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PLANT BREEDING NEWS EDITION 235 31 May 2012 An Electronic Newsletter of Applied Plant Breeding Clair H.

Hershey, Editor Sponsored by GIPB, FAO/AGP and Cornell Universitys 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 Nations need food security goals People in the news 1.02 Paddy Breeding Station of TNAU bags award 1.03 Cornell University plant breeder works to alleviate aluminum toxicity in rice News and outputs from breeding programs 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 New National Plant Phenomics Centre opens at Aberystwyth University ICRISAT and ICAR partner to build climate resilient agriculture HarvestPlus Extends Reach in Latin America & Caribbean Rice research in Africa provides a strong case for investment Drought tolerant maize boosts farmers harvest in Tanzania Modern hybrid corn makes better use of nitrogen, study shows

Policy and IP issues 1.10 Conventionally-bred plants or animals should be exempt from patents, says European Parliament 1.11 CIOPORA looks at effects of America Invents Act on plant breeders Genetic resources 1.12 Seed diversity decline must urgently be stopped

1.13 USDA links gene flow between weedy and domesticated rice to rising carbon dioxide levels 1.14 Kansas State University scientists lead the effort that finds genes underlying the domestication of sorghum and other cereals 1.15 Experimental evidence for the ancestry of allotetraploid Trifolium repens and creation of synthetic forms with value for plant breeding 1.16 Researchers look to relatives for clues in quest to develop sources of bioenergy 1.17 Genes underlying the key domestication process in sorghum and other cereals 1.18 Implications of farmers seed exchanges for on-farm conservation of quinoa, as revealed by its genetic diversity in Chile 1.19 Time is ticking for some crops wild relatives Trait selection/variety trials/applied breeding 1.20 University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher breeding dry beans to be more drought tolerant 1.21 University of Wisconsin-Madison plant breeders develop heart-healthier oat 1.22 Next-generation disease resistance breeding 1.23 Newly identified gene helps to increase sugar beet yields 1.24 Generating whitefly-resistant plants 1.25 Improved roots will boost crops 1.26 ICARDA, Pak-US Cotton Productivity Enhancement Programme (2011-14) 1.27 New nematode resistant wheat 1.28 Pyramiding resistance genes to combat bacterial blight in hybrid rice 1.29 Genetic control of seed shattering in rice 1.30 Repeatability and optimum trial configuration for field-testing of banana and plantain Molecular/basic genetic research International consortium sequences tomato genome Candidate genes for drought tolerance identified in coffee (Coffea canephora) Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory joins the Illumina Genome Network Potato genome mapping benefits within a decade New bench top machines open up DNA sequencing First plant-made drug on the market Discovery may allow plant breeders to switch off flower production Nuclear-powered crops Big advances from tiny technology - Is a game-changing device in DNA sequencing about to revolutionise the business of decoding genes? 1.40 BGI reports the completed sequence of foxtail millet genome 1.41 New Research Targets 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.37 1.38 1.39 Network news/newsletters 1.42 FAO/IAEA Plant Breeding and Genetics Newsletter 28

2. PUBLICATIONS 2.01 Technical Manual : Plant Breeding with Farmers 2.02 IITA's R4D Review on Crop Improvement published 3. WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES 3.01 Launching of The Resource, a monthly update from NRI 3.02 Website launched for new international plant science network 3.03 A Global Food Security Index under development 3.04 Tomato experts field notes go online 3.05 Data portal aims to help unlock food production bottlenecks 3.06 Rice Bowl Index highlights solutions for food security challenges across AsiaPacific 4. GRANTS AND AWARDS 4.01 CGIAR Program to improve maize opens call for proposals 5. POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS 5.01 Plant Breeder, Tropical Forages, CIAT 5.02 Hybrid Barley Breeder 6. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS 7. EDITOR'S NOTES

1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES 1.01 Nations need food security goals By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News Researchers are calling for a concerted approach to agricultural policy, based on science Continue reading the main story The biggest environmental summit for a decade must make meaningful progress on global food security and sustainable agriculture, say researchers. CGIAR, the world's largest publicly funded research body, has published a seven-point "call to action" plan. Ahead of the Rio gathering, scientists are calling for an improved commitment to deliver nutrition security and lessen the need to aid. Agriculture is estimated to provide jobs for 40% of the world's population.

In its statement, CGIAR said: "Faced with environmental degradation, climate change... and a world population that is continuing to climb, it is critical for farm and natural resources management and policies to play a more central role in shaping the broader development and environmental agendas." The organisations listed a seven-point "call to action" list, which they will present at the gathering in the Brazilian city, including:

Improved partnerships to maximise the management of agriculture, aquaculture, forest and water resources; need to address unequal sharing of natural resources via better governance and dissemination of technology; support for a knowledge sharing system to improve production and minimise adverse impacts; adopting measures to restore degraded environments and ecosystems.

"One reason why it is necessary to push attention on to agriculture in Rio is because negotiations are going really slowly," explained CGIAR spokesman Bruce Campbell. "We thought it was really important to put the focus on agriculture in Rio, and the 15 research organisations have come together in order to form a consortium and speak with one voice for the first time." Dr Campbell added that the agencies were calling on the negotiators to reaffirm the role of science and technology. "We are also looking for an improvement between the links between policy and science so then scientists are so much more linked into the processes that matter," he said. The Rio+20 Conference, formally known as the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), will take place in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012. The summit marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which was also held in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Organisers say that the conference will focus on two themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Seven priority areas have also been identified, including: decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness. Heads of states from more than 100 nations are expected to attend the summit. Source: +++++++++++++ (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.02 Paddy Breeding Station of TNAU bags award TNAU has so far released 50 varieties and possess state-of-art facilities The Paddy Breeding Station of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has been conferred the Best Plant Breeding Centre for Rice Award' for its overall performance in development of rice varieties by the Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad. The station has been selected for the award from among the 107 stations in the country. It is noteworthy that the award has been conferred when the station is celebrating its centenary year, according to TNAU Vice-Chancellor P. Murugesa Boopathy. The landmark varieties that have been developed through Pure Line Selection by this station triggered the growth of rice production in the State. The first variety GEB 24 (Kichili Samba) released during 1921 played a significant role in the development of rice cultivars over the years, not only in India, but world-wide, he said. GEB 24 became very popular with wide coverage and thereby attained world-wide recognition and since then had been used in several national and international breeding programmes as progenitor for their varieties. Other noteworthy rice varieties responsible for transforming rice cultivation in the State were CO4 and CO25, CO37, CO38, CO40, CO43, CO47, etc. The recently released CO (R) 48 and CO (R) 49 are the fine grain varieties that cater to the current market demands. K. Thiyagarajan, Director, Centre for Plant Breeding and Genetics, TNAU, said the station was functioning with the objective of breeding improved new rice varieties and hybrids for irrigated, drought and aerobic situations. It had so far released 50

varieties. It possessed the state-of-the-art facilities to enable the rice scientists for conducting high quality research in rice cultivar development. Source: +++++++++++++ (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.03 Cornell University plant breeder works to alleviate aluminum toxicity in rice May 7, 2012 Ithaca, New York, USA As rice farmers around the world begin to turn from wet paddies to dry fields in an attempt to conserve water and mitigate climate change, they are facing a new foe: aluminum. Aluminum, the third most abundant element in soil, can be toxic to plants in acidic conditions. Its harmful effects are diluted in the flooding of traditional rice paddies but are becoming an issue as farmers try new ways of raising their crops. Cornell plant breeder Professor Susan McCouch is working to help make these new rice-rearing methods more viable. For example, she has identified several promising varieties of rice that are tolerant to the metal in research with Leon Kochian of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Robert Holley Center for Agriculture and Health. They found, for instance, that japonica varieties are twice as tolerant to aluminum than the more diverse indica varieties commonly grown around the world. They also discovered that there are different mechanisms within each variety that influence their tolerance -- some are able to keep aluminum from entering the roots, while others take up the metal and detoxify it inside root cells. McCouch is now trying to determine whether crosses among the strains could result in new super-tolerant varieties. "In the coming years, we will need to double rice production, with less water and fewer inputs. Genetic variation will be key to accomplishing that goal," McCouch said. Insight into aluminum tolerance in rice could also provide a good model to investigate the effects of aluminum toxicity in such important cereal crops as maize and wheat, which are less tolerant than rice, McCouch said. Aluminum toxicity is a primary

limitation to crop production on about 50 percent of the world's potentially arable land, including about 20 percent of land in North America. Her lab has published several papers about the work over the past year, in PLoS Genetics and Plant Physiology, and McCouch presented her findings in April at a Cornell symposium. Harnessing a wider spectrum of genetic variation requires a lot of time and money, she said at the symposium, as well as a good roadmap, which is where her lab is providing valuable insight. McCouch's cutting-edge rice breeding program still uses traditional breeding techniques and works with ancient cultivars and wild strains of rice. "Gene banks around the world are storing seeds from thousands of varieties that have never been used. This kind of new information opens up enormous possibilities," McCouch said. She also applies the latest genomic sequencing technologies and algorithms developed in her lab to identify the location of desirable traits on genes of those varieties. As part of the aluminum tolerance study, graduate students Randy Clark and Adam Famoso created a novel 3-D imaging and software system that allowed them to record and assess the entire root system, rather than relying on traditional methods that use a ruler or a caliper to measure just the longest root. "What good is sequencing info if you can't connect the dots? Knowing where to look for positive alleles and how to recombine them will be key to breeding in the future," McCouch said. _category=&id_crop= Source: +++++++++++ (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.04 New National Plant Phenomics Centre opens at Aberystwyth University May 14, 2012 Aberystwyth, United Kingdom Today, Monday 14 May 2012, the new National Plant Phenomics Centre, which features the most advanced research greenhouse in the UK, will be formally opened at Aberystwyth University's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences.

The new Centre is a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) supported national facility and has been developed at a cost of 6.8M. The research conducted at this new national centre will help to develop new plant and crop varieties to help tackle the global challenges of climate change, food security and replacing oil based products. Located on the University's Gogerddan campus, it will be will be opened by BBSRC Chairman, Professor Sir Tom Blundell FRS at 12.00 p.m. The new building is one of two significant capital investment developments that are being opened on the same day. At 3.30 p.m. Welsh Government Education and Skills Minister Leighton Andrews will open new teaching and researcher facilities on the University's Penglais campus. The new Penglais facility represents an investment of 5.6M and houses the Bioinformatics and Spatial Modelling laboratories as well as offering a hub for undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Together the developments represent the culmination of a four year 25M capital investment programme made possible by financial support from the BBSRC, the Welsh Government and the European Union. Professor April McMahon, Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said: "This is an immensely significant day for Aberystwyth University and IBERS. The opening of a new national facility here at Aberystwyth reflects the ambition we have as a University to contribute as an international centre of excellence, both in terms of research and in inspiring a new generation of highly trained graduates who are equipped with the skills to tackle some of the pressing environmental challenges faced by society." "I would like to take this opportunity to thank the BBSRC and the Welsh Government for their investment in this flagship project and to all who have been involved during design and construction," she added. Professor Wayne Powell, Director of IBERS said: "The combined effects of world population growth, climate change and the scarcity of water and land mean that food and water security represent key global challenges for the 21st century. The National Plant Phenomics Centre means that researchers based in the UK and internationally have the very latest technology at their disposal to develop new crop varieties that can thrive in challenging conditions and make a significant contribution to future food production."

BBSRC Chairman, Professor Sir Tom Blundell, said: "The benefits of this investment will reach well beyond the walls of the University, offering a new national capability in crop science. Discoveries made here will contribute to combating major challenges, such as feeding a growing population. This investment in bioscience infrastructure not only creates immediate jobs, in areas such as construction, it also contributes to the potential for growth of the UK knowledge-based bioeconomy." Leighton Andrews said: "This superb facility for research and teaching in the land based sciences is a great example of the kind of cutting-edge Higher Education the Welsh Government wants to see. We've made a significant capital investment in Aberystwyth University as part of our ambitious agenda for science and innovation here in Wales. This new centre will develop the University's reputation as a globallysignificant centre of bioscience research which should be celebrated." The centre, which features a state of the art greenhouse - the only one of its kind in the UK and one of only seven in the world, will enable researchers to study individual plants in a way that has never before been possible. With the capacity to house up to 850 individually potted plants on a series of conveyor belts measuring over 300 meters long, scientists will be able to apply different feeding and watering regimes to individual plants as they study the influence of individual genes. Ten computer controlled cameras using fluorescence, infra-red and near infra-red, laser and root imaging technology combine to provide 3D images of the plants and monitor their growth on a daily basis. This level of detail, which cannot be achieved using current research methods, will enable researchers to speed up the process of identifying potentially beneficial genes. The beneficial genes will be used for the development of new plant varieties to tackle the global challenges of climate change and food security and to replace oil based products. IBERS Penglais The new teaching and research facilities at IBERS Penglais are designed to provide a hub for innovative collaboration between IBERS scientists and researchers in other areas at Aberystwyth University. Working closely with computer scientists, IBERS scientists are collaborating on exciting new developments that pave the way for processing huge amounts of data about the new varieties of plants that are being developed. This work is based at the newly established Bioinformatics Laboratory.

The Spatial Modelling Laboratory brings together biologists and geographers to understand how the geography of an area affects biological processes. One area of research at Aberystwyth is looking at the spread of Malaria in Africa, and how this might be affected by climate change. The new facilities have also been designed to develop new postgraduate courses including a new degree in Green Biotechnology and Innovation. This new MSc will train students in green biotechnology research, management, business and interaction with industry and provide a new generation of business aware biotechnologists skilled to develop bio-based products to replace fossil fuels and meet global government targets for carbon reduction. _category=&id_crop= Source: ++++++++++++ (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.05 ICRISAT and ICAR partner to build climate resilient agriculture 22 May 2012 New Delhi, India The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have called to adapt new measures to tackle the growing climate related risks and constraints that prevail in rural areas. The two lead organizations and their partners emphasized to adopt a different perspective and approach by listening, observing and learning from the people that are supposed to help with research findings, technology and knowhow. "Climate change is happening and its impacts are already being felt. Climate change will impact several sectors including agriculture, fisheries, water etc. where the world population depends for their sustenance. Climate change impacts are imminent, irrespective of the geographical distribution and the impacts are going to be severe" said Shri Harish Rawat, Union Ministry of State for Agriculture, Food Processing and Parliamentary Affairs at the National Agricultural Science Centre, (NASC) here today. He was speaking at the inauguration of the policy dialogue on "Building Climate Resilient Agriculture in India", organized by the Research Program on Markets, Institutions and Policies (RP-MIP) of ICRISAT in collaboration with ICAR with support from Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Attended by over 60 dignitaries including key policy makers and other important stakeholders in India including representatives of concerned ministries and departments, the deliberation highlighted the grassroots level insights in climate related risks and constraints that prevail in rural areas. These constraints were identified and analyzed as part of ADB funded seven-country project "Vulnerability to Climate Change: Adaptation Strategies and Layers of Resilience". In his keynote address Director General of ICRISAT Dr William D Dar said, We're going to hold ourselves accountable. We'll measure results. And we'll stay focused on clear goals: boosting farmers' incomes and over the next decade helping 50 million men, women and children lift themselves out of poverty. The smallholder farmers who live in the semi-arid tropics and coastal areas are severely affected by climate change trends that are the result of mostly industrial and urban lifestyles." "If I may indulge, the crisis management plan for drought of the government of India (2012) presents a disturbing picture. The report says that annually 50 million people are exposed to chronic drought. Sixteen percent of India's land area is drought prone, 68 percent of land area sown is exposed to drought. Most drought prone areas in India lie in the arid (19.5%) semi-arid (37%) and sub-humid (21%) areas of the country occupying 77.6% of total land out of 329 mil. ha. Thirty three percent of land receives less than 750 mm of rainfall and classified as chronically drought prone." added Dr Dar. "Thus spoke US President Barack Obama last Friday at a symposium on New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition on the eve of the G8 meeting at Camp David. In the same speech, President Obama unveiled a $3bn (1.9bn) plan to boost food security and farm productivity in Africa funded by private US companies. "It's a moral imperative, it's an economic imperative and it's a security imperative," Pres. Obama said. The $3bn announcement by Obama is a bold US initiative which, however, goes only a small way to fulfilling the $22bn pledge of the G8 nations in 2009," added Dr Dar. Director General of ICAR Dr S Ayyappan in his opening address said "The collaboration of ICAR with ICRISAT dates back decades and has been quite fruitful in addressing the farmers problems in totality. As far as climate change is concerned, it is a global phenomenon. The increase in the atmospheric temperature, due to rise in greenhouse gas levels such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, is the prime driver of climate change." Todays dialogue is part of the ongoing collaborative project between ICRISAT and ICAR (CRIDA) on `Vulnerability to Climate Change: Adaptation Strategies and Layers of Resilience and this meeting is crucial to give a final shape to the conclusions that emanated from this project through in-depth analysis of datasets with a micro-level

perspective through expert consultation process for evolving a policy document based on the project outcome. During the deliberations, it was reported that the early signs of increasing climatic variability are gradually becoming more visible in the form of increasing melting of Himalayan glaciers, flash floods, and intense rainfall over short periods. In Indian context, the climate change is likely to exacerbate the current stresses and increase vulnerability of food production and livelihoods of the farming community. Most specifically, the small and marginal farmers are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Every 1oC increase in temperature throughout crop cycle may reduce wheat production by 4-5 million tones which can be reduced to 1-2 million tones with timely planting. The milk production is projected to decrease by 1.5 million tones by 2020 due to increase in temperature leading to heat stress in livestock. Increase in sea and river water temperatures are likely to affect fish breeding, migration, and harvests. In addition, it was also reported that by the end of the 21st century rainfall will increase by 15-31%, and the mean annual temperature will increase by 3 to 6C. Dr Dar observed For generations to come, what we do now will decide the future. The voices at the grassroots level will be heard if we act now, we act together and we act differently, he concluded. _category=&id_crop= Source: ++++++++++++++ (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.06 HarvestPlus Extends Reach in Latin America & Caribbean May 15, 2012 Washington, DC Latin American and Caribbean countries (LAC) are about to benefit from a renewed effort to improve nutrition and public health. AgroSalud, a program that has been

developing more nutritious staple food crops for LAC, has been integrated into HarvestPlus, a global program that improves nutrition by developing food crops rich in minerals and vitamins through a process called biofortification. This now allows us to expand and align biofortification in LAC with our programs in Sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, making HarvestPlus a truly global program to improve nutrition, said HarvestPlus Director, Howarth Bouis. Marilia Nutti, who coordinates BioFORT a biofortification program based at Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), will now also coordinate the biofortification program for LAC. Nutti has built BioFORT into an extensive network of 150 Brazilian partners that includes 11 Embrapa units, numerous universities, state government, NGOs, farmer associations, and researchers. At least ten different nutrient-rich crop varieties have been released in Brazil including crops as diverse as cowpea and cassava. We are pleased to support Marilia Nutti in this new position, said Pedro Antonio Arraes Pereira, President of Embrapa. We are confident that under her leadership, HarvestPlus will be able to reproduce the success with biofortification that weve had in Brazil throughout the LAC region. Nutti will now focus her attention on Guatemala, Haiti, and Nicaragua, which have some of the highest levels of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the region. Panama, where the government already supports biofortification, will also benefit from renewed efforts. In line with the HarvestPlus approach, the program will include breeding and nutrition research, delivery of nutrient-rich crops to farmers, developing food products based on biofortified crops, and measuring impact. HarvestPlus leads a global effort to make familiar staple foods that people eat every day more nutritious and available to those suffering from hidden hunger. We use a process called biofortification to breed higher amounts of vitamins and minerals directly into foods such as bean, cassava, orange sweet potato, rice, maize, pearl millet, and wheat. HarvestPlus is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health. It is coordinated by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Source: HarvestPlus Highlights, Spring / Summer 2012 +++++++++++ (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.07 Rice research in Africa provides a strong case for investment

