PLANT BREEDING NEWS

 

EDITION 232

February 2012

 

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  Breeding the best is the best option

1.02  Implication of the changing concept of genes on plant breeder’s work

1.03  Developing hardier, weather-resistant crops - University of Wisconsin-Madison botanist searches for genes that would make a better root

1.04  Rapid rise of Asian middle class likely to revamp global food systems - U.S. Grains Council previews a changing vision of world food demands in 2040

1.05  Measuring the global water footprint - Water used by the agricultural sector accounts for nearly 92% of annual global freshwater consumption

1.06  Africa Rice Center unveils research strategy to realize Africa’s tremendous rice potential

1.07  Biotech rice slated for release next year

1.08  The potential of African rice

1.09  Low altitude, high-flying beans to benefit Africa

1.10  Smallholder farmers to benefit from second phase of tropical legumes project

1.11  Frost nurseries identify tolerant grain varieties

1.12  Small farmers in The Sudan will receive improved seed varieties

1.13  The Symptom and genetic diversity of cassava brown streak viruses infecting cassava in East Africa

1.14   Disease-resistant cassava puts down roots in Tanzania

1.15  Global food crisis to spur sturdy growth of genetically engineered crops, according to new report by Global Industry Analysts

1.16  China won’t have genetically modified crops this year, Chen yays

1.17  China's draft grain law limits genetic engineering

1.18  WIPO members work through differences in genetic resources document

1.19  Wild cereals threatened by global warming

1.20  The International Treaty calls for submissions on Farmers’ Rights

1.21 Scientists in Russia grow plants from fruit stored away in permafrost by squirrels over 30,000 years ago

1.22  Corn gene helps fight multiple leaf diseases

1.23 Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) grant funds research to tackle plant viral diseases

1.24  Small plants getting major attention

1.25  Revealed in accurate detail, the underground world of plants

1.26  Genetic fingerprint reveals new efficient maize cultivars

1.27  Genetic information migrates from plant to plant

1.28  U.S. National Science Foundation provides additional $5.9 million to support five new BREAD program projects

1.29  Department of Agriculture, Philippines, establishes DNA crop library

1.30  UC Davis and BGI complete master agreement to create BGI@UCDavis genome facility

1.31  Oxford Nanopore introduces DNA 'strand sequencing' on the high-throughput GridION platform and presents MinION, a sequencer the size of a USB memory stick

1.32  Fast-forward genetics enabled by new sequencing technologies

1.33  GM as a route for delivery of sustainable crop protection

1.34  Some Notes on the Genetics of Annual Habit in Tetraploid Cotton (Private)

 

2.  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  The science of perishable produce analysed in new book

2.02  Next-generation sequencing technologies: opportunities and obligations in plant genomics

 

3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

3.01  Plant breeding and genomics online resource reaches milestone

 

4.  GRANTS AND AWARDS

4.01 New international agriculture award to honor young field researchers emulating Dr. Norman Borlaug

4.02  Funding available for training in plant genetic resources and seeds: building community resilience in the face of climate change

 

5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.01  Plant Breeder, Mylnefield Research Services Ltd

5.02  Corn Technology Development Manager based in Mexico

5.03  Breeding Database Specialist

5.04  Lead, R&D, Cotton Breeding

5.05  Head of Sugar Beet Breeding

 

6.  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

 

1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES


1.01 
Breeding the best is the best option

 

16 February, 2012

 

Recent research has shown that, for every pound spent in this country on plant breeding, up to £40 is generated in the wider UK economy and, according to Nigel Kerby, who heads Mylnefield Research Services (MRS), investment in plant breeding is critical for any country with ambitions for its agriculture.

 

However, Kerby, who was addressing a growers’ meeting in Dundee, doubted whether the UK now had the plant breeding capacity to make the maximum use of improving plant varieties. “It is really hard to find people with experience in plant breeding,” he said.

 

He believed that, while the government was waking up to the importance of food security – where plant breeding had a major role to play in increasing yields and reducing costs through resistance to disease and improved efficiency in nutrient uptake – they might not be able to maximise output.

 

He said plant breeding was by far the most likely method of increasing food production, with other possibilities such as increasing the area of land under cropping having limited potential.

 

MRS markets the cultivars coming out of the former Scottish Crop Research Institute, now the James Hutton Institute, and the latest advances in raspberry breeding were highlighted by breeder Nikki Jennings.

 

Gene sequencing was being used to bring forward new cultivars with resistance to one of the most troublesome diseases to attack raspberries – root rot.

 

She said that, with the shortened breeding timescale gained by this technology, the first new cultivars with resistance would be starting fruiting trials this year. Other traits, such as increasing fruit size, were now being looked at and could be combined with the root rot resistance, she said.

 

Growers also heard of problems with both peat and coir, the main materials used in the growing of soft fruit in polytunnels.

 

Neil Bragg, of Bulrush, who supply these materials to growers, said the supply of coir the husk of coconuts was now very much a hand-to-mouth situation. The main supply comes from India but whereas there used to be heaps of this waste product 20 years ago, these stocks had now all gone.

 

He was also concerned that China would increasingly muscle in on the market and, with transport costs much less than shipping it to the UK, this country would lose out.

 

Bragg was also critical of the stance taken by some of the major supermarkets who objected to growers using peat as the growing medium because it was “not sustainable”.

 

He pointed out that Ireland harvests some 60 million cubic metres of peat annually and only one-fifth goes to horticulture, the rest heading for Irish power generating plants, “and we hear no objection to that usage.”

 

http://www.scotsman.com/business/food-drink-and agriculture/breeding the best is the best option12118447

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.02  Implication of the changing concept of genes on plant breeder’s work

 

Kátia Ferreira Marques de Resende, Fernanda Motta da Costa Santos, Marco Aurélio D. Dias and Magno Antônio Patto Ramalho

 

Crop Breeding and Applied Biotechnology 11: 345-351, 2011

Brazilian Society of Plant Breeding. Printed in Brazil

 

Abstract

The recent genome sequencing of some species has accumulated evidence that for a large number of traits, the control and action of genes are far more complex than previously thought. This article discusses possible implications of new insights into the gene concept on the work of plant breeders. Apparently, the successful application of biotechnological techniques is not as simple as once assumed. The evident changes in the available concept of genes confirmed what the past experience had shown, i.e, selection should focus on the phenotype, under the same conditions as the plant is to be cultivated in. Advanced vocational training of plant breeders must be continuously maintained, focusing on phenotype-based selection in as accurate as possible experiments.

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.03  Developing hardier, weather-resistant crops

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison botanist searches for genes that would make a better root

 

USA

February 13, 2012

 

At first, the back room of plant physiologist Edgar Spalding's lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison might be mistaken for an alien space ship set straight out of a Hollywood movie. It's a room bathed in low-red light with camera lenses pointing at strange looking entities encased in Petri dishes.

 

A closer inspection reveals the Petri dishes contain nothing alien at all, but rather very down-to-earth corn seedlings. They're grown in red light for optimal growth. They're just one of the plants featured in thousands of time-lapse movies Spalding has created over the past five years. The goal: figure out how to grow crops optimally suited to survive, and thrive.

 

"We can't hope to improve a plant unless we understand it well," says Spalding. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Spalding is exploring just what makes plants tick. He says the key is to study the function of each of the thousands of genes that make up the plants' DNA. "One way to do that is to collect images of those plants that have those genes altered in some way. And by measuring how those plants grow and develop differently," says Spalding.

 

"We are able to infer the function of the gene that's been manipulated," he continues. Researchers have created thousands of genetically different corn plants. Spalding uses specially rigged cameras to snap pictures every 30 seconds or so of the plants' roots as they grow.

 

He also uses a six-foot high robotic camera that's capable of shooting dozens of roots at once. "We have made hundreds of thousands of measurements from thousands of different plants. Let's say we had a ruler, we'd probably be on number two... maybe," he says with a chuckle.

 

The time-lapse movies are loaded into a computer and an algorithm measures cellular growth rates in the root with pinpoint accuracy, as well as the angle and curvature of the root tip.

 

"By using this so-called computer vision or machine vision to track [the plants] growth and development, we can get at the genes that control root growth and those hopefully will have fundamental importance to crop improvement. It lays the foundation for discoveries that will help improve plants for human purposes."

Spalding is sowing the seeds for better crops of the future. It's an idea he thinks is worth growing.

 

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent Jon Baime, Science Nation Producer

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24463&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: National Science Foundation via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.04  Rapid rise of Asian middle class likely to revamp global food systems

 

U.S. Grains Council previews a changing vision of world food demands in 2040

 

Washington, DC, USA

February 24, 2012

 

The sophisticated food demands of newly affluent consumers in China and other developing nations are likely to cause major change in U.S. farming and food production, Asian food policy and world trade, according to Food 2040, a new study of emerging food trends in Asia by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC).

 

USGC President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas C. Dorr presented a preview of Food 2040 today at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum.

 

“Growing affluence in China could change people’s diets and the global food system. Consumers will expect more choice, quality, convenience and safety in their food purchases,” Dorr said.

 

Food 2040 also reveals important implications for agricultural trade policy between the United States and Asian nations. “We are seeing China become more open to acceptance of new technology, such as agricultural biotechnology, which can help meet the needs of the Asian middle class in a sustainable manner through trade,” Dorr said.

 

U.S. attitudes about feeding the world are likely to change too. “Many of the agribusinesses and agricultural organizations that comprise the U.S. Grains Council are starting to review possibilities for meeting the needs and capturing the economic value that ascendency of the Asian middle class represents,” said USGC Chairman Dr. Wendell Shauman, an Illinois corn farmer and member of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. “Working together with trading partners around the world to understand emerging trends, we can use a convergence of science, technology and policy reform to meet changing food demands and capture the economic potential of new Asian consumers.”

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is assisting the Council with the launch of Food 2040 in Japan. “Japan and the United States are longstanding trading partners, and we understand each other well. Now, our two nations must learn more about China and develop an understanding of how this emerging mega-market will influence the global food system and our two nations’ participation in it,” said Geoffrey Wiggin, USDA’s FAS Minister-Counselor in Tokyo.

 

Food 2040 outlines the following possibilities for significant change in the global food system:

 

Global food systems restructured to suit China’s middle class

China is the world’s fastest growing economy, and because of the sheer size of its population, Chinese demand will reshape the global food industry over the next 20 years. Although India is expected to surpass China in population numbers, China is likely to remain the dominant economy within the timeframe of Food 2040.

 

China as world bioscience leader

Agricultural biotechnology may no longer be dominated by U.S. technology. China is on a path to global bioscience leadership, driven by major central government investments to meet its own food needs and a desire to be an export leader.

 

New Asian system of food safety

Asia does not yet have a well-developed food safety and inspection system, but this could change through use of 21st-century nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and logistics systems.

 

Food as a service

By 2040, 70 percent of consumer food expenditures in Japan will go toward foods prepared outside the home, and China is likely to adopt Japan’s rapid acceptance of foods prepared outside the home.

 

Food 2040 envisions a proliferation of specialty markets and product differentiation in Asia. This is not a new concept for the United States, where the average U.S. supermarket carries almost 40,000 items, but when four billion people around the world with very different cultures and diets begin to enjoy that degree of consumer choice it will significantly affect global food production, processing and distribution systems.

 

The complete Food 2040 study is available at www.grains.org.

 

The U.S. Grains Council is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to building export markets for barley, corn, sorghum and their products. The Council is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with 10 international offices and active market development programs in more than 50 countries. Financial support from the Council’s private industry members, including state checkoffs, agribusinesses, state entities and others, triggers federal matching funds from the government and support from cooperating groups in other countries, producing an annual market development program valued at more than $28.3 million.

 

More news from: U.S. Grains Council (USGC)

 

Website: http://htto://www.grains.org

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24770&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeeQuest.com

 

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1.05  Measuring the global water footprint - Water used by the agricultural sector accounts for nearly 92% of annual global freshwater consumption

 

Twente, The Netherlands

February 14, 2012

 

The average person consumes 4000 litres of water a day; this is including all the water needed for food and other products. However, consumption varies greatly from country to country.

 

Many countries rely heavily on water supplies from other countries where water is in fact very scarce. These are the findings of a large study into the global 'water footprint' published by researchers at the University of Twente on 13 February in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

 

The study looks at the use of rainwater, groundwater and surface water, and contaminated water, respectively the green, blue and grey water footprint (WF).

 

Water used by the agricultural sector accounts for nearly 92% of annual global freshwater consumption, the largest proportion of which is the green WF (74%).

 

In the period between 1996 and 2005, the average consumer used an annual total of 1385 cubic meters.

 

However, on examining the statistics per country, startling differences emerge: one American consumes more than double the average global amount, while the inhabitants of China and India consume little more than 1000 cubic meters. The water footprint of the average consumer is determined mainly by the consumption of cereals (27%), meat (22%) and dairy products (7%).

 

Water shortages

The "Water Footprint of humanity" study shows in particular the 'virtual' import and export of water. A Dutch consumer buying coffee or a T-shirt uses water from the country of production.

 

Some countries, like the U.S. and China, are both large importers and exporters of water.

 

Research shows that the water-rich countries in northern Europe, including the Netherlands, often rely on water imports from areas struggling with severe water scarcity.

 

The researchers also expect to see a drastic change in consumption in China as it relies increasingly on farmland in, for example, Africa. This will lead to much greater water imports.

 

These are all clear indicators that water scarcity is not a local problem but must be seen from a global perspective. The researchers are therefore questioning whether the continued use of the limited blue WF for export is a sustainable and efficient option.

 

The Water Footprint not only allows us to quantify and map the consumption levels of individuals and countries, but also that of businesses and particular products. In addition to measuring consumption itself, it can also identify the origin of the water.

 

The international Water Footprint Network brings together large organizations and companies from diverse origins with the common goal of searching for solutions to water scarcity through quantifying and mapping water consumption.

 

The research was carried out in the Institute of Governance Studies at the University of Twente, headed by Professor Arjen Hoekstra who is also the scientific director of the Water Footprint Network.

 

An earlier article published in PNAS discussed the water footprint of crops grown for biomass. The article entitled ‘Water Footprint of Humanity’ by Arjen Hoekstra and Mesfin Mekonnen appears in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS).

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24619&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.06  Africa Rice Center unveils research strategy to realize Africa’s tremendous rice potential

 

Cotonou, Benin

February 1, 2012

 

A product-oriented strategic plan presenting a clear vision of success to help Africa achieve almost 90 percent self-sufficiency in rice by year 2020 – with at least 10 countries projected to reach over 100 percent self-sufficiency has just been unveiled by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice).

 

Despite significant increases in rice production in several African countries over the last few years, the continent imports nearly 40 percent of its rice requirements, which makes it highly exposed to international market shocks.

 

“Our new 10-year strategic plan shows clearly that rice sector development can become an engine for economic growth across the continent,” said AfricaRice Director General Dr. Papa Abdoulaye Seck.

 

The plan takes into account the rapid changes taking place in the global and African contexts and builds on the Center’s accumulated knowledge, experience and partnership.

 

Its vision of success, which is linked with the Millennium Development Goals, the vision and objectives of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the system-level outcomes of the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, includes the following projections:

 

  • With the productivity-enhancing research and development (R&D) activities presented in the strategy, rice production in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will increase from 18.4 million tons in 2010 to 46.8 million tons by 2020.

