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PLANT BREEDING NEWS EDITION 243 May 2013 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 ITIF report - Feeding the planet in a warming world People in the news 1.02 Wheat geneticist, statistician elected to the National Academy of Sciences 1.03 UC Davis Students Hold Symposium about Future of Plant Breeding Review of breeding programs 1.04 Request for plant breeding success stories 1.05 Cornell University research helps meet world's crop challenges 1.06 Early maturing maize lines hold drought tolerance that could save African farmers 1.07 Saline resistant rice varieties planted in Vietnam 1.08 New promising cowpea varieties for Africa and rest of the world 1.09 IRRI scientists develop super salt tolerant rice 1.10 Cameroon settles on new bean variaties 1.11 Nigeria develops maruca resistant cowpea to reduce farm loss

1.12 Tanzania develops 22 new hybrid cereal varieties 1.13 East African farmers to gain from disease resistant banana 1.14 Disease resistant dwarf raspberry released in the USA 1.15 Cornells iron lady tomato resists three fungal diseases 1.16 Research study confirms economic benefits of hybrid rice 1.17 Global research to control stem rust disease saves wheat farmers losses worth US $1.12 billion per year 1.18 Chinese super rice project could be completed in 3 years 1.19 New cowpea varieties offer promise in South Africa, other parts of the world 1.20 Burundi set to embrace hybrid maize seeds 1.21 Productores de soya y arroz tendrn brevemente semillas mejoradas 1.22 ICRISAT and Senegal strengthen partnership for food and nutrition security and improved livelihoods of the poor 1.23 Asian Plant Breeding Academy completes a successful session in Kanchanaburi, Thailand 1.24 CABI and the International Plant Protection Convention announce steps towards an expanding relationship in the fight for global food security 1.25 Nigeria, Benin, Mali and Ghana develop work plans for massive dissemination of drought tolerant maize 1.26 CSIRO and Australian National University launch biodiversity research centre Policy and IP issues 1.27 Open Data for agriculture vital to global food security - Sharing publiclyfunded agricultural data critical in helping feed the worlds growing population 1.28 Farmers reject seeds protocol GM issues (socio-political) 1.29 U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduce bill to require labeling of genetically engineered foods

1.30 Global economic benefits of GM crops reach almost $100 billion 1.31 U.S. GMO food labeling drive has biotech industry biting back 1.32 Case studies: A hard look at GM crops 1.33 Key environmental impacts of global genetically modified (GM) crop use 19962011 Genetic resources 1.34 Victorian barley variety has valuable disease resistance trait, scientist find 1.35 Yucatn abre banco para preservar semillas 1.36 Wild parent spawns super salt-tolerant rice 1.37 Greek Gene Banks Struggle Indicative Of Changing Times 1.38 Genebank Standards for Plant Genetic Resources is a major accomplishment 1.39 Genomic studies improve understanding of wheat's adaptation and domestication Trait selection/variety traits; applied breeding 1.40 Sorghum line release: A.B.Tx3363 1.41 Scientist find way to increase phosphorus content in wheat 1.42 How to breed sorghum for low-Phosphorous soils in West and Central Africa? 1.43 Uga scientists discover gene responsible for dwarfing of pearl millet 1.44 Researchers identify gene that allows corn to grow in poor conditions 1.45 Use of GM cotton linked to rise in aphid numbers 1.46 Increasing lutein levels in broccoli to fight age-related eye problems 1.47 Disease-resistant tomatoes fight lethal pests 1.48 First reports of lethal necrosis on maize in Uganda and Tanzania

1.49 Washington State University leads development of heat-tolerant grain Molecular/basic genetic research 1.50 Gene silencing set to boost agricultural yields 1.51 How a little plant became a model for pioneering research 1.52 Does Monsanto have the next big thing for the herbicide industry? 1.53 Opening a window into vector-borne viruses

2. PUBLICATIONS No Publications for this May issue

3. WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES 3.01 The Plant Breeding Training Network 3.02 A new Field of Science code for Breeding for USDAs CRIS database and REEport 3.03 Join Agricultural Genomics Network of CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP)

4. GRANTS AND AWARDS 4.01 Crop genomics and technologies update to joint call for research proposals from the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT)

5. POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS 5.01 Monsanto plant breeding and related scientist positions 5.02 2 postdoctoral positions for a 3 year project funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 5.03 International Society for Seed Science - Post-doc opportunity (6years) in Vienna 6. MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS


1 NEWS, ANNOUNCEMENTS AND RESEARCH NOTES 1.01 ITIF report - Feeding the planet in a warming world Washington, DC, USA April 7, 2013 By Val Giddings, Matthew Stepp and Mark Eliot Caine The global agriculture system faces a rapidly growing challenge: in the coming decades it must feed a substantially larger population amidst an increasingly volatile and shifting climate. Already, global food systems are being affected by extreme weather events, including historic droughts, which are leading to higher food prices and greater food insecurity. The negative impacts of global climate change on agriculture are only expected to get worse. Ensuring an expanding, stable, and secure food supply capable of meeting the challenges of climate change requires more resilient crops and agricultural production systems than we currently possess in todays world. This is without a doubt the chief agricultural challenge of our time. Unfortunately, agricultural resilience policies are plagued by an inadequate paradigm that places undue confidence in the sufficiency of existing technologies to meet new challenges, and a fear of the uncertainty surrounding new technologies. Some have argued that existing technologies are adequate to face the challenge if uniformly diffused and applied, and if global socioeconomic obstacles like poverty are overcome. To be sure, diffusing the best available technologies is important, and the socioeconomic challenges we face are significant. Efforts to deal with them should be encouraged and expedited. But even in the most ideal circumstances, diffusing existing agricultural technologies and practices is not enough to address the challenges we will face in the coming decades. In light of this, we propose several solutions. In particular, we argue that the critical, game-changing solutions for building global agricultural resilience will come only from expanding the innovation and adoption of next-generation crops and agricultural practices. We need new and improved crop varieties that use less water, deliver increased yields and improved nutrition, and have built-in means for repelling insect pests, resisting disease, and withstanding extreme heat, cold, rain and drought. Agriculture will need every existing tool in the box, as well as the development of new ones, including the use of demonstrably safe crops improved through modern biotechnology, commonly referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or transgenics. This report explains why advanced agricultural innovation, including the development and deployment of next-generation transgenics, is an essential

response to the growing challenges of food security and climate change. We begin by highlighting the nature and magnitude of the likely impacts of climate change on agricultural production systems. We then discuss the potential of advanced agricultural innovation, including the development and deployment of advanced crop varieties, to meet these challenges by creating improved crops with greater resilience to climate variability. Finally, we outline three policies that should be implemented on global and domestic scales in order to create a more robust agricultural innovation ecosystem capable of producing the next-generation crop technologies needed to feed a rapidly growing population on a warming planet. These policies are: Boost global public investment in advanced agriculture innovation. Over time, private investments in agricultural innovation have steadily increased, while public investments have stagnated or declined. As a result, the character of agriculture research has shifted to near-term product development, while largely ignoring the early-stage research capable of generating new technology platforms and breakthroughs in next-generation biotechnology. Governments, transnational institutions, and nonprofits need to reverse this trend. For instance, the U.S. Congress should triple its current investments in agricultural research and development (R&D) from roughly $5 billion to $15 billion per year. This would reverse a decades-long decline in public investments to support breakthroughs in genomics, biotechnology, and agronomics that the private sector will not deliver quickly enough on its ownif at all. Delivering these breakthroughs and encouraging continued incremental innovations is critical to boosting crop productivity and climate resilience as well as offering U.S. biotech companies future competitive advantage in a warming world. ] Governments worldwide should reform GMO regulations. There is no agricultural policy change that could be adopted with more positive impacts and fewer downsides than drastically reducing regulations applied to crops improved through biotechnology. Foods derived from crops or animals improved through biotechnology have been subjected to more extensive scrutiny than any other agricultural product in human history. Humans and livestock have consumed billions upon billions of meals derived wholly or in part from these improved agricultural varieties for nearly two decades, which have sustained a strong record of safety for humans and the environment. Yet these innovative products, which are developed and brought to market with precise, predictable and safe techniques, are subjected to regulatory obstacles that dwarf those faced by older products and obsolete technologies, some with genuinely problematic legacies.

Authoritative bodies have repeatedly examined these issues and concluded that the regulatory burdens on advanced biotechnology are not justified by science, data, or experience. These misunderstandings must be challenged, and scientific evidence must be restored to its primacy as the basis for making regulatory decisions about food safety Create or strengthen institutions to serve as Centers of Innovation Excellence.

Feeding the planet requires a wide array of productive agricultural systems. Climate change is impacting these systems in a variety of ways. Worldwide cooperation to quickly advance and deploy innovative and adaptable agricultural technologies is therefore essential. Just as in the Green Revolution, agricultural stakeholders around the world must work together to speed the development and deployment of nextgeneration crop technologies.

The challenges facing agriculture over the coming decades are so great and complex that they must be met by organizations with commensurate strength and the ability to solve complex problems. Numerous existing organizations at the national and international level have some of the capabilities needed, but none have all that are required. All of these organizations need additional resources to bring their capabilities to the required level and to enable the global networking and cooperative, multidisciplinary approaches that are necessary. National agricultural research systems in a number of countries, colleges and universities, the private sector, and international consortia like the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) must all be strengthened and expanded to engage global innovation communities cooperatively and in a realistic way to face the challenges that loom. Download PDF =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.02 Wheat geneticist, statistician elected to the National Academy of Sciences April 30, 2013

Plant geneticist Jorge Dubcovsky's work on wheat's massive genome has allowed breeders to develop hardier, more disease-resistent varieties to feed a hungry world. (Steve Yeater/photo) Jorge Dubcovsky, an internationally acclaimed wheat geneticist at the University of California, Davis, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors bestowed on scientists and engineers in the United States. Peter Hall, an Australian statistician with a partial appointment at UC Davis, was elected as a foreign associate of the academy. They join 21 other UC Davis members of the academy. Dubcovsky is a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation investigator. Over the years, Dubcovsky has become a national and international leader in wheat genomics research, and has helped distribute improved wheat seeds to countries around the world. Born and raised in Argentina, Dubcovsky began his career teaching middle school science and math classes, and earned his bachelors degree in biological sciences from the University of Buenos Aires in 1984. He continued taking university-level courses to deepen his understanding of the disciplines in which he was teaching. He then became intrigued by scientific research and enrolled in a doctoral program, studying the genetics and evolution of Patagonian grasses, which have evolved to withstand the windy, arid and cold environment of Argentinas uplands. He realized that, in order to develop hardier, more productive crops, plant breeders must understand the evolutionary path followed by the crops ancestors. Dubcovsky earned his doctoral degree in biological sciences in 1989 from the University of Buenos Aires. He came to UC Davis in 1992 for a research fellowship, interested in the techniques that were becoming available in the growing field of molecular biology. Employing such techniques, he and fellow researchers were able to use molecular markers to mine new information about plant biology and generate the first molecular genetics maps in wheat. He spent the following two years doing research in Argentina, but returned in 1994 to direct the wheat-breading program at UC Davis. During the past two decades, Dubcovsky has conducted pioneering research in mapping, isolating, and cloning genes in wheats massive genome. He and his laboratory colleagues have identified and cloned genes involved in disease resistance, protein content, flowering and frost tolerance. Identification of these important genes has enabled researchers and breeders to use conventional breeding techniques to develop hardier, more nutritious wheat varieties.

A product of the 1960s and 70s, Dubcovsky says that the social ideals of that generation, combined with his exposure to poverty in his homeland, impressed upon him the importance of working to ensure that science makes tangible, positive impacts on the world. In 2011, he received a multimillion dollar U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to lead researchers, plant breeders and educators from 55 universities and 21 states in an investigation of the biological and environmental stresses on wheat that are caused, in part, by alterations in weather patterns associated with global climate change. That same year, he was named among the first-ever class of Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation investigators, and received a USDA Honor Award, the most prestigious award given by the agencys secretary in recognition of exceptional leadership in science, public policy and management vital to guiding the nations food and agricultural system. Hall is a professor at the University of Melbourne and, since 2006, has held a 25 percent appointment at the UC Davis Department of Statistics. He spends one quarter a year, typically spring quarter, in Davis and teaches a proportional full load over a two-year cycle. Hall is known for his work that provides the theoretical basis for an area of statistics called non-parametric statistics, including bootstrap analysis. These methods typically involve a lot of computation and allow scientists to study very large, complex datasets, such as DNA sequence data, financial markets and Internet search results. After completing his bachelor's degree at the University of Sydney, Hall received his doctorate, or D. Phil., from Oxford University in 1976. He first worked at the University of Melbourne and then, from 1978 to 2006, at the Australian National University in Canberra. In 2006, he moved back to Melbourne, and also took up the fractional appointment at UC Davis in the 2005-06 academic year. He had first visited Davis in 1988, and had collaborated over several years with Professors Hans-Georg Mller and JaneLing Wang before taking up the fractional appointment. Earlier this year, Hall was named an Officer of the Order of Australia, among the highest civilian honors given by the Australian government. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to furthering science and technology and their use for the general welfare.

Contributed by Allen van Deynze] (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.03 UC Davis Students Hold Symposium about Future of Plant Breeding April 12, 2013 More than 200 students, faculty and industry professionals attended this years student-run Plant Breeding Symposium held at UC Davis and sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, with an additional 100 participants viewing via webinar. This years theme was Breeding Technologies for Improving Global Crop Production, and the diverse list of speakers presented ways in which new technologies are being used to meet the challenges of global crop production and the hurdles still ahead. Tabare Abadie, Senior Research Manager at DuPont Pioneer, opened the symposium discussing the importance of working together to meet the challenge of global crop production and the importance of preparing future plant breeders to meet these challenges. The symposium showcased outstanding speakers from academia, industry, and non profit organizations including the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Presentations ranged from high throughput phenotyping technology development for maize at DuPont Pioneer in Iowa to the feasibility of in-house molecular marker analysis of bean research projects in Africa for small holder farmers; the physiology of seedling vigor and promoting sustainable agriculture. Presenters had experience working with a diverse array of crops, from cucurbits, peppers, beans, rice, potato, wheat and maize among others. A recurring theme was devising how vegetables and other crops will be able to utilize technologies that have been developed for grain agriculture. There was also emphasis on preparing a new generation of plant breeders equipped to deal with the challenges of plant breeding. Discussion included both formal training as well as development of so-called soft-skills such as networking and organization. These latter were particularly highlighted, as the entire event was planned, organized, and executed entirely by UC Davis graduate student volunteers. DuPont Pioneer was the primary sponsor of the symposium with assistance from the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and the UC Davis Graduate Student Association. More information on the students, speakers and the event can be found at the symposium website at

Contacts: Randi Jimenez ( ), Dept. of Plant Sciences, UC Davis Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra (, Dept. of Plant Sciences, UC Davis Contributed by Randi Jimenez Dept of Plant Sciences, UC Davis (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.04 Request for plant breeding success stories. Public sector plant breeding serves the vital functions of training the next generation of plant breeders, developing varieties for crops or cropping systems not economically attractive to the private sector, and generating basic information on genetic resources, new breeding approaches, and trait inheritance. Unfortunately, our government officials, university administrators, and the general public are not always aware of the successes of public plant breeding. Therefore, Can you please provide descriptions of one or more successful plant breeding projects at your university? These will be compiled and shared with USDA administrators, Congressional staff (if/when requested), non-profit organizations, and others who may be able to influence future support for plant breeding in the public sector. To be most effective, your success story should be: 1) concise (250 words or less), 2) Use language and terms understandable by the general educated public, 3) Include impact, such as number of acres, growers, or dollars affected, 4)Include a photo or other visual elements, 5) Describe the sources of funding, 6) Submit it by May 1. Thank you in advance for your contributions. Please send your response to More information about the PBCC is available at For questions or inquiries about NAPB or this newsletter, please contact Maria Salas Fernandez (Return to Contents)

+++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.05 Cornell University research helps meet world's crop challenges Ithaca, New York, USA May 1, 2013

Aluminum toxicity in acidic soils limits crop production in as much as half the world's arable land, mostly in developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Two Cornell researchers are world experts in studies of little-known plant transport proteins that may be key to easing ever-growing global food needs. Leon Kochian and Maria Harrison are two of the 12 plant biologists who have authored a perspectives piece in the May 2 issue of Nature. The article explores how newly discovered plant transport proteins have the potential to help expand global agriculture to better address the challenges of feeding billions of underfed people. Plant transport proteins carry mineral nutrients and key molecules across cell membranes, which are key targets for developing plants that take up nutrients, transport sugar and are tolerant to salt and aluminum. For example, Kochian, Cornell adjunct professor of plant biology and director of the U.S. Department of Agricultures Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health at Cornell, has identified a transport protein gene that may be responsible for making such crops as sorghum tolerant to aluminum toxicity in soils, which makes 50 percent of the worlds arable lands unusable for agriculture. Its a big problem, said Kochian, of aluminum toxicity that stems from acidic soils. Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earths crust, but in acidic soils, it gets dissolved as aluminum ions that are very toxic to roots, he said.