May 2, 2012 Cotonou, Benin Excited by the work of the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) and its partners on the development of new stress-tolerant and climate-resilient technologies for major rice production systems in Africa, the Chair of the AfricaRice Board of Trustees Dr. Peter Matlon stated at the recent Board meeting, We believe that rice research in Africa provides a strong case for investment. The work includes marker-assisted selection for tolerance to important yield-limiting and yield-reducing stresses, such as salinity, drought, cold, iron toxicity, rice yellow mottle virus and rice blast as well as component technologies to increase labor, nutrient and water productivities to close yield gaps and reduce risks in farmers fields. Several of these technological options are already being tested in participation with farmers. The Board described AfricaRices new product-oriented 10-year strategic plan, which presents a clear vision of success to help Africa achieve almost 90% self-sufficiency in rice by year 2020, as a compelling and convincing agenda for realizing Africas tremendous rice potential. The current thrusts of AfricaRice were recognized by the Board as signs of a new vitality and resurgence of rice research in Africa. These include: 1. Evidence-based policy advocacy; 2. The establishment of Rice Sector Development Hubs to conduct proof-of concept work with public and private sector partners to develop competitive, equitable and sustainable rice value chains tailored to market demand; 3. Focused research product development to enable sustainable intensification and diversification of rice-based systems (varieties, agronomic options, mechanization); and 4. Strengthening of the capacities of national rice research and extension communities and rice value-chain actors. In particular, AfricaRices strategic vision and leadership, diversified partnership and sound financial management were highlighted by the Board, based on the following indicators: Significant increase in average annual contribution of member countries to AfricaRice

Increase in reserve funds that contribute to financial stability and efficient management of risks Increase in the volume of joint projects with national partners Increase in the number of PhD students (43 in 2011 compared with 9 in 2006) and MSc/DEA students ( 51 in 2011 compared with 5 in 2006) Increase in the number of workshops and training programs to build Africas research and development capacity relating to rice Launch of the CGIAR Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) activities in Africa under the leadership of AfricaRice Launch of the Africa-wide Rice Task Forces Strategic alliance forged with the African Union, and Winning of several international and regional awards, including the Japan International Award for Young Researchers

Our ambition is to maintain high standards of excellence at all levels and to keep in mind that AfricaRice can achieve its mission only through strong national agricultural research systems and strategic partnerships worldwide in order to bring the best efforts of rice science to bear on the immense challenge of food security faced by Africa, said AfricaRice Director General Dr. Papa Abdoulaye Seck. Gratefully acknowledging the strong support of donors and partners, particularly the member countries of AfricaRice, the Board concluded that rice research in Africa was on the right track. AfricaRice is an intergovernmental research association of 24 African member countries. It is also a member of the CGIAR Consortium. _category=&id_crop= Source: ++++++++++++ (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.08 Drought tolerant maize boosts farmers harvest in Tanzania

In Tanzania, farmers who used to grow millet, sorghum and other legumes are now part of an international research project called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA). The farmers are using five maize varieties that are being tested in WEMA's efforts to increase food production and help farmers face the challenges of climate change. Barnabas Kiula, WEMA's lead researcher in Tanzania, said that Situka, one of the maize varieties being introduced, can be grown in dry conditions and still be ready for harvest in only 75 days, when most varieties need at least 90 days to mature. According to him, the pressing need for food security in the region led to the decision to experiment which introduced maize to areas which have not traditionally grown the crop. "People are dying of hunger in this area. They live by food handouts every single year. We hope that drought tolerant maize could reverse this situation," he said. Hassan Mshinda, director-general of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, which is coordinating WEMA activities in the country, said that affordable, drought resistant varieties of staple crops will be important for dealing not only with climate change but also with general poor growing conditions and low yields in some African countries. More information is available at Source: Crop Biotech Update 18 May 2012 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.09 Modern hybrid corn makes better use of nitrogen, study shows April 30, 2012 West Lafayette, Indiana, USA Today's hybrid corn varieties more efficiently use nitrogen to create more grain, according to 72 years of public-sector research data reviewed by Purdue University researchers. Tony Vyn, a professor of agronomy, and doctoral student Ignacio Ciampitti looked at nitrogen use studies for corn from two periods 1940-1990 and 1991-2011. They

wanted to see whether increased yields were due to better nitrogen efficiency or whether new plants were simply given additional nitrogen to produce more grain. "Corn production often faces the criticism from society that yields are only going up because of an increased dependency on nitrogen," said Vyn, whose findings were published in the early online version of the journal Field Crops Research. "Although modern hybrids take up more total nitrogen per acre during the growing season than they did before, the amount of grain produced per pound of nitrogen accumulated in corn plants is substantially greater than it was for corn hybrids of earlier decades. So, in that sense, the efficiency of nitrogen utilization has gradually improved." Vyn and Ciampitti's analysis covered about 100 worldwide studies. Of those, 870 data points were taken from the earlier period through 1990, and 2,074 points were taken from studies after 1990, when transgenic hybrids started hitting the market. All studies involved analyses of total nitrogen uptake and grain yield by corn plants at maturity, usually in response to multiple nitrogen application rates. Grain yields in these research studies averaged about 143 bushels of corn per acre over the last 21 years compared with an average of 115 bushels in the previous 50 years. Those studies showed that in the earlier period, one pound of nitrogen applied to a field produced about 49 kilograms of grain. In the more recent period, the same amount of nitrogen produced about 56 kilograms of grain. About 90 percent of the corn data points examined in Vyn's study evaluated nitrogen rates between zero and 250 pounds per acre. Over both periods, the average rate of nitrogen fertilizer distributed in experimental fields was nearly the same 124 pounds per acre in the earlier period vs. 123 pounds in the later period. Vyn said genetic improvements have led to corn plants that require less space around them, allowing growers to squeeze more plants into an acre. Research fields from the modern era averaged about 28,900 plants per acre about the average final plant populations in Indiana cornfields in 2011 - compared with 22,800 plants per acre from 1940-1990. "The maximum individual plant nitrogen uptake stayed exactly the same despite the average gain of 6,000 more plants per acre," Vyn said. "The modern plants are just more efficient at taking nitrogen up and utilizing it than they were before." Vyn and Ciampitti are working toward methods to increase grain yields further by investigating the contribution of nitrogen to plant biomass and yield formation processes in high-yielding hybrids under a wide range of nitrogen inputs and production stress factors. Knowing that modern hybrids are sustaining a reasonable quantity of nitrogen uptake even under progressively higher plant densities is a good start, Ciampitti said.

"We are getting clues on how plants have already improved nitrogen use efficiency, and we will use that to push for further increases," Ciampitti said. "We finally feel like we're shedding some light on what traits plant breeders should select for to increase nitrogen efficiency even more." Vyn and Ciampitti plan to further investigate how water use efficiency and nitrogen use efficiency are tied together, as well as how plants can achieve more tolerance to environmental stresses. Dow AgroSciences, PotashCorp and the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded their work. Abstratc Physiological Perspectives of Changes Over Time in Maize Yield Dependency on Nitrogen Uptake and Associated Nitrogen Efficiencies: A Review Ignacio A. Ciampitti, Tony J. Vyn. Over the past three decades, the study of various mechanisms involved in maize grain yield (GY) formation and its relationship with nitrogen (N) uptake dynamics has been increasingly acknowledged in the scientific literature. However, few studies have combined investigations of GY response to N fertilizer with detailed physiologically based analyses of plant N dynamics such as N uptake quantities, timing, and (or) partitioning and the complex interactions of those with specific genotypes (G), management practices (M), and (or) production environments (E). Limited reporting of both N and yield dynamics at plant-component, individual-plant, and community levels has contributed to a considerable knowledge gap as to whether the physiological mechanisms that govern maize plant N dynamics and their relationship with GY formation have changed with time. We, therefore, undertook a comprehensive review to discern trends in physiological aspects of maize response to changing plant densities and fertilizer N rates (M components) under the umbrella of evolving G x E interactions. We reviewed 100 published and unpublished papers based on field experiments which consistently reported total plant N uptake at maturity and maize GY (frequently among other physiological variables). Our analyses were limited nearly exclusively to experiments involving hybrid (as distinct from inbred) response to M input levels where plant density data was available. Dissection of the complex interactions among years, plant densities and N rates began with division of treatment mean data (close to 3000 individual points) into two time periods defined by year(s) of the original research: (i) studies from 1940 to 1990 "Old Era" and, (ii) studies from 1991 to 2011 "New Era." For the Old Era, maize GY averaged 7.2 Mg ha1 at a mean plant density of 5.6 pl m2 with a total plant N uptake of 152 kg N ha1, a grain harvest index (HI) of 48% and N harvest index (NHI) of 63%. For the New Era, maize GY averaged 9.0 Mg ha1 at a mean plant density of 7.1 pl m2, total plant N uptake of 170 kg N ha1, a grain HI of 50% and a NHI of 64%.

The most striking findings in terms of overall GY and plant N uptake were: (1) on a per-unit-area basis, both potential GY and NIE (GY/N uptake) increased from Old to New Era at comparable N uptake levels, and (2) on a per-plant basis, total plant N uptake at maturity had not changed between eras despite increased plant density in the New Era genotypes. Other important findings in terms of plant growth and component partitioning responses to N were (i) a consistently strong dependency between dry matter and N allocation to the ear organ in both eras; (ii) higher total plant biomass (BM) accumulation and N uptake, on an absolute basis, during the post-silking period with New Era genotypes accompanied by relatively smaller changes in HI and NHI; (iii) a strong correlation between plant N uptake at silking time and per-plant GY and its components in both eras; (iv) New Era (56.0 kg GY grain kg1 N) was primarily associated with reduced grain %N, and to a minor degree with NHI gains; and (v) New Era genotypes showed higher tolerance to N deficiency stress (higher GY when no N fertilizer was applied), and larger GY response per unit of N applied, relative to Old Era hybrids. This improved understanding of the physiological factors underlying progress in maize yield response to N over time, within the context of changing G x E x M factors, serves to help guide maize programs focused on achieving further improvements in N use efficiency. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.10 Conventionally-bred plants or animals should be exempt from patents, says European Parliament May 10, 2012 Strasbourg, France Parliament wants to protect European breeders from excessive patent protection, which it believes could stifle innovation and progress. In a non-binding resolution adopted on Thursday, it says products such as anti-carcinogenic broccoli or high-yield dairy cows, produced by conventional breeding techniques, should not be patented. MEPs recognise that patents are an important tool for the transfer of technology but stress that "excessively broad patent protection can hamper innovation and progress

and become detrimental to small and medium breeders by blocking access to animal and plant genetic resources". The non-legislative resolution was 354 votes to 192, with 22 abstentions. Exemptions for conventional breeding Parliament calls on the European Patent Office to exclude products derived from conventional breeding and all conventional breeding methods from patenting. It also wants the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the EU continues to exempt breeders from its patent law on plant and animal breeding. Concern for the impact on industry MEPs remind the Commission of its duty to report annually on the development and implications of patent law in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering, pointing out that it has not published any reports since 2005. They want the Commission's next report to examine the impact of the patenting of breeding methods on the breeding and food industry. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.11 CIOPORA looks at effects of America Invents Act on plant breeders May 24, 2012 Geneva, Switzerland By Catherine Saez CIOPORA, an international association of plant breeders, held its annual meeting recently with a focus on novelties in plant patents introduced by the America Invents Act, to become effective on 16 March 2013. According to a press release [pdf] on the outcome of the meeting and an article by two patent experts in the CIOPORA Chronicle, three major areas of plant patenting are related: grace period, priority claim and novelties in procedures. The one year grace period, which allows plant breeders to announce or commercialise their inventions within the year following the plant patent application, has been maintained in the America Invents Act. There had been some expectation that it might be removed.

Plant patent applicants must indicate the priority claim for the earlier plant breeders rights application issued by the respective governmental authority when applying for a US plant patent. Once the priority claim is confirmed, the effective date for the US plant patent will be considered to be the earlier plant breeders rights application, according to the release. Third parties can submit information relevant to the patentability of new plant varieties or challenge the plant patent after it has been granted under the new act, CIOPORA said. CIOPORA is the International Association of Breeders of Vegetatively Reproduced Ornamental and Fruit Varieties. _category=&id_crop= Source: Intellectual Property Watch (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.12 Seed diversity decline must urgently be stopped May 24, 2012 Brussels Civil Society urges EU law-makers to come up with an environment, farmer and consumer friendly review of the legislation on the marketing of Seed and Propagating Material (S&PM) PDF French version: Il faut sans dlai stopper le dclin de la biodiversit au sein des semences PDF German version: Der Verlust der Saatgut-Vielfalt muss gestoppt werden PDF English version: Seed diversity decline must urgently be stopped Today, a broad coalition of over 240 civil society organisations and enterprises (1) from 40 countries from the EU, the EFTA, candidate countries and from 6 continents urged European leaders to reverse the disastrous decline in biodiversity in Europe. In their Open Letter to the Members of the European Parliament and 7 European Commissioners the NGOs argue that the present review of the legislation on the marketing of Seed and Propagating Material (S & PM) (2) represents a unique opportunity to make the long overdue move towards a sustainable European seed policy that contributes to the protection and improvement of biodiversity and the

environment, that takes into account consumers interest in diversity on the food market and in availability of healthy food also in the future, and that responds to needs of small scale farmers and gardeners for locally adapted seeds. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates a loss of cultivated agricultural biodiversity of 75% since 1900, when the seed market emerged. EU seed legislation, established in the 1960s, contributed to this erosion process by banning all seeds from the market that are not compatible with a list of criteria, many of these criteria being shaped for seed production for large scale and industrial needs. In the meantime, during the last 30 years, the seed sector has gone through massive concentration processes, leading to nowadays not more than 10 multinational companies controlling 74% of the global seed market. In addition to making the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) more environmentally friendly, maintaining seeds diversity is essential to ensuring that agriculture systems are resilient to the threats they face said Faustine Defossez, agriculture and bioenergy policy officer for the EEB. European agriculture faces enormous challenges including soil depletion, loss of biodiversity, water quality and without serious investments these will not be resolved. A sound review of the legislation on Seed and Propagating Material is one essential tool to get there she added. Agricultural Biodiversity has been rightly identified as the very stuff of food production and an essential resource for plant and animal breeding by the IAASTD (2009) (3). For Antje Klling from the IFOAM EU Group, the use of varieties bred under organic farming conditions as well as other locally adapted varieties with a wider genetic basis is essential to conserve and improve the capacity of food production systems to adapt successfully to changing environmental conditions, and thus to ensure future food security. Moreover, the availability of a broad range of varieties bears the potential to support the delivery of ecosystem services from farm land and to reduce the amount of inputs such as water, chemicals and pesticides. To respond to the pressing challenges our food systems are facing, the EU seed legislation urgently needs a Greening which means we need to create spaces that facilitate the use and marketing of plant varieties with a broader intra-varietal genetic spectrum she added. Seed savers groups throughout Europe are concerned by the EU seed legislation. European private gardens play an important role in providing fresh and healthy food to the citizens. But they are also an important refuge for an almost extinct diversity of vegetables and fruits, says Christian Schrefel, president of Arche Noah, seed savers association in Central Europe. The private freedom of exchanging seeds must not be sacrificed in the name of productivity and uniformity. Illegalizing these activities would lead to accelerated extinction of European seed diversity and drive us further towards seed industry dominance.