 

  • As a result of income benefits from the increased rice supply, at least 11 million people (including rice farmers, consumers, processors and traders) in the continent will be lifted above the $1.25 poverty line by 2020 and about 5.6 million undernourished people will reach caloric sufficiency.

 

  • New “future-ready” rice-based production systems will have been developed with farmers to respond to the challenge of climate change and increasing water scarcity.

 

  • SSA will have improved R&D capacity by 2020, through at least 30 PhD and MSc fellowships per year and the training of about 100 technicians per year, with at least one third of fellowships and internships reserved for women.

 

The strategy articulates seven research-for-development (R4D) priority areas, identified through a systematic process involving extensive consultations with stakeholders and based on household surveys and national statistics in SSA:

 

  1. Conserving rice genetic resources and providing smallholder farmers with climate-resilient rice varieties that are better adapted to production environments and consumer preferences
  2. Improving rural livelihoods by closing yield gaps and through sustainable intensification and diversification of rice-based systems
  3. Achieving socially acceptable expansion of rice-producing areas, while addressing environmental concerns
  4. Creating market opportunities for smallholder farmers and processors by improving the quality and the competitiveness of locally produced rice and rice products
  5. Facilitating the development of the rice value chain through improved technology targeting and evidence-based policy-making
  6. Mobilizing co-investments and linking with development partners and the private sector to stimulate uptake of rice knowledge and technologies
  7. Strengthening the capacities of national rice research and extension agents and rice value-chain actors.

 

The R4D strategy will be implemented mainly under the umbrella of the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), a CGIAR Research Program, in close collaboration with a broad range of partners, notably the national programs in Africa through the recently revamped Africa-wide Rice Task Forces.

 

In line with the major shift in focus of the Center’s strategy from supply-driven research to more demand- or market-driven research, research outputs will be integrated in ‘Rice Sector Development Hubs’ (‘good practice areas’) to achieve development outcomes and impact. Rice Sector Development Hubs involve large groups of farmers (1000–5000) and other value-chain actors, such as rice millers, input dealers and rice marketers.

 

Complementing the many ongoing national, regional and international efforts to boost Africa’s rice sector, the strategy is aligned with the CAADP Pillar 4 and envisages stronger collaboration with regional forums and economic communities in the continent.

 

The plan was endorsed by the Center’s Board of Trustees and approved by its Council of Ministers in September 2011 in Banjul, The Gambia, on recommendation by the National Experts Committee, comprising the Directors General of AfricaRice’s 24 member countries.

 

“As an association of African member countries and an international Center of the CGIAR Consortium, AfricaRice is ideally positioned to coordinate the implementation of the new strategy in close collaboration with its partners in order to boost Africa’s rice sector and to achieve the ‘rice revolution’ the continent so badly needs,” said Dr. Seck.

 

As a complement to this vision of African rice R4D, a development plan is being prepared that demonstrates the changes and resources that need to be put in place for the Center to fulfill its new strategic plan.

 

Boosting Africa’s Rice Sector: A research for development strategy 2011–2020 (full version in PDF)

 

http://www.africarice.org/warda/adrao/newsrel-strategic-plan-feb12.asp

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24153&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.07  Biotech rice slated for release next year

 

Golden Rice will be released for the first time in the Philippines next year.

 

A genetically-modified rice that contains enhanced levels of beta carotene, a source of vitamin A, Golden Rice is advancing towards the completion of its regulatory requirements in the Philippines and Bangladesh.

 

In the Philippines, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has successfully bred the Golden Rice traits into IR64 and other varieties, including the variety PSBRc82 planted in the Philippines.

 

In 2010, IRRI completed one season of confined field tests of IR64-GR and in 2011, the Philippine Rice Research Institute conducted confined field test of PSBRc82 with the Golden Rice traits.

 

Current field testing and regulatory compliance experiments related to safety for Golden Rice regulatory dossiers are planned for submission in 2013 to Philippine authorities. Given that the Golden Rice trait is present in inbred lines, the Golden Rice varieties can be saved for replanting and will have a similar cost as current conventional varieties.

 

The expected commercial approval of biotech Golden Rice in the Philippines in 2013 will be of significance to China, Vietnam and Bangladesh which are evaluating the product with a view to deployment.

 

Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. It also impairs immune system function and increases the risk of death from certain childhood diseases.

Worldwide, approximately 670,000 children die every year and another 350,000 go blind because they are vitamin A-deficient.

 

According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, daily consumption of a very modest amount of Golden Rice – about a cup (or around 150 grams of uncooked weight) – could supply half of the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin A for an adult.

 

"Since a large proportion of vitamin A-deficient children and their mothers reside in rice-consuming populations, particularly in Asia, Golden Rice should substantially reduce the prevalence and severity of vitamin A deficiency, and prevent at least hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths and cases of blindness every year," according to Dr. Alfred Sommer, professor and dean emeritus, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

 

The inventors of Golden Rice, Professor Ingo Potrykus and Dr. Peter Beyer, donated the technology in 2000 as a gift for poor farmers in developing countries because of its enormous potential to benefit public health.

 

Golden Rice is one of the "encouraging" prospects in biotechnology up to 2015, Dr. Clive James, head of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, said this week.

 

A biotech drug-tolerant corn will also be planted next year for the first time in the US. Donated by Monsanto for free, it is expected to boost yield by at least 25 percent. "That is huge," James said.

 

Another prospect involves soybean with herbicide tolerance and insect resistance that is expected to be developed in Brazil.

 

Meanwhile, the approval of Bt eggplant is pending in India while the Philippines is planning for an approval in 2012/13 with a view to benefiting from the substantial reductions in pesticide applied to the very pest-prone but popular vegetable.

 

For the first time, developing countries in 2011 planted half of the of biotech crops worldwide, with in Philippines contributing nearly 600,000 hectares to the total, James said.

 

In 2011, there was a double-digit increase of 12 million hectares planted to biotech crops, reaching 160 million hectares.

 

The increase is up from 148 million hectares in 2010, with an annual growth rate of 8 percent. "A 94-fold increase from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 160 million hectares in 2011, makes biotech crops the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history," he said.

 

Global value of biotech seed alone was valued at around $13 billion in 2011, with the end product of commercial grain from biotech crops valued at about $160 billion per year.

 

The reason for its popularity, James said in a press briefing, is that biotech delivers substantial and significant benefits. "Farmers are shrewd; once a technology delivers, they use it again."

 

"The most compelling testimony to biotech crops is that, from 1996 to 2011, millions of farmers in 29 countries made more than 100 million independent decisions to plant and replant an accumulated hectarage of 1.25 billion hectares," he pointed out.

 

In 2011, a record 16.7 million farmers, up 1.3 million from 2010, grew biotech crops. Over nine of 10, or 15 million, were poor farmers in poor countries.

 

"Farmers are the masters of risk aversion and in 2011, a record seven million small farmers in China and another seven million in India, elected to plant 14.5 million hectares of Bt cotton," James pointed out.

 

Developing countries grew about half of global biotech crops in 2011 and are expected to exceed industrial country hectarage in 2012, he said.

 

Of the 60 countries that have granted approvals for biotech crops, the United States tops the list followed by Japan, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, New Zealand, the European Union and Taiwan.

 

Although the US continued to be the lead producer of biotech crops globally with 69 million hectares, James said "the growth rate for biotech crops was twice as fast, and twice as large, in developing countries."

 

James said combining conventional technology with biotechnology for food production is the best promise of all "in doubling food production. This mix offers the best possibility of feeding the world of tomorrow, contributing to a peaceful world." Paul M. Icamina

 

http://www.malaya.com.ph/02102012/agri3.html

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.08  The potential of African rice

 

Many people will say: “Why this sudden emphasis on indigenous crops when we are being supplied with all we need by our development partners throughout the world?”

 

The price surge of staple foods during the 2007-08 food crisis threatened the food security of millions of people. For a year now, international food prices have been on the rise, fuelling renewed concerns about the food and nutrition security of poor people across the developing world.

 

The same set of factors that resulted in the 2007-08 food crisis continue to be at play and have been pushing prices up. These factors include rising oil prices, growing bio-fuel demand, strong economic growth in emerging economies, a depreciated dollar, extreme climatic events, trade shocks from export restrictions and panic purchases, in addition to the long-term neglect of agriculture.

 

If we want to cushion ourselves against the effects of these external influences, it becomes obvious that we have to look at a variety of ways to protect ourselves against rampant food inflation.

 

One of the ways is, of course, another look at our indigenous crops. Last week we discussed in fair detail the chances of rice making a comeback as a viable alternative to the other grain crops like maize or millet, for instance.

 

This week we will conclude with more facts on rice:

 

Uses

African rice can be used for the same purposes as Asian rice and is thus extremely versatile.  There are, however, some specialised local uses. West Africa's Mandingo and Susu people, for instance, use rice flour and honey to make a sweet-tasting bread, so special that it is the centrepiece of ceremonial rituals.

 

Rice beer is popular throughout West Africa, and in Nigeria a special beer (called betso or buza) is made from rice and honey.

 

In Cote d’Ivoire, there is a project to use African rice as a component of baby foods.

 

Nutrition

Both rices are principally carbohydrate sources.  However, in practice African rice's nutritional quality is greater than that of Asian rice. This seems to be not because of any inherent difference but because it is more difficult to polish. Asian rice is invariably polished to a greater degree, and therefore more of its nutrients (especially the important vitamin, thiamine) are lost.

 

Agronomy

As with Asian rice, African rice is grown in three major ways: dryland (or upland), paddy, and "floating".

 

Dryland: About 40 percent of rice production in Africa's 15 major rice-producing countries relies on rain as the only source of water. Almost all of that area employs the Asian species, but West Africa still grows a small but significant amount of dryland African rice.

 

Indeed, in certain parts of Ghana and Togo it is the chief staple.  The dryland form thrives in light soils wherever there is a rainy season of at least four months and minimum rainfall of 760mm.  It is often interplanted with millets, maize, sorghum, beniseed, roselle, cowpea, cassava, or cotton.  Today's varieties mature in 90-170 days. Yields average 450-900kg per hectare, but can go as high as 1 680kg/ha.

 

Paddy: Only about one-sixth of Africa's rice is produced using irrigation and 60 percent of that is in just one country Madagascar. Swamp rice, however, is being increasingly cultivated in former mangrove areas of the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.  Essentially all of it at present is the Asian species.  African rice can also be grown in the same way. It can be seeded into damp soil or transplanted to fields under water. These types mature in 140-220 days. The yield ranges from 1 000-3 000kg/ha.

 

Floating: In the River Niger's inland delta in Mali, farmers grow various forms of floating African rice. These plants lengthen prodigiously to keep their heads at the surface of the floodwaters, where they flower and set seed. One type, songhai tomo, can grow in water more than 3m deep.

 

Floating varieties can utilise deeply inundated basins where nothing else can be raised.  They are often harvested from canoes and ripen in 180-250 days.  Yields range from 1 000-3 000kg/ha, depending on the amount of rainfall early in the growing season and on the eventual depth of the subsequent floods.

 

Harvesting and handling

African rice is handled like its more famous Asian cousin, but (as noted) its grains tend to split, and so greater care must be taken.  Also, it is more difficult to hull.  As is to be expected with such a neglected crop, yields are variable and uncertain.

 

However, there are hints that they are not as low as commonly claimed.  For example, five years of experiments at two sites in Cote d'Ivoire found that 16 populations of African rice (selected for their productivity) compared favourably with three top varieties of Asian rice.

 

Despite their natural lodging and spontaneous shattering, the best African rice varieties (BG 141 and BG 187) gave average and remarkably stable yields of 1 500-1 800kg/ha (depending on the site) as did their Asian counterpart (Moroberekan), the traditional upland variety promoted in Cote d'Ivoire.

 

Limitations:

In its present state, African rice certainly has limitations, including:

 

Lodging: The plants tend to have weak stalks, and late-season windstorms can sometimes topple them.

 

Shattering: Today's plants tend to drop the seed as it matures.

 

Splitting: The seed tends to break in half if handled roughly.

 

Colour: Although the grain itself is always white, most types have red husks.

 

Processing: To remove the husk is laborious.

 

Weediness: In West Africa, extensive genetic interaction occurs between African rice's wild and cultivated races. The mixed populations that build up can be extremely complex. The weedy results infest the rice fields and can be serious pests.

 

Diseases: Compared to Asian rice, it can be more susceptible to numerous fungi as well as to the parasitic plant, striga, and to a brown spot of unknown cause.

 

Although these limitations collectively add up to a fearsome combination, they mainly reflect the neglect this crop suffers.  All are now circumvented by people who grow and use African rice; research can undoubtedly reduce their severity if not overcome them entirely. Moreover, several of these limitations are also characteristic of competing grains.

 

Next Steps:

African rice must be kept from dying out as a crop.  It deserves research, development, greater promotion, and support.  At the very least, it has genes of potential value to its near relation, the world's second-biggest food crop.

 

A good start could be made by an organisation of volunteers ‑ both professionals and amateurs ‑ who join in co-operative spirit to explore, protect, promote, and provide samples of this millennia-old resource.  They might also collect the legends that come with the various types before they, too, die.

 

Information Exchange:

Researchers are now working on rice in Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and many other countries. An international centre, the West African Rice Development Association, specialises in the crop.  Two French institutes, Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer and Institut de Recherches Agronomiques Tropicales et des Cultures Vivrières-Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement, also have rice programmes in Africa.

 

All but one of these organisations work almost exclusively on Asian rice, but the presence of their expertise means that there are good opportunities to advance the development of its African relative.  One way to stimulate interest within the international scientific community is to collect all available research data and publish a detailed monograph on African rice.

 

Food Processing:

As noted earlier, the availability of pre-cooked products made from African rice might do much to halt its decline and, indeed, to turn it around.  Innovation, ingenuity, and marketing skill could be employed to return this food to prominence. It might well start out as a speciality product, selling at a premium to hotels for tourists and to those people dedicated to African traditions.

 

Seed Supply:

In many areas, the amount of seed in circulation is so low as to render the species non-viable. It is important to keep up a supply of seed.  Then, at least, the farmers who want to keep growing African rice won't be excluded as is now apparently happening.

 

Germplasm:

Samples of African rice have been gathered by various organisations. This has been stored for purposes of conservation and possible plant breeding. For all that, however, many interesting types undoubtedly remain to be collected across the vastness of West Africa.

 

Agronomic Studies:

Since little hard data on this crop exists, it would be useful for students of agronomy to take up the many challenges of "filling in the map".  Examples include:

 

• Selecting non-shattering genotypes or developing techniques to overcome shattering.

• Testing strains for salt tolerance.

• Locating types for drought avoidance.

• Measuring cell sap osmotic adjustment.

• Testing the plant's storage capacity and dormancy requirements.

• Reducing broken grains.

 

Certain strains of Asian rice also suffer this problem and recent research has shown that providing adequate nitrogen fertiliser largely overcomes it. Research in deep-water rice is vital and long overdue. The resources available — climate, water, and growing area — along with proper research could perhaps triple production of deep-water rice in the Niger's inland delta. This is one area of research that can do something toward reducing hunger in one of the regions of Africa most in need of help.

 

Genetic Improvement:

Although the current African types shed grain more readily than the Asian ones, some improvements have been bred into dryland varieties.  Additional research emphasising seed shattering could make a big difference.