The plants roots grow from the tip, and it is this part that needs protection from aluminum ions. Kochian and colleagues have identified a transporter in the plasma membrane of root cells that transports citric acid out of the roots where it binds with aluminum ions in the soil and renders them nontoxic to the plants. The gene that Kochian and colleagues have discovered appears to control transport of organic compounds, such as citric acid, out of the cell. We have funding from international agencies to identify molecular markers for the best alleles [versions] of our aluminum tolerance genes, said Kochian. By identifying the markers that are in or very close to an aluminum tolerance gene, plant breeders will use molecular breeding techniques to identify whether a breeding line contains the desired gene; this would greatly accelerate the process of breeding new varieties. Similarly, Maria Harrison, the William H. Crocker Professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research on Cornells Ithaca campus, has discovered transporters in plants that enable them acquire phosphorus, a nutrient vital for plant growth and yield. Lack of phosphorus in forms accessible to plants limits crop production on close to 70 percent of the worlds agricultural soils. As a result, farmers add fertilizers produced with nonrenewable rock phosphate, reserves of which will be depleted within perhaps 70 years. While researchers have shown that transporters allow plants to acquire phosphorous from soil directly, Harrison has also studied transporters that work during a symbiotic relationship between plants and soil fungi, called mycorrhizae. Fungi living in symbiotic compartments in roots capture phosphate from the soil and make these ions accessible for plant phosphate transporters to deliver into root cells. Harrisons work will help breeders develop plants that can acquire phosphate more efficiently from the soil. Lead author Julian Schroeder, professor of biology at University of CaliforniaSan Diego, believes these discoveries require more attention and funding to meet the worlds future food challenges. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.06 Early maturing maize lines hold drought tolerance that could save African farmers Researchers have identified maize parental lines and hybrids with high levels of drought tolerance among the early and the extra-early maturing maize

genotypes developed and conserved in the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). This successful identification has led to the availability and the possibility of sustainable development of more resilient maize varieties with dual characteristics of escaping and tolerating drought in the near future. Delivering a presentation on the topic Genetic Analysis and Molecular Characterization of Early Maturing Maize Inbred Lines for Drought Tolerance as part of the IITA Western Africa Hub monthly seminar series, Muhyideen Oyekunle said that 48 percent of the early maturing lines under study from IITA were drought tolerant with tolerance indices ranging from 0.17 (low) to 15.31 (high). The study involved screening of over 150 early maturing maize inbred lines and hybrids for drought tolerance over a period of two years across six agroecological zones of Nigeria. For more information, go to: Source: Crop Biotech Update April 24, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.07 Saline resistant rice varieties planted in Vietnam Farmers in Soc Trang Province's Hong Dan District were used to planting water coconut palm and cajutput in their area because of the high saline content of the water. However, since 2009, farmers were provided by Can Tho University a saline tolerant rice soi variety which can survive with 0.1 percent salinity content and produce more than 4 tonnes per hectare in 150 days of maturity. Another salt tolerant fragrant rice ST was also developed in Soc Trang which can thrive in saline water and in rice-shrimp fields. In 2011, the Mekong Delta officially planted 15 new saline-resistant rice varieties which can produce high yield at a water content of 0.4 0.6 percent salt. These varieties were planted in Kien Giang, Ca Mau and Bac Lieu provinces. From a few thousand hectares in 2005, saline tolerant lines were

planted in 160,000 ha in 2012, according to the Plant Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. More on this news can be viewed at Source: Crop Biotech Update April 10, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.08 New promising cowpea varieties for Africa and rest of the world Texas A&M University and the Buffett Foundation worked on a research project to develop new cowpea varieties that would contribute to food production in tropical and subtropical countries of the world. The new cowpea varieties were tested at the Nature Conservation Trust Ukulima Farm in South Africa, and also in College Station and Beeville in Texas. These varieties were developed in the last five years from crosses of the best cowpea lines from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Texas A&M. The new stress-resilient cowpea varieties combine extra-early maturity, high protein, and high yield potential with resistance to major diseases and aphids, and high levels of heat and drought tolerance. Read more about this at Source: Crop Biotech Update April 17, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.09 IRRI scientists develop super salt tolerant rice A team of scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) developed a new rice line that can drive out salt it takes from the soil into the air through salt glands it has on its leaves.

Dr. Kshirod Jena, lead scientist of the team, explained that the "super salttolerant rice" variety was developed by crossing two different rice species, the exotic wild rice species Oryza coarctata and rice variety IR56 of the cultivated rice species O. sativa. This is considered a significant breakthrough because it is tricky to cross the wild rice species with cultivated rice varieties. The location of O. coarctata in the rice genome sequence is at the other end of the spectrum from that of rice varieties such as IR56, and thus the embryo tends to abort itself. The researchers have been trying to backcross the two types of rice because O. coarctata can tolerate water with high salinity (similar to seawater) while the cultivated varieties cannot tolerate such. Finally, the team came up with three embryos after 34,000 crosses. The surviving plant was kept in liquid nitrogen solution and when it was strong enough, it was grown in the field and backcrossed with IR56. The backcrossing ensured that the resulting plant contains all characteristics of IR56 and the desired salt-tolerance trait from the wild rice species. The team will continue to test the new line for the next 4-5 years to make sure that it meets the needs of farmers and consumers. Read more at Source: Crop Biotech Update April 17, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.10 Cameroon settles on new bean variaties Farmers in Cameroon are growing new varieties of beans that are providing up to three times the yields of traditional crops, which have been under attack from pests and disease as well as adverse weather patterns. Seven varieties of hardier and more nutritious beans are now being distributed to farmers, following extensive trials by the country's Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD). The bean varieties were selected from hundreds given to Cameroon by the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA), a multi-agency initiative that

coordinates research on the continent. Trials and selection of varieties were conducted at the institute and by farmers from 2006 to 2012. See original story from by SCIDEV at Source: Crop Biotech Update April 03, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.11 Nigeria develops maruca resistant cowpea to reduce farm loss The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, has developed Marucaresistant cowpea to reduce farm loss, Mrs.Rose Gidado, a biotechnologist, said. Gidado, Head, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Unit of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja. She said that the feat was an activity under the Maruca-Resistant Cowpea project. News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Maruca-resistant cowpea project is a public-private partnership coordinated by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) to develop improved varieties of cowpea that can withstand the pod borer (Maruca vitrata), and enhance farmers' grains and fodder produce. Maruca vitrata is a major pest that inflicts severe damage to cowpea. In severe infestations, yield losses of between 70 percent and 80 percent have been reported. See original story at For more details, please contact Rose Gidado on Source: Crop Biotech Update April 03, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.12 Tanzania develops 22 new hybrid cereal varieties Tanzania has developed 22 new hybrid cereal seed varieties that promise higher productivity. The newly developed seed varieties of maize, sorghum, bean, cow pea, Irish potato, rice, and barley are high yielding and drought and disease resistant. They are also early maturing, qualities that are highly favored by farmers given the unpredictable changes in weather conditions. The seed varieties have been developed through public research centers and private companies in Tanzania. Mass production of the approved seed varieties is scheduled to begin soon so that the Agricultural Seeds Agency (ASA) can deliver them to farmers ahead of the planting season. The news release is available at: Source: Crop Biotech Update March 6, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.13 East African farmers to gain from disease resistant banana Farmers in the east African region are likely to benefit from the bacterial wilt resistant banana plantlets that have been developed by Ugandan researchers at the Kawanda Research Institute. The newly developed wilt resistant crops will be distributed throughout East Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo free of charge to farmers. The technology involves combining the genes of white pepper and that of bananas. Banana wilt has affected yields in the region thereby reducing the prices of banana in the world market. For more details contact Arthur Makara at Original story available at Source: Crop Biotech Update March 13, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

(Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.14 Disease resistant dwarf raspberry released in the USA A new cultivar of raspberry has been released in the USA. It is commercially labeled as Raspberry Shortcake because it is a dwarf cultivar, growing to at most 3 feet tall, with added advantages such as disease resistance, thornless and ability to self-pollinate. The cultivar is currently marketed by Fall Creek Farm and Nursery. Read the original article at Source: Crop Biotech Update March 6, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.15 Cornells iron lady tomato resists three fungal diseases Cornell University scientists led by plant breeding and genetics professor Martha Mutschler-Chu, have created a tomato that resists three fungal diseases plaguing growers for years: late blight, early blight, and Septoria leaf spot. 'Iron Lady', a cross of a triple-resistant Cornell line and late blight/early blight line from North Carolina State University, is the first of such hybrids to become commercially available. In addition to late blight resistance, tolerance to early blight, and resistance to Septoria leaf spot, Iron Lady can also resist verticillium and fusarium wilts. Read the news release for more details, available at: Source: Crop Biotech Update March 20, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++

1.16 Research study confirms economic benefits of hybrid rice USA April 19, 2013 A duo of researchers has found that farmers growing hybrid rice often exhibit a significantly higher economic return than those planting conventional rice varieties. Researchers Lawton Lanier Nalley, an associate professor of agricultural economics at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and his research assistant Nathaniel Lyman concluded that hybrid rice cultivars are found to have significant yield advantages over the best-performing conventional alternative. Evidenced by the price discount scenario, attempts to curb hybrid adoption to preserve the status quo will probably lead to large, statewide revenue losses, the researchers wrote. They also concluded that hybrid milling yields are the same, and in some cases better, than the milling yields of conventional varieties. The results presented here of the available experimental data on hybrid and corresponding conventional yields available in Arkansas suggest no reason to discount hybrid rice based on milling quality, they wrote. The pair compared the economic risks and returns of three popular hybrid rice varieties: XL723, Clearfield (CL) XL729, and CL XL745; and eight conventional varieties: Cheniere, CL 142-AR, CL151, Francis, Roy J, Taggart, Templeton, and Wells. They used experimental test plot data from 2006 to 2010. Nalley and Lymans findings have been recently published in Agronomy Journal, a publication of the American Society of Agronomy. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.17 Global research to control stem rust disease saves wheat farmers losses worth US $1.12 billion per year April 12, 2013 A study just published in Science by scientists from the University of Minnesota, CSIRO, the University of Sydney, the University of Queensland,

and CIMMYT shows that research to control the wheat disease known as stem rust during 1961-2009 has added 6.2 million tons annually to world wheat harvests, worth US $1.12 billion per year at 2010 prices. However, the emergence of Ug99, a virulent stem rust race first detected in Uganda in 1999, instigated a major problem for farmers. The disease is capable of killing wheat plants and small grain cereals, but more typically reduces foliage, root growth, and grain yields. After years of keeping stem rust at bay, Ug99 has spread from Africa to Iran, and the race is on to identify resistant genes, introduce these into locally adapted wheat varieties, and get the finished product into the hands of farmers. Investments in breeding for resistance to stem rust have declined in recent decades, making the potential impact of Ug99 even more harmful, as most popular varieties are susceptible to the disease. A paper published in Science on 12 April 2013 presents the results of a global stem rust assessment study, which asked: Is increased investment needed for wheat stem rust research to avert crop losses from current and future strains? Using novel, probabilistic risk assessment methods, including climate suitability model s and long-term global loss data the authors estimated the economically justifiable investment in research and intervention strategies to avert future losses from stem rust. The study found that, had there not been investment in stem rust research and ensuing effective global control during 1961-2009, losses in wheat production would have amounted to 6.2 million tons annually, or 1.3% of the total harvest. This equates to losses of US $1.12 billion per year at 2010 prices, or enough wheat to satisfy almost the entire annual calorie deficit of sub-Saharan Africas undernourished population. Whilst much lower than previous estimates, the losses are sizeable for the effects of just one disease on a staple food crop. This new study represents a major advance in disease-risk assessment as it accounts for variability of disease-induced crop losses over space and time. The study concludes that maintaining yield growth rates necessary to meet anticipated future demands will require a sustained effort to develop wheat varieties that are resistant to contemporary races of rust. This requires an investment strategy that supports sustained research programs geared to identifying and addressing ever evolving stem rust threats. This investment strategy should amount to an economically justifiable US $51 million per year, according to the authors. Whilst this is double the value invested in recent decades, such measures are essential if we are to stop the spread of Ug99 and other new races of stem rust and improve food security for the millions of wheat-dependent consumers in developing countries. To read the full paper in Science, click here =&id_category=&id_crop=

Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.18 Chinese super rice project could be completed in 3 years China April 28, 2013 New super rice strains with an expected yield of 15 tons per hectare could be developed in three years, Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping said on Friday. A scientific research project, undertaken by Yuan, to develop the new super rice strains was launched in South China's Hainan province earlier this month. Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu (right) and agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, known as the "father of hybrid rice", check a crop in Sanya, Hainan province, on April 9, 2013. They announced the launch of a project to breed new super rice strains with expected yields of 15 tons per hectare, well above the world average of 4 tons. [Guo Liliang / For China Daily] The project had been expected to realize its target within five to eight years, but now the target could be achieved in three years, said Yuan, known as the "father of hybrid rice" for developing the first hybrid rice varieties in the 1970s. China now grows 17 million hectares of hybrid rice, with a yield of 7.5 tons per hectare. China is now able to produce 13.5 tons of hybrid rice per hectare, but the technology has yet to be further applied. The project will help China maintain its largely self-sufficient supply of rice, a staple food for more than 60 percent of its population, over the next few decades, experts said. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source China Daily via Chinese Academy of Sciences (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.19 New cowpea varieties offer promise in South Africa, other parts of the world

