PLANT BREEDING NEWS

 

EDITION 233

March 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  Plant breeding to take centre stage as pesticides enter ‘twilight era’?

1.02  International commission offers road map to sustainable agriculture

1.03  Student researches Ethiopian farmers' preferences

1.04  Argentina responds to climate challenge with transgenic seeds

1.05  Nigeria: nation produces first pro vitamin A cassava

1.06  CIMMYT's drought tolerant maize wins 2012 UK Climate Week Award

1.07  New alfalfa variety could be big boost to dairy industry

1.08  Vaccine production in plants nets scientist Innovator of the Year 2012

1.09  Tanzania has 2 new cassava varieties resistant to CBSD and CMD

1.10  NCKU'S Research on heat tolerant  cauliflower seedlings benefits world food supply

1.11  New soybean varieties introduced in Brazil

1.12  Saving Kenya’s maize crop

1.13  Malaysian scientists develop superior red rice Bangi

1.14  Francolin: Ug99-tolerant wheat variety released in Bangladesh

1.15  Supreme Court reverses decision upholding gene patents

1.16  Public concern over GM food has lessened, survey shows

1.17  World breakthrough on salt-tolerant wheat

1.18  Corn gene helps fight multiple leaf diseases

1.19  Purple sprouting broccoli nominated in innovation award

1.20  Scientists use secondary traits and selection indices for development of drought tolerant maize

1.21  Frost nurseries identify tolerant grain varieties

1.22  New genomic resources for maize breeding

1.23  CSIRO brings out the MAGIC for wheat

1.24  Scientists adapt mining technology to breed nutritious food crops

1.25  How a sunflower gene crossed the line from weed to crop

1.26  Aberystwyth scientists make bio-fuel genetic map breakthrough with miscanthus

1.27  Genotyping-by-sequencing, a new and much cheaper genomics technique, takes off

1.28  BGI signs MOU with TTI GG, NLeSC and NBIC for taming flood of genomic data

1.29  UK Scientists identify important gene in maize plant

1.30  Mapping of genes for high oleic acid content in safflower

1.31  JIC Researchers reveal gene for blood oranges

1.32  Scientists analyze gene expression in RBSDV-infected maize

1.33  How rice blast fungus achieves full virulence

1.34  Scientists map water saving traits in pearl millet

1.35  Pesquisa que resultou em melhoramento da mandioca é premiada

 

2.  PUBLICATIONS

2.01  Conference proceedings and organic plant breeding webinars

2.02  Fruit Breeding-Publication of volume 8 of the Handbook of Plant Breeding

 

3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

3.01  Webinar: How to Develop SNP-based Tetraploid Maps for Potato

3.02  New EU-funded network for plant phenotyping on the way

3.03  Germplasm resources information network launched

 

4.  GRANTS AND AWARDS

4.01  USA - National association of plant breeders announces its awards program for 2012

4.02  Borlaug global rust Initiative announcement

 

5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

5.01  Monsanto plant breeding positions in China

 

6.  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

 

1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES


1.01 
Plant breeding to take centre stage as pesticides enter ‘twilight era’?

 

8 March 2012 |

 

By Teresa Rush

 

PLANT breeding constraints imposed through the cereal variety testing system and the end of the ‘pesticides era’ were among the topics touched on by leading academics at the RASE President’s Seminar.

 

The Recommended List system for wheat varieties in the UK posed a problem for plant breeders in it required a focus on short-term plant breeding objectives, Professor Keith Edwards of the University of Bristol told the seminar.

 

The HGCA Recommended Lists were ‘very useful’ for farmers but getting varieties on the list had become ‘a goal in itself’ for plant breeders.

 

Prof Edwards said plant breeding, not crop protection or fertiliser inputs, would drive wheat yield increases going forward. However, plant breeders were ‘close to the bottom of the toolbox’ in terms of the tools available for increasing yield. “We have to understand breeders are extremely limited in their scope. The Recommended List is very useful for farmers but if you are a wheat breeder, if you don’t breed for the Recommended List the possibility is you might go bust before you reach your long-term goals,” said Prof Edwards.

 

“There is a problem with the current system. The financial return to plant breeders did not reflect the genetic gain available to farmers and end users. “We need some kind of step change - but where is it going to come from? Plant breeding will be the only way we are going to increase yield.”

 

Collaborations

There was, however, strength in the collaborations taking place between plant breeders and academics. Unlike plant breeders, academics could speculate without the risk of going bust – the wheat genome sequencing project and the development of molecular markers provided examples – but they were less effective at taking plant breeding technologies forward and transferring them into useful products.

 

Highlighting durable disease resistance as a key target for plant breeders, Professor James Brown, of the John Innes Centre, said varieties would become increasingly important as a focus for disease control. “The efforts of plant breeders are going to have to shift from a focus on yield to a focus on achieving a balance of traits,” he said. “The era of pesticides is approaching its twilight and in 20 years or so they (pesticides) may look rather historic. But they have done a good job over the last 30 years.”

 

There was no such thing as a perfect variety said Prof Brown, citing examples of where there had been a trade off between disease resistance and yield. For example, in wheat, selection for yield had inadvertently hampered selection for resistance to fungal disease septoria tritici.

Prof Brown said: “Because breeders have selected for yield they haven’t been able to make progress in terms of septoria resistance as they would like to have done.”

 

Wheat breeding figures

  • A 40 to 50 per cent increase over current yields will be required over the next 18 years to meet worldwide demand for wheat
  • The year-on-year yield increase in recent years had been 0.5-0.7 per cent
  • Between 1948 and 2007, 57 per cent of the increase in wheat yield was down to plant breeding
  • Between 1982 and 2007 93 per cent of the increase in wheat yield was down to plant breeding

 

http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/arable/plant-breeding-to-take-centre-stage-as-pesticides-enter-%E2%80%98twilight-era%E2%80%99?/45389.article

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.02  International commission offers road map to sustainable agriculture

 

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

28 March 2012

 

An independent commission of scientific leaders from 13 countries today (Wednesday, March 28) released a detailed set of recommendations to policymakers on how to achieve food security in the face of climate change.

 

In their report, the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change proposes specific policy responses to the global challenge of feeding a world confronted by climate change, population growth, poverty, food price spikes and degraded ecosystems.

 

The report highlights specific opportunities under the mandates of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Group of 20 (G20) nations.

 

"Food insecurity and climate change are already inhibiting human well-being and economic growth throughout the world and these problems are poised to accelerate," said Sir John Beddington, chair of the commission. "Decisive policy action is required if we are to preserve the planet's capacity to produce adequate food in the future."

 

The report was released today at the Planet Under Pressure conference where scientists from around the world are honing solutions for global sustainability challenges targeted to the Rio Summit to be held June 20-22 in Brazil.

 

The commission was created in 2011 and charged with identifying the best research-based approaches toward global food security in the face of climate change. The new report, available here, outlines seven recommendations they hope to see implemented concurrently by a constellation of governments, international institutions, investors, agricultural producers, consumers, food companies and researchers. They call for changes in policy, finance, agriculture, development aid, diet choices, and food waste as well as revitalized investment in the knowledge systems to support these changes.

 

"It's past time to realize that farms of every size all over the world are fundamental to providing for human nutritional demands and economic well-being, but they also face critical choices with significant implications for the way we manage the planet for long-term sufficiency," says U.S. Commissioner Molly Jahn, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 

Further, changes in agricultural practices have the potential to deliver benefits for both adaptation and mitigation of climate change. For example, in China, nearly 400 kilograms of chemical fertilizer are used on every hectare of farmland and, in Mexico, agriculture accounts for 77 percent of domestic water use, in part due to substantial subsidies for water and electricity used for irrigation.

 

Such practices offer both challenges and opportunities to refocus policies and budgets, say Jahn and the other commissioners, and they have urged the UNFCCC to establish a work program that addresses these issues together under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice.

 

In addition to tackling agriculture, the commission's recommendations explicitly recognize the "demand side" of food insecurity, calling for policies and programs to support healthy and sustainable eating as well as those explicitly designed to empower vulnerable populations.

In particular, they underscore the need for improved data and decision support for land managers and policymakers.

 

"The elements of the food system — soil, water, climate, energy, people — are intimately connected and it is critical that we understand how they work together as a system, and get that information into the hands of those who need it most," Jahn says.

 

The commission's report presents a stark picture of the challenges ahead and calls for decisive action on a global scale to ensure a "safe operating space" for current and future generations.

"Many public and private sector leaders are already taking steps to overcome technical, social, financial and political barriers to a sustainable food system," says Bruce Campbell, director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, which convened the commission in February 2011. "The commission's work spells out who needs to do what to take these early efforts to the next level."

 

The commission is financially supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development.

 

The commission brings together senior natural and social scientists working in agriculture, climate, food and nutrition, economics, and natural resources from Australia, Brazil, Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, France, Kenya, India, Mexico, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. Additional materials can be found here. Commission recommendations:

 

  1. Integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies;
  2. Significantly raise the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade;
  3. Sustainably intensify agricultural production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts of agriculture;
  4. Target populations and sectors that are most vulnerable to climate change and food insecurity;
  5. Reshape food access and consumption patterns to ensure basic nutritional needs are met and to foster healthy and sustainable eating habits worldwide;
  6. Reduce loss and waste in food systems, particularly from infrastructure, farming practices, processing, distribution and household habits;
  7. Create comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems that encompass human and ecological dimensions.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25653&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.03  Student researches Ethiopian farmers' preferences

 

Cornell University

15 March 2012

 

By John Bakum

 

Katie Nelson, a master's degree candidate in crop and soil sciences, surveyed Ethiopian farmers about highly sought-after traits in new wheat varieties in an attempt to quantify wheat-breeding priorities of specific populations, such as women farmers. "Women play a big role in farming in Ethiopia, and I want to determine if their wants and needs were being met by current variety deployment strategies," Nelson said.

 

Nelson conducted a positioning study in Ethiopia in June 2011, interviewing more than 40 farmers and asking them to rate the importance of attributes of the wheat varieties they plant, including size and color of the grain, and price. "This visit provided me the framework that guides the rest of the study," Nelson said. "And it was vital for me as [an] introduction not only to the farmers, but also to local customs and practices."

 

Armed with this data, Nelson determined six attributes farmers look for: number of tillers, density of kernels, size of grain (large or small), color of grain, rust disease resistance and price per 100 kg.

 

Returning to Ethiopia in January, Nelson interviewed more than 300 farmers, showing them pictures of 18 hypothetical varieties with differences in each of the six traits. The farmers ranked each of the six attributes on a 0-6 scale, 0 being "would never buy this seed" and 6 "would definitely buy this seed." This approach revealed the importance of each trait relative to the others.

 

Nelson will complete additional data analysis that will provide specific conclusions. She will create groups of farmers who share the same variety preference (e.g., desired color of the grain) and identify demographic traits they share. For example, the group that most highly values kernel density could be mostly women farmers. "This information will be important, because rather than assume there are no differences in agronomic preferences for wheat varieties, we will have data to show where subtle differences could have an impact," Nelson said.

 

If Nelson determines female farmers or other demographic groups share trait preferences, breeders can target those specific groups or traits. "It's important not to assume that all women farmers will prize the same traits; some women farmers are head of household, others are in male-headed households, and what they deem important might be different," she said.

 

As Nelson has sifted through the data, surprises have arisen. "Before the interviews I thought that farmers would not choose the highest-priced variety as something they would purchase," Nelson said. "But in most cases they not only consume the wheat they grow, they also sell it. So they felt the highest price seed indicated the highest quality, which means higher prices at market."

 

Nelson's research is part of the Gender Initiative in the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project, administered by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development. "Katie's important research is going to serve as a springboard for the next four years of the DRRW project.

 

Engaging with women farmers -- and female scientists -- is a vital component of any future gains in food security and breeding techniques," said Sarah Davidson Evanega, associate director of DRRW and adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics.

 

John Bakum is a communications specialist with International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

 

http://www.ecnmag.com/News/Feeds/2012/03/blogs-the-cutting-edge-student-researches-ethiopian-farmers-preferences/

 

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1.04  Argentina responds to climate challenge with transgenic seeds

 

Buenos Aires

14 March  2012

 

By Marcela Valente

 

Researchers in Argentina have isolated a sunflower gene and implanted it into corn, wheat and soybean seeds to make them more resistant to drought and soil salinity, problems increasingly faced by this South American agricultural powerhouse as a result of global warming.

 

The discovery was made by a team of researchers led by molecular biologist Raquel Chan of the Agrobiotechnology Institute of the Littoral, created by the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) and the public National University of the Littoral, in the northeastern Argentine province of Santa Fe.

