses for Multiple Markets”, Nanning city, Guangxi province, China.

For more information, please contact:

Mrs. Pimjutha Kerdnoom

CIAT-Bangkok c/o Field Crops Research Institute,

Department of Agriculture

Chattuchak Bangkok 10900

Thailand Telephone: +66 2 579 7551

Fax: +66 2 940 5541 www.ciat.cgiar.org

The correspondence regarding the workshop should be addressed to the following:

E-mail: ciat-bangkok@cgiar.org

 

January 2012. Plant Exploration and Collecting:  the ethics, the process, and world laws, Chile.

 

mpb27@cornell.edu

www.LongIslandHort.cornell.edu

 

++++++++++

 

23-25 January 2012. Global Conference on Aroids: Opportunities and Challenges, The New Marrion Hotel, Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India

 

The Conference is proposed to be organized with the objective to share and discuss the latest developments in Aroid research and formulate strategies to exploit the potential of Aroids as food and to introduce them in new areas. The emerging issues related to Aroids will be discussed and road map for improving production and utilization of Aroids will be developed.  The seminar aims to attract scientists, extension workers, food processors, small-scale entrepreneurs, policy and decision makers, NGOs and progressive farmers. 

Contributed by R.S.Misra

Head, Regional Centre,

Central Tuber Crops Research Institute

Bhubaneswar-751019, India

rajshekharmisra@gmail.com

 

+++++++++++++

 

13-16 January 2012.  The 12th SABRAO Congress on Plant Breeding towards 2025: Challenges in a Rapidly Changing World, The Empress Chiang Mai Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

http://www.sabrao.org/activities/item/16-invitation-and-message-from-the-chairman-of-the-organizing-committee

 

An International Conference to  Celebrate His Majesty King Bhumibol’s 84th (7 Cycle) Birthday Anniversary

 

Jointly Organized by Society for the Advancement of Breeding Research in Asia and Oceania (SABRAO) and Plant Breeding and Multiplication Association of Thailand (PBMAT)

 

13-16 January 2012. The Plant Breeding Challenges in the Global Dynamism, Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

For more information: www.royalflora2011.com and peyanoot@hotmail.com or royalflorasymposium2011@yahoo.com

 

+++++++++++

 

23-26 January 2012. International Symposium on Banana, Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

For more information: www.royalflora2011.com and peyanoot@hotmail.com or royalflorasymposium2011@yahoo.com

 

++++++++++

 

7-9 February 2012. The 12th SABRAO Congress. Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

For more information: www.royalflora2011.com and peyanoot@hotmail.com or royalflorasymposium2011@yahoo.com

 

+++++++++++

 

14-15 Februrary 2012. Breeding with Molecular Markers, U. of California, Davis.

 

The University of California is holding its course on Breeding with Molecular Markers in Davis on Feb 14th and 15th, 2012.  This year we are adding a module on genomic selection, the latest integration of genomics to breeding. The course covers the basics of DNA markers, quantitative trait loci, and the transition of the application of markers to the application of genomics to plant breeding with a highlight on breeding for disease resistance and a hands-on workshop on software to apply markers in breeding programs.  The course is taught by experts from both industry and academia. This is a great chance to interact with experts and technology specialists in plant breeding.  The course is aimed at professionals who are directly or indirectly involved in plant breeding and germplasm improvement. It is also an opportunity for breeders who are already using these tools to expand their knowledge of new strategies and technologies and for laboratory personnel to appreciate how the marker data that they gen­erate are applied in breeding programs.

 

For more information, contact Jeanette Martins at jmartins@ucdavis.edu or sbc.ucdavis.edu.  An early-bird discount will apply for registrants by Dec 23rd.

 

++++++++++

 

4-25 February 2012. Vienna International Conferences in February 2012 (four conferences), Lecture Hall A, VetMed University, Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Vienna.

 

Approximately 300 - 350 participants and almost 40 speakers are expected per conference as well as many oral and poster presentations selected from abstracts. The conference webpages offer additional information on the city of Vienna, travel arrangements, the conference venue, registration and accommodation. 