College Station, Texas, USA April 10, 2013 New cowpea varieties developed by Texas A&M University and tested at the Nature Conservation Trust Ukulima Farm in South Africa could make a major contribution toward production in other tropical and subtropical countries, according to one of the breeders. Cowpea is a major food legume and a source of dietary protein for masses in Africa, Asia and South America, according to Dr. B.B. Singh, a visiting scholar and cowpea breeder with the Texas A&M soil and crop sciences department in College Station. The dry grains from cowpeas are used as a pulse (edible seed) and its young leaves, pods and green seeds are also used as a vegetable, Singh said. It is also a good source of nutritious fodder for livestock and the fallen cowpea residues and roots contribute to soil fertility. The varieties being tested at the Ukulima Farm, and also in College Station and Beeville, are varieties developed during the last five years from crosses involving the best cowpea lines from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and those from Texas A&M, he said. Singh said the new stress-resilient cowpea varieties combine extra-early maturity (60-70 day), high protein and high yield potential with resistance to major diseases and aphids, as well as high levels of tolerance to heat and drought. These were first tested at two locations in Texas and at the Ukulima Farm in South Africa in 2012-13, he said. The Ukulima Farm, which spans about 9,200 acres in South Africas Limpopo Province, is owned by the Nature Conservation Trust and funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Part of the farm is dedicated to agricultural research. Buffett Foundation research partners include Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M University, the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization and Penn State. Among several research projects at Ukulima Farm, AgriLife Research approved a project entitled Improved Cowpea Varieties and Pulse LegumeBased Cropping Systems to Reduce Biotic Stress in Sub-Saharan Africa for three years in 2012. This project is led by Singh, Dr. Joseph Awika, Texas A&M soil and crop science assistant professor in College Station, and Dr. Jamie Foster, AgriLife Research forage agronomist at Beeville. They are joined by Dr. Joseph Asiwe, as a research partner from the University of Limpopo, South Africa. For the project, the first set of four cowpea variety trials comprising a total of 97 varieties ranging in maturity and plant type were planted on Dec. 13-14, he

said. Singh said he visited the trials on Feb. 22 and noticed excellent pod load and early maturity in most of the new varieties. The excellent performance of the new cowpea varieties was a great attraction to all the scientists in other programs and visitors passing through Ukulima Farm, Singh said. While we wait for the actual yield data after harvesting is complete, we are confident that the new cowpea varieties have tremendous potential to increase cowpea production in the Southern African region. The same varieties have yielded between 1.5 to 2 tons per hectare within 60-65 days in the 2012 trials at the two Texas locations, he said. He said the project will need to continue for a few more years to enable the scientists to test and distribute the seeds of these varieties to many national programs in the region. Singh said other programs, such as the U.S. Agency for International Developments Feed the Future Program for Mozambique and Zambia in partnership with the Norman Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture at Texas A&M, could greatly benefit from the experiences gained at Ukulima Farm. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++ 1.20 Burundi set to embrace hybrid maize seeds Bujumbura, Burundi April 9, 2013 by George Achia

Researchers in Burundi are testing hybrid maize seeds that deliver high yield and are disease resistant They will be released in September if they pass the tests But there are concerns about affordability, and calls for the government to subsidise the seeds

Farmers in Burundi are set to benefit from new high-yielding, fast-maturing hybrid maize seeds that are also resistant to maize streak virus. The varieties are being tested by the Burundi Institute of Agronomic Sciences (ISABU) and

should be available to farmers in September. Two seed companies, Pannar and Naseco, based in Kenya and Uganda respectively, have developed the seeds. "These varieties have already been tested in Kenya and Uganda but we need to test them again in Burundi because the conditions are not the same in the three countries," says Nkurunziza Gelase, a researcher and maize breeder at ISABU. Gelase says that the seeds are being tested over two planting seasons, rather than the usual six for trialling new varieties, because they have been tested and proven in Kenya and Uganda, and also the difference in agroecological conditions in the two and Burundi. Four varieties are being tested in low- and mid-altitude regions in Burundi and have shown desirable traits such as high yields, fast maturity and resistance to maize streak virus, Gelase tells SciDev.Net. The release of the seeds will be the first major use of hybrid rather than open pollinated seeds in the country, and the move is hoped to boost food security. Open pollination is uncontrolled and the pollen (male parent) source is unknown, meaning it can result in plants that vary widely in genetic traits. Hybrid seeds are the result of controlled pollination, where seed producers choose the parent plants for their desirable traits. However, concerns have been raised about how poor Burundian farmers will be able to afford the new hybrid seeds. "Changing farmers' attitudes from using the open pollinated variety seeds they are accustomed to, to adopting the hybrid seeds will be a challenge," says Cyprian Banyiyereka, head of the Department of Land Management and Cropping Systems at ISABU. Banyiyereka is calling on Burundi's government to consider subsidising the cost of hybrid seeds, to create awareness among farmers of their benefits. There are three planting seasons in Burundi: September to January, January to June, and July to December. Gelase says that maize streak virus is usually at its worst during the third planting season, but that the hybrid varieties showed good resistance at that time of year. He adds that the maize streak virus is the main maize disease in Burundi, destroying around a third of the maize yield. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents)

+++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.21 Productores de soya y arroz tendrn brevemente semillas mejoradas Los agricultores que se dedican al cultivo de la soya y de arroz en el pas podrn contar, a medio plazo, con semillas mejoradas, para aumentar la produccin y, consecuentemente, permitir que Angola se torne autosuficiente en estos dos cereales. La informacin fue tornada pblica el martes, en Huambo, por el ministro de la Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural, Afonso Pedro Canga, que garantiz que esfuerzos son realizados para que el pas tenga cantidades suficientes de semillas que puedan responder a las necesidades de los productores. Inform que el Instituto de Investigacin Agronmica, consciente de esta responsabilidad, ya efecta ensayos de algunas especies de arroz y de soya que, en tiempo oportuno, sern distribuidas a los agricultores. El ministro de la Agricultura, que visit los campos de ensayo de cultivo del arroz y de la soya en la localidad de Chianga, a casi 12 kilmetros de la ciudad de Huambo, dijo que se qued con buena impresin del trabajo que es desarrollado por los tcnicos del Instituto de Investigacin Agronmica. Destac que estos ensayos tienen como objetivo, aumentar la produccin de semillas y probar otros mtodos y tecnologas que aumente la productividad de los cultivos y, consecuentemente, el rendimiento de las familias campesinas. Afonso Pedro Canga visit tambin el Instituto de Investigacin Veterinaria y las obras de rehabilitacin del edificio anterior, y al final, consider positivo el grado de ejecucin fsica de las mismas. ctores-soya-arroz-tendran-brevemente-semillas-mejoradas,162659d2-dcd847d6-9a7b-cc441a37f451.html Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.22 ICRISAT and Senegal strengthen partnership for food and nutrition security and improved livelihoods of the poor Dakar, Senegal 8 April 2013

The Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have committed to a stronger and more strategic partnership to harness the power of agricultural research-for-development in achieving food and nutrition security and in fighting poverty in Senegal. Food security is on top of our governments priority. We are addressing this through initiatives to improve the production of millet, sorghum, maize and rainfed rice, said Dr Macoumba Diouf, Director General of ISRA, during the visit of the ICRISAT Governing Board members and management to ISRAs largest research station in Bambey and the Centre dtude regional pour lamlioration de ladaptation la scheresse (CERAAS) near Dakar on 6 April. Coping with drought, poor soils and exposure to pests and diseases and climate change are some of the major challenges for research in Senegal, Dr Diouf added in his comprehensive orientation briefing of ISRAs crop research initiatives, challenges and successes. Highlighting the importance of rainfed agriculture in the country in which 96% of its workforce depends on, he led the ICRISAT team on a field tour of the Bambey station to show the different varieties of crops being tested in the harsh drylands of Senegal. Our partnership with ICRISAT through the years has been very beneficial to our country, highlighted by nearly 3,000 varieties of sorghum exchanged between ICRISAT and ISRA as well as nearly 200 varieties of groundnut and 100 varieties of pigeonpea, stressed Dr Samba Thiaw, Director of the Centre National de Recherches Agronomiques de Bambey (CNRA Bambey). Groundnut is one of the two most important sources of foreign exchange income in Senegal (along with cotton). Dr Thiaw also acknowledged ICRISATs important role in ISRAs research initiatives, particularly in varietal development and in training and capacity building of scientists in cereals, legumes and natural resources. He noted the many ISRA scientists who have spent time at the ICRISAT headquarters in India for training on crop breeding/improvement, opening vast opportunities for joint research undertakings. I am very excited to be here to witness the value of the ICRISAT and ISRA partnership. To see the many ICRISAT varieties being used in research here and benefiting the country and its people, this shows that we have chosen our partners well, according to Dr Nigel Poole, ICRISAT Board Chair. Dr Meryl Williams, ICRISAT Board member, noted the decades of collaboration between ICRISAT and ISRA that have generated a strong system for knowledge sharing and support in pursuit of a common commitment to improve the livelihoods of the poor.

ICRISAT Director General, Dr William Dar, meanwhile affirmed a strong support to elevate the partnership between ISRA and ICRISAT with the CGIAR Research Programs as the platform. ICRISAT is a member of the CGIAR Consortium. ICRISAT is leading two global, strategic research partnerships the CGIAR Research Programs on GrainLegumes and DrylandCereals which aim to help provide nutritious, drought-resilient crops for the dryland poor. In response to Dr Dars statement of support, Dr Diouf has offered to host the implementation of some CGIAR Research Program activities in Senegal. Dr Dave Hoisington, ICRISAT Deputy Director General for Research, promised to explore leadership opportunities for ISRA through the CGIAR Research Programs, as well as to continue the capacity building program for ISRA scientists. The ICRISAT Board members and management also visited the CERAAS, the regional research centre on improvementment of drought tolerance a national center of ISRA open to regional cooperation. Dr Ndiaga Cisse, Director of CERAAS, pointed out that his organization, which focuses on crop adaptation to drought, benefits much from its collaborative work with ICRISAT on dryland cereals such as sorghum, pearl millet and fonio, as well as on legumes such as groundnut, sesame and cowpea. ISRA is currently hosting ICRISATs 68th Governing Board meeting in Dakar, Senegal from 6 to 10 April. The field visit to Bambey on 6 April was part of the week-long activities of the Board. A partnership day/press conference is also scheduled on 8 April to celebrate the strengthened partnership between ICRISAT and its partners in the West and Central African region, as well as to discuss highlights of research and new opportunities for collaboration and sharing of expertise and resources among partners. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.23 Asian Plant Breeding Academy completes a successful session in Kanchanaburi, Thailand Davis, California, USA April 9, 2013

The UC Davis Asian Plant Breeding Academy (APBA) completed a successful session last week in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. The programs core curriculum was delivered by Dr. Todd Wehner (North Carolina State University) and Dr. Rale Gjuric (UC Davis). Dr. Taweesak Pulum, Sweet Seed Company and pioneer of sweet corn breeding in Thailand, was a guest lecturer. The course was enriched by interaction with local breeders through visits to Chia Tai Research Station, HM-Clause Research Station, Suphanburi Agricultural R&D Institute, Suphanburi Rice Research Centre and River Kwai International Food Industry. The session was hosted by Chia Tai Company. The UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy (PBA) is a premium professional certificate program offered in the USA, Europe and Asia. To date, one hundred fourteen (114) industry breeders have attended the UC Davis PBA, making it the most significant program of its kind. Employers appreciate the opportunity to provide their valued employees advanced training without disrupting their full-time employment. Participants attend six, 6-day sessions over two years. The instructors are internationally recognized experts in plant breeding and seed technology. Applications are being accepted for the European Plant Breeding Academy Class III beginning in October 2013. For more information on the UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy contact Joy Patterson at or visit =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.24 CABI and the International Plant Protection Convention announce steps towards an expanding relationship in the fight for global food security April 2, 2013 CABI and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) have announced steps towards an expanded relationship, one that will harness the strengths of both organisations in the fight for global food security, more open trade, and improved environmental protection. To support this commitment, CABI will dedicate 40,000 towards collaboration activities with IPPC in 2013. Coordinator of the IPPC Secretariat, Craig Fedchock (centre), joined CABIs CEO Trevor Nicholls (right) and Director of CABI Europe-Switzerland Ulrich

Kuhlmann to outline the long-term strategy which this new funding will support. As the only international standard-setting body for plant health recognised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the IPPCs mission is to support trade while protecting natural ecosystems, a goal largely underpinned by the science of plant protection and practices of pest management. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.25 Nigeria, Benin, Mali and Ghana develop work plans for massive dissemination of drought tolerant maize Ibadan, Nigeria April 8, 2013 Researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders working under the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project from Mali, Benin, Ghana, and Nigeria have converged on the campus of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan to develop work plans towards rapid dissemination and adoption of drought tolerant maize. The meeting in Ibadan, which ended on Friday, also provided participants the opportunity to take a retrospect of the past and chart a way forward. Addressing participants at this years annual planning meeting, Dr Tsedeke Abate, Coordinator of the DTMA Project, reminded stakeholders that the project provided a platform for researchers to demonstrate to donors and policy makers in Africa the benefits of research. This is an opportunity for us to show our policy makers that with the right kind of approach, we can make a difference, Dr Abate added. According to him, increasing the cultivation of drought-tolerant maize varieties in Africa will bring the necessary transformation and the needed boost for maize production in the continent. Other drivers of adoption of drought tolerant varieties, he noted, include increasing the participation of women in maize projects and also the creation of new/strong partnerships. Dr Abate said that the focus on women was strategic considering their invaluable contributions to agricultural development in Africa. Dr Ylva Hillbur, IITA Deputy Director General (Research), commended the researchers for their efforts in developing and dissemination of DT maize. She noted that the DTMA project is important to Africa as it is addressing one of the

most important constraints (drought) to maize production in the continent. Launched in 2007, the DTMA project provides insurance against the risks of maize farming, using conventional breeding to develop and disseminate varieties that can provide a decent harvest under reduced rainfall. Dr Baffour Badu-Apraku, IITA Breeder who is also the West Africa Coordinator of the DTMA project said that the project had so far recorded impressive milestones, mostly through the development of new varieties. For instance, between 2007 and 2010, Nigeria released 18 drought tolerant maize varieties while Ghana released 13 under the same period. Dr Badu-Apraku is hopeful that regional governments would support efforts to make these varieties available to farmers. Participants from Mali, Nigeria, Ghana and the Republic of Benin said farmers in their respective countries love the varieties. To effectively make the varieties available to more farmers, they proposed the strengthening of community seed producers to complement efforts of seed companies in the region. We cannot but bring in the community seed producers if we want more farmers to have access and adopt drought tolerant maize, said the Acting Director General, Nigeria Seed Council, Dr Olatokun Olusegun. Implemented by CIMMYT, IITA and national partners in 13 African countries of sub Saharan Africa; the third phase of the DTMA project will end in 2016. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.26 CSIRO and Australian National University launch biodiversity research centre Australia April 2, 2013 An initiative that will help Australia harness cutting-edge advances in biological sciences to inform better environmental management decision making will be announced tomorrow at the official launch of the Centre for Biodiversity Analysis, Canberra. The Centre is a joint initiative established in partnership with CSIRO and the Australian National University (ANU). The Centre is drawing on CSIRO and ANUs world class expertise, and harnessing new and emerging technologies in biodiversity science to improve our knowledge of Australias biodiversity and enable governments and

conservation NGOs to translate policy into meaningful actions, said Professor Craig Moritz, Director of the Centre for Biodiversity Analysis. Its estimated that Australia is home to over half a million unique living species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth, but of these only about one third are known to science. Improved knowledge of Australias biodiversity how many species, where they are, and how they evolve across environments and through time will be especially important to ensure sustainable development and production, to maximize ecosystem benefits, and to protect our unique diversity in the face of rapid environmental change, he said. CSIRO and the ANU have joined forces to address this challenge. The Centre will promote collaborative biodiversity science by hosting conferences and workshops, forming ANU-CSIRO working groups, supporting collaborative projects, connecting students and researchers with managers and policy makers, and facilitating the collation and connection of biodiversity information in the ANU-CSIRO Canberra Precinct, said Professor Moritz. The Centre also provides an early example of the value of the developing Canberra Global Research Precinct, which will focus on plant and environmental sciences. Like the Centre, the Precinct will be built on CSIROANU collaboration, and will utilise its location in the national capital to promote the uptake of research outputs by government agencies. The launch will also mark the opening of the Centres inaugural conference which brings together Australian and international biodiversity scientists to discuss recent advances in biodiversity genomics. Genomics is an exciting and rapidly expanding field that has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of environmental assessments and monitoring, and the speed at which new species can be identified, said Professor Moritz. It is also providing important new insights into the ability of species to adapt to climate change. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.27 Open Data for agriculture vital to global food security - Sharing publicly-funded agricultural data critical in helping feed the worlds growing population Hyderabad, India