 

Because the gene for non-shattering is recessive, the selection of non-shattering types should be rapid, and true breeding should be immediate. Other improvements might include selection for resistance to disease.  This resistance exists in the various genotypes, and the major problem is not to lose these local types as Asian rice spreads even further.

 

For the uplands, any form of rice must resist blast and sheath blight.  All types must also resist rice yellow-mottle virus; some local cultivars already do.  For areas dependent on seasonal flooding, varieties must resist lodging and respond to fertiliser; the transplant types must tolerate widely varying periods of growth in the nursery (while farmers await the onset of the unpredictable natural flooding).

 

Presently, researchers are "mapping" the chromosomes of both African and Asian rice, identifying the portions that control various features of the plant. This powerful modern technique will jump-start the genetic improvement of African rice. Perhaps it could also facilitate the transfer of useful genetic material between the two.

 

Sources:

UN, FAO, NAS, World Bank, Forum for Food Security in Southern Africa, Wikipedia, Rural 21, American Agricultural Economics Association, Agricultural Union, Agronomic Board, own.

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.09  Low altitude, high-flying beans to benefit Africa

 

Ithaca, New York, USA

February 13, 2012

 

Slender green beans air-freighted from Kenya to markets in Western Europe are a profitable crop for high-altitude farms across sub-Saharan Africa. Breeding efforts at Cornell could help their lower altitude neighbors also harness the crop's economic potential.

 

Green beans are Kenya's most important horticultural export, earning farmers five to 10 times more than the dry beans they traditionally grow. However, there are two significant barriers to the expansion of this lucrative market: the varieties available are sensitive to high temperatures during flowering and susceptible to the common bean rust fungus.

 

"Green beans are typically grown at altitudes higher than about 5,000 feet, which can have a temperate climate despite their proximity to the equator, but competition and land prices at these higher altitudes has increased," said Phillip Griffiths, vegetable breeder and associate professor of horticulture.

 

"To consider sub-Saharan Africa a region only for subsistence farming is to overlook opportunities for small-holder growers to produce crops with much higher values," he added.

 

"The ability to expand green bean production into marginal areas at lower altitudes would provide new opportunities for farmers, but it requires the development of new varieties that combine heat tolerance with multiple rust resistance genes."

 

Because these two traits are also important for U.S. growers, Griffiths and his colleagues Tim Porch, Ph.D. '01, and Talo Pastor-Corrales of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, already had sources for both in hand, ready for breeding into the specific types of slender green beans needed for eastern Africa.

 

The funding for the breeding came from several sources, including the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the Toward Sustainability Foundation, Cornell's Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the Cornell Assistantship for Horticulture in Africa (CAHA), a recently established doctoral scholarship established by an anonymous donor.

 

Kenyan Charles Wasonga, Ph.D. '10, the first recipient of the CAHA fellowship, took the field trials of the new green beans through two years at six sites, including partner institutes in Kenya and Tanzania. He identified promising types with comparable yields at lower altitudes (about 3,600 feet) and a combination of rust resistance genes that protected against all known rust strains in the region.

 

Breeding and evaluating beans for Africa from upstate New York turned out to be an effective approach. "For these particular traits, the performance of the plants in high-temperature greenhouses in New York and selection for rust resistance in the USDA's Maryland greenhouses correlated very well with field performance in Puerto Rico, Kenya and Tanzania," said Griffiths.

 

There may be a second opportunity to leverage the research and resources at Cornell for the benefit of sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Sukuma wiki is the most important leafy green vegetable in the Lake Victoria region. It is a dietary staple that is produced for local consumption rather than for export. It also happens to be a variant of cabbage with some of the same production challenges facing growers in New York, including black rot. An endemic disease in eastern Africa, black rot typically renders 50 percent to 80 percent of the leaves unmarketable.

 

"By moving resistance from Cornell's cabbage breeding program into sukuma wiki, marketable yields could be significantly increased," said Griffiths. "It is a project requiring a sponsor focused on people, not profits."

 

By Amanda Garris, freelance writer in Geneva, N.Y.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24487&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.10  Smallholder farmers to benefit from second phase of tropical legumes project

 

Hyderabad, India

23 February 2012

 

A second phase of an agricultural research for development project aimed at improving the livelihoods of poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia has been recently agreed on.

 

This is one of seven grants which Bill Gates announced today in Rome at the 35th Session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). This announcement, nearly $200 million in grants, brings the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s total commitment to agriculture to more than $2 billion since the program began in 2006.

 

The three-year, US$21 million project known as Tropical Legumes II (TL II), is part of a ten year plan which seeks to improve the livelihoods of 60 million smallholder farmers and their families in 15 countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It is also expected to bring about US$ 1.3 billion in added value to the productivity of the target crops, namely: chickpea, common bean, cowpea, groundnut, pigeonpea and soybean.

 

Grain legumes contribute to the livelihoods, health and nutrition of more than 700 million poor people in the dryland tropics of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The project will help smallholder farmers overcome productivity constraints such as drought, pest and disease problems, and unavailability and lack of access to quality seed of improved legume varieties.

 

With this additional support from the foundation, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and sister Centers, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), together with several national program, private sector, and NGO partners work closely with smallholder farmers to ensure that seed of improved varieties from the project reach farmers’ fields.

 

“If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation. “Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people. The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, coordinated and focused to really be effective in helping poor farmers grow more. If we can do that, we can dramatically reduce suffering, and build self-sufficiency.”

 

The first phase of the project has already made valuable impact. More than 60 new varieties of tropical legumes have been released in several countries and 93,000 metric tons of seeds of improved legume varieties produced have reached 240,000 smallholder farmers, who together with extension workers, have been trained on improved farming practices.

 

In particular, the role of women in producing food and making decisions about family nutrition needs has been recognized. Likewise, the project has strengthened the capacities of national agricultural research systems in partner countries.

 

The next phase of the project will focus on gender specific aspects of tropical legume production, marketing and consumption. Moreover, particular emphasis will be given to location-specific monitoring and evaluation, impact assessment, data management and increased seed production and delivery. The project will also emphasize sustained capacity strengthening of national agricultural research systems in the two regions.

 

ICRISAT Director General, William Dar highlighted that the second phase, spread over three years, is a very important step to share economic and nutritional benefits to poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

 

“By the end of 2014, we will have reached an additional 10 million smallholder farmer households. This is a very significant achievement, and we appreciate the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for our work and that of our partners,” Dar stressed.

 

ICRISAT, CIAT and IITA belong to the Consortium of Centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24726&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.11  Frost nurseries identify tolerant grain varieties

 

Australia

February 22, 2012

 

Breeding new wheat and barley varieties with improved frost tolerance is the ultimate solution to minimise economic losses due to frost.

 

Pre-breeding research funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has identified improved genetic sources of frost tolerance, and these genes are already part of barley breeding programs and under evaluation for wheat.

 

Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) research officer Ben Biddulph will present the latest results on projects screening for varietal differences in frost tolerance at the 2012 Agribusiness Crop Updates in Perth in February.

 

The Updates are supported by DAFWA and the GRDC, and convened by the Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA).

 

Dr Biddulph says it’s tough to measure damage from frost events in the field. “Because it’s impossible to know in advance where a frost will occur, the equipment is not always set up to measure temperatures. Often, damage is not immediately visible, and there are many other factors which may influence ultimate yield. “This has led to an assumption for many years that there was little variation amongst wheat and barley varieties in terms of frost tolerance,” Dr Biddulph said.

 

“However, successive GRDC funded projects have enabled dedicated frost screening nurseries to be developed in South Australia, Western Australia and now New South Wales to measure frost tolerance with greater accuracy and repeatability.

 

“The research has shown that under severe frost (<-2° for wheat and <-6°C for barley) all varieties are equally susceptible. “However genetic variation does exist for frost under milder conditions, with Keel , Sloop and Schooner having lower levels of damage than other barley varieties, for instance.

 

“Tolerance has also been identified in Japanese barley varieties, although this is still comparable to Keel. “The tolerance genes from the Japanese material have been introduced into Australian barley breeding programs and in adapted backgrounds this tolerance has been validated in the field in WA and SA,” Dr Biddulph said.

 

The frost nurseries are set up with multiple times of sowing at each site to increase the probability that the test lines are at the flowering stage when a natural frost event occurs.

 

On-site weather stations monitor the temperature at the crop canopy. Following a frost event, heads at flowering are tagged and then assessed later for frost induced sterility at mid grain fill.

 

This approach minimises confounding effects due to maturity and enables repeatable results over successive seasons and sites.

 

The research has found that reductions in the number of grains in the head start to occur in wheat and barley when temperatures are around 0 and -2°C respectively with no visible signs of frost damage. Temperatures below -2°C in wheat and -6°C in barley lead to substantial reductions in the number of grains in the head.

 

“Future work will continue refining screening methods, searching for sources of tolerance, work towards developing frost sensitivity ratings of new varieties and validate the impact of frost induced sterility from mild frosts on yield in wheat and barley,” Dr Biddulph said.

 

“This includes a new project working towards developing frost susceptibility ratings for new varieties to assist growers in managing frost risk.”

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24678&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.12  Small farmers in The Sudan will receive improved seed varieties

 

Rome, Italy

24 February 2012

 

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a US$10.07 million grant to the Republic of the Sudan to help improve food security and incomes of smallholder producers, particularly young people and women.

 

The grant agreement for the Seed Development Project was signed today by Gafar Ahmed Abdalla Omer, State Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation of the Republic of the Sudan, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD.

 

Agriculture in the Sudan remains the most important sector, employing 80 per cent of the active population and contributing 39 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product.

 

Most farms in the country are rainfed and susceptible to drought. Ninety per cent of the land area is arid and the development of drought-resilient production systems and livelihoods is a pressing need. The new project will help smallholder producers to increase crop productivity through the use of certified seeds and improved soil and water conservation techniques.

 

It will improve food security, incomes and resilience to environmental shocks among the smallholder producers in the rainfed areas. In addition, the project will promote the public-private partnership for the supply and production of seeds.

 

Cofinanced by the government of the Sudan, the project will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture in Rahad and Sheikan in North Kordofan, and Abbassiya and Abu Gubeiha in South Kordofan. More than 108,000 smallholder farmers, including young people and women are expected to benefit along with 1,280 seed growers.

 

Young dynamic farmers will be given priority. The new grant support is aligned with IFAD’s strategy to work with fragile and post-conflict countries to build resilience.

 

Source: SeeQuest.com

 

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1.13  The Symptom and Genetic Diversity of Cassava Brown Streak Viruses Infecting Cassava in East Africa

 

I. U. Mohammed, M. M. Abarshi, B. Muli, R. J. Hillocks, and M. N. Maruthi

 

Advances in Virology Volume 2012 (2012)

Article ID 795697, 10 pages doi:10.1155/2012/795697

 

Academic Editor: Alain Kohl

Copyright © 2012 I. U. Mohammed et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

 

Abstract

The genetic and symptom diversity of six virus isolates causing cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) in the endemic (Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania) and the recently affected epidemic areas (Uganda) of eastern Africa was studied. Five cassava varieties; Albert, Colombian, Ebwanateraka, TMS60444 (all susceptible) and Kiroba (tolerant) were graft inoculated with each isolate. Based on a number of parameters including the severity of leaf and root symptoms, and the extent of virus transmission by grafting, the viruses were classified as either severe or relatively mild. These results were further confirmed by the mechanical inoculation of 13 herbaceous hosts in which the virulent isolates caused plant death in Nicotiana clevelandii and N. benthamiana whereas the milder isolates did not. Phylogenetic analysis of complete coat protein gene sequences of these isolates together with sequences obtained from 14 other field-collected samples from Kenya and Zanzibar, and reference sequences grouped them into two distinct clusters, representing the two species of cassava brown streak viruses. Put together, these results did not suggest the association of a hypervirulent form of the virus with the current CBSD epidemic in Uganda. Identification of the severe and milder isolates, however, has further implications for disease management and quarantine requirements.

 

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Source: SeeQuest.com

 

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1.14  Disease-resistant cassava puts down roots in Tanzania

 

31 January 2012

 

In mid-November 2011, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a press statement expressing alarm at the spread of the cassava brown streak disease in the East Africa region, saying it is on the verge of becoming an epidemic with grave implications for food security and livelihoods. The agency called for increased funding, research and surveillance to contain the disease.

 

Just weeks later, GCP is delighted to announce the official release of four cassava varieties, bred through marker-assisted selection (MAS), and extensive collaboration combining the knowhow of multi-institutional agricultural experts worldwide and funding from various agencies.

 

These varieties of Manihot esculenta have manifold benefits: dual resistance to cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), and productivity potential of up to double the yield of existing commercial varieties.

 

Of the four varieties released, two are for the coastal belt while the other two are for the semi-arid agroecologies of Central Tanzania.

 

The variety release is a triumph of hard work over adversity as cassava is a scientifically complex crop to research and breed, and this tremendous collaborative effort brought together research institutes including the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI), Naliendele, Tanzania; the Nigerian National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI); the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT); the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (DDPSC) in USA; and the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP). Funding was also a collaborative effort, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, GCP, Tanzania's Ministry of Agriculture and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

 

The potential reach and impact of this project can be appreciated in the words of the project leader, Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo of ARI, "I am now confident that we can make a green revolution in Africa happen!"

 

Members of the GCP-supported Cassava Breeders Community of Practice have heartily congratulated the Tanzania team for this release, expressing hope that this effort will soon be felt in the lives of "...the poor cassava farmers suffering from the ravages of CBSD," to quote Dr Heneriko Kulembeka of ARI who was part of the project technical team.

 

http://www.generationcp.org/news_gcp/?i=2092

 

Source: Generation Challenge Programme via SeedQuest

 

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1.15  Global food crisis to spur sturdy growth of genetically engineered crops, according to new report by Global Industry Analysts

 

San Jose, California, USA

February 7, 2012

 

Genetic engineering (GE) deals with the manipulation of genes for human welfare. The versatility of genetic engineering has extended its benefits to agriculture, medicine, diagnosis and several other industries. These advancements helped in dealing with several socio-economic issues and more importantly the blistering issue of global food crisis.

 

As global population grows and climate change impacts crop yields, GM crop varieties offer a healthy and safe alternative to traditionally produced crops in order to meet the future food demand.

 

Modern breeding techniques are an effective amalgamation of traditional breeding protocols and advanced biotechnology methods including the use of genetic engineering to develop plants that have certain exceptional properties. For instance, market assisted selection uses genetic markers to identify traits in plants such as drought tolerance and improved yield, without the need to actually transfer genes from donor to target organisms.

 

Genetically modified (GM) foods are being commonly used, with a significant share of staples such as soybeans and corn being produced in genetically modified varieties.

 

The growing consumer awareness about the benefits of GM crops is a primary driver for increasing consumer interest in the biotech foods. Ever since the commercialization of GM crops in 1996, agricultural biotechnology has spread very rapidly and currently, 29 countries cultivating GM crops are reaping its benefits.

 

While markets such as the US, Brazil and Argentina have already accepted GM seed products, Europe, after opposing biotech crops for years, is now beginning to realize the benefits of GM foods. China and India, the countries with ever-growing population and yet self-sufficient food production, increasingly favor GM crops. Korea and Japan, both of which largely depend on imports of food in order to meet their food requirements, exhibit a moderate attitude towards GM foods.