 

The researchers isolated one of the 50,000 genes that make up the structure of the sunflower, known as HAHB4, which helps it to endure water shortages. They introduced the gene into wheat, corn and soybean species, then carried out three years of field testing in different regions of the country with varying climates and soils.

 

Chan pointed out that the genetic trait introduced in the laboratory can be combined with others, such as the resistance to herbicides already programmed into numerous genetically modified crops.

 

There are other benefits as well. "Not only are the improved plants drought-resistant and salt-resistant, but their productivity is significantly increased," which is the most novel feature of the discovery, Chan told Tierramérica.

 

Yields are between 15 and 100 percent higher, depending on the quality of the crop, the region where it is planted and the climatic conditions. In no cases did yields decrease.   Although there are other examples in the scientific literature of plant species that are improved to better tolerate water stress, there have been no drought-resistant seeds on the market up until now, said Chan.

 

This is because the test results published by scientific institutions reveal that other drought-resistant plant varieties provide smaller yields when rainfall occurs. They are only productive when there is a shortage or lack of water, explained Chan. But the new seeds do not suffer from this shortcoming, she stressed. "The plants demonstrated that productivity increases even in normal climate conditions, with more frequent rains."

 

HAHB4, patented on behalf of the university and CONICET, was presented in late February, and its use and exploitation have been licensed for 20 years to the Argentine company Bioceres, which is co-owned by more than 230 agricultural producers.

 

Bioceres formed a partnership with the U.S. company Arcadia Biosciences to create Verdeca, the brand under which the new seeds will be sold on the international market. Before they are released on the market, however, the seeds must still undergo a series of tests to determine their effects on the environment and nutritional value, as well as their levels of toxicity. This process will take between two and three years.

 

HAHB4 is an important discovery because it will help the agricultural sector in Argentina confront some of the most detrimental impacts of climate change, commented Graciela Magrin, a leading specialist in agriculture and climate change from the Climate and Water Institute. As a result of global warming, experts predict "an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events like droughts," Magrin told Tierramérica.

 

The institute where she works forms part of the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA), a government agency that studies the impact of climate conditions on agricultural production and means of adaptation.

 

Climate scenarios for Argentina foresee periods of heavy precipitation concentrated in short periods of time, and longer lapses of water shortages, said Magrin. The lack of rain during this Southern hemisphere summer, now drawing to an end, heavily impacted the cereals harvest, which was expected to total some 111 million tons, but will likely not reach 100 million tons. Losses were especially marked in corn production.

 

The 2008-2009 drought, the most severe in 100 years, led agricultural production to shrink by 37 percent. Natural climate variability and extreme events - shortages or excesses of water, frosts, severe storms, hail - have been observed with greater frequency and intensity in recent years, according to INTA studies.

 

In addition, there are recurring periods of insufficient or excess rainfall associated with the cold phases (La Niña) and warm phases (El Niño) of the Southern Oscillation, a global climate phenomenon marked by changes in Pacific Ocean surface temperatures and air pressure.

 

This is why the experts at INTA recommend crop management strategies that address these challenges and the development of more resilient species and varieties.  Magrin noted that when water becomes more scarce, the salinity of soils can increase, which makes the salt-resistant quality of HAHB4 especially welcome.

 

In fact, 75 percent of Argentina’s territory is drylands, with arid, semi-arid or dry sub-humid soils that are more prone to degradation and, eventually, desertification.

 

INTA warns of growing desertification in the southern region of Patagonia and serious threats to the southwest area of the western province of Buenos Aires. But drylands are not barren. Half of the country’s crops are produced in these ecosystems, according to the Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands (LADA) study conducted in Argentina and published in late 2011. Nevertheless, careful management is needed.

 

Improved seed varieties can help agriculture better adapt to this scenario. Testing in dryland areas in the provinces of Chaco, in northeast Argentina, and San Luis, in the midwest, resulted in good yields, said Chan.

 

Environmental organisations are not as enthusiastic about these genetically modified seeds. The Argentine branch of Greenpeace is worried that they could fuel a new advance by agroindustry on the country’s forests. Argentina has already lost 70 percent of its original forest cover. "Unless a policy is adopted to completely prohibit forest clearing, these transgenic seeds could mean the end of the last native forests," Hernán Giardini, coordinator of the Greenpeace Argentina forests campaign, warns in a press release.

 

For the leader of the research team that developed the seeds, protection of the environment is an admirable pursuit, but it must be combined with the increase in food production needed in the world today. "We are molecular biologists and our challenge is to produce more on fewer hectares of land," said Chan. "It is not up to us to decide how far the planting of these crops should expand. That is up to the government," she added. For her part, Magrin stressed that this new development will require "very strict land zoning regulations that define where crops can be expanded and where they pose a risk."

 

This article is one of a series supported by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network http://cdkn.org/, which does not necessarily agree with its content. It was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank. (END)

 

http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=107065

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.05  Nigeria: nation produces first pro vitamin A cassava

 

20 March 2012

By Tina A. Hassan,

 

Nigeria has produced the first ever pro Vitamin A (beta carotene rich) fortified cassava in Africa that is considered to be more nutritious than the existing varieties.

 

About three varieties of the beta carotene cassava were launched by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina during the weekend at the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Abia State.

 

According to the minister, Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world, producing over 34 million metric tons of the crop. He said the production of the improved varieties has placed Nigeria on the global map in terms research on micronutrient (vitamin a, iron, zinc and iodine) improvement in staple foods.

 

He said: "This successful effort is part of the drive of the Federal Government to transform agriculture; our focus is to create new markets for cassava and this include high quality cassava flour to be used in replacing some of the wheat flour being imported to produce bread; high fructose cassava syrup to replace the 200,000 metric tons of sugar currently being used in the juice manufacturing industry; dried cassava chips; and the production of ethanol.

 

"Our goal is to add another 17 million metric tons of cassava to our domestic food supply. The Agricultural Transformation Action Plan hopes to create 1.3 million jobs across the cassava value chains but producing more food is not enough, we must also ensure that there is enhanced food nutrition and health."

 

Acting Executive Director of the institute, Dr. Thomas Ezulike expressed confidence in the ability of NRCRI to continue to blaze the trail the area of improved crop both nutritionally and in resistance and adaption to changing climatic conditions.

 

He said: "NRCRI has transformed into a leading research centre of excellence for root and tuber crops of global repute and has blazed the trail of biotechnology through the establishment of a culture tissue laboratory, molecular breeding of root crops and confined field trial of genetically modified crop and recently bio fortification of staple crops."

 

http://allafrica.com/stories/201203200688.html

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.06  CIMMYT's drought tolerant maize wins 2012 UK Climate Week Award

More than 2 million farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are growing the new varieties for more food and income

 

El Batan, Mexico

12 March 2012

 

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID, http://www.dfid.gov.uk) has won Best Technological Breakthrough at the UK Climate Week Awards for its support to a project to develop drought-tolerant maize in Africa.

 

The prize was announced at the Climate Week Awards, held in London today to celebrate the UK’s most effective and ambitious organizations, communities, and individuals and their efforts to combat climate change.

 

Known as “Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa” (DTMA), the winning initiative is responsible for the development and dissemination of 34 new drought-tolerant maize varieties to farmers in 13 project countries—Angola, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—between 2007 and 2011.

 

An estimated 2 million smallholder farmers are using the drought-tolerant maize varieties and have obtained higher yields, improved food security, and increased incomes. “This maize is like an insurance against hunger and total crop failure, even under hot, dry conditions like those of recent years”, says 79-year-old Rashid Said Mpinga, a maize farmer in Morogoro, Tanzania, who has been growing maize for almost half a century. "Without good quality maize seed, you cannot earn enough, you cannot have life."

 

In a continent where maize is the staple crop for over 300 million people and nearly all of it is grown without irrigation, relying solely on precipitation, drought tolerant varieties are invaluable. In 2011 alone, more than 12.5 million people suffered the effects of drought and resulting famines in the Horn of Africa, with the drought being termed the worst in 60 years.

 

The project uses conventional breeding, where varieties with good drought tolerance characteristics are cross-bred to get final products which are both productive and nutritious and grow well in African conditions. In particular, the DTMA provide farmers with better yields than leading commercial varieties under moderate drought conditions, while giving outstanding harvests when rains are good. Partners in developing, marketing, or distributing seed include private companies, publicly funded agricultural research and extension systems, ministries of agriculture, non-governmental organizations, and community-based seed producers.

 

Jointly implemented by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the DTMA project is presently funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and is also receiving complementary grants from the Howard G. Buffet Foundation (HGBF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

 

“DFID has been a highly-valued and reliable, top-ten core contributor to CIMMYT’s work,” said project leader Wilfred Mwangi, scientist and liaison officer at the center’s Nairobi, Kenya, office. “In the case of maize research, four-tenths of our funding is targeted to Africa and most goes to develop stress tolerant maize varieties and more resilient farming systems for maize and associated crops.”

 

“DFID also provided ten years of valuable support for our mid-altitude maize breeding program for southern Africa, which focused on drought tolerance,” Mwangi said. In addition, the efforts of DTMA build on long-term support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), USAID, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Eiselen Foundation.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25593&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.07  New alfalfa variety could be big boost to dairy industry

 

Ithaca, New York, USA

27 March 2012

 

by Krisy Gashler, freelance writer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

 

Dairy farmers could see a boost in milk production, thanks to a new alfalfa variety to be released by Cornell's world-class plant breeders.

 

The new variety, N-R-Gee, is highly digestible, is well adapted to the Northeast and is predicted to increase milk production up to 3.3 pounds of milk per day compared with an industry standard, said Julie Hansen, a senior research associate in plant breeding and genetics.

 

That bump translates to $181 more per cow, for a cow lactating 305 days per year and a farmer earning $18 per 100 pounds of milk. On a 113-cow dairy herd, the average size in New York, that would add up to an extra $20,000 per year.

 

The secret to N-R-Gee is a lower percentage of indigestible fiber -- which fills a cow's belly but passes through as waste -- and a higher percentage of carbohydrates and pectin, which cows can convert to milk. With less fiber taking up space in all those stomachs, cows can eat more of the high-quality alfalfa and produce more milk. "More intake and more digestibility: those two things combined, we think, are going to make a pretty significant impact for the dairy industry," Hansen said.

 

N-R-Gee has already soared through one test, on 3-month-old lambs at the Cornell Sheep Farm. Unlike cows, lambs can be fed straight alfalfa, so the lamb test avoided the confounding effects of mixed feeds.

 

With help from Deb Cherney, associate professor of animal science, a group of plant breeders measured the lambs' food intake, average weight gain and feed efficiency over six weeks. The plant breeding group included Hansen, technicians Robert Deubler, Jason Schiller and Ryan Crawford, and research support specialist Jamie Crawford.

 

After the successful lamb feeding trial, the researchers used a prediction equation to extrapolate to dairy cows, assuming alfalfa would comprise half of a cow's dry diet.

 

Beyond its excellent yield potential, N-R-Gee was selected for resistance to multiple diseases that are problematic in the Northeast, including bacterial wilt, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, anthracnose and phytophthora root rot. Disease resistance is especially important in alfalfa, as it stays in the field year-round, for multiple years.

 

Since 1963, Cornell has released 21 alfalfa varieties for use in the Northeast. The N-R-Gee alfalfa variety was licensed by the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization and is being marketed by Seedway, LLC.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25661&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.08  Vaccine production in plants nets scientist Innovator of the Year 2012

 

United Kingdom

29 March 2012

 

Professor George Lomonossoff has been named BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2012 for his work with Dr Frank Sainsbury, to develop a system for producing vaccines and pharmaceutical proteins rapidly in plants. The system could allow vaccines to be produced much more rapidly for emergency vaccination programmes in the face of disease pandemics.

 

Professor Lomonossoff, of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, which receives strategic funding from BBSRC, and Dr Sainsbury, of Laval University in Canada, received their prize and trophy from Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who spoke at the final in London last night.

 

Dr Cable said: "I would like to congratulate the winners on their success. Their innovative ideas highlight the vital role that scientific knowledge plays in driving growth in important sectors like healthcare, food, and pharmaceuticals.

 

"The UK is a world leader in the biosciences and it is vital that we capitalise on this strength to deliver the maximum social and economic benefit. All of the finalists have gone to impressive lengths to ensure that the impacts of their research are felt well beyond the scientific community and this is truly worth celebrating."

 

Professor Lomonossoff and Dr Sainsbury's innovation enables proteins to be produced much more rapidly and at higher levels than has previously been possible in plants. This is revolutionising the use of plants as bioreactors and will help make plant-produced proteins a commercial reality.

 

The system has already been licensed to a number of potential partners in the commercial sector including the biopharmaceutical company Medicago. Medicago are already using Professor Lomonossoff and Dr Sainsbury's system as the principal production platform for a number of vaccines and therapeutic proteins currently in development.

