PLANT BREEDING NEWS

 

EDITION 237

 

July 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

 

           Reviews of broad issues in research and development

 

            1.01  Re-orienting crop improvement in the 21st century

            1.02  Global Food Security Index

            1.03  Agricultural Adaptation to a Changing Climate

 

            Reviews of breeding programs

 

            1.04  Pioneer Indonesia unveils new hybrid corn

            1.05  Bangladesh to benefit from wheat variety tolerant to UG99

            1.06  Clemson University develops new oat variety

            1.07  Winter wheat variety to PNW growers

            1.08  High yielding cowpea seeds boost production in Mali

            1.09  Rust resistant wheat well received in Nepal

            1.10  First marker assisted bred sorghum varieties released to farmers        in Sub-Saharan Africa

            1.11  British research leads to UK wide launch of beneforte broccoli

            1.12  Africa: Experts Meet Over Seed Varieties

            1.13  Yields improve during five decades of wheat breeding

            1.14  Nigeria releases vitamin A maize to improve nutrition

            1.15  Danforth Plant Science Center awarded $12 million to study drought as part of the effort to develop next generation bioenergy          grasses

            1.16  Reportan mejoramiento genético de variedades de semillas de          arroz

            1.17  Kazakhstan: Plant breeders present new tomato variety

            1.18  IITA offers improved cassava, cowpea and maize seeds to Jigawa     state

            1.19  ICRISAT-HOPE sharply increases sorghum yields in Maharashtra,   India

 

            Genetic resources

 

            1.20  Seeds of 1,100 Tibetan plant species preserved in a national germplasm bank

 

            Trait selection and applied breeding

 

            1.21  Bright possibility for flood tolerant soybeans

            1.22  Molecular markers for nematode resistance breeding

            1.23  Scientists discover how nematodes attack plants

            1.24  Breeding Stevia for high leaf yield and high rebaudioside A    content

            1.25  Hydropriming method: To improve germination percentage and         uniform seedlings establishment in diploid, triploid and tetraploid watermelon

            1.26  Newly found genes may lead to nematode-resistant upland cotton

            1.27  Tannins in sorghum are focus of study by Kansas State University   and USDA researchers

            1.28  En busca de genes de Lotus que toleren la salinidad

            1.29  Study reveals good news about the glycemic index of rice

            1.30  Salt-tolerant chickpea project to boost crop production

            1.31  Purdue University scientists working to make drought-resistant          crops

            1.32  Focusing on flood-tolerant soybeans

            1.33  Link discovered between tomato ripening color and taste

            1.34  Improving blast resistance of rice thru market assisted gene    pyramiding

 

            Molecular and basic genetics research

 

            1.35  Scientists find key gene for Glycemic Index of rice

            1.36  Scientists find way to develop tomato varieties with taste of     heirloom counterparts

            1.37  Scientists discover new source of maize hybrid vigor

            1.38  Rice gene identified to enhance quality productivity

            1.39  Iron biofortification and homeostasis in transgenic cassava roots       expressing an algal iron assimilatory protein, FEA1

            1.40  The banana (Musa acuminata) genome and the evolution of monocotyledonous plants

            1.41  First plant genomics yield technology progresses

            1.42  Glyphosate-resistant 'superweeds' may be less susceptible to             diseases

            1.43  Application of next-generation sequencing for rapid marker    development in molecular plant breeding

            1.44  Scientists find potential solution for inbreeding depression

            1.45  How the same plant species can programme itself to flower at            different times in different climates

            1.46  Major investment to persuade bacteria to help cereals self-fertilise

            1.47  Salt cress genome yields new clues to salt tolerance

            1.48  Chinese scientists identify yield-boosting rice gene

            1.49  Illumina introduces Nextera Exome and Custom Enrichment             sample preparation kits

            1.50  Melon genome sequenced

            1.51  New method for associating genetic variation with crop traits

            1.52  Sequencing technology helps reveal what plant genomes really        encode.

 

2.  PUBLICATIONS

            2.01  Pré-melhoramento de plantas: estado da arte e experiências de         sucesso

            2.02  Analyzing plant biotechnology patents - 3 traits relevant to climate     change

            2.03  Marker-assisted selection in crops, livestock, forestry and fish

            2.04  New method for associating genetic variation with crop traits

            2.05  Plant Evolution and the Origin of Crop Species

            2.06  Breeding Sorghum for low phosphorus soils in West Africa

            2.07  Historical genomics of North American maize

            2.08  Widespread adoption of Bt cotton and insecticide decrease     promotes biocontrol services

            2.09  First Textbook on Organic Crop Breeding Published

 

3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

            3.01  New FAO Biotechnology Glossary website

            3.02  TGAC launches MISO (Managing Information for Sequencing           Operations), a free open source LIMS for NGS

 

4.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

            4.01  Monsanto plant breeding and related scientist positions:

 

5.  MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

6.  EDITOR'S NOTES

 

 

1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES

 

1.01  Re-orienting crop improvement in the 21st century

 

The scientific journal Agriculture & Food Security has just published "Re-orienting crop improvement for the changing climatic conditions of the 21st century" by C. Mba, E.P. Guimarães and K. Ghosh.

 

The paper underscores that plant breeding must be re-oriented in order to generate 'smart' crop varieties that yield more with fewer inputs. It highlights some of the current plant breeding techniques that hold great promise for crop improvement, including marker-assisted selection, targeting induced local lesions in genomes (TILLING), genetic modification, as well as emerging biotechnologies of relevance to plant breeding such as zinc finger nuclease, oligonucleotide directed mutagenesis, synthetic genomics, etc.

 

The paper also recommends adequate policies to enable plant breeding, training of a new generation of plant breeders, establishment of partnerships (including public-private sector synergies), adoption of the continuum approach to the management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture as means to improved cohesion of the components of its value chain, and strengthening the national agricultural research and extension systems of developing countries.

 

See http://www.agricultureandfoodsecurity.com/content/pdf/2048-7010-1-7.pdf (350 KB) or contact Chikelu.Mba@fao.org for more information.

 

FAO Biotechnology website http://www.fao.org/biotech/en/

 

Source: FAO-BiotechNews

 

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1.02  Global Food Security Index

 

Indexing three core issues in 105 countries:

 

            Affordability

            Availability

            Quality and Safety

 

Our index measures the risks and factors that drive food security, including:

 

Affordability:

  • Food consumption as a share of household expenditure
  • Proportion of population under global poverty line
  • Gross domestic product per capita
  • Agricultural import tariffs
  • Presence of food safety net programs
  • Access to farmer financing

 

Availability

  • Sufficiency of supply
  • Public expenditure on agricultural R&D
  • Agricultural infrastructure
  • Volitility of agricultural production
  • Political instability

 

Quality and safety

  • Diet diversification
  • Nutritional standards
  • Micronutrient availability
  • Protein quality
  • Food safety

 

See how your country fares... or view the overall index

http://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com/

 

Contributed by Rodomiro Ortiz

rodomiroortiz@gmail.com

 

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1.03  Agricultural Adaptation to a Changing Climate

 

The ERS Research Report 136, Agricultural Adaptation to a Changing Climate, was recently published and is available at http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/848748/err136.pdf

 

Abstract

Global climate models predict increases over time in average temperature worldwide, with significant impacts on local patterns of temperature and precipitation. The extent to which such changes present a risk to food supplies, farmer livelihoods, and rural communities depends in part on the direction, magnitude, and rate of such changes, but equally importantly on the ability of the agricultural sector to adapt to changing patterns of yield and productivity, production cost, and resource availability. Study fi ndings suggest that, while impacts are highly sensitive to uncertain climate projections, farmers have considerable flexibility to adapt to changes in local weather, resource conditions, and price signals by adjusting crops, rotations, and production practices. Such adaptation, using existing crop production technologies, can partially mitigate the impacts of climate change on national agricultural markets. Adaptive redistribution of production, however, may have signifi cant implications for both regional land use and environmental quality.

 

Contributed by Robin A Davis

Senior Examiner, Plant Variety Protection Office USDA, AMS, Science & Technology

Beltsville, MD

robin.davis@usda.gov

 

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1.04  Pioneer Indonesia unveils new hybrid corn

 

A new corn hybrid was launched by DuPont Pioneer in Indonesia. The hybrid labeled as P27 produces superior ears with high quality grain filling and with the capability to develop strong stalks and sturdier root systems for enhanced performance in adverse weather conditions and low yielding environments.

 

Aside from the gathering of 3,000 farmers who listened to the benefits and proper agronomic techniques to be applied in planting P27, Pioneer also unveiled a 2,400 m² elephant-shaped crop formation (as seen from an airplane!), representing the characteristics of the new hybrid: strong and dependable.

 

Read the media release at http://www.pioneer.com/home/site/about/template.CONTENT/news-media/feature-stories/guid.88B1B26D-F859-B110-0CAA-C5A83A76611D

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 27 July 2012:

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.05  Bangladesh to benefit from wheat variety tolerant to UG99

 

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has introduced a wheat variety known as Francolin in Bangladesh which is tolerant to the Ug99 strain of stem-rust fungus. CIMMYT was assisted by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and supported in part by a United States Agency for International Development seed-multiplication program. The new seed variety will be combined with another seed variety called Hashi to cover around 5% of the country's total area harvested by 2013.

 

The article is available at http://globalrust.org/traction/permalink/newsroom678

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 27 July 2012:

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.06  Clemson University develops new oat variety

 

Plant breeders from Clemson University announced a new high-yielding oat variety that grows to medium height, withstands lodging, matures earlier, and produces more seeds than comparable varieties. The new variety, named Graham, will be available in limited quantities for growers to plant during the fall planting season, according to Chris Ray, director of the South Carolina Crop Improvement Association.

 

Ray said that Graham has "excellent yield potential and produces a 32.2-pound bushel compared to 31.9-pound bushel for Rodgers." It has produced slightly higher test weights (pounds per bushel) and consistently 20 bushels per acre more yield than the most commonly used oat varieties planted in the Carolinas.

 

Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture oversees the S.C. Crop Improvement Association, which runs the foundation seed program to provide growers with the highest-quality planting stock available. The seed is produced at Clemson University Experiment Station research centers and made available to producers and seedsmen.

 

The new oat variety is named after W. Doyce Graham, the small-grains breeder at Clemson University from 1966 to 2003.

 

More information about the Graham oat variety can be read at

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723151149.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 27 July 2012:

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.07  Winter wheat variety to PNW growers

 

SY Ovation, a new AgriPro® brand soft white winter wheat of Syngenta, has been introduced for the coming winter season. The wheat variety was developed through doubled haploid technology and has proven to be a high-yielding semi-dwarf variety.

 

According to Ed Driskill, cereal key account lead of Syngenta in Idaho, "This variety is early-maturing and was also developed to endure an environment prone to intense stripe rust pressure like we have here in the Pacific North West." The new variety also tolerates soilborne mosaic virus and dryland footrot, and has good tillering and excellent straw strength.

 

For more details, view the news release at

 

http://www.syngentacropprotection.com/news_releases/news.aspx?id=167643

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 13 July 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.08  High yielding cowpea seeds boost production in Mali

 

The West African Seed Alliance's (WASA) seeds project in Mali, a program supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is seen to be a successful initiative to increase local production and access to high quality-certified seeds of major staple crops for farmers in the country.

 

The project started three years ago when WASA trained women in Mali to become seed producers to improve their income and to help fill the yield gap on farms by buying locally-produced seeds. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Malian National Agricultural System gave them a high-yielding cowpea seed variety while WASA's regional office in Mopti, Mali provided technical support in soil, water, and pest management.

 

After three years, an average seed producer who participated in the training is reported to drastically increase yield with high quality cowpea seeds from two bags of 100 kg to eight bags of 100 kg per harvest. The project will be reinforced in five other target African countries, namely Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.

 

View the original article at http://library.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10947/2647/Mali_Sowing_the_Seeds_of_Success.%20pdf?sequence=1

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 13 July 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.09  Rust resistant wheat well received in Nepal

 

With active awareness among farmers, wheat breeders, and pathologists, Nepal is fully prepared to face the possible arrival of the stem rust race Ug99 as resistant varieties are already in farmers' fields. This is the statement of Sarala Sharma, Senior Plant Pathologist of Nepal Agricultural Research Council during a Village Development Committee Centre (VDC) activity in one of the farming communities in Nepal.

 

Sharma also described how successful the farmer participatory variety selection (PVS) approach is in terms of wheat production in the country as PVS resulted in rapid increase in adoption rates of new varieties and remarkable reduction of yellow rust in wheat. Through PVS, farmers have widened the coverage of rust resistant varieties, tested new options, and gradually replaced older, lower-yielding varieties, thus increasing production and productivity.With the new varieties, the farmers enjoy a ten percent yield increase in wheat.

 

For more information, visit http://blog.cimmyt.org/?p=8465

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 29 June 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.10  First marker assisted bred sorghum varieties released to farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa

 

Sudan's National Crop Variety Release Committee has approved the release of four experimental Striga-resistant sorghum varieties, namely: ASARECA.T1" (T1BC3S4), "ASARECA.W2 Striga" W2BC3S4, "ASARECA.AG3" AG2BC3S4; and "ASARECA.AG4" (AG6BC3S4). These are from Striga-susceptible improved sorghum varieties "Tabat", "Wad Ahmed", and "AG8".

 

This is the first time an African national program adopted and implemented marker-assisted backcrossing, through multi-institutional collaboration to generate improved cultivars against Striga, a serious problem of cereal farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. The program to develop these four varieties was initiated in 2004, under a BMZ-supported project involving the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the University of Hohenheim, and national program partners in Eritrea, Kenya, Mali, and Sudan.

 

More details are available at http://www.icrisat.org/newsroom/latest-news/happenings/happenings1525.htm#3

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 29 June 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.11  British research leads to UK wide launch of beneforte broccoli

 

Scientists at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) and the John Innes Centre in UK launched the new broccoli variety, Beneforté developed through conventional breeding. It contains two to three times the level of glucoraphanin, a health promoting and anti-cancer compound, compared to standard broccoli. The IFR scientists are further investigating how the brassica phytonutrient glucoraphanin exerts its effect on human health and the link between eating broccoli and lower rates of heart disease and some forms of cancer. Beneforté has been tested in Marks and Spencer in October 2011.

 

The study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said, "The roll-out of Beneforté broccoli to supermarkets across the UK is great news for the public and UK science alike. This development follows years of publicly funded research to understand the fundamental bioscience of broccoli and the compounds within it. This knowledge has now been translated into a commercial product, with significant potential health benefits, available to all."

 

See the news release at http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/health/2012/120625-pr-uk-wide-launch-beneforte-broccoli.aspx

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 29 June 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.12  Africa: Experts Meet Over Seed Varieties

 

25 July 2012

 

African crop breeding experts have begun a week-long meeting in Nairobi to discuss ways of tackling the issue of better and more available seed for smallholder farmers, organisers said on Tuesday.

 

The meeting organised by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) brought together over 100 experts, including World Food Prize laureate, Gebesa Ejeta, to seek ways of meeting smallholder farmers' need for high performing and high impact seed varieties.

 

Speaking at the event, AGRA's director of seed program Joe Devries said their programs have so far supported the development of almost 400 new seed varieties and the commercialization of over 200."The challenge now is how to address the gap between the released varieties and the commercialized. If we can get this right we'll be able to make lasting impact on the lives of millions of smallholders in Africa," Devries told the meeting.

 

AGRA president, Jane Karuku, said farmers in Africa have largely not benefited from improved seeds due to a lack of localized crop breeding and efficient, dependable seed delivery system.

 

"And so crop yields in most of Africa have remained one-third of those produced by farmers in other developing regions of the worlds. Good seed is not just the driving force behind good harvests and eliminating poverty and hunger, it's the foundation for rapid economic growth," said Karuku.

 

The first step towards farmers accessing simple science is ensuring that farmers have access to improved seeds. This has been a major challenge across Africa, with seed companies not able to meet the demand by farmers, resulting to farmer turning to their grains as seeds.

 

AGRA said its own seed program has begun to address some of these challenges successfully with the majority of farmers targeted accessing the new seed reporting dramatic increases in their harvests. As a result of AGRA's support to many partners, an additional 40,000 MT per annum of hybrid seed, representing 1/3 of the commercially produced seed in Africa, is now reaching smallholder farmers. These seeds have been produced by 60 small, African-owned seed companies launched with capital and strengthened by AGRA - a 100 percent increase in the number of such companies.

 

In terms of food production, this means an additional 4 million MT of staple crops per annum. AGRA's experts believe that the tipping point to food security with respect to improved seeds is 500,000 MT per annum of high yielding, improved crop varieties.

 

World Food Prize laureate Gebesa Ejeta said the global food security is the biggest challenge that the world needs to address now and the science of plant breeding is a critical component in that agenda. Ejeta said in a country like Ethiopia, farming technology has hardly improved with farmers using outdated farming practices that do not increase their yields or impact on their livelihoods significantly. "For farmers to improve their livelihoods and increase their income we need to see simple science available to people, like improved seeds. If we do not get our act together the continent will be left behind," he said.