9 May 2013 Making agricultural research, knowledge and information more widely available is part of a growing global movement to ensure that agricultural knowledge contributes to greater food security, especially in developing countries. At the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture held last week at the World Bank, USA, G-8 members and partners deliberated on options for the establishment of a global platform to make reliable agricultural and related information available to farmers, researchers and policymakers in Africa and the whole world. Open Data in genomics and modern breeding is vital in developing superior crop varieties with traits important to smallholder farmers towards food security and improved livelihoods, said Dr Rajeev Varshney, Director of the Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG) of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Presenting the work of ICRISAT and its partners like the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) at the G-8 conference, he stressed that managing and openly sharing extensive data from genome sequencing and re-sequencing projects will revolutionize molecular breeding works for crop improvement. ICRISAT is a member of the CGIAR Consortium. With the vast genomics and modern breeding data coming from different organizations, there is a need to have a centralized data and computational analysis center linked with genomics, climate, phenotyping and breeding data centers. This will make possible global breeding through cloud computing wherein data from one location is applied to other locations, Dr Varshney added. Also representing ICRISAT to the meeting was Dr Dileepkumar Guntuku, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation, who participated in the discussions and shared ICRISATs Green Open Access Policy being adopted by the Institute since 2009. The policy advocates the availability of research results by posting them free onto a repository/website (in the form of publications, data, videos, audio, images, etc.) for the global community to access to achieve greater impacts. This is realized through ICRISATs Open Access Repository (OAR), where research publications and outputs are made available for partners and stakeholders particularly in the developing world without any restriction. The Open Data movement leveraging on data, collaboration, and innovation will definitely accelerate crop improvement for sustainable food production particularly in the marginal environments of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, said Dr William D. Dar, ICRISAT Director General, in the aftermath of the conference. Shared knowledge and data can cut time and cost in developing high-yielding, nutritious, and drought-tolerant crops that are the best bets for

smallholder farmers to survive and improve their livelihoods amid the threat of climate change. ICRISAT is committed to make its research data particularly from its genomics project as Open Data, Dr Dar added. The genome sequence data for both pigeonpea and chickpea generated by ICRISAT and its partners have been made publicly available on the Nature Biotechnology journal, downloaded more than 10,000 times each since. We are pleased to see ICRISATs commitment to Open Data and Open Access. We all need to come forward now and join such initiatives to meet the demands of future agricultural research, said Dr Swapan Datta, Deputy Director General for Crop Science, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Molecular markers for drought tolerance in chickpea identified by ICRISAT were made available to us as Open Data and we have made the best use of those markers by introgressing drought tolerance in elite chickpea varieties in Kenya, stressed Dr Paul Kimurto from Egerton University, Kenya. The CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) is partnering with ICRISAT, other CGIAR Centers, as well as collaborators in developing and developed countries, to define and implement strategies for managing and broadly sharing crop data and information through GCPs Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP). We do this in partnership with, and with the support of, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said Dr Jean-Marcel Ribaut, GCP Director, based in Mexico. The inaugural session of the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture featured messages from Mr Tom Vilsack, Secretary (Agriculture) from the US government; Bill Gates (by video) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Ms Rachel Kyte, Vice President, World Bank; and Mr Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, White House, USA. The G-8 conference on open data held on 29-30 April and organized by the US and UK Governments was attended by hundreds of delegates from the G-8 group of nations, US government officials, private sector partners, Open Data advocates, technology experts, and nonprofit organization leaders. Built on the 2012 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition G-8 initiative, the conference focused on ways to ensure that Open Data about agriculture are not only available, but also put to good use. It also highlighted some excellent work already underway and making positive change in the Open Data in agriculture arena of the world. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source:

(Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.28 Farmers reject seeds protocol April 03, 2013 By Faraja Jube Morogoro. Civil society organisations from the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) have faulted a draft protocol for the protection of new varieties of plants (Plant Breeders Rights) as spelling disaster for small farmers and food security in the region. These groups, representing millions of farmers in Africa, have submitted their concerns to the Sadc secretariat. They are calling for rejection of the protocol and urgent consultations with farmers, their movements and civil society before its too late. According to the groups, the protocol is inflexible, restrictive and imposes a one-size-fits-all plant variety protection (PVP) system on all Sadc countries irrespective of the nature of agricultural systems, social and economic development. It is modelled after the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991), an instrument which was developed by industrialised countries to address their own needs. UPOV 1991 grants extremely strong intellectual property right protection to plant breeders, and disallows farmers from continuing with their customary practices of freely using, exchanging and selling farm-saved seeds. The proposed legislation gives big-business breeders significant rights, but in doing so, disregards and marginalises small farmers and their plant varieties. It fails to recognise that small-scale farmers and their customary practices of freely exchanging and re-using seed for multiple purposes, constitute the backbone of Sadcs agricultural farming systems, said Mr Moses Shaha, regional chairman for the East and Southern African small-scale Farmers Forum (Esaff) in a statement released to the media yesterday. About half of Sadc members are Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and are not currently under any international obligation to put in place any such PVP system. Indeed, the majority of SADC members have limited or no experience with PVP systems, or the impact these systems will have on food security, farmers, farming systems and livelihoods in the region. Small scale farmers in Africa play a vital role in keeping food costs down, and contribute immensely to the development of locally appropriate and adapted seeds, and to the diversity of crops. Any system that fails to support and promote these farmers manage their traditional methods...and instead, adversely impacts on them, is clearly a

recipe for disaster for the regions farmers, noted Ms Elizabeth Mpofu, the Esaff vice chairperson from Zimbabwe. Like UPOV 1991, the protocol is severely lacking in flexibilities to allow vulnerable states to address their particular socio-economic problems. The Protocol imposes a one grant system whereby the Sadc Plant Breeders Rights Office will have the full authority to grant and administer breeders rights on behalf of all Sadc members. This top-down approach effectively undermines the rights of SADC member states to take any decision related to the protected plant varieties; decisions that are at the very core of national socio-economic development and poverty reduction strategies. The protocol also does not contain concrete measures to prevent misappropriation of plant genetic resources and does not live up to international commitments of the majority of Sadc members to promote the sustainable use of plant genetic resources and plant breeding with the participation of farmers, said Mr Andrew Mushita of Zimbabwes Community Trust for Development and Technology. Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.29 U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduce bill to require labeling of genetically engineered foods Washington, DC, USA April 24, 2013 U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) today introduced the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, bipartisan legislation that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clearly label genetically engineered (GE) foods so that consumers can make informed choices about what they eat. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) are cosponsors of the Senate bill. Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Peter Welch (D-VT), James Moran (D-VA),

Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Don Young (R-AK), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), George Miller (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Ann Kuster (D-NH) are cosponsors of the House bill. Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families, Senator Boxer said. This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more not less information about the food they buy. When American families purchase food, they deserve to know if that food was genetically engineered in a laboratory, Representative DeFazio said. This legislation is supported by consumers rights advocates, family farms, environmental organizations, and businesses, and it allows consumers to make an informed choice. American consumers have made it clear that they want to be empowered to make choices about the food they eat. This legislation will deliver the transparency every American deserves by providing clear labeling standards for food containing genetically engineered ingredients, said Senator Gillibrand. This is a common sense approach to ensuring that American consumers know more and make more informed decisions about the foods they eat, Senator Blumenthal said. As an advocate for consumers rights and ally of many groups supporting this measure, I want to make sure the food industry gives consumers the full story about what they put on their dinner tables. Consumers deserve to have clear, consistent, and accurate facts about the food products they purchase. More information is always better than less. Alaskans deserve to know whats on their dinner plate, especially if it might come from a science lab. Labeling Genetically Engineered food should be a no-brainer which is why Im pleased to join my colleagues on this bill to make sure consumers are fully informed when they make choices at the grocery store, said Senator Begich. American families shouldnt have to play a guessing game when it comes to the food they put on their kitchen tables, Senator Tester said. Consumers have a right to know whats in their food, and this bill gives them the tools they need to make informed decisions about the foods they choose. All over this country people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids. This is certainly true for genetically engineered foods, Senator Sanders said. I believe that

when a mother goes to the store and buys food for her child she has the right to know what she is feeding her child. Oregonians want to know what is in their food, and they should have the right to find out, said Senator Merkley. Labeling is the common sense way to bring more transparency to consumers. According to surveys, more than 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of genetically engineered foods. In fact, many consumers are surprised to learn that GE foods are not already labeled. Currently, the FDA requires the labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but the agency has resisted labels for genetically modified foods. In a 1992 policy statement, the FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling, claiming that these foods were not materially different from other foods because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses. Unfortunately, the FDAs antiquated labeling policy has not kept pace with 21st century food technologies that allow for a wide array of genetic and molecular changes to food that cant be detected by human senses. Common sense would indicate that GE corn that produces its own insecticide or is engineered to survive being doused by herbicides is materially different from traditional corn that does not. Even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized that these foods are materially different and novel for patent purposes. Consumers who are used to reading labels to see if foods contain MSG, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or aspartame clearly want more information. More than one and a half million Americans have filed comments with the FDA urging the agency to label GE foods. The bipartisan legislation introduced today would require clear labels for genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood. The measure would direct the FDA to write new labeling standards that are consistent with U.S. labeling standards and international standards. Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of GE foods, including all the member nations of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. This legislation follows last years letter from Senator Boxer, Representative DeFazio and 54 Senate and House lawmakers urging the FDA to require the labeling of GE foods. The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act has broad support from organizations and businesses, including the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Environmental Working Group, Just Label It, the National

Farmers Union, Stonyfield Farms, Consumer Federation of America, AllergyKids Foundation, National Cooperative Grocers Association, New England Farmers Union, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Center for Environmental Health, Chefs Collaborative, Label GMOs, Alaska Trollers Association, Ben & Jerrys, Clif Bar & Company, Lundberg Family Farms, Natures Path, Annies Inc., and many others. For a list of more of the groups supporting the bill, click here. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.30 Global economic benefits of GM crops reach almost $100 billion Dorchester, United Kingdom April 22, 2013 In the sixteenth year of widespread adoption, crop biotechnology has delivered an unparalleled level of farm income benefit to the farmers, as well as providing considerable environmental benefits to both farmers and citizens of countries where the technology is used Where farmers have been given the choice of growing GM crops, adoption levels have typically been rapid. Why? The economic benefits farmers realize are clear and amounted to an average of over $130/hectare in 2011 said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics, co-author of the report. The majority of these benefits continue to increasingly go to farmers in developing countries. The environment is also benefiting as farmers increasingly adopt conservation tillage practices, build their weed management practices around more benign herbicides and replace insecticide use with insect resistant GM crops. The reduction in pesticide spraying and the switch to no till cropping systems is continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture Previewing the study, the key findings are:

The net economic benefit at the farm level in 2011 was $19.8 billion, equal to an average increase in income of $133/hectare. For the 16 year period (1996-2011), the global farm income gain has been $98.2 billion;

Of the total farm income benefit, 49% ($48 billion) has been due to yield gains resulting from lower pest and weed pressure and improved genetics, with the balance arising from reductions in the cost of production; The insect resistant (IR) technology used in cotton and corn has consistently delivered yield gains from reduced pest damage. The average yield gains over the 1996-2011 period across all users of this technology has been +10.1% for insect resistant corn and +15.8% for insect resistant cotton; A majority (51%) of the 2011 farm income gains went to farmers in developing countries, 90% of which are resource poor and small farms. Cumulatively (1996-2011), about 50% of the benefit each went to farmers in developing and developed countries; The cost farmers paid for accessing crop biotechnology in 2011 was equal to 21% of the total technology gains (a total of $24.2 billion inclusive of farm income gains ($19.8 billion) plus cost of the technology payable to the seed supply chain ($5.4 billion*/**); For farmers in developing countries the total cost of accessing the technology in 2011 was equal to 14% of total technology gains, whilst for farmers in developed countries the cost was 28% of the total technology gains. The higher share of total technology gains accounted for by farm income gains in developing countries relative to the farm income share in developed countries mainly reflects weaker provision and enforcement of intellectual property rights coupled with higher average levels of benefits in developing countries; Between 1996 and 2011, crop biotechnology was responsible for an additional 110 million tonnes of soybeans and 195 million tonnes of corn. The technology has also contributed an extra 15.8 million tonnes of cotton lint and 6.6 million tonnes of canola; If crop biotechnology had not been available to the (16.7 million) farmers using the technology in 2011, maintaining global production levels at the 2011 levels would have required additional plantings of 5.4 million ha of soybeans, 6.6 million ha of corn, 3.3 million ha of cotton and 0.2 million ha of canola. This total area requirement is equivalent to 9% of the arable land in the US, 25% of the arable land in Brazil or 28% of the cereal area in the EU (27); Crop biotechnology has contributed to significantly reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices. This results from less fuel use and additional soil carbon storage from reduced tillage with GM crops. In 2011, this was equivalent to removing 23 billion

kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing 10.2 million cars from the road for one year;

Crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying (1996-2011) by 474 million kg (-9%). This is equal to the total amount of pesticide active ingredient applied to arable crops in the EU 27 for one and threequarter crop years. As a result, this has decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on the area planted to biotech crops by 18.1%***; The environmental gains from the GM IR traits have mostly derived from decreased use of insecticides, whilst the gains from GM HT traits have come from a combination of use of more environmentally benign products and facilitation of changes in farming systems away from conventional to reduced and no tillage production systems in both North and South America. This change in production system has reduced levels of GHG emissions from reduced tractor fuel use and additional soil carbon storage.

For additional information, contact Graham Brookes Tel +44(0) 1531 650123. Report available to download at Also contents available as two papers (with open access), separately, covering economic and environmental impacts, in the peer review journal GM Crops at GM Crops 4:1, p 1-10 Jan-March 2013 (economic impact paper) and vol 4.2, 1-11, April-June 2013 forthcoming for environmental impact paper * The cost of the technology accrues to the seed supply chain including sellers of seed to farmers, seed multipliers, plant breeders, distributors and the GM technology providers ** A typical equivalent cost of technology share for non GM forms of production (eg, for new seed or forms of crop protection) is 30%-40% *** As measured by the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) indicator (developed at Cornell University) =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++

1.31 U.S. GMO food labeling drive has biotech industry biting back Chicago Apr 25, 2013 By Carey Gillam New efforts to force labeling of foods made with genetically modified crops, including a bill introduced by U.S. lawmakers Wednesday, have struck a nerve with biotech crop developers who say they are rushing to roll out a broad strategy to combat consumer concerns about their products. Executives from Monsanto Co., DuPont, and Dow Chemical, among the world's largest developers of biotech crops and the chemicals used to help produce them, told Reuters this week they are putting together a campaign aimed at turning the tide on what they acknowledge is a growing public sentiment against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used as ingredients in the nation's food supply. Last year, the industry spent $40 million to defeat a labeling measure in California. But similar initiatives are underway now in more than 20 states, and the move by the big biotech firms is designed to thwart the spread of such initiatives, which the companies say would confuse consumers and roil the food manufacturing industry. "Even when we prevail, we lose," said Cathy Enright, executive vice president for food and agriculture for the globalBiotechnology Industry Organization (BIO,) which includes Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical as members. "To try to oppose this state by state, that is unsustainable," she said. The big biotech firms are still working out details of their plan, but it will likely have a large social media component, the company executives said. The group will focus on conveying what it says are the many benefits of biotech crops. Participants have not yet set a budget for the campaign, Enright said. The most popular gene-altered crops withstand dousings of weed-killing chemicals and produce their own insect-killing toxins. Biotech corn, canola, soybeans, and other crops are used in human food and animal feed around the world and biotech companies say they are heavily regulated and thoroughly tested. Proponents of labeling for GMO foods said momentum is on their side. Various groups have held rallies over the last several weeks in Washington, D.C., and at several state capitols to press the issue. "They should be worried," said Scott Faber, executive director of the Just Label It campaign, which has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to require labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients.