 

Professor Lomonossoff expressed his delight at winning, saying: "You want to hope but you don't dare. It's a big surprise; rather like winning an Oscar." Professor Lomonossoff also thanked the many people who had helped to make the project a reality.

 

The judging panel gave the following comment of Professor Lomonosssoff's innovation: "The panel was impressed by the innovator's drive and passion, and speed with which the technology was moved forward.

 

He had thought really hard about what the end customer wanted and was very realistic about the scope of the technology. The judging panel considered that the innovation had the potential to have much wider impact in the future."

 

Professor Lomonossoff and Dr Sainsbury also won the prize for the Most Promising Innovator. Two other category prizes - Commercial Innovator and Social Innovator - were won by Professor Jim Murray of Cardiff University and his co-applicant Dr Laurence Tisi of Lumora Ltd, and Professor Russell Foster of the University of Oxford respectively.

 

Professor Russell Foster of the University of Oxford was awarded the Social Innovator prize for his work to revolutionise our understanding of the eye which has had impacts both in the clinic and further afield. His findings are having a major impact across society helping, for example, with the design of new lighting systems and the use of natural light in buildings. Russell and his team are now training a new generation of ophthalmologists to deliver improved health.

 

Professor Jim Murray of Cardiff University took the Commercial Innovator prize with Dr Laurence Tisi of Lumora Ltd, for their efforts in developing a system, called BART (Bioluminescent Assay in Real-Time), for detecting infectious organisms like bacteria and viruses that can be used almost anywhere. This could dramatically improve healthcare for patients in the developed and developing world.

 

BBSRC's Innovator of the Year Award is a competition designed to recognise and reward scientists who are ensuring that the UK's excellent bioscience research is translated into outcomes that positively affect economic growth and quality of life for everyone. The award, now in its fourth year, was established with a view to encouraging researchers to consider the potential of their research and take the necessary steps to maximise the social and economic impact of the excellent work they do.

 

The nine finalists (see below) were selected by an independent judging panel to compete in each of the three categories and for the overall prize.

 

Also speaking at the final was Jeremy Webb, Editor-in-Chief of New Scientist. Offering his congratulations, he said: "I don't think I've come across a better collection of ideas in all my travels with the New Scientist over the past 20 years."

 

Dr Celia Caulcott, Director of Innovation and Skills, BBSRC said: "This is the age of bioscience with techniques and technologies advancing at an exciting pace. These advances underpin so much that is so very important in our daily lives, such as food, health and fuel. The bioscience research community can make an enormous difference to mitigating the great challenges we face, enabling food security and life-long well-being, and helping to address climate change. Today's innovations highlight the impact of this potential and the enormous possibilities from bioscience."

 

Talking about the potential for innovation in Bioscience, Glyn Edwards, Chief Executive, UK BioIndustry Association, said: "The UK is a stunningly good place to do this. There has never been a better time for bioscience."

 

The nine finalists were:

 

Commercial innovator

  • Professor Duncan Graham, University of Strathclyde and co-applicants Professor William Smith, University of Strathclyde and Dr Karen Faulds, University of Strathclyde,- Molecular diagnostics for improved healthcare using designer surface chemistry and spectroscopy.
  • Professor Jim Murray, Cardiff University and co-applicant Dr Laurence Tisi, Lumora Ltd - BART: Bioluminescent Assay in Real Time for reporting nucleic acid amplification
  • Professor Chris Schofield, University of Oxford, and co-applicant Professor Peter Ratcliffe, University of Oxford - Discovery of 'oxygen sensing enzymes' and their development for the treatment of human diseases

 

Social innovator

  • Professor Richard Mithen, Institute of Food Research, Norwich - Beneforte broccoli - a consumer product from UK plant research
  • Professor Mark Hanson, University of Southampton and co-applicants Professor Keith Godfrey, University Hospital Southampton and Dr Kathryn Woods-Tomnsend, University of Southampton - LifeLab: Biomedical science engagement to promote health literacy in teenagers
  • Professor Russell Foster, University of Oxford - A new understanding of the eye

 

Most promising innovator

  • Professor Polly Roy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - Building viruses from scratch: platform technologies to generate unconventional but safe vaccines for animal disease
  • Professor Anthony Hollander, University of Bristol - Stem cell bandage for the repair of torn cartilage in the knee
  • Professor George Lomonnosoff, John Innes Centre, Norwich and co-applicant Dr Frank Sainsbury, Laval University in Canada - A system for the rapid production of vaccines and pharmaceutical proteins in plants.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25679&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.09  Tanzania has 2 new cassava varieties resistant to CBSD and CMD

 

Two devastating diseases of cassava - cassava brown streak (CBSD) and cassava mosaic (CMD) are been fast spreading through East Africa. The good news is that collaborative research and conventional breeding work between Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institutes, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and International Center for Tropical Agriculture have developed two new varieties to address these diseases.

 

The resistant varieties, dubbed Pwani, Mkumba, Makutupora and Dodoma, are also high yielding. A potential harvest of 23- 51 tons/ha are expected against the current average yield of 10 tons/ha.

 

Edward Kanju, cassava breeder with IITA-Tanzania, said that the varieties were developed by crossing local varieties with those introduced from Latin America from CIAT in Colombia. "We used local varieties from Tanzania as sources of resistance to CBSD and for local adaptation and those from CIAT as sources of high yield and resistance to CMD and cassava green mites," he said.

 

The IITA press release is at http://www.iita.org/news-frontpage-feature

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 February 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.10  NCKU'S Research on heat tolerant  cauliflower seedlings benefits world food supply

 

"Heat stress due to high ambient temperatures is an important agricultural problem in the world. High temperature exposures result in floral abortion on many plant species, including bean, broccoli, cauliflower, cotton, pea, pepper, and tomato," Professor Huang Hao-Jen of life science at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) noted.

 

The research team developed and selected a number of genetic markers that would allow the improvement of the brassicas especially cauliflower to be tolerant to temperatures higher than 25°C. "Biotechnology seed industry may have a promising future in Taiwan and the production of seedlings of high economic value crops for export can be the new focus of Taiwan's agriculture," Huang further suggested. Now, cauliflower can be grown all year round with this biotechnology.

 

View the original article at http://english.web.ncku.edu.tw/bin/home.php

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 February 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.11  New soybean varieties introduced in Brazil

 

New soybean cultivars were introduced by Embrapa to improve the yield of soybean and control damage caused by root-knot nematode. Among the varieties developed by Embrapa recommended for planting in the South Central region of the country are the glyphosate tolerant varieties such as those developed by Embrapa Soja (Londrina, PR) and Embrapa Trigo (Passo Fundo, RS). The new varieties include:

 

BRS is an RR soybean cultivar with good production capacity early maturity, resistant to lodging and major diseases, including phytophthora root rot, stem necrosis virus, bacterial pustule of soybean and common bean mosaic; and recommended for production in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.

 

The BRS Taura RR is resistant to stem canker, spot "frog-eye", brown rot of the stem and bacterial pustule, moderately resistant to root-knot nematode Meloidogyne javanica; and recommended for the Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Parana and Sao Paulo.

 

BRS 246 RR is resistant to stem canker, leaf spot "frog eye", brown stem rot and stem necrosis virus and recommended in Parana, Sao Paulo, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.

 

BRS RR has wide adaptation, optimal health and precocity, has determinate growth, classified as early maturity and can be grown in Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Parana, Sao Paulo and southern Mato Grosso do Sul.

 

Details of this news can be seen in Portuguese at http://www.agricultura.gov.br/politica-agricola/noticias/2012/02/embrapa-diversifica-oferta-de-sementes-de-soja-no-mercado

 

Source: Biotech Update 02 March 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.12  Saving Kenya’s maize crop

 

Nairobi

18 March 2012

 

By Isaiah Esipisu

 

While some maize farmers in Kenya’s Western Province are stilling living off the produce from last season’s harvest, Robert Oduor is counting his losses after the deadly Striga weed infested his one-hectare maize field. "Previously, I harvested up to 14 90-kilogramme bags of maize per half hectare. But due to the infestation of the weed, which I was not able to control, I harvested a total of two and a half bags of maize from my field," said Oduor, who is from the Sega area in Western Province. But he hopes that next season’s harvest will be better. That is if he can get his hands on a new variety of maize, which was developed by scientists to survive against a Striga weed infestation.

 

Striga weed, also known as witches weed, is a plant with either bright pink or red flowers, depending on the species. However, it is a parasite and also infests sorghum, millet and sugarcane fields. Once a maize plantation is infested by the weed, experts say the loss ranges from 70 to 100 percent of the harvest.

 

And for the past 10 years, research scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, the Weizmann Institute and BASF-Chemical Company have been developing a high- yielding maize variety resistant to the herbicide used to kill the Striga weed.

 

"This maize variety is not resistant to the Striga weed," explained Dr. Gospel Omaya, the Seed System manager at the African Agriculture Technology Foundation, which facilitates public-private partnerships. "The variety is resistant to one of the most effective herbicides, Imazapyr, which kills other plants, including the Striga weed."

 

The maize seeds are coated with the herbicide before being packaged and this coating makes it resistant to weeds.

 

The Imazapyr-resistant variety has been named as "UaKayongo", which is Swahili for "kill the Striga weed."

 

A herbicide-resistant variety of maize was discovered in Kenya almost a decade ago. However, maize breeders in Kenya have been hybridising it by cross-pollinating different parents of the variety to produce a hybrid that produces a high yield.

 

"We first cross pollinated different parents of the herbicide-resistant variety to come up with the first generation hybrids, which were immediately put on trial. The best-performing plant was selected and cross pollinated with another plant of the same variety, but with high-yielding attributes. This gave us the second generation, which was later cross-pollinated with another good performing variety," explained Haron Karaya, a research assistant and maize breeder at the CIMMYT.

 

Trials for the third generation hybrid variety have just been concluded and according to the researchers, it has produced satisfactory results. "UaKayongo III, which is a three-way cross hybrid, has demonstrated that it can yield up to five tonnes per hectare, up from the yield of three tonnes per hectare realised from the first generation," said Karaya.

 

The new variety will released at the end of March and distributed by the Kenya Seed Company, which has the ability to produce the seed on a large scale. "We are in the process of harvesting the first batch, which will benefit just a few lucky farmers at the moment. But sufficient seed will be available come the planting season next year," said Willy Bett, the company’s managing director.

 

However, because the seed is coated in a herbicide, it poses a challenge for handling and evening planting. "The UaKayongo seed must never be mixed with any other types of seeds, because the herbicide will affect them. However, one can intercrop it with crops like beans, groundnuts or any other convenient crop so long as the crops are not planted in the same hole," said Omaya.

 

He further advised that farmers who chose to plant the UaKayongo seed use gloves, and wash their hands afterwards to avoid contaminating other seeds that are not resistant to the herbicide.

 

"We have acknowledged the handling challenge, and we are putting relevant measures in place," said Bett.

 

The company has already started training programs for agro-dealers and for small-scale farmers through community-based and non-governmental organisations. "When packaging, each package will come with two pairs of gloves for convenience, and a manual with illustrations on how to handle the seed," said Bett. In Western Province, where maize is the main cash and food crop, it is estimated that the Striga weed affects 250,000 hectares of maize.

 

And the new variety it is a welcome relief for farmers like Oduor. "I was planning to quit maize farming for some time after having made huge losses. But with the new development, I will give it a second chance and plant the weed tolerant seed," said Oduor.

 

http://www.ips.org/africa/2012/03/saving-kenya8217s-maize-crop/

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.13  Malaysian scientists develop superior red rice Bangi

 

Scientists at The National University of Malaysia (UKM) with the cooperation of Malaysia Agricultural Research and Development Institute's (MARDI) research officers have successfully produced a variety of rice which not only can increase padi yield but also has a low glyceamic index suitable for diabetics.

 

Dr. R. Wickneswari Ratnam, plant genetics and biotechnology expert from the Faculty of Science and Technology, assisted by some 14 other scientists from UKM, MARDI, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia Nuclear Agency (MNA) and University of Malaya had been doing research on this since 2002 and have succeeded in producing the new padi variant "G33" named "UKMRC9" which can increase local red rice production. Wickneswari described it as a superior red rice developed through conventional breeding involving controlled cross-breeding between cultivar MR219 and wild rice Oryza rufipogon. It involved the transfer of genes of the wild type to the common paddy produced by MARDI now extensively cultivated in the country.

 

For more information, please go to:

 

http://fst.ukm.my/news/index.php/en/component/content/article/982-ukm-scientists-developed-high-yielding-superior-red-rice-.html

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 March 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.14  Francolin: Ug99-tolerant wheat variety released in Bangladesh

 

The danger posed by the Ug99 strain of the disease stem rust to global wheat production is well recognized, and Bangladesh is no exception. Wheat is one of the major cereals in Bangladesh, ranking second after rice with a cultivated area of 0.38 m ha and average yield of 2.6 t/ha.