 

Source: Xinhua

 

http://allafrica.com/stories/201207260054.html

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.13  Yields improve during five decades of wheat breeding

 

24 Jul, 2012

 

Wheat varieties are a common topic of discussion among broad-acre farmers across Australia, and variety presentations are always well attended at field days.

 

Wheat breeding has evolved since the green revolution of the 1960s when semi-dwarf wheats replaced tall wheats prone to lodging. But how much did wheat yield improve over all these years? What are the physiological changes in the crop associated with breeding for yield? Are there implications for crop management?

 

Working closely with industry, SARDI crop scientists Chris Lawson and Victor Sadras set out to answer these questions.

 

Field trials were established in 2010 and 2011 across the Mid North of South Australia to compare a selection of popular wheat varieties released between 1958 and 2007. They were Heron (1958), Gamenya (1960), Halberd (1969), Condor (1973), Warigal (1978), Spear (1984), Machete (1985), Janz (1989), Frame (1994), Krichauff (1997), Yitpi (1999), Wyalkatchem (2001) and Gladius (2007).

 

The trials demonstrated that yield has steadily increased over the past 50 years at a rate of 18kg per hectare per year. This rate compares well with rates reported for other breeding programs worldwide. It is encouraging that yield progress is not slowing down over time.

 

Industry support includes funding by GRDC’s initiative on water use efficiency (DAS00089); Peter Hooper and colleagues at Hartfield providing agronomic insight and material support with the trials; Roseworthy and SARDI Clare staff providing agronomic support; and Snowtown farmer Don Whiting and plant breeders Tony Rathjen (University of Adelaide) and Haydn Kuchel (AGT) providing expert advice and seed.

 

The increase in yield was associated with an improvement in harvest index; new varieties produce more grain per kg of biomass. Newer varieties also grow faster between stem elongation and flowering.

 

This period, which in SA generally occurs between August and October, is critical for yield. Enhanced crop growth in this period leads to greater grain number.

 

This finding has implications for management: ensuring good conditions during this period, in particular crop protection and nitrogen supply, is critical to capture the yield benefits of high yielding varieties.

 

Breeding for yield improved the ability of wheat to uptake soil nitrogen. Newer varieties are much better at mining the soil than older varieties.

 

This reinforces the need to monitor soil nitrogen and to improve the nitrogen nutrition of crops to capture the benefits of improved varieties, particularly in the period between stem elongation and flowering.

 

The newer varieties achieve higher yield with the same amount of water use. The agronomic implication of this finding is that our water use efficiency benchmark needs an update.

 

The benchmark of 20 kg grain/ha per mm of water use was largely developed using Halberd, a variety released in 1969. We find the benchmark for current varieties under SA conditions is close to 24 kg grain per ha per mm.

 

This work shows the outstanding success of local breeding programs in increasing yield and the practical value of asking questions about the physiology of the crop.

 

This research is critical at a number of levels, from crop breeding and management to farm profitability and long term food security. Further improvements in wheat yield associated with both improved varieties and better agronomy are more likely to arise from a focus on the critical pre-flowering period.

 

The final report can be found at the GRDC website.

 

http://sj.farmonline.com.au/news/state/grains-and-cropping/barley/yields-improve-during-five-decades-of-wheat-breeding/2615309.aspx?storypage=0

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.14  Nigeria releases vitamin A maize to improve nutrition

 

Ibadan, Nigeria

July 24, 2012

 

The Nigerian Government has released two new maize hybrids that can provide more vitamin A in the diets of millions in the country, raising optimism about stemming the menace of vitamin A deficiency in the years ahead, especially among children, pregnant women, and mothers. The provitamin A is converted by the body into vitamin A when the maize is eaten.

 

The hybrids, which are the first generation vitamin A-rich maize, were released on 4 July 2012 by the National Variety Release Committee of Nigeria as Ife maizehyb 3 and Ife maizehyb 4. They are recognized as IITA hybrids A0905-28 and A0905-32, respectively.

 

“The hybrids are a product of nearly a decade of breeding for enhanced levels of pro-vitamin A,” says Dr. Abebe Menkir, maize breeder with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), who led the development of the new maize hybrids.

 

The hybrids outperformed local checks with yields ranging from 6 to 9 tons per hectare compared with 2 tons per hectare recorded on most farmers’ fields.

 

The vitamin A hybrids were developed by IITA in partnership with the Institute of Agricultural Research & Training (IAR&T) using conventional breeding in a project funded by the HarvestPlus—a Challenge Program of the CGIAR as part of strategies to address the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency. Other collaborating partners include the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria; University of Maiduguri; International Maize and Wheat Center (CIMMYT), University of Illinois, and University of Wisconsin.

 

In Nigeria, vitamin A deficiency afflicts about 30% of children below five years of age, almost 20% of pregnant women, and 13% of nursing mothers. Vitamin A deficiency lowers immunity and impairs vision, which can lead to blindness and even death.

 

Researchers say the two hybrids can supply enhanced levels of vitamin A in the diets. Maize is consumed by millions of people throughout Nigeria, whether roasted and eaten off the cob or as a dish prepared from fermented maize flour.

 

According to Menkir, maize is the most frequently consumed staple in Nigeria with about 20% of households consuming it at different times within a week.

 

“These hybrids will provide not only increased amounts of provitamin A but also improve productivity in farming communities,” he says.

 

Farmers who participated in the on-farm trials indicated that they liked the varieties, so there is a high prospect for quick adoption.

 

IITA and IAR& T, in partnership with private seed companies, now plan to multiply these hybrids so they can begin distributing them to farmers by 2014, and to continue to develop higher levels of vitamin A in maize by conventional breeding.

 

“We plan to target to areas where maize consumption is high to help address the problem of vitamin A deficiency in Nigeria” says Dr. Samuel Olakojo, a maize breeder with IAR &T, who worked on the varieties with Menkir.

 

The release of vitamin A cassava in Nigeria last year should help pave the way for broad acceptance of the vitamin A maize. These new maize varieties are well suited to the tropical lowlands of many West African countries and are expected to spread beyond Nigeria's borders.

 

In a parallel effort, the International Maize and Wheat Research Center (known by their Spanish acronym CIMMYT) – a sister CGIAR Center of IITA – has been breeding mid-altitude vitamin A-rich varieties for Zambia in a project also funded by HarvestPlus, with release anticipated later this year.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28565&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.15  Danforth Plant Science Center awarded $12 million to study drought as part of the effort to develop next generation bioenergy grasses

 

St. Louis, Missouri, USA

July 16, 2012

 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a five year, $12.1 million grant to researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and their collaborators at the Carnegie Institution for Science, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the University of Minnesota and Washington State University to develop a new model plant system, Setaria viridis, to advance bioenergy grasses as a sustainable source of renewable fuels.

 

Setaria viridis, model genetic systems

Drought is the number one stress crops endure which limits yield and is of growing concern due to the globe’s diminishing water supply and climate change. This year, extreme heat and lack of rainfall combined with the mild winter has resulted in an all-time low in soil moisture and is producing new challenges for our nation’s farmers. Reduced yields will likely spark a rebound in global food prices. Drought conditions also have a major impact on crops that serve as sources of bioenergy.

 

Bioenergy grasses hold promise to provide a sustainable source of renewable fuels for the U.S. economy and reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum. These dedicated second generation bioenergy crops can be grown on marginal lands and with fewer inputs than traditional row crops such as corn, which requires energy intensive annual planting and the addition of chemical fertilizers. Bioenergy grasses require water just like all other crops and the next generation of bioenergy crops will need to be bred for important characteristics including drought resistance and other properties that will make them more productive.

 

To engineer bioenergy grasses with the desirable traits needed for large scale production, it is necessary to develop model plant systems that are closely related to bioenergy feedstocks, but which are more amenable to genetic analysis. One of the most promising model species is the grass Setaria viridis.

 

“What we learn in improving bioenergy grasses in many cases can also be applied to cereal crops to improve their productivity. Setaria viridis, the model species that will be used as the focus of our research, is closely related to corn and Brachypodium, another model grass of interest at the Danforth Center that has a genetic makeup similar to wheat,” said Dr. Tom Brutnell, director of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels who is serving as Principal Investigator on the grant.

 

Brutnell and his colleagues will utilize genomic, computational and engineering tools to begin the genetic dissection of drought and density response in S. viridis. The research team will produce one of the most extensive molecular characterizations of plant growth in the field to date, generating several million data points that will be collected from physiological and molecular genetic studies. In doing so, they hope to discover the mechanisms that underlie drought responses and identify candidate genes and pathways for improving the closely related feedstock grasses. The ability of bioenergy feedstocks to use water efficiently and to produce abundant yields at high density will be major drivers in the development of improved varieties that can serve as a replacement for petroleum-based fuels.

 

Co-PIs/Senior Personnel, Institutions on the grant include:

Ivan Baxter, USDA-ARS/Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Asaph Cousins, Washington State University

Jose Dinneny, Carnegie Institution for Science

Andrew D.B. Leakey, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Todd Mockler, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Hector Quemada, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Seung (Sue) Rhee, Carnegie Institution for Science

Daniel Voytas, University of Minnesota

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28423&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.16  Reportan mejoramiento genético de variedades de semillas de arroz

 

14 de julio de 2012

Mexico

 

El Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP) reportó avances importantes a través del Campo Experimental de Zacatepec en el mejoramiento genético de variedades de semillas del arroz que se cultiva en los estados centrales del país.

 

En un comunicado de la Sagarpa, el instituto informó que además promueve diferentes métodos para producir este cereal, con un fuerte impulso al sistema de siembra directa que está siendo adoptado por productores de las regiones altas de Morelos, a efecto de cambiar la producción con el método tradicional de trasplante.

 

El sistema de siembra directa consiste en hacerlo en seco, con una sembradora de granos pequeños a una densidad de 100 a 120 kilogramos de semilla por hectárea, donde se deberá aplicar un riego pesado de germinación y, posteriormente, riegos periódicos.

 

Resaltó que este método favorece la maduración uniforme del grano y por lo tanto la cosecha se puede efectuar en forma rápida y económica, al abarcar varias hectáreas en un solo día.

 

La superficie sembrada en los últimos años en esta entidad se ha mantenido al alza, con la obtención de mayores rendimientos en los municipios de Cuautla y Emiliano Zapata.

 

Explicó que dentro de las acciones del centro, destaca la adopción de técnicas innovadoras y el apoyo con paquetes tecnológicos, así como el tratamiento que debe tener la semilla, la preparación del terreno, la densidad y forma de sembrar, el control de las malezas, el riego o manejo del agua y la nutrición vegetal.

 

La Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (Sagarpa) informó que a nivel nacional en 2011 se sembraron 36 mil 800 hectáreas de arroz palay, con una producción de más de 173 mil toneladas y un valor comercial de 653 mil 400 pesos.

 

http://yucatan.com.mx/imagen/reportan-mejoramiento-genetico-de-variedades-de-semillas-de-arroz/

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.17  Kazakhstan: Plant breeders present new tomato variety

 

09 July 2012

 

Scientists from the Kazakh Research Institute of Potato and Vegetable Growing have made a special gift for Astana’s anniversary.

 

They have bred and grown a new crop variety in greenhouses. It is the result of the interaction of plant breeders from Kazakhstan with their European counterparts. A new type of tomato was named “Heart of Astana”. In addition, the institute is working on several hybrid varieties of tomatoes. So scientists said that locally-grown vegetables will soon be available for people in Kazakhstan to make salads and pickled products. And this is just the beginning, according to plant selection breeders.

 

Chairman of state crop variety testing commission Talgat Azhagaliyev: "There will, of course, be new technologies and new varieties ahead. They will be introduced into production. This applies not only to vegetable crops but all agricultural crops will have the same innovative approach and the agricultural sector of our country will be well represented in the world market of agricultural products in the future".

 

Scientists did not leave out another popular vegetable. These plant breeding greenhouses grow cucumbers, which cannot yet be found in vegetable patches around Kazakhstan. This is the top-grade domestic cucumber variety for cultivation in areas under glass, that is, in greenhouses. The seeds that are inside will soon give way to a new variety.

 

Post-graduate researcher in agriculture Aigul Nussupova: "Notice how high-yielding the new variety is. From one node we get ripe fruit, flowers and small cucumbers. Selection activities are quite difficult. However, scientists have made it and it turned out great".

 

Scientists promised that the new varieties will suit the taste of all people in Kazakhstan and become popular in the country.

 

http://kazakh-zerno.kz/eng/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=538

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.18  IITA offers improved cassava, cowpea and maize seeds to Jigawa state

 

Ibadan, Nigeria

July 17, 2012

 

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has offered Jigawa state improved cowpea and maize varieties, as part of efforts to help improve the fortunes of agriculture in that state.

 

The Institute also plans to backstop the newly established state-owned cassava starch industry, linking it to markets and also offering farmers improved cassava planting materials to ensure a steady supply of cassava roots to the factory

 

“In the next two weeks, the institute will be delivering improved cassava planting materials for multiplication,” said the Deputy Director General, Partnerships and Capacity Building (IITA), Dr Kenton Dashiell on Monday in Dutse, Jigawa State.

 

Cassava, cowpea and maize are important crops in that Nigeria’s north western state, contributing to the food security and wealth creation of millions of people.

 

The donation of the improved planting materials comes after the governor of the north western state, Dr Sule Lamido, gave an open invitation to the foremost agricultural research institute in Africa, IITA, to help his government turn-around agriculture at the Institute’s 45th anniversary held on 6 July in Ibadan, Oyo state.

 

Dr Dashiell said “the institute is glad to help Jigawa state to tackle the challenge of food insecurity, create wealth and improve livelihoods.”

 

The about 1000kg of improved seeds comprising 500kg of cowpea and 500kg of maize will be planted across the 27 local governments of the state on demonstration plots with the support of farmers and the Jigawa State Agricultural Development Program. Seeds harvested from the demonstrations will be given to farmers ahead of next planting season in 2013, amplifying the benefits of improved technologies to farmers in the state.

 

The Institute will also assist the government by linking buyers to the Jigawa State cassava starch factory.

 

With an installed processing capacity of 4 tons of cassava roots per hour, the factory aims to add value to cassava, thereby creating wealth for cassava farmers.

 

Plans are also on the table to begin the production of gari, and high quality cassava flour that can be used by bakers and in the confectionary industry.

 

The introduction of improved cassava varieties will offer the state the opportunity to tap the power of the root crop for its rapid agricultural development.

 

Jigawa State Governor, Dr Sule Lamido thanked IITA for offering to support the state in its agricultural transformation agenda.

 

“We need to develop a strong partnership to impact positively on the lives of our people,” Lamido said.

 

He pledged to give the Institute the necessary support to improve the livelihoods of the people of the state.

 

Dr Dashiell was accompanied to Jigawa state by Dr Robert Asiedu, IITA Director (West Africa); Dr Gbassey Tarawali, IITA Scientist on Value Chains; and Godwin Atser, Communication Officer, (West & Central Africa).

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28406&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.19  ICRISAT-HOPE sharply increases sorghum yields in Maharashtra, India

 

Hyderabad, India

6 July 2012

 

HOPE has become reality for 25,000 farmers in dryland Marathwada and Western Maharashtra regions of the state of Maharashtra, known as the ‘Sorghum Bowl of India’. Initial assessments indicate that their grain yields rose by 40% and fodder yields by 20% on average over the past three seasons (2010-2012) due to improved sorghum varieties and crop management practices, along with improved market linkages. About half of these farmers operate on a very small scale, with landholding size of two hectares or less.Net income (the income that farmers retain after their costs of cultivation are paid for) has increased by 50%, to an average of US$78 per hectare of sorghum grown.

 

HOPE stands for ‘Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement of Sorghum and Millets in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia’, a project supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. HOPE is led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in close partnership with several state and national institutions on sorghum in India: Marathwada State Agricultural University, Mahatma PhuleKrishi Vidyapeeth State Agricultural University (MPKV), and the National Directorate of Sorghum Research.

 

HOPE focuses its efforts in six target areas in the Sorghum Bowl that contain especially large areas of post-rainy-season sorghum. About one-third of the targeted area is now sown to improved varieties, compared to just 10% before HOPE began its work. In a recent project planning meeting, Dr TA More, Vice-Chancellor of MPKV praised the results to date from HOPE, and stressed the need for a Green Revolution through major improvements like these in rainfed crops.

 

The cropping system in the Sorghum Bowl is unique. Instead of growing the crop in the warm summer rainy season it is sown after the rains end in September/October, and harvested in January/February. Farmers plant the crop on heavy clay soils that retain large amounts of the season’s excess rainwater; the sorghum roots then extract that water to support plant growth. The new varieties have been especially taken up by the poorest farmers because they depend the most on rainfed cropping, being least able to afford irrigation water.

 

The sorghum varieties that are delivering these impressive gains were developed by Indian institutions by improving the traditional ‘Maldandi’ type of varieties cultivated in this area. These new varieties are well adapted to the cold temperatures and short daylength of the winter months, and are tolerant or resistant to drought and to the pests and diseases prevalent during this season such as aphids, shoot fly and charcoal rot.