In fact, supporters of a Washington state measure similar to the failed California initiative said Tuesday they had raised more than $1 million from supporters. In introducing a U.S. labeling bill Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio said consumers have a right to know what type of ingredients are in their food. "Consumers deserve to have clear, consistent, and accurate facts about the food products they purchase," Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said in a statement. Blumenthal was one of 31 lawmakers who co-sponsored the bill. Law makers and anti-GMO activists are responding to growing public concern about possible health risks associated with GMO foods. While there is no scientific consensus that foods made with GMO ingredients are harmful, activists argue that people have a right to know what they are eating. Last month, grocery retailer Whole Foods said that it would require suppliers to label any product made with genetically modified ingredients. And the Natural Products Association, which represents 1,900 food industry players, has called for a uniform standard for GMO labeling to apply nationwide. "This is a rapidly growing movement," said Dave Murphy, a spokesman for Food Democracy Now, a group pushing for GMO labeling. "We're not giving up until we have labeling. We're just not going away." Monsanto and other biotech crop companies say mandatory labeling would confuse consumers and could deter them from purchasing foods made with genetically modified ingredients. Biotech companies also are concerned that consumer sentiment is causing regulators to slow down approvals of new GMOs, said Dow AgroSciences Brad Shurdut. Shurdut leads the company's government and regulatory affairs. Dow had hoped to have a GMO corn product called "Enlist" on the market this year. But amidst opposition from farmers, consumers and public health officials, the company now expects a delay of at least a year. "It is having a profound impact on our regulatory system," said Shurdut. Monsanto, which in 1996 commercialized the first biotech crop, a soybean resistant to herbicide, wants to communicate how biotech crops help farmers produce food, said executive vice president Jerry Steiner. Despite the worst drought in 50 years, farmers last year still produced better-than-expected crops due in large measure to biotech improvements to corn, he said. Steiner recognizes the industry faces an uphill battle. "We fully respect that people make up their own minds," said Steiner. "But there is a fact gap that exists. It is our responsibility to do a better job of filling it." Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.32 Case studies: A hard look at GM crops Superweeds? Suicides? Stealthy genes? The true, the false and the still unknown about transgenic crops. Natasha Gilbert May 01, 2013 In the pitched debate over genetically modified (GM) foods and crops, it can be hard to see where scientific evidence ends and dogma and speculation begin. In the nearly 20 years since they were first commercialized, GM crop technologies have seen dramatic uptake. Advocates say that they have increased agricultural production by more than US$98 billion and saved an estimated 473 million kilograms of pesticides from being sprayed. But critics question their environmental, social and economic impacts. Researchers, farmers, activists and GM seed companies all stridently promote their views, but the scientific data are often inconclusive or contradictory. Complicated truths have long been obscured by the fierce rhetoric. I find it frustrating that the debate has not moved on, says Dominic Glover, an agricultural socioeconomist at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. The two sides speak different languages and have different opinions on what evidence and issues matter, he says. Here, Nature takes a look at three pressing questions: are GM crops fuelling the rise of herbicide-resistant superweeds? Are they driving farmers in India to suicide? And are the foreign transgenes in GM crops spreading into other plants? These controversial case studies show how blame shifts, myths are spread and cultural insensitivities can inflame debate. GM crops have bred superweeds: True Jay Holder, a farming consultant in Ashburn, Georgia, first noticed Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) in a clients transgenic cotton fields about five years ago. Palmer amaranth is a particular pain for farmers in the southeastern United States, where it outcompetes cotton for moisture, light and soil nutrients and can quickly take over fields. Free podcast Case studies reveal the complex truths behind GM crop myths.

Go to full podcast Since the late 1990s, US farmers had widely adopted GM cotton engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate, which is marketed as Roundup by Monsanto in St Louis, Missouri. The herbicidecrop combination worked spectacularly well until it didnt. In 2004, herbicide-resistant amaranth was found in one county in Georgia; by 2011, it had spread to 76. It got to the point where some farmers were losing half their cotton fields to the weed, says Holder. Some scientists and anti-GM groups warned that GM crops, by encouraging liberal use of glyphosate, were spurring the evolution of herbicide resistance in many weeds. Twenty-four glyphosate-resistant weed species have been identified since Roundup-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996. But herbicide resistance is a problem for farmers regardless of whether they plant GM crops. Some 64 weed species are resistant to the herbicide atrazine, for example, and no crops have been genetically modified to withstand it (see The rise of superweeds). Still, glyphosate-tolerant plants could be considered victims of their own success. Farmers had historically used multiple herbicides, which slowed the development of resistance. They also controlled weeds through ploughing and tilling practices that deplete topsoil and release carbon dioxide, but do not encourage resistance. The GM crops allowed growers to rely almost entirely on glyphosate, which is less toxic than many other chemicals and kills a broad range of weeds without ploughing. Farmers planted them year after year without rotating crop types or varying chemicals to deter resistance.

Source: Ian Heap, International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds (2013). This strategy was supported by claims from Monsanto that glyphosate resistance was unlikely to develop naturally in weeds when the herbicide was

used properly. As late as 2004, the company was publicizing a multi-year study suggesting that rotating crops and chemicals does not help to avert resistance. When applied at Monsantos recommended doses, glyphosate killed weeds effectively, and we know that dead weeds will not become resistant, said Rick Cole, now Monsantos technical lead of weed management, in a trade-journal advertisement at the time. The study, published in 2007 (ref. 1), was criticized by scientists for using plots so small that the chances of resistance developing were very low, no matter what the practice. Glyphosate-resistant weeds have now been found in 18 countries worldwide, with significant impacts in Brazil, Australia, Argentina and Paraguay, says Ian Heap, director of the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, based in Corvallis, Oregon. And Monsanto has changed its stance on glyphosate use, now recommending that farmers use a mix of chemical products and ploughing. But the company stops short of acknowledging a role in creating the problem. Over-confidence in the system combined with economic drivers led to reduced diversity in herbicide use, Cole tells Nature. On balance, herbicide-resistant GM crops are less damaging to the environment than conventional crops grown at industrial scale. A study by PG Economics, a consulting firm in Dorchester, UK, found that the introduction of herbicide-tolerant cotton saved 15.5 million kilograms of herbicide between 1996 and 2011, a 6.1% reduction from what would have been used on conventional cotton2. And GM crop technology delivered an 8.9% improvement to the environmental impact quotient a measure that considers factors such as pesticide toxicity to wildlife says Graham Brookes, co-director of PG Economics and a co-author of the industry-funded study, which many scientists consider to be among the fields most extensive and authoritative assessments of environmental impacts. The question is how much longer those benefits will last. So far, farmers have dealt with the proliferation of resistant weeds by using more glyphosate, supplementing it with other herbicides and ploughing. A study by David Mortensen, a plant ecologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, predicts that total herbicide use in the United States will rise from around 1.5 kilograms per hectare in 2013 to more than 3.5 kilograms per hectare in 2025 as a direct result of GM crop use3. To offer farmers new weed-control strategies, Monsanto and other biotechnology companies, such as Dow AgroSciences, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, are developing new herbicide-resistant crops that work with different chemicals, which they expect to commercialize within a few years. Mortensen says that the new technologies will lose their effectiveness as well. But abandoning chemical herbicides completely is not a viable solution, says Jonathan Gressel, a weed scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Using chemicals to control weeds is still more efficient than

ploughing and tilling the soil, and is less environmentally damaging. When farmers start to use more sustainable farming practices together with mixtures of herbicides they will have fewer problems, he says. GM cotton has driven farmers to suicide: False During an interview in March, Vandana Shiva, an environmental and feminist activist from India, repeated an alarming statistic: 270,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide since Monsanto entered the Indian seed market, she said. Its a genocide. The claim, based on an increase in total suicide rates across the country in the late 1990s, has become an oft-repeated story of corporate exploitation since Monsanto began selling GM seed in India in 2002.

Source: Ref. 5 Bt cotton, which contains a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis to ward off certain insects, had a rough start. Seeds initially cost five times more than local hybrid varieties, spurring local traders to sell packets containing a mix of Bt and conventional cotton at lower prices. The sham seeds and misinformation about how to use the product resulted in crop and financial losses. This no doubt added strain to rural farmers, who had long been under the pressures of a tight credit system that forced them to borrow from local lenders. But, says Glover, it is nonsense to attribute farmer suicides solely to Bt cotton. Although financial hardship is a driving factor in suicide among Indian farmers, there has been essentially no change in the suicide rate for farmers since the introduction of Bt cotton. That was shown by researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington DC, who scoured government data, academic articles and media reports about Bt cotton and suicide in India. Their findings, published in 2008 (ref. 4) and updated in 2011 (ref. 5), show that the total number of suicides per year in the Indian population rose from just under

100,000 in 1997 to more than 120,000 in 2007. But the number of suicides among farmers hovered at around 20,000 per year over the same period. And since its rocky beginnings, Bt cotton has benefited farmers, says Matin Qaim, an agricultural economist at Georg August University in Gttingen, Germany, who has been studying the social and financial impacts of Bt cotton in India for the past 10 years. In a study of 533 cotton-farming households in central and southern India, Qaim found that yields grew by 24% per acre between 2002 and 2008, owing to reduced losses from pest attacks6. Farmers profits rose by an average of 50% over the same period, owing mainly to yield gains (see A steady rate of tragedy). Given the profits, Qaim says, it is not surprising that more than 90% of the cotton now grown in India is transgenic. Glenn Stone, an environmental anthropologist at Washington University in St Louis, says that the empirical evidence for yield increases with Bt cotton is lacking. He has conducted original field studies7 and analysed the research literature8 on Bt cotton yields in India, and says that most peer-reviewed studies reporting yield increases with Bt cotton have focused on short time periods, often in the early years after the technology came online. This, he says, introduced biases: farmers who adopted the technology first tended to be wealthier and more educated, and their farms were already producing higherthan-average yields of conventional cotton. They achieved high yields of Bt cotton partly because they lavished the expensive GM seeds with care and attention. The problem now is that there are hardly any conventional cotton farms left in India to compare GM yields and profits against, says Stone. Qaim agrees that many studies showing financial gains focus on short-term impacts, but his study, published in 2012, controlled for these biases and still found continued benefits. Bt cotton did not cause suicide rates to spike, says Glover, but neither is it the sole reason for the yield improvements. Blanket conclusions that the technology is a success or failure lack the right level of nuance, he says. Its an evolving story in India, and we have not yet reached a definitive conclusion. Transgenes spread to wild crops in Mexico: Unknown In 2000, some rural farmers in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, wanted to gain organic certification for the maize (corn) they grew and sold in the hope of generating extra income. David Quist, then a microbial ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, agreed to help in exchange for access to their lands for a research project. But Quists genetic analyses uncovered a surprise: the locally produced maize contained a segment of the DNA used to spur expression of transgenes in Monsantos glyphosate-tolerant and insectresistant maize9. GM crops are not approved for commercial production in Mexico. So the transgenes probably came from GM crops imported from the United States for consumption and planted by local farmers who probably didnt know that the

seeds were transgenic. Quist speculated at the time that the local maize probably cross-bred with these GM varieties, thereby picking up the transgenic DNA. When the discovery was published in Nature, a media and political circus descended on Oaxaca. Many vilified Monsanto for contaminating maize at its historic origin a place where the crop was considered sacred. And Quists study came under fire for technical deficiencies, including problems with the methods used to detect the transgenes and the authors conclusion that transgenes can fragment and scatter throughout the genome10. Nature eventually withdrew support for the paper but stopped short of retracting it. The evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper, read an editorial footnote to a critique10 of the research published in 2002. Since then, few rigorous studies of transgene flow into Mexican maize have been published, owing mainly to a dearth of research funding, and they show mixed results. In 200304, Allison Snow, a plant ecologist at Ohio State University in Columbus, sampled 870 plants taken from 125 fields in Oaxaca and found no transgenic sequences in maize seeds11. But in 2009, a study12 led by Elena Alvarez-Buylla, a molecular ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, and Alma PieyroNelson, a plant molecular geneticist now at the University of California, Berkeley, found the same transgenes as Quist in three samples taken from 23 sites in Oaxaca in 2001, and in two samples taken from those sites in 2004. In another study, Alvarez-Buylla and her co-authors found evidence of transgenes in a small percentage of seeds from 1,765 households across Mexico13. Other studies conducted within local communities have found transgenes more consistently, but few have been published14. Snow and Alvarez-Buylla agree that differences in sampling methods can lead to discrepancies in transgene detection. We sampled different fields, says Snow. They found them but we didnt. The scientific community remains split on whether transgenes have infiltrated maize populations in Mexico, even as the country grapples with whether to approve commercialization of Bt maize. It seems inevitable that there will be a movement of transgenes into local maize crops, says Snow. There is some proof that it is happening, but it is very difficult to say how common it is or what are the consequences. AlvarezBuylla argues that the spread of transgenes will harm the health of Mexican maize and change characteristics, such as a varietys look and taste, that are important to rural farmers. Once the transgenes are present, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of them, she says. Critics speculate that GM traits that accumulate in the genomes of local maize populations over time

could eventually affect plant fitness by using up energy and resources or by disrupting metabolic processes, for example. Snow says that there is no evidence so far for negative effects. And she expects that if the transgenes now in use drift to other plants, they will have neutral or beneficial effects on plant growth. In 2003, Snow and her colleagues showed that when Bt sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) were bred with their wild counterparts, transgenic offspring still required the same kind of close care as its cultivated parent but were less vulnerable to insects and produced more seeds than non-transgenic plants15. Few similar studies have been conducted, says Snow, because the companies that own the rights to the technology are generally unwilling to let academic researchers perform the experiments. In Mexico, the story goes beyond potential environmental impacts. Kevin Pixley, a crop scientist and the director of the genetic resources programme at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre in El Batan, Mexico, says that scientists arguing on behalf of GM technologies in the country have missed a crucial point. Most of the scientific community doesnt understand the depth of the emotional and cultural affiliation maize has for the Mexican population, he says. Tidy stories, in favour of or against GM crops, will always miss the bigger picture, which is nuanced, equivocal and undeniably messy. Transgenic crops will not solve all the agricultural challenges facing the developing or developed world, says Qaim: It is not a silver bullet. But vilification is not appropriate either. The truth is somewhere in the middle. (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.33 Key environmental impacts of global genetically modified (GM) crop use 19962011 April/May/June 2013 Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot Keywords: GMO, biotechnology, carbon sequestration, no tillage, pesticide Abstract: Given the increasing awareness and appreciation of issues such as global warming and the impact of mankinds activities such as agriculture on the global environment, this paper updates previous assessments of the environmental impact of an important and relatively new technology, crop biotechnology has had on global agriculture. It focuses on the environmental impacts associated with changes in pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions arising from the use of GM crops. The adoption of the technology

has reduced pesticide spraying by 474 million kg (-8.9%) and, as a result, decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on these crops [as measured by the indicator the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ)] by 18.1%. The technology has also facilitated a significant reduction in the release of greenhouse gas emissions from this cropping area, which, in 2011, was equivalent to removing 10.22 million cars from the roads. Received: January 18, 2013; Accepted: March 26, 2013; Published Online: April 1, 2013 Article PDF Supplemental File Source: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.34 Victorian era barley variety has valuable disease resistance trait, scientist find Researchers from John Innes Centre (JIC) in the United Kingdom have revived the classic heritage barley Chevallier which was popular during the Victorian period. With the knowledge that old varieties are a rich source of new genes, the JIC scientists have conducted further study on Chevallier through the institute's Genetic Resources Unit as part of a barley improvement project. Historic records indicate that the variety produced premium quality malt and good yields. The scientists also discovered that Chevallier had valuable disease resistance that can prevent contamination of grain with mycotoxins, which are a concern in the malting industry. View JIC's news release at Source: Crop Biotech Update April 17, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.35 Yucatn abre banco para preservar semillas