 

The US is the largest producer of GM crops covering an area of 69 million hectares in 2011 and accounts for almost three-fourth of total GE crops production across the world. Canada, Argentina, and Brazil are home to genetically modified soy, corn and canola, while China produces insect resistant rice.

 

Despite the fact that biotech crops offers innumerous benefits, the industry has been facing tough challenges with regard to ethical and moral issues, herbicide and pesticide resistance, species specific action and others. For instance, the European Union still remains indecisive over the acceptance of biotech crops in context of the potential threats associated with it.

 

Several countries in the European Union banned the cultivation of genetically modified potato and maize attributable to concerns over antibiotic resistance. Globally, several protocols have been laid to ensure safe transfer, use and handling of biotechnologically modified living organisms.

 

Adoption of cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation is a prime agenda of the protocols. Important precautions included regulations on international trade of genetically altered crops to curb the spread of associated diseases, pests and ensure fair trade practices.

 

The research report titled “Genetic Engineering: A Global Outlook” announced by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., provides a collection of statistical anecdotes, market briefs, and concise summaries of research findings. The report offers an aerial view of the industry, highlights latest developments, and discusses demand drivers, issues and concerns, and regulatory environment.

 

Discussion on the industry’s most noteworthy regional market, the US, is amply detailed with unbiased research commentary to provide the reader a rudimentary understanding of the prevailing market climate.

 

Market discussions in the report are punctuated with fact-rich market data tables. Regional markets elaborated upon include United States, Canada, India, China, and South Africa among others. Also included is an indexed, easy-to-refer, fact-finder directory listing the addresses, and contact details of companies worldwide.

 

For more details about this comprehensive industry report, please visit:

 

http://www.strategyr.com/Genetic_Engineering_Industry_Market_Report.asp

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24307&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.16  China Won’t Have Genetically Modified Crops This Year, Chen Says

 

February 02, 2012

 

By Bloomberg News

 

China hasn’t approved large-scale commercialization of genetically modified grain seeds and won’t produce GM crops this year, Chen Xiwen, deputy head of the Central Rural Work Leading Group under the State Council, said at a press conference in Beijing today.

 

The nation has no corn shortage and imported the grain last year to balance supply and demand made difficult by geographical issues, Chen said.

 

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-02/china-won-t-have-genetically-modified-crops-this-year-chen-says.html

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.17  China's draft grain law limits genetic engineering

 

Beijing, China

February 22, 2012

 

The freedom of grain producers in China to genetically engineer produce will be limited under a draft law released on Tuesday by the Legislative Affairs office of the State Council.

 

Research, selling, importing and exporting of transgenic grain seeds should comply with state regulations. Any institution or individual must not apply transgenic technologies to principle grain cultivars without approval, said the draft of a law referring to transgenics, the practice of inserting into an organism DNA that is not normally present.

 

The draft, the first of its kind in China, aims to ensure grain supply and security by stabilizing grain output and intensifying supervision over the market.

 

In recent years, safety worries concerning transgenic food have stirred wide public debate in China.

 

It will be impossible for transgenic corn and rice to appear on the market if their commercial production is not approved by relevant departments, Chen Xiwen, director of the Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group, said at a press briefing earlier this month.

 

The draft also includes stipulations concerning the market deployment of grain resources and the safeguarding of grain production, circulation and quality.

 

China plans to reach a grain production capacity of more than 540 million tonnes within five years, 8 percent more than the annual target of the 2006-2010 period, according to its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for National Economic and Social Development.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24728&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.18  WIPO Members Work Through Differences In Genetic Resources Document

 

19 February 2012

 

By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch

 

The development of an international instrument on the protection of genetic resources continues to engage government delegates at the World Intellectual Property Organization.

 

Sources have called the process constructive and meeting Chair Wayne McCook, the permanent representative of Jamaica, said delegations were very engaged in the exercise. But a sharp divide remains on several subjects.

 

The WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) is meeting from 14-22 February, with this week’s sole focus on genetic resources and a mandate to find agreement on a single negotiating text.

 

On 16 February, the three facilitators tasked with the mandate to compile all previous propositions on the table produced a consolidated document. A second version of the document was produced later that day, putting the text in narrative format instead of in tables (IPW, WIPO, 17 February 2012).

 

The second 16 February text is available here [pdf].

 

The facilitators are Ian Goss of Australia, Raina Chandni of India, and Tom Suchanandan of South Africa.

 

It is on that second version of the document that delegates have been working, each delegation having the opportunity to provide comments on the document. Among the most contentious issues was the mention in the document of “intellectual property rights” instead of “patents”, with developed countries mostly favoring the use of patents in the text.

 

A developed country source told Intellectual Property Watch that leaving the mention of IP rights would include all kind of rights, such as trademarks, geographical indications, plant variety protection, and copyrights, and it seemed more logical to them in the context of genetic resources to address only patent issues.

 

Another issue on the scope of the prospective legal instrument was the inclusion or the deletion of the mention of derivatives in the consolidated document. The discussions echoed the negotiations that took place in October 2010 and led to the adoption of The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

 

In general, developed countries are in favor of the deletion of the term and developing countries would prefer its retention, broadening the scope of the future instrument.

 

In Nagoya, the definition of derivatives and the scope of the instrument were sore spots in the negotiations. Article 2 of the Protocol includes this definition: Derivative “means a naturally occurring biochemical compound resulting from the genetic expression or metabolism of biological or genetic resources, even if it does not contain functional units of heredity.”

 

It seems, according to a source, that proponents of taking the mention of derivatives out of the text are seeking to avoid an overlapping of the future WIPO instrument with the Nagoya Protocol.

 

Mandatory Disclosure in Patent Applications

A clear partition between developing and developed countries is the mandatory disclosure of origin in patent applications. On 18 February, as delegates discussed the scope of protection, and in particular the third option of this chapter in the consolidated document on the mandatory disclosure, the African Group and the Development Agenda Group (DAG) asked that this option be retained.

 

Some developed countries, such as Japan, and the United States, said that there was a lack of impact analysis and studies concerning the effects of such disclosure, in particular its potential adverse effects on innovation.

 

South Africa on behalf of the African Group asked that the mandate of the committee be followed, which asks to expedite the work on text-based negotiations.

 

“The calling for further studies,” the delegate said, “will not expedite” the process, “it is meant to delay the process.” Such studies take a long time, he said, adding that there are countries where mandatory disclosure is in effect, such as Brazil and India. In South Africa, there has been a disclosure obligation since 2005, which did not lead to any more “costs or complications,” he said. The DAG followed this position.

 

Namibia said that the issue of mandatory disclosure in patent applications was “a credibility case for WIPO” as the “issue cannot be swept under the carpet” much longer.

 

Chair McCook presented his schedule for Monday (20 February), when the committee meets again. The three facilitators will go back to the consolidated document and now have a mandate to do some “administrative cleaning” of the document, reorganising it to improve the flow of text and structure it thematically, trying to avoid direct duplications and overlaps, but with extreme care so to avoid any removal or additions of points to the text, in the sake of full inclusiveness and transparency.

 

Once their task is done, the facilitators will meet with the proponents of text-based negotiations on Monday morning, without adding or removing anything from the text presented in plenary, and the revised consolidated document should be available to delegates by Monday over lunch, McCook said. The plenary will then reconvene at 3:00 to immediately break to leave time for delegates to consult about this revised text. The plenary should reconvene at 4:30 to start further deliberations with a view of consolidation of this document into a single text in keeping with the Committee’s mandate, he said.

 

On 18 February, many delegates came wearing at least some accessory reminiscent of their country as it was “national dress day” at the committee. The exotic outfits, large-brimmed hats, shiny fabrics, elaborated head gears and multi-coloured, artistically woven wraps belied the studious mood as delegates tediously went over the compilation text gathering all previous proposals.

 

Catherine Saez may be reached at csaez@ip-watch.ch.

 

http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/02/19/wipo-members-work-through-differences-in-genetic-resources-document/?utm_source=post&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alerts

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.19  Wild cereals threatened by global warming

 

Haifa, Israel

February 23, 2012

 

Wheats and barleys are the staple food for humans and animal feed around the world, and their wild progenitors have undergone genetic changes over the last 28 years that imply a risk for crop improvement and food production, reveals a new study.

 

“The earliness in flowering time and genetic changes that are taking place in these important progenitor wild cereals, most likely due to global warming, can negatively affect the wild progenitors. These changes could thereby indirectly deteriorate food production,” says Prof. Eviatar Nevo of the Insitute of Evolution at the University of Haifa who directed the study.

 

Wheats are the universal cereals of Old World agriculture.The progenitors, wild emmer wheat and wild barley, which originated in the Near East, provide the genetic basis for ameliorating wheat and barley cultivars, which as earlier studies have shown, are themselves under constant genetic erosion and increasing susceptibility to environmental stresses.

 

The new study set out to examine whether the wild cereal progenitors are undergoing evolutionary changes due to climate change that would impact future food production. It was was headed by Prof. Nevo, along with Dr. Yong-Bi Fu from Canada, and Drs.Beiles, Pavlicek and Tavasi, and Miss Khalifa from the University of Haifa’s Institute of Evolution, and recently published in the prestigious scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS).

 

Ten wild emmer wheat and ten wild barley populations from different climates and habitats across Israel were sampled first in 1980 and then again at the same sites in 2008 and grown in a common greenhouse. The results indicated that over the relatively short period of 28 years, all 20 wild cereal populations examined, without exception, showed a dramatic change in flowering time. All populations sampled in 2008 flowered, on average, about 10 days earlier than those sampled in 1980. “These cereal progenitors are adapting their time of flowering to escape the heat,” Prof. Nevo explains.

 

The study also found that the genetic diversity of the 2008 sample is for the most part significantly reduced, but some new drought-adapted variants appeared that could be used for crop improvement. “The ongoing global warming in Israel is the only likely factor that could have caused earliness in flowering and genetic turnover across the range of wild cereals in Israel. This indicates that they are under environmental stress which may erode their future survival,” says Prof. Nevo.

 

“Multiple effects of the global warming phenomenon have been observed in many species of plants and animals,” he adds. “But this study is pioneering in showing its infuence on flowering and genetic changes in wild cereals. These changes threaten the best genetic resource for crop improvement and thereby may damage food production.”

 

A number of species did show positive adaptive changes resulting from global warming, such as earliness in flowering or migration into cooler regions. “But overall,” says Prof. Nevo, “the genetic resources of these critical wild cereals are undergoing rapid erosion - and cannot be dismissed as a concern for future generations.

 

Wild emmer wheat is the world’s most important genetic resource for wheat improvement, and it is up to us to preserve it. We are utilizing our gene bank at the Institute of Evolution for transforming genes of interest to the crop. However, a much more extensive effort needs to be made to keep the natural populations thriving, by preventing urbanization and global warming from eliminating them”.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24760&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.20  The International Treaty calls for submissions on Farmers’ Rights

 

The Governing Body has invited Contracting Parties and other relevant organizations to submit views, experiences and best practices on the implementation of Farmers’ Rights as set out in Article 9 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

 

It has also invited proposals for ways and means through which these views, experiences and best practices can be exchanged between and among Contracting Parties and relevant stakeholder groups.

 

To facilitate the submissions, the Secretariat has issued a notification alerting National Focal Points and international relevant organizations.

 

The initial deadline is 16 March 2012. The workshops which the Governing Body requested at its last session in Bali will be held, due to shortage of funds, on the margins of relevant interregional meetings, with regional breakout sessions

 

http://www.planttreaty.org/sites/default/files/NCP_GB5_ART9_SUB_en.pdf

 

Contributed by Francisco Lopez

Information and Communication Officer

ITPGRFA

Franciso.Lopez@fao.org

 

Source: SeeQuest.com

 

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1.21  Scientists in Russia grow plants from fruit stored away in permafrost by squirrels over 30,000 years ago

 

The fruit was found in the banks of the Kolyma River in Siberia, a top site for people looking for mammoth bones.

 

The Institute of Cell Biophysics team raised plants of Silene stenophylla of the campion family from the fruit.

 

Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they note this is the oldest plant material by far to have been brought to life.  Prior to this, the record lay with date palm seeds stored for 2,000 years at Masada in Israel.

 

The leader of the research team, Professor David Gilichinsky, died a few days before his paper was published. In it, he and his colleagues describe finding about 70 squirrel hibernation burrows in the river bank.

 

"All burrows were found at depths of 20-40m from the present day surface and located in layers containing bones of large mammals such as mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, bison, horse, deer, and other representatives of fauna from the age of mammoths, as well as plant remains," they write.

 

"The presence of vertical ice wedges demonstrates that it has been continuously frozen and never thawed. "Accordingly, the fossil burrows and their content have never been defrosted since burial and simultaneous freezing."

 

The squirrels appear to have stashed their store in the coldest part of their burrow, which subsequently froze permanently, presumably due to a cooling of the local climate.

 

Sugar sweet

Back in the lab, near Moscow, the team's attempts to germinate mature seeds failed.  The fruits grew into healthy plants, though subtly different from modern examples of the species

 

Eventually they found success using elements of the fruit itself, which they refer to as "placental tissue" and propagated in laboratory dishes.  "This is by far the most extraordinary example of extreme longevity for material from higher plants," commented Robin Probert, head of conservation and technology at the UK's Millennium Seed Bank.

 

"I'm not surprised that it's been possible to find living material as old as this, and this is exactly where we would go looking, in permafrost and these fossilised rodent burrows with their caches of seeds. "But it is a surprise to me that they're finding viable material from this placental tissue rather than mature seeds."

 

The Russian team's theory is that the tissue cells are full of sucrose that would have formed food for the growing plants.

 

Sugars are preservatives; they are even being researched as a way of keeping vaccines fresh in the hot climates of Africa without the need for refrigeration.  So it may be that the sugar-rich cells were able to survive in a potentially viable state for so long.

 

Silene stenophylla still grows on the Siberian tundra; and when the researchers compared modern-day plants against their resurrected cousins, they found subtle differences in the shape of petals and the sex of flowers, for reasons that are not evident.

 

The scientists suggest in their PNAS paper that research of this kind can help in studies of evolution, and shed light on environmental conditions in past millennia.

 

But perhaps the most enticing suggestion is that it might be possible, using the same techniques, to raise plants that are now extinct - provided that Arctic ground squirrels or some other creatures secreted away the fruit and seeds.

 

"We'd predict that seeds would stay viable for thousands, possibly tens of thousands of years - I don't think anyone would expect hundreds of thousands of years," said Dr Probert.

 

"[So] there is an opportunity to resurrect flowering plants that have gone extinct in the same way that we talk about bringing mammoths back to life, the Jurassic Park kind of idea."

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17100574

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.22  Corn gene helps fight multiple leaf diseases

 

Washington, DC, USA

February 1, 2012

 

A specific gene in corn seems to confer resistance to three important leaf diseases, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their university colleagues.

 

This discovery, published in 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could potentially help plant breeders build disease-resistance traits into future corn plants.

 

The research team included Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticists Peter Balint-Kurti, Jim Holland and Matt Krakowsky in the agency's Plant Science Research Unit in Raleigh, N.C., and scientists with the University of Delaware, Cornell University, and Kansas State University. ARS is the USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

 

Three diseases-southern corn leaf blight, northern leaf blight, and gray leaf spot-all cause lesions on corn leaves worldwide. In the U.S. Midwest Corn Belt, northern leaf blight and gray leaf spot are significant problems.