 

MOLECULAR ECOLOGY 

February 4 – 7, 2012

Abstract submission deadline: November 3, 2011

Early bird registration deadline: November 10, 2011

Homepage: http://www.vipca.at/MOLECOL/

Conference organisers: me2012@vipca.at

 

MOLECULAR MAPPING & MARKER ASSISTED SELECTION

February 8 – 11, 2012

Abstract submission deadline: November 3, 2011

Early bird registration deadline: November 10, 2011

Homepage: http://www.vipca.at/MAS12/

Conference Organisers: mmmas2012@vipca.at

 

PLANT GROWTH, NUTRITION & ENVIRONMENT INTERACTIONS

February 18 – 21, 2012

Abstract submission deadline: November 17, 2011

Early bird registration deadline: November 24, 2011

Homepage: http://www.vipca.at/PLAGRONUT/

Conference organisers: pgnei2011@vipca.at

 

PLANT ABIOTIC STRESS TOLERANCE II

February 22 – 25, 2012

Abstract submission deadline: November 17, 2011

Early bird registration deadline: November 24, 2011

Homepage: http://www.vipca.at/PAST12/

Conference organisers: past2012@vipca.at

 

++++++++++

 

7-9 February 2012. Regional Symposium on International  Conference on Tropical and Subtropical Plant Diseases, Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

For more information: www.royalflora2011.com and peyanoot@hotmail.com or royalflorasymposium2011@yahoo.com

 

(NEW) 19-30 March 2012. Quantitative Genetics in Plant Breeding, National Institute of Agricultural Botany (Cambridge, UK)

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany (Cambridge, UK) will run its two week postgraduate level training course, Quantitative Genetics in Plant Breeding, for the fifth successive year from 19th – 30th March, 2012.

 

The course introduces participants to methods in quantitative genetics and statistics. Course content ranges from the well established, for example variety trial design and analysis, to more contemporary methods such as linkage disequilibrium mapping and genomic selection. Emphasis is on practical application of methods to breeding programmes with theory covered in sufficient depth to allow confident evaluation and application of methods to plant breeding programmes. The course provides an opportunity for participants to become familiar with the concepts and utilization of contemporary methods and software at all stages in the breeding process

 

A description and application form is available on this PDF link: http://www.niab.com/uploads/files/Quantitative_2012.pdf

 

Further information is available by contacting the course director by email at courses@niab.com or by calling the course administrator on +44 1223 342269

Contributed by Ian Mackay

The John Bingham Laboratory

NIAB

Cambridge CB3 0LE

 

26-29 March 2012. Minia International Conference for Agriculture and Irrigation in the Nile Basin Countries, El-Minia, Egypt

 

Based on the willingness of dozens of research fellows and scientists in the Nile Basin countries, in Africa, and all countries of the worldas well as the cause of the recent political challenges in Egypt as well as in Middle East and North Africa the conference organizing committee decided to extend the period of receiving new contributions (the abstract and full papers), till the 30th October 2011. Up to now more than four hundreds participants from forty  countries, representing five different continents were applied to attained this conference.

 

Although we focus on Nile Basin Agriculture and Irrigation, all papers from major Agriculture and Irrigation fields - theoretical or empirical - are highly encouraged. We welcome all contributionsfrom all over the world, provided that address the problems and conditions of the Nile basin or similar conditions and match thethemes of the conference and the specific topics.

 

Abstract and full paper submission deadline – 30th October & 30th November, 2011 (respectively)

Submit your abstract & full paper online

Abstracts and full papers are invited for oral and poster presentations on all Agriculture and Irrigation topics.

 

Please submit abstracts & full paper using the Online Submission Form according to the abstract & full paper preparation guidelines.

 

For the complete meeting details including sponsorship opportunities, visit: www.micma2011.org

 

++++++++++++

 

16 April – 22 May 2012. Contemporary approaches to genetic resources conservation and use, Wageningen, The Netherlands

In the context of climate change: Genetic resource policy and management strategies; and Integrated seed sector development

 

http://studies-in.nl/institutes/Wageningen%20University/short%20course/?p=Contemporary_approaches_in_genetic_resources_conservation_and_use_wur_10152

 

(NEW) 14 May - 1 June 2012. Rice: Research to production, IRRI, Metro Manila, the Philippines.

Organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Cornell University, this training course is designed to open young scientists and potential young scientists (21-35 years old) to the challenges and opportunities of rice science to meet the global challenges of rice food security and to improve the livelihoods of resource poor rice producers. It provides, inter alia, hands-on skills relating to rice breeding, molecular genetics and genomics. See http://irri.org/knowledge/irri-training/short-courses/list-of-short-courses/rice-research-to-production-course-2012 or contact h.leung@cgiar.org for more information.