 

Varieties are currently being developed that will yield larger, brighter grains to attract higher market prices. They derive from crosses made at ICRISAT between the Maldandi types and ‘durra’ sorghum types from East Africa. Hybrid varieties also under development are expected to raise yield by another 20-30 percent. Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, explained that "Our international role is to encourage South-South sharing of promising technologies such as the durra sorghums of Africa, and the hybrid sorghum technology of India. The benefits flow both ways."

 

Farmers typically keep about two-thirds of the sorghum crop for home use, and sell the rest. Farmers prize both the grains and the stalks of sorghum. The grains are for human consumption, while the stalks are fed to cattle. The two portions of the crop are about equal in economic value. Small-scale farmers typically own two to three cattle that they depend on to produce milk and to pull plows and cartloads.

 

Sorghum stalks are fed to livestock; when used in this way the stalks are referred to as ‘fodder’. Growing demand for fodder to feed dairy cattle is expected for years to come, because Indians are consuming more dairy products as their incomes rise. Demand for fodder is especially strong in the parched northern states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, but those areas lack sufficient rainfall to grow enough fodder.

 

The demand for grain will also increase, but less rapidly. India’s National Food Security Mission recently announced that it will buy and distribute sorghum grain to India’s poor, expanding market opportunities for farmers. To better access grain markets, HOPE is helping farmers improve the cleaning, grading and packing of grain, and connecting them to sources of up-to-date information on market prices and demand volumes.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28160&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.20  Seeds of 1,100 Tibetan plant species preserved in a national germplasm bank

 

Beining, China

July 27, 2012

 

Chinese botanists have collected the seeds of more than 1,100 plant species found in the southwestern Tibet autonomous region and preserved them in a national germplasm bank.

 

The seeds were gathered over the past five years mostly near the upper reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River and on the Qiangtang Grassland, researchers with the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences told Xinhua Thursday.

 

The samples were derived from plant species either native to Tibet or with considerable economic value, such as varieties of grass and traditional Tibetan herbs, said the researchers.

 

They are being kept in China Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, a leading bio-resource storage facility dubbed the "Noah's Ark" of the country's plant species.

 

A 2011 report on Tibet's environment says the region has one of the most diversified gene pools in the world, with more than 9,600 wild plant species, including 855 unique to Tibet.

 

The seed collection is part of a large project aimed at gathering seeds, DNA samples and voucher specimens of 15,000 wild plant varieties growing on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau by the end of 2012, said Yang Xiangyun, a researcher with the germplasm bank located in Kunming, provincial capital of Yunnan.

 

The comprehensive project, launched in 2007, was undertaken by 12 domestic institutions that have been conducting research in Tibet as well as Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu provinces in China's west, Yang said.

 

The whole collection will be preserved in the bank, and detailed information and pictures will be recorded in an online database, Yang said.

 

"The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has many peculiar plant species, which is significant in enriching the germplasm bank," said Yang Yongping, deputy director of the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research.

 

The project provided important material for bio-diversity conservation and helped the breeding of economically valuable plants on the plateau, he added.

 

With an investment of 148 million yuan ($23.2 million) and covering a floor area of 7,000 square meters, the germplasm bank was established by the Kunming Institute of Botany with the help of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and put into use in October 2008.

 

The bank currently keeps seeds of 7,471 plant species growing across the country and aims to expand its collection to 19,000 species in about a decade.

 

The bank comprises a seed section, an in-vitro micro-propagation unit, a microorganism bank, an animal germplasm bank, a DNA bank and an information center.

 

A 680-square-meter freezer in the bank can prevent the seeds from being damaged by mildew and insect infestations. Inside the bank, the seeds can maintain their hereditary features and ability to sprout for as long as a century.

(Source: Xinhua)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28656&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.21  Bright possibility for flood tolerant soybeans

 

Farmers in the Mississippi Delta can lose as much as 25 percent when they plant soybean crops in rotation with paddy rice. But scientists led by U.S. Department Agricultural Research Service Tara Van Toai might just have the solution to this problem. They are incorporating genes from non-native soybean varieties to supplement the narrow genetic base of U.S. soybeans and improve their tolerance to wet soil and associated diseases. This opens up the possibility for flood tolerant soybeans.

 

In screenhouses, the scientists identified the top three flood-tolerant lines: Nam Vang, which is native to Cambodia; VND2, native to China; and ATF15-1, which is native to Australia. Plants grew the tallest, produced the biggest seeds and highest yields. When planted in flooded experimental fields, they obtained similar results.

 

Check out the ARS News Service report at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2012/120723.htm

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 27 July 2012:

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.22  Molecular markers for nematode resistance breeding

 

Using molecular markers, scientists of the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be able to expedite development of resistance to two important pests of cotton – the root knot nematode and the reniform nematode. These cotton pests have been wreaking havoc for more than 100 years and breeding research has slowed down because resistance is governed by multiple genes, as well as being costly and time-consuming.

 

At the agency's Genetic and Precision Agricultural Research Unit in Mississippi, plant geneticist Johnie Jenkins and colleagues developed genetic markers for the genes responsible for resistance to root-knot nematode in upland cotton. They were identified and found to be in chromosomes 11 and 14. The researchers also found resistance to reniform nematode in wild Gossypium barbadense that is governed by more than one gene. The markers linked to these genes were located in chromosomes 21 and 18.

 

Read the original news at http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=1261

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 27 July 2012:

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.23  Scientists discover how nematodes attack plants

 

Controlling cyst nematode in soybean will save the U.S. soybean producers close to $1 billion annually. The nematode was previously found to feed on soybean cells by penetrating the roots and injecting cells with chemical signals that makes neighboring cells fuse to become the feeding site called syncytium. Once settled, the nematode lays eggs in a shell-like cyst structure.

 

Scientists Thomas Baum and Tarek Hewezi of Iowa State University studied how the nematode changes soybean gene activities to make the syncytium in the plant's root cells. They discovered that microRNA396 plays an important role in this process. MicroRNAs are molecules that suppress the expression of target genes such that, at high concentration, the target genes or transcription factors are inactivated and vice versa.

 

The team found that plants with a low level of microRNA396 develop a syncyctium easily during nematode penetration because the transcription factors that may be related to defense are not activated. With this observation, microRNA396 can be used in developing novel control mechanisms against cyst nematodes.

 

See the full article at http://www.ag.iastate.edu/news/releases/1024/

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 13 July 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.24  Breeding Stevia for high leaf yield and high rebaudioside A content

 

Mohamad, O1., Abdullateef, R. A1., Lyena Watty Zuraine, A1., and Muhsin, M2.1Kulliyyah of Science, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)

25200 Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia 2UKM-MTDC Symbiosis Programme, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM),

43600 UKM Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Email:  mbopar2004@yahoo.com

 

Abstract

 

The worldwide demand for an alternative and a high potency sweetener to the artificially produced sugar substitutes is increasing. The alternative natural sweetener is from stevia plant.  Today, the use of stevia extract from its leaves as a table-top sweetener is becoming increasingly well known because its zero calorie. Although the potential for stevia to become a general substitute for sugar is promising, its products for certain niche markets are even more promising, e.g. diabetic patients are likely to benefit from stevia products. Stevia, also known as sweet leaf or sugar leaf, belongs to genus Stevia comprising species of herbs and shrubs, and a member of the family Compositae. It originated from Paraguay. Out of over 154 species of the genus that were reported, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is known to produce sweet glycosides. The four major sweet glycosides are stevioside, rebaudioside A, rebaudioside C and dulcoside A.  The stevioside ratio in leaves is about double that of rebaudioside A, making stevioside more plentiful in any leaf extract.  Rebaudioside A makes up less than 3% of the glycosides within a stevia leaf.  Stevioside and rebaudioside A are 110-270 times and 150-320 times sweeter than sucrose, respectively. While stevioside is very much associated with the problem of persistent aftertaste, rebaudioside A is drastically less bitter.  Rebaudioside A is considered to have the most favourable sensory attributes of the four major glycosides.  The current trend shows that increasing number of countries are considering or giving approval to the use of rebaudioside A as a food supplement. Stevia was first introduced into Malaysia in 1970s. China currently produces > 80% of stevia, and 90% of it goes to Japan (for production of natural sweeteners). It is ‘hassle-free” to grow stevia under temperate environments like in China. Although stevia has the potential to become a viable crop in Malaysia, it has been stressed that we still lack suitable varieties and appropriate production technologies. Several years ago, MARDI evaluated a fairly large number of  introduced stevia accessions but found majority of them showed relatively poor performance and produced very low leaf yields.  Thus, we will  face many challenges and problems in trying to ‘fix’ a temperate crop to be grown under our local tropical environments. As a long-term strategy, it is possible to develop suitable varieties that can increase overall productivity in order to make stevia becomes a viable crop or emerges as a new industry in this country. With increased productivity arising from the development of suitable varieties, we can reduce the costs of production (currently estimated at > RM7/kg of fresh leaves) vis-à-vis their returns. To this end, we initiated stevia research at IIUM, Kuantan beginning in 2010 with the aims of ultimately increasing leaf yields and rebaudioside A contents.  Some breeding strategies, approaches and progress from the research work will be highlighted.

 

Keywords: Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, stevia, natural sweetener, stevioside, rebaudioside A, aftertaste

 

Contributed by Mohamad bin Osman

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Kuantan

mbopar2004@yahoo.com

 

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1.25  Hydropriming method: To improve germination percentage and uniform seedlings establishment in diploid, triploid and tetraploid watermelon

 

Jaejong Noh1*, Sameena Sheikh1 and Gi Tai Jeong1

1 Watermelon Experiment Station, Jeonbuk A.R.E.S., Gochang 585-863 Republic of Korea

*corresponding author:  nohjj@korea.kr

 

For proper seed germination, growth and development, diploid watermelon requires warm temperature of more than 260C (Whitaker and Davis, 1962), while triploid seeds originating from tetraploid ovaries require 24-380C for 24-72 h. Although, triploid watermelon shares good market potential, but main drawbacks in low production are less seed vigour, poor germination, long hypocotyl, slow growth, non-uniformity, small sized embryo relative to seed coat and high seed cost.  Watermelon growers face various problem in obtaining good seed germination. Hence, there is need to explore more efficient and reliable method to enhance seed germination rate and seedling establishment as normal germination methods are no longer have good results especially in tetraploids and triploids.

 

The experiment was conducted to test and improve the seed germination of watermelon of different ploidy level using hydropriming method. Seed priming is a treatment to start germination process by partially hydrating seeds but radicle emergence does not occur. Short time hydration and hydropriming, humidification (incubation at high relative humidity) have been widely used to increase seed vigour and longevity and had promoted germination rate in many crops including cucurbits crops (Burgass and Powell, 1984; Bradford et al., 1988; Demir and Vande Venter, 1999; Powell, 2000; Huang et al., 2002).

 

The mature “dry” (orthodox) seed will exhibit a triphasic pattern of water uptake when given optimal supply of water (Bewely and Black, 1978). Phase I consists of water uptake that is largely a consequence of matric forces, while in phase II (Lag phase) water potential of seed is in balance with the surrounding environment and major metabolic changes prepare the embryo of the seed for subsequent emergence through seed coat. Only germinating seeds are capable of entering phase III, which occurs as a consequence of radicle emergence and elongation. Nonviable seed may exhibit phase I and II but not III (Bray, 1995).

 

The seeds of five diploids watermelon cultivars (WC-8C-2C, WD-2-6K, GW11, GW7), three triploids cultivars (04WM277 , 11WM495, AWX1105) four T1 tetraploid lines (4092012-2IH, 3032012-1SA, 2052012-2IH, 1142012-1SA) were  subjected to hydropriming testing at Watermelon Experiment Station, Daesan, Gochang , South Korea, during the year 2012. Hydroprimed seeds were carefully placed horizontally at 1 cm depth to prevent any orientation advantages. The boxes were covered with plastic lids to control evaporation and placed in germination chamber at 300C. Tetraploids found to be germinated better in both sand and CSM. Cultivars 4012012-2IH, GW7, and AVX1105 showed more than 90% germination rate in CSM. The radicle length was observed highest in 11WM495 (7.3 cm), 4012012-2IH (6.1 cm) and GW7 (6.7 cm) in CSM.

 

The findings of this experiment revealed that seed treatment with H2O2 and hydropriming on CSM at 300C has improved seed percentage to more than 90% in tetraploid and triploid seeds in contrast to normal sowing methods. The industrial use of this method could be easily followed on large scale for producing good percentage and uniform sized tetraploids and triploids seedlings for farmer’s use.

 

Contributed by sameena sheikh

sameena07@gmail.com

 

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1.26  Newly found genes may lead to nematode-resistant upland cotton

 

Washington, DC, USA

July 26, 2012

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers have made significant progress in finding genetic resistance to two key cotton pests—the root-knot nematode and the reniform nematode.

 

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticist Johnie Jenkins and his colleagues in the agency's Genetics and Precision Agriculture Research Unit in Mississippi State, Miss., developed genetic markers for the genes responsible for resistance to root-knot nematode in upland cotton. These genes, located on chromosomes 11 and 14, should help breeders develop new varieties of nematode-resistant cotton.

 

ARS is the USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA commitment to agricultural sustainability.

 

Jenkins and his colleagues also found that resistance to reniform nematode in a wild Gossypium barbadense line is governed by more than one gene, and they have identified markers linked to these genes on chromosomes 21 and 18. Their research was published in Theoretical and Applied Genetics. Former post-doctoral researcher Osman Gutierrez (currently a plant geneticist at the ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami, Fla.), was lead author on the paper. Co-authors included agronomist Jack McCarty, molecular geneticist Martin Wubben, and plant physiologist Franklin Callahan, all with ARS at Mississippi State, and retired ARS scientist Forest Robinson at College Station, Texas.

 

Commercial breeders had steered away from efforts to breed root-knot nematode resistance into upland cotton lines over the years because the resistance was governed by more than one gene and seemed too costly and time-consuming. But the research contributions from Jenkins and his colleagues may change that.

 

The root-knot nematode has been recognized as a cotton pest for the past 100 years, according to Jenkins. Since the 1930s, scientists have been looking for resistance to nematodes. In the 1960s, ARS started research to find root-knot nematode resistance in cotton. Retired ARS scientist Raymond Shepherd was instrumental in using root-knot nematode resistance in a line of wild cotton from Mexico to develop resistant germplasm.

 

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

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28631&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.27  Tannins in sorghum are focus of study by Kansas State University and USDA researchers

 

Genetic research a step toward improved health, pharmaceutical, and nutritional values of plants

 

Manhattan, Kansas, USA

July 11, 2012

 

They might be called a blessing or a curse – tannins, which are present in certain sorghums, contain health-promoting antioxidant properties, but also provide a bitter taste and decreased protein digestibility. To better understand tannins, their role in sorghum and how they can be altered to improve sorghum’s use as food and feed, a team of scientists led by Kansas State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, has cloned the tannin gene in sorghum.

 

Tannins’ high antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and UV-protective functions promote human health, plus recent studies show they can be a tool in fighting obesity because they reduce digestibility, said Jianming Yu, associate professor of agronomy at K-State. Tannins in sorghum also provide a natural chemical defense against bird predation and bacterial and fungal attack in the field.

 

On the other hand, tannins provide a bitter taste to some foods and decrease protein digestibility and feed efficiency in humans and livestock.

 

The team was led by Yu, along with Tesfaye Tesso, K-State sorghum breeder and associate professor of agronomy and Scott Bean, scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and adjunct faculty in K-State’s Department of Agronomy.

 

The researchers’ study, “Presence of tannins in sorghum grains is conditioned by different natural alleles of Tannin1” (http://www.pnas.org/content/109/26/10281.abstract) was published in the June 26 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

 

Sorghum is an old-world cereal grass that serves as a dietary staple for more than 500 million people in more than 30 countries, Yu said. In 2011, the United States was the No. 1 exporter of sorghum on the world market and the No. 2 producer (behind Nigeria), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2011, Kansas produced 110.0 million bushels – 51 percent of the total U.S. crop. Sorghum production in the U.S., primarily for the feed industry, uses non-tannin sorghum hybrids.

 

Unlike many plants which employ C3 photosynthesis that uses water, carbon dioxide and solar energy to synthesize sugars, sorghum, which performs a modified form called C4 photosynthesis, has adapted to hot environments.

 

“One key reason to study tannins is to untangle their relationship with cold tolerance, a key agronomic trait to improve sorghum. The work is ongoing,” said sorghum breeder Tesso. An earlier screening work found that a high proportion of cold tolerant sorghum lines contain tannins.

 

“Several other factors make tannins an important research subject,” said Bean, noting their antioxidant capacity and relevant health benefits, their natural occurrence in some cereal crops, and their role in sorghum production. “Knowledge of tannins in biosynthesis pathways can be used to generate lines that produce high-content tannins in sorghum and other cereals to promote health through their unique nutritional properties.”

 

This study, like many studies in recent years, benefits from work done several years ago on Arabidopsis, which are small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard, said Yuye Wu, the first author and K-State research associate of agronomy. “Many genes have been identified in Arabidopsis, through the mutational approach, but there is still much to be learned about the genetic control of tannins in cereal crops.”