Seeds are much more than an economic commodity. They have an ethical value linking culture and food habits. Piero Sardo, President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, is concerned that the disappearance of local seeds has gone hand in hand with the disappearance of small farmers, local food cultures and traditional knowledge. Increasing seed diversity also means stimulating healthy food diversity and the richness of taste, Sardo says. Guy Kastler from the European Coordination Via Campesina, organisation fighting for farmers rights, points out the essential contributions that farmers in Europe have made throughout centuries, make and will continue to make to the conservation and development of agricultural biodiversity: The review of the S&PM legislation must recognize the rights of farmers in Europe to save, reuse, share, sell and protect their seeds. It is now time for policy makers to act and implement citizens and farmers needs for an overdue review that allows use of sustainable seeds and diversity in tastes and colours. Contributed by Luigi Guarino (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.13 USDA links gene flow between weedy and domesticated rice to rising carbon dioxide levels May 23, 2012 Beltsville, Maaryland, USA New research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms that rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide facilitate the flow of genes from wild or weedy rice plants to domesticated rice varieties. As a result, domesticated plants could take on undesirable weedy characteristics that may interfere with future rice production. This is the first study to demonstrate that the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations include not only an influence on gene flow between closely related domesticated and wild plant genotypes, but that this gene flow is not the same in both directions. The investigation was conducted by researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

"We know that global climate change will require some farmers to revise production strategies in response to shifting weather patterns and crop demands," said ARS Administrator Edward B. Knipling. "These new findings will help plant breeders design and interpret studies on how changes in climate may affect crop response." ARS plant physiologist Lew Ziska led the investigation. Collaborators included David Gealy, Martha Tomecek, Aaron Jackson, and Howard Black. Ziska and Tomecek work at the ARS Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and the other scientists work at the ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Ark. Weedy wild rice, often called red rice, is the same species as domesticated rice and is very difficult to control in production settings. The team conducted a two-year combination growth chamber and field study to document how atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations affect growth in weedy and domesticated rice and to observe the exchange of genetic material between the two plant types. Twenty-four-hour carbon dioxide concentrations in the chambers were set at 300, 400 and 600 parts per million (ppm). These concentrations approximated the atmospheric carbon dioxide values present during the end of the 19th century, the current value, and values projected for the end of the 21st century, respectively. When grown in carbon dioxide concentrations of 400 ppm and 600 ppm, both types of rice put out more tillers and flowers and grew taller, compared to plants grown at carbon dioxide concentrations of 300 ppm. However, these changes in height, which scientists believe are an important factor in pollen sharing and therefore impact gene flow, were more pronounced in the wild rice. The number of flowers produced by the wild rice grown in 600 ppm carbon dioxide was doubled compared to rice grown at 300 ppm, a significantly larger increase than the flowering increase in the domesticated rice. At the greatest concentration of carbon dioxide, wild rice also produced flowers an average of eight days earlier, a shift that apparently enhanced the likelihood of pollen transfer between the two rice types. The researchers then conducted a genetic analysis of the hybrid seed offspring of the two rice varieties. The results of these tests indicated domesticated rice transferred only a small amount of genetic material to its weedy relative, even at the greatest concentration of carbon dioxide. But the weedy plants transferred a relatively greater amount of genetic material to their domesticated relatives, which differed from 0.22 percent at carbon dioxide concentrations of 300 ppm to 0.71 percent at carbon dioxide concentrations of 600 ppm.

The transfer of wild genetic material to the domesticated rice line resulted in the production of seed with significant weedy characteristics that would be undesirable in domesticated rice production. Results from this study were published today in PloS One. As USDA's chief scientific research agency, ARS is leading America towards a better future through agricultural research and information. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to help answer agricultural questions that impact Americans every day. ARS work helps to:

ensure high-quality, safe food and other agricultural products; assess the nutritional needs of Americans; sustain a competitive agricultural economy; enhance the natural resource base and the environment, and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities and society as a whole. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.14 Kansas State University scientists lead the effort that finds genes underlying the domestication of sorghum and other cereals May 24, 2012 Manhattan, Kansas, USA A study by a team of university and government scientists led by a Kansas State University researcher, indicates that genes responsible for seed shattering the process by which grasses disseminate their seeds were chosen in a similar, but independent manner during sorghum, rice and maize domestication. When early human groups were domesticating different wild grasses, they inadvertently or unintentionally selected the same sets of mutations that make more efficient crop production possible, said Jianming Yu, associate professor of agronomy at K-State. That was critical in the transition out of the hunter-gatherer phase of human history. You can call it just luck or the wisdom of ancient farmers, both of which are fascinating to know.

Cereal crops, including sorghum, rice and maize, were domesticated from their early wild ancestors by humans thousands of years ago, because of their importance as a food source, Yu said. Although these crops were domesticated in different geographical regions, they all underwent parallel selection, which involves systemic and parallel changes during the domestication process. The study, Parallel domestication of the Shattering1 genes in cereals, was published May 13 in the online version of the journal, Nature Genetics. In order to identify the molecular basis underlying seed shattering in sorghum, which is the worlds fifth major crop, the researchers conducted map-based cloning and diversity mapping in sorghum first, and then examined the identified gene in other cereals. Once we better understand seed shattering in sorghum, the better we will understand seed shattering and domestication in other cereal crops, Yu said. The discovery of the shared genetic mechanisms provides us an opportunity to better appreciate the wisdom of ancient human groups in turning wild grasses into cereals. As the demands for food, feed and fiber increase, domesticating other grasses into crops would also benefit from the current research findings. The implications for sorghum alone are huge, because of sorghums emerging applications in bioenergy and stress management, as well as its long-time importance as a food and feed source, said Tesfaye Tesso, assistant professor of agronomy and sorghum breeder. A better understanding about the origins of sorghum, a very diverse species, helps in terms of preserving natural resources for breeding use, classifying germplasm, and facilitating the process of bringing useful genes from wild relatives to crops. Kansas leads the nation in grain sorghum production, growing 51 percent of all grain sorghum grown in the United States in 2011, according to the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association. The 2011 crop totaled 110.0 million bushels. Seeds on wild grasses shed naturally when they mature, which ensures their natural propagation, Yu said. When humans began cultivating those crops, however, seed shattering would have caused inefficient harvesting and large losses in grain yield, because some of the seeds which were to be harvested, would have already disbursed naturally. Selection for non-shattering crop plants would have greatly facilitated harvesting and improved production, said Zhongwei Lin, K-State research associate in agronomy and the first author of the publication. He noted that several other genes have been identified as being responsible for seed shattering in rice and wheat. Prior to the most current study, however, no findings had been made on whether other cereals share the same molecular genetic basis for shattering, although such a

hypothesis was proposed more than a decade ago. The highly similar genomes of these cereals and the critical role of non-shattering in their domestication make this speculation plausible. The researchers discovery that seed shattering in sorghum is controlled by a single gene, Sh1, and their work in rice and maize suggest that the Sh1 genes for seed shattering have undergone parallel selection during domestication in multiple cereals. It is great to have this team of scientists with complementary expertise in different species to work on this project, said Frank White, K-State professor of plant pathology. Sorghum is important to Kansas and we appreciate the K-State Targeted Excellence Program for initiating and supporting the research. Other K-State researchers involved in the study were Xianran Li, research associate in agronomy, as well as Harold Trick, professor of plant pathology, and Jiarui Li, research assistant professor and Zhao Peng, Ph.D. candidate both in plant pathology. The team also included researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Iowa State University, USDA-ARS, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Purdue University. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.15 Experimental evidence for the ancestry of allotetraploid Trifolium repens and creation of synthetic forms with value for plant breeding May 10, 2012 New Zealand AgResearch scientists have made a breakthrough proving a long-held hypothesis that white clover originated as a hybrid of other clover ancestors, followed by a chance doubling of the chromosome number to restore fertility. This opens the way for breeding and management that unlocks benefits for farmers and pastures. AgResearch is already actively using the new information in breeding programmes to produce improved clovers for New Zealand. The findings have just been published in the journal BMC Plant Biology. This will share the work with researchers and scientists around the world. White clover (Trifolium repens) is widespread and has become the most important legume in grazed pastures worldwide.

Evidence from AgResearch studies using DNA sequence analyses, chromosome staining, interspecific hybridisation and breeding experiments supported the hypothesis that a diploid alpine species (T. pallescens) hybridised with a diploid coastal species (T. occidentale) to generate allotetraploid T. repens. The coming together of these two narrowly adapted species (one alpine and the other maritime) thousands of years ago, led to the hybrid clovers we know today. It is suggested that during the Ice a=Age T. pallescens was forced to retreat to low altitude coastal refuges of Portugal and Spain and similar sites where species T. occidentale currently occurs. An inter-species hybridisation event between these two plants with very narrow but different adaptations produced the broadly adapted white clover that rapidly established throughout Europe following the retreat of the glacial advances. These findings immediately create new opportunities for clover improvement by extending the genetic resource base because it facilitates the development of 'synthetic white clovers' from the now defined ancestors, said Dr Warren Williams who led the research. The benefits of this are important and exciting as this opens the way to select traits using breeding to increase traits that could benefit pasture persistence, animal nutrition and pest resistance, said Dr Williams. Finding the missing link between white clover and the plants that hybridised to create it allows us to reincorporate ancestral genes and this has significant possibilities as the world looks to a growing population. The successful team comprised Warren Williams of AgResearch who is also a Professorial Fellow in Plant Breeding, College of Sciences, Massey University, and Nick Ellison, Helal Ansari, Isabelle Verry and Wajid Hussain all from AgResearchs Grasslands Campus. View the article: _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.16 Researchers look to relatives for clues in quest to develop sources of bioenergy

May 14, 2012 St. Louis, Missouri, USA Arranging DNA fragments into a genome sequence that scientists can interpret is a challenge often compared to assembling a puzzle except you dont have the box and have no idea what the picture is supposed to be. Sometimes clues from other publicly-available DNA sequences of related organisms can be used to guide the assembly process, but its usefulness depends on how closely related any two sequences are to one another. For example, a reference genome might be so distantly related from the one being assembled, it would be akin to comparing a Model-T to a contemporary hybrid car. For researchers interested in switchgrass, a perennial grass that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is investigating as a prospective biofuels feedstock, assembling the plant genome poses an even more complicated puzzle than usual because it has multiple copies of its chromosomes. The genome of a close switchgrass relative, foxtail millet (Setaria italica), is described in the May 13, 2012 edition of Nature Biotechnology Reference genome sequence of the model plant Setaria For Tom Brutnell, a co-author on the study and director of the Enterprise Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald Danforth Plant Center, the Setaria genome is the starting point for his own research interests. Now that we have the genome sequence, we can kick start the development of genetic tools for Setaria. His proposal under the DOE JGIs 2012 Community Sequencing Program builds off the availability of two Setaria genomes, that of foxtail millet and its wild ancestor green foxtail (S. viridis), which is also described in the paper. What we really want is an Arabidopsis for the Panicoid grasses, he said, referring to the ubiquitous model plant used by many researchers. Green foxtail is smaller than foxtail milletwe can get it to flower when its just six inches tall and you go from seed to seed in six to eight weeks. In contrast, foxtail millet is a proper crop so its taller, has a longer generation time of four months and no one has really developed efficient transformation methods for it. Our project with the DOE JGI allows us to tap the Setaria genomes to fast track S. viridis as a model genetic system. One of the challenges in studying grasses for bioenergy applications is that they typically have long lifecycles and complex genomes. Jeremy Schmutz, head of the DOE JGI Plant Program at the HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology, pointed out that foxtail millet (Setaria italica) has several advantages as a model. Its a compact genome and large quantities of it can be grown in small spaces in just a few months. Were not thinking of Setaria as a biofuel crop per se but as a very informative model since its genome is so structurally close to switchgrass, said Jeff Bennetzen, a BESC

researcher, the studys co-first author and a professor at the University of Georgia. He originally proposed that the DOE JGI sequence the foxtail millet genome under the 2008 Community Sequencing Program. Schmutz said that roughly 80 percent of the foxtail millet genome has been assembled using the tried-and-true Sanger sequencing platform, along with more than 95 percent of the gene spacethe functional regions of the genome. The Setaria genome is a high quality reference genome, he said. If you want to conduct functional studies that require knowing all the genes and how they are localized relative to one another, then use this genome. One such area of study is adaptation. Since it is found all over the world, Setaria is considered a good model for learning how grasses can adapt and thrive under various environmental conditions. Additionally it appears to have independently evolved a pathway for photosynthesis that is separate from that used by maize and sorghum. With the sequencing of the Setaria genome, the team noted in their paper, evolutionary geneticists now have an annual, temperate, C4, drought- and coldtolerant grass that they can comprehensively compare to other plants that have or have not yet evolved these adaptions. C4 plants are distinguished by their ability to conduct photosynthesis faster than C3 plants under high light intensity and high temperatures. The DOE JGI Plant Program focuses on genomes that have been selected for their relevance to DOE missions in energy and environment, and leads the world in sequencing plants in this area. Aside from foxtail millet and switchgrass, other DOE Plant Flagship genomes sequenced include, among others, poplar and soybean. Several of these Flagship genomes are also part of the Gene Atlas project, currently in its pilot phase. Designed to be a reference by which researchers can look up the gene information gathered under several standard experimental conditions, the Gene Atlas is projected to offer researchers a method of interpreting their data by comparing them against normal results for these plants. New public releases of these Flagship genomes and of other plant projects occur periodically, and the sequence and analysis is made public at Photo: Nature Biotechnology Reference genome sequence of the model plant Setaria _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.17 Genes underlying the key domestication process in sorghum and other cereals

May 14, 2012 Manhattan, Kansas, USA A study by a team of university and government scientists led by a Kansas State University researcher, indicates that genes responsible for seed shattering the process by which grasses disseminate their seeds were under parallel selection during sorghum, rice and maize domestication. The study, Parallel domestication of the Shattering1 genes in cereals, was published May 13 in the online version of the journal Nature Genetics. In order to identify the molecular basis underlying seed shattering in sorghum, which is the worlds fifth major crop, the researchers conducted map-based cloning and diversity mapping in sorghum first, and then examined the identified gene in other cereals. Cereal crops, including sorghum, rice and maize were domesticated from their early wild progenitors by humans thousands of years ago, because of their importance as a food source, said Jianming Yu, associate professor of agronomy at Kansas State University. Although these crops were domesticated by human groups in different geographical regions, they all underwent systemic and parallel changes during the domestication process. Once we better understand seed shattering in sorghum, the better we will understand seed shattering and domestication in other cereal crops, Yu said. Moreover, as the demands for food, feed and fiber increase, domesticating other grasses into crops would also benefit from the current research findings. The implications for sorghum alone are huge, because of sorghums emerging applications in bioenergy and stress management, as well as its long-time importance as a food and feed source, he said. A better understanding about the origins of sorghum, a very diverse species, helps in terms of preserving natural resources for breeding use, classifying germplasm, and facilitating the process of bringing useful genes from wild relatives to crops. Seeds on wild grasses shed naturally when they mature, which ensures their natural propagation, Yu said. When humans began cultivating those crops, however, seed shattering would have caused inefficient harvesting and large losses in grain yield, because some of the seeds which were to be harvested, would have already disbursed naturally. Selection for non-shattering crop plants would have greatly facilitated harvesting and improved production, said Zhongwei Lin, research associate in agronomy at Kansas State University and the first author of the publication. He noted that several other genes have been identified as being responsible for seed shattering in rice and wheat. Prior to this current study, however, no systematic findings have been made on whether other cereals share the same molecular genetic basis for shattering,

although such hypothesis was proposed more than a decade ago. The highly similar genomes of these cereals and the critical role of non-shattering in their domestication make this speculation plausible. The researchers found that seed shattering in sorghum is controlled by a single gene, Sh1. That finding, paired with findings of conserved collinearity genes and their orders are similar on corresponding chromosome segments from different species of genomic regions containing the Sh1 orthologs (genes can be traced back to the same ancestral copy) across several cereals, the identification of the rice OsSh1 and the structural variation and quantitative trait locus analyses of the two maize orthologs (ZMSH1-1 and ZMSh1-5.1+ZmSh1-5.2) suggest that the Sh1 genes for seed shattering have undergone parallel selection during domestication in multiple cereals. It is great to have this team of scientists with complementary expertise in different species to work on this project, said Frank White, professor of plant pathology at Kansas State University. To identify the molecular basis underlying seed shattering in sorghum, the team constructed a large population from a cross between a wild sorghum with complete seed shattering, Sorghum virgatum, and a non-shattering domesticated sorghum line, Tx430. Once the gene was pinpointed, they moved on to a diverse set of sorghum lines and landraces to examine how many different version of domesticate copy of Sh1 exist. Not surprising, they found three different ones, which corroborated the earlier inference of multiple origins of sorghum in different parts of the African continent from morphology characteristics. The project was supported by U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program, Department of Energy Plant Feedstock Genomics Program, USDA-Agricultural Research Service and Kansas State University Targeted Excellence Program and Center for Sorghum Improvement. Other Kansas State University researchers include Xianran Li, research associate in agronomy, and Tesfaye Tesso, assistant professor of agronomy, as well as Harold Trick, professor of plant pathology, and Jiarui Li, research assistant professor in plant pathology, and Zhao Peng, doctoral candidatein plant pathology. The team also included researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Iowa State University, USDA-ARS, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Purdue University. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++

1.18 Implications of farmers seed exchanges for on-farm conservation of quinoa, as revealed by its genetic diversity in Chile Quinoa cultivation in Chile presents an ancient and active complex of geographic, climatic, social and cultural interactions that has determined its current biodiversity in the three main growing zones (north, central and south). Importantly, these interactions involve the participation of farmers, whose activities are at the base of seed exchange networks due to their knowledge and in situ conservation of genetic diversity. The present study reports how a better understanding of farmers seed exchanges and local production practices could impact the genetic structure and diversity of quinoa at national scale in Chile. Using field interviews and characterization of 20 microsatellite genetic markers in a multi-origin set of 34 quinoa accessions representative of Chile and the South American region, the phenetic analysis of germplasm was consistent with the current classification of quinoa ecotypes present in Chile and Andean zone. This allowed the identification of five populations, which were represented by quinoa of Salares (northern Chile), Coastal/Lowlands (central and southern Chile), Highlands (Peru, Bolivia and Argentina) and Inter-Andean Valleys (Ecuador and Colombia). The highly informative quality of the markers used revealed a wide genetic diversity among main growing areas in Chile, which correlated well with natural geographical edaphicclimatic and sociallinguistic context to the expansion of quinoa biodiversity. Additionally, in addition to ancient seed exchanges, this process is still governed by the diverse agricultural practices of Andean farmers. Genetic erosion is considered an imminent risk due to small-scale farming, where the influence of increased migration of people to urban systems and export-driven changes to the agro-ecosystems may further reduce the diversity of quinoa plants in cultivation. The Journal of Agricultural Science Press 2012 DOI: Contributed by Francisco Fuentes (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.19 Time is ticking for some crops wild relatives New edge of extinction research is creating a revival of conservation and interest in what these old plants mean to the future

May 30, 2012 USA A botanist brings a species of alfalfa from Siberia, to the United States. His hope? The plant survives, and leads to a new winter-hardy alfalfa. But what also happened during this time in the late 1800's, isn't just a story of legend and lore. The truth of the matter is creating a current revival in both interest and conservation of what's now called a crop's "wild relative."And several researchers members of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) say it couldn't come at a better time. The lack of attention has put crop wild relatives in a precarious position, says ASA and CSSA member Stephanie Greene. Green is a plant geneticist with the USDA-ARS in Prosser, WA and the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System, the countrys primary steward of seed and other crop genetic material. Twenty percent of all wild plants are now threatened with extinction, according to recent estimates, and thats before the potential impacts of climate change are factored in. Yet, as the world moves forward with all these initiatives to conserve biodiversity, Greene says, its recognized that crop wild relatives have been left behind. Green is leading new efforts to tally crop wild relatives living in the United States, identifying which are most important to global and American agriculture, and developing a nationwide strategy for protecting the plants both in gene banks and in the wild. But conserving crop wild relatives is only the first step. The real goal is to get the diverse stock of genetic material, or germplasm, into the hands of plant breeders, especially those seeking to adapt crops to the increased drought, greater disease pressure, and erratic weather climate change is expected to bring. But few are studying crop wild relatives more intensely or championing for protection more vigorously than Nigel Maxted, a scientist at the University of Birmingham in England. Maxted is pressing for conservation in many ways, most significantly by developing a step-by-step, standardized protocol countries can use to identify and protect the crop wild relatives within their borders. The first countries he worked with to execute a plan were Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Most recently, he helped Portugal, Switzerland, the U.K., and several other European nations complete conservation strategies, and hes now collaborating with several more. Two of his graduate students currently work in China and North Africa. And a former student is now assisting Greene with the U.S. strategy. Greene says, while threatened by climate change just like all wild species, these wild relatives are the same plants that could help us adapt our food systems to the new conditions. Thats why it surprises me. Why arent these plants the poster children [for plant conservation]? she says. We know they have value.