 

5–8 June 2012. Short course on MarkerAssisted Plant Breeding,

University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, USA

 

Primary Instructors

Dr. Rex Bernardo (University of Minnesota)

Dr. Lucia Gutiérrez (University of the Republic, Uruguay)

Course Description

This non‐credit short course will focus on principles, concepts, and practices regarding the use of molecular markers to improve quantitative traits in plants. The course will include both theory and hands‐on computer sessions in an active‐learning format.

Target Audience and Prerequisites

Graduate students, postdocs, and industry scientists who are interested in the fundamentals of markerassisted plant breeding are invited. Participants should be familiar with basic terminology, concepts, and methods in plant breeding and statistics.

Program

Tuesday, June 5

Review of plant breeding; overview of marker‐assisted selection strategies; review of population and quantitative genetics; computer exercises on quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping

Wednesday, June 6

Linkage mapping in biparental populations; association mapping; computer exercises with Rbased software for linkage and association mapping

Thursday, June 7

Marker‐assisted selection for major QTL; F2 enrichment; marker‐assisted recurrent selection; genomewide selection; computer exercises on breeding strategies

Friday, June 8

Integrating markers in an applied breeding program (with Drs. J.A. Anderson and K.P. Smith,

University of Minnesota)

Costs

US $500 for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty

US $750 for industry participants

These fees include breakfast, lunch, and morning and afternoon breaks from Tuesday to Friday noon.

Dinners and accommodations are not included.

We regret that scholarships or reduced fees are unavailable.

Computers

Participants should bring a laptop computer that can run Windows applications and download

(http://www.r‐project.org/) by the end of the first day of the short course. Experience in R is not necessary.

Location

Continuing Education Center, University of Minnesota

(http://cce.umn.edu/Continuing‐Education‐and‐Conference‐Center/)

Online Registration

Online registration begins in January 2012.

Detailed registration information will be provided in a Second Announcement.

Payment will be by credit card only (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express).

Hotels

Accommodations will be available close to campus at the rate of $89 + tax per night.

Further information will be available in January 2012.

Questions?

Contact Dr. Bernardo by email (bernardo@umn.edu) or by phone (1‐612‐625‐6282

 

(NEW) 11-15 June 2012. Seed Business 101, Seed Biotechnology Center, Minneapolis, MN

Seed Biotechnology Center expands the Seed Business 101 (SM) (SB101) course by offering sessions with curriculum focused on field crops.

Seed Business 101 is one week course designed to expose the participants to the five functional areas of a seed company (R&D, production, operations, sales and marketing and administration). By creating a virtual seed company and case studies for each functional area, the course content is delivered in a very interactive way. During each of the 4 case studies, participants assume a different functional responsibility within the company. The course gives employees new to the seed industry a broad understanding of the major aspects of a seed company’s operations and cross-departmental knowledge of best practices for profitability. The course is taught by widely respected industry executives with additional help of industry experts participating as guest speakers.

 

The first session of the Seed Business 101 Field Crops is scheduled for June 11-15, 2012, in Minneapolis, MN.

 

For registrations fees, additional dates and other details please visit www.sbc.ucdavis.edu or contact Jeannette Martins at jmartins@ucdavis.edu.

 

(NEW) 18-22 June 2012. Second Scientific Conference of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21-II), Kampala, Uganda.

 

For more information, please visit the website:

 http://www.danforthcenter.org/GCP21-II/ 

 

If you are interested in the conference and want to receive more information as we progress in its organization, please pre-register on the GCP21-II website.

 

Young scientists in developing countries will be able to apply for Travel Grants to attend the conference beginning in January 2012.

 

Conference registration  will open in January 2012 and close May 15, 2012.  

Abstracts can be loaded at any time during the registration period.

 

(NEW) 3-8 October 2012. The 6th International Congress on Legume Genetics and Genomics, Hyderabad, India.

 Hosted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the congress will bring together scientists working on research aspects of legume biology in model species, using genetic and genomic tools, with those working on applied aspects and breeding of food legume crop and pasture species. Topics include next generation genomics; nutrition; development; evolution and diversity; symbiosis; abiotic stress; pathogenesis and disease resistance; translational genomics; genomics-assisted breeding; and harnessing germplasm resources. See http://www.icrisat.org/gt-bt/VI-ICLGG/homepage.htm or contact iclgg2012@gmail.com for more information.

 

Return to Contents)

 

 

7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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