 

The researchers examined 300 corn varieties from around the world to ensure a genetically diverse representation. No corn variety has complete resistance to any of these diseases, but varieties differ in the severity of symptoms they exhibit.

 

The researchers set out to look for maize lines with resistance to the three diseases to determine which genes underlie disease resistance, according to Balint-Kurti. When they tested the lines for resistance, they found that if a corn variety was resistant to one disease, chances were favorable that it was also resistant to the other two.

 

The researchers applied a statistical analysis technique called "association mapping" to identify regions of the genome associated with variation in disease resistance. According to Balint-Kurti, the scientists knew there was a strong correlation between resistance of one disease and the other two. They postulated that some resistance genes conferred resistance to two or more different diseases, and they identified a gene that seemed to confer multiple disease resistance.

This gene, a GST (glutathione S-transferase), is part of a family of genes known for their roles in regulating oxidative stress and in detoxification. Both of these functions are consistent with a role in disease resistance.

 

Read more about this research in the February 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.23  Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) grant funds research to tackle plant viral diseases

 

Ithaca, New York, USA

February 15, 2012

 

A team of international researchers is working to tackle the global problem of plant viral diseases that are spread by insects, thanks to close to $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

The team, headed by Stewart Gray, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) research plant pathologist and Cornell professor of plant pathology, and Michelle Cilia, a USDA-ARS research molecular biologist, received a three-year, Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) grant of $868,896 to develop protein biomarkers that distinguish insect populations capable of transmitting disease from those that do not.

 

"One problem with managing viral diseases is there is no cure," said Gray, of the plant diseases that cause an estimated $60 billion in damages worldwide each year. "To control them, you have to develop a resistant crop, or you have to prevent the vector from feeding on and infecting the plant."

 

Another challenge is that within insect species, such as aphids and whiteflies, that spread these viruses, researchers find populations vary widely in how efficiently they spread a virus. That's because mutations or changes in genes alter specific proteins that viruses use to move through an insect. Slight changes in a gene can drastically alter the way a protein functions, Cilia said.

 

The researchers have identified protein biomarkers that allow them to determine whether an aphid will efficiently transmit disease or not.

 

"Finding these biomarkers for virus transmission is an exciting major breakthrough," said Cilia. In medicine, for example, biomarkers for breast cancer and prostate cancer are rare success stories, Cilia added. The researchers are now trying to validate the aphid biomarkers in a range of vector insects.

 

If successful, the researchers hope to develop a test kit that can be used in the field to identify if an insect population is likely to be a virus vector. Once identified, growers can then target particular insects with pesticides at a certain time in their lifecycle. Currently, growers must spray crops indiscriminately to prevent disease outbreaks.

 

"Prophylactic spraying of crops to eliminate all potential vectors is not efficient from an economical or environmental standpoint," said Gray.

 

Common disease-causing viruses include the barley yellow dwarf viruses spread by aphids and Geminiviruses transmitted by white flies. In Africa, viruses commonly destroy entire fields of such staple crops as bananas, cassava, maize and sweet potatoes. In the United States, barley yellow dwarf viruses reduce annual wheat yields by about 5 percent. Last year in Kansas, a severe outbreak of barley yellow dwarf virus caused the highest economic loss from any wheat disease.

 

The international team also includes researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle, the USDA-ARS U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C., and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria and Cameroon.

 

BREAD seeks to partner advanced research expertise with the developing world and is jointly funded by the NSF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24578&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: Cornell Chronicle Online By Krishna Ramanujan via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.24  Small plants getting major attention

 

Urbana, Illinois, USA

February 21, 2012

 

University of Illinois Extension

 

How often have you heard that bigger is better? "It seems we are sometimes fascinated by all things big and large," said University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Greg Stack.

"Well, there may be a trend brewing in the world of horticulture, where small, mini, and dwarf are starting to become common adjectives to describe a list of plants that are becoming increasingly popular."

 

Many gardeners have downsized to smaller properties or have a very limited, city- sized backyard. Container gardening is becoming increasingly popular. The horticultural industry has taken notice and is introducing downsized versions of some garden plants for both ornamental gardeners and fruit gardeners.

 

Gardeners have known for some time that dwarf versions of a whole range of trees and shrubs, as well as evergreens and conifers, are available. These small- scale duplicates of their larger cousins grow so slowly that they fit very nicely, for a long time, into containers or on small properties without outgrowing their space.

 

"A recent introduction to tree fruit gardening is a series of apple trees known as Urban™ Columnar Apples," Stack said. "They reach an average height of eight to ten feet and are only two feet wide. This upright columnar habit makes them perfect for suburbanites, apartment and condo dwellers, and anyone short on space for a traditional apple tree.

 

"They are also well adapted for container growing. The bottle brush shaped tree with short branches produces fruit along its narrow trunk, presenting a very unique look."

 

Urban™ Apples were developed in the Czech Republic, have shown good disease tolerance, and are hardy to zone 4. "Golden Treat," "Tasty Red," "Blushing Delight," and "Tangy Green" are some of the available varieties. If you decide to include these in your garden, you will need to plant two different varieties for proper cross pollination and fruit set. As with most fruit trees, they require full sun and well-drained soil for best growth.

 

Another newly introduced fruit for small space gardens and containers is a thornless dwarf raspberry called Raspberry Shortcake™. This raspberry, which is hardy to zone 5, is a compact mound growing to only 24 to 30 inches. It is suitable for garden planting and containers and has sturdy upright canes that need no staking. The plant needs full sun and well-drained average garden soil; it produces fruit at mid-summer.

 

"This raspberry produces a lot of new canes each spring and fruits on new canes that have gone through a winter dormancy period," cautioned Stack. "Once these canes have fruited, prune them out to the ground, leaving behind new canes to fruit next season. This plant also provides quite a bit of ornamental value because of its form and habit, flowers, and, of course, fruit."

 

For those who want to try their hand at blueberries, there is a super-dwarf hardy blueberry called Jelly Bean™. This plant is a compact round ball growing to one to two feet. It is excellent for container growing where soils can be amended to accommodate the plant's acidic soil requirements. Jelly Bean™ produces fruit in midsummer and needs a full sun location.

 

"There has also been an explosion of new mini hostas," Stack said. "If you don't have room for a hosta that grows to 36 inches tall and 87 inches around, then small is for you." These minis can be planted in borders as well as in containers and trough gardens. Like their larger cousins, they are hardy perennials."

 

"Blue Mouse Ears" seemed to start the craze. It grows to eight inches high and 18 inches wide and provides blue green, nearly round foliage. Other new varieties include:

 

  • "Regal Tot," 5 inches high, 15 inches wide, with chartreuse cupped, slightly corrugated leaves
  • "Woodland Elf," 5 inches high, 15 inches wide, with medium green leaves and a white margin
  • "Hideout," 6 inches high, 14 inches wide, with narrow leaves with a broad white center and green margin
  • "Crumb Cake," 5 inches high, 14 inches wide, with gold-colored round leaves and wavy margins

 

And then there is the smallest hosta of all, "Itsy Bitsy Spider," growing to 2 1/2 inches tall and 6 inches wide with very narrow dark green leaves.

 

"All of these minis will flower on short stalks and have flowers that range from white to light lavender," said Stack.

 

These are just a few of the over 50 varieties of mini hostas that are available. Most range from five to eight inches tall. They come in a variety of colors and leaf patterns and are great for gardeners who like hostas but really don't have the space for the more traditional "giants" in the hosta world.

 

So, if you have to think small because of space limitations, don't assume that your garden will be boring. Many of these small versions of traditional plants offer just as much "bang for the buck" as their "super-sized" counterparts and they might impress visitors even more.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24669&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.25  Revealed in accurate detail, the underground world of plants

 

Nottingham, United Kingdom

February 15, 2012

 

Plant and computer scientists can now study the underground world of plants with more accuracy and clarity. The revolutionary technique will improve our chances of breeding better crop varieties and increasing yields.

 

Developed at The University of Nottingham by a team of experts from the Schools of Biosciences and Computer Science, the new approach is based on the same X-ray technology used in hospital CT scans and incorporates new image analysis software which, for the first time, can automatically distinguish plant roots from the other materials found in soil.

 

The results of this research, which has already been demonstrated on the roots of maize, wheat and tomato, have been published in the international scientific journal Plant Physiology.  The interdisciplinary team of scientists from the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology (CPIB) used X-ray Micro Computed Tomography (Micro-CT) to look at the shape and branching pattern — the architecture — of roots in soil. The data was then fed into the new RooTrak software which overcomes the problem of distinguishing between roots and other elements of the soil.

 

Breakthrough for food security

Dr Sacha Mooney, an expert in soil physics in the School of Biosciences, said: “This technique is a hugely important advance. The application of X-ray CT for visualising roots has been limited because we simply couldn’t see a large portion of the root structure. RooTrak has enabled us to overcome this and has opened up the use of the technology for exploring the key questions regarding how we can manipulate plants and soils for improving our food security.”

 

The RooTrak software works by taking a stack of virtual slices through the root-bearing soil. It treats each slice as a frame in a movie, so that static roots in each slice are treated as moving objects which can be tracked. This allows the software to differentiate between root and water or organic elements in the soil much more effectively than previous techniques. The detailed accurate root architecture can then be seen in three dimensions.

 

Tony Pridmore, Data Director at CPIB and an expert in tracking and analysis software, said: “Thinking of Micro-CT data as a sequence of images allows us to solve the problems caused by variations in the appearance of plant roots and the similarity of some roots to the surrounding soil. This is important because we can now extract descriptions of root architecture quickly and objectively.”

 

Malcolm Bennett, Professor of Plant Sciences and an expert in root biology, said: “Root architecture critically influences nutrient and water uptake. A key impediment to genetic analysis of root architecture in crops grown in soil has been the ability to image live roots. Recent advances in microscale X-ray Computed Tomography (MicroCT) and RooTrak software at Nottingham now make this possible.”

 

Ambitious project wins a further £3m in funding

The team has just been awarded a €3.5m (nearly £3m) five year European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Grant to use this new software in conjunction with an innovative microCT-based imaging approach to image wheat roots and select for new varieties with improved water and nutrient uptake efficiencies.

 

This ambitious project will be undertaken by a multidisciplinary team of scientists in the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology (CPIB) led by Professor Bennett. To undertake this research project help from collaborators across Europe, Mexico and Australia is also required to ensure that the most advanced techniques and biological resources are exploited to radically impact efforts to improve crop performance.

 

The CPIB is funded by the Systems Biology joint initiative of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

 

The research was led by PhD student Stefan Mairhofer, with funding from The University of Nottingham’s Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Centre in Integrative Biology.

 

Global Food Security is also a key project within the University’s new appeal, Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, which is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24811&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: University of Nottingham via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.26  Genetic fingerprint reveals new efficient maize cultivars

 

A computer model predicts the ability of different maize lines to produce high-yield offspring

 

Potsdam, Germany

January 15, 2012

 

The parent’s performance has little to do with the child's success at least in maize. Even weak parent plants can be crossed in a way in which they produce vigorous offspring. But not all plants by far are suitable parents. Every single one has to prove its potential in time and cost intensive crossing experiments.

 

Scientists Mark Stitt and Lothar Willmitzer from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology, Potsdam, in collaboration with their colleagues Albrecht Melchinger, from the University of Hohenheim, and Thomas Altmann, from the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research in Gatersleben, wanted to speed up this process. Together they developed a mathematical model that predicts surprisingly well if a plant will make a good parent or not.

 

The model is based on genomic information obtained from the maize kernels and the metabolic profile of the seedlings. The results will be especially valuable for breeders.

 

Nowadays, most maize plants grown in our fields are hybrids. Their main advantage is the disproportionately high yield. Compared to the non-hybrid lines, they deliver up to 50 percent more crop. The phenomenon behind this effect is called heterosis.

 

Although heterosis is of great importance for agriculture and the nourishment of the constantly rising world population, the reasons behind it remain elusive. The only thing certain is that the parents of hybrids have to come from inbred lines and must not be related. Of course, not all inbred lines are suitable for hybrid crossing.

 

To find the perfect parents, expensive, laborious trials have to be performed. It takes breeders about ten years to develop a new variety, but climate change, global food crisis and the increasing need for biofuels demand faster solutions.

 

“Today we know that the growth of a maize plant or its cob production is not influenced by one single gene. On the contrary, there are many little differences in the genetic material that all contribute to the various traits. With the newest methods of genetic analysis we are able to analyse up to 56,000 of these DNA-loci,” explains Christian Riedelsheimer, first author of the study. Instead of altering the DNA, the scientists created an individual genomic profile for each plant, the so-called “genetic fingerprint”.

 

To be able to correctly interpret the encoded information, they conducted field trials and spent three years planting, crossing, measuring yields, and analysing genomes. With the obtained data, they developed a mathematical model that predicts the potential of a parent plant based on the genomic pattern. A tiny amount of sample material, which can be taken from one single grain of maize without destroying its ability to germinate, is enough for the complex analyses. This was conducted by the University of Hohenheim in cooperation with Gatersleben.

 

A second indicator of which plants will make good parents can be found in the composition of the leaves. The amount of starch, sugars, amino acids, chlorophyll, and other substances provides a prediction about the breeding qualities, which is almost as accurate as the analysis of the genomic fingerprint.

 

The technically challenging task of analysing these substances was conducted by scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology. “With our state of the art equipment and software that has recently been designed at our institute, we were even able to analyse the volatile metabolites very precisely,” says Max Planck director Mark Stitt.

 

Everything else is newly developed statistics. “Similar to the genetic profile, it is not the amount of an individual metabolite that matters. Significant information is revealed by certain combinations and patterns,” states Riedelsheimer.

 

The new system does not rely on field trials – and is therefore cost-efficient. “If we wanted to test all possible crossings, we would have to plant maize on half of the earth’s surface.” This is not only utopian but also expensive. “One parcel of land costs €50. Since we tested two plots per variety at ten different locations it amounted to over €1,000 per variety,” sums up Albrecht Melchinger from the University of Hohenheim, where the field trials were conducted.

 

“Analysing the genome with a DNA-chip and a robot costs only about €150”. Apart from the cost efficiency, the time saving is also remarkable; the DNA testing of the grains can be done in the winter. Meanwhile, the seedlings for the metabolite analysis are growing in the greenhouses. Therefore, the best parents can be selected and sowed in the same year.

 

Over the course of the past years, research has seen a change in paradigms. Scientists have abandoned the search for individual super-genes. Instead, they are now focusing on the interactions of many little differences in the genome. “The upshot is that we now have a totally new view on plants and this in turn leads to major improvements in the hybrid breeding programme,” states Melchinger.

 

There is so much genetic diversity in maize, one only has to know how to efficiently combine it.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24183&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.27  Genetic information migrates from plant to plant

 

Potsdam, Germany

January 31, 2012

 

Sexually incompatible species exchange chloroplast genomes at contact zones

 

To generate phylogenetic trees and investigate relationships between organisms, scientists usually look for similarities and differences in the DNA. Plant scientists were confounded by the fact that the DNA extracted from the plants’ green chloroplasts sometimes showed the greatest similarities when related species grew in the same area.

 

They tried to explain the phenomenon with the assumption that every once in a while those normally sexually incompatible species crossed and produced offspring with a new combination of nuclear and chloroplast genomes. They coined the term “chloroplast capture” to illustrate what they thought was happening.