For more information, see "Crop Wild Relatives and Their Potential for Crop Improvement," as featured in the current edition of CSA News: The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++ 1.20 University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher breeding dry beans to be more drought tolerant May 18, 2012 Lincoln, Nebraska, USA When University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dry Bean Breeding Specialist Carlos Urrea arrived at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center near Scottsbluff in 2005, western Nebraska was in the middle of its worst drought in decades. The drought and water allocations from natural resource districts limited the amount of water often available for production agriculture in the Panhandle. This is why breeding new dry edible bean cultivars that are more tolerant to drought and heat is one of the main objectives of Urreas program. Dry bean germplasm lines with drought tolerance, in addition to disease resistance, and seed quality, are being developed simultaneously in western Nebraska and Puerto Rico as part of a shuttle breeding project. Urrea is cooperating with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Tropical Agricultural Research Station (USDATARS) at Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. New dry bean lines are being grown at Scottsbluff and at the University of Puerto Rico in Fortuna. The advantage of this arrangement, he explained, is that he and his colleagues can select for multiple traits in different locations: some traits at one of the sites, other traits at the other site. Then the lines from both sites can be combined.

Urrea selected Puerto Rico because of its warmer climate. He is working beside Dr. Tim Porch of USDA with a goal of developing beans that are adapted to both Puerto Rico and western Nebraska. Results so far have included the release of two blackbean germplasm lines with heat and drought tolerance in addition to resistance to multiple diseases (common bacterial blight, root rot, and bean common mosaic virus). Germplasm also has been released that can be used for different bean breeding programs in the United States. And Urrea said there will be more lines to come in different market classes: great northern, pintos, and small reds. Perhaps some of those lines have the potential to be released to the public as cultivars. But before that is known, Urrea said, new lines would need to be tested on a larger scale, in growers fields. In addition to heat and drought tolerance and resistance to several diseases, Urrea said these new lines also would need several other desirable traits: an upright plant architecture to facilitate direct combine harvest; high seed quality; and maturity traits that would fit growing conditions in western Nebraska. Urrea visited the bean breeding site at Puerto Rico early in 2012 and is impressed with the lines selected this year. Another goal of this project is to find and mark the genes responsible for drought tolerance. Urrea said he and his colleagues have developed a mapping population of dry beans between tropical and temperate lines that was tested last year and will be tested again this year at both locations. This project is in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Prosser, Wash., (Phil Miklas), USDA-TARS at Mayaguez, PR (Tim Porch) and North Dakota State University (Juan Osorno and Angela Linares). Urrea recently attended an Association Mapping Workshop at North Dakota State University hosted by the BeanCAP. He was learning how to employ molecular markers (single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs in scientific terminology) generated by the BeanCAP to uncover genomic regions associated with drought tolerance. About 10,000 SNPs have been developed by the BeanCAP. The sources for this mapping population included dry bean lines from the CIAT Center for Tropical Agriculture and from National Dry Bean Breeding Program in Mexico, Urrea said. He said the the source of drought tolerance that he is using for mapping was identified through testing on terminal drought (when irrigation is stopped at the flowering stage of plant development). Nature has cooperated in this effort; in each of the past several years. After the irrigation was stopped, precipitation also was scarce, with less than 1 inch of rain between blossom stage and harvest each year. Those conditions make life difficult for dry bean producers, but are favorable for Urreas research.

Using dry bean lines from the Center for Tropical Agiculture not only helps with the drought tolerance project, but also has other benefits to the breeding program, Urrea said. Every year, he introduces new lines coming from CIAT, some from specific crosses between different common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) species like tepary and scarlet runner beans. In doing so, he has been able to identify some lines that are well adapted to western Nebraskas conditions and drought, and started intergressing those into his dry bean breeding program through hybridization. The goal is to develop dry edible beans that will use water more efficiently, and perhaps use less water. One potential benefit: if bean producers dont need as much water to raise their bean crop, they might be able to use some of the available supply for other crops on their farms, Urrea said. Urrea and other U.S. bean breeders also are looking at how drought affects the nutritional composition of dry beans. About 96 accessions from different centers of origin and domestication were screened in 2012 under drought and non-drought stress plots. This research is part of BeanCAP (Coordinated Agricultural Programs) efforts and includes several other states, including Michigan, North Dakota, Washington and Idaho. _category=&id_crop= Source: CropWatch (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.21 University of Wisconsin-Madison plant breeders develop heart-healthier oat May 16, 2012 Madison, Wisconsin, USA University of Wisconsin-Madison plant breeders have developed a new oat variety that's significantly higher in the compound that makes this grain so cardio-friendly. "The biggest thing that stands out about this new variety, BetaGene, is that it's both a high yielding variety and high in beta glucan. Beta glucan is a heart-healthy chemical that is exclusive to oats," says John Mochon, program manager of the Small Grains Breeding Program in the UW-Madison agronomy department. BetaGene is 2 percent higher in beta glucan on average than other oat varieties on the market. That may not sound much, but it's huge from a nutrition standpoint. A 2

percent bump translates to a 20-percent boost in beta glucan levels in products made from the oat. Nutrition researchers liken beta glucan to a sponge that traps cholesterol-rich acids in the bloodstream. Consuming 3 grams daily of this soluble fiber-combined with a healthy diet-may lower the blood's level of LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, lessening the risk of coronary heart disease, according to one report from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. UW breeders have increased acreage of the new variety this year in hopes of releasing it for the 2014 growing season. Wisconsin is among the top oat-producing states. Growers here plant about 300,000 acres of oats each year-about half of that harvested as forage and fed to livestock, the rest harvested for grain-with yields averaging 60 to 70 bushels per acre. But better returns from other crops and other market forces have made oats less attractive to growers, Mochon says. Overall oat acreage in the United States has declined steadily over the years. "That's why I'm trying to add value to oats. It's one of my goals to reverse that trend," he says. "Things like increased beta glucan, developing forage lines, developing lines that are rust resistant, and developing lines that have a high groat percentage are all part of this effort." Mochon hopes that BetaGene will help improve demand for oats. The new variety has already generated some interest in the food industry. At least one large milling company paid a visit to Wisconsin to learn more about the experimental variety. It has taken UW breeders 14 years to bring BetaGene to this point. They performed the original cross in 1998 and nurtured the oat in variety trials until they were confident that it was ready for growers. This is standard operating procedure for vetting experimental crop varieties. It takes 12 to 15 years to prove that they can yield well, fend off disease and have a track record for success before being considered for release, Mochon says. In this case, there was also an international angle to be considered. Canada is a big oat producer and therefore an important potential market, so Mochon is working to ensure BetaGene also meets requirements for certified, licensed sale north of the border. _category=&id_crop= Source:

(Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.22 Next-generation disease resistance breeding Crop plants with DNA deletions are not GMOs 16 May 2012 by Sophien Kamoun and Eric Ward Bacterial blight caused by Xanthomonas can result in up to 50% yield reduction in severe epidemics. In 2007, Sebastian Schornack, then a freshly minted Ph.D. student from the laboratories of Thomas Lahaye and Ulla Bonas at the Martin-Luther-University HalleWittenberg, was fastidiously carrying out follow-up experiments to his thesis work. For the past few years he had been studying how the bacterium Xanthomonas infects its plant hosts. Specifically, he was interested in a class of effector proteins, called transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors, that the bacterium delivers to the nuclei of host cells to alter plant gene expression. Ever since their discovery in the late 1980s, the unusual structure of these effectors proteins has intrigued plant microbiologists. TAL effectors contain many near-perfect repeats 34 amino acids in length with two hypervariable residues, but the biological meaning of this peculiar modular structure was unknown. At the time Schornack was finishing his thesis, TAL effectors had just been discovered to bind specific DNA sequences in the genomes of their host plants, where they activated expression of host genes thought to favour colonization by the pathogen. While comparing the identity of the hypervariable amino acids in the repeats of particular TAL effectors with the corresponding DNA sequence of their binding sites, Schornack experienced a flash of insight, and noticed a defining pattern [Schornack]. Following discussions with Jens Boch and experimental work with their colleagues at Halle University, it became evident that, indeed, a code built into the TAL effector proteins determines their DNA binding specificity [Boch]. Not long after that, across the Atlantic, another Ph.D. student Matt Moscou, working with Adam Bogdanove at Iowa State University, independently reached a similar conclusion using clever computational analyses of TAL effector-induced expression changes in rice plants [Moscou]. Both teams immediately grasped the impact of their discoveries synthetic TAL effectors could be custom designed to bind any target DNA sequence. Such a technological breakthrough would have far reaching implications in biotechnology.

Fast forward to 2012: the reach of TAL effectors has gone beyond the study of plantmicrobe interactions. TAL effectors are now ubiquitously used in biotechnology and the emerging field of synthetic biology [Bogdanove]. Scientists have also shown that by hooking TAL effectors to nucleases, enzymes that nick DNA, they can target an exact site in a genome to produce variations. For instance, one study revealed that injection of mouse embryos with TAL-nucleases yields adult mice that vary at specific, predicted positions in their genomes [Tesson]. The possibilities are immense for using TAL technology to induce targeted variations in the genomes of mammals, flies, worms and plants. Laboratories worldwide are putting the technology to creative use with numerous exciting applications certain to emerge. A game-changing application of TAL technology to crop breeding is described in a recent paper in Nature Biotechnology by Bing Yang and colleagues [Li]. In this landmark study, the authors used TAL-nucleases to remove a small stretch of DNA from the genome of rice that rendered it susceptible to bacterial blight, an important disease that affects millions of hectares throughout Asia. This study ushers in a new era in crop breeding. Plant geneticists will now be able to use TAL-nucleases to introduce precise, favorable modifications in any region of the genome. Remarkably, because Li and colleagues have bred out the TAL sequences, the resulting rice varieties lack any foreign DN

Figure 1e from Li. The top row is a DNA sequence in the gene that makes wild type rice susceptible to blight. Each of the other rows have deletions (marked by dashed) or additions (red letters) induced by the TAL-nuclease.

Instead of adding a sentence or two to the genome book, as is done by standard genetic modification (GM) approaches, they removed a few letters; the rice varieties they generated lack anywhere from 3 to 57 bases in their genomes (as in the Figure to the right from the Li paper). Thus, the rice plants generated by Li et al. do not contain extraneous DNA and cannot by any reasonable definition be considered GMOs.

Specific removal or replacement of a few letters of DNA can already be achieved by much more laborious, less directed methods, using chemical mutagens or treatments with radioactivity. So in principle Li et al. could have generated an identical result by blasting rice seed with a fast neutron beam or soaking them in diepoxybutane and screening a massive population (10s of thousands to millions) of their progeny for the exact deletion they achieved in one go using the TAL nuclease. Curiously, the random mutagenesis method, which requires highly toxic radiation or chemical treatment, is perfectly acceptable in the production of crop varieties that can be sold as organic! Frank marvels at the possibility of rice fields that are no longer susceptible to blight. "Can they do that to corn, too?" One intriguing aspect of the methodology used in this study is that the rice variants can in fact be considered the exact opposite of transgenic plants given that DNA has been removed from their genomes. One could even use this logic to turn some of the arguments raised against GM crops on their heads. For instance, GM opponents often argue that insertion of extraneous DNA can cause new, unknown allergenicity. Should one then argue that crops with genome deletions could be unpredictably hypoallergenic? GM opponents argue that foreign DNA raises the specter of contamination of other plants and the environment. Do these new rice reduce the risk of DNA pollution? And so on, ad absurdum. One hopes that groups traditionally opposed to GMO crops will understand and appreciate that the outputs generated by TAL-induced variations, are indistinguishable from mutations that arise by other, more acceptable means and that already pervade the genomes of the crops we eat. Lets work together to bring to fruition next-generation plant breeding and use novel technologies to help secure an adequate, sustainable food supply for our growing population. The quality of our lives and the future of our planet are at stake. Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.23 Newly identified gene helps to increase sugar beet yields May 17, 2012 Kiel, Germany German and Swedish research groups at Kiel University and Ume Plant Science Centre have identified the long-sought bolting gene B in the sugar beet crop. The

gene called BvBTC1 determines if and when a beet plant will flower. Early flowering has the undesired effect of terminating the root growth of the beet which can limit the sugar beet yields worldwide. The new findings allow seed producers to improve cultivation efficiency by minimising yield reducing seed contaminations and help breeders to develop novel cultivars with larger beets. These results from more than five years of intensive cooperation with the industrial research partners Syngenta, Strube, SESVanderHave and KWS were published online on 17 May in the journal Current Biology. Sugar beet is an economically important crop in Europe. Unlike in cereals, we do not harvest the seeds that develop after blossoming, but instead use the thickened roots which store large amounts of sugar. It is undesirable for farmers that a sugar beet flowers, as flowering ends the development of a storage root. The wild ancestor of the sugar beet, the so-called sea beet, often blossoms in the first year of growth and does not produce a beet at all. By contrast, the domestic sugar beet builds up a large beet which is harvested before it would blossom during the second year. In Europe, sugar beet is normally grown from spring to fall. If it was planted already before winter, it would flower after winter and only develop small roots, because low temperatures are a flowering signal to the plant. It was obvious that there was a genetic difference between the early flowering beets which occur in the wild and domesticated sugar beets, with tremendous implications for agricultural use", says Andreas Mller, principal investigator at the Plant Breeding Institute in Kiel[AM1] . We wanted to know which difference that is, how it evolved, and whether we could use the underlying gene to control flowering and thus increase sugar yield. First, the scientists grew thousands of plants and analyzed their DNA to identify the location of the so-called bolting gene. Then they compared the genes at this location with the genetic sets of other plants. We expected to find a similar gene as in the commonly studied Arabidopsis thaliana plant, but surprisingly we found a completely different one, says Pierre Pin, doctoral student at Ume Plant Science Centre. The next step, he adds, was to verify the genes function in an experiment in which this gene was inactivated in sugar beets by genetic engineering. The plants did not flower. This flowering experiment was the final proof that we had identified the bolting gene of sugar beets, Pin states. Professor Ove Nilsson of Ume Plant Science Centre, who is the academic supervisor of Pin's PhD research, emphasises: The characterization of the bolting gene B, now termed BvBTC1, and the finding that it has a key role in the regulation of flowering, is a major achievement both for the sugar industry and for flowering control research. Commercially produced seed mixtures frequently contain seeds that will blossom too early. They appear naturally and affect both current and future harvests on the contaminated field. Now that we know the bolting gene, we can test seed mixtures

for bad seeds before selling them, and farmers will get much better quality seeds, says Thomas Kraft of Syngenta. Scientifically, the findings are groundbreaking, because the genetic mechanism controlling flowering in sugar beet differs from all other plants that have been examined so far, continues Professor Christian Jung, director of the Plant Breeding Institute at Kiel University who initiated the research on the Kiel part of this project more than 12 years ago. The plant therefore has a high potential to become a new scientific model organism for plant growth and flowering control research similar to mice for cancer research. Moreover, these findings will be of major importance for breeders. The research work in this joint project was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, the China Scholarship Council, the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, The British Beet Research Organisation, and Sdzucker. Project partners from Syngenta (Landskrona, Sweden), SESVanderHave (Tienen, Belgium), Strube (Sllingen, Germany), KWS (Einbeck, Germany), Brooms Barn (Bury St. Edmunds, UK), the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin and Bielefeld University contributed to this work. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.24 Generating whitefly-resistant plants May 16, 2012 Norwich, United Kingdom The John Innes Centre receives Grand Challenges Explorations grant for groundbreaking research in global health and development The John Innes Centre (JIC) announced that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr Saskia Hogenhout, in collaboration with the Dr. Eduardo Bejarano from the University of Malaga (Spain) and Dr Ian Bedford of the JIC Insectary, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled Generating Whitefly-Resistant Plants to help develop new ways of protecting important crop plants from insects and associated plant diseases.