 

In a major step in countering the disease threat, a new wheat variety, named Francolin, was released on 06 March 2012. Also known as BARI Gom 27 (previously BAW 1120), Francolin, first introduced to Bangladesh in 2008 from CIMMYT-Mexico, possesses good resistance to all variants of Ug99 along with an impressive agronomic performance. It yielded approximately 10% more than the most popular variety Shatabdi in three years of multi-location testing in Bangladesh.

 

Read more at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-26/cimmyt-introduces-wheat-tolerant-to-ug99-fungus-in-bangladesh.html

 

Source: Crop GCP News, 31 January 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.15  Supreme Court reverses decision upholding gene patents

 

Remands PUBPAT/ACLU Gene Patenting Case to Appeals Court: Justices Order Court that Hears Patent Cases to Reconsider Decision That Limited Access to Crucial Genetic Testing

 

New York

 

The U.S. Supreme Court today set aside a ruling that allowed a company to patent two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer and limit access to potentially life-saving genetic tests for at-risk women.

 

The Public Patent Foundation (PUBAT) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the patents held by Myriad Genetics on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which a divided 2-1 Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last year ruled were valid (although it ruled other challenged patents on methods of genetic diagnosis were invalid).

 

“Nobody ‘invents’ genes, so no one should be able to claim ownership of them,” said Daniel B. Ravicher, executive director of PUBPAT. “We are not talking about a new drug or a new tool to fight cancer. We are talking about a genetic marker that occurs naturally in the human body. That cannot, and should not, be patented.”

 

With the judgment vacated, the case will be sent back to the same Court of Appeals who issued the split July decision. They can decide the next steps and the timeline for the case and then issue a decision with the same or a different outcome. “In light of recent rulings from the court that mere laws of nature cannot be patented, we hope that the lower court will come to the correct conclusion this time around,” said Chris Hansen, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project and co-counsel in the lawsuit. “It’s inconceivable that a company can own a patent on something as naturally occurring as DNA.”

 

The Supreme Court ordered the Federal Circuit to reconsider its decision in light of the high-court’s ruling last week in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus, where the justices unanimously invalidated a patent on a medical test because it covered a “law of nature.”

 

For more information on this case, please visit www.pubpat.org/brca.htm.

 

http://www.pubpat.org/sct-amp-gvr.htm

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.16  Public concern over GM food has lessened, survey shows

 

9 March 2012

 

The UK public's concern over genetically modified food has softened in the past decade, according to a new survey. A quarter of Britons are now unconcerned by GM food, compared with 17% nearly a decade ago, when supermarkets debated whether to introduce GM products following widespread public opposition and attacks on GM test fields in the 1990s. The number of people "concerned" about GM has also fallen by 5%, said the Populus survey, commissioned by the British Science Association and published on Friday.

 

The poll comes as the EU prepares to vote on a Danish-led proposal to allow member states to ban the cultivation of GM crops on a country-by-country basis, with the UK concerned that the proposal will not achieve its aims.

 

British political support for a new push on GM is currently at a high watermark, with both agriculture minister Jim Paice telling farmers in January that GM crops could massively help food production, and Labour's shadow environment minister, Mary Creagh, calling for more money for GM research. Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, said last month that growing GM crops was likely to be considered as part of the solution to the drought currently engulfing much of south-east England. In her first interview when appointed secretary of state in 2010, she signalled the government would be pro-GM, saying "the principle of GM technology is [OK] if used well."

 

But in 2003, a nationwide debate involving 650 public meetings on whether to introduce GM crops to the UK showed more than half of the population never wanted to see the crops grown in the UK. The backlash put a brake on hopes by biotech companies and then-prime minister Tony Blair to exploit the technology in the UK.

 

The new polling shows opposition has weakened, with 15.2% of 2,058 people being "fairly unconcerned" now compared with 6% of 1,363 citizens in 2003. The "very unconcerned" count has remained largely the same, while the proportion of "very concerned" people has dropped from 23.8% to 17.2%.

 

Europe has had what is effectively a ban on GM crops since 1999, but last year the European Commission paved the way for countries to impose country-by-country bans on the cultivation of crops. As part of the proposal, governments will be asked to be more flexible in authorising crops at EU level. But despite the new polling, a push by the coalition to introduce GM crops in the UK would attract both praise from a revitalised GM industry and protests from fiercely opposed green groups.

 

Professor Maurice Moloney, chief executive of Rothamsted Research Institute, said that more needed to be done to engage the UK public on the benefits of GM: "The survey suggests that the UK public is interested in the end uses and real benefits of GM technology, rather than harbouring blanket scepticism. However, the large number of 'neither agree nor disagree' answers suggests that scientists still have much work to do in public engagement, if the UK public are to benefit to the same extent as the 29 other countries who currently grow GM crops commercially."

 

The poll shows the British public need more information on the benefits and risks. Nearly half (44%) said they did not know if GM crops would be good for the UK economy, while a similar number (48%) said they did not know if it would be safe for future generations.

 

Mark Lynas, an environmentalist and author who ripped up GM crops in the 1990s and later became a supporter of the technology, said: "Opposition to GMs was perhaps understandable a decade ago, but today it is a mistake. The science is clear that genetic modification in food crops is nothing to be scared of, and in fact can help address numerous environmental challenges, such as the need to raise yields whilst using less water, pesticides and fertiliser."

 

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP and Green party leader, said: "If the government or the agri-business lobby think that this industry-sponsored poll is a sign of wholesale public support for GM foods, then they are completely out of touch with reality. For decades, public opinion polls have consistently shown opposition to GM, not least because huge concerns remain about the environmental impact of this technology, the risks associated with cross-contamination for the future of non-GM food, and the dangers of placing ever more control of food production in the hands of big GM corporations.

 

"The issue may have gone off the boil since Tony Blair's failed attempts to persuade us to accept GM, but as soon as people get an inkling that it is back on the menu, no amount of industry lobbying or positive PR from the government will prevent resistance to genetically modified foods."

 

Professor Joyce Tait, scientific adviser at the ESRC Innogen Centre, said of the survey: "There seems to have been a move away from the extremes, to the middle ground, with answers often being categorised as 'don't know'. That neutral ground seemed to happen across the board. I didn't see that as a challenge to do more public engagement, rather I saw that to mean that it was becoming less contentious."

 

Four countries – Canada, the US, Brazil and Argentina – grow more than 90% of the world's GM crops, and more than 80% of the GM seeds sold each year are owned and sold by one company, Monsanto. GM acreage grew 8% globally last year, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotic Applications, which is funded by GM companies including Monsanto, Bayer CropScience and CropLife International

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/09/gm-food-public-concern

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.17  World breakthrough on salt-tolerant wheat

 

Adelaide, Australia

12 March 2012

 

A team of Australian scientists involving the University of Adelaide has bred salt tolerance into a variety of durum wheat that shows improved grain yield by 25% on salty soils.

 

Using 'non-GM' crop breeding techniques, scientists from CSIRO Plant Industry have introduced a salt-tolerant gene into a commercial durum wheat, with spectacular results shown in field tests. Researchers at the University of Adelaide's Waite Research Institute have led the effort to understand how the gene delivers salinity tolerance to the plants.

 

The research is the first of its kind in the world to fully describe the improvement in salt tolerance of an agricultural crop - from understanding the function of the salt-tolerant genes in the lab, to demonstrating increased grain yields in the field.

 

The results are published today in the journal Nature Biotechnology. The paper's senior author is Dr Matthew Gilliham from the University's Waite Research Institute and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. Lead authors are CSIRO Plant Industry scientists Dr Rana Munns and Dr Richard James and University of Adelaide student Bo Xu. "This work is significant as salinity already affects over 20% of the world's agricultural soils, and salinity poses an increasing threat to food production due to climate change," Dr Munns says.

 

Dr Gilliham says: "Salinity is a particular issue in the prime wheat-growing areas of Australia, the world's second-largest wheat exporter after the United States. With global population estimated to reach nine billion by 2050, and the demand for food expected to rise by 100% in this time, salt-tolerant crops will be an important tool to ensure future food security."

 

Domestication and breeding has narrowed the gene pool of modern wheat, leaving it susceptible to environmental stress. Durum wheat, used for making such food products as pasta and couscous, is particularly susceptible to soil salinity.

 

However, the authors of this study realised that wild relatives of modern-day wheat remain a significant source of genes for a range of traits, including salinity tolerance. They discovered the new salt-tolerant gene in an ancestral cousin of modern-day wheat, Triticum monococcum.

 

"Salty soils are a major problem because if sodium starts to build up in the leaves it will affect important processes such as photosynthesis, which is critical to the plant's success," Dr Gilliham says.

 

"The salt-tolerant gene (known as TmHKT1;5-A) works by excluding sodium from the leaves. It produces a protein that removes the sodium from the cells lining the xylem, which are the 'pipes' plants use to move water from their roots to their leaves," he says.

 

Dr James, who led the field trials, says: "While most studies only look at performance under controlled conditions in a laboratory or greenhouse, this is the first study to confirm that the salt-tolerant gene increases yields on a farm with saline soils. Field trials were conducted at a variety of sites across Australia, including a commercial farm in northern New South Wales.

 

"Importantly, there was no yield penalty with this gene," Dr James says. "Under standard conditions, the wheat containing the salt-tolerance gene performed the same in the field as durum that did not have the gene. But under salty conditions, it outperformed its durum wheat parent, with increased yields of up to 25%. "This is very important for farmers, because it means they would only need to plant one type of seed in a paddock that may have some salty sections," Dr James says. "The salt-tolerant wheat will now be used by the Australian Durum Wheat Improvement Program (ADWIP) to assess its impact by incorporating this into recently developed varieties as a breeding line."

 

Dr Munns says new varieties of salt-tolerant durum wheat could be a commercial reality in the near future. "Although we have used molecular techniques to characterise and understand the salt-tolerant gene, the gene was introduced into the durum wheat through 'non-GM' breeding processes. This means we have produced a novel durum wheat that is not classified as transgenic, or 'GM', and can therefore be planted without restriction," she says.

 

The researchers are taking their work a step further and have now crossed the salt-tolerance gene into bread wheat. This is currently being assessed under field conditions.

 

This research is a collaborative project between CSIRO, NSW Department of Primary Industries, University of Adelaide, the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. It is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Australian Research Council (ARC).

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25188&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.18  Corn gene helps fight multiple leaf diseases

 

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and partners discovered a single gene that could confer resistance to three important diseases namely, southern corn leaf blight, northern leaf blight, and gray leaf spot. These diseases have been problems of corn producers globally because of its common symptom of forming lesions on leaves.

 

Plant geneticist Peter Balint-Kurti and colleagues examined 300 corn varieties from different parts of the world and found no variety that exhibit complete resistance to the three diseases. However, they observed that each variety has different severity of symptoms for the diseases.

 

The team conducted a statistical analysis called association mapping to search for parts of the genome that could be linked with variation in disease resistance. They observed that some resistance genes conferred resistance to two or more different diseases. They also found a gene that seemed to confer multiple disease resistance. This gene is called glutathione S-tranferase (GST), which is a member of a family of genes known for their functions in regulating oxidative stress and in detoxifications.

 

Read the media release at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2012/120201.htm. Their study was also published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): http://www.pnas.org/gca?allch=&submit=Go&gca=pnas;108/18/7339.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 February 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.19  Purple sprouting broccoli nominated in innovation award

 

Purple sprouting broccoli Santee developed by Bejo Zagen, Netherlands, has been nominated for the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award 2012. Santee has high content of naturally occurring glucosinolates, which are organic compounds associated with reduced risk of cancer. Several tests have proven that Santee could produce high levels of glucosinolates in different seasons and climates, compared with conventional green broccoli varieties.

 

Read the original article in German at:

http://www.agf.nl/nieuwsbericht_detail.asp?id=79666

 

The other nominees are posted at:

http://www.fruitlogistica.de/en/PressService/PressReleases/index.jsp?lang=en&id=154624.

 

Winning technology will be announced on February 10, 2012, during the trade fair of Fruit Logistica in Berlin, Germany

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 February 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.20  Scientists use secondary traits and selection indices for development of drought tolerant maize

 

The progress of breeding drought tolerant maize has been slow because drought tolerance is controlled by many genes. Thus, breeders have been using secondary traits and selection indices to find the best genotype under drought stress. Xavier Mhike of Makere University in Uganda, together with other scientists, conducted a study to assess the reliability of certain selection indices and secondary traits and how they related to the conventional parameters to improve selection efficiency under stress environments.