 

“This kind of genetic research in crops, coupled with nutritional and medical research, could open the possibility of producing different levels and combinations of phenolic compounds to promote human health,” Yu said. What the researchers learn about tannins in sorghum will be beneficial to the future study of tannins in other plants, including some fruits, vegetables and a few other grains such as finger millets and barley.

 

Other researchers involved in the study were Mitch Tuinstra, Purdue University; Ming Li Wang, USDA-ARS, Griffin, Georgia; and Guihua Bai, USDA-ARS and adjunct professor of agronomy at KSU.

 

The project was supported by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Department of Energy Plant Feedstock Genomics Program, National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program, USDA Agricultural Research Service, and the National Sorghum Checkoff program.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28280&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.28  En busca de genes de Lotus que toleren la salinidad

 

Argentina

July 2012

 

Científicos argentinos caracterizaron a escala molecular especies forrajeras con buen comportamiento al estrés salino. Este avance permitirá elevar el potencial productivo.

 

CompartirCientíficos del INTA y la Universidad Nacional del Noroeste de Buenos Aires (Unnoba) caracterizaron a escala molecular a la especie forrajera Lotus tenuis por su buen comportamiento al estrés salino. Este descubrimiento permitirá elevar el potencial productivo, aumentar el rendimiento y mejorar la calidad del cultivo.

 

“El Lotus es importante para la ganadería en la Pampa Húmeda. Este estudio contribuirá a seleccionar cultivares superiores con mayor tolerancia a salinidad, con más forraje de calidad y con un alto nivel de productividad de esos ambientes, aún en condiciones de estrés”, destacó la investigadora principal del trabajo, Mariela Acuña, del INTA Pergamino –Buenos Aires–.

 

El estudio consistió en caracterizar, por primera vez, el conjunto de genes del Lotus tenuis –que se destaca por su alto nivel de productividad, calidad nutritiva y persistencia– a partir de la transferencia y la adaptación de un protocolo utilizado para estudiar otras especies (como la L. japonicus y L. corniculatus).

 

El 75 por ciento del país está formado por áreas áridas y semiáridas que suelen presentar un alto nivel de salinidad lo que ocasiona que las plantas pierdan fertilidad, ya que no pueden abastecerse de agua.

 

Lotus tenuis se destaca por su alto nivel de productividad, calidad nutritiva y persistencia.

 

Por el contrario, en las últimas décadas el alto nivel de sales en los suelos también afectó extensas áreas agrícolas y ganaderas de la región húmeda y subhúmeda como consecuencia de periodos de lluvias excesivas que provocaron anegamiento.

Durante la investigación se utilizaron marcadores moleculares para estudiar la diversidad genética, realizar selecciones eficientes de caracteres específicos y caracterizar las poblaciones de las especies. A partir de secuencias de ADN pudieron estudiar, a escala molecular, las diferencias entre las especies de Lotus y evaluar los comportamientos contrastantes –en tolerancia o en susceptibilidad– frente a la salinidad.

 

Por otra parte, esta investigación fue reconocida por la Fundación Samuel Roberts Noble con una ayuda económica que le permitió al primer autor de la

investigación asistir al Séptimo Simposio de Mejoramiento Molecular de Forrajes y Céspedes (MBFT, por sus siglas en inglés), realizado en la ciudad estadounidense de Salt Lake.

 

A su vez, Acuña destacó que “este tipo de reconocimiento reivindica nuestro trabajo en el campo ya que allí realizamos estudios exhaustivos de caracterización que otras organizaciones trabajan íntegramente en un laboratorio”.

 

En las últimas décadas, el INTA obtuvo más de 60 cultivares de 28 especies consideradas como las más exitosas en el mercado nacional de semillas forrajeras dentro de las cuales se destacan las del género de Lotus por tener mayor longevidad, incluso en áreas y suelos desfavorables.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28337&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.29  Study reveals good news about the glycemic index of rice

 

Australia

July 9, 2012

 

Research analysing 235 types of rice from around the world has found its glycemic index (GI) varies from one type of rice to another with most varieties scoring a low to medium GI.

 

This finding is good news because it not only means rice can be part of a healthy diet for the average consumer, it also means people with diabetes, or at risk of diabetes, can select the right rice to help maintain a healthy, low GI diet.

 

The study found that the GI of rice ranges from a low of 48 to a high of 92, with an average of 64, and that the GI of rice depends on the type of rice consumed.

 

The research team from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and CSIRO’s Food Futures Flagship also identified the key gene that determines the GI of rice, an important achievement that offers rice breeders the opportunity to develop varieties with different GI levels to meet consumer needs. Future development of low GI rice would also enable food manufactures to develop new, low GI food products based on rice.

 

Dr Melissa Fitzgerald, who led the IRRI team, said GI is a measure of the relative ability of carbohydrates in foods to raise blood sugar levels after eating.

 

“Understanding that different types of rice have different GI values allows rice consumers to make informed choices about the sort of rice they want to eat,” she said.

 

“Rice varieties like India’s most widely grown rice variety, Swarna, have a low GI and varieties like Doongara and Basmati from Australia have a medium GI.”

 

Dr Tony Bird, CSIRO Food Futures Flagship researcher, said that low GI diets offer a range of health benefits.

 

“Low GI diets can reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes, and are also useful for helping diabetics better manage their condition,” he said.

 

“This is good news for diabetics and people at risk of diabetes who are trying to control their condition through diet, as it means they can select the right rice to help maintain a healthy, low GI diet.”

 

Low GI foods are those measured 55 and less, medium GI are those measured between 56 and 69, while high GI measures 70 and above.

 

When food is measured to have a ’high GI‘, it means it is easily digested and absorbed by the body, which often results in fluctuations in blood sugar levels that can increase chances of getting diabetes, and make management of Type 2 diabetes difficult.

 

Conversely, foods with low GI are those that have slow digestion and absorption rates in the body, causing a gradual and sustained release of sugar into the blood, which has been proven beneficial to health, including reducing the chances of developing diabetes.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28205&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.30  Salt-tolerant chickpea project to boost crop production

 

Western Australia

July 9, 2012

 

Researchers at The University of Western Australia, in collaboration with research partners overseas, have identified which lines of chickpea grow better in moderately salty soil.

 

Winthrop Professor Timothy Colmer, from UWA’s School of Plant Biology and UWA’s Institute of Agriculture, said the project involved researchers from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in India and the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture at UWA.

 

The project was funded by the Australian Research Council through its Linkage Project scheme and the industry partner was Council of Grain Growers Organisation.

“Soil salinity impedes crop production in many parts of the world, including large areas of farming land in Australia and India,” Professor Colmer said.

 

“Chickpea is a salt-sensitive crop species, so improvement in its salt tolerance is a priority. The present research has highlighted that a previously widely-grown cultivar in WA (Rupali) is particularly salt sensitive.

 

“Many chickpea genotypes are very salt-sensitive and so suffer damage even on moderately saline soils that have little impact on bread wheat – impacting on the potential yields of chickpea in rotation with wheat on areas with sub-soil salinity.”

 

Winthrop Professor Kadambot Siddique, Director of UWA’s Institute of Agriculture and Co-Chief Investigator of the project, said genotypes with greater salt tolerance were identified and had been used as parents in the breeding program in WA and India.

 

The aim was to add this moderate level of salt tolerance to the new Ascochyta blight-resistant lines being developed by the breeding program.

 

Professor Siddique said the project had provided greater understanding of chickpea’s salt tolerance and advanced breeding lines would be evaluated in follow-up work. The research had also made initial steps towards development of molecular markers to enhance future breeding strategies to improve salt tolerance in chickpea, he said.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28207&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.31  Purdue University scientists working to make drought-resistant crops

 

West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

July 18, 2012

 

Purdue University scientists are working in several areas in the hope that future dry spells don't have the same effects on crops as this year's drought.

 

Mitch Tuinstra, a professor and Wickersham Chair in agronomy, is studying tropical varieties of corn to understand which genes allow the plants to survive in hot, dry weather. The objective is to find ways to integrate those genes into corn that is bred to produce high yields in the Midwest.

 

"There are all these other genes out there in these tropical gene pools. We are looking for those genes that enhance the adaptability of temperate maize," Tuinstra said.

 

Mike Mickelbart, an associate professor of horticulture, studies something similar to drought tolerance - water-use efficiency. The goal is to get the highest yields in corn using the least amount of water.

 

"Our ultimate goal would be to provide plant breeders with genetic markers for water-use efficiency so they can incorporate this trait into their breeding programs," Mickelbart said.

 

He said there are genes in corn that affect transpiration, a process in which pores called stomata open and close on a leaf surface and allow water to escape, like sweat on a person. His research is aimed at finding variations in those genes that affect the ability of a plant to use water as efficiently as possible.

 

Tony Vyn, a professor of agronomy, is evaluating drought-tolerant corn hybrids developed in the private sector. He is comparing their performance against conventional hybrids in different stress situations, including high plant density and situations in which nutrients are limited.

 

A major part of Vyn's research involves determining whether optimum management practices for so-called drought-tolerant hybrids are different than for conventional hybrids currently in fields.

 

"It really has to be the integration of genetics and best management practices so that we can get the most corn per gallon of water and per ounce of nutrient," he said.

 

The Purdue Center for Global Food Security focuses on education, research and development, and advocacy efforts to find solutions to world hunger. The center recently received a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study ways to control the Striga weed, which infests sorghum and other crops in Africa.

 

Center director Gebisa Ejeta, a distinguished professor of agronomy and 2009 World Food Prize laureate, is leading the research effort aimed at improving Striga-resistant sorghum that can tolerate drought conditions, said Gary Burniske, the center's managing director. Ejeta and others are testing plants this year in field plots.

 

"We're looking for an increase in yield under droughty conditions in different types of soils with different nutrient availabilities," Burniske said. "It also has to be resistant to Striga, which is a terrible problem in Africa."

 

More information about the drought is available at Purdue Extension's website at http://www.purdue.edu/drought

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.32  Focusing on flood-tolerant soybeans

 

United States

July 23, 2012

 

Soybean varieties that thrive even in soggy fields could result from studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. This would help increase profits for Mississippi Delta farmers who can see yield losses as high as 25 percent when they plant soybean crops in rotation with paddy rice.

 

This work is being conducted by former Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Tara VanToai, who now works as a collaborator at ARS' Soil Drainage Research Unit in Columbus, Ohio. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of ensuring international food security.

 

For more than two decades, VanToai has studied flood tolerance in soybeans in a range of environments, including greenhouses, laboratories, growth chambers, experimental fields and farm fields. She and her colleagues are finding and incorporating genes from non-native soybean varieties in an effort to supplement the narrow genetic base of U.S. soybeans and improve their tolerance to wet soil and associated diseases.

 

In one study, VanToai used outdoor "screenhouses"—which are greenhouses with screens instead of glass—to assess the flood tolerance of 21 soybean lines. This study included soybean lines native to Vietnam and Cambodia, lines developed via selection by farmers and gardeners, and lines from Australia, China, Japan and Taiwan that were created with modern breeding techniques.

 

The plants were grown in pots. When each plant was in full bloom, it was placed for two weeks in a bucket of water so that the water level was two inches above the soil surface. The screenhouse tests identified the top three flood-tolerant lines: Nam Vang, which is native to Cambodia; VND2, native to China; and ATF15-1, which is native to Australia. Plants from these three lines grew the tallest and produced the biggest seeds and highest yields. When the study was replicated in flooded experimental fields, the results were the same.

 

Read more about this work and other research VanToai has conducted on soybean flood tolerance in the July 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

 

Tara VanToai, retired ARS plant physiologist, and Thomas Doohan, a student at Ohio State University, collect soybean plants and root samples to analyze them for response to flooding stress. Photo by Peggy Greb.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28541&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.33  Link discovered between tomato ripening color and taste

 

Researchers at Cornell University, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, and the University of California-Davis have identified a gene that controls tomato ripening. The paper, published in the June 29 issue of Science revealed that the genetic mutation that makes tomato ripen uniformly also controls the amount of sugar produced and stored in the fruit.

 

Tomato fruit has the capacity to photosynthesize during its development, but the uniform ripening mutation removed this genetic capacity, thereby reducing sugar levels. Cuong Nguyen, one of the co-authors of the paper, conducted a molecular biology procedure called positional cloning and with a public database, determined that the uniform ripening gene was located at chromosome 10. The team plans to decipher the gene coding for the protein that controls photosynthesis levels in tomatoes and the genetic lesion resulting in the mutation.

 

In the future, commercial producers would have the option to produce the mutated evenly-ripened tomato or the regular tomato (unmutated), which is better-tasting and sweet, through DNA testing of the tomato seedlings.

 

For more on the news, see http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/June12/TomatoesRipen.html

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 29 June 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.34  Improving blast resistance of rice thru market assisted gene pyramiding

 

Rice blast is one of the major diseases that decrease rice production. In China, severe seedling and neck blast were reported to affect approximately 20% of hybrid rice fields in 2006. Blast is often treated using fungicides, however this practice increases the input costs of production and may also pose a hazard to the environment and the health of farmers. Thus, the use of resistant varieties could be a more favorable solution to protect rice from the disease.

 

Yuqing He and colleagues at Huazhong Agricultural University conducted introgressive hybridization to transfer genes Pi1, Pi2, and D12 to Jin 23B, a highly susceptible line, and its hybrids Jinyou 402 and Junyou 207 through marker-assisted selection. The improved lines carrying one, two, and three resistance genes were assessed for their resistance to rice blast using natural inoculation techniques in a disease nursery. Results of the study showed that better rice blast resistance was exhibited by the lines with more resistance genes.

 

The three genes showed strong dosage effect on rice blast resistance in hybrid background under field condition, thus effective for breeding blast resistant hybrids. The team also observed the agronomic traits of the improved lines. It was found that the improved lines were taller than or similar to controls, and no indications of disease stress were found.

 

Read the abstract at http://www.springerlink.com/content/q6872j37005246m6/

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 20 July 2012:

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.35  Scientists find key gene for Glycemic Index of rice

 

Researchers from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have identified the key gene that determines the glycemic index (GI) of rice. This breakthrough will help breeders develop rice varieties with different GI levels, depending on the needs of the consumers. This would also pave the way towards the development of low GI food products based on rice.

 

According to IRRI scientist Dr. Melissa Fitzgerald, GI is the measure of the relative ability of carbohydrates in foods to raise blood sugar levels after eating. Dr. Tony Bird of CSIRO stressed that low GI diets can reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes, and also help diabetics improve their condition.

 

Read CSIRO's media story at http://www.csiro.au/en/Portals/Media/Study-reveals-good-news-about-the-GI-of-rice.aspx

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 20 July 2012:

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.36  Scientists find way to develop tomato varieties with taste of heirloom counterparts

 

A group of scientists have come up with the findings on how to make tomatoes taste more like their heirloom counterparts. Some traits and qualities of heirloom tomatoes are valued in the market because of their color, flavor characteristics and nutritional content.

 

According to Ann Powell, a biochemist in University of California Davis' (UC Davis) Department of Plant Sciences and one of the lead authors of the study, the information about the gene responsible for the trait in wild and traditional varieties provides a strategy to recapture quality characteristics that had been unknowingly bred out of modern cultivated tomatoes.

 

With the aide of the collection of mutant and wild species of tomatoes at UC Davis which were acquired all over the world by the university's late professor Charles Rick since the 1950s, the researchers got interested in tomatoes they observed in the field that were unusually dark green before they ripened.

 

Scientists discovered that these dark green tomatoes naturally express GLK2, a transcription factor that controls the development of chloroplasts. These tomatoes then produced ripe fruit with increased levels of sugars or soluble solids, important for processing tomatoes, as well as higher levels of the health-promoting compound lycopene.

 

According to Jim Giovannoni, a USDA plant molecular biologist with the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University, understanding the genes responsible for important characteristics that are naturally present in the wild crops facilitates the challenging process of breeding crops that meet the needs of all components of the food-supply chain.

 

View the University of California Davis news release at http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10281

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 29 June 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.37  Scientists discover new source of maize hybrid vigor

 

Professor Steve Moose of the University of Illinois and his graduate student Wes Barber have discovered a new source of hybrid vigor in maize. Moose and Barber sampled small RNAs (sRNAs) from the seedling shoot and the developing ear of maize hybrids, the two tissues that grow rapidly and program growth, to investigate how the sRNA profiles of these hybrids differ from those of their parents.

 

They found that the differences are due mainly to hybrids inheriting distinct small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), a subset of sRNAs, from each parent. The siRNAs interfere with gene expression. They also found that hybridization does not create new siRNAs, but hybrids have a more complex siRNA population than their parents because they inherit distinct siRNAs from both parents. The differences in parental siRNAs originated primarily from repeats, which are the result of retrotransposon activity.

 

Retrotransposons are elements that move around and amplify themselves within a genome.

 

Moose said that "We are not saying that genes are not important, but probably the way corn properties are altered in the hybrid situation is mediated by the small RNAs in addition to the genes." Moose and Barber hope that their work will provide more insight into deciding which inbred maize lines to cross. Moose added that "We don't want to alter how the plant grows, but if we can tweak it to do whatever it already does either faster or more, that could be an advantage."