 

Now, scientists around Ralph Bock from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam discovered that a transfer of entire chloroplasts, or at least their genomes, can occur in contact zones between plants. Inter-species crossing is not necessary. The new chloroplast genome can even be handed down to the next generation and, thereby, give a plant with new traits.

 

These findings are of great importance to the understanding of evolution as well as the breeding of new plant varieties

 

[PNAS, Online Publication,DOI:10.1073/pnas.1114076109].Complete article

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.28  U.S. National Science Foundation provides additional $5.9 million to support five new BREAD program projects

 

Washington, DC, USA

February 9, 2012

 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded five grants in the second year of the Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program.

 

Established in 2010, the five-year BREAD program is jointly funded with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Through the partnership between the Gates Foundation and the BREAD program, NSF supports international research projects at the proof-of-concept stage, with funding provided to both U.S. institutions and their international collaborators.

 

"The BREAD program continues to draw interest of scientists from around the world," said John Wingfield, NSF assistant director for Biological Sciences. "More than 160 U.S. institutions in 45 states, partnering with more than 260 institutions in 76 countries, submitted proposals in fields as diverse as the genetic improvement of crops and animals, control of diseases and pests, the chemistry and biology of soils and water, and engineering.

 

The program and the awards made in 2011 epitomize how novel, transformative basic research in the biological sciences can contribute to major benefits to human society globally."

 

"The BREAD partnership is supporting research projects with real promise to help small farming families in developing countries boost their sustainable agricultural productivity," said Rob Horsch, deputy director of Global Development, Science and Technology at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

The awards involve 28 institutions in 6 states and international investigators from Angola, Benin, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Israel, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

 

Examples of new awards

  • Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the National Institute for Agronomical Research (INRA) will join forces to use new synthetic biology technologies to create strains of Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies mycoides that can be developed as live vaccine candidates for the prevention of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, an economically very important livestock disease within Africa.

 

  • The ability to produce doubled haploid plants containing only one set of parental chromosomes could revolutionize breeding in slow cycling crops. Scientists at the University of California, Davis, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) (Colombia) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (Uganda) will exploit a recently developed, novel centromere engineering strategy to develop double haploids in banana and cassava.

 

  • Emerging and reemerging pathogens, including many viruses, continue to cause devastating losses of food production in Africa. Yet there is a widespread lack of basic information and understanding of the virus populations throughout Africa. A team of biologists and computational scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research and the International Potato Center (CIP) (Peru) will use a systems approach and small RNA deep sequencing on geo-referenced sample surveys from throughout Africa to generate and link viral genome sequence information and their distribution patterns with disease symptoms, epidemic risk prediction, and proposed management strategies.

 

  • Key to the success of any strategy to control insect vectors of plant and animal viruses is early and fast detection of vector species and avoidance of infection. A research team at Cornell University/USDA-ARS, University of Washington, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (Nigeria) with collaborators at the USDA-ARS (Charleston, SC) and IITA (Cameroon) has identified a set of protein biomarkers that can identify vector competent populations of aphids, the most important vectors of plant viruses. They will exploit this discovery and determine whether biomarkers can identify vector competent populations of other homopteran insect vectors of plant viruses affecting staple food crops in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

  • Cassava mosaic disease is caused by a DNA virus complex that includes seven geminivirus species. Two satellite DNAs are associated with the complex and can break resistance and enhance disease severity. The satellites do not resemble other geminivirus satellites and their mechanisms of action are not known. A project led by scientists at North Carolina State University, Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI) (Tanzania), and the National Crops Resource Research Institute (NaCCRI-NARO) (Uganda) seeks to provide a deeper understanding of how these two small DNA molecules function in cassava, basic information that will be key to the development of strategies to overcome their detrimental effects on efforts to combat cassava viral diseases in Tanzania and other sub-Saharan African countries.

 

A complete list of 2011 BREAD awards can be accessed on the Directorate for Biological Sciences website.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24382&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.29  Department of Agriculture, Philippines, establishes DNA crop library

 

Manila, Philippines

February 11, 2012

 

By Melody M. Aguiba

 

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is establishing a DNA Library of Crops, Fisheries, and Livestock (LCFL) which will help speed up crop improvement and enhance Philippines’ ability to benefit economically from genetic and proprietary rights.

 

DA already started the DNA LCFL Library under its 2011 biotechnology program which for the first time received a P150 million budget under the 2011 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

 

DA Undersecretary Segfredo R. Serrano said that DA already has a more stable budget for biotechnology program office (BPO) as government recognizes the function of new techniques in its poverty and hunger reduction and food security aims.

 

“We’re making sure we’re getting our due share from the more than 60 percent budget increase for the DA system,” said Serrano.

 

Dr. Candida B. Adalla, director of DA’s biotechnology program office (BPO), in an interview, said they have already started the project last year.

 

“We have already done barcoding for native chicken. It will be a continuing thing as we work on other crops,” Adalla said.

 

For about 10 years since 2000, the BPO obtained its budget from the US PL480 Food forr Peace program for a total of P280 million. But the GAA funding through the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) will make commitments for BPO more permanent through a yearly allocation.

 

Adalla said the DNA Library is an electronic or digital database of genetic materials that will be kept and maintained by the Bureau of Plant Industry’s National Seed Industry Council.

 

“If I’m a breeder I can easily improve on my crop because I will have access to a database of the genetic material that I need,” she said.

 

The database will enhance the country’s intellectual property claims for plant and animal genetic development.

 

Under the 2011 PL480 research and development program, BPO had 28 programs for crops and plants, six programs for livestock and poultry, and three for fisheries and aquatic species.

 

The program under the 2011 GAA include varietal improvement for non genetically modified (GM) crops using biotechnology tools such as marker assisted selection or breeding which took up the highest number of projects at 22 percent of total while genetic conservation and gene banking got 14 percent.

 

Other BPO projects are varietal improvement for GM technologies, improvement of bioprocessing using biotechnology tools, commercialization of biotechnology products, and support for policy, regulation, and quality assurance and safety.

 

BPO is also allocating a significant budget for skills or capability building as government needs to strengthen presence of research experts although it already has a good number.

 

“We have very robust pool of scientists. There are many at UPLB (University of the Philippines Los Banos) as we offer a BS on Agricultural Biotechnology. In terms of budget our P150 million for biotechnology research and development is significant in contrast to zero, said Adalla.

 

“Before we depended on grant, foreign projects. This time it’s people's money allocated already which means that government has recognized the importance of biotechnology,” said Adalla.

 

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/351086/da-establishes-dna-crop-library

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.30  UC Davis and BGI complete master agreement to create BGI@UCDavis genome facility

 

Los Angeles, California, USA

February 17, 2012

 

The University of California, Davis, and China-based BGI, the world's largest genomics organization, based in China, signed a master agreement today (Feb. 17) sealing a partnership that will change the landscape of genomic sciences in California and the Western states.

 

The BGI@UC Davis alliance will foster critical breakthroughs in the areas of food security, human, animal and environmental health.

 

The master agreement was signed today by UC Davis Provost Ralph G. Hexter and Hao Zhang, director of BGI@UC Davis,at a morning ceremony in Los Angeles, with high-ranking dignitaries from China and the United States attending.

 

"Today marks an exciting new chapter in the collaboration between UC Davis, with our strengths in biology, medicine, food and the environment, and BGI, the world's premier genomics organization," said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi. "The discoveries that flow from this partnership will have a worldwide impact."

 

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.

 

Jian Wang, president of BGI stated, "We look forward to a highly productive relationship with UC Davis, one of the top research universities in the U.S., especially in the areas of agricultural, environmental and biological research. Given UC Davis' expertise in these areas, coupled with BGI's expertise in genome sequencing and bioinformatics, we expect this partnership and the establishment of BGI@UC Davis Joint Genome Center to lead to significant scientific breakthroughs."

 

In June of 2011, Katehi and Wang signed the initial agreement to establish the BGI@UCDavis partnership during a meeting in Shenzhen, one of China's Special Economic Zones.¶This was followed by a second agreement signed in October 2011 that established an interim BGI facility for immediate use at the UC Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento and initiated planning for a permanent BGI@UC Davis facility. That signing ceremony, held in Sacramento for this second agreement was attended by both Qin Xu, the mayor of Shenzhen, and Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento.

 

Under the October 2011 agreement, BGI has moved three state-of-the-art DNA sequencing machines into the interim facility on the UC Davis Sacramento campus. When complete, the facility will accommodate ten such machines, dramatically increasing the DNA sequencing capacity readily available to campus researchers.

 

The partnership between BGI and UC Davis will provide new opportunities for researchers at both institutions, said Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. It will enable them to tackle bigger and more complex problems and assemble teams that can compete for bigger grants. It will also act as a catalyst to bring new companies and businesses to Sacramento, Lewin said.

 

The BGI@UCDavis facility will partner with the existing UC Davis Genome Center, located in the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility on the UC Davis campus in the further development of genomics at UC Davis.

 

Since it opened in 2004, the Genome Center has recruited more than 15 faculty, building expertise in genomics and bioinformatics and developed five technology cores that serve faculty from campus and elsewhere.

 

The new BGI@UCDavis facility will dramatically increase the capacity for sequencing at UC Davis.

 

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. Since the first human genome was completed in 2001, the genomes of many other plants and animals have been sequenced, including lab animals and plants, crops such as rice, and disease-causing microbes.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24590&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.31  Oxford Nanopore introduces DNA 'strand sequencing' on the high-throughput GridION platform and presents MinION, a sequencer the size of a USB memory stick

 

Oxford, United Kingdom and Florida, USA

17 February 2012

 

New generation of sequencing technology uses nanopores to deliver ultra long read length single molecule sequence data, at competitive accuracy, on scalable electronic GridION platform. ¶- Miniaturised version of technology, MinION, will make nanopore sequencing universally accessible.

 

Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. today presented for the first time DNA sequence data using its novel nanopore 'strand sequencing' technique and proprietary high performance electronic devices GridION and MinION. These data were presented by Clive G Brown, Chief Technology Officer, who outlined the Company's pathway to a commercial product with highly disruptive features including ultra long read lengths, high throughput on electronic systems and real-time sequencing results. Oxford Nanopore intends to commercialise GridION and MinION directly to customers within 2012.

 

Oxford Nanopore's GridION system consists of scalable instruments (nodes) used with consumable cartridges that contain proprietary array chips for multi-nanopore sensing. Each GridION node and cartridge is initially designed to deliver tens of Gb of sequence data per 24 hour period, with the user choosing whether to run for minutes or days according to the experiment.

 

Oxford Nanopore will introduce a new model of versatile pricing schemes designed to deliver a price per base that is as competitive as other leading systems at launch. Further substantial pricing improvements are expected with future development to the technology, in particular with increases in nanopore processing speed and higher density electronic sensor chips.

 

Oxford Nanopore has also miniaturised these devices to develop the MinION; a disposable DNA sequencing device the size of a USB memory stick whose low cost, portability and ease of use are designed to make DNA sequencing universally accessible. A single MinION is expected to retail at less than $900.

 

"The exquisite science behind nanopore sensing has taken nearly two decades to reach this point; a truly disruptive single molecule analysis technique, designed alongside new electronics to be a universal sequencing system. GridION and MinION are poised to deliver a completely new range of benefits to researchers and clinicians," said Dr Gordon Sanghera, CEO of Oxford Nanopore.

 

"Oxford Nanopore is as much an electronics company as a biotechnology company, and the development of a high-throughput electronics platform has been essential for us to design and screen a large number of new candidate nanopores and enzymes. Our toolbox is customer-ready and we will continue to develop improved nanopore devices over many years, including ongoing work in solid state devices."

 

Summary of presentation

At the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference (AGBT), FL, US, Oxford Nanopore presented:

  • A novel method of DNA 'strand sequencing' that uses an array of proprietary protein nanopores embedded in a robust polymer membrane. Each nanopore sequences multiple strands of DNA from solution in succession, as individual strands are passed through the nanopore by a proprietary processive enzyme. Base calling is performed by identifying characteristic electronic signals (disruptions in current through the nanopore), created by unique combinations of DNA bases as they pass through a specially engineered region inside the nanopore. DNA and enzyme are mixed in solution, engage with the nanopore for sequencing and once the strand has been completed a new strand is loaded into the nanopore for sequencing.

 

  • Genomes that have been sequenced as contiguous reads comprising both complementary strands of the entire genome. An example was shown of lambda, a 48kb genome, sequenced as complete fragments, whose sense and antisense strand total 100 kilobases. Read lengths mirror fragment sizes in the sample with no exponential loss of processivity.

 

  • Accuracy levels competitive with existing market-leading systems were shown. No deterioration of accuracy is seen throughout the sequencing of individual strands. A development pathway was presented that is expected to achieve accuracy exceeding current market-leading platforms through further design iteration of Oxford Nanopore's custom-made nanopores

 

  • Oxford Nanopore's GridION platform was presented, consisting of a scalable network device - a node - designed for use with a consumable cartridge. Each cartridge is initially designed for real-time sequencing by 2,000 individual nanopores at any one time. Alternative configurations with more processing cores will become available in early 2013 containing over 8,000 nanopores.

 

  • Nodes may be clustered in a similar way to computing devices, allowing users to increase the number of nanopore experiments being conducted at any one time if a faster time-to-result is required. For example, a 20-node installation using an 8,000 nanopore configuration would be expected to deliver a complete human genome in 15 minutes.

 

  • A variety of sample preparation options were presented. No sample amplification is required and any user-derived sample preparation resulting in double stranded DNA (dsDNA) in solution is compatible with the system. With nanopores embedded in robust polymer membranes, dsDNA can be sensed directly from blood and in some cases with no sample preparation.

 

  • Oxford Nanopore's disruptive "Run Until..." informatics workflow: Nanopores allow the analysis of data in real time, as the experiment happens. Each GridION node contains all the computing hardware and control software required for primary analysis of data as it is streamed from each nanopore, resulting in full length real-time delivery of complete reads so that the user can perform secondary analyses as the experiment progresses. This allows the user to pre-determine an experimental question and continue the sequencing experiment until sufficient data have been accumulated to answer the question and move on to the next experiment.

 

  • Oxford Nanopore intends to introduce a new pricing model for its GridION sequencing system, which moves away from the traditional instrument price and consumable price. This is designed as a series of packages that allow the user to tailor a scheme to their budget structure, whether more flexible with capital or consumable expenditure. Transparent pricing schemes are designed for online ordering and fulfilment, with discounts applying to larger packages. Overall the schemes are designed to deliver a competitive 'price per base' compared to other systems on the market based on like-for-like user settings.

 

Further information is available at the Company's website www.nanoporetech.com.

 

While orders are not yet being taken for the GridION and MinION systems, interested users may register their interest at the website.

 

Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd is developing a novel technology for direct, electronic detection and analysis of single molecules using nanopores. The modular, scalable GridION technology platform is designed to offer substantial benefits in a variety of applications. The miniaturised MinION device is the size of a USB memory stick, designed for portable analysis of single molecules. Oxford Nanopore intends to commercialise GridION and MinION directly to customers for DNA 'strand sequencing' in 2012.

 

In addition to DNA sequencing, the system is also compatible with the direct analysis of RNA. Oxford Nanopore is also developing a Protein Analysis technology that combines target proteins with ligands for direct, electronic analysis using protein nanopores. These nanopore sensing techniques are combined with the Company's proprietary array chip within the GridION system and MinION.