 

The research team formed and evaluated fifty maize hybrids using alpha lattice planting design under favorable and drought conditions. Results showed that under drought conditions, the general combining ability (GCA) was highly significant for grain yield, anthesis-silking interval (ASI) and ears per plant (EPP). Specific combining ability (SCA) was significant for grain yield and EPP. Stress tolerance index (STI) and geometric productivity index (GMP) had positive and significant relationship with grain yield under drought and favorable conditions. Based on these findings, secondary traits ASI and EPP, as well as selection indices like STI and GMP are effective in identifying high yielding genotypes under different conditions.

 

Read more about this study at:

http://www.academicjournals.org/ajps/PDF/Pdf2012/27%20January/Mhike%20et%20al.pdf.

 

From Crop Biotech Update 10 February 2012:

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 February 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.21  Frost nurseries identify tolerant grain varieties

 

Development of wheat and barley tolerant to frost is the best solution to minimize losses due to frost. The Grains Research and Development Corporation of Australia has identified barley germplasm with frost tolerance which is now included in the barley breeding programs. Similarly, wheat lines with frost tolerance are under evaluation. Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) research officer Ben Biddulph says that frost tolerance development in crops can now be conducted with greater accuracy and repeatability in their laboratory.

 

The researchers observed that reduction 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. Under severe frost (<-2° for wheat and <-6°C for barley) all varieties are equally susceptible with substantial reduction 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.

 

See the news at:

http://fw.farmonline.com.au/news/state/grains-and-cropping/general/frost-nurseries-identify-tolerant-grain-varieties/2464587.aspx

 

Source: Biotech Update 02 March 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.22  New genomic resources for maize breeding

 

Syngenta's donation of a transgenic-free allelic diversity platform will accelerate maize breeding

 

Texcoco, Mexico

29 February 2012

 

The CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) announced today that it has received a major donation of maize genetic resources comprised of a portion of the Maize Allelic Diversity platform developed by Syngenta. This will now be available to researchers worldwide through the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) played a key role in facilitating the donation.

 

"This donation is very opportune for public research: and because producing this kind of genetic material needs several generations, and takes a considerable amount of time and resources, this donation represents a unique tool to boost identifying new alleles to improve maize worldwide," observes Dr Jean-Marcel Ribaut, GCP Director. "Our broad network of partners, particularly CIMMYT with a global mandate, will ensure wide distribution and impact, especially in developing countries."

 

Current breeding methods have seen a continued rise in maize yields, making it the largest crop in the Americas, with an annual production of over 600 million tons, of about 867.5m tons worldwide.

 

Additionally, emerging science is opening new avenues to help researchers understand and improve crops. Novel strategies for identifying genes and quantitative trait loci (QTLs) are proving successful. However, quantitative validation of these discoveries for predictive use remains difficult mainly because they are often made in a single genetic background in non-elite germplasm. Precise introgression of discrete chromosomal segments from selected lines into varied genetic backgrounds helps to overcome this hurdle. Consequently, the Syngenta Maize Allelic Diversity Platform was developed to provide a catalogue of material in elite near-isogenic backgrounds that could be queried and evaluated for effects in phenotypic variation.

 

The allelic diversity panel donated currently comprises 1,282 near-inbred lines derived from 18 donors (diverse inbreds and landraces) crossed with B73, a publicly accessible maize line used as a reference line in a lot of genetic studies. Each inbred has been verified for freedom from adventitious presence of transgenic events. Valid requests will be honoured with 12 seeds per accession to ensure a sufficient supply for the widest distribution. A limited fee may also be charged for each request to recover logistics costs.

 

"Our hope is that the breeding programmes resulting from this donation will also help smallholder farmers," says Dr Mike Robinson, Chief Science Advisor at the Syngenta Foundation. "Maize is a key crop in many developing countries. Yields need to rise significantly there in order to improve food security. That is why we donated the funding required to test and multiply the maize lines made available by Syngenta."

 

As a means to facilitate this, SFSA explicitly requires and encourages unencumbered reporting of scientific findings related to the use of the donated materials. Those who access the genetic resources donated by Syngenta will agree not to obtain intellectual property rights on the material or knowledge gained through their use of the donated materials.

 

"We are delighted to have access to these resources," says Dr Kevin Pixley, CIMMYT's Director of Genetic Resources. "The plant material will greatly aid researchers to identify alleles relevant for maize breeding."

 

For more information, please contact Dr Kevin Pixley. Rapid facts and figures on maize

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=24937&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.23  CSIRO brings out the MAGIC for wheat

 

05 March 2012

 

The result is plants that have a genome that is a mosaic of their multiple parents, covering about 80 percent of Australian wheat’s genetic material. BREAD made from WA wheat could be getting tastier thanks to the CSIRO-developed Multi-parent Advanced Generation Inter-Cross (MAGIC) breeding technique.

 

MAGIC allows the identification of genes controlling quantitative traits such as water absorption in flour by crossing different combinations of multiple parents. “In a traditional approach, you have two parents for every trait,” says CSIRO Research Scientist Dr Crispin Howitt. “You have one line that is good and one not so good and you map to find areas controlling traits. But you then have to validate the areas identified across other lines.”

 

These standard crosses don’t do a good job of tapping into the diversity found in the DNA or the phenotypic diversity of the plant—how genes express themselves in relation to environmental conditions.

 

“With MAGIC, we took a different approach,” says Dr Howitt. “We took four Australian parent lines and inter-crossed them so every line has a contribution from the four parts. We mixed the genome up much more.”

 

The result is plants that have a genome that is a mosaic of their multiple parents, covering about 80 percent of Australian wheat’s genetic material.

 

This enhanced approach has allowed for a faster and more precise identification of genes, including those responsible for wheat traits such as superior baking quality, higher protein content, disease resistance and increased milling yield.

 

CSIRO then took MAGIC further with eight parents, comprised of three Australian lines and five from international competitors. The hope was to find lines that might be better used in Australian wheat.

 

The project is now growing in the fields of WA and the eastern states in a five-year partnership involving CSIRO, Murdoch University, the West Australian Department of Agriculture and Food and George Weston Foods with support from the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

 

“This project uses MAGIC to look specifically at bread making for export,” says Dr Howitt.

“WA is the country’s major wheat exporter, so this will be very beneficial. We can use the information to make better wheat and produce a higher quality export product.”

Ultimately, MAGIC will improve growing profitability while improving Australian wheat’s reputation on the international market.

 

While Australian wheat is viewed as good for the production of noodles abroad, it is generally not used as extensively in bread production.

 

According to Dr Bruce Lee, Director of CSIRO's Food Futures Flagship, “MAGIC has the potential to increase the speed and efficiency of breeding and this will have a direct impact on farm production.”

 

http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/agriculture/item/1276-csiro-brings-out-the-magic-for-wheat

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.24  Scientists adapt mining technology to breed nutritious food crops

 

Washington, D.C, USA

5 March 2012

 

Agricultural scientists have adapted a technology used in the mining industry to more rapidly develop nutritious food crops that could reduce hidden hunger. Hidden hunger is the lack of vitamins and minerals, such as zinc and iron, in the diet. It afflicts more than 2 billion people worldwide and has negative health consequences. Iron deficiency, for example, can inhibit physical and mental development in children and increase the risk for women of dying in childbirth.

 

In response, scientists are developing new varieties of staple food crops that can provide more of these essential nutrients. However, this process can be time consuming as scientists must identify those few seeds with higher levels of the desired nutrient out of hundreds of thousands of seeds. Scientists recently turned to X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF), a technology used in mining to determine the mineral content of soil samples, to see if it could be used to analyze minerals in crops such as rice and pearl millet.

 

This technology has several advantages over current technologies (such as inductively coupled plasma (ICP)-based methods). First, it is cheaper. XRF costs as little as $US 0.15 per sample to run on an inexpensive machine, a fraction of the $US 20 per sample of ICP-based methods.

 

Second, with a little training, scientists can analyze more samples per day using XRF without the lengthy and complex sample preparation currently required. Third, seed samples are not destroyed and can be planted immediately, thus accelerating the breeding process.

 

While analysis with XRF can be done more cheaply and quickly, scientists had to ensure that they would still get accurate results. A study recently published in the journal Plant and Soil provides the evidence needed—the study found few differences in the iron and zinc values in pearl millet and rice when the two technologies are compared.

 

HarvestPlus, who funded the study, leads a global research effort to breed and deliver nutritious staple food crops to reduce hidden hunger in malnourished populations. HarvestPlus has set up XRF machines at partner institutions in Bangladesh, India, Mexico, and Rwanda. More than 20 scientists have been trained to use the new technology, and scientists are already beginning to see results as they identify the best varieties with more iron and zinc in less time.

 

“The XRF machines not only provide accurate results more quickly and cheaply, but they have also allowed us to build capacity of partner institutions that are working to breed mineral-rich crops,” says James Stangoulis, co-author on the paper and long-time HarvestPlus collaborator. “We really see this as just the beginning for the role XRF technology can play in improving nutrition through the development of crops richer in nutrients.”

 

Journal Article: “Energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence analysis of zinc and iron concentration in rice and pearl millet grain.” Plant and Soil, January 2012.

 

HarvestPlus leads a global effort to breed and disseminate micronutrient-rich staple food crops to reduce hidden hunger in malnourished populations. It is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health. It is coordinated by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

 

More news from: HarvestPlus

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25026&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.25  How a sunflower gene crossed the line from weed to crop

 

Michelle Campbell

Birmingham News

 

I'm rounding out The Salt's impromptu Pest Resistance Week (which started with stories about weeds and corn rootworms) with a little-known tale that may scramble your mental categories.

 

You've heard about herbicide-resistant weeds (which farmers hate) and herbicide-resistant crops like Roundup Ready soybeans or corn (which farmers like). But here's a case — the only one I know of — in which a weed helped create a herbicide-resistant crop.

 

The story begins in 1996, in a soybean field in Kansas. The soybeans in this field were able to tolerate a class of weed killers known as "ALS inhibitors." This line of soybeans had been created through "mutation breeding."

 

This technique involves exposing thousands of seeds to chemicals that cause genetic mutations. One of those mutations allowed the resulting soybean plant to withstand the herbicides. (Similar kinds of herbicide-tolerant wheat, rice, and other crops have been created using the same method.)

 

Among the soybeans in this Kansas field, however, a few weeds also survived after the farmers sprayed their herbicide. The weeds were native sunflowers, wild relatives of the sunflowers that farmers grow as a crop. (As I reported a few months ago, sunflowers are one of a very small handful of crops that originated in our part of the world.)

 

The farmer contacted Kassim Al-Khatib, who was then a weed expert at Kansas State University. Al-Khatib collected some of the surviving weeds from this field, did some tests on them, and confirmed that these sunflowers were indeed resistant to ALS inhibitor herbicides.

 

A few months later, through a chance encounter at a scientific meeting, word of this discovery reached Jerry Miller, a sunflower breeder at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sunflower Research Unit in Fargo, N.D. "I couldn't believe it. I called Kassim right away," recalls Miller. He saw the possibility of a herbicide-tolerant commercial sunflower created through traditional breeding, avoiding controversies over genetic engineering.

 

Miller did manage to create such a sunflower — although it took some heroic efforts to get the wild and cultivated sunflowers to exchange pollen and produce viable offspring.

 

When Miller finally had some herbicide-tolerant offspring in hand, he broke the news to a big meeting of sunflower growers. He told the farmers that, very soon, they might be able to spray ALS inhibiting herbicides right over their sunflowers, killing a host of problematic weeds without harming their crop. "The room got completely quiet," he recalls.

 

Today, commercial sunflowers from North Dakota to Turkey contain this genetic trait, and many sunflower growers rely heavily on ALS inhibitors to control their weeds.

What's the lesson from this tale?

 

For one thing, that it doesn't take genetic engineering to create resistance to a herbicide — whether in a weed or a crop. Probably more important, it's a reminder that our food crops are descended from plants that once grew wild, and the line that separates a despised weed from a valuable crop is sometimes a very fuzzy one. It's a boundary porous enough for genes to find their way through.

 

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/03/12/148312077/how-a-sunflower-gene-crossed-the-line-from-weed-to-crop

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.26 Aberystwyth scientists make bio-fuel genetic map breakthrough with miscanthus

 

Elephant grass absorbs carbon dioxide and bio-fuels cut greenhouse gas emissions.  Scientists in Wales and the United States have joined forces to complete the first genetic map of a bio-fuel crop called miscanthus.

 

The crop is native to Africa and South Asia and can grow up to 3m (10ft) high. The plant, also known as elephant grass, absorbs carbon dioxide but is expensive to grow large scale. Researchers hope knowing more about its genetic differences will make it easier to produce and more commercially viable.