 

The news release can be read at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120628164629.htm

 

The full paper is available at http://www.pnas.org/content/109/26/10444.full

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 29 June 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.38  Rice gene identified to enhance quality productivity

 

Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences led by Fun Xiangdong have identified a gene that influences the development and productivity of good quality rice. The gene called GW8 was isolated from the aromatic and good quality Basmati rice from Pakistan. The gene codes for the ability of the rice grain to arrange starch, thus enhancing its eating quality. It also governs the shape and color of the rice grain.

 

The study also shows that the gene exists in various forms and a variant was identified that affects the grain weight, thus enhancing rice productivity. The third variant of GW8 was recently found that combines the traits of the two variants, thus influencing both the quality and productivity at the same time.

 

The article said that once the third variant of the GW8 is introduced into high yielding rice, it could significantly enhance the quality of rice grains, while productivity remains the same.

 

Details of the news can be seen at http://english.cas.cn/Ne/CASE/201206/t20120625_87531.shtml

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 29 June 2012

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.39  Iron biofortification and homeostasis in transgenic cassava roots expressing an algal iron assimilatory protein, FEA1

 

Uzoma Ihemere, Narayanan Narayanan and Richard Sayre, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, USA

 

Abstract

We have engineered the starchy root crop cassava (Manihot esculenta) to express the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii iron assimilatory protein, FEA1, in roots to enhance its nutritional qualities. Iron levels in mature cassava storage roots were increased from 10 to 36 ppm in the highest iron accumulating transgenic lines. These iron levels are sufficient to meet the minimum daily requirement for iron in a 500 gm meal. Significantly, the expression of the FEA1 protein did not alter iron levels in leaves. Transgenic plants also had normal levels of zinc in leaves and roots consistent with the specific uptake of iron mediated by the FEA1 protein. Relative to wild-type plants, FEA1 expressing plants had reduced Fe(III) chelate reductase activity and gene expression levels consistent with the more efficient uptake of iron in FEA1 transgenic plants. We also show that genes involved in iron homeostasis in cassava have altered tissue-specific patterns of expression in transgenic plants. Steady state transcript levels of the metal-chelate transporter MeYSL1, and the iron storage proteins, MeFER2 and MeFER6, were elevated in various tissues of FEA1 transgenic plants compared to wild-type plants. These results suggest that these gene products play a role in iron translocation and homeostasis in FEA1 transgenic cassava plants. These results are discussed in terms of enhanced strategies for the iron biofortification of plants.

 

Keywords: biofortification, cassava, Chlamydomonas, FEA1, Iron

 

Citation: Ihemere U, Narayanan N and Sayre R (2012). Iron biofortification and homeostasis in transgenic cassava roots expressing an algal iron assimilatory protein, FEA1. Front. Plant Sci. 3:171. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00171

 

Received: 12 Sep 2011; Accepted: 11 Jul 2012.

 

Edited by:

José R. Dinneny, Temasek Lifesciences Laboratory, Singapore

 

Reviewed by:

Terri Long, North Carolina State University, USA

Petra Bauer, Saarland University, Germany

 

Copyright: © 2012 Ihemere, Narayanan and Sayre. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

 

* Correspondence: Dr. Richard Sayre, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 975 N Warson Rd, St Louis, MO, 63132, USA, rsayre@newmexicoconsortium.org

http://www.frontiersin.org/Plant_Physiology/10.3389/fpls.2012.00171/abstract

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.40  The banana (Musa acuminata) genome and the evolution of monocotyledonous plants

 

Bananas (Musa spp.), including dessert and cooking types, are giant perennial monocotyledonous herbs of the order Zingiberales, a sister group to the well-studied Poales, which include cereals. Bananas are vital for food security in many tropical and subtropical countries and the most popular fruit in industrialized countries.

 

The Musa domestication process started some 7,000 years ago in Southeast Asia. It involved hybridizations between diverse species and subspecies, fostered by human migrations, and selection of diploid and triploid seedless, parthenocarpic hybrids thereafter widely dispersed by vegetative propagation. Half of the current production relies on somaclones derived from a single triploid genotype (Cavendish).

 

Pests and diseases have gradually become adapted, representing an imminent danger for global banana production. Here we describe the draft sequence of the 523-megabase genome of aMusa acuminata doubled-haploid genotype, providing a crucial stepping-stone for genetic improvement of banana. We detected three rounds of whole-genome duplications in the Musa lineage, independently of those previously described in the Poales lineage and the one we detected in the Arecales lineage. This first monocotyledon high-continuity whole-genome sequence reported outside Poales represents an essential bridge for comparative genome analysis in plants.

 

As such, it clarifies commelinidmonocotyledon phylogenetic relationships, reveals Poaceaespecific features and has led to the discovery of conserved noncoding sequences predating monocotyledon–eudicotyledon divergence.

 

Source: Nature Letters doi:10.1038/nature11241

 

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1.41  First plant genomics yield technology progresses

 

Hayward, California, USA

July 23, 2012

 

Mendel announced today that its flagship yield technology has taken another important step towards the market. This technology will be employed by Monsanto in its new soybean yield trait. Last week, as part of its assessment process, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) made available for public comment a petition requesting deregulation of the high-yield soybean trait. Higher-yielding soybeans are aimed at boosting the intrinsic yield potential of the soybean. In addition to developing the underlying technology for the yield trait, Mendel has done critical research to determine the molecular basis for the yield improvement and to support the regulatory approval process. The technology is currently in Phase 3 of Monsanto's product pipeline.

 

Mendel and Monsanto have worked together on the development of biotechnology traits for more than a decade in many crops, including corn, soy, cotton and canola. This exclusive collaboration ended in 2011, enabling Mendel to develop and maintain ownership of its new technologies while working with a broader array of commercial partners from the beginning of 2012.

 

Mendel's work in this field has enabled it to develop a unique understanding of plant gene regulatory networks (PGRNs) and this is the basis for Mendel's ongoing discovery and application work across a variety of fields. Mendel is now using its PGRN platform to crack the code of crop performance in the field. While much private and public investment has been made into determining the physical structure of crop genomes, the Mendel PGRN platform instead focuses on the expression of crop genomes, which enables Mendel to translate genomic information into crop productivity traits.

 

Mendel is now investing substantially to identify new PGRNs for improved yield and resource use efficiency. Mendel has already identified a number of promising and novel PGRNs based on these screens, and is developing a robust patent estate to protect these new inventions.

 

This new investment has been funded by an inside financing round completed in late 2011, with participation from all of Mendel's later-stage investors. Key to this investment is Mendel's shift from an exclusive partnering model to an "open architecture" model in which Mendel will license, co-develop and commercialize products with a broad range of customers across the agricultural industry.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28576&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.42  Glyphosate-resistant 'superweeds' may be less susceptible to diseases

 

West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

July 17, 2012

 

Scientists searching for clues to understand how superweeds obtain resistance to the popular herbicide glyphosate may have been missing a critical piece of information, a Purdue University study shows.

 

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weed killer sold under the name RoundUp, is the most widely used herbicide in the United States, but some plants have grown resistant to it. This has caused farmers to turn to additional herbicides. While the mechanisms that have led to resistance are not fully known, Bill Johnson, a professor of weed science; Steve Hallett, an associate professor of weed science; and Jessica Schafer, a graduate student in botany and plant pathology, believe that soil microbes may play a role.

 

Most laboratory tests done to understand glyphosate resistance are done in sterile soil, void of those microbes. Schafer said Purdue's findings, published online early in the journal Weed Science, show that those microbes may play a significant role in how glyphosate affects plants.

 

"The soil you're growing the plants in is important to the results," Schafer said. "If we're growing in a sterile media, we could get some false positive results because the plants are more tolerant to glyphosate in those conditions."

 

Hallett and Schafer grew giant ragweed, horseweed and common lambsquarter in both sterile soil and field soil and subjected them to glyphosate. In each soil, strains of weeds both susceptible and resistant to glyphosate were tested.

 

Both versions of giant ragweed were damaged more from the glyphosate in field soil. The susceptible version of common lambsquarter was also more heavily damaged in field soil. Horseweed fared the same no matter which soil or strain - susceptible or resistant.

 

The results show that microbes can play an important role in the activity of glyphosate, presumably by invading the glyphosate-weakened plants. The results also suggest that glyphosate-resistant weeds may be more resistant to disease pressure as well.

 

"Soil microbes can be minor to major contributors to how glyphosate is able to affect plants," Hallett said. "We may be selecting not only for glyphosate resistance, but inadvertently selecting for weeds that have disease resistance as well."

 

A weed's ability to withstand glyphosate was based on dry shoot and root weight after testing. The sterile soil used in the study came from field soil exposed to gamma radiation to kill microbes and bacteria. The irradiated soil was tested to ensure that its nutrients were not diminished.

 

Hallett, Johnson and Schafer said further studies would look at how fungi in the soil affect root development, both with and without glyphosate.

 

"Dirt is a living organism," Johnson said. "It's important to know how all the pieces interact."

 

The research was conducted with internal funding from Purdue's Department of Botany and Plant Pathology.

 

Abstract

Response of Giant Ragweed (Ambrosia trifida), Horseweed (Conyza canadensis), and Common Lambsquarter (Chenopodium album) Biotypes to Glyphosate in the Presence and Absence of Soil Microorganisms.

 

Jessica R. Schafer, Steven G. Hallett, and William G. Johnson

 

In previous research conducted on non-weed species, the efficacy of glyphosate was shown to be greater in unsterile soils compared to sterile soils, and that soil microorganisms played an important role in glyphosate efficacy. Conducting greenhouse studies in microbe-free soil may, therefore, produce unreliable data, leading to erroneous conclusions. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of soil microorganisms on the response of glyphosate-resistant and -susceptible biotypes of three problematic weeds of the Midwestern United States: giant ragweed, horseweed and common lambsquarters. A greenhouse dose-response study was conducted on each of the three weed species grown in sterile and unsterile field soil, and the dry weight response of roots and shoots was measured. The three weed species responded differently to glyphosate when grown in the sterile and unsterile soil, that is, in the presence and absence of soil microbes. Soil microbes influenced the response of the susceptible and resistant giant ragweed biotypes and the susceptible common lambsquarters, but not on the tolerant common lambsquarters or either horseweed biotype. The different response of the three species to glyphosate in the presence and absence of soil microbes demonstrates that rhizosphere interactions are fundamental to the mode of action of glyphosate. These findings suggest that the range of tolerance to glyphosate observed in weeds and the evolution of resistance in weed biotypes may also be influenced by rhizosphere interactions. The soil media used in dose-response screenings to identify susceptible and resistant weed biotypes is very important. Unsterile field soil should be incorporated into growth media when conducting dose-response screenings to avoid false positive results. In addition, researchers performing glyphosate dose-response assays should be aware of these findings.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28411&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.43  Application of next-generation sequencing for rapid marker development in molecular plant breeding

 

A case study on anthracnose disease resistance in Lupinus angustifolius L.

 

In the last 30 years, a number of DNA fingerprinting methods such as RFLP, RAPD, AFLP,SSR, DArT, have been extensively used in marker development for molecular plant breeding.However, it remains a daunting task to identify highly polymorphic and closely linkedmolecular markers for a target trait for molecular marker-assisted selection. The nextgenerationsequencing (NGS) technology is far more powerful than any existing genericDNA fingerprinting methods in generating DNA markers.

 

In this study, we employed a grainlegume crop Lupinus angustifolius (lupin) as a test case, and examined the utility of an NGS based method of RAD (restriction-site associated DNA) sequencing as DNA fingerprintingfor rapid, cost-effective marker development tagging a disease resistance gene for molecularbreeding.

 

Results: Twenty informative plants from a cross of RxS (disease resistant x susceptible) in lupin weresubjected to RAD single-end sequencing by multiplex identifiers. The entire RADsequencing products were resolved in two lanes of the 16-lanes per run sequencing platformSolexa HiSeq2000.

 

A total of 185 million raw reads, approximately 17 Gb of sequencingdata, were collected. Sequence comparison among the 20 test plants discovered 8207 SNPmarkers.

 

Filtration of DNA sequencing data with marker identification parameters resulted inthe discovery of 38 molecular markers linked to the disease resistance gene Lanr1. Fiverandomly selected markers were converted into cost-effective, simple PCR-based markers.Linkage analysis using marker genotyping data and disease resistance phenotyping data on aF8 population consisting of 186 individual plants confirmed that all these five markers werelinked to the R gene.

 

Two of these newly developed sequence-specific PCR markers, AnSeq3and AnSeq4, flanked the target R gene at a genetic distance of 0.9 centiMorgan (cM), and arenow replacing the markers previously developed by a traditional DNA fingerprinting methodfor marker-assisted selection in the Australian national lupin breeding program.

 

Conclusions

We demonstrated that more than 30 molecular markers linked to a target gene of agronomictrait of interest can be identified from a small portion (1/8) of one sequencing run onHiSeq2000 by applying NGS based RAD sequencing in marker development. The markersdeveloped by the strategy described in this study are all co-dominant SNP markers, whichcan readily be converted into high throughput multiplex format or low-cost, simple PCRbasedmarkers desirable for large scale marker implementation in plant breeding programs.The high density and closely linked molecular markers associated with a target trait help toovercome a major bottleneck for implementation of molecular markers on a wide range ofgermplasm in breeding programs.

 

We conclude that application of NGS based RADsequencing as DNA fingerprinting is a very rapid and cost-effective strategy for markerdevelopment in molecular plant breeding. The strategy does not require any prior genomeknowledge or molecular information for the species under investigation, and it is applicableto other plant species.

 

Author: Huaan YangYe TaoZequn ZhengChengdao LiMark SweetinghamJohn Howieson

 

Credits/Source: BMC Genomics 2012, 13:318

 

Published on: 2012-07-17

 

http://7thspace.com/headlines/416997/application_of_next_generation_sequencing_for_rapid_marker_development_in_molecular_plant_breeding_a_case_study_on_anthracnose_disease_resistance_in_lupinus_angustifolius_l.html

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.44  Scientists find potential solution for inbreeding depression

 

Inbreeding depression or the negative fitness effects of inbreeding is one of the important topics in evolutionary biology because of its effects on population dynamics and demographics. Inbreeding depression is usually manifested in animals and plants.

 

Philippine Vergeer and colleagues at Radboud University Nijmegen in Netherlands conducted a study to show that, in addition to genetic processes, epigenetic processes such as drought and poor nutrition may be important in causing inbreeding effects. The team compared epigenetic markers of outbred and inbred offspring of a perennial plant Scabiosa columbaria). They found that inbreeding causes removal of small chemical tags known as methyl groups that effectively turn genes on or off. They also discovered that inbreeding depression disappears when epigenetic variation is modified by treatment with a demethylation agent called 5-azacytidine. These findings imply that 5-azacytidine or a related compound could be a possible treatment for the harmful effects of inbreeding.

 

Read the articles at http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/07/02/rsbl.2012.0494

 

and

 

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/07/inbreedings-downside-is-not-all-.html

 

for more information.

 

Source: Crop Biotech Update 27 July 2012:

 

Contributed by Margaret Smith

Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

Mes25@cornell.edu

 

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1.45  How the same plant species can programme itself to flower at different times in different climates

 

Norwich, United Kingdom

July 13, 2012

 

Researchers led by Professor Caroline Dean have uncovered the genetic basis for variations in the vernalization response shown by plants growing in very different climates, linking epigenetic mechanisms with evolutionary change.

 

Vernalization is a period of prolonged cold that some plants require before they will flower. This ensures that they only produce flowers after the damaging cold of winter has passed. The plant must have a way of ‘remembering’ how much cold weather it has endured and in 2011 the researchers uncovered the mechanism plants use. When sufficient time in the cold has passed, an epigenetic switch silences a flowering-repressor gene called FLC. These epigenetic changes are then passed on to daughter cells during the rest of the plants developmental cycle.

 

Different plants have different vernalization requirements, as the length of winter cold they experience varies with geography and climate. In new research published in the journal Science, Professor Dean’s team have worked out how different plants set the level at which this epigenetic switch is triggered. They looked at a variety of Arabidopsis thaliana derived from North Sweden (Lov-1), and compared it to the reference ‘Columbia’ variety. Columbia needs 4 weeks of cold to trigger the epigenetic switch. The Lov-1 variety needs 9 weeks of cold to achieve the same, a natural variation to cope with the longer winters at northern latitudes.

 

They found variation in the genome sequence in and around the FLC gene itself. A combination of four genetic differences (polymorphisms) between the two varieties is responsible for the requirement for a longer period of cold. The polymorphisms affect chemical modifications to histone proteins which DNA is wrapped around. These modifications affect gene expression and are behind epigenetic memory. The four polymorphisms affect these modifications across the FLC gene so this points to how they are able to determine the switching point for the silencing of the gene.

 

More research is needed to determine exactly how these polymorphisms contribute to epigenetic memory, as the mechanism itself is still not fully understood. This plant model system is ideal for unpicking the intricacies of these mechanisms and how they apply across different organisms.