30 de abril, 2013 El gobierno de Yucatn puso en operacin el Banco de Germoplasma para almacenar las especies agrcolas, mdica, forestal, ecolgica y la biodiversidad de la regin. Las instalaciones se ubican en el Parque Cientfico y Tecnolgico de Yucatn, en cuya obra se han invertido 47 millones de pesos y cuenta, entre otros, con cinco cuartos fros para la preservacin de semillas. El funcionamiento de este banco fue constatado por el gobernador Rolando Zapata Bello y el director del Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologa (Conacyt), Enrique Cabrera Mendoza. Zapata Bello coment que su administracin despliega acciones para fortalecer las capacidades endgenas a travs de la actividad cientfica en las reas exactas. Junto con Cabrera Mendoza, el mandatario estatal resguard recipientes con semillas de Cucurbita pep L. (calabaza), cuya denominacin en maya es kum; Zea mays L (maz), xnuknal; Phaseolus Lunatus L. (frijol) o ib; y Ceiba pentandra L. (ceiba). Posteriormente, cort el listn inaugural del Jardn Botnico Ornamental que cuenta con 2.84 hectreas y conserva unas 500 especies ornamentales, dispuestas en 25 colecciones de plantas. Se inform que el gobierno de la entidad don 11 mil 152 metros cuadrados de terreno dentro del Parque Cientfico y Tecnolgico para la construccin de la sede del Centro de Investigacin, donde se forjar el capital humano especializado en matemticas. Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.36 Wild parent spawns super salt-tolerant rice Los Baos, The Philippines May 16, 2013 Farmers are set to reclaim salt-ravaged land, thanks to a single rice plant born of two unlikely parents that is spawning a new generation of rice that has double the salinity tolerance of other rice. "This will make saline-stricken rice farms in coastal areas usable to farmers," said lead scientist Dr. Kshirod Jena

of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). "These farmlands are usually abandoned by coastal farmers because the encroaching seawater has rendered the soil useless. That means livelihood lost for these communities." Unlike regular rice, the new rice line can expel salt it takes from the soil into the air through salt glands it has on its leaves, explained Dr. Jena. The new rice was bred by successfully crossing (or mating) two different rice parents the exotic wild rice species Oryza coarctata and rice variety IR56 of the cultivated rice species O. sativa. What is extra special about this breakthrough is that O. coarctata is extremely difficult to cross with cultivated rice varieties. The location of O. coarctata in the rice genome sequence is at the other end of the spectrum from that of rice varieties such as IR56. "When we cross two types of rice with genomes so far off from each other in the genome sequence, the resulting embryo tends to abort itself," Dr. Jena said. "We've been trying to backcross these types of interspecific hybrids since the mid-1990s, but we have never been successful, until now." The reason scientists did not give up on crossing the two types of rice was because O. coarctata is a special type of rice that grows in brackish, salty water making it highly resistant to saltiness in the soil. According to Dr. Jena, O. coarctata can tolerate a higher salinity concentration (similar to that of seawater), whereas current salinity-tolerant rice varieties can cope with only half that concentration. However, O. coarctata is unsuitable for the production of edible rice. The first sign of good news came when, out of 34,000 crosses made, three embryos were successfully rescued. Of these three, only one embryo germinated to produce one single plant. "We treated this single plant survivor like a baby," said Dr. Jena. The surviving plant was then transferred into a liquid nutrient solution to ensure its survival. Once the plant was strong enough, it was grown in the field, where Dr. Jena and his team used it to backcross with IR56. Backcrossing ensures that the resulting progeny will contain all traits of IR56, and take only the desired O. coarctata trait, which is its salt tolerance. Dr. Jenas team at IRRI is perfecting their new doubly salt-tolerant rice and will test it widely to ensure it meets all the needs of farmers and consumers. They hope to have the new variety available for farmers to grow within 45 years. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents)

+++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.37 Greek Gene Banks Struggle Indicative Of Changing Times April 17, 2013 By Paraskevi Kollia Gene banks holding plant genetic material worldwide play a crucial role for future agricultural practices and research and development in the field, especially as people rediscover the importance of their dependence on the land due to the financial situation. The present financial crisis may generate opportunities and losses. This can be illustrated by the Gene Bank of Greece, an institution traditionally rich in genetic material and of global interest. The Greek Gene Bank (GGB) was established in 1981 in Thessaloniki with the help of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. It holds in its stewardship a tremendous amount of plant genetic resources in the form of seeds. Its purpose is two-fold. It conducts research for the improvement of existing plant varieties and the development of new, more resistant ones. It also is a conservation place for landraces (traditional plant varieties which have been selected and developed by farmers and not by plant breeders or biotechnology companies throughout the years and resulted in highly resistant autochthonous plants). The total number of varieties preserved currently in the GGB amounts to 14,000 so-called accessions (samples of planting material stored in ex situ collections). Among others, it holds 3 per cent of the wild wheat genetic material conserved in gene banks worldwide, making it a place of special interest for researchers. With the joint Ministerial Decree 188763/2011 (FEK B 2284, available here in Greek) and taking into account the need to cut public spending as part of Greeces obligations under the Financial Support Framework and its efforts of fiscal consolidation, the Ministers of Finance and Rural Development effectuated in October 2011 the merger of four state-owned agricultural institutes. These included: the National Institute of Agricultural Research, to which the GGB belonged; the Organisation of Training in Agricultural Vocation; the Certification and Supervision of Agricultural Products Agency; and the Organization of Milk and Meat. The new institution was baptised Greek Agricultural Organisation Demetra (alluding to the Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility). The merger had as a result the discharge of personnel and the minimisation of the budgets of the institutes in question. In December 2012, the Athens University of Economics and Business conducted and published a study on the GGB coordinated by Economic

Theory and Politics Professor Anastasios Ksepapadeas (available here). In it, the research team undertook an analysis of the GGB function and role in the Greek economy and evaluated its benefits in terms of strengthening food security and enhancing agricultural productivity in uncertain future circumstances, such as climate change to which the Mediterranean region is particularly vulnerable according to the study or crop diseases. The evaluation of the GGB was undertaken in both economic and noneconomic terms (or, as the study terms them, use and non-use values). For the former, the study ascribed market data to the insurance and productivity values of the GGB. The insurance value of a gene bank consists of ensuring food security and limiting the negative effects of a plant disease outbreak by maintaining plant diversity. A gene bank also has productivity value, according to the study, in that its crop diversity enables plant breeders to create improved varieties which yield greater food production in tune with growing global needs, and which are more resistant in drought and lack of nutritious soil so as to decrease pressure on the environment, according to the study. The non-economic value of a gene bank, i.e., the conservation of genetic material for the future, is approximated in that it enhances international research efforts on the development of world agriculture and retains the information of the biodiversity patrimony for the future. As stated in a study [pdf] by Smale and Hanson conducted in 2010 for the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research: The information value relating to the collection of genetic resources of a gene bank has public good characteristics. The Economic University of Athens study concluded that a cost-benefit comparison based on the study results: confirms that the benefits of the GGB, even with the conservative estimation adopted within the current framework, significantly exceeds the costs of its operation. Thus in terms of insurance values generated by the GGB, the flow of annual equivalent values were estimated to represent a minimum of 2.95 million euros whereas operating costs of the GGB currently correspond to less than 3 per cent of this amount on an annual basis. Hence, the present study suggests that maintaining and further developing the GGB is an economically justified strategy. Challenges for Greek Gene Bank Greek news sites reported on the results of the GGBs loss of administrative independence and the budgetary cuts: it is severely understaffed (there is now only one person effectively managing it), the sustainability of the seeds is threatened by the lack of appropriate housing, and overall, the highly specific conditions under which the genetic material is to be stored are no longer fulfilled. See article here. Seed conservation does not consist of merely storing the seeds and keeping them under appropriate conditions: seeds need to be actively preserved, i.e.,

sowed and reaped at least every 20 years in order to maintain their genetic material alive. The study concluded that there is no long-term plan for the sustainable existence of the GGB. On the other hand, seed exchange networks organised by citizens have sprung up literally in every corner of Greece, assuming an active role in the preservation and enjoyment of traditional seeds. They meet regularly and exchange seeds, information and cultivation practices. They maintain that conservation and proliferation of traditional Greek agricultural products is up to everyone and through their action they raise awareness on the intellectual property protection of seeds and plant genetic resources. Seed networks can be found in websites (in Greek) here, here, here and here. This is consistent with the recent trend of rural exodus of Greek people towards the countryside as a consequence of the financial situation and a corresponding renewed interest in agricultural practices. There has been no official study or statistics on this phenomenon, but it has been well reported, see Journey across crisis-hit Greece, For Greeks, crisis reverses a generation of progress, When economies fail: Inside Greeces Great Urban Exodus, and Greek crisis forces thousands of Athenians into rural migration. Ms. Paraskevi Kollia (Greece), is attending the LL.M. in Intellectual Property and Competition Law at the Munich Intellectual Property Law Center. She is mainly interested in patents, farmers rights, biotechnology, as well as traditional and modern biopiracy issues. Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.38 Genebank Standards for Plant Genetic Resources is a major accomplishment International standards aimed at conserving plant diversity in genebank Rome, Italy 19 April 2013 New international standards to help genebanks worldwide conserve plant diversity in a more efficient and cost-effective manner were adopted on Thursday April 18 by FAO's Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Meeting at its 14th Regular Session here, the Commission endorsed the Genebank Standards for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Brad Fraleigh, Chairman of of the meeting, welcomed the Genebank Standards as "a major accomplishment" for the current and future preservation of plant diversity for food and nutrition security. "These standards will be extremely valuable for opening funding opportunities for genebanks as well as increasing use of these valuable resources," he said. Pioneering efforts Clayton Campanhola, Director of FAO's Plant Production and Protection Division, appreciated the pioneering efforts of experts from national programmes and other international and regional organizations in preparation of these standards. The Genebank Standards are voluntary but have a universal value and utility in guiding genebank management for seeds, for germplasm maintained in field collections, as well as conserved through cryopreservation and in vitro culture. They were developed in response to the new technical advances and the increased coverage of plant diversity collections. A systematic application of these standards will require mobilization of financial resources for upgrading professional skills in developing countries. The Genebank Standards will be available in all UN official languages. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.39 Genomic studies improve understanding of wheat's adaptation and domestication April 02, 2013 Scientists in China claim to have provided an unprecedented glimpse into the adaptation and domestication of wheat. Two studies released by researchers in Shenzhen sequenced and analysed the genomes of two ancestral wheats to improve understanding of where and when key developments occurred in the domestication of wheat.

Researchers from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB) and Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) looked at grasses Triticum urartu and Aegilops tauschii in an attempt to better understand the biology of the world's primary staple crop, with a view to further improving varieties. Wheat remains the world's most widely produced crop, suitable for cultivation in a wide range of climates. The researchers said they hope to improve genetic diversity, potentially leading to greater resistance to cold, drought and disease. However, they said the extremely large size and polyploid complexity of the wheat genome has proven a substantial barrier for researchers examining the biology and evolution of the plant. Teams at IGDB looked at the genome of Bread wheat (T. aestivum, AABBDD), the progenitor of the Wheat A genome. They said their findings will prove useful in future breeding studies, identifying markers which could be implemented to improve wheat yield and increased understanding of wheat's development. The second study looked at Tausch's goatgrass, which crossed with wheat around 8,000 years ago, resulting in a rare hybridisation, according to the Chinese researchers. The scientists conducting this study said it revealed yet more about the history of wheat and claimed their findings could lead to improvements in disease resistance, based on Ae. Tauschii's enhanced resistance. They elaborated that a higher number of genes associated with resistance to stress were identified in Ae. tauschii (485) than sorghum (365), rice (333), Brachypodium (262) and maize (261). The family of genes (cytochrome P450) has been found to be important for certain stress responses. Shancen Zhao, Project Manager of BGI, said, "Genetic improvement of crops is the key output of breeding research. The genomic data provides a valuable resource for botanists and breeders to comprehensively understand wheat's genetic diversity and evolutionary history. The two studies also represent a major step forward for improving this vital crop in the face of global climate change, growing human population, and bio-energy." The scientists made their findings freely available, to help international efforts to improve crops. More information is available here from the BGI research institute.,1E0A3,6LPZGT,4PQ WF,1 Source: (Return to Contents)