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mould in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Dr Hogenhouts project is one of over 100 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 8 grants announced by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Grand Challenges Explorations encourages individuals worldwide to expand the pipeline of ideas where creative, unorthodox thinking is most urgently needed, said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Were excited to provide additional funding for select grantees so that they can continue to advance their idea towards global impact. To receive funding, Dr Hogenhout and colleagues and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 8 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of five critical global health and development topic areas that included agriculture development, immunization and nutrition. The Tobacco Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) is one of the most damaging pests to crops and plants globally. Its ability to disperse locally, and internationally through the commerce of plant products, has resulted in explosive population growth, making it a major threat to food security. It is responsible for extensive losses to cassava crops, a staple food in sub-Saharan Africa, and cotton crops in India and Pakistan. It damages plants directly by sucking out sap, and indirectly through numerous viruses it is able to acquire and transmit. Insecticidal control can be environmentally damaging and can become useless when whiteflies develop resistance, so new control measures are urgently needed. When a gene is turned on, its DNA sequence is converted into messenger RNA (mRNA). Nobel prize-winning work showed that other interfering RNA molecules (RNAi) can associate with mRNA, blocking its action and so silencing the gene. Dr Hogenhout has shown that plants can be made to produce RNAi molecules that, when the plant is fed on by the insect, silence the insect genes. Working with the University of Malaga and Dr Ian Bedford of the JIC Insectary, the project will generate genetically modified plants producing RNAi molecules that specifically block whitefly genes that are essential to their survival, reproduction and ability to acquire and transmit viruses. This pilot project will assess whether the concept of plants producing RNAi against whitefly will work, in a controlled environment. The eventual aim of the work is to produce whitefly-resistant cassava and other staple and subsistence crops grown in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia. About Grand Challenges Explorations Grand Challenges Explorations is a US$100 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched in 2008, over 600 people in 45 countries have

received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page online applications and no preliminary data required. Initial grants of US$100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1 million. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.25 Improved roots will boost crops May 09, 2012 The University of Western Australia Researchers at The University of Western Australia say that "next frontier" of agricultural science is understanding the root system and function of crop plants to significantly increase Australian grain production, keep farms viable and help continue to feed the world despite the onset of increasing drought and climate change. In a project at The University of Western Australia, researchers experimented with lupin roots with an overall aim to improve the water use and nutrient uptake of narrow-leaf lupin varieties that account for half of all grain legumes produced in Australia - an industry worth more than $600 million a year. The study, published this week in the international journal Plant Soil, warned that Australian grain producers faced increasing threats from poor local soils, harsh growing conditions and declining, less-predictable rainfall due to climate change. To help address this, a team led by UWA-based Chief Investigators Winthrop Professor Zed Rengel and Winthrop Professor Kadambot Siddique used new screening techniques and advanced computer modelling to understand lupin root systems variability. "We screened world's largest lupin genetic resource collection and identified tremendous genetic variation in lupin root systems," Professor Zed Rengel said.

"Our findings may be used in breeding new varieties of lupins with modified root system and function that may produce higher yields in soils with relatively limited water and nutrient resources." Similar approaches could also be used to identify genetic variation in root system and function in Australian cereal crops such as wheat and barley, said Winthrop Professor Kadambot Siddique, Director of the Institute of Agriculture at The University of Western Australia. Professor Siddique said climate change and increased risk of drought made it imperative for Australia to develop new ways to make crops more water and nutrient-efficient. Roots efficient in acquiring soil resources (water and nutrients) are fundamental to growing high-yielding crops in Australian soils, but have been largely ignored by scientists - "it's the next frontier of agricultural science", he said. "Traditional crop root systems are poorly suited to the harsh environmental conditions of Australian agriculture. Their inefficient use of water and fertilisers not only reduces yields but also increases salinity and algal blooms (eutrophication) in waterways due to excessive nutrient run-off. "Farming terms of trade - commodity value relative to production cost - have declined consistently over time. Although this has been offset substantially by increased production efficiency, the onset of climate change may ultimately make farming unprofitable and threaten our ability to feed the world." "Use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers to grow crops in water-limited, nutrientpoor Australian soils is a big cost that will increase for grain producers as energy prices rise and rock phosphate stocks dwindle. "Improved and more efficient root capture systems may cut costs and substantially increase Australian grain harvest yields, with the added benefit that better nitrogen uptake may also significantly improve grain quality. The UWA-based study - in collaboration with the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food, Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research and US Pennsylvania State University - was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant and paves the way for further similar research in wheat and barley. Source:

(Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.26 ICARDA, Pak-US Cotton Productivity Enhancement Programme (2011-14) Enhancing Cotton Germplasm, Improving Resistance to CLCV and Supporting Cotton Best Management Practices for Small Farmers (ICARDA-ID-1198) is an ICARDAs cotton research and development project financed by USDA under the Pak-US cotton Research & Development programme that was launched in September 2010 as a part of cooperative agreement (No.58-6402-0-178F) between ICARDA and ARS, USDA. The project is being implemented by ICARDA-Pakistan Office under the supervision of Dr.Abdul Majid, Country/Proejct Manager and Dr.Tassawar H.Malik, Consultant/Cotton Expert, Pakistan, with the technical guidance by the Dr.Brian Eric Scheffler, ARS-USDA (Biotechnology) and Prof.Dr.Jodie Brown, Virologist, University of Arizona (Virology) cooperators. Main objective of the programme are to assist cotton researchers of National Agricultural Research System (NARC) to stabilize and enhance cotton production through minimizing the adverse effects of lethal Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) disease damaging Pakistani cotton since 70s, by the development of genetically resistant varieties, through an integrated research approach. Main approaches to achieve the above mentioned objective include the i) development and utilization of sources of resistance to CLCV disease using both traditional as well as biotechnological approaches, ii) enhancement of Pakistan cotton germplasm to broaden its genetic base, its widespread maintenance, improvement, storage, multiplication and distribution to all cotton researchers; iii) supporting cotton Best management practices (BMP) for small farmers (with area less than five hectares) and iii) capacity building of Pakistani researchers (breeders, biotechnologists and virologists) in cotton research and development sector. Among the local research cooperators, there are three different tiers. Tire-1 includes the traditional research system comprising of breeders and pathologists with the mandate to utilize the available and imported cotton material to develop and screen the germplasm with resistance to CLCV disease. Main stakeholders are Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI), Multan ( ), Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI), Sakrand ( ) and Cotton Research Institute (CRI), Faisalabad ( Tire-II includes biotechnologists and virologists from National Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad (, Centre of Excellence for Molecular Biology (CEMB), Lahore ( and Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAGS), Punjab University, Lahore (

Cotton biotechnologists have mandate to develop and utilize construct to transform elite cotton cultivars resistance to CLCV diseases. Through gene/DNA markers approach they work to genetically analyses of the nature and inheritance of the disease resistance in cotton. Virologists are working on genetic analysis of various prevalent strains of the virus and analysis of whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) the alleged carrier of the virus in cotton plant. Tire-III involves the agronomic research and outreach/advisory services to small cotton growers regarding cotton Best management practices (BMPs) enabling them to get rid of this fetal disease and sustain their cotton production. Main stakeholders are Agronomy component of ICARDA-Pakistan office and Integrated Pest Management (IPN) component of Institute of Plant and Environmental Sciences (IPEP), National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad ( ). In this way the project covers the areas of whole cotton belt of Pakistan in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Activities of the above mentioned three (3) tires and twelve (12) components of the programme are in full swing these days during the cotton crop season 2011. Major accomplishments include the following. Screening & characterization of cotton germplasm (367 accessions) in Punjab and Sindh during 2011. Intraspecific and interspecific hybridization to select tolerant/resistant cotton plants. Activities to strengthen Germplasm management system. Collection, analysis and submission of cotton leaf/vector samples to U.o.Arizona/USDA for analysis. CLCV virus strains and whitefly biotype biochemical analysis Transformations at NIBGE and CEMB using six constructs developed by NIBGE and IAGS. Participation of ten cotton breeders/biotechnologists in US-Belt wide Cotton Conferences-2012 and International Cotton Genome Initiatives (ICGI)-2012 meeting. Nomination for six Borlaug Fellowships at US on cotton germplasm, cytology, biotechnology and virology.

Contributed by ICARDA-Pakistan Office, NARC, Park Road, Islamabad (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.27 New nematode resistant wheat

Agri-Science Queensland has released five new wheat breeding lines that are tolerant and resistant to the root-lesion nematode Pratylenchus thornei, a plant parasite affecting two-thirds of Australia's grain crops and reduce yield by up to 65 percent. Nematodes invade wheat roots making it difficult for plants to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. Agri-Science Queensland plant pathologist Jason Sheedy said that putting the technology into the seed through genetic resistance and tolerance makes crop management easier with no additional cost to the growers. He added that the nematode tolerant characteristic allows wheat plants to maximize yield under nematode-infested conditions, while the nematode resistant characteristic prevent soil population build up and affect the following wheat crop. The new wheat breeding lines are now available to Australian wheat breeding companies in time with the start of the 2012 planting season. More information about this breakthrough is available at Source: Crop Biotech Update 11 May 2012 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.28 Pyramiding resistance genes to combat bacterial blight in hybrid rice Bacterial blight caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae is a notorious rice disease especially in Asia. The disease can bring about 20 to 50 percent decreases in rice yield. Host-plant resistance is known to be an economical and favorable approach in managing pests such as bacterial blight. Yanchang Luo from the National University of Singapore and other scientists conducted a study to breed a broad-spectrum and high disease resistance in hybrid rice. They introduced three resistance genes (Xa4, Xa21, and Xa27) into the restorer lines of Mianhui 725 (MH725) or cultivar 931. The resistance genes were then pyramided in a single line chosen in the progeny of the two lines. Through marker assisted selection, the team developed the lines 9311 (Xa27) and WH421. A new restorer line carrying the three resistance genes was labeled as XH2431, which was chosen from the cross between 9311(Xa27) and WH421. II You 2431, the hybrid

derived from the cross between II-32A and XH2431, produced high yield, showed good restoring ability and conferred high disease resistance to bacterial blight. Results showed that the development of XH2431, 9311 (Xa27) and WH421 provides a set of restorer lines exhibiting broad-spectrum and improved resistance to bacterial blight in hybrid rice. Read the research article at Source: Crop Biotech Update 11 May 2012 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.29 Genetic control of seed shattering in rice One of the significant events in the domestication of rice is the elimination of seed shattering, so the seeds remain on the stalks until harvest time. Chinese Academy of Sciences scientist Yan Zhou and colleagues conducted a study on the regulation of seed shattering in cultivated rice. They introgressed a wild-type chromosome 4 (carries SH4 locus conferring easy shattering) to form an easy shattering line labeled as SL4. Then they mutated the SL4 plants and screened for shattering. The team identified two non shattering mutants (shat1 and shat2) which did not form abscission zones, and needed stronger force to separate the seeds from the pedicel. Subscribers of Plant Cell may view the article at Source: Crop Biotech Update 25 May 2012 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++

1.30 Repeatability and optimum trial configuration for field-testing of banana and plantain Abdou Tenkouano, Rodomiro Ortiz, Sagary Nokoea Abstract The performance of banana and plantain hybrids and cultivars must be assessed, across locations and over several crop cycles. The objective of this research was to define the optimum plot configuration for Musa field-testing based on the repeatability of yield and phenological characteristics across and within locations in West Africa. Datasets of Musa multi-environment trials available from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture were used for this study. Plant height and bunch weight showed the highest repeatability at two Nigerian locations, while days to harvest and fruit filling time had on average the lowest repeatability across locations. Plant height was the characteristic requiring the small-est plot among all traits, irrespective of location. This article provides a table showing the relationship between sample size (N), repeatability (R) and level of confidence for phenotypic discrimination of Musa breeding materials. For example, if one wishes to assess phenotypic values with an accuracy of 95% and the correlation between two measurements of phenotype is 50% (R = 0.50) then the sample size required is N = 10. Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.31 International consortium sequences tomato genome May 30, 2012 Wageningen, The Netherlands Wageningen UR (University & Research centre) and KeyGene together with their partners in the Tomato Genome Consortium (TGC) have sequenced the genomes of the domesticated tomato and its wild ancestor, Solanum pimpinellifolium. This achievement is expected to lower costs and speed up efforts to improve the worldwide tomato production, making it better equipped to combat pests, pathogens, droughts and diseases that plague growers. The work may also speed up improvements to other crops. The sequences were reported in this weeks issue of Nature. Together, the sequences provide the most detailed look yet at the functional portions of the tomato genome, revealing the order, orientation, types and relative positions of its 35,000 genes. The

sequences will help researchers uncover the relationships between tomato genes and traits and broaden their understanding of how genetics and environmental factors interact to determine a field crops health and viability. Tomato is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, and the new sequences are expected to provide reference points helpful for identifying important genes in tomatos Solanaceae relatives. The group includes potato, pepper, eggplant and petunia and is the worlds most important vegetable plant family in terms of both economic value and production volume. Plant members serve as sources of food, spices and medicines. The sequences also offer insight into how the tomato has diversified and adapted to new environments. They show that the tomato genome expanded abruptly about 60 million years ago, at a time close to one of the large mass extinctions. Subsequently, most of this genetic redundancy was lost. Some of the genes generated during that event survive till today and control some of the most appealing traits of tomato. Previous efforts have led to the sequencing of a number of other crop plants, including rice, corn, sorghum, poplar, potato, soybean, grape and Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant widely studied as a model organism. TGC, a group of over 300 scientists from fourteen countries, was established as a result of a scientific conference organized in 2003 in Washington DC. Consortium members include scientists from Argentina, Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. The genome sequence and related resources can be accessed at the Solgenomics website ( and at The WGPTM technology is covered by patents and patent applications owned by Keygene N.V. WGP is a trademark of Keygene N.V. KeyGene is a registered trademark of Keygene N.V. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.32 Candidate genes for drought tolerance identified in coffee (Coffea canephora) The aim of this study was to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying drought acclimation in coffee plants by the identification of candidate genes (CGs) using different approaches. The first approach used the data generated during the

Brazilian Coffee expressed sequence tag (EST) project to select 13 CGs by an in silico analysis (electronic northern). The second approach was based on screening macroarrays spotted with plasmid DNA (coffee ESTs) with separate hybridizations using leaf cDNA probes from droughttolerant and susceptible clones of Coffea canephora var. Conilon, grown under different water regimes. This allowed the isolation of seven additional CGs. The third approach used two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to identify proteins displaying differential accumulation in leaves of drought-tolerant and susceptible clones of C. canephora. Six of them were characterized by MALDITOF-MS/MS (matrixassisted laser desorption-time of flight-tandem mass spectrometry) and the corresponding proteins were identified. Finally, additional CGs were selected from the literature, and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was performed to analyse the expression of all identified CGs. Altogether, >40 genes presenting differential gene expression during drought acclimation were identified, some of them showing different expression profiles between drought-tolerant and susceptible clones. Based on the obtained results, it can be concluded that factors involved a complex network of responses probably involving the abscisic signaling pathway and nitric oxide are major molecular determinants that might explain the better efficiency in controlling stomata closure and transpiration displayed by drought-tolerant clones of C. canephora. Some of the identified CGs have recently been mapped , and for several of these genes work is now in progress to analyse their corresponding genomic copy and promoter regions to verify if single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and/or insertion/deletions (INDELs) could be related to the differential expression profiles observed for these genes in drought-tolerant and sensitive clones of C. canephora. Such an approach will be facilitated with the forthcoming sequencing of the whole C. canephora genome. Publication available on the web site of J. Exp. Bot. at the following address: =5ef96d99-e202-4c3f-a386-5a33a922de31 Contributed by Pierre Marraccini and Thierry Leroy Cirad- dpartement Systmes Biologiques Montpellier, France (Return to Contents)

++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.33 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory joins the Illumina Genome Network May 23, 2012 San Diego, California, USA Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN) today announced that the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has joined the Illumina Genome Network (IGN) to provide researchers with broader access to whole genome sequencing (WGS) services. IGN and CSHL will work in collaboration to bring together CSHLs expertise in molecular biology and cancer genomics with Illuminas industry-leading sequencing technology. We welcome the distinguished Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to our prestigious group of IGN partners, and are excited to expand opportunities for deep scientific collaboration, said Christian Henry, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Illuminas Genomic Solutions Business. Through the Illumina Genome Network, we believe we can speed discovery in areas where CSHL excels, including approaches to understanding tumor development, progression and therapeutic response. The goal of our work at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is to apply our research on basic biological mechanisms to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, as well as neurological disorders and other diseases, said Richard McCombie, Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. By participating in IGN, we are enriching the capabilities of researchers as they strive to solve biologys most challenging problems. IGN links researchers needing large-scale, whole human genome sequencing with world class institutions that provide this service, and delivers unmatched access to the highest quality of whole genome sequencing data. All IGN partners are experienced and well-published using Illumina TruSeq technology, and have completed Illuminas Certified Service Provider (CSPro) certification. Each possesses ten or more Illumina sequencing systems (HiSeq 2000 systems and/or Genome Analyzers), providing the scalability to handle large sequencing projects with rapid completion times. CSHL joins six IGN partners who provide a full range of WGS services: The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada University of Washington Department of Genome Sciences in Seattle, Washington National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe, New Mexico Macrogen & Genomic Medicine Institute in Seoul, Korea Illuminas FastTrack Services lab in San Diego, California

For more information about the Illumina Genome Network, please visit _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.34 Potato genome mapping benefits within a decade 30 April 2012 By Will Wilson Growers could start seeing the benefits of the potato genome being sequenced within the next decade, with varieties bringing new traits such as PCN resistance or improved tuber shape. That was the message from Glenn Bryan, leader of potato genetics at the James Hutton Institute, at a recent Potato Council briefing. Key traits including disease resistance, nutritional value, quality and yield can be identified using information from the mapped potato genome. Plants that have these traits or a combination of these traits can then be included in breeding programmes. "For example, we already have a good understanding of the genes that affect simple traits such as tuber shape," said Dr Bryan. "Using this information, breeders will be able to select parents that they know produce a longer tuber. These parents can then be included in their conventional breeding programmes". Longer tubers will appeal to growers supplying the chipping market, who have to meet certain shape specifications. Understanding traits in varieties that are resistant to potato cyste nematode and blight could also lead to increased resistance in new varieties. "This of course will benefit the grower and the environment, as less emphasis is placed on the need for chemical controls," said Dr Bryan. Marker-assisted breeding can also significantly reduce the time it takes to develop new varieties, as the plant is not required to reach full maturity. However, added Dr Bryan, the speed at which new varieties are developed based on genomic information is dependant on the uptake of the research by the industry. "There is little evidence that marker-assisted breeding is being used in many potato breeding programmes at the moment. I would like to think this will change in the next three to five years," said Dr Bryan.