 

This research provides an explanation for how the level at which an epigenetic state switches itself is determined in response to a quantitative stimulus. This may be a general mechanism by which many other organisms adapt to changing environments. Arabidopsis has a wide geographical distribution, and adapting its vernalisation requirement in this way may have been key to helping it grow in different climates. As our own climate changes, we may be able to learn from the way Arabidopsis has adapted to help produce new crop varieties.

 

This research was supported by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and a European Research Council Advanced Investigator grant

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28379&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.46  Major investment to persuade bacteria to help cereals self-fertilise

 

Norwich, United Kingdom

July 15, 2012

 

The John Innes Centre will lead a $9.8m research project to investigate whether it is possible to initiate a symbiosis between cereal crops and bacteria. The symbiosis could help cereals access nitrogen from the air to improve yields. The five-year research project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, could have most immediate benefit for subsistence farmers.

 

“During the Green Revolution, nitrogen fertilisers helped triple cereal yields in some areas,” said Professor Giles Oldroyd from JIC. “But these chemicals are unaffordable for small-scale farmers in the developing world.”

 

As a result, yields are 15 to 20 per cent of their potential. Nitrogen fertilisers also come with an environmental cost. Making and applying them contributes half the carbon footprint of agriculture and causes environmental pollution.

 

“A new method of nitrogen fertilisation is needed for the African Green Revolution,” said Professor Oldroyd. “Delivering new technology within the seed of crops has many benefits for farmers as well as the environment, such as self-reliance and equity,” said Professor Oldroyd.

 

The new research will investigate the possibility of engineering cereals to associate with nitrogen-fixing bacteria and of delivering this technology through the seed.

 

If it is found to work, farmers would be able to share the technology by sharing seed. And the research opens the door to the use of grasses as rotational crops to enhance soil nitrogen.

 

“We’re excited about the long-term potential of this research to transform the lives of small farmers who depend on agriculture for their food and livelihoods,” said Katherine Kahn, senior program officer of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We need innovation for farmers to increase their productivity in a sustainable way so that they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Improving access to nitrogen could dramatically boost the crop yields of farmers in Africa.”

 

The focus of the investigation will be maize, the most important staple crop for small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Parallel studies in the wild grass Setaria viridis, which has a smaller genome and shorter life cycle, will speed up the rate of discovery. Discoveries will be applicable to all cereal crops including wheat, barley and rice.

 

The research will start by attempting to engineer in maize the ability to sense nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria. This may be enough to activate a symbiosis that provides some fixed nitrogen. Even slight increases could improve yields for farmers who do not have access to fertilisers.

 

“We have developed a pretty good understanding of how legumes such as peas and beans evolved the ability to recruit soil bacteria to access the nitrogen they need,” said Professor Oldroyd. ”Even the most primitive symbiotic relationship with bacteria benefited the plant, and this is where we hope to start in cereals.”

 

In the most basic symbiosis, bacteria are housed in simple swellings on the root of the plant, providing the low oxygen environment needed. In more highly evolved legumes, the plant produces a specialised organ, the nodule, to house bacteria.

 

Bacteria can infect the plant through cracks or through more complex tunnels built by the plant called infection threads. As the complexity of the interaction increases, so does the efficiency with which bacteria fix nitrogen for the plant.

 

“In the long term, we anticipate that the research will follow the evolutionary path, building up the level of complexity and improving the benefits to the plant,” said Professor Oldroyd.

 

The project will also help highlight where more research is needed. It will run in parallel to ongoing research funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council into how nitrogen fixation works in legumes. It will also run in parallel to an existing Gates-funded project, N2Africa, to improve nitrogen management in African farming systems more immediately.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28378&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.47  Salt cress genome yields new clues to salt tolerance

 

Shenzhen, China

July 13, 2012

 

An international team, led by Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Science, and BGI, the world’s largest genomics organization, has completed the genomic sequence and analysis of salt cress (Thellungiella salsuginea), a wild salt-tolerant plant. The salt cress genome serves as a useful tool for exploring mechanisms of adaptive evolution and sheds new lights on understanding the genetic characteristics underlying plant abiotic stress tolerance. The study was published online in PNAS.

 

(http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/07/05/1209954109.abstract?sid=548ade97-58d5-4c0a-a1e4-e1a43a9c9c21)

 

Salt Cress is a typical halophyte with high resistance to cold, drought, oxidative stresses and salinity. Due to its small plant size, short life cycle, copious seed production, small genome size, and an efficient transformation, salt cress could serve as an important genetic model system for botanist, geneticists, and breeders to better explore the genetic mechanisms of abiotic stress tolerance.

 

In the study, researchers sequenced the genome of salt cress (Shandong ecotype) using the paired-end Solexa sequencing technology. The genomic data yielded a draft sequence of salt cress with about 134-fold coverage. The final length of the assembled sequences amounted to about 233.7 Mb, covering about 90% of the estimated size (~260 Mb). A total of 28,457 protein-coding regions were predicted in the sequenced salt cress genome. Researchers found that the average exon length of salt cress and A. thaliana genes was similar, whereas the average intron length of salt cress was about 30% larger than that of A. thaliana.

 

The evolutionary analysis indicated that salt cress and its close relative- Arabidopsis thaliana- diverged from approximately 7 -12million years ago. When tracing the differences between salt cress and A. thaliana, researchers found salt cress was characterized by a dramatically different lifestyle, a unique gene complement, significant differences in the expression of orthologs, and a larger genome size. Noticeably, the salt cress genome showed a dramatically higher content of transposable elements (TEs) than that of A. thaliana, which may be the reason for its enlarged genome size. In common with other higher plants, salt cress genome was consisted of abundance of long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons.

 

Salt can have drastic effects on the growth and yield of agronomical crops. It is estimated that salinity renders about one-third of the world's irrigated land unsuitable for crop production. In this study, researchers identified many genes in salt cress that contribute to its success in high-salt environments, such as the genes related with cation transport, abscisic acid signaling, and wax production.

 

Junyi Wang, Director of Science & Technology, Research & Cooperation Center, BGI, said, “Salt cress provides an excellent model and opportunity for researchers to explore plant’s mechanisms of abiotic stress tolerance. The completed genomic sequence of salt cress will boost the advancement of stress tolerance research as well as provide a valuable theoretic instruct and technical support for researchers worldwide to better face the challenges of the soil salinization in irrigation area, the development and utilization of shallow offshore waters and beaches, and food security.”

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28348&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.48  Chinese scientists identify yield-boosting rice gene

 

Beijing, China

July 5, 2012

 

Researchers in China have identified a rice gene that could improve both the quality and yield of the staple crop. Xiangdong Fu, a geneticist at the Institute of Genetics and Development Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China, and colleagues first discovered the gene — known as GW8 — while studying basmati rice in Pakistan.

 

Basmati rice is well known for its good grain quality. The researchers found that this feature is influenced by the presence of a gene known as GW8, which can also improve the appearance and flavour of rice.

 

Fu and his colleagues hypothesised that high-quality Chinese rice varieties might also have the GW8 gene.

 

Following a series of field studies in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hainan in 2009, the researchers found that a variant of the GW8 gene does exist in certain varieties of high-yielding rice in China.

 

However, the variant is different to that which was identified in Pakistan, and is related to grain weight and density, both of which boost crop productivity.

 

The scientists also found a third variant of the gene Amol3, an Iranian rice cultivar (a plant selected for desirable characteristics that can be maintained by propagation), that improves grain quality and productivity.

 

If this new variant were introduced into basmati rice, grain yields would increase by around 14 per cent, the scientists have predicted. If introduced into the high-quality Chinese varieties, their quality and yields could also be further improved. Fu said that he hoped the new GW8 variant could eventually be introduced into local varieties in countries across the world.

 

However, developing these improved varieties would take at least three years, he said. World Food Prize laureate Gurdev S. Khush, a former head of plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, said the discovery of the GW8 gene in rice was very important.

 

It has been very difficult to improve the yield potential of basmati rice, Khush told SciDev.Net.

 

The authors' findings were published in Nature Genetics last month (24 June).

Link to full article in Nature Genetics

 

References

Control of grain size, shape and quality by OsSPL16 in rice Shaokui Wang, Kun Wu, Qingbo Yuan, Xueying Liu, Zhengbin Liu, Xiaoyan Lin, Ruizhen Zeng, Haitao Zhu, Guojun Dong, Qian Qian, Guiquan Zhang & Xiangdong Fu Nature Genetics doi:10.1038/ng.2327 (2012)

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28218&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SciDev.Net via SeedQuest.com

 

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1.49  Illumina introduces Nextera Exome and Custom Enrichment sample preparation kits

 

San Diego, California, USA

July 17, 2012

 

Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN) today introduced Nextera Exome and Custom Enrichment kits, the Company’s latest targeted resequencing solutions offering sample preparation and enrichment in a single, integrated workflow. Leveraging the speed of Nextera technology and supporting the industry’s lowest DNA sample input requirements (50 ng), the new kits enable researchers to quickly and economically perform a wide range of studies – from small, focused gene panels to full human exomes.

 

Upfront sample preparation is an often difficult and time-consuming task for targeted resequencing studies. Nextera Exome and Custom Enrichment kits replace the lengthy sample preparation protocols with a single, streamlined workflow that can be performed in less than three hours and removes the requirement for mechanical DNA fragmentation.

 

The kits integrate the ease of Nextera sample preparation with the company’s established TruSeq® Exome and Custom Enrichment solutions for a fast, scalable and highly efficient approach to targeted resequencing. Offering excellent data quality with a low DNA sample input requirement, the kits enable researchers to study small samples, while retaining sufficient material for future analysis.

 

“Nextera Enrichment kits deliver superior performance on all fronts with a simple, rapid workflow that eliminates almost an entire day of preparation time,” said Christian Henry, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Genomic Solutions. “Developed, tested, and optimized for Illumina sequencing platforms, Nextera Enrichment kits make targeted resequencing more broadly available to researchers who are interested in performing studies on DNA samples that may only be available in limited quantities.”

 

"The combination of Nextera library prep and TruSeq capture produces a simple workflow and high quality data. It will allow us to process large numbers of samples without investing in automation systems and opens up capture-based sequencing to samples that would not have been accessible due to DNA input constraints,” said Dr. James Hadfield, Head of Genomics, Cancer Research, UK. “We have been able to perform custom and exome capture as well as low coverage genome sequencing from the same 50 ng input DNA."

 

Nextera Exome Enrichment kits offer:

     Comprehensive coverage of the human exome, with greater than 62 Mb of both coding regions and untranslated regions (UTRs).

 

     Excellent data quality with high enrichment rates and premier coverage uniformity.

 

     The ability to fully customize content with Illumina’s DesignStudio, a free online tool for Illumina customers.

 

     Industry-best DNA input of 50 ng.

 

     A unique 12-plex pre-enrichment sample pooling, reducing hands-on time and enabling the most cost-effective and operationally efficient workflow.

 

Nextera Enrichment Sample Preparation Kits are now shipping. For more information, visit www.illumina.com/NexteraEnrich.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28424&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.50  Melon genome sequenced

 

Barcelona and Madrid, Spain

July 2, 2012

 

      It is formed of 27.427 genes and 450 millions of base pairs

 

      The study, that is published in PNAS, has been lead by scientists at the         Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and at the Institute for   Research and Technology in Food and Agriculture (IRTA)

 

      The Melonomics project, launched by the Spanish Genome foundation, has been developed by 9 research centres

 

A consortium of nine research centres has obtained the melon genome, a horticultural specie with high economic value around the world. It is the first time that a Spanish initiative that unites private and state-run centres has obtained the complete genome of a higher organism, in this case a plant, which produces flowers and seeds. Also, it has been done by applying massive sequencing technologies.

 

Besides the complete melon genome, scientists have obtained the particular genomes of seven melon varieties. The study is published in the magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

 

The scientific Project has been lead by Pere Puigdomènech, at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and Jordi Garcia Mas, at the Institute for Research and Technology in Food and Agriculture (IRTA). Both scientists work at the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG), in Barcelona. Also, the team lead by Roderic Guigó, at the Genomic Regulation Center has made an important contribution to the project.

 

The Melonomics project was launched by the Spanish Genome Foundation. Nine research centres have been involved in it, having the support of 5 companies and of five Spanish autonomous communities.

 

Results have shown that the melon genome has 450 millions of base pairs and 27.427 genes. It is much bigger than the genome of its nearest “relative’, the cucumber that has 360 millions base pairs. “This difference is due mainly to the amplification of transposable elements. We didn’t find recent duplications within the genome, which are very common in plant species”, highlights Puigdomènech.

 

“We have identified 411 genes that can be related in disease resistance. They are few but, nevertheless, the melon has a high capacity of adaptation to different environments”, explains the CSIC scientist. During the work, when comparing this genome with others that are near philogenetically, they have observed how changes occur to the genome of this species, which is known for its high variability.

 

Another question of interest is that related to the ripening of the fruit, a process which determines fruit characteristics such as taste and flavour. Scientists have identified up to 89 genes related with some aspects of this process: 26 genes related to the carotenoid accumulation -which gives the colour to the melon flesh- and 63 related to the sugar accumulation and the taste of melon. 21 genes out of the last 63 had never been described before.

 

“Knowing the genome and the genes related to the characteristics of value for agriculture will allow us to improve this species for obtaining more disease resistant varieties and with better organoleptic properties”, points out the IRTA scientist Jordi Garcia Mas.

 

Melon, cucumber, watermelon and squashes

Melon belongs to the family of cucurbits, that also includes species such as cucumbers, watermelons and squashes. Cucurbits have relatively small genomes. “These are species of high financial interest, especially in the Mediterranian, Asian and African countries. Diseases that affect them, such as the mosaic virus in the case of cucumber or fungi can cause high financial losses. Therefore, we hope the genome sequentiation will have an important impact on improving this crop”, says Pere Puigdomènech.

 

According to figures of 2009 from the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) of the United Nations, the production of melon worldwide is 26 million tones every year. Spain is the fifth biggest producer in the world. Approximately a third part of the production is exported, which makes Spain the biggest exporter of melon.Louis Vuitton outlet

A collaborative project of many partner institutions

 

The melon genome project has been lead by the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG)*, which is a consortium of different institutions and universities, where they have done the sequencing and assembling of the genome. The Center of Genomic Regulation has annotated the genome.

 

Also, the project has had teams working on it at different centres and universities: the Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona), the Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura of the CSIC (Murcia), the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (Barcelona), the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia and the University of Wisconsin(U.S.). Furthermore, the company Roche Diagnostics has facilitated technologies in order to help the genome assembling.

 

The project, with a budget over 4 millions Euros, has received the financial support of the Spanish Genome Foundation, of five Autonomous Communities -Andalucía, Castilla La Mancha, Catalonia, Madrid and Murcia – and the companies: Semillas Fitó, Syngenta Seeds, Roche Diagnostics, Savia Biotech and Sistemas Genómicos. 

 

The Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) is a consortium of four different institutions: the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the Institute for Research and Technology in Food and Agriculture (IRTA), the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the Universitat de Barcelona (UB)

 

Jordi GarciaMas, Andrej Benjak, Walter Sanseverino, Michael Bourgeois, Gisela Mira, Víctor M. González, Elizabeth Hénaff, Francisco Câmara, Luca Cozzuto, Ernesto Lowy, Tyler Alioto, Salvador CapellaGutiérrez, Jose Blanca, Joaquín Cañizares, Pello Ziarsolo, Daniel GonzalezIbeas, Luis RodríguezMoreno, Marcus Droege, Lei Du, Miguel AlvarezTejado, Belen LorenteGaldos, Marta Melé, Luming Yang, Yiqun Weng, Arcadi Navarro Tomas MarquesBonet Miguel A. Arandaf, Fernando Nuez, Belén Picó, Toni Gabaldón, Guglielmo Roma, Roderic Guigó, Josep M. Casacuberta, Pere Arús, and Pere Puigdomènech. The genome of melon (Cucumis melo L.). PNAS. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1205415109.

 

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Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.51  New method for associating genetic variation with crop traits

 

Norwich, United Kingdom

July 23, 2012

 

A new technique will allow plant breeders to introduce valuable crop traits even without access to the full genome sequence of that crop.

 

The technique, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, links important agronomic traits in crop plants with active regions of the genome. Instead of requiring knowledge of the crop’s complete genome, it identifies only expressed genes.

 

“For many crop plants, markers are still lacking because of the complexity of some plants’ genomes and the very high costs involved,” said Professor Ian Bancroft, who led the study at the John Innes Centre. “We have succeeded in developing markers based on the sequences of expressed genes, widening the possibilities for accelerated breeding through marker assisted selection.”

 

Expressed genes are converted from genomic DNA to mRNA. Working with mRNA means that there is no need to generate a complete genome sequence from DNA, making the techniques applicable to a wide range of crops, even those with complex genomes, such as oilseed rape and wheat. It also enables the development of advanced marker resources for less studied crops that are important for developing countries or have specific medicinal or industrial properties.

 

The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

 

Peter Werner of plant breeding company KWS UK Ltd and part of the research team said “KWS UK has been delighted to be involved with this ground breaking developmental research. We will be increasingly using this approach to further improve the speed and reliability of our breeding towards the continued improvement of yield and quality of our new varieties produced within the KWS group.”