 

The Company is also developing the subsequent generation of nanopore sensing devices based on solid-state nanopores.

 

Oxford Nanopore has licensed or owns more than 300 patents and patent applications that relate to many aspects of nanopore sensing including fundamental nanopore sensing patents, analysis using protein nanopores or solid state nanopores and for the analysis of DNA, proteins and other molecules, including the analysis of probe molecules on DNA. The Company has collaborations and exclusive licensing deals with leading institutions including the University of Oxford, Harvard and UCSC. Oxford Nanopore has funding programmes in these laboratories to support the science of nanopore sensing. This includes the use of functionalised solid-state nanopores for molecular characterisation, methods of fabricating solid-state nanopores and modifications of solid-state nanopores to adjust sensitivity or other parameters.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24705&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.32  Fast-forward genetics enabled by new sequencing technologies

 

Trends in Plant Science, Volume 16, Issue 5, 282-288, 24 March 2011

Copyright 2011 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.10.1016/j.tplants.2011.02.006

 

Authors

Korbinian Schneeberger, Detlef WeigelSee Affiliations

 

Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, 72076 Tübingen, Germany Department of Plant Developmental Biology, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, 50829 Cologne, Germany

 

Summary

New sequencing technologies are dramatically accelerating progress in forward genetics, and the use of such methods for the rapid identification of mutant alleles will be soon routine in many laboratories. A straightforward extension will be the cloning of major-effect genetic variants in crop species. In the near future, it can be expected that mapping by sequencing will become a centerpiece in efforts to discover the genes responsible for quantitative trait loci. The largest impact, however, might come from the use of these strategies to extract genes from non-model, non-crop plants that exhibit heritable variation in important traits. Deployment of such genes to improve crops or engineer microbes that produce valuable compounds heralds a potential paradigm shift for plant biology.

 

Source: SeeQuest.com

 

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1.33  GM as a route for delivery of sustainable crop protection

 

Toby J. A. Bruce*

Biological Chemistry Department, Rothamsted Research,

Harpenden, Herts AL5 2JQ, UK

E-mail: toby.bruce@rothamsted.ac.uk

 

Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 537–541, 2012

doi:10.1093/jxb/err281

 

Received 6 June 2011; Revised 5 August 2011; Accepted 8 August

2011

 

Abstract

Modern agriculture, with its vast monocultures of lush fertilized crops, provides an ideal environment for adapted pests, weeds, and diseases. This vulnerability has implications for food security: when new pesticideresistant pest biotypes evolve they can devastate crops. Even with existing crop protection measures, approximately one-third yield losses occur globally. Given the projected increase in demand for food (70% by 2050 according to the UN), sustainable ways of preventingthese losses are needed. Development of resistant crop cultivars can make an important contribution. However, traditional crop breeding programmes are limited by the time taken to move resistance traits into elite crop genetic backgrounds and the limited gene pools in which to search for novel resistance. Furthermore, resistance based on single genes does not protect against the full spectrumof pests, weeds, and diseases, and is more likely to break down as pests evolve counter-resistance. Although not necessarily a panacea, GM (genetic modification) techniques greatly facilitate transfer of genes and thus provide a route to overcome these constraints. Effective resistance traits can be precisely and conveniently moved into mainstream crop cultivars. Resistance genes can be stacked to make it harder for pests to evolve counter-resistance and to provide multiple resistances to different attackers. GM-based crop protection could substantially reduce the need for farmers to apply pesticides to their crops and would make agricultural production more efficient in terms of resources used (land, energy, water). These benefits merit consideration by environmentalists

willing to keep an openmind on the GM debate.

 

Key words: Crop improvement, GM debate, plant–pest interactions, sustainable agriculture.

 

Contributed by Donna Van Dolah

Seed Biotechnology Center

UC, Davis

dvandolah@ucdavis.edu

 

Source: SeeQuest.com

 

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1.34  Some Notes on the Genetics of Annual Habit in Tetraploid Cotton (Private)

 

North Carolina State University and Richmond Hill, Georgia

 

            Wild populations of tetraploid cottons, Gossypium barbadense L. and Gossypium hirsutum L., display a predictable pattern of growth and reproduction. At the beginning of the rainy season in the American tropics, wild (perennial) cotton plants resume growing leaves. At the end of the rains, a combination of drying soil and decrease in day length and night temperature conditions the development of fruiting forms. There follows a short burst of flowering and the maturation of fruits (bolls). Leaves are shed, and the plants become dormant and remain so until the rains return.

 

            After seeds of a wild tetraploid cotton germinate, sixteen or seventeen nodes must develop above the cotyledonary scars before there can be reproduction. Thus, a cotton seedling that germinates during a given wet season might not flower until the end of the next. If wild cottons are planted during the spring in subtropics, such as North Carolina, the plants will not find conditions favorable for reproduction before the onset of winter.

 

            There were many changes in tetraploid cottons during the process of domestication. Some tropical cultivars retain the high node, short day, cool night requirements for fruition of wild cottons, coupled with increased fiber yield and quality. Others, called tropical annuals, retain the short day requirement while being selected for precocious flowering, i.e. annual habit. Still others combine annual habit with "day neutral" flowering, and these are the kinds that made possible the production of industrial quantities of cotton in extratropical regions.

 

            I am not aware that there have been formal studies of the genetics of annual habit in tetraploid cottons, and that was likely because no easily recognizable reference point for the beginning of such a study was known. The Peruvian G. barbadense cultivar, Tanguis. provided such a reference point. When Tanguis is planted in the field in North Carolina most plants remain barren. A few mature bolls, three per 15 meters of row in one planting. When plants of field-grown Tanguis were ratooned and planted in a winter greenhouse, they produced short plants that matured numerous bolls. When the stumps were ratooned again and replanted in the field, these, unlike plants grown from seed, were short and became festooned with mature bolls.

 

            Kidney seeded cotton, G. barbadense brasiliense, is a high node, day-length sensitive cultivar from South America. This cotton does not reproduce in the field in North Carolina. When kidney cotton plants were induced to flower in a winter greenhouse, then ratooned and planted in the field, there ensued vegetative growth but no reproduction, a result dramatically different from the productivity of similarly treated Tanguis ratoons.

 

            I tentatively concluded that Tanguis was a high node cotton that is reproductively day length neutral. To test that theory I used Lengupa, another Peruvian cultivar of G. barbadense, that displayed evidence of being a tropical annual. Lengupa is a short day cotton that does not mature fruit in the field in North Carolina. However, under winter greenhouse growth Lengupa commences flowering at the ninth or tenth node. Lengupa was crossed with Tanguis and the F1 grown in a winter greenhouse where plants initiated flowering at the ninth node. The F2 generation was planted in the field, the expectation being that a few annual plants, flowering at the ninth or tenth node, would be recovered. There were six such plants, thereby confirming that Tanguis was a high node cultivar with a day neutral flowering habit.

 

            Tanguis was crossed with AS-2 Sea Island, a G. barbadense cultivar that develops as an annual in the field in North Carolina, flowering most often at the ninth node. The F1 also flowered at the ninth node when grown in a winter greenhouse and the field. An F2 population grown in the field segregated 43 fully reproductive and 17 barren, a ratio of 3 to 1 and evidence that AS-2 Sea Island harbors a single dominant factor for annual habit.

 

            Tanguis was also crossed with Pima S-5, a G. barbadense cultivar bred by Dr. Carl Feaster at the USDA Cotton Research, Phoenix, Arizona. On average, Pima S-5 flowers at the sixth node above the cotyledonary scars. The F1 was grown in the field and winter greenhouse, and all plants flowered and produced bolls beginning at a low node. Fifty F2 plants were grown in the field and all produced a crop of bolls. Evidently Pima S-5 harbors more annual habit factors than AS-2 Sea Island, perhaps two.

 

            AS-2 Sea Island was crossed with the G. hirsutum upland cultivar Coker 310. the F1 flowered at a low node and produced a full crop. The F2, when grown in the field, displayed a variety of expressions. A single plant flowered at the third node. Two other set fruiting forms at the fourteenth and fifteenth nodes. Neither of the latter matured bolls. Ratoons from the two high node segregates produced ample seed in a winter greenhouse. One field row planted with these seed produced vigorous plants but no mature bolls.

 

            AS-2 Sea Island was crossed with Pima S-5. The F1 was about as productive as the Pima parent. The F2, when grown in the field, was unremarkable except that one plant produced a few flowers, late, but no mature fruit. The plant was ratooned and placed in a winter greenhouse where it flowered and produced a crop of bolls. In addition the plant was crossed with 1) Tanguis, and 2) a high node plant from the F2 following a cross of AS-2 Sea Island and Coker 310. Crosses 1 and 2 were unproductive in the field but productive in a winter greenhouse. The F2 progenies behaved in a like manner. The high node derivatives used in crosses 1 and 2 appear to be of the same genotype as Tanguis, absence of annual habit factors (high node number before flowering) and day neutral in flowering response.

 

Conclusions

 

            AS-2 Sea island harbors a single factor for annual habit that conditions first flowering at, on average, the ninth node above the cotyledonary scars. The factor in AS-2 Sea Island is not allelic with the factors found in Pima S-5 and Coker 310. The factors in Pima S-5 and Coker 310 appear to be identical, determining flowering, on average, at the sixth node. These factors, like the one in AS-2 Sea Island, exhibit dominance for annual habit. Apparently Dr. Feaster introgressed annual habit alleles from G. hirsutum into Pima, perhaps to increase earliness.

 

            I tentatively concluded that Pima S-5 and Coker 310 harbor annual habit alleles at two loci. The downward progression in earliness from the ninth node, through the sixth, on average to the third works well with a conclusion that there are annual habit alleles at three loci. The weakness in these conclusions is the absence of non-fruiting segregates in the field-grown Pima x Tanguis F2, where 3 of the 50 F2 plants (1/16) would have been expected not to fruit. A larger F2 population should clarify that (and perhaps add an additional annual factor). While it was somewhat surprising that Sea Island and Pima did not share factors for annualism, the Pimas have complex pedigrees and are only partially G. barbadense.

 

Submitted by Major Goodman

major@nc.rr.com

On behalf of Joshua A. Lee

Professor Emeritus of Crop Science

North Carolina State University

 

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2  PUBLICATIONS

 

2.01  The science of perishable produce analysed in new book

 

Greenwich, United Kingdom

February 20, 2012

 

A new “landmark” book about the science and technology of perishable produce and the post-harvest quality of fruits and vegetables is edited by two members of the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich.

 

Debbie Rees and John Orchard have compiled the new title, alongside Graham Farrell, a technical writer and editor specialising in plant health and analysis.

 

Crop Post-Harvest Science and Technology: Perishables contains contributions from internationally respected experts around the world.

 

The book is described by publishers Wiley-Blackwell as a “landmark publication, (which) is an essential reference for all those working in this field of expertise.”

 

It is aimed at researchers, students and all those involved in food science, food technology, post-harvest science and technology, crop protection, applied biology and plant and agricultural sciences.

 

Debbie Rees, Reader in Plant Physiology at the university’s Natural Resources Institute, says: “The book devotes itself to perishable produce, given the latter’s key importance in the world economy, and provides comprehensive knowledge on all the key factors affecting post-harvest quality of fruits and vegetables.

 

“It focuses on the effects and causes of deterioration, since regular losses caused by post-harvest spoilage can be as high as 50 per cent. A complete understanding is therefore vital in helping to significantly reduce these losses.”

 

The book also examines the many techniques and practices implemented to maintain quality through correct handling and storage.

 

The new title follows two earlier books on related themes, edited by Natural Resources Institute staff; Crop Post Harvest Science and Technology: Principles and Practice (Pete Golob, Graham Farrell, and John Orchard) and Crop Post Harvest Science and Technology: Durables (Rick Hodges and Graham Farrell).

 

Crop Post-Harvest Science and Technology: Perishables now features on the main Wiley website at www.wiley.com/buy/978-0-632-05725-2

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24615&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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2.02  Next-generation sequencing technologies: opportunities and obligations in plant genomics

 

Briefings in Functional Genomics (2012) 11(1): 1-2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bfgp/els001

 

Guest Editors: Rajeev K. Varshney and Gregory D. May

 

Editorial:

The year 2003 marked the completion of the Human Genome Project. In the 9 years since then, genomics has become a vital tool for biomedical research and a driver for improved human health. An often ignored component of human health is plant-derived human nutrition.

 

Plant and agricultural genomics have benefited from many of the same drivers leading technical advances in the development and application in human genomics. The most disruptive technological advance has been a doubling of sequencing data output on an average of every 5 months and has resulted in a freefall in cost per DNA base sequenced [1]. One recalls when it was acceptable to submit, review and publish RNA-sequencing manuscripts in prestigious scientific journals with zero biological or technical replicates because the cost was prohibitive.

 

We soon arrive at the point where it requires less resource to re-sequence the genome or repeat the sequence data generation or expression profiling experiment than to simply store and manage the data. The articles assembled for this Special Issue address current trends and applications along with opportunities and challenges in the use of next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS) technologies in plant genomics research.

 

Special issue papers

  • Mahendar Thudi,  Yupeng Li,  Scott A. Jackson,  Gregory D. May,  and Rajeev K. Varshney. Current state-of-art of sequencing technologies for plant genomics research Briefings in Functional Genomics (2012) 11(1): 3 11 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bfgp/elr045

 

  • Hong C. Lee,  Kaitao Lai,  Michał Tadeusz Lorenc,  Michael Imelfort,  Chris Duran,  and David Edwards. Bioinformatics tools and databases for analysis of next-generation sequence data Briefings in Functional Genomics (2012) 11(1): 12-24 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bfgp/elr037

 

  • Zhenyu Li, Yanxiang Chen, Desheng Mu, Jianying Yuan, Yujian Shi, Hao Zhang, Jun Gan, Nan Li, Xuesong Hu, Binghang Liu, Bicheng Yang, and Wei Fan. Comparison of the two major classes of assembly algorithms: overlap–layout–consensus and de-bruijn-graph Briefings in Functional Genomics (2012) 11(1): 25-37 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bfgp/elr035

 

  • Benjamin Kilian and Andreas Graner. NGS technologies for analyzing germplasm diversity in genebanks Briefings in Functional Genomics (2012) 11(1): 38-50  http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bfgp/elr046

 

  • Robert J. Henry. Next-generation sequencing for understanding and accelerating crop domestication Briefings in Functional Genomics(2012) 11(1): 51-56  http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bfgp/elr032

 

  • Paul L. Auer,  Sanvesh Srivastava, and R.W. Doerge. Differential expression—the next generation and beyond Briefings in Functional Genomics (2012) 11(1): 57-62  http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bfgp/elr041

 

 

  • David J. Studholme. Deep sequencing of small RNAs in plants: applied bioinformatics Briefings in Functional Genomics (2012) 11(1):71-85 first http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bfgp/elr039

 

PS: Please visit updated site http://www.icrisat.org/gt-bt/VI-ICLGG/homepage.htm to know more about programme, online registration and abstract submission for ICLGG 2012.

 

Mailing Address: Centre of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), Building # 300 International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Patancheru - 502 324, Greater Hyderabad, INDIA Tel: 0091 40 30713305; Fax: 0091 40 3071 3074/ 3075

 

Contributed by Rajeev K. Varshney

PhD, FNAAS Director Centre of Excellence in Genomic.