To get the most from research the potato industry also needed to identify and prioritise the key attributes required in new varieties. He added that it's hard for the relatively small scientific community working in potato genomics to meet all the requirements of multiple growers wanting new varieties to have a range of unique attributes. "Understanding and researching the attributes needed in new varieties would be easier if the industry could decide on the traits new varieties absolutely have to have," he said. "The industry needs to work together to identify what traits it really needs, because we can't work on all of them," said Dr Bryan. He sees this as being part of managing the relationship between scientists, breeders and the various industrial sectors. Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.35 New bench top machines open up DNA sequencing April 26, 2012 Birmingham, United Kingom Research carried out by scientists at the University of Birmingham have found that new bench-top machines for sequencing DNA are capable of accurately identifying over 95% of a genome, signalling a major breakthrough for the diagnosis of infections caused by bacteria such as E. coli. Traditionally this technology was the preserve of large-scale laboratories. However, these new lower-cost, bench-top machines open up the opportunity for far wider adoption. This is the first time an independent evaluation of these machines has taken place and the findings are published today (23rd April) in the journal Nature Biotechnology. The Birmingham scientists, who worked in collaboration with scientists at the Health Protection Agency, compared the performance of three new bench-top instruments in genome-sequencing a strain of E. coli (Escherichia coli O104:H4). This strain was responsible for the food-poisoning epidemic in Germany in 2011, which resulted in

over 4000 infections and 40 deaths. Whilst none of the bench-top sequencing instruments generated a completely accurate, joined-up, finished genome, all three recovered more than 95% of the strains genome. The instruments are around the same size as a laser printer and offer modest set-up and running costs. Each instrument can generate the data required for a draft bacterial genome sequence in days, making them attractive for identifying and characterizing microbes in the clinical setting. However, until now, none of the instruments had undergone independent testing. Research lead Professor Mark Pallen of the University of Birmingham School of Biosciences, said; Over the last five years, there have been dramatic improvements in the speed, ease and cost of determining DNA sequences, thanks to a range of new technologies that fall under the umbrella term "high-throughput sequencing" or "next-generation sequencing". However, until recently, the high set-up and running costs and the substantial space required in the lab, together with exacting and onerous technical requirements, have limited the adoption of these technologies in the average laboratory. Despite the tough tests we set, it is clear that all three platforms are capable of generating data quickly and easily and we can thus be confident that they are poised to make a decisive impact on diagnostic and public health microbiology in the near future. Study co-author, Dr John Wain, an expert on gastrointestinal infections at the Health Protection Agency, said: Whole genome sequencing is the most powerful technology available for helping scientists to identify which form of bacteria, such as E. coli, is causing an outbreak. However, the translation of that potential into action on public health has so far been limited by unstable market place in sequencing technology, which has prevented public health scientists from taking advantage of these technological developments. Were delighted that this study has shown that whole genome sequencing, using bench top technology, is now at a stage of development where it can be used in the front line. This will help us to identify the best equipment to use during an outbreak investigation, which, we hope, will in turn help to reduce the risk of infectious disease to the population. The three "bench-top" high-throughput sequencing instruments that were tested are: the 454 GS Junior (Roche), MiSeq (Illumina) and Ion Torrent PGM (Life Technologies). _category=&id_crop= Source:

Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.36 First plant-made drug on the market 02 May 2012 By Amy Maxmen For the first time, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today has approved a drug produced in a genetically engineered plant cell. Among those cheering the news are scientists who have advocated bio-pharming. The drug, Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa), soothes the symptoms in most patients of the rare lysosomal storage disorder Gaucher disease, which causes problems ranging from bone infections to anaemia. Scientists at the Israeli biotechnology company Protalix Biotherapeutics developed a method to create the human enzyme that these patients lack in carrot cells, by inserting a gene that encodes the protein into the cells. Patients treated with the resulting enzyme (taliglucerase alfa) in clinical trials fared at least as well as those given another enzyme-replacement therapy on the market, Cerezyme. Its wonderful to have another option available, says Rhonda Buyers, executive director of the National Gaucher Foundation in Tucker, Georgia. She hopes that Elelyso will help to prevent drug shortages like those in 2009 and 2011, when patients relied on Cerezyme alone. People whose symptoms had been controlled for years were having bone issues and terrible fatigue, some went the hospital, she recollects. Manufacturers of the two other Gaucher drugs Genzyme in the US and Shire in Ireland produce their therapeutic enzymes in mammalian cells. Structurally, Elelyso resembles Genzymes Cerezyme, but its cheaper to produce because of the high maintenance that animal-cell cultures require. Further, viruses and other pathogens that contaminate mammalian stocks dont threaten plan-cell cultures. For more than a decade, researchers have been able to genetically manipulate plants so that they produce human enzymes. In 2006, the US Department of Agriculture approved of a chicken vaccine produced in plant cells. But assuaging concerns about plant-derived biologics for human use has proved much more difficult. Therefore, scientists and drug manufacturers developing other therapeutic enzymes, antibodies and vaccines in plants say that Elelysos approval may make the regulatory process more straightforward for them, and alert big pharmaceutical companies and investors to the potential profitability of plant platforms. Before the FDAs announcement today, Ritu Baral, a research analyst with Canaccord Genuity in New York, said, If this drug gets approval it would be a huge proof of

concept for the entire platform. Although the company is poised to treat 2,000 patients in the United States, Baral says its uncertain what the US market will be because of brand loyalty to Genzyme and Shire. However, the fact that Elelyso will cost about 25% less than Cerezyme might sway buyers. Sixty per cent of the profits from US sales will go to the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which made a deal with Protalix in 2009. However, as long as the Israeli government approves the drug, all profits in that country will go to Protalix. Israel represents a relatively large slice of the pie, as Ashkenazi Jews are disproportionately affected by the disease. David Aviezer, president and chief executive of Protalix in Carmiel, is quite optimistic about the other carrot-made drugs in the companys pipeline. Earlier this year, Protalix began to plan for phase I clinical trials on their protein to treat another enzyme-related disorder, Fabry disease. This approval demonstrates a proof of concept for the power of this technology to make a large number of proteins, Aviezer says. We are ready to make many more. Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.37 Discovery may allow plant breeders to switch off flower production April 26, 2012 Tasmania, Australia A research project has discovered a new gene with an important role in generating flower-bearing structures (inflorescences) in plants. The research will be published in the online journal Nature Communications. This work investigates how the arrangement of flowers on a plant is controlled, and focuses on legumes, an important group of crop plants that includes peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas, Dr Weller explained. Plant inflorescences can range from simple (such as a tulip or poppy) with a single stalk and a single flower, to more complex, with multiple branches and numerous flowers (such as tomatoes, cereals and legumes). Identification of genes that control these differences gives us insight into how they might have evolved.

In this case we identified a gene called VEGETATIVE1, which controls an important step in legume inflorescence formation, Dr Weller said. This work also offers prospects for breeding of legume crops. For example, yield and harvest efficiency could be improved by developing new varieties with different inflorescence structures. It may also be possible to switch off flower production, which could be desirable in crops grown for animal fodder such as lucerne. Dr Weller said the UTAS contribution included detailed genetic and gene expression work by PhD student Frances Sussmilch and postdoctoral research associate Dr Valrie Hecht, and relied heavily on use of the School of Plant Sciences Controlled Environment Facility for plant growth. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.38 Nuclear-powered crops Physics meets biology in a project to breed better strains of rice 5 May, 2012 Tokyo THOSE who turn their noses up at genetically modified food seldom seem to consider that all crops are genetically modified. The difference between a wild plant and one that serves some human end is a lot of selective breedingthe picking and combining over the years of mutations that result in bigger seeds, tastier fruit or whatever else is required. Nor, these days, are those mutations there by accident. They are, rather, deliberately induced, usually by exposing seeds to radiation. And that is exactly what Tomoko Abe and her colleagues at the Riken Nishina Centre for Accelerator-Based Science in Saitama, outside Tokyo, are doing with rice. The difference is that Dr Abe is not using namby-pamby X-rays and gamma rays to mutate her crop, as is the way in most other countries. Instead she is sticking them in a particle accelerator and bombarding them with heavy ionslarge atoms that have been stripped down to their nuclei by the removal of their electrons. This produces between ten and 100 times as many

mutations as the traditional method, and thus increases the chances of blundering across some useful ones. Dr Abes plan is to use these mutations to create salt-tolerant rice. She has tried to do that several times in the past, but the result did not taste very nice. Her latest effort was stimulated by the flooding with seawater of almost 24,000 hectares of farmland by the tsunami which followed an earthquake in March last year. Salt-tolerant rice would, though, be of much wider use than just restoring the paddies of Miyagi prefecture and its neighbours, the worst-affected part of the country, to full productivity. About a third of the worlds rice paddies have salt problems, and yields in such briny fields may be half what they would be if the water in them were fresh. To induce the mutations, Dr Abe bombarded germinating seeds with carbon ions for 30 seconds. She then planted them in fields in Miyagi. Of 600 seeds that have undergone this treatment, 250 thrived and themselves produced healthy seeds. The next stage of the project, to be carried out this month, is to take 50 grains from each of the successful plants and repeat the process with them. The resulting specimens will then be sorted and the best (ie, those that have flourished in the saline soils of Miyagis paddies) selected for crossbreeding, in order to concentrate desirable mutations into reproducible lines of plants. The result, Dr Abe hopes, will be a viable salt-tolerant strain that is ready for market within four years. With luck, this time, it will be a tasty one as well. Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.39 Big advances from tiny technology - Is a game-changing device in DNA sequencing about to revolutionise the business of decoding genes? May 15, 2012 United Kingdom It was only from 2007 when next-generation sequencers brought the time and cost of deciphering the genetic code from weeks and millions of dollars to days and tens of thousands. Now a new wave of electronic sensing devices based around bacterial nanopores tiny holes in the membranes of microbes look poised to answer biological questions in real time and bring a substantially lower cost 'pay as you go' model to sequencing.

The technology, some of which is hand-held and can plug into a computer like a memory stick, was announced by Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) to a mix of astonishment and excitement (ref 1, ref 2, ref 3). If the technology delivers as expected, it could, finally, usher in the long-awaited era of personalised medicine by making analysis extremely rapid, cost-effective and, critically, results are obtained in real time, a significant advance on present technologies. "It is truly amazing," says ONT founder Hagan Bayley, Professor of Chemical Biology at the University of Oxford. "It is amazing in terms of sequencing technology, but also in terms of single molecule detection many other molecules can be detected this way." ONT was founded at the University of Oxford in 2005. The MinION system is a miniaturised single molecule analysis device. Image: ONT Since 2006, Bayley has utilised BBSRC-funded training grants to make critical discoveries that have ultimately contributed to the company's success. And DNA is only part of the story the technology provides a platform that can also detect proteins, sugars, health-related biomarkers and be used in a host of on-the-spot chemical diagnostic applications in the laboratory, clinic and the environment. Invention train The path of discovery often meanders like a river. Bayley says that ONT was not founded as a DNA sequencing firm, but as a company interested in developing single molecule sensing technology for metabolites, sugars, calcium ions and other compounds of biochemical interest. "We saw it as a platform technology," says Bayley. "But quite soon it became obvious that its application in third-generation DNA sequencing was an area with enormous potential." Bayley's sensors are based on protein nanopores tiny channels that span membranes to control what goes in and out of a cell which are partly blocked by analytes (molecules of interest). Over the years, he's worked mainly on nanopores from the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. The nanopore in question, the alphahaemolysin pore, is a toxin secreted naturally by the bacterium, which forms the cornerstone of ONT's sensing and DNA-sequencing technology (ref 4).

An electric current is applied across the pore, and when analytes bind at a site engineered within the pore, they cause a tell-tale change in the current, which is specific to the compound passing through. Hence, the order of the individual base units of DNA cytosine, adenine, guanine and thymine can be recorded electronically as a strand of DNA passes though the pore. BBSRC-funded Training Grants played an important part demonstrating that biological nanopores could differentiate between the individual bases of the genetic code (ref 5, ref 6) a key aspect of the DNA sequencing methods developed by ONT. "What I found out during my DPhil was that protein nanopores were sufficiently sensitive to be able to discriminate between single nucleotide differences in DNA strands when they were immobilized within the pore," says Dr David Stoddart, who was funded by BBSRC as a student and now works for ONT. "And that base discrimination can be influenced by the amino acid composition of the nanopore." Further work, also funded by BBSRC Training Grants, showed that there was more than one point in the nanopore which registers DNA bases (ref 7) improving sequencing accuracy. Bayley says that by having multiple points of recognition and a more complex algorithm to look at current levels, you can get more information than using a single point. Later, BBSRC-funded student Emma Wallace was able to demonstrate that the nanopore-sensor system could also record epigenetic changes to DNA (ref 8). This is important because while the genetic code is a set of instructions for making proteins, there is more to the story than just the sequence of DNA bases. DNA is altered by enzymatic modifications that affect gene expression in organisms picking up these molecular nuances is critical if the information in DNA is to be utilised in a way that is clinically useful on an individual basis. These were key papers demonstrating that you could identify the four different bases (ref 9). "Furthermore, it is very important to be able to map epigenetic modifications on genomic DNA," says Bayley. "Quite critical to this was involvement of graduate students who were sponsored by these [BBSRC] training grants." BBSRC also funded a colleague Bayley, Dr Mark Wallace, to investigate the fundamental bioscience behind how the S. aureus nanopore is assembled (ref 10). "This is not work that impinges directly on sensing, but cutting-edge research on how nanopores are put together," says Bayley. See 'More on pores'. Progress platform Bayley estimates that the nanopore system is one thousand times faster than present second-generation machines, and the results are delivered in real-time, not after the

machine has completed numerous relatively slow sequencing cycles, which take days depending on the size of the genome. "Techniques such as Solexa Sequencing are overkill for small sequencing jobs, such as a virus carried by a passenger at an airport," Bayley explains. "To get the results in a minute, you cannot use an Illumina sequencer." However, Bayley cautions that the parallel processing abilities (simultaneously decoding of around a billion DNA strands) of second-generation sequencers means they are not as yet obsolete, especially for larger genomes. So was there a "eureka!" moment when he realised that nanopores could be used in such a way? In fact, others had proposed nanopore sequencing, but there was no practical technique to do it. "It was more like Jules Verne saying 'I'm going to fly a rocket to the moon' but there was no feasible way to do that at the time," says Bayley. Progress in the nanopore sensor field was very slow from the mid-1990s to 2005-6, but the US National Institutes of Health $1000 genome project served as a catalyst. "That got a lot more people involved, including us," says Bayley. "Then in 2006 we had a big paper showing that bases could be identified by a nanopore. That was a huge stimulus to the field and the company." The future has arrived Bayley and his company have set their sights beyond the realms of DNA to sense metal ions, drugs, biochemical markers almost anything in an aqueous solution.. "Oxford Nanopore was formed to develop a sensing platform, and this takes us into limitless territory," says Bayley. "There's far more to it than genomics. The same sensing platform, similar pores, similar chips, similar readers, and similar software for analysis can be used for a very wide variety of analytes." This means that not only can the technology be used for speedy clinical diagnosis in a laboratory or healthcare centre, but that there are applications in environmental monitoring, as well as defense and security. To this end, work continues on nanopores under a BBSRC CASE Studentship training grant. "The main aim of this project is to exploit our knowledge of structure-function relationships in bacterial membrane proteins via advanced molecular simulations to provide novel possible designs for selective nanopores," says Professor Mark Sansom, Head of the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford. "It is early days, but the project should allow us to use computer simulations to aid the design of protein nanopores with modified DNA selectivity."