 

In partnership with the Cambridge-based bioinformatics company Eagle Genomics Ltd, the technology, called TraitTag, is being offered as a service to plant breeders. Markers associated with measured trait variation can be identified in essentially any crop species, including traits controlled at the level of gene expression variation rather than gene sequence variation, such as those with an epigenetic basis.

 

In an example of such an application, the researchers are now working with plant breeding company Limagrain to produce reliable markers for hybrid performance in oilseed rape. Marker-assisted breeding for this complex trait has previously been unsuccessful due to a lack of available markers and appropriate technology.

 

Using bioinformatics techniques it is possible to associate variation in both the sequences of expressed genes and their relative abundance in the mRNA with important traits, and then produce markers for these traits that breeders can use in their breeding programmes. Their research was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology and was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

 

Reference: ‘Associative Transcriptomics of traits in the polyploid crop species Brassica napus’ Harper et al was published in Nature Biotechnology doi:10.1038/nbt.2302

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28537&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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1.52  Sequencing technology helps reveal what plant genomes really encode

 

United Kingdom

July 23, 2012

 

Scientists from the James Hutton Institute and the University of Dundee have teamed up with researchers in the USA to use a new technique to sequence the genes of the plant Arabidopsis. This approach, which allows researchers to see exactly where a plant's genes end, could be applied to crops in the hope of boosting efforts to breed new varieties.

 

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)-funded team are the first in the world to try to understand how plant genes are organised by directly sequencing a molecule called RNA rather than DNA. Their findings are published today in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

 

The research involved collaboration between a team of biologists led by Dr Gordon Simpson of The James Hutton Institute and Dundee University, computational scientists led by Prof Geoff Barton at Dundee University and a technology group from Helicos Biosciences in the USA.

 

Dr Simpson explains "Many genes work by coding for proteins, but the path from DNA to protein goes via an intermediate molecule called RNA. By sequencing the RNA you can see exactly which bits of the genome make proteins and what genes are turned on in different cells and at particular times.

 

"Until now, people have sequenced RNA by first converting it back into DNA. They chop it up, add on special molecules and then because there is not enough, they copy the bits again and again, before finally sequencing. The trouble is that all these steps introduce bias and error. What's special about what we have done is we have avoided all these steps and sequenced the RNA directly".

 

This technique allows scientists to see exactly where genes end with unprecedented certainty. This is important for two reasons. Firstly it helps us find individual genes within genomes and so work out what they do. Second, it tells us something about how cells are behaving. Cells can choose where a gene should end depending on what the gene should be doing. For example cutting off genes at different points affects when a plant flowers. It has recently become apparent that these choices occur widely in biology: for example, there are global changes in where genes end in cancer tissue.

 

Dr Simpson continues "Using this technique we can unequivocally score where genes end, count how active genes are and say from which strand of the DNA double helix the RNA is copied. Surprisingly we found that genes that overlap each other account for a large fraction of gene activity. We also found new ends to thousands of genes and found genes that were completely new to us".

 

The huge amount of data and the novelty of the procedure required new approaches from computational scientists in Dundee. Sasha Sherstnev, who did much of the analysis, comes from a background in particle physics and previously worked at CERN on the search for the Higgs Boson. He brought experience necessary to meet the demands accompanying the rise of large data sets in biology that are being driven by changes in sequencing technology.

 

As well as enabling scientists to understand what genomes actually encode and how active genes are, direct RNA sequencing could be especially useful for situations where only a few cells are available, for example when working with patient samples.

 

The Dundee team now plan to use their expertise to understand what other genomes encode and how that changes in disease. In this way, they can help deliver greater accuracy in rational crop improvement.

 

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive, BBSRC, said "This is a great example of how mastering new techniques and embracing new ways of working can deliver valuable insights into biology. It will be interesting to see where this team directs their expertise next."

 

This story is based on the paper "Direct sequencing of Arabidopsis thaliana RNA reveals patterns of cleavage and polyadenylation" which can be found here on publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nsmb.2345. Subscription may be required.

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28538&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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2  PUBLICATIONS

 

2.01  Pré-melhoramento de plantas: estado da arte e experiências de sucesso

 

Publication date: 2011

ISBN: 978-85-7383-523-6

 

Summary:

Here to see more details: http://livraria.sct.embrapa.br/liv_resumos/pdf/00062600.pdf

 

O pré-melhoramento vegetal é uma vertente da pesquisa agropecuária que tende a ganhar cada vez mais visibilidade em função do renovado interesse em se promover a utilização dos recursos genéticos conservados em bancos de germoplasma para resposta aos riscos, desafios e oportunidades relacionados à produção agrícola.

 

O conceito clássico de pré-melhoramento compreende a identificação de genes e/ou características de interesse em germoplasma exótico ou em populações que não foram submetidas a qualquer processo de melhoramento (parentes silvestres e raças locais), e sua posterior incorporação a materiais-elite agronomicamente adaptados. Assim, o pré-melhoramento pode ser visto como uma ponte entre as atividades de pesquisa em recursos genéticos e os programas de melhoramento vegetal.

 

Esta obra descreve o estado do conhecimento da pesquisa em pré-melhoramento vegetal e faz um apanhado abrangente da rica experiência brasileira no estudo da variabilidade genética contida em materiais autóctones e exóticos e sua utilização para superação de desafios e busca de novas oportunidades para a agricultura nacional.

 

Ela demonstra que o pré-melhoramento permite o desenvolvimento e a disponibilização de variabilidade adicional aos programas de melhoramento genético, garantindo capacidade de resposta a desafios atuais como as mudanças climáticas globais e a intensificação de estresses, bem como alcance de novos patamares de produtividade, qualidade e competitividade aos nossos sistemas produtivos.

 

Editores Técnicos: Alessandra Pereira Fávero, Elcio Perpétuo Guimarães, Fábio Gelape Faleiro, Maria Aldete Justiniano da Fonseca Ferreira, Maurício Antônio Lopes e Sérgio Mauro Folle.

 

http://vendasliv.sct.embrapa.br/liv4/consultaProduto.do?metodo=detalhar&codigoProduto=00062600

 

Source: SeedQues.com

 

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2.02  Analyzing plant biotechnology patents - 3 traits relevant to climate change

 

As part of its OECD Environmental Working Paper series (nr. 40), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published "Adaptation and innovation: An analysis of crop biotechnology patent data" by S. Agrawala, C. Bordier, V. Schreitter and V. Karplus.

 

Using the count of patent applications as an indicator, the paper provides empirical quantification of innovation in biotechnology to develop crops that are more resilient to three forms of abiotic stress (drought, soil salinity and temperature extremes) associated with climate change. See www.oecd.org/env/workingpapers (in English and French) or contact Michael.Mullan@oecd.org for more information.

 

FAO Biotechnology website http://www.fao.org/biotech/en/

 

Source: Update 2-2012 of FAO-BiotechNews

 

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2.03  Marker-assisted selection in crops, livestock, forestry and fish

 

The FAO Working Group on Biotechnology has recently reprinted "Marker-assisted selection: Current status and future perspectives in crops, livestock, forestry and fish", originally published in 2007.

 

The 494-page book is edited by E.P. Guimarães, J. Ruane, B.D. Scherf, A. Sonnino and J.D. Dargie and is organised into six sections: an introduction to marker-assisted selection (MAS), in chapters 1-2; case studies of MAS in crops, in chapters 3-9; case studies of MAS in livestock, in chapters 10-13; case studies of MAS in forestry, in chapters 14-15; case studies of MAS in fish and shellfish, in chapters 16-17; and the final section is devoted to a selection of non-technical issues relevant to applications of MAS in developing countries, such as national research capacities and international partnerships, economic considerations, the impacts of intellectual property rights, and policy considerations (chapters 18-22).

 

See http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a1120e/a1120e00.htm

or contact Charlotte.Lietaer@fao.org to request a copy, providing your full postal address.

 

FAO Biotechnology website http://www.fao.org/biotech/en/

 

Source: Update 2-2012 of FAO-BiotechNews

 

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2.04  New method for associating genetic variation with crop traits

 

A new technique will allow plant breeders to introduce valuable crop traits even without access to the full genome sequence of that crop.

 

The technique, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, links important agronomic traits in crop plants with active regions of the genome.  Instead of requiring knowledge of the crop’s complete genome, it identifies only expressed genes.

 

“For many crop plants, markers are still lacking because of the complexity of some plants’ genomes and the very high costs involved,” said Professor Ian Bancroft, who led the study at the John Innes Centre. “We have succeeded in developing markers based on the sequences of expressed genes, widening the possibilities for accelerated breeding through marker assisted selection.”

 

Expressed genes are converted from genomic DNA to mRNA.  Working with mRNA means that there is no need to generate a complete genome sequence from DNA, making the techniques applicable to a wide range of crops, even those with complex genomes, such as oilseed rape and wheat. It also enables the development of advanced marker resources for less studied crops that are important for developing countries or have specific medicinal or industrial properties.

 

The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

 

Peter Werner of plant breeding company KWS UK Ltd and part of the research team said “KWS UK has been delighted to be involved with this ground breaking developmental research. We will be increasingly using this approach to further improve the speed and reliability of our breeding towards the continued improvement of yield and quality of our new varieties produced within the KWS group.”

 

In partnership with the Cambridge-based bioinformatics company Eagle Genomics Ltd, the technology, called TraitTag, is being offered as a service to plant breeders. Markers associated with measured trait variation can be identified in essentially any crop species, including traits controlled at the level of gene expression variation rather than gene sequence variation, such as those with an epigenetic basis.  

 

In an example of such an application, the researchers are now working with plant breeding company Limagrain to produce reliable markers for hybrid performance in oilseed rape. Marker-assisted breeding for this complex trait has previously been unsuccessful due to a lack of available markers and appropriate technology.

 

Using bioinformatics techniques it is possible to associate variation in both the sequences of expressed genes and their relative abundance in the mRNA with important traits, and then produce markers for these traits that breeders can use in their breeding programmes. Their research was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology and was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

 

Reference: ‘Associative Transcriptomics of traits in the polyploid crop species Brassica napus’ Harper et al was published on Sunday July 22nd in Nature Biotechnology doi:10.1038/nbt.2302

 

Contacts:

JIC Press Office:

Andrew Chapple, andrew.chapple@nbi.ac.uk

Zoe Dunford, zoe.dunford@nbi.ac.uk

 

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2.05  Plant Evolution and the Origin of Crop Species

 

The following book has just been published by CABI:

 

Plant Evolution and the Origin of Crop Species, 3rd edition

J F Hancock, Michigan State University, USA

ISBN: 9781845938017

July 2012 / 256 pages / Hardback / 244x172 mm / 110 illustrations

Previous editions: 1st edition, 1992, Prentice-Hall, 9780136785903, 2nd edition, 2003, CABI,

9780851996851

£85/US$160/€110

 

The genetic variability that developed in plants during their evolution is the basic of their domestication and breeding into the crops grown today for food, fuel and other industrial uses. This third edition of Plant Evolution and the Origin of Crop Species brings the subject up-to-date, with more emphasis on crop origins. Beginning with a description of the processes of evolution in native and cultivated plants, the book reviews the origins of crop domestication and their subsequent development over time.

 

All major crop species are discussed, including cereals, protein plants, starch crops, fruits and vegetables, from their origins to conservation of their genetic resources for future development. Aimed at advanced students and postgraduates in plant genetics and crop science.

 

Contents:

Part 1. Evolutionary Processes

1. Chromosome Structure and Genetic Variability

2. Assortment of Genetic Variability

3. The Multifactoral Genome

4. Polyploidy and Gene Duplication

5. Speciation

 

Part 2. Agricultural Origins and Crop Evolution

6. Origins of Agriculture

7. The Dynamics of Plant Domestication

8. Cereal Grains

9. Protein Plants

10. Starchy Staples and Sugars

11. Fruits, Vegetables, Oils and Fibers

12. Postscript: Germplasm Resources

 

More information: http://bookshop.cabi.org/?page=2633&pid=2366&site=191

 

Contributed by Halina Dawson

Head of Content Management

CABI

h.dawson@cabi.org

 

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2.06  Breeding Sorghum for low phosphorus soils in West Africa

 

For the last five years ICRISAT-Mali together with IER-Mali have been working on selecting sorghum genotypes specifically adapted to low phosphorus soils in Mali, West Africa. Recently two publications were released about this ongoing effort to tackle low-input cropping conditions by using improved varieties in West Africa.

 

Although sorghum in West Africa (WA) is generally cultivated with limited or no fertilization on soils of low phosphorous availability, no assessments of the genetic variation among WA sorghum varieties for adaptation to low soil P are known.

 

We assessed grain yields of 70 diverse sorghum genotypes under –P (no P fertilization) and +P conditions at two locations in Mali over five years. Especially the low-input trials were hindered by soil heterogeneity. Spatial adjustment using mixed models can help account for this variation and increase precision of low-input field trials. Thus we used different spatial models (e.g. AR1, AR2) to account for the field heterogeneity and get most out of our data sets. Spatial models (AR1, AR2) improved broad sense heritability estimates for grain yield, averaging gains of 10 and 6 % points relative to randomized complete block (RCB) and lattice models, respectively. The heritability estimate gains were even higher under low phosphorus conditions and in two-replicate analyses. No specific model was best for all environments.

 

A single spatial model, AR1 × AR1, captured most of the gains for heritability and relative efficiency provided by the best model identified for each environment using Akaike's Information Criterion. Spatial modelling resulted in important changes in genotype ranking for grain yield. Thus, the use of spatial models was shown to have potentially important consequences for aiding effective sorghum selection in West Africa, particularly under low-input conditions and for trials with fewer replications. The adjusted means derived from the spatial model single environment analysis, were used to further look at genetic variation for grain yield under –P conditions and the feasibility and necessity of sorghum varietal testing for grain yield under –P conditions. Delayed heading dates (0-9.8 days) and reductions of grain yield (2-59%) and  plant height (13-107cm)  were observed  in –P relative to the +P trials.

 

High estimates of genetic variance and broad sense heritabilities were found for grain yield across both –P (h²=0.93) and +P (h²=0.92) environments. The genetic correlation for grain yield performance between –P and +P conditions was high (rG=0.89), suggesting that West Africa sorghum varieties generally possess good adaptation to low P conditions.  However, genotype-by-phosphorus cross-over interaction was observed between some of the highest yielding genotypes from the –P and +P selected sets, with the variety IS 15401 showing specific adaptation to –P. Direct selection for grain yield in –P conditions was predicted to be 12% more efficient than indirect selection in +P conditions.  Thus selection under –P conditions is useful and feasible for sorghum improvement in West Africa and should be strengthened to beset address the farmers production conditions.

 

References:

Leiser W. L., H. F. W Rattunde , H.-P. Piepho, E. Weltzien, A. Diallo, A. E. Melchinger, H. K. Parzies, B. I.G. Haussmann. 2012: Selection Strategy for Sorghum Targeting Phosphorus Limited Environments in West Africa: Analysis of Multi-Environment Experiments. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2012.02.0139; Published online: 18 June 2012

 

Leiser W.L., H.F.W. Rattunde, H.-P. Piepho, and H.K. Parzies. 2012: Getting the most out of sorghum low-input field trials in West Africa using spatial adjustment. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-037X.2012.00529.x. Published online: 20 June 2012

 

Contributed by: W.L. Leiser, H.F.W. Rattunde and B.I.G. Haussmann

 

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2.07  Historical genomics of North American maize

 

Edited by M. T. Clegg, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Irvine, CA

 

Since the advent of modern plant breeding in the 1930s, North American maize has undergone a dramatic adaptation to high-input agriculture. Despite the importance of genetic contributions to historical yield increases, little is known about the underlying genomic changes.

 

Here we use high-density SNP genotyping to characterize a set of North American maize lines spanning the history of modern breeding. We provide a unique analysis of genomewide developments in genetic diversity, ancestry, and selection. The genomic history of maize is marked by a steady increase in genetic differentiation and linkage disequilibrium, whereas allele frequencies in the total population have remained relatively constant. These changes are associated with increasing genetic separation of breeding pools and decreased diversity in the ancestry of individual lines.

 

We confirm that modern heterotic groups are the product of ongoing divergence from a relatively homogeneous landrace population, but show that differential landrace ancestry remains evident. Using a recent association approach, we characterize signals of directional selection throughout the genome, identifying a number of candidate genes of potential agronomic relevance. However, overall we find that selection has had limited impact on genome-wide patterns of diversity and ancestry, with little evidence for individual lines contributing disproportionately to the accumulation of favorable alleles in today’s elite germplasm. Our data suggest breeding progress has mainly involved selection and recombination of relatively common alleles, contributed by a representative but limited set of ancestral lines.

 

Contributed by Rodomiro Ortiz

rodomiroortiz@gmail.com

 

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2.08  Widespread adoption of Bt cotton and insecticide decrease promotes biocontrol services

 

19 July 2012

 

Nature 487, 362–365

doi:10.1038/nature11153

 

Over the past 16 years, vast plantings of transgenic crops producing insecticidal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have helped to control several major insect pests and reduce the need for insecticide sprays. Because broad-spectrum insecticides kill arthropod natural enemies that provide biological control of pests, the decrease in use of insecticide sprays associated with Bt crops could enhance biocontrol services.