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

Theme Leader CGIAR Generation Challenge Program

 

Source: SeeQuest.com

 

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3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

 

3.01  Plant Breeding and Genomics Online Resource Reaches Milestone

 

Growth in the global population is placing an increased demand on the world's resources to sustain our society for food, feed, fuel, fiber, and environment, underscoring a need for safe and efficient crop production systems. To date, traditional plant breeding methods have served well to meet increased demands. Projected increases from 7 to 9 billion people in the next 40 years will require continued progress. Improvements in the efficiency and cost of DNA sequencing technologies are providing vital information on the genetics and genomics of crop plants. This information is paving the way for new plant breeding strategies to meet global food demands.

 

Earlier this year, a group of researchers, including SBC’s Dr. Allen Van Deynze, and educators from America’s land-grant universities, government agencies, and industry banded together to create the first-ever internet resource aimed at quickly putting basic research on crop genomes into practice. The resource is housed at eXtension (pronounced E-extension).  Less than one year from its launch, the resource reached a milestone of 100,000 views this month.

 

Researchers and Extension personnel regularly contribute webinars, videos, informational articles, reviews, blog entries, and tutorials to the resource. See more

 

Source: SBC eNews January 2012 via Seed Quest

 

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4.  GRANTS AND AWARDS

 

4.01  New international agriculture award to honor young field researchers emulating Dr. Norman Borlaug

 

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

February 21, 2012

 

The World Food Prize Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation are seeking nominations for the first annual award

 

Nominations are sought for the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation. The new $10,000 annual award, administered by the World Food Prize Foundation, will be presented for the first time in October 2012.

 

The award will recognize a young extension worker, research scientist, development professional or other individual who best emulates the dedication, perseverance and innovation demonstrated by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug while working in the field with farmers in Mexico during the 1940s and ‘50s. Dr. Borlaug’s breakthroughs helped feed millions of hungry people and earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

 

The new award will go to an individual under the age of 40 who is working closely and directly in the field or at the production or processing level with farmers, animal herders, fishers or others in rural communities, in any discipline or enterprise across the entire food production, processing and distribution chain.

 

“It is the spirit of innovation that defined Dr. Borlaug’s work and a commitment to leveraging those innovations that aided the poor and vulnerable on a global scale; that has also animated the work of the Rockefeller Foundation for nearly 100 years,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

 

“This new award will focus attention on those young scientists engaged in field research and application of the type Norm Borlaug and his Rockefeller colleagues pioneered when they were early in their careers working in Mexico, Columbia and India, and other countries in the developing world.”

 

As the Rockefeller Foundation looks ahead to celebrating its centennial in 2013, this new award highlight’s Dr. Borlaug’s association with that organization and his breakthrough achievement in breeding more than 40 high-yielding and disease-resistant wheat varieties while working in the Rockefeller Foundation-Mexican Ministry of Agriculture Cooperative Program.

 

“We are honored to administer this new award, which so perfectly reflects Dr. Borlaug’s belief in the critical importance of training the next generation innovators,” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, which Dr. Borlaug founded.

 

Candidates for the award will be evaluated and selected by a jury of international experts based on the attributes and accomplishments that reflect the intellectual courage, innovation, and determination evinced by Dr. Borlaug during his field research in 1940s-50s Mexico that led to the world-changing 1960s Green Revolution in Latin America and Asia.

 

Nominations for the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, are invited now through June 30, 2012. Any individual or organization may submit a nomination (however, self-nominations will not be accepted).

 

Nominations must be submitted in English online at

www.worldfoodprize.org/borlaugfieldaward.

 

Additional award information and guidelines are available at this website address, or by contacting Judith Pim, the World Food Prize director of secretariat operations: 515-245-3796 (office phone); or jpim@worldfoodprize.org (email).

 

The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, The World Food Prize has honored 35 outstanding individuals with its prestigious $250,000 prize. The recipients have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24667&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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4.02  Funding available for training in plant genetic resources and seeds: building community resilience in the face of climate change’

 

We have the pleasure of inviting you to apply for fellowships for the training programme ‘Plant genetic resources and seeds: building community resilience in the face of climate change’, India (29 October - 16 November 2012).

 

Climate change threatens the food security of resource poor, subsistence farmers located in marginal environments. We must look for complementary approaches to work with those farmers who are vulnerable to environmental change. Rather than focus entirely on technological developments and dissemination, innovative processes must be designed to enhance the adaptive capacities of small-scale farming communities. With experience using genetic diversity and through learning, small-scale farmers may become more responsive in their struggle to adapt to change.

 

Community Biodiversity Management (CBM) emerged as a strategy to realize on-farm management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). The strategy strengthens the capacity of rural communities to make decisions on the conservation and use of biodiversity in order to secure access to and control over their resources. In addition, CBM has the potential attributes to build the resilience of local communities in responding to change.

 

The objective of the training is to enhance participants' capacity to associate CBM as integrated strategies for managing genetic resources and building community resilience towards climate change. Furthermore, the programme pays special attention to participatory and multi-stakeholder approaches, and places CBM into relevant local, national and international policy contexts.

 

The training focuses on the following topics:

·         On-farm management of PGRFA;

·         Global environmental challenges;

·         Managing agrobiodiversity in unpredictable environments;

·         Community empowerment and resilience building;

·         Forging conservation with local livelihoods;

·         Participatory learning and action research;

·         Multi-stakeholder processes and social learning;

·         Understanding the key challenges to evolving PGRFA and climate change policies;

·         Putting policy into practice by sharing evidences for these key challenges to, and interrelatedness of, PGRFA and climate change policies.

 

The first two weeks of this training programme are organized in Orissa, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots for rice. This allows direct interactions with the tribal communities working with our partners

 

Deadline for fellowship application from the Netherlands Fellowship Programme is:

 

May 01, 2012 through Fellowships for Short Courses on Scholarship Online (SOL).

 

Please take note of the changed procedure (you no longer have to visit the nearest Netherlands Embassy to apply), which is now done online. We strongly suggest you to apply in time. The online registration may take some time; please consult the CDI application procedures, the SOL user manual for applicants and visit the FAQs section.

 

Simultaneously apply online at CDI; the procedure is explained in the links above.

 

Please make use of this unique training opportunity to interact with peers in your field of expertise and interest from all over the world!

 

Contributed by Abishkar Subedi

Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation

Wageningen, The Netherlands

 

abishkar.subedi@wur.nll

www.cdi.wur.nl<http://www.cdi.wur.nl/>

www.disclaimer-uk.wur.nl<http://www.disclaimer-uk.wur.nl/>

 

Source: SeeQuest.com

 

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5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

5.01  Plant Breeder, Mylnefield Research Services Ltd

 

Plant Breeder

 

Dundee

Up to £45k per annum (plus non-contributory pension)

 

Mylnefield Research Services Ltd (MRS) www.mrsltd.com  a commercial affiliate of the James Hutton Institute www.hutton.ac.uk  is looking to recruit a Plant Breeder to support its commercial plant breeding programmes and in particular potato breeding.  This is a unique opportunity to translate the latest scientific knowledge into superior plant varieties.

 

The successful candidate will be working as part of a team developing superior plant varieties through trialling on and off-station.  Duties will include developing and implementing breeding strategies and selection methods particularly in potato breeding.  As well as liaising with scientists at JHI to integrate and capitalise on its scientific knowledge and technology in plant breeding and managing contracts with commercial partners.  The successful candidate must have excellent leadership, motivation, planning, organisational and communication skills.  The post will involve travel and working outdoors at certain times of the year eg planting and harvest.

 

Candidates must possess a first degree in genetics, plant science or agriculture, with some component of the degree consisting of plant breeding and statistics. The successful candidate should also hold a MSc in genetics and/or plant breeding.  A PhD and experience of commercial plant breeding is desirable.  A full UK driving licence would be advantageous.

 

Please forward your letter of application together with a CV and names of two referees by 23 March 2012 to HR Office, Mylnefield Research Services Ltd, Errol Road, Invergowrie, Dundee, DD2 5DA.

 

Contributed by Angela McNally

Mylnefield Research Services Ltd.

Invergowrie, Dundee DD2 5DA

Scotland UK

angela.mcnally@hutton.ac.uk

 

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5.02  Corn Technology Development Manager based in Mexico. 

 

Monsanto currently has an opportunity available for a Corn Technology Development Manager based in Mexico.  The TD manager will lead and implement Corn TD strategy for Monsanto’s Latin American Region (The main countries focus include Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru).

 

Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to designing study protocols, defining testing programs for corn trials and developing agronomic recommendations to support corn trials.  The ideal candidate for this position will have at least five years of experience in the technical/research arena; an MS or PhD (preferred) in Plant Breeding, Plant Physiology, Agronomy or related discipline.  The ability to speak Spanish and travel up to 50% is also required.

 

Please call Cathy Neal at 011-314-694-4387 or e-mail at

international.opportunities@monsanto.com to apply or if you have additional questions.

 

Monsanto is an equal opportunity employer; we value a combination of ideas, perspectives and cultures.  EEO/AA Employer M/F/D/V.  www.monsanto.com

 

Source: SBC eNews January 2012 via SeedQuest

 

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5.03  Breeding Database Specialist

 

February 23, 2012

 

KWS is one of the most innovative and long established plant breeding/seed companies worldwide. For more than 150 years we have been breeding and marketing high performance varieties for the modern farmer. Our key crops are sugar beet, corn and cereals as well as oil seed crops and potatoes. Our core markets are in the temperate climate zones of Europe, North and South America as well as China.

 

We are offering a position at the earliest opportunity for a Breeding Database Specialist (m/f) on a full time basis and unlimited in our Biotechnology team at the KWS LOCHOW GMBH.  The position is located in Einbeck, Germany, at KWS SAAT AG.

 

Your responsibilities:

  • As a breeding database specialist you are responsible for the design, use and standardization of all breeding information to be used by the breeders, scientist, IT specialists and controlling
  • Your main task is to develop and roll out a strategy to improve breeding, genomic and phenotypic data quality and ensure improvement over time
  • You will be responsible for the development of in house and in sourced tools to support data capturing, data curation and data management of the various data types
  • Furthermore we expect you to be proactively involved in the implementation of new breeding methods, new automation tools and new (statistical) reporting demands
  • An important part of the job is also to be instrumental using the tools in order to support breeders, scientist and other colleagues, including user support and training

 

Your profile:

  • M.Sc. in Agricultural information management, Bioinformatics, Plant sciences or related field or B.Sc. with 5+ year experience in research environment
  • Software skills in client/server and web developments, using standard IT development tools from Microsoft and Oracle
  • Strong familiarity with relational databases, handling large datasets and querying (SQL)
  • Familiar with pedigree, genomic and phenotypic data Working knowledge in statistics and experimental design
  • Experience of operational breeding processes
  • Ability to work with multidisciplinary teams/groups across countries
  • Good communication skills in English, both oral and written
  • It’s an absolute plus if you would have previous experience with data management and data mining in the plant breeding industry

 

Do you recognize yourself in this profile? Then we would like to get to know you and look forward to receiving your application (CV, a letter of motivation, a publication record and references) under the following specification: KWS LOCHOW GMBH.

 

Application Number: 1198 Address: KWS Services Deutschland GmbH HR Employee Services, Arne Graf P.O. 1463 37555 Einbeck; Germany Phone: ++49 5561 311 714

 

applications@kws.com 

www.kws.com

 

More positions from: KWS Lochow GmbH

 

Source: SeedQuest reference number: 2472

 

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5.04  Lead, R&D, Cotton Breeding

 

Location

Jalna, Maharashtra, India

 

Tentative CTC Bracket –Package will not be constraint for suitable candidate.  Reporting to – Director –R&D Company Intro

 

Krishidhan Group is ruling the Indian seed industry with presence across India and Europe. Fuelled with significant investment by “Summit Partners”, we have lined up extensive growth plans via organic and inorganic routes.  Driven by R&D and Biotech, Krishidhan is delivering high quality seeds for the Indian seeds market. With products ranging from Cotton, Pulses, Cereals, Vegetables we command significant market share in Indian commercial seeds.  Not only seeds, we also take care of needs of farmers related to Fertilizers and Nutrients. 

 

Our R&D activities and research centers are recognized by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Govt. of India.  We see ourselves emerging as one of the biggest technology driven Indian agricultural input company with a significant global presence, providing access to latest technologies and all required quality agricultural inputs for the socio economic growth of farmers worldwide.

 

Our commitment is guaranteed and supported by our talented human resources, continuous and proactive research, state-of-the-art seeds processing facilities, stringent total quality management and friendly sales & support network.

 

Job Description

Strategic Research Planning

  • Prepare the detailed strategic research action plan for cotton with time line (short-term, medium term, long term) along with infrastructure, manpower, resources and budget.
  • Assign specific breeding programme and projects for each of the cotton breeder in group.
  • Guide all breeders in proper analysis of data and identification of elite material to be advanced for further evaluation, trials and release
  • Plan extensive trait development-
  • Improved fibre quality through
  • HXB hybrids
  • Introgression of traits from Barbedense
  • Use of unique germplasm and marker support from Biotech
  • on resistance against:
  • Cotton leaf curl Viruses
  • Grey mildew
  • Alternaria
  • Drought
  • Full responsibility for new Biotech products e.g
  • RRF
  • Sucking pests
  • National and international projects
  • Molecular marker application for faster trait development

 

R&D and Administration:

  • Full responsibility for appropriate and competitive product design for water deficient rainfed area in central zone- work to be done at Jalna.
  • Full lead responsibility for appropriate and competitive product design and breeding strategies for North Zone of India. Lead, plan and mentor the scientific team to achieve strategic plans.
  • Full lead responsibility for appropriate and competitive product design for South Zone especially for various sub-zones of Andhra. Lead, plan and mentor the scientific team to achieve strategic plans.
  • Ensure administrative arrangements for all regional breeding stations and testing centres.
  • Prepare budget for effective implementation and oversee cost of each centre month wise for strict compliance of budget run R&D.

 

Review and Monitoring

  • Monitor and supervise all ongoing projects, research administration, material indents & distribution
  • Review release proposals prepared for the identified products and present before the release committee
  • Ensure that the crop review process is completed subject to necessary response and action plans
  • Ensure smooth functioning of the R&D station(s)
  • Oversee and enhance the germplasm collection from various local, national and international sources
  • Provide data and documents required for sale permission in various states to marketing department.
  • Ensure proper documentation and filling of IPR under PVP & FR authority
  • Oversee proper documentation of various activities in prescribed formats
  • Ensure implementation of the technical action plan by individual breeders/team of breeders
  • Oversee and track activities of the individual breeders in consistent manner through regular visit of the experiments/dialogues/discussion/meetings
  • Ensure product delivery in time bound manner

 

Liaisoning:

  • Foster strong and effective linkage with sales/marketing/production/trial departments for effective delivery of the products in tune with the requirements of the markets
  • Develop strategic linkage with biotech department for ensuring biotech interventions as and when required
  • Develop  strong linkage with ICAR Institutes/SAUs/other national organizations to be in touch with developments at national level
  • Develop and foster linkages with international breeding stations/organizations to ensure  procuring new germplasm and implementing innovative technologies
  • Ensure timely action related ensure IPR protection of the products through registration with competent authorities like PPVFRA/NBPGR
  • Mainta