That should feed back into the DNA sequencing work, but Sansom says that his group's approach is general, and is not restricted to in silico [computer] design of protein nanopores. "We have also started to explore the design of novel nanopores and then 'embedding' them in non-biological nanopores such as carbon nanotubes." This is because besides sensing and sequencing there are potentially many applications for nanopores and carbon nanotubes in, for example, clean biotechnology. "There has been interest in developing desalination technologies based on carbon nanotubes," says Sansom. Microelectrical engineering and synthetic biology are two other areas where nanopores and carbon nanotubes could meet. In fact, Sansom thinks many other aspects of industrial biotechnology could exploit this general approach. "There is considerable interest in designing (and realising) synthetic protocells for clean biotechnology, and nanopores will be essential to allow the controlled import and export of materials to and from such protocells." More on pores Dr Mark Wallace Under your BBSRC funding, what did you learn about how the Staphylococcus aureus nanopore? The results were pretty surprising. The S. aureus nano pore (alpha-hemolysin, or aHL) is a heptamer made of seven individual proteins randomly diffusing about on the cell surface before coming together to form a donut that then punches a hole through the cell membrane. But rather than coming together slowly as one, then two, then three subunits, as you might naively expect, aHL appears to assemble very rapidly going from isolated proteins to an intact pore in less than a few milliseconds. How does knowledge of nanopore structure relate to DNA sequencing? We know that aHL can be used to measure current blocks and sequence DNA, but we are reliant on the limitations of this particular nanopore protein. Perhaps other poreforming proteins would give us better base resolution, or allow us to measure the transport of larger or smaller biomolecules. There are other pores out there with both fewer and many more subunits than aHL. If we understood how aHL builds itself, we might be able to design new biological nanopores with different properties. My work has helped us understand how aHL works in nature. What other impacts could studying nanopore structure and assembly have? They're important to understand in their own right. Other nanopores (or to be less fashionable, other pore-forming proteins) are an integral component of our immune system. They also play an important role in a many serious infections including

pneumonia, MRSA, and even anthrax! Figuring out the role that these pores play in biology is also clearly important. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.40 BGI reports the completed sequence of foxtail millet genome May 14, 2012 Shenzhen, China BGI, the worlds largest genomics organization, in cooperation with Zhangjiakou Academy of Agricultural Science, has completed the genome sequence and analysis of foxtail millet (Setaria italica), the second-most widely planted species of millet. This study provides an invaluable resource for the study and genetic improvement of foxtail millet and millet crops at a genome-wide level. Results of the latest study were published online today in Nature Biotechnology. Foxtail millet is an important cereal crop providing food and feed in semi-arid areas. It is the top-one crop in ancient China. It promises to serve as an important model for comparative genomics and functional gene studies, due to its small genome size (~490M), self-pollination, rich genetic diversity (~6000 varieties), complete collection of germplasm, and the availability of efficient transformation platforms. It is also evolutionarily close to several important biofuel grasses, such as switchgrass and napier grass. The lower yield of traditional cultivars has largely limited cultivation and utilization of foxtail millet. said Dr. Gengyun Zhang, Vice President of BGI. Hybrid cultivars, recently developed by Professor Zhihai Zhao in Zhangjiakou Agricultural Academy of Science, doubled the yield of foxtail millet. I expect that the results of this study could set an example of applying the genome sequence to better understanding and quicker developing new varieties of a neglected crop with higher yield, better grain quality and stress tolerance. In this study, researchers from BGI carried out next-generation sequencing and de novo assembly for Zhang gu, one strain of foxtail millet from Northern China. The final genome assembly was 423 Mb, and 38,801 protein-coding genes have been predicted, of which ~81% were expressed. They also developed a high density genetic linkage map using a set of genetic markers identified by resequencing another strain

named A2 and an F2 population of Zhang gu crossing A2. A2 is the widely used female strain of hybrid foxtail millet. Comparing the foxtail millet genome and rice genome, researchers found the rules and changing tendency of the foxtail millet chromosomes, which are important for understanding the millet genome evolution. We found nine foxtail millet chromosomes were formed after three chromosomal reshuffling events. said Dr. Zhang, Of the three events, two occurred after divergence of foxtail millet from rice, followed by a specific reshuffling after divergence of millet from sorghum. C4 plants are better adapted than C3 plants in environments with higher daytime temperature, intense sunlight, drought, or nitrogen or CO2 limitation. Foxtail millet is a diploid C4 panicoid crop species. With its genome available, researchers comprehensively analyzed the evolution of several key genes in C4 photosynthesis pathway. Results indicated that all the genes involved in C4 carbon fixation pathway also existed in C3 plants. Thus, researchers predicted that the emergence of C4 pathway could result from expressional and/or functional modifications of these genes. The genome sequence of foxtail millet could facilitate mapping of quantitative trait loci. In this study, researchers used the foxtail millet genome to aid identification of herbicide resistant genes, and they accurately identified the gene for sethoxydim resistance. The decoding of whole genome sequence is an essential and important step to reveal the secrets of genetic control of crops, which could serve as an important platform for biological studies and breeding. added by Dr. Zhang. _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.41 New Research Targets Investment in cereal genomics to breed better varieties Professor Michael Bevan and Dr Cristobal Uauy with Dr Andy Phillips of Rothamsted Research are to work on a new project that will use the genome of wheat to unlock useful variation from different varieties to support breeding and gene discovery. Professor Bevan commented This project builds on the strong foundation of wheat genomics made with past BBSRC support as, by identifying useful genetic traits, it will enable the benefits of wheat genome analysis to be directly used by breeders and

researchers. This is part of a 7 million investment in cereal genomics by BBSRC that will use the expertise at The Genome Analysis Centre to crack the genomes of wheat and barley, the two most widely grown UK crops. Adapting wheat for a changing climate Dr Simon Griffiths has received over 500,000 of funding from the European Commission to investigate ways that wheat can be adapted to cope with climate change. The project, which involves working with plant breeders, will focus on the way wheat times when it flowers, and look at how variations in this could be exploited to produce crops adapted to our climate in the future. This will be vital in ensuring food security in the future. b2927&e=42f966e6fc Source: Advances, Spring 2012 (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.42 FAO/IAEA Plant Breeding and Genetics Newsletter 28 The January 2012 newsletter from the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture is now available. This 40-page newsletter, issued twice a year, gives an overview of their past and upcoming events (meetings, training courses etc.), ongoing projects and publications. The editorial highlights the need for sustainable intensification of crop productivity for food security and livelihood improvement under the negative effects of climate change and variability, including biotechnological approaches to improve genotypes. See (950 KB) or contact to request a copy. Source: FAO-BiotechNews 1-2012 (Return to Contents) ========================= 2 PUBLICATIONS 2.01 Technical Manual : Plant Breeding with Farmers

A Technical Manual : Plant Breeding with Farmers has been completed and is being currently printed at ICARDA with the financial support of EU and IDRC. Below please find the executive summary and the full quotation: Ceccarelli, S. 2012. Plant breeding with farmers a technical manual. ICARDA, PO Box 5466, Aleppo, Syria. pp xi + 126. Executive summary There is increasing interest in participatory plant breeding (PPB), both in developing and in developed countries. While there is a conspicuous body of literature in the form of both scientific papers and books, this manual aims to provide a source of information on how to implement a PPB programme on the ground, with the purpose of encouraging scientists to start such programmes. The manual is addressed to all those involved in planning and implementing participatory breeding activities. This includes research centres, universities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), farmer associations and government extension officials This manual presents some background on PPB and on participatory variety selection (PVS), but is mostly devoted to providing the reader with as much detailed technical information on the different aspects involved in successfully starting and conducting a PPB programme. The manual fills a gap by making available in one document diverse information that is otherwise scattered in several different publications. The manual shows clearly that there are no major technical difficulties in transforming a conventional breeding programme into a participatory programme. In fact, many of the principles and techniques described in this manual apply equally well to conventional plant breeding programmes. Readers are encouraged to submit their comments, corrections or criticism to improve future versions of the manual. The objectives of this manual are to: Introduce the reader to the concepts and methodologies of plant breeding in general, and to participatory plant breeding in particular; Take the user through the main steps in designing and implementing participatory breeding programmes in various crops; Provide examples of data collection and data analysis for various types of experimental designs; and Discuss key issues in participatory plant breeding, such as variety release, seed production and impact. The manual draws heavily on ICARDAs experience in conducting participatory breeding programmes in Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Syria,

Tunisia and Yemen. However, efforts have been made to highlight a number of general principles that entitle a research programme to be called participatory. Inputs and perspectives from interested readers are welcome. Contact: or (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 2.02 IITA's R4D Review on Crop Improvement published The 8th edition of the R4D Review, co-edited by Lava Kumar and Kathy Lopez, is now available online at This issue commemorates the 45th anniversary of IITA. It focuses on the successes, challenges, and prospects of the genetic improvement programs which have been the cornerstone of IITAs success in improving food crop production in SSA. These innovations in genetic improvement, together with supportive policies and training, have dramatically improved crop productivity and lifted millions out of poverty. This issue also covers topics on partnerships for agricultural development and Frontiers section on IITA biotechnology research covering, genomics, transgenics and diagnostics. IITA was established in 1967 to increase and improve food crop production, and soil and crop management for sustainable agricultural development. The Institute has become integral to the quest by sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to attain food and income security. For the last 45 years, IITA has delivered over 70% of the impact from the CGIAR in sub-Saharan Africa. The Institute has achieved this by focusing on key tropical food crops, such as banana and plantain, cassava, cowpea, maize, soybean, yam, and tree and vegetable crops. Contributed by Lava Kumar IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria (Return to Contents)

3. WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES 3.01 Launching of The Resource, a monthly update from NRI We are about to launch The Resource, a monthly update from the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich, to keep you informed via email with the highlights of our latest activities.

if you would like to receive our most current information straight to your email inbox, please follow the link below and subscribe. The Resource will include a themed feature piece, and the latest updates from our projects, project partners, beneficiaries, publications, training programmes and current events. The first issue, to be launched on 21 May 2012, includes a feature article on capacity strengthening written by our Director of Capacity Strengthening and Learning. It also contains information about a major new investment in research at the Institute that will involve creating five new professorial posts and at least five new fully-funded PhD studentships. The application process for these posts has just been opened. To subscribe, please follow this link, and give your preferences. At the Natural Resources Institute, we value the input of our friends and collaborators. Please feel free to contact us on if you would like any information concerning our work, projects or training. We look forward to welcoming you, please feel free to pass this invitation on to your colleagues. Best wishes Andrew Westby Director Natural Resources Institute (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++ 3.02 Website launched for new international plant science network May 4, 2012 United Kingdom The new European Commission-funded ERA-CAPS network has today launched its website which will help coordinate plant science research across Europe and beyond. Visit: BBSRC ERA-CAPS page:

(Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 3.03 A Global Food Security Index under development DuPont is sponsoring an innovative Global Food Security Index being developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to measure the drivers of food security across 105 countries. The index will be published this summer and will be a unique resource for those working to improve food security across the private and public sectors. This interactive benchmark tool will be publicly available so governments, universities, NGOs and others can access the relevant data to help tailor local solutions regarding food security. Kullman made both announcements at the Advancing Food and Nutrition Security at the 2012 G8 Summit, hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 3.04 Tomato experts field notes go online May 24, 2012 by Luigi Guarino We have blogged before about the C.M. Rick Tomato Genetic Resources Center at UC Davis and their tomato germplasm database. Now, via Dr Roger Chetelat, the director, we hear of a major addition to the data they make available. The collecting notes of Dr Charles Rick, the worlds foremost authority on tomato genetics, who passed away in 2002 and after whom the center is named, are now online. You can see an example here, for LA1253, a Lycopersicon hirsutum f. glabratum (or Solanum habrochaites if you prefer) collected in Ecuador in 1970. The notes have been painstakingly transcribed from Dr Ricks handwritten field notebooks, an example of which you can see below. Cannot have been easy work. And I mean both chasing after all those tomato wild relatives in the first place, and transcribing Dr Ricks notes after so many years and with him gone. There are plans to eventually also scan the pages that contain drawings of fruit shape, maps of collection sites, or other tidbits that cant readily translated into text.

As an old collector, I find this stuff fascinating. Although Im really not sure Id like my own field observations so mercilessly exposed to the world. Read more: Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 3.05 Data portal aims to help unlock food production bottlenecks FAO and IIASA launch online Global Agro-ecological Zones Interactive Data Portal 25 May 2012 Rome A new online data portal developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) aims to help unlock the planet's potential to feed a rapidly growing population. The Global Agro-ecological Zones (GAEZ) Portal developed by FAO and IIASA is a planning tool designed to help to identify areas for increased global food production while maintaining natural resources base and facing the challenge of climate change. According to FAO estimates, world food production needs to increase 60 percent by 2050 to feed a world population expected to surpass 9 billion people. Much of the necessary growth will need to be achieved by increasing the amount of food produced on existing agricultural land, as most of the world's best farmland is already being used. Water scarcity is another limiting factor for area expansion. And intensification of food production will occur within a changing climate, requiring adaptation and mitigation and will have to be sustainable to safeguard future use of the resources. A critical first step in sustainably intensifying food production is to close the "yield gaps" that continue to plague the farming sector in many parts of the world. "GAEZ can help identify where there are bridgeable yield gaps' and what causes them, allowing for the formulation of appropriate investment policies and the provision of appropriate support to farmers to help them produce more food" says Parviz Koohafkan, Director of FAO's Land and Water Division.

The term "yield gap" refers to the difference between how much food a farm actually produces and how much food it would be capable of producing if appropriate practices, inputs, technologies and knowledge were applied. Such gaps can be quite wide: for example, a recent FAO study found that in some rural areas of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, crop production by small farmers, especially for cereals, can run as low as low as just 30-40 percent of potential. The world region with the highest yield gaps is sub-Saharan Africa. Cereal yields in Africa as a whole have long hovered around 1.2 tons per hectare, compared to an average yield of some 3 tons per hectare in the developing world as a whole. A wellspring of data, online A new online data portal developed by FAO and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) seeks to enhance planners' and decision makers' capacity to estimate agricultural production potentials and variability under different environmental and management scenarios, including climatic conditions, management regimes, water availability and levels of inputs. The portal -- the Global Agro-Ecological Zones Interactive Data Access Facilities -offers access to what IIASA Director/CEO Pavel Kabat calls "the most ambitious global agro-resources assessment ever conducted". "The objective was to assemble a vast wealth of data information and make this available in a way that is most accessible to land use planners and specialists to help close yield gaps and promote the sustainable intensification of agricultural production," Kabat says. At the heart of the GAEZ system is an extensive inventory of the world's agricultural resources and related data, organized around five thematic areas: Land and water resources, including multiple spatial layers of climate, soil, terrain, land cover, irrigation potentials, protected areas, population density, livestock density and accessibility, etc. Agro-climatic resources, providing major climatic indicators important for assessing crop growth, development and yield formation. GAEZ's spatial agro-climatic inventories of the prevailing thermal and moisture regimes and growing periods are used for estimating crop suitability and potential yields. Agricultural suitability and potential yields, including information on yield constraints, crop calendars, and production potential estimates for 11 major crop groups, 49 major crops and 92 crop types. Productivity estimates are made for rainfed farming, rain-fed farming with water conservation and gravity, sprinkler and drip irrigation systems.

Actual yields and production, consisting of spatially explicit crop production estimates including crop harvested area, yield and production figures for 23 major commodities. Yield and production gaps, which provide important information on locations with differences between actual achieved and potential attainable yield and production under different management scenarios. Being geo-referenced, GAEZ allows a user to identify agricultural zones across the globe that share similar ecological conditions and are producing the same crops using the same kinds of production system, but which do not have the same production levels. This means the reasons underlying lower production - inadequate or inappropriate agricultural practices, policies, institutions, support services and access to markets. - can be pinpointed and dealt with. The potential exists to expand food production efficiently while limiting impacts on other ecosystem values. In particular, given the scarcity of suitable resources in some regions, future demand and expected negative impacts of climate change, GAEZ would allow users to evaluate options for more widespread adoption of sustainable land and water management practices in agricultural systems at risk, recently highlighted in FAO's report The State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture. These systems at risk face the threat of progressive breakdown of their productive capacity. They warrant priority attention for remedial action simply because there are no substitutes. Alexander Mueller, Assistant Director General of the FAO Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, which developed GAEZ in collaboration with IIASA, concludes: "the new GAEZ data portal will provide a global tool to manage natural resources for food and agriculture in a more sustainable way. Natural resources are the basis for food production. In a world already facing today water scarcity and land degradation in many areas and coping with increasing risks from climate change, this is the only way to achieve food security." Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++ 3.06 Rice Bowl Index highlights solutions for food security challenges across AsiaPacific May 30, 2012 Basel, Switzerland

Index analyzes robustness of food security system Farm level factors the major contributor to system robustness Collaboration between public and private sectors essential for solutions

Syngenta announced today the launch of the Rice Bowl Index, a diagnostic tool that provides insight and information on the robustness of the food security system across Asia-Pacific. The Rice Bowl Index is designed to facilitate productive dialogue, collaboration and action between governments, NGOs and the private sector, moving from simply identifying problems to finding solutions. Truly understanding the robustness of a food security system can be transformational to economic and social development, said Dr Robert Berendes, Global Head of Business Development at Syngenta. It is clear from this analysis that collaboration and a system wide integrated approach are vital in order to effect change that is sustainable in the long term. A White Paper authored by Professor Paul Teng, one of Asias leading food security experts, supports the Rice Bowl Index, the methodology of which was developed by Frontier Strategy Group. It is easy to fall into the trap of inaction due to the complexities in dealing with food security. What is most challenging is how to translate the complexity of food security into an opportunity for action. The Rice Bowl Index is one platform which supports an effort and commitment to doing so, said Professor Teng. Richard Leggett, Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Strategy Group, said: We have drawn on our extensive community of executives, emerging market expertise and validated data to create a tool that we hope will make an important contribution to the food security debate. Dr. Berendes was also in Bangkok in his capacity as Co-Chairman of the World Economic Forums New Vision for Agriculture (NVA) which convened as part of the WEFs East Asia Summit. Consistent with the principles that underpin the Rice Bowl Index, the NVA has a shared agenda for action and multi-stakeholder collaboration to achieve sustainable agricultural growth through market-based solutions. It has implemented innovative public-private collaborations in Tanzania, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico and is working through several global forums to build momentum. For more information on the Rice Bowl Index, please visit _category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents)

4. GRANTS AND AWARDS 4.01 CGIAR Program to improve maize opens call for proposals The CGIAR research program on maize is now receiving proposals and concept notes by scientists for initiatives to improve maize. The Maize Competitive Grants Initiative allows scientists worldwide to apply for funds to support research and capacity building activities that will make a significant contribution to the improvement of the crop. Concept Notes are sought for one or more of the priority research areas including: - Socioeconomics and policies for maize futures - Sustainable intensification and income opportunities for the poor - Smallholder precision agriculture - Stress tolerant maize for the poorest - Towards doubling maize productivity - Integrated post-harvest management - Nutritious maize - Seeds of discovery - New tools and methods for NARS and SMEs For more details: Source: Crop Biotech Update 11 May 2012 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents)

5. POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS 5.01 Plant Breeder, Tropical Forages, CIAT The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) a member of the CGIAR Consortium develops technologies, innovative methods, and new knowledge that better enable farmers, especially smallholders, to make agriculture eco-efficient that is, competitive and profitable as well as sustainable and resilient. Eco-efficient agriculture reduces hunger and poverty, improves human nutrition, and offers

solutions to environmental degradation and climate change in the tropics. CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations. CIATs Tropical Forage Program (TFP) has worked for four decades developing tropical forages through collection, selection and breeding. Forage-based systems are the main agricultural land use in the tropics and novel forage options have contributed to improved livelihoods of may smallholder farmers. The TFP aims for more efficient and sustainable agriculture and livestock production while reducing the ecological footprint in the framework of CIATs concept of Eco-Efficient Agriculture for the Poor. Brachiaria grasses are the most widely sown forages in the tropics. CIATs TFP has two active forage breeding programs focusing on the genus Brachiaria. Work is carried out in collaboration with the private sector to enhance efficiency of Brachiaria cultivar development and dissemination. Criteria for developing successful Brachiaria forage grass options include high productivity, nutritive quality, adaptation to biotic and abiotic stresses and seed production and, more recently parameters to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through plant-based characteristics. CIAT is looking for a visionary and innovative breeder with interest in tropical forages recognizing their importance in agricultural systems for livelihoods and environmental benefits. The breeder would be located at CIAT HQ in Cali, Colombia but results will have application across the Tropics with particular emphasis in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), South East Asia (SEA) and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Role and responsibilities To continue and enhance output in on-going forage breeding programs, with particular attention to the genus Brachiaria in collaboration with private sector and national and international partners from the public sector. To support the breeding team at all levels by enhancing its capacity and output. To link with public and private sector research collaborators at the national, regional and global level. To provide regular communication and reports to donors and with technical and administrative supervisors and colleagues at CIAT.