+++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.40 Sorghum line release: A.B.Tx3363 Texas A&M AgriLife Research recently released Tx3362, a black pericarp R line of grain sorghum (R.Tx3362). This was the first temperately adapted photoperiod-insensitive line that produces high levels of 3-DOA, 3deoxyanthocyanin, which has been associated with health benefits such as slow and/or reduce digestibility, reduced cholesterol levels, high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-carcinogenic properties. In addition, the 3-DOA is more stable than common anthocyanins, making them uniquely valuable as natural food colorants. However, grain yields of R.Tx3362 are poor and when used as a pollinator on standard sorghum seed parents (which have either red, white or yellow pericarp color), the hybrids are all red with low 3-DOA concentrations, indicating that the black-seeded trait is recessive and producing a black-grain hybrid will require that both parents produce black-colored grain. To meet this requirement, Bill Rooney, Ostilio Portillo, and Chad Hays with the Texas A&M Agrilife Sorghum Breeding Program developed and released A.B.Tx3363 for use with R.TX3362 in order to maximize both grain yield and 3DOA concentrations in their hybrids. This A-line seed parent has a blackpericarp and in hybrid combination with R.Tx3362, produces a hybrid with the same black grain and with high parent heterosis for grain yield. For more information on A/B.Tx3363, contact Bill Rooney at (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.41 Scientist find way to increase phosphorus content in wheat Scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark have discovered why some species of cereal have higher phytase activity than others and have patented a method for increasing phytase activity in wheat. Phytase is important for the utilization of phosphorus and other minerals bound in plant seeds as it hydrolyzes phytic acid and releases the phosphorus for assimilation. Animals and humans have no natural phytase activity in their digestive system and very few plant seeds contain sufficiently high phytase levels, so scientists and plant breeders have tried to remedy this. It turns out that the difference is due to a split of cereals into two different cereal families way back in ancient history. By studying the genome of the most important cereal wheat the scientists found that wheat contains a

gene that in addition to coding for phytase in the shoots also codes for the generation of phytase in the ripened grain. Rice and maize do not contain this gene. The scientists are now screening a number of triticeae species and have discovered and demonstrated genetically how to produce a wheat with a phytase content on level with rye. This wheat hybrid, which has been named HighPhy, has been patented and sold to an English company for propagation. View Aarhus University's news release at Source: Crop Biotech Update April 24, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.42 How to breed sorghum for low-Phosphorous soils in West and Central Africa? Sorghum in the Sudanian zone of West and Central Africa (WCA) is extensively cultivated in fields with low phosphorous (P) availability. The levels of plant-available P can be extremely low; with a median of only 5.5 ppm (mg P kg-1 soil) observed in Malian sorghum fields, whereas 10 ppm is considered as the threshold for sufficiency. Although P-deficiency is known to reduce growth and delay maturity, sorghum is commonly cultivated in this zone with little or no fertilization due to farmers limited access to credit and fertilizers. In fact, one important role of sorghum for these farmers is to provide some production under low soil-fertility conditions in which other cereals such as maize are more likely to fail. Nevertheless, sorghum breeders in WCA typically conduct trials and nurseries under well fertilized conditions, seeking to avoid uneven growth due to poor and variable soil-conditions that may reduce genetic gains from selection. Willmar Leiser, a PhD student at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, set out to determine if selection under low-P conditions can be useful when breeding varieties for farmers in WCA who regularly grow sorghum under lowP production conditions. Working with Malian and ICRISAT researchers, Leiser analyzed multi-year trials of diverse sorghum varieties conducted under both low- and high-P conditions. His results showed acceptable and similar heritabilities for grain yield could be obtained under both low- and high-P field conditions. Further, he concluded that not only is it possible to select sorghum for improved grain

yield under low-P conditions, it is best to do so through direct selection under low-P conditions. He encourages more extensive sorghum yield testing in WCA to maximize genetic gains and to minimize the risk of losing some of the best low-P adapted progenies or varieties. These results have really helped us change our yield testing procedures he notes. Results of this research appeared in the November, 2012 issue of Crop Science 52(6) 2517-2527 doi: 10.2135/cropsci2012.02.0139 The paper featured in the November issue of CSA News and can be viewed at Contributed by H. Frederick W. Rattunde International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)Mali (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.43 Uga scientists discover gene responsible for dwarfing of pearl millet University of Georgia (UGA) geneticists reported the successful isolation of the gene responsible for dwarfing trait of pearl millet varieties. According to Katrien Devos, leader of the study, the gene discovery will help plant breeders develop more efficient, sustainable varieties of semi-dwarf pearl millet which are desirable for some farmers and ranchers. The researchers developed markers that can be used by breeders to screen for the presence of the gene even the before the gene is visually expressed. The gene affects the downward transport of the growth hormone auxin which is produced in the upper part of the plant. If the gene is activated, the hormone flows freely, allowing growth of the plant up to its full height, which is about 10ft. When the gene is turned off, the plant may only grow up to 3-5ft. The study was published in the March issue of G3:Genes, Genomics, Genetics. Read the media release of UGA at Source: Crop Biotech Update April 03, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University

(Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.44 Researchers identify gene that allows corn to grow in poor conditions Corn varieties that can grow successfully in acidic soil were found to contain three copies of a particular gene. Expression of these genes allows plants to tolerate aluminum at high levels in acidic soils. "Identifying genes that make plants more tolerant of aluminum is very critical for farmers growing crops where productivity is suboptimal due to acidic soil," said Matias Kirst, co-author and a member of Genetics Institute. The findings also suggest that gene copy number may be a rapid evolutionary response to new environments or climate change. The triplicate gene may ultimately be used to breed or genetically modify plants to adapt to soil containing high levels of aluminum. View the University of Florida's news release at Source: Crop Biotech Update March 20, 2013 Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.45 Use of GM cotton linked to rise in aphid numbers April 8, 2013 by Richa Malhotra

Previous research linked the surge in aphids on Bt cotton to reduced insecticide use The new study ties it to a fall in plant defence chemicals as caterpillars no longer eat the plant Bt cotton should be part of a wider pest-management system, the study recommends

In an unexpected trade-off, the cultivation of cotton that has been genetically engineered to reduce caterpillar damage by producing its own insecticide has been linked to higher numbers of another pest aphids. Previous studies had linked the increase in aphids to reduced insecticide use by farmers cultivating Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton. Now researchers have for the first time tied the suppressed production of natural defence compounds in Bt cotton caused by the lack of caterpillar attacks to a surge in non-target pests such as the cotton aphid. Non-Bt plants respond to caterpillar infestation by producing defence compounds, which also protect the plant against other pests. The researchers studied the correlation between Bt and non-Bt cotton plants, defence compound levels and aphid populations in both glasshouse and field conditions. In the glasshouse, they artificially infested Bt and non-Bt cotton plants with caterpillars and monitored the levels of various defence compounds known as terpenoids that are released in response to caterpillar damage. The plants were then artificially infested with aphids. In the field, one set of Bt and non-Bt cotton plants were artificially infested with caterpillars and another was left to natural infestation by caterpillars. Terpenoid levels were measured and both sets were then exposed to natural aphid infestations. In the glasshouse, caterpillars on the Bt cotton plants died. As a result, the plants were less damaged and therefore contained less defence compounds than their non-Bt counterparts. The researchers thus attribute the resulting increase in aphid populations on these plants, compared with non-Bt plants, to lowered terpenoid production. Although a relative rise in aphid numbers was noted on a few occasions on Bt cotton plants in the field, the scientists found no correlation between aphid populations and terpenoid levels in this part of the experiment. Jrg Romeis, one of the paper's authors and head of the biosafety research group at the Agroscope Reckenholz-Tnikon Research Station ART, Switzerland, tells SciDev.Net, "Our study shows that a technology like Bt cotton should not be used in isolation". "To control other herbivores we have to use the technology as part of integrated pest management approach." T. M. Manjunath, a consultant in agrobiotechnology and integrated pest management from India, where Bt cotton is cultivated, says: "What this study shows with Bt cotton can happen with any other insect-control measure. Infestation by aphids and other non-target pests has been seen before the introduction of Bt cotton".

The study was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B last month (13 March). Link to the study abstract =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.46 Increasing lutein levels in broccoli to fight age-related eye problems Kannapolis, North Carolina, USA April 9, 2013 A new N.C. State University study under way at the Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus is focused on enhanced levels of lutein in broccoli. Lutein, an antioxidant, is also found in leafy greens such as kale and spinach. Lutein is associated with lowering risks for cataracts and agerelated macular degeneration. Dr. Allan Brown, assistant professor with the Department of Horticultural Science and the Plants for Human Health Institute, recently received a $155,525 grant from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center for his broccoli research. A matching fund portion of the grant was funded by the Monsanto Company. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans who are age 65 and older. The condition affects around 10 percent of those 66 to 74 years old, and increases to 30 percent for those aged 75 to 85. Because of the growing aging population, it is increasingly affecting a larger number of people. Dr. Browns plan is to develop plant material through hybridization with wild broccoli. He will then evaluate the new broccoli material to determine its stability and genetic potential for enhanced levels of lutein and beta-carotene. His objective is to determine whether increased levels of these antioxidants will transfer to commercial production. We believe we have the potential to increase lutein levels in commercial broccoli two-fold, Dr. Brown explained. As part of our work we expect to identify molecular markers that will significantly reduce the time and resources required to produce an enhanced broccoli.

A similar strategy by Monsanto, in conjunction with the John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research, both in the United Kingdom, led to the release of Beneforte broccoli in 2010. This cultivar contains two to three times the compound known as sulforaphane. Researchers in the United Kingdom used conventional breeding methods. Dr. Brown, who will also use conventional plant breeding methods, believes he can produce broccoli that is even more of a superfood than is now the case, with enhanced levels of compounds that fight cancer, heart disease and macular degeneration. The project is expected to span two years and will include field trials in multiple locations in the state. In addition to comparing high lutein plants with currently available broccoli hybrids and studying how transferable the trait is, Dr. Brown will provide evaluations on the potential impact breeding would have on important quality traits such as head size, compactness, color, uniformity and harvest maturity of the product. Broccoli is a $742 million year industry in the U.S. Most of it gets shipped to North Carolina from the West Coast. Most broccoli in the U.S. is harvested from hybrid cultivars specifically a developed for California production environments. About Plants for Human Health Institute The N.C. State University Plants for Human Health Institute is leading the discovery and delivery of innovative plant-based solutions to advance human health. N.C. Cooperative Extension serves as the outreach component of the institute, which is part of the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. The campus is a public-private venture including eight universities, one community college, the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and corporate entities that collaborate to advance the fields of human health, nutrition and agriculture. Learn more at =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.47 Disease-resistant tomatoes fight lethal pests Ithaca, New York, USA

April 2, 2013 In the battle against thrips, Cornell breeder Martha Mutschler-Chu has developed a new weapon: a tomato that packs a powerful one-two punch to deter the pests and counter the killer viruses they transmit. The dual resistant insect and virus varieties may reduce or even eliminate the need for pesticides in several regions. Thrips are tiny insects that pierce and suck fluids from hundreds of species of plants, including tomatoes, grapes, strawberries and soybeans. They also transmit such diseases as the tomato spotted wilt virus, causing millions of dollars in damage to U.S. agricultural crops each year. Adapting a novel form of insect resistance discovered in a wild plant native to Peru, Mutschler-Chu, professor of plant breeding and genetics, first isolated the resistance. She found that it was mediated by droplets of sugar esters, called acylsugars, that are produced and exuded from hairs (trichomes) that cover the plants. The acylsugars dont kill the insects, but deter them from feeding or laying eggs on the plants. The process does not require genetic modification and is completely safe. After successfully transferring the resistance into new lines and breeding out undesirable traits, her team added a second layer of protection: one or both of two natural genes known to resist the so-called TOSPO viruses, which include tomato spotted wilt virus. If some thrips get through with the virus, the virus resistance genes are there to mop it up, Mutschler-Chu said. The Cornell thrips-resistant tomato lines, with and without the virus resistance genes, will be used by Mutschler-Chu and an interdisciplinary team of eight other scientists from seven other institutions nationwide as part of a new fiveyear, $3.75 million project to control thrips and TOSPO viruses in tomatoes. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agricultures Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and is led by entomologist Diane Ullman of the University of California, Davis, and plant pathologist John Sherwood of the University of Georgia. Mutschler-Chu said the collaboration will allow her to test her varieties in different regions and use the feedback to further refine her lines and create new, improved ones. Whether it be altering sugar levels to suit different environments, or tweaking virus resistance, Mutschler-Chu wants to discover the best package for insect and virus control. Her discoveries will be shared with seed companies so they can transfer the traits into their varieties.

It brings us closer and closer to something that can be used commercially to essentially eliminate the need for pesticides in many growing regions, Mutschler-Chu said. The project rests on a foundation that was built over 20 years, supported by college-level funding and federal HATCH grants. During that time, new tools of molecular biology were developed, from PCR-based markers and SNP markers to the sequencing of the tomato genome. Using the new methods, it took Mutschler-Chu 10 years to develop the first tomato line with enough acylsugar, then four years to create a better series of 30 lines. The impact could be far-reaching, she said. Not only would it be a boon to the U.S agricultural economy, it could also have significant impact in the developing world, where tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetable cash crops, especially for small subsistence farmers. This is even more critical, because they dont have the resources to buy pesticides, and there is often misuse of pesticides, Mutschler-Chu said. by Stacey Shackford, staff writer at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: Cornell Chronicle (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.48 First reports of lethal necrosis on maize in Uganda and Tanzania Mar 30, 2013 A deadly maize disease that was 1st reported in Kenya and Tanzania has spread to Uganda, raising food security concerns. In Tanzania, the disease was reported in Mwanza. The [Ugandan] Ministry of Agriculture warned that Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) had been reported in some districts in eastern Uganda, particularly Busia and Tororo. The disease can cause up to 100 percent crop loss. It is suspected to be spread by beetles, thrips and leaf hoppers. Uganda scientists are working in collaboration with International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre [CIMMYT] to find solutions to the disease. CIMMYT is also working with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) to develop maize varieties that are resistant to the disease. MLN attacks all maize varieties.

Farmers have been advised to practise crop rotation and skip planting maize for at least a year, [and] not to replant seeds from the previous harvest. Other measures recommended include weed control, proper use of fertiliser and high quality seeds to boost production. Maize lethal necrosis (MLN) is caused by co-infection of _Maize chlorotic mottle virus_ (MCMV, genus _Machlomovirus_), transmitted by chrysomelid beetle vectors, and either _Maize dwarf mosaic virus_ (MDMV, genus _Potyvirus_) or _Wheat streak mosaic virus_ (WSMV, genus _Tritimovirus_). MLN has been reported from the Americas and some locations in Europe. The finding in Kenya was the 1st report of MLN as well as MCMV in Africa. WSMV has not been reported from Africa, but MDMV is known to occur in the region. MDMV is closely related to _Sugarcane mosaic virus_ (SCMV, genus _Potyvirus_), also present in the area, and both are transmitted by a number of aphid species. SCMV has been reported as the co-infecting potyvirus in Kenya, but transmission in maize seed was previously only reported for MDMV, and not SCMV. However, seed transmission of the maize disease in Rift valley has been claimed (see ProMED-mail post 20120614.1167465). Therefore the 2 viruses involved in Kenya may be MCMV and either MDMV (undifferentiated from SCMV in the diagnosis) or a new strain of SCMV that can be seed transmitted in maize. Symptoms of the individual viruses are synergistically enhanced in MLN and may include leaf mottling and necrosis, distortion of ears, absence of kernels, failure to produce tassels, as well as stunting, premature aging, and death of plants. Symptoms may disappear during the growing season leaving plants with latent infections but reduced yield as virus reservoirs and making disease monitoring difficult. Infectious vector insects may be carried by wind over long distances. Disease management may include crop rotation, certified clean seeds, control of vector species and weedy reservoir hosts, and use of crop cultivars or hybrids with reduced sensitivity to the viruses. A resistance breeding programme has been set up in Kenya screening a large set of diverse precommercial hybrids from CIMMYT and other public and private institutions. A number of, most likely secondary or opportunistic, fungal pathogens in the diseased maize have also been reported in Kenya (ProMED-mail posts 20120117.1012452 and 20120326.1080612), which are further affecting crop health and yield. =&id_category=&id_crop=

Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.49 Washington State University leads development of heat-tolerant grain Pullman, Washington, USA April 11, 2013 Washington State University will lead a $16.2 million effort to develop wheat varieties that are better at tolerating the high temperatures found in most of the worlds growing regions - temperatures that are likely to increase with global warming. The research will be supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR). The work is part of the U.S. governments global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. Researchers aim to have their first set of "climate-resilient varieties in five years. The research will focus on the North Indian River Plain, which is home to nearly 1 billion people and faces challenges such as limited water and rising temperatures, said Kulvinder Gill, project director and the Vogel Endowed Chair for Wheat Breeding and Genetics at WSU. "The project will benefit all wheat growing regions of the world, he said, "as heat during certain stages of the plants development is an issue in most wheat growing regions. The researchers will combine conventional and newly developed breeding tools to identify genes or sets of genes associated with heat tolerance, a rarely studied trait with an outsized importance in yields. A wheat plants productivity falls off dramatically when temperatures rise above 82 degrees F, and the effects are particularly dramatic in the flowering stage, when the plant sets the seed that is ultimately harvested and milled for food. Every rise of just a couple of degrees above 82 in the flowering stage cuts yields by 3 to 4 percent. Some parts of the North Indian River Plain can reach 95 degrees during flowering, said Gill, who worked in the withering heat of his familys Punjab farm as a child. The Climate Resilient Wheat project will continue efforts by Gill and colleagues to help wheat plants deal with environmental stresses. He is in the later stages of a three-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation and the Gates Foundation to develop drought-tolerant "desert wheat.