 

Mapping the plant’s DNA

  • Scientists generated and analysed more than 400m DNA sequences creating a blueprint of the genetic alphabet of the plant
  • Researchers found 20,000 genetic differences, called markers, that allow geneticists to differentiate individual plants based on small variations in their DNA
  • More than 3,500 of these markers were used to create the genetic map, and are valuable for crop improvement purposes
  • Previously, only 600 genetic markers had been found

 

Miscanthus has shallow roots and the highest energy-giving properties per hectare of any bio-fuel crop. This means it does not penetrate waste within soil that is contaminated on brownfield sites. It has been grown on a small scale across Europe for two decades, primarily for electricity generation, but mass production has so far not been viable.

 

It is hoped the breakthrough will make it quicker to develop the crop in future. The collaboration was between the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Ibers) at Aberystwyth University and the Californian-based energy crop company, Ceres.

 

They hope their results provide a significant breakthrough towards advancing the production of bio-energy from miscanthus.

 

The team in Aberystwyth created the collection of genetically related plants, and Ceres then sequenced and analysed the DNA. They identified thousands of genetic differences within the plant, called markers, and went on to create a blueprint of its "genetic alphabet" - which will help improve the crop.

 

Mapping project

Professor Iain Donnison, head of the bio-energy team at Aberystwyth, said the programme has provided new insight into the evolution of the species. "This rich library of information took decades to produce in other crops, but with modern biology and genomics technology Ceres and Ibers have put together what I believe is one of the world's most comprehensive marker-based breeding programs in miscanthus," he said.

 

Ceres chief scientific officer Richard Flavell said the rapid improvements in breeding made possible by this mapping project are needed for miscanthus to be more widely used as an energy crop.

 

The mapping project has provided greater insight into how the elephant grass genome compares to other crop plants. However, producing it on a large scale is not currently economically viable because it costs too much to make.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-17402684

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.27  Genotyping-by-sequencing, a new and much cheaper genomics technique, takes off

 

Ithaca, New York

19 March 19 2012

 

by Amanda Garris, a freelance writer in Geneva, N.Y.

 

Genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS), a powerful new technique developed at Cornell, is leveling the playing field in genomics research. Less than a year after publication, it is being applied to answer questions about diverse species, including hops, fox, turf grass, maize, cow, tomato and raspberry.

 

The GBS protocol, published in May 2011 in the journal PLoS One, allows researchers to generate huge amounts of genetic information. Identifying differences between the DNA of individuals is the first step toward unlocking the genetic basis for their differences in appearance or behavior.

 

What sets GBS apart from other equally powerful methods is, in part, a lower price tag. One cent buys about 50,000 data points, which is up to 50 times cheaper than other methods.

 

"Funding for agricultural genetics research has always lagged behind that of human genetics," said Rob Elshire, the technique's developer and the sequencing technology lead in the lab of Ed Buckler, a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service and adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics. "GBS is an enabling technology -- it's cracking the door open for many underfunded research areas."

 

The technique's cost effectiveness has been a strong selling point, but the method was also designed to be easy and robust compared with other DNA typing methods. "In developing GBS, we ... eliminated as many steps as possible," Elshire said.

 

The method allows users to collect data on up to 384 individuals in a single sequencing lane, using a protocol with only four basic steps from DNA to data. Because of this efficiency, GBS can generate sufficient data for a thesis, a breeding program or an ecological study in a matter of weeks.

 

"GBS can generate terabytes of data," said Sharon Mitchell, Institute for Genomic Diversity's (IGD) research and laboratory manager and co-author on the PLoS One paper. "To help users, we have held several workshops mostly dedicated to the pipeline for data analysis and hands-on practice with it."

 

She added that "Interest in GBS has been snowballing." To keep up with the daily demand for information and assistance for users of the technique, additional staff are being hired, Mitchell said, "and nearly a year after publication, the article remains one of the top 10 most viewed genomics articles on PLoS One."

 

A Feb. 16-17 workshop on campus, for example, was filled to capacity and attracted participants -- primarily plant breeders, geneticists, animal scientists and evolutionary biologists -- from as far away as New Zealand.

 

"The aspect of GBS that is most appealing is that it produces tens to hundreds of thousands of genetic markers," said Mitchell. "Most plant and animal breeders are interested in using this plethora of markers to speed up the breeding process in a big way."

 

To meet the continued demand for training, the workshop will soon be available as a video on the IGD website, and workshops will be offered in India and Africa in the coming year.

 

The IGD is a nonprofit institute affiliated with the Cornell Institute for Biotechnology and Life Sciences Technologies. Since its establishment in 1998, it has helped organize molecular breeding workshops in Mali, Venezuela, Costa Rica, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25422&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.28  BGI signs MOU with TTI GG, NLeSC and NBIC for taming flood of genomic data

Open source and open access initiatives to use genomic data more sustainably and effectively

 

Netherlands, Copenhagen, Denmark and Shenzhen, China

23 March 23 2012

 

BGI, the world’s largest genomics organisation, Technological Top Institute of Green Genetics (TTI GG), Netherlands eScience Centre (NLeSC), and Netherlands Institute of Bioinformatics (NBIC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to address the challenge of managing, transporting, integrating and analysing today’s tremendous flow of genomic data. The collaborating organisations advocate the adoption and application of Open Source and Open Access initiatives to genomic data to more easily and rapidly explore the mysteries of life science.

 

Genomic data generation is accelerating at an exponential rate, driven by the rapid development of high-throughput sequencing technologies, posing new demands and challenges for data handling, storage and transmission. Under the MOU, researchers from BGI, TTI GG, NLeSC and NBIC have agreed to encourage collaborative initiatives and community building in the areas of data management, infrastructure and analysis within their respective programmes. Such collaboration will encourage the development and sharing of services, infrastructure and facilities with the goal of enabling more sustainable and effective access and understanding of genomic data.

 

BGI has conducted considerable research to tackle the flood of genomic data. In late 2011, it developed a BGI-BOX cloud computing terminal server for users lacking a bioinformatics background to access genomic data and bioinformatics analyses in their own laboratories. In addition, BGI and open-access publisher BioMed Central launched GigaScience, a new combined database and journal focused on the publication and hosting of large-scale data. The journal makes it possible for the release of large data sets more rapidly to the wider research community.

 

“Genomics revolutionized the life sciences,” said Professor Jian Wang, president of BGI, “but the growing flood of genomic data poses an enormous challenge to optimizing and sustaining the benefit of high-throughput sequencing technologies. BGI has made significant efforts to tackle this challenge to advancing life science research, and this cooperative agreement should provide an example for researchers worldwide on the importance and value of shared, sustainable data management and data manipulation in biological and medical studies.”

 

The signing of MOU provides an opportunity for scientists from China and Netherlands to achieve powerful cooperation for better taming tremendous data. Dr. Bernard de Geus, director of TTI GG, said in brief, ”Big data: Big expectation, big challenge, big opportunity.” TTI GG has been established jointly by Dutch companies in the area of plant breeding and propagation, universities and knowledge institutions with the mission being to promote research and education and to create continuity in Dutch knowledge and education base.

 

NLeSC is a joint initiative by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO and SURF, which supports and reinforces multidisciplinary and data-intensive research through eScience, the creative and innovative use of ICT and e-infrastructures in all its manifestations with the aim to change scientific practice by enabling large-scale “Big Data” analysis across multiple disciplines. Professor dr. Jacob de Vlieg, director of NLeSC, said, “This is a very exciting initiative to link minds and eScience concepts between scientists from BGI and the Netherlands, and to promote ‘Big Data’ driven scientific discoveries in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics.”

 

NBIC, the national networked organization of bioinformatics, pursues innovation in life sciences R&D through seamless integration of life science data, information and models in the quantitative analysis of biological systems. Dr. Barend Mons, Scientific director of NBIC, stated, “As soon as one measures anything in the ‘Omics’ era, one needs computers even to manage the data. For understanding them and turning them into knowledge, computational methods are indispensable and traditional methods of information sharing are hopelessly out of date. We should work together to face this challenge. ”

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25554&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.29  UK Scientists identify important gene in maize plant

 

Scientists from Oxford University and the University of Warwick (UK), in collaboration with agricultural biotech research company Biogemma-Limagrain, have identified a gene, called Meg 1 in the maize plant. It regulates the transfer of nutrients from the plant to the seed and is responsible for the formation of specialized conduit cells that confer placenta-like properties to the embryo surrounding tissues of plant seeds.

 

Dr Gutierrez-Marcos of the University of Warwick said: 'These findings have significant implications for global agriculture and food security, as scientists now have the molecular know-how to manipulate this gene by traditional plant breeding or through other methods in order to improve seed traits, such as increased seed biomass yield.

 

A report of the research, entitled Maternal control of nutrient allocation in plant seeds by genomic imprinting, is published in the journal Current Biology.

 

Check out the news from Oxford University at http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2012/120113.html

 

From Crop Biotech Update 24 February 2012:

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.30  Mapping of genes for high oleic acid content in safflower

 

Oils containing high-oleic acid content are in great demand due to their favorable characteristics needed for food and non-food uses. Previous reports have shown two different levels of high oleic acid content (>75 and >84%) in safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.). The oleic acid content has been found to be controlled mainly by partially recessive alleles at a major gene Ol, but the highest levels have been linked to modifying genes.

 

Scientist Yamen A. S. Hamdan from Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (IAS-CSIC), Spain, and colleagues, mapped the Ol locus and modifying genes involved in oleic acid content of safflower seeds using candidate gene approach. The team developed and phenotyped two mapping populations from the nuclear male-sterile line CL-1 and the high oleic acid lines CR-6 (>75% oleic acid) and CR-9 (>84%). For the CL-1xCR-9 population, the linkage map contains 15 linkage groups and 116 random amplified polymorphic DNA, simple sequence repeat (SSR). For the CL-1xCR-6 population, Ol was mapped to linkage group T3 tightly linked to SSR marker ct365. Complex genes involved in increasing oleic content was found in LG T2.

 

These findings, as well as the markers developed in the study, could be used in marker-assisted selection for high oleic acid content in safflower.

 

Read the abstract at http://www.springerlink.com/content/et76576231734460/

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 09 March 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.31  JIC Researchers reveal gene for blood oranges

 

Blood orange juice has been known to reduce oxidative stress in diabetic patients, protect DNA against oxidative damage, and reduce cardiovascular risk factors, just like other high-anthocyanin foods. However, the development of red pigmentation in oranges requires a period of cold prior to ripening. Thus, scientists at John Innes Centre isolated the gene responsible for blood orange pigmentation and named it Ruby. The team also discovered how the expression of Ruby can be controlled so blood oranges can grow even in sunny areas.

 

"Blood oranges contain naturally-occurring pigments associated with improved cardiovascular health, controlling diabetes and reducing obesity," said Professor Cathie Martin from the JIC. "Our improved understanding of this trait could offer relatively straightforward solutions to growing blood oranges reliably in warmer climates through genetic engineering."

 

Read the complete story at http://news.jic.ac.uk/2012/03/blood-oranges/.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 09 March 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.32  Scientists analyze gene expression in RBSDV-infected maize

 

Maize rough dwarf disease is one of the major viral diseases of maize in China. It is caused by rice black-streaked dwarf virus (RBSDV). Previous studies have shown that viral infection of plants might cause distinct disease symptoms through inhibition or activation of host gene transcription. Thus, China Agricultural University scientist Meng-Ao Jia and colleagues analyzed the gene expression profile of maize infected by RBSDV using specialized gene chips to reveal possible expression changes linked to symptom development.

 

Results of the analysis showed the occurrence of alterations in expression of different resistance-related genes as well as cell wall- and development-related genes. These findings could be used to look for new ways to protect cereal crops against viruses, and reveal the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of specific symptoms in rough dwarf-related diseases.

 

Subscribers of Molecular Plant Pathology can access the article at:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1364-3703.2011.00743.x/abstract.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 March 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.33  How rice blast fungus achieves full virulence

 

Plants use pattern recognition receptor to protect themselves from microbial pathogens. When the receptors recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), they activate signaling pathways that promote immunity. For instance, rice has a receptor called chitin elicitor binding protein (CEBiP) which recognizes the complex sugars excreted from the cell walls of fungal pathogens. However, some pathogens have mechanisms to get away with this front line of defense.

 

University of Exeter scientist Nicholas Talbot and colleagues found out that rice blast fungus (Magnaporthe oryzae) secretes a protein Secreted LysM Protein1 (Slp1) when invading rice cells. Their findings showed that Slp1 builds up between the fungal cell wall and the rice plasma membrane. The protein can also bind to chitin and block chitin-induced immune reactions. They also showed that Slp1 competes with CEBiP for binding in the complex sugars. Thus, Slp1 is important for rice blast fungus for full virulence including tissue invasion and lesion expansion.