 

However, this hypothesis has not been tested in terms of long-term landscape-level impacts. On the basis of data from 1990 to 2010 at 36 sites in six provinces of northern China, we show here a marked increase in abundance of three types of generalist arthropod predators (ladybirds, lacewings and spiders) and a decreased abundance of aphid pests associated with widespread adoption of Bt cotton and reduced insecticide sprays in this crop.

 

We also found evidence that the predators might provide additional biocontrol services spilling over from Bt cotton fields onto neighbouring crops (maize, peanut and soybean). Our work extends results from general studies evaluating ecological effects of Bt crops by demonstrating that such crops can promote biocontrol services in agricultural landscapes.

 

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2.09  First Textbook on Organic Crop Breeding Published

 

Organic Seed Alliance among co-authors

 

Port Townsend, WA

 

Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is pleased to announce the release of Organic Crop Breeding, the first textbook on breeding for organic agriculture, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. This comprehensive text provides a review of the latest efforts by breeders to develop improved crop varieties for organic production systems. OSA staff members are proud contributors to the book.

 

“Ten years ago, very few researchers were even testing their varieties on organic farms,” says OSA Executive Director and co-author Micaela Colley. “It is inspiring to read about the growing momentum nationally and internationally to breed in and for organic systems. The work documented in Organic Crop Breeding is inspiring to a new generation of plant breeders and researchers who want to address the needs of organic farmers and the broader organic community.”

 

The opening chapters of Organic Crop Breeding look at breeding efforts focused on valuable traits, such as quality, pest, and disease resistance, and assess the impacts improved breeding efforts have on organic production. The second part of the book provides case studies from around the globe on a variety of crops, from carrots to corn.

Organic Crop Breeding includes chapters from leading researchers in the field and is edited by two pioneers in organic crop breeding with long ties to OSA’s research and education efforts: Dr. Edith T. Lammerts van Bueren and Dr. James Myers.

 

“Organic farmers face different challenges than their conventional counterparts and need varieties adapted to organic systems,” says Dr. James Myers of Oregon State University. “This book examines the many unique facets of organic systems with a focus on how they influence plant breeding and genetics.”

 

To order, visit the Wiley Online Library.

 

Organic Seed Alliance supports the ethical development and stewardship of the genetic resources of agricultural seed. Learn more at www.seedalliance.org.

 

Contributed by CathleenMcCluskey

Communications & Outreach Associate

Organic Seed Alliance

Port Townsend, WA 98368

cathleen@seedalliance.org

 

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3.  WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES

 

3.01  New FAO Biotechnology Glossary website

 

A new web interface for the multi-lingual FAO Biotechnology Glossary has just been launched, with an improved look and structure to make it more accessible and user-friendly, and with more advanced search capabilities. The new online Biotechnology Glossary will now be updated and edited at regular intervals by a team of international technical experts using VocBench, a web-based multi-lingual vocabulary management tool developed by FAO.

 

The FAO Glossary of Biotechnology for Food and Agriculture was published in 2001, prepared by A. Zaid, H.G. Hughes, E. Porceddu and F. Nicholas, providing consolidated, comprehensive and accessible definitions of over 3,000 terms and acronyms that are used regularly regarding agricultural biotechnologies. It has proven to be a very popular reference source and has been translated into the five other official UN languages (i.e. Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish) as well as Polish, Serbian and Vietnamese, while the terms have also been translated into Kazakh.

 

See the new interface at http://www.fao.org/biotech/biotech-glossary/en/ (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish). Comments on the new site are warmly welcome, at biotech-website@fao.org.

 

FAO Biotechnology website http://www.fao.org/biotech/en/

 

Source: Update 2-2012 of FAO-BiotechNews

 

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3.02  TGAC launches MISO (Managing Information for Sequencing Operations), a free open source LIMS for NGS

 

United Kingdom

July 23, 2012

 

We are pleased to announce the launch of our free open source LIMS system, MISO (Managing Information for Sequencing Operations). The system has been developed and designed to track next-generation sequencing experiments. Recently presented at the 2012 ISMB conference in Long Beach, MISO is receiving interest and positive comments via personal communication and social networking.

 

Developed using fully open source technology, MISO is able to record sequencing metadata based on a wide array of NGS sequencing platforms (i.e. Illumina GA, HiSeq and MiSeq, Roche 454, AB SOLiD and PacBio RS), and public repository data submission schemas (i.e. the Sequence Read Archive at the EBI). MISO has features common to both bespoke and proprietary LIMS such as secure authentication, fine-grained access control, simple sample and library preparation workflows, barcode tracking and reporting. Other features of MISO include high-performance compute access to bespoke bioinformatics pipelines, novel data visualisation strategies, user alerting, and run progress notifications.

 

MISO is a modular system from top to bottom, allowing core functionality to be reused and swapped out for elements developed by the community. In this way, we are currently working on new plugin features which will enable MISO to be extendable, making it easier for the community to contribute more features.

 

MISO comes with a user-friendly interface which has been designed specifically for use by NGS lab technicians, but can also be queried programmatically, meaning helpful web services can be developed on top of MISO to provide remote custom reporting and interoperability with other systems.

 

We are currently working on automated data delivery solutions to user-configured submission endpoints, to make it even easier to submit sequencing data to public repositories.

 

To stay up to date with the latest MISO updates, please follow us on Twitter: @misolims.

 

If you wish to try a demo version of MISO please visit http://miso-demo.tgac.ac.uk using “misodemo” as both the username and password.

 

For more information please contact Dr Rob Davey at robert.davey@tgac.ac.uk or visit www.tgac.ac.uk/miso

 

http://www.seedquest.com/news.php?type=news&id_article=28547&id_region=&id_category=&id_crop=

 

Source: SeedQuest.com

 

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4.  POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

4.01  Monsanto plant breeding and related scientist positions:

 

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

 

USA

1) Line Development Breeder - Waco, NE - Job ID: 005P4

2) Line Development Breeder - Williamsburg, IA - Job ID: 007ED

3) Soybean Discovery Scientist – Iowa - Job ID: 008IW

4) Wheat Variety Development Breeder - Yuma, AZ – Job ID: 008CQ

5) Statistical Geneticist – St. Louis - Job ID: 008EA

6) Environmental Modeling Scientist - St. Louis - Job ID: 0086W

7) Strategic Scientist - Computational Biologist/Bioinformaticist- St. Louis - Job ID: 006M5

8) Development Team Lead - St. Louis, MO – Job ID: 007QN

9) DH System Improvement Lead (Vegetables Division) - Woodland, CA – Job ID: 005ES

10) Research Entomologist – St. Louis - Job ID: 0050M

11) Soy Pathology Lead – St. Louis - Job ID: 007LR

 

Asia

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

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

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

15) Vegetable Trialing Lead-China – Job ID: 006OG

16) Hot Pepper Breeder - India – Job ID: 007E3

17) Tomato Breeder - India – Job ID: 007E2

18) Asia Trait Integration Breeder – India – Job ID: 007TQ

19) Scientist (Vegetables division) – Job ID: 006JP

 

Latin America

20) Sugarcane Breeder - Brazil – Job ID: 006RT

21) Research Entomologist — Campinas, SP, Brazil – Job ID: 008JM

22) Sorghum Breeder - Brazil – Job ID: 005LY

 

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

or www.monsanto.com/career

 

Contributed by Donn Cummings

Global Breeder Sourcing Lead, Monsanto

donn.cummings@monsanto.com

 

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5. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

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

 

This section includes three subsections:

 

            A. DISTANCE LEARNING/ONLINE COURSES

            B. COURSES OF THE SEED BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER AT UC             DAVIS

            C. OTHER MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

 

 

    1. DISTANCE LEARNING/ONLINE COURSES

 

(NEW) MS in Plant Breeding: Texas A&M University

 

We were notified recently that our proposal to deliver the Master of Science degree in  Plant Breeding via distance technology was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Thus, beginning with the Spring Semester 2013, students can apply and register as distance education students and receive an M.S. in Plant Breeding without residence on campus at College Station. This action also makes possible any number of arrangements where the M.S. student can never come to campus or spend a summer or some other length of time on campus. The approval covers both thesis option (TO) and non-thesis option (NTO) M.S. degrees in plant breeding.

 

The M.S. in Plant Breeding NTO requires a minimum of 36 semester credit hours past a B.S. degree plus a report and the defense of that report on an internship or some other graduate advisory committee approved activity. It does not require original research that results in a thesis.

 

All requirements for this degree are the same as those found in the Graduate Catalog at http://catalog.tamu.edu/,

 

http://soilcrop.tamu.edu/graduatedegrees.html,

 

or http://hortsciences.tamu.edu/graduate-programs/

 

with the exception that the on-campus residence requirement is waived.

 

The M.S. in Plant Breeding TO requires a minimum of 32 semester credit hours past a B.S. degree and a written thesis on original research directed by the student’s graduate advisory committee.

 

The unique requirement to obtain the M.S. in Plant Breeding TO is that there must be a Ph.D. scientist at the student’s location who can qualify for membership in the Graduate Faculty at Texas A&M University and serve as co-chair of the student’s graduate advisory committee. The student also must have access to research facilities and have a commitment by his/her employer to provide such facilities for the conduct of original plant breeding research.

 

All courses and requirements other than physical presence on campus at Texas A&M University are the same as for on-campus students. All courses are the same as those taken by on-campus students and taught by the same professors but delivered via the internet. Graduate advisory committee meetings and all conferences among co-chairs, committee, and student can be via electronic media. 

 

Individuals interested in the M.S. in Plant Breeding distance program should:

 

[1]  Contact either Wayne Smith, Associate Department Head for Soil and Crop Sciences, David Byrne, Associate Department Head for Horticultural Sciences, or LeAnn Hague, Distance Education Coordinator in Soil and Crop Sciences, to discuss the application process (contact information below).

 

[2]  Apply for admission through the Apply Texas on-line application process

(http://ogs.tamu.edu/prospective-students/admissions/applying-to-graduate-

schoo/).

 

[3]  All admission requirements, including GPA, GRE, and English Proficiency for non-U.S. citizens, are the same as for those applying for admission for on-

campus programs.

 

The following information is available in a downloadable format at

http://soilcrop.tamu.edu/graduateprogram.html

 

Distance Education in Plant Breeding

As the global population increases, providing food, fiber and fuel to meet growing demand has become a significant challenge.  We are one of the top tier U.S. universities training future plant breeders to meet this challenge and have expanded our effort through our Distance Education Program in Plant Breeding.  

 

We seek to alleviate hunger and poverty through the genetic

improvement of plants while educating and developing plant breeders worldwide.

 

Overview

This program is an extension of the existing Plant Breeding programs offered by the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and the Department of Horticultural Science at Texas A&M University.

 

We offer a non-thesis option M.S. and thesis option M.S. in Plant Breeding

completely at a distance to students unable to study on-campus in a traditional setting. 

This program is designed for individuals employed in private industry, CGIAR centers, government agencies, non-government organizations, and other agriculture professionals who need and desire additional knowledge and training in plant breeding but cannot relocate to a university campus. 

 

Distance Education students will take advantage of the same curriculum available to on-campus  students with identical course content and professors.  Our unique program is designed to deliver a high quality plant breeding education to students across the globe.

 

Available Degrees

Master of Science in Plant Breeding (Non-Thesis Option)

 

Description

The non-thesis option M.S. in Plant Breeding requires 36 hours of coursework, four of which are an internship activity at the student’s present company or locale.  This is considered a terminal degree for students who do not wish to pursue their education beyond the M.S. level.

 

Courses will vary depending upon the student’s career goals and current situation. Students will work with a graduate advisor to determine which courses best suit their needs.  A typical degree plan will include a variety of course work in plant breeding, molecular and environmental plant sciences, statistics, plant pathology, entomology, agricultural economics,  and education and human development.

 

Time for Completion

Since this program is designed for industry professionals who will continue to be employed full time during their graduate studies, typical course load will be 1 to 2 classes per semester.

 

Many factors will effect completion time, but most students can expect to finish within 3-5 years.

 

Master of Science in Plant Breeding (Thesis Option)

 

Description

The thesis option M.S. in Plant Breeding requires 32 semester credit hours of course work and a thesis on original research.  Student research can be completed at the student’s location.

 

An on-site Ph.D. scientist, educator, or supervisor who qualifies as an adjunct member of the Texas

 

A&M graduate faculty must be available to serve as co-chair of the student’s graduate advisory committee and be able to direct thesis research locally.  Students will have an on-campus co-chair to oversee the academic aspect of their degree.  Communication with committee members, examinations, and thesis defense will be conducted via the internet.

 

Requirements Leading to the Master of Science Degree

 

1. 32 graduate credit hours beyond the B.S. degree; general requirements are:

            a.  23 course hours approved by the student’s advisory committee and the Office            of Graduate Studies.

            b. Statistics 651 or equivalent.

            c. An exit seminar discussing research findings (SCCS 681).

            d. No more than 8 hours of SCSC 691 (Research) or SCSC 685 (Directed             Studies).

            e. No more than 9 hours of upper level (300 or 400) undergraduate courses and             no graduate credit for the following courses required for a B.S. degree:

            SCSC 101

            SCSC 105

            SCSC 301

            f. See Graduate Catalog for additional requirements,

            http://tamu.edu/admissions/catalogs/.

 

2.   A thesis written on original research as directed by student’s advisory committee.

 

            Time for Completion

            Time for completion will vary depending on number of courses taken per semester and the student’s original research project.  Typical completion time will       be 3-5 years.

 

Course Delivery

Each course has been uniquely designed by the instructor to provide course content in an accessible, understandable format.  All courses will be delivered on-line, completely at a distance via Texas A&M University’s E-learning system. 

 

This system utilizes the Blackboard Vista learning platform to allow students to view instructional materials, interact with other students and faculty, and complete assignments and examinations.  (To check your computer’s compatibility with this system visit Texas A&M’s E-Learning and perform the E-Learning Browser Check.).

 

The web based nature of course delivery allows students to access and complete course material at a time convenient to them. 

 

For thesis option MS students, graduate advisory committee meetings, examinations,  and research defense will be handled through electronic communication, including video and teleconferencing.  No campus visit will be required.

 

Costs

Tuition and fees are set by the university and will vary based on tuition rates, residency, course load and applicable fees.

 

An estimate of tuition and fees for a 3 hour course are: Texas Resident Tuition and Fees:  $1700 per 3 hour course.

 

Non-resident Tuition and Fees:  $2600 per 3 hour course

 

Scholarships and financial aid are available through the Office of Financial Aid. Your graduate advisor can suggest other potential sources of funding.  In addition, some employers provide financial assistance for their employee’s educational expenses.

 

Admission Procedure 

Applicants should follow all of the guidelines and procedures to apply for graduate studies in a department offering a plant breeding degree at Texas A&M University at College Station using the Texas A&M on-line admission process.  On-line application to graduate studies at Texas A&M University can be found at admissions.tamu.edu.  The Department of Soil & Crop

Sciences and the Department of Horticultural Sciences confer graduate degrees in plant breeding.

 

Additional items to be provided by the applicant:

 

Non-Thesis Option

-  A letter of application directed to Wayne Smith, David Byrne, or LeAnn Hague providing sufficient background information to demonstrate the student’s commitment and ability to complete an on-line Master of Science (NTO) program and internship, including prospective internship location or activity.

 

Thesis-Option

-  A letter of application directed to Wayne Smith, David Byrne, or LeAnn Hague providing sufficient background information to demonstrate the student’s aptitude to conduct plant breeding research.

-  Identification of the area of plant breeding research to be pursued and its importance to the agricultural industry.

-  A one or two-page letter of support from the perspective distance co-chair indicating

commitment of facilities and time for the conduct of the proposed research.

Students applying to the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences must send these additional items to the attention of Wayne Smith, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, 2474 Texas A&M University, college Station, TX  77843-2474 (cwsmith@tamu.edu).

 

Students applying to the Department of Horticultural Sciences must send the additional items to the attention of David Byrne, Department of Horticultural Sciences, 2133 TAMU, College Station, TX  77843-2133 (dbyrne@tamu.edu).

 

Some of the Available Courses

The following courses are currently available and included in the distance program.

      Course Name Credit Hours

      SCSC 304:  Undergraduate Plant Breeding-3

      SCSC 306:  Crop Production-3  

      SCSC 422:  Soil Fertility-3

      SCSC 641:  Plant Breeding-3

      SCSC 642:  Quantitative Plant Breeding -3

      SCSC 643:  Quantitative Genetics -3

      SCSC 654:  Genomic Analysis -3

      SCSC 660:  Experimental Designs -3

      STAT 651:  Statistics I-3

      STAT 652:  Statistics II-3

      STAT 653:  Statistics III-3

      AGEC 314:  Marketing Agriculture Production-3

      EHRD 602:  Human Resource Development -3

      EHRD 605:  Leadership-3

 

Source: TEXAS A&M PLANT BREEDING Bulletin Academic & Student Advising Office