Support from USAID will leverage more than $11 million from other partners and fund research at WSU and project-related activities in India, said Gill. The effort will include researchers from Kansas State University, the seed manufacturer and processor DuPont Pioneer, Indias Directorate of Wheat research and National Bureau of Plant Genetics Resources, GB Pant University, CCS Meerut University, Punjab Agricultural University, Rajendra Agricultural University and two private companies in India. As many as 35 Ph.D. students and 30 postdoctoral or research fellows will also be involved. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: SeedQuest.clom (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++ 1.50 Gene silencing set to boost agricultural yields Australia April 30, 2013 Researchers from Murdoch University have developed an environmentally friendly gene silencing method to control Root Lesion Nematodes, plant pathogens known to reduce crop yields in major crops such as wheat and barley by 15 per cent or more. Professor Mike Jones from Murdochs Plant Biotechnology Research Group, based in the Western Australian State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre, said the microscopic, worm-like pests were an economic drain on agriculture. Root Lesion Nematodes are major pests of agricultural, horticultural and industrial crops such as sugarcane. They invade and damage plant roots, making the plants susceptible to water and nutrient stress, he said. Not only do they rob host plants of essential nutrients while feeding, but they create entry wounds that leave plant roots susceptible to attack by fungi and bacteria in the soil. They are an often unrecognised problem for farmers, not just in Australia but internationally, and to date, nematode control strategies have often required the use of expensive and environmentally unfriendly chemicals. Our work on gene silencing presents a new, environmentally sound approach to control these nematode pests and lift yields. Professor Jones said gene silencing involved blocking the formation of proteins needed for nematodes to complete their life cycles. He said the method was highly targeted to switch off specific genes and was another

example of the benefits of genetic modification of crop plants. He added that few people appreciated how widespread and varied nematodes were, with the number of species estimated to be over one million globally. Nematodes constitute about 80 per cent of all known multicellular organisms on the planet and are present in every landscape, Professor Jones said. Because they live in the soil and plant roots, plant nematodes may not be high on many peoples radar, but they are economically important pests that need to be controlled to contribute to future food security. If we are to adequately feed a global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, we need to find and develop environmentally sound methods that dont damage our soil or threaten water quality. Our research is one step in that direction. The research has been published here. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.51 How a little plant became a model for pioneering research Wageningen, The Netherlands April 8, 2013 In recent decades, research into a diminutive plant, Arabidopsis thalania, which goes through daily life as a common weed, has generated a tremendous amount of knowledge. Much of the research on Arabidopsis, which has meanwhile become the most important model for plant genetic research, has been conducted in Wageningen, where this type of research began in 1962. During his career, Professor Maarten Koornneef made a substantial contribution to this field of study. On Thursday 11 April he will retire from his personal chair in Genetics at Wageningen University, part of Wageningen UR. The genetic research into Arabidopsis, a plant which has no economic value in itself, has resulted in enormous progress in many areas of plant science, says Koornneef in his farewell address Arabidopsis in Wageningen. In particular, this research has unravelled the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that play a role in processes such as flowering and the development of organs such as embryos, seeds and roots, as well as how plants make useful substances. The knowledge that is acquired in this research can often be applied to other plant species, including crops.

A good example of the benefits of genetic research in Arabidopsis, and later in rice, is the discovery of the flowering hormone florigen. Scientists had been searching for this plant protein, which functions as a general growth hormone, for many years. It is created by the plant in the leaves and transported to the locations where flowers form. The small protein is coded by the FT gene; the mutant of this gene was first isolated and studied in Wageningen many years ago. According to Koornneef, Arabidopsis became the primary model for plant genetic research due to the efficiency with which research can be conducted on this species: it has a short, non-seasonal generation time only two months between one generation of Arabidopsis and the next (for species such as tulips, the generation time is six to seven years), the plant takes up very little space, the genome is small (the entire DNA sequence was determined in 2000) and genes are easily transferred to Arabidopsis itself as well as to other species. As a result, Arabidopsis now holds a similar role the world of plant genetics as the fruit fly (Drosophila) in insect genetics. Fundamental research According to Koornneef, the beneficial research climate in Wageningen is the basis for the success of Arabidopsis research. This research climate is characterised by the presence of a broad spectrum of expertise and the willingness to collaborate. Koornneef: An important lesson from this success is that fundamental research, driven by curiosity, is also important for applied research, and that multidisciplinary research, where you look beyond the borders of your own discipline, can be very productive. Professor Maarten Koornneef (De Lier, 1950) is currently one of the four directors of the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne (Germany). In 1992 he was appointed to a personal chair in Genetics at Wageningen University, a position he has held part-time since 2004, when he began working in Cologne. Moreover, he is honorary professor at the Botanical Institute of the University of Cologne. In addition, Koornneef is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Academia Europaea, and a foreign member of the National Academy of Science of the USA, an honour that has been granted to only a few Dutch scientists. Koornneef has authored a large number of frequently cited publications. He is seen by his colleagues as a world authority in Arabidopsis research. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents)

+++++++++++++++++++++++ 1.52 Does Monsanto have the next big thing for the herbicide industry? Australia April 23, 2013 Imagine if some technology came along that made glyphosate kill glyphosate resistant weeds. If this did happen, what would we do with this technology? BioDirectTM (aka RNAi) is a new concept from Monsanto that could do just that. It could be the next big thing for the herbicide industry. The i in RNAi stands for interference. RNA is essentially a small piece of genetic code that all living things use to carry out a specific function within a cell, including coding enzymes that plants need to survive. One way of killing the plant is to spray a herbicide that stops a specific enzyme working (this is how most herbicides work). Another way to kill the plant is to knock out the RNA so that the enzyme is not made at all. BioDirectTM involves spraying a combination of herbicide and fragments of RNA that bind to a specific RNA in the plant. The RNA fragments knock out the RNA that codes for resistant enzyme, and the herbicide knocks out any enzyme that is still susceptible to the herbicide. The initial research into BioDirectTM technology is focused on glyphosate resistant weeds as this is now the biggest challenge facing North American grain growers. However, it may be possible to apply this technology to other herbicides in the future. It is early days, and BioDirectTM will be several years away. At the moment, this technology is very species specific and is also very specific to the exact resistance mechanism that the weed has. Follow the links below for further information: Video with a simple explanation of how it works Powles Plain English (PDF) =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: The University of Western Australia via (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 1.53 Opening a window into vector-borne viruses Washington, DC, USA April 11, 2013

Cross-linking measurements with protein interaction reporter technology enabled ARS scientists and their University of Washington colleagues to model the structure of the building blocks of infectious potato leafroll virus particles. The scientists are applying this technology so they can understand insect transmission of plant viruses and the mechanisms viruses use to infect plants. Photo by Michelle Cilia and James Bruce. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Ithaca, N.Y., are collaborating on development of a technology that could lead to new ways of disrupting how insects transmit viruses to crops. Michelle Cilia and Stewart Gray at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca, and their colleagues James Bruce and Juan Chavez at the University of Washington, have mapped out the structure of an elusive protein that gives certain plant viruses the ability to travel from plants to insects, through the insects, and back into plants. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA goal of promoting international food security. To move from plant to plant, some viruses, such as potato leafroll virus, need to stay in the infected plant's phloem tissues so they can be ingested by a feeding aphid. Once inside the aphid, the virus must pass through the insect's gut and salivary tissues before it can be passed into another plant by the aphid. To complete that journey, viruses need to assemble into larger packages known as virions. Each virus species is very particular and can only be transmitted by a few species of aphids.

The researchers believe the outside shape or topology of the virion plays a major role in that specificity, determining whether a virus will move through the aphid and infect a plant. A minor structural protein of these viruses that extends from the shell of the virion is instrumental in guiding the virion on its journey through the insect and through the plant. But until now, there has been no information about these structural proteins, and such information is crucial to developing new ways of disrupting how they work. In tests with potato leafroll virus, the researchers used protein interaction reporter (PIR) technology, a tool developed in Bruce's lab to study protein interactions. Researchers there developed a unique set of chemical compounds, or PIR cross-linkers, which could interact with the structural proteins, allowing scientists to capture a molecular snapshot of them. Coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry, the advanced molecular design of the PIR cross-linkers also allowed the scientists to visualize critical topological features of the virion for the first time. The results, described in a paper in the Journal of Proteome Research, represent a new technology that can take measurements of insect and plant-virus protein interactions in living cells. The researchers have so far focused on luteoviruses spread by aphids. But the technology could one day be used to study other insect-transmitted plant viruses and animal-infecting viruses now difficult to study with traditional methods. Read more about this research in the April 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents) ========================= 2 PUBLICATIONS (Return to Contents)

3. WEB AND NETWORKING RESOURCES 3.01 The Plant Breeding Training Network

( is an online community dedicated to providing education and training for students and professionals working in plant breeding careers. The materials, webinars, classes and interactions with colleagues in this environment are enabling a wider range of collaborations and efficient transfer of cutting edge research findings into the hands of the global plant breeding community. The PBTN was launched summer of 2011 as part of the Triticeae CAP funded through USDA NIFA. Additional funding through NSF and close collaboration with the Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary have also supported this innovative project. The PBTN currently has 155 members from academia, industry and governmental agencies across the world. Four graduate level courses have been delivered, with instructors and students, located throughout the US, learning together in the cyber environment. Graduate students also gain soft skills such as leadership, through their involvement in committees, one of which has been to organize an ongoing webinar series. To join the PBTN and receive auto-emailed announcements of upcoming events, go to: and click the Join Now button found in the upper right corner of the home page. In addition, feel welcome to browse the materials currently on the site. Contact Dr. Deana Namuth-Covert ( or Dr. Jamie Sherman for further information ( We encourage providers of such opportunities/programs at other Universities to contact Maria Salas Fernandez at or (515)294-9563 and provide information to be included in future newsletters. NAPB and Plant Breeding in the NEWS: (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++++++ 3.02 A new Field of Science code for Breeding for USDAs CRIS database and REEport: Beginning in April 2013, coincident with the arrival of NIFAs new REEport system for grant and formula project information, it will become easier, quicker, and more accurate to locate information about plant, animal, insect, or microbe breeding that is funded or conducted by USDA. A new classification code for breeding any organism will take effect on that date. Classification codes are the tools that allow users to classify and retrieve records in the current project reporting system, CRIS, and in the new REEport. Note that searching on the new code (Field of Science 1081) will produce limited results until it comes into general use on new records entering the database.

Contacts for more information about the new code are: for researchers: A.M. Thro,, 202 401 6702 (plant breeding) and L. Matukumalli, 202 401 1766 (animal breeding); and, for administrators and site administrators: B.Hewitt,, 202 720 0747. (Return to Contents) ++++++++++++++++++++ 3.03 Join Agricultural Genomics Network of CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) As part of GCP's community-building efforts and implemented through Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP;, GCP's Theme 1 (Comparative and Applied Genomics) has established the Agricultural Genomics Network (AGN; AGN's principal objectives are: 1. to develop a community to discuss advances in genomics and provide critical appraisal of genomic technologies, tools and approaches; 2. to develop a portal that will present the information on tools, resources developed by GCP or available in the public domain either by hosting some of them, or by providing links to other existing databases and portals; and, 3. to broker access to economically priced large-scale sequencing, construction of variety of (BAC, cDNA, fosmid) libraries, physical mapping, sequencing and re-sequencing, etc, provided by third-party service providers. In a bid to please clients by 'meeting' them where they are, AGN's wings and horizons spread beyond the IBP portal to external professional networks. For starters, we warmly welcome you to join AGN's dedicated LinkedIn forum GCP-Agricultural Genomics Network( . The forum offers interactions, discussions, activity planning and exchange of ideas to the genomics and breeding communities in developing and using modern genomic technologies, tools and approaches in breeding. For more information, please feel free to contact Rajeev Varshney (, or Manish Roorkiwal ( (Return to Contents)

4. GRANTS AND AWARDS 4.01 Crop genomics and technologies update to joint call for research proposals from the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) United Kingdom April 4, 2013 BBSRC and India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) recently launched their new initiative, 'Crop Genomics and Technologies' (CGAT), which seeks to fund collaborative multidisciplinary projects involving sequencing, genomics and bioinformatics for crop improvement, involving researchers in the UK and India. Full details of the call for proposals can be found at: The original scope of CGAT was limited to wheat, brassicas and Solanaceae. Following discussions with DBT, it has now been agreed to widen the scope to include legumes (including legumes used for animal feed as well as those grown for human consumption). Full details of the application procedure can be found at the web page above. Any questions about the initiative should be sent to =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (Return to Contents)

5. POSITION ANNOUNCEMENTS 5.01 Monsanto plant breeding and related scientist positions: Requires a Ph.D. or M.S. in plant breeding and genetics, or related fields For more information: or North America:

Postdoc Researcher Corn Doubled Haploid Optimization - St. Louis, Mo - Job ID: 00GUI Wheat Dihaploid Scientist and Production Manager - Job ID: 00GSV Corn Discovery Breeding Lead - St. Louis, Mo - Job ID: 009F9 West Regional Corn Breeder Lead - St. Louis, Mo - Job ID: 00HW1 Agronomic Traits Gene Discovery Scientist - St. Louis, MO - Job ID: 00FXH Trait Geneticist(s) - Woodland, CA - Job ID: 00E3D, 00H1C DH System Improvement Lead (Vegetables Division) - Woodland, CA - Job ID: 005ES NA Corn Marker Coordination Manager - Ankeny, IA - Job ID: 00H06 Field Nursery Soy\Cotton Lead Puerto Rico - Juana Diaz - Job ID: 00D0L Trait Integration Breeder - St. Louis or Ankeny, IA - Job ID: 00G2E Breeder - (Multiple Locations) - Job ID: 004TB - bioinformatics, big data, statistical genetics, modeling, etc. Crop Yield Statistical Modeler - St. Louis, MO - Job ID: 00F0A Research Scientist - Environmental Modeling Scientist - St. Louis, MO Job IDs: 009FY, 00C6I Research Scientist - Global Soil Scientist St. Louis, MO - Job ID: 00FKC Computational Biologist St. Louis, MO - Job IDs: 00GZS, 00C86 Statistical Geneticist Various Locations - Job IDs: 00EI9, 00DIV, & 00DQ5 Predictive Analytics - Scientific Business Analyst - St. Louis, MO - Job ID: 0073T Global Analytics Lead - St. Louis, MO - Job ID: 00FCD Pipeline Analytics Lead-St. Louis, MO - Job ID: 00DBQ Germplasm IP, Stewardship Support - St. Louis, MO - Job ID: 00G98 International:

South Africa: SAF TI Conversion manager Petit, South Africa - Job ID: 00DP4 Testing Manager Petit, South Africa - Job ID: 00B0E India: Trait Geneticist - Solanaceous Crops (Vegetables Division) - Bangalore, India - Job ID: 00CPC China: Hot Pepper Breeder - Shandong, China - Job ID: 006NS Tomato Breeder - Shandong, China - Job ID: 006NQ Brazil: Line Breeder Lead - Soy Breeding SI Brazil - Job ID: 004HO Cotton Breeder Brazil Uberlndia, Brazil - Job ID: 00FXV Argentina: Line Development Breeder - Crdoba, Argentina - Job ID: 0082E Contributed by Donn Cummings (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++ 5.02 2 postdoctoral positions for a 3 year project funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Please see: (Closing date 10 May 2013) We are looking for people who can start as soon as possible ideally. One position to develop improved diagnostics (recombinant antibodies, LAMP tests, and adaptation to field test kits where practical) which will be taken up directly by a large yam clean seed project initiated in West Africa recently. This post will be based