 

Based on the results, the researchers suggest that Slp1 sequesters the complex sugars in chitin to prevent immunity in rice. Read the abstract at:

 

http://www.plantcell.org/content/24/1/322.abstract

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 March 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.34  Scientists map water saving traits in pearl millet

 

Low rate of transpiration in pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) under fully irrigated conditions could reduce plant water use and increase water availability during grain filling stage as well as during the terminal drought tolerance stage. Scientist Jana Kholova and colleagues at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) developed 113 recombinant inbred lines from a cross between a terminal drought-sensitive cultivar (H77/833-2) and a terminal drought-tolerant cultivar (PRLT2/89-33) to map the transpiration rate, organ weights, leaf area and thickness, and investigate the interactions of these water saving characteristics.

 

The scientists found out that the water saving traits co-map with a complex genes involved in terminal drought tolerance. Thus, various models for plant water use are present or could be made based on specific allele combinations that lead to specific physiological characteristics for adaptation to a range of terminal drought conditions.

 

Get more details of the study at:

http://www.springerlink.com/content/t61l2g7q77717150/.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 23 March 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.35  Pesquisa que resultou em melhoramento da mandioca é premiada

 

06 March 2012

 

Por Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP

 

A participação em pesquisas que resultaram no desenvolvimento de uma variedade de mandioca mais nutritiva, saborosa e produtiva rendeu à pesquisadora Teresa Losada Valle, do Instituto Agronômico (IAC), o Prêmio Péter Murányi 2012.

 

A homenagem é concedida pela Fundação Péter Murányi a trabalhos que ajudem a melhorar a qualidade de vida dos brasileiros e de outras populações situadas ao sul do paralelo 20 de latitude norte. A edição deste ano priorizou estudos na área de alimentação. A pesquisadora receberá R$ 150 mil.

 

Em entrevista à Agência FAPESP, Valle contou que as pesquisas com a variedade de mandioca amarela batizada de IAC 576-70 começaram na década de 1970 e que o grupo deve lançar em breve no mercado uma nova variedade ainda mais nutritiva.

 

“Antes a mandioca branca, menos rica em vitamina A, era a mais consumida. A mandioca amarela que existia naquela época produzia pouco e tinha baixa resistência a doenças e pragas”, disse.

 

A diferença de cor entre os dois tipos, explicou, deve-se ao fato de que a variedade amarela é mais rica em carotenoides – substâncias antioxidantes que, no organismo humano, se transformam em vitamina A. “Enquanto uma porção de mandioca branca tem 21 unidades internacionais de vitamina A, a mandioca IAC 576-70 tem 230”, disse.

 

Por meio de técnicas tradicionais de melhoramento genético, ou seja, cruzamento entre variedades distintas e seleção de exemplares com as características desejadas, os cientistas do IAC conseguiram desenvolver uma variedade de mandioca amarela mais produtiva, saborosa e resistente a doenças e pragas. O trabalho levou aproximadamente 20 anos para ser concluído.

 

“Essas sementes chegaram ao mercado no fim dos anos 1980 e nos anos 1990 se difundiram completamente. Hoje, em São Paulo, praticamente só se consome a IAC 576-70. Ela também é muito comum no Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina e Distrito Federal”, disse.

 

Para disseminar a nova variedade principalmente entre pequenos produtores rurais e a população de baixa renda das grandes cidades, sementes da IAC 576-70 eram distribuídas até em igrejas e postos de saúde, graças a parcerias com assistentes sociais, profissionais de saúde e organizações assistenciais.

 

“Essa variedade produz praticamente o dobro em relação ao grande número de variedades que eram cultivadas anteriormente em quintais. Essas populações passaram a ter mais alimentos e de melhor qualidade e ainda podiam vender o excedente”, disse Valle.

 

O trabalho foi considerado inovador pela organização do Prêmio Péter Murányi por se preocupar também com as questões de acesso da população a essa variedade da mandioca.

 

Valle revelou que um novo tipo ainda mais rico em vitamina A já está em fase final de estudo e deve ser lançado em breve pelo IAC. “Tem cerca de 800 unidades internacionais do nutriente por porção”, disse.

 

A pesquisadora já coordenou cinco projetos de pesquisa com diferentes variedades de mandioca com apoio da FAPESP. O mais recente tinha como objetivo identificar novas variedades do tubérculo com alta produtividade e alto rendimento industrial, que possam ser usados para a produção de farinha de mandioca, amido e biomassa, com potencial para fabricação de etanol e alimentação animal.

 

Os outros dois finalistas do prêmio foram Marília Regini Nutti, da Embrapa Agroindústria de Alimentos, e Eder Dutra de Resende, Eliana Monteiro Soares de Oliveira e Suelen Alvarenga Regis, da Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro.

 

Mais informações: www.fundacaopetermuranyi.org.br

 

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2  PUBLICATIONS

 

2.01  Conference proceedings and organic plant breeding webinars

More than 50 speakers presented at our 6th Organic Seed Growers Conference on organic plant breeding; organic seed production, harvesting, and distribution; enterprise development; and policy.

 

The conference proceedings are available for free download here. Conference recordings, which feature the organic plant breeding workshops, are available through eXtension.

Publications.

 

Source: Organic Seed Alliance Spring 2012 Newsletter

 

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2.02  Fruit Breeding-Publication of volume 8 of the Handbook of Plant Breeding

 

Congratulations to David Byrne on the publication of volume 8 of the Handbook of Plant Breeding, co-edited with Maria Badenes. You can find information on this edition at http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/plant+sciences/book/978-1-4419-0762-2.

 

Fruit Breeding

Series: Handbook of Plant Breeding, Vol. 8

Badenes, Maria Luisa; Byrne, David H. (Eds.)

2012, 2012, XVI, 875 p. 83 illus., 41 in color.

 

About this book

  • Presents the latest scientific information in applied plant breeding
  • Features the current advances in the field, from an efficient use of genetic resources to the impact of biotechnology in plant breeding
  • Illustrated with both detailed line drawings and color photos

 

Fruit Breeding is the eighth volume in the Handbook of Plant Breeding series. Like the other volumes in the series, this volume presents information on the latest scientific information in applied plant breeding using the current advances in the field, from an efficient use of genetic resources to the impact of biotechnology in plant breeding.

 

The majority of the volume showcases individual crops, complemented by sections dealing with important aspects of fruit breeding as trends, marketing and protection of new varieties, health benefits of fruits and new crops in the horizon. The book also features contributions from outstanding scientists for each crop species.

 

Maria Luisa Badenes

Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA), Valencia, Spain

David Byrne

Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

 

3.01  Webinar: How to Develop SNP-based Tetraploid Maps for Potato

 

Join the Plant Breeding and Genomics community of practice on Thursday April 5 at 1pm Eastern Daylight Time (GMT - 4:00) (12pm Central, 11am Mountain, 10am Pacific) to learn how to develop SNP-based tetraploid maps for potato.

 

During this webinar, Dave Douches and Joe Coombs from Michigan State University will discuss the generation of a tetraploid map for potato using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified in the Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project (SolCAP). This webinar demonstrates high-throughput SNP calling in a tetraploid and introduces some of the issues inherent in tetraploid genetics and mapping

 

To register for the webinar, go to http://www.extension.org/pages/63187 or http://www.extension.org/pages/60426 and click on the webinar title to follow the link to the registration page. Advanced registration for the live webinars is required. After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 

All webinars are recorded and available for later viewing at:

 

www.eXtension.org/plant_breeding_genomics and www.youtube.com/plantbreedgenomics

 

To receive updates about upcoming webinars and archived sessions sign up for PBG News at http://pbgworks.org

 

Heather L. Merk

Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences

OARDC, The Ohio State University

merk.9@osu.edu

 

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3.02  New EU-funded network for plant phenotyping on the way

 

9 March 2012

 

Plant-derived products are proving to be an effective way of dealing with the ever increasing demand for more food, feed and raw materials, and to this end many scientists believe that more knowledge about plant phenotyping is essential. Step up a new EU-funded project that aims to investigate this emerging science that links genomics with plant ecophysiology and agronomy.

 

Plant performance and productivity is determined by the relationship between the functional plant body, the 'phenotype', which is formed during plant growth, and its genetic background, or 'genotype', and the physical world in which plants develop. The better scientists understand the link between the genotype and phenotype the better they can advance modern breeding and basic plant research.

 

To increase Europe's capacity to analyse existing genetic resources for their interaction with the environment, the EPPN ('European Plant Phenotyping Network') project will see the creation of a new plant phenotyping network. With a EUR 5,500,000 boost from the 'Research Infrastructures' Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), EPPN will bring together scientists from Australia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel and the United Kingdom to develop sustainable plant production with higher yields that use up less resources.

 

The project, which will run until 2015, will fuse several different approaches in the field, from molecular to genetic. Although much progress has already been made in molecular and genetic approaches in recent years, the quantitative analysis of plant phenotypes remains a major bottleneck.

 

The project aim is to build up the EPPN to provide structured and efficient development of a competitive plant phenotyping community in Europe. The main goals of the EPPN project partners are to integrate European plant phenotyping efforts, enable close interaction between users of phenotyping platforms and developers of phenotyping technology, develop sensor technology, define and promote good phenotyping practice and information technology (IT) standards for plant phenotyping, and support access to major plant phenotyping facilities in Europe. The leader of this scientific consortium is German Forschungszentrum Jülich.

 

One of the 14 partner institutions is the Global Change Research Centre in the Czech Republic whose project 'CzechGlobe' aims to investigate the manifestations and impacts of global climate change, including modelling and climate change scenarios that focus on the interactions between the biosphere and the global carbon cycle. CzechGlobe is dedicated to innovative, high impact research and plant phenotyping.

 

By boosting plant productivity, researchers hope to address major economic, ecological and societal challenges that are increasingly important for the EU and the Europe 2020 goals.

 

As well as being used as a raw material for a new generation of products, plants today are also increasingly being used as a renewable energy source. Unfortunately, however, climate change and the scarcity of arable land bring about additional challenges for future scenarios of sustainable agricultural production. Therefore, it has never been more important to increase our knowledge of plant phenotyping to improve plant productivity.

 

For more information, please visit theEuropean Plant Phenotyping Network at: http://www.plant-phenotyping-network.eu/eppn/home

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25171&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: CORDIS News via SeedQuest.com

 

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3.03  Germplasm resources information network launched

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), in collaboration with Biodiversity International and the Global Crop Diversty Trust, has launched the Germplasm Resources Information Network-Global (GRIN-Global). It is an Internet-based information management system for the world's plant genebanks.

 

USDA Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki announced the germplasm network at a White House event on Innovation for Global Development. "Innovation in agriculture is central to global development," Woteki said. "For agricultural genebanks, researchers and producers worldwide, GRIN-Global provides a powerful information tool to safeguard and utilize invaluable crop diversity."

 

Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, added that "Plant breeders turn to genebanks for this diversity, whether they are searching for pest resistance or drought tolerance or any other characteristic. How the seeds and the associated information are managed is therefore of huge importance to that breeding effort. USDA's genebank management software is the best in the world, and GRIN-Global now makes this technology available for free to genebanks everywhere. This is real innovation for development."

 

More information on the network is available at:

 

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/02/0044.xml&contentidonly=true

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 03 February 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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4.  GRANTS AND AWARDS

 

4.01  USA - National association of plant breeders announces its awards program for 2012

 

USA

21 March 2012

 

The National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) is pleased to announce its Awards Program for 2012. This year the NAPB is sponsoring four prestigious awards that will be presented at our Annual Meeting on August 6-8 at Indianapolis, IN.

 

Early Career Award - Recognizes a young scientist who is active in the plant breeding field. Applicants should exhibit the ability to establish strong research foundations (experimental techniques, publications, etc.), to interact with multidisciplinary teams, and to participate in professional societies relevant to their discipline. The nominee must have obtained their Ph.D. after December 31, 2004.

 

Lifetime Achievement Award - Recognizes an individual who has given distinguished long-term service to the plant breeding discipline in areas such as breeding/genetics research and publication, education (graduate or undergraduate training), extension outreach, and regional, national, and/or international leadership.

 

Plant Breeding Impact Award - Recognizes an individual who has made significant advancements in the field of plant breeding, specifically in the area of applied variety and/or technology development. Public or private plant breeders whose improved germplasm or technological contributions have had a measurable impact on crop production are eligible to receive this award.

 

Graduate Student Poster Award – Recognizes an outstanding graduate student poster, both in content and delivery, which exemplifies breeding/genetics research. The winner will be expected to present their research topics at the next annual meeting.  These awards are not based on the nature of employment (public, private, etc.) and the nominee does not have to be a member of the NAPB.