To establish productive working relationships with CIAT colleagues, e.g., in plant pathology, entomology, plant nutrition, and animal nutrition to develop and perfect efficient screening methodologies for key plant traits. To represent CIAT, and specifically the TFP at meetings of all levels, providing updated information or presentations on project workTo supervise and motivate support personal to ensure opportune completion of tasks. To represent CIAT, and specifically the TFP at meetings of all levels, providing updated information or presentations on project activities. Requirements and competences PhD in plant breeding. Experience with forage breeding would be an advantage but is not considered essential. Strong background in conventional plant breeding and applications of molecular tools where relevant to enhancing the efficiency of forage improvement research. Awareness of commercial requirements for forage seed production, as a key goal is developing marketable products to achieve large scale impacts. Thorough knowledge of experimental design and multivariate statistical analysis. A demonstrated ability to elaborate high quality publications meeting international standards. Capacity to assess environmental impacts of agricultural production. Good knowledge of statistical analysis. Ability to work effectively in a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural team across institutions and levels of authority. Willingness to learn new research approaches integrating traditional and novel tools. Strong communication skills, both written and oral, in English, and ability to work in a team. Desired qualifications: Spanish language skills Familiarity with forages and smallholder farming systems in the Tropics Terms of employment

The position will be based at CIATs HQ in Cali, Colombia, reporting to the leader of the Tropical Forages Program and to the Research Area Director Agrobiodiversity. The contract will be for an initial two-year period, subject to a six (6) months probation period, but would ideally be continued for a longer duration. CIAT offers internationally competitive salary and benefits packages. CIAT is an equal opportunity employer, and strives for staff diversity in gender and nationality. Female candidates from Latin America, Africa, and Asia are particularly encouraged to apply. Applications Applicants are invited to send a cover letter illustrating their suitability for the above position against the listed qualifications, competencies, skills together with a detailed curriculum vitae, including names and addresses of three referees knowledgeable about the candidates professional qualifications and work experience. All correspondence should be addressed to the CIAT Human Resources Office to Catalina Montoya ( and should clearly indicate Breeder, Tropical Forages on their application letters or email submissions. Closing date for applications: Until the position is filled We invite you to learn more about CIAT at:; (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++ 5.02 Hybrid Barley Breeder Market Stainton, Lincolnshire If you can combine a degree in Agronomics and sound IT skills with a good grasp of plant breeding, genetics and phytopathology, we can make the most of your talents at Syngena. Your role will focus on supporting the Hybrid Barley breeding programme for Europe North. This will see you get involved in breeding programmes across France, and central Europe, as well as future programmes. Delivering within budget, selecting lines for the female and male side dedicated to the target zone and setting up nurseries and yield trials will all fall within your remit. You will also take responsibility for small-scale testing seed production, purification of early breeding lines and support internal and external sub-projects.

We're looking for a creative thinker with bags of initiative, impressive plant breeding experience and an understanding of hybrid breeding and/or cereal growing. Sound organisational and planning skills and the ability to work well as part of a team are also essential. To apply online, please visit [URL removed] and navigate to our current vacancies via the career page. Closing date: 8 June 2012. Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 26,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers we help to increase plant productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life. For more information about us please go to Applying For This Position Unless otherwise stated, when applying for a job, you should ensure that you're already authorised to work in the country where the role is located. View more vacancies from this recruiter (Return to Contents)

6. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS New listings may include some program details, while repeat listings will include only basic information. Visit web sites for additional details. This section includes three subsections: A. DISTANCE LEARNING/ONLINE COURSES B. COURSES OF THE SEED BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER AT UC DAVIS C. OTHER MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS A. DISTANCE LEARNING/ONLINE COURSES Plant Breeding Methods - Distance Education version CS, HS 541-section 601 DE; 3 credits; lecture only North Carolina State University will be offering CS,HS 541, Plant Breeding Methods in a distance education version this fall. The instructor is Todd Wehner (

For more information For more information on distance education at NC State University, see: For more information on Todd Wehner, see: Plant Breeding Overview - Distance Education version HS 590-801,601; 1 credit; lecture only North Carolina State University will be offering HS 590, Plant Breeding Overview in a distance education version this fall. The instructor is Todd Wehner ( For more information on HS Dr. Todd C. Wehner Professor and Cucurbit Breeder Department of Horticultural Science North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 27695-7609 919-741-8929 +++++++++++ Master of Science in Plant Breeding at Iowa State University (distance program) The curriculum consists of 12 courses plus a one-credit workshop and a three-credit creative component, for a total of 40 credits. The one-credit practicum is the only course that requires attendance on campus- four days during one summer. Generally, students who have completed a degree from a College of Agriculture will meet the requirements. Contact information is: toll-free: 800-747-4478 phone: 515-294-2999 Maria Salas-Fernandez Assistant Professor Department of Agronomy Iowa State Univ.

+++++++++++ Online Graduate Program in Seed Technology & Business Iowa State University The Iowa State University On-line Graduate Program in Seed Technology and Business develops potential into managerial leadership. Contact us today for more information about how you can apply. Paul Christensen, Seed Technology and Business Program Manager Ph. 515-294-8745 +++++++++++ B. COURSES OF THE SEED BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER AT UC DAVIS Plant Breeding Academy in Asia Plant Breeding Academy in Asia starts November 2012 with a session in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Applications are now being accepted. Register before May 31, 2012 and take advantage of the early registration discount. For more information visit the PBA website or contact Jeannette Martins at +++++++++ 11-15 June 2012 Seed Biotechnology Center responds to industry needs by launching SB101SM Field Crops, Minneapolis, MN For more information contact Jeannette Martins at or go to SB101. Source: Seed Biotechnology Center November 2011 Enews Contributed by Donna Van Dolah Seed Biotechnology Center +++++++++++

European Plant Breeding Classes For more information on the UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy or the Plant Breeding Academy in the United States visit or contact Joy Patterson, For more information and application process visit Week 3: June 25-30, 2012 Location: Gatersleben, Germany Partners: The German Plant Breeders' Association (BDP), Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Week 4: Oct 8-13, 2012 Location: Enkhuizen, Netherlands Partners: Seed Valley, Naktuinbouw Week 6: June 24-29, 2013 Location: Davis, CA Partners: Seed Biotechnology Center, UC Davis Department of Plant Science +++++++++++ Plant Breeding Academy in United States begins September 2012 The UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy is a postgraduate program that teaches the fundamentals of plant breeding, genetics and statistics through lectures, discussion, and field trips to public and private breeding programs. The UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy 2012 Class begins in September. It will include new topics that reflect the most recent developments in plant breeding theory and practice. Applications are now being accepted. For more information on the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy visit the PBA website or contact Joy Patterson, Contributed by Donna Van Dolah Seed Biotechnology Center UC, Davis +++++++++++ Seed Central launches its series of monthly events

The program for the next several months can be viewed at: To learn more about Seed Central, please visit +++++++++++ Seed Business 101 For more information please contact Jeannette Martins at UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center Phone (530) 752 4984 or Register online:

C. OTHER MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS 19 June 2012, Environmental and conservation seed workshop to be held during annual convention of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) Alexandria, Virginia, USA Individuals with an interest in environmental and conservation seed should mark their calendars for Tuesday, June 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. As usual, the workshop will be held at USDA headquarters. ASTA's Annual Convention will be held June 20-23 at the Gaylord National in National Harbor, Md. A block of rooms has been reserved at the rate of $199 per night. For reservations, call 301-965-4000 or visit and mention "ASTA." A printable registration form for the Annual Convention is available at and online registration will open soon. For questions and additional information about the workshop, contact Cahill at 703837-8140 or For questions and information about the Annual Convention, contact Jennifer Crouse, ASTA director of meetings and services, at 703-837-8140 or _category=&id_crop= Source: Newsletter of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) via

++++++++++++ 58 June 2012 Short course on MarkerAssisted Plant Breeding, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, USA Contact Dr. Bernardo by email ( or by phone 16126256282 11-15 June 2012 Seed Business 101, Seed Biotechnology Center, Minneapolis, MN Seed Biotechnology Center expands the Seed Business 101 (SM) (SB101) course by offering sessions with curriculum focused on field crops. The first session of the Seed Business 101 Field Crops is scheduled for June 11-15, 2012, in Minneapolis, MN. For registrations fees, additional dates and other details please visit or contact Jeannette Martins at +++++++++++++ 11-22 June 2012 Plant breeding for drought tolerance, Colorado State University Registration and Information Contributed by Annie Heiliger Graduate Research Assistant Plant Breeding & Genetics Soil and Crop Sciences Department College of Agricultural Science Colorado State University= Annie.Heiliger@ColoState.EDU ++++++++++++++ 18-22 June 2012 Second Scientific Conference of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21-II), Kampala, Uganda. For more information, please visit the website: If you are interested in the conference and want to receive more information as we progress in its organization, please pre-register on the GCP21-II website.

Young scientists in developing countries will be able to apply for Travel Grants to attend the conference beginning in January 2012. Conference registration will open in January 2012 and close May 15, 2012. Abstracts can be loaded at any time during the registration period. +++++++++++ (NEW) 2nd INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE 6-7 July 2012 Phytogenetic Wealth and Agricultural Heritage of the Aegean Islands Santorini, Greece, Topics: Biodiversity Floristic Diversity, Agrobiodiversity, Plants nutritional value Bioactivities Archaeobotany History Folklore - Traditional medicine Agricultural landscape Business opportunities Gastronomy Tourism The flyer: The conference website/registration: Contributed by Helmut Knpffer Genebank Department IPK Gatersleben, Germany +++++++++++++ 9-13 July 2012. XVIIth Biennial Workshop on the Smuts and Bunts, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China Abstracts The contact information are the following: Wu Pinshan Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine Email:

Zhang Guiming Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau Email: Contributed by Bahromiddin Huseinov +++++++++ 10-13 July 2012. North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference, Trifolium Conference, and Grass Breeders Conference will meet jointly this summer at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Contributed by Julie Hansen Dept. of Plant Breeding and Genetics Cornell University 6- 8 August 2012. NAPB Annual Meeting, Indianapolis The National Association of Plant Breeders will hold its annual meeting August 6-8, 2012 in Indianapolis, with the theme of Sustaining Life through Plant Improvement. More information and registration for the meeting is available at Early registration ends June 1. Patrick F. Byrne Professor & Graduate Studies Coordinator Colorado State University +++++++++++++ 28 August 1 September 2012 13th International Cereal Rust and Powdery Mildew Conference, Beijing, China +++++++++ (NEW) Borlaug Global Rust Initiative announcement Register today for the BGRI 2012 Technical Workshop to be held in Beijing, China in September.

If you haven't decided if you should go, check out the agenda of speakers and sessions. You won't want to miss this workshop. Register now so we can start the process to get your visa for China. If you have already registered, thank you very much. I look forward to seeing you in Beijing. Cally Arthur Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat International Programs / CALS Cornell University Ithaca NY 14853 USA ++++++++++++++ 3-6 September 2012 58th Annual Meeting of The Interamerican Society for Tropical Horticulture y XVI Congreso de la Sociedad Peruana de Horticultura, Lima-Per ++++++++++ 1-4 September 2012 BGRI 2012 Technical Workshop, Beijing, China Online registration coming soon. +++++++++ 10-12 September 2012 6th International Hybrid Rice Congress Hyderabad, India Important Dates: Early-bird Registration Deadline: 15 June 2012 Acceptance Notification: 27 July 2012 Authors Registration Deadline: 15 August 2012 Regular Registration Deadline: 30 August 2012 Contributed by Laurient Yves Caisip Yves Caisip [] ++++++++++++

11-14 September 2012. The 9th International Phytotechnology Society (IPS) conference, Hasselt University in Belgium September 11th to 14th, 2012. For more information, Please note that the deadline for the abstract submission is April 1th (2012) and that for the early registration is June 15th (2012). Contributed by Elena MAESTRI Universita' di Parma Dip. Scienze Ambientali Parma, ITALY +++++++++++ (NEW) 23-28 September 2012 16th International Symposium of ISTRC on Root Crops Ogun State, Nigeria +++++++++++++ 3-8 October 2012 The 6th International Congress on Legume Genetics and Genomics, Hyderabad, India. See or contact for more information. ++++++++++++ (NEW) 21-24 October 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America Cincinnati, OH +++++++++++++ 28 January to 1 February 2013, International Plant Virus Epidemiology Symposium Arusha, Tanzania. The 12th International Plant Virus Epidemiology Symposium (IPVE) is planned from January 28 to February 1, 2013, in Arusha, Tanzania. For further details, visit: or contact Lava Kumar ( ++++++++++++++ Seed Business 101SM Field Crops

Attracting and retaining talented new employees is a critical challenge for the seed industry. The Seed Business 101SM course was created with input from industry executives to accelerate the careers of promising new employees and young managers. The course has been attended by more than 100 people since its launch in fall of 2010. The course also offers invaluable insights and perspective to seed dealers and companies offering products and services to the seed industry, including seed treatments, crop protection, seed enhancement and technology, machinery and equipment, etc. Seed Business 101 is one week course designed to expose the participants to the five functional areas of a seed company (R&D, production, operations, sales and marketing; and administration). By creating a virtual seed company and case studies for each functional area, the course content is delivered in a very interactive way. The course gives employees that are new to the seed industry a broad understanding of the major aspects of a seed companys operations and cross-departmental knowledge of best practices for profitability. The course is taught by widely respected industry executives with additional help of industry experts participating as guest speakers. Registrations are now being accepted for the Seed Business 101SM Field Crops, June 11-15, 2012, in Minneapolis. For course details, testimonials and registrations please visit SB 101 or contact Jeannette Martins at (Return to Contents)

7. EDITOR'S NOTES Plant Breeding News is an electronic forum for the exchange of information and ideas about applied plant breeding and related fields. It is a component of the Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB), and is published monthly throughout the year. The newsletter is managed by the editor and an advisory group consisting of Chikelu Mba (, Elcio Guimaraes (, Margaret Smith (, and Ann Marie Thro ( Oriana Muriel is the Associate Editor ( The editor will advise subscribers one to two weeks ahead of each edition, in order to set deadlines for contributions.

Subscribers are encouraged to take an active part in making the newsletter a useful communications tool. Contributions may be in such areas as: technical communications on key plant breeding issues; announcements of meetings, courses and electronic conferences; book announcements and reviews; web sites of special relevance to plant breeding; announcements of funding opportunities; requests to other readers for information and collaboration; and feature articles or discussion issues brought by subscribers. Suggestions on format and content are always welcomed by the editor, at We would especially like to see a broad participation from developing country programs and from those working on species outside the major food crops. Messages with attached files are not distributed on PBN-L for two important reasons. The first is that computer viruses and worms can be distributed in this manner. The second reason is that attached files cause problems for some email systems. PLEASE NOTE: Every month many newsletters are returned because they are undeliverable, for any one of a number of reasons. We try to keep the mailing list up to date, and also to avoid deleting addresses that are only temporarily inaccessible. If you miss a newsletter, write to me at and I will re-send it. REVIEW PAST NEWSLETTERS ON THE WEB: Past issues of the Plant Breeding Newsletter are now available on the web. The address is: pbn.html Please note that you may have to copy and paste this address to your web browser, since the link can be corrupted in some e-mail applications. We will continue to improve the organization of archival issues of the newsletter. Readers who have suggestions about features they wish to see should contact the editor at To subscribe to PBN-L: Send an e-mail message to: Leave the subject line blank and write SUBSCRIBE PBN-L (Important: use ALL CAPS). To unsubscribe: Send an email message as above with the message UNSUBSCRIBE PBN-L. Lists of potential new subscribers are welcome. The editor will contact these persons; no one will be subscribed without their explicit permission.