 

Nomination procedures and entry forms containing more detail are included with this announcement and on our website

http://www.plantbreeding.org/napb/Awards/Awards.html

 

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

 

Nominations are currently being accepted and the final deadline is June 15, 2012 (5:00 pm Pacific time). For inquiries or questions please contact the Awards Panel Chair, Dr. Brooks Blanche, Dow AgroSciences, (318)350-9589, sbblanche@dow.com

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=25419&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Contributed by Karen Moldenhauer

University of Arkansas

Rice Research & Extension Ctr.

kmolden@uark.edu

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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4.02  Borlaug global rust Initiative announcement

 

Is your research team diligent about developing or releasing durable varieties that will ensure long-term global wheat security? You may be eligible for the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative Gene Stewardship Award.

 

The BGRIGene Stewardship Award will be presented annually at the BGRI Technical Workshop to recognize a researcher or team of researchers serving a national breeding program or other nationally based institution.

 

Award recipients will be those who demonstrate excellence in the development, multiplication and/or release of rust resistant wheat varieties through appropriate means that encourage diversity and complexity of resistance, promote the durability of the materials, and help implement the BGRI’s goal of responsible gene deployment and stewardship.

 

Click here for more information and nomination guidelines…

 

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5.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

5.01  Monsanto plant breeding positions in China

 

Requires a Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics or related fields:

 

1) Brassica/Leafy Breeder –China - Job ID: 006NV

2) Cucumber Breeder –China - Job ID: 006NY

3) Hot Pepper Breeder –China - Job ID: 006NS

4) Tomato Breeder –China - Job ID: 006NQ

 

For more information or apply online at: http://jobs.monsanto.com/careers/breeding-jobs

or www.monsanto.com/careers

 

Contributed by Donn Cummings

Global Breeder Sourcing Lead, Monsanto

DonnCummings@Monsanto.com

 

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6. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

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

 

            A. DISTANCE LEARNING/ONLINE COURSES

            B. COURSES OF THE SEED BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER AT UC DAVIS

            C. OTHER MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

A.     DISTANCE LEARNING/ONLINE COURSES

 

Plant Breeding Methods - Distance Education version CS, HS 541-section 601 DE; 3 credits; lecture only

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

http://distance.ncsu.edu/

 

For more information on Todd Wehner, see:

http://cucurbitbreeding.ncsu.edu/

 

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Plant Breeding Overview - Distance Education version HS 590-801,601; 1 credit; lecture only

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

http://distance.ncsu.edu/

 

For more information on Todd Wehner, see:

http://cucurbitbreeding.ncsu.edu/

 

Conference in Ithaca New York, July 10-13, 2012.  North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference, Trifolium Conference, and Grass Breeder’s Conference will meet jointly this summer at Cornell University.

 

Contributed by Julie Hansen

Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics

Cornell University

jlh17@cornell.edu

 

The Editor

 

Dr. Todd C. Wehner

Professor and Cucurbit Breeder

Department of Horticultural Science

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

919-741-8929

tcwehner@gmail.com

 

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

 

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

 

Contact information is:

msagron@iastate.edu

toll-free: 800-747-4478

phone: 515-294-2999

http://masters.agron.iastate.edu

 

Maria Salas-Fernandez

Assistant Professor

Department of Agronomy

Iowa State Univ.

msagron@iastate.edu

 

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Online Graduate Program in Seed Technology & Business

 

Iowa State University

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

 

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

 

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

Paul Christensen, Seed Technology and Business Program Manager Ph.

515-294-8745, seedgrad@iastate.edu

 

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            B. COURSES OF THE SEED BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER AT UC DAVIS

 

(NEW) Modern Tools in Plant Breeding

 

UC Davis Student Community Center Multipurpose Room

 

This one-day program on April 20, 2012 is hosted by Pioneer Hi-Bred and UC Davis. Presentation and speakers include:

 

Genomics and epigenomic variation among maize inbreds

Dr. Nathan Springer, University of Minnesota.

Next-generation tools for studying genomics of wheat evolution and improvement

 

Dr. Eduard Akhunov, Kansas State.

Engineering rice for disease resistance and submergence tolerance

 

Dr. Pamela Ronald, University of California, Davis

Comparative genomics of plant-pathogen specificity

 

Dr. Richard Michelmore, University of California, Davis

Genomic selection in plants: empirical results and implications for plant breeding

Dr. Mark Sorrells, Cornell University

Genetic and epigenetic diversity of maize from a plant breeding perspective

Dr. Antoni Rafalski, Pioneer Hi-Bred

 

Please register online at: http://plantmolbreeding.ucdavis.edu/ to attend which includes a complimentary lunch and networking social.

 

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

 

Dates and Location:

 

June 11-15, 2012, Minneapolis, MN

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

 

Source: Seed Biotechnology Center November 2011 Enews

 

Contributed by Donna Van Dolah

Seed Biotechnology Center

dlvandolah@ucdavis.edu

 

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European Plant Breeding Second Class Starts October 2011

 

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

 

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

 

Week 3: June 25-30, 2012

Location:  Gatersleben, Germany

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

 

Week 4: Oct 8-13, 2012

Location:  Enkhuizen, Netherlands

Partners:  Seed Valley, Naktuinbouw

 

Week 6: June 24-29, 2013

Location: Davis, CA

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

 

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UC Davis Plant Breeding AcademySM – a Premium Professional Certificate Program for Plant Breeders

 

Established in 2006 to address the global shortage of trained plant breeders, UC Davis Plant Breeding AcademySM (PBA) has grown into a premium professional certificate program widely recognized by the global seed industry.

 

UC Davis Plant Breeding AcademySM2012 Class begins in September. Applications are now being accepted.

 

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

 

Contributed by Donna Van Dolah

Seed Biotechnology Center

UC, Davis

dvandolah@ucdavis.edu

 

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Plant Breeding Academy in United States begins September 2012

 

Applications are now being accepted.  For more information on the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy visit the PBA website or contact Joy Patterson, jpatterson@ucdavis.edu.

 

Source: SBC eNews January 2012 via SeedQuest

 

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Seed Central launches its series of monthly events

 

The program for the next several months can be viewed at:

http://www.seedcentral.org/calendarofevents.htm

 

To learn more about Seed Central, please visit www.seedcentral.org.

 

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Seed Business 101

 

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

 

Register online: sbc.ucdavis.edu

 

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C.      OTHER MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

(NEW) 13 April 2012. 1st Annual Cornell University Graduate Student Plant Breeding Symposium, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

 

The graduate students of Cornell's Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics are pleased to announce the 1st Annual Cornell University Graduate Student Plant Breeding Symposium, being held on Friday April 13th from 8:00am-5:00pm EST. The theme of this symposium is "Wild and Forgotten: Conservation, Characterization, and Utilization of Orphan Crops and Wild Relatives." For more information on the speakers and to join the symposium via live webinar, visit the following link:

 

http://www.cals.cornell.edu/cals/pbg/academics/synapsis/sym.cfm

 

Contributed by John Patrick Hart

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics

Cornell University, NYSAES (Vegetable Breeding)

Jph248@cornell.edu

 

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23-25 April 2012. 11th Gatersleben Research Conference.“Chromosome Biology, Genome Evolution and Speciation,” Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Gatersleben, Germany.

 

More details can be found on the conference website:

http://meetings.ipk-gatersleben.de/grc2012/index.php

 

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29 April – 2 May 2012 International Symposium on Biotechnology and other Omics in Vegetable Science, Antalya, Turkey.

 

Please visit the symposium web page at http://www.biotech-omics.org/web/for further information.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

See http://irri.org/knowledge/irri-training/short-courses/list-of-short-courses/rice-research-to-production-course-2012 or contact h.leung@cgiar.org for more information.

 

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(NEW) Seventh International Symposium on the Molecular Breeding of Forage and Turf (MBFT)

 

Salt Lake City, UT

June 4-7, 2012.

 

This symposium brings academic, government, and private researchers from around the world to present findings concerning forage and turf grasses, forage legumes, symbionts, and biofuel species. Recent critical findings are presented in oral and poster sessions, and a tour of the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory farms and programs is also part of the symposium.

 

We invite all interested individuals to attend and participate in this meeting. For more information, please visit the website: http://mbft.usu.edu/.

 

Contributed by Shaun Bushman

USDA-ARS FRRL

Logan, Utah

Shaun.bushman@ARS.USDA.Gov

 

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(NEW) A GCP/IBP cassava workshop is scheduled to take place on the 23rd to 24th of June 2012, immediately following the 2nd Scientific Conference of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21-II), and will be held at the same venue – the Speke Resort and Conference Centre, Kampala, Uganda. The workshop is targeted at potential users of the Integrated Breeding Platform, particularly those that are not currently part of ongoing GCP research initiatives.

 

The workshop is by invitation only, for breeders that will have attended GCP21-II. Those interested should apply to Ndeye Ndack Diop, providing a short CV and explaining their motivation for wanting to attend. Those selected will receive a formal invitation to attend.

 

Although focusing on African breeders, breeders from Latin America and Asia are also welcome to apply, applications to be received not later than 15th May 2012. The local costs of participation in the 2-day workshop will be covered by GCP.

 

One and a half days of the workshop will be dedicated to reviewing the resources of the IBP Web Portal; introducing the Cassava Central Database and Trait Dictionary; introductory training on the Integrated Breeding FieldBook and the handheld tablet that hosts it; and, introductory training on pedigree management.

 

The last half -day will be dedicated to discussions on the Cassava Community of Practice, with a view to extending its reach, and enhancing interactions between members working on different projects in different regions.

 

A more detailed programme for the workshop and other salient information will be provided in due course. For queries, please contact Arllet Portugal and/or Ndeye Ndack Diop at the Generation Challenge Programme.

 

Spread the word through your networks please!

 

Source: GCP News 9th March 2012

 

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21 May – 22 June 2012. Conservation Agriculture: Laying the groundwork for sustainable and productive cropping systems.

 

Application deadline is 31 March 2012. For an application form and more details contact: Laura Ivonne Ruiz (l.ruiz@cgiar.org)

 

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5–8 June 2012 Short course on MarkerAssisted Plant Breeding, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, USA

 

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

 

11-15 June 2012 Seed Business 101, Seed Biotechnology Center, Minneapolis, MN

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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11-22 June 2012 Plant breeding for drought tolerance, Colorado State University

 

Registration and Information

Participants may apply online (http://www.droughtadaptation.org) through February 1, 2012.

 

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

 

For more information, please visit the website:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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9-13 July 2012. XVIIth Biennial Workshop on the Smuts and Bunts, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China

 

Abstracts 

Deadline for registration and receipt of abstracts will be on the June 1, 2012.

Send completed registration form electronically to: smut2012@163.com

 

The contact information are the following:

 

Wu Pinshan

Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine

Email: smut2012@163.com

 

Zhang Guiming

Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau

Email:  smut2012@163.com

 

Contributed by Bahromiddin Huseinov

yunuszod@yahoo.com

 

28 August – 1 September 2012 13th International Cereal Rust and Powdery Mildew Conference, Beijing, China

http://www.wheatdisease.com/web/newDetail.aspx?id=3

 

1-4 September 2012 BGRI 2012 Technical Workshop, Beijing, China

http://globalrust.org/traction/permalink/about343

Online registration coming soon.

 

11-14 September 2012. The 9th International Phytotechnology Society (IPS) conference, Hasselt University in Belgium September 11th to 14th, 2012.

 

Phytotechnologies - plant-based strategies to clean water, soil, air and provide ecosystem services - have an effective power beyond their science when integrated into our managed landscapes.

 

This conference will bring together scientists, consultants, designers, engineers, builders, regulators, site owners, and site users to explore phytotechnologies to address current and emerging environmental challenges.

 

The conference is organized by the International Phytotechnology Society (IPS) (Jason White (USA), Steven Rock (USA), Elena Maestri (Italy), Renee Stoops (USA), Lee Newman (USA)) and by Hasselt University in Belgium (Jaco Vangronsveld, Nele Weyens, Steven Van Passel, Nele Witters, Silvie Daniels, Jan Colpaert, Ann Cuypers)

 

For more information, www.phytotechnologies.be

 

Please note that the deadline for the abstract submission is April 1th (2012) and that for the early registration is June 15th (2012).

 

Contributed by Elena MAESTRI Universita' di Parma Dip. Scienze Ambientali Parma, ITALY elena.maestri@unipr.it

 

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

 

Hosted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the congress will bring together scientists working on research aspects of legume biology in model species, using genetic and genomic tools, with those working on applied aspects and breeding of food legume crop and pasture species. Topics include next generation genomics; nutrition; development; evolution and diversity; symbiosis; abiotic stress; pathogenesis and disease resistance; translational genomics; genomics-assisted breeding; and harnessing germplasm resources.

 

See http://www.icrisat.org/gt-bt/VI-ICLGG/homepage.htm or contact iclgg2012@gmail.com for more information.

 

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(Return to Contents)

 

 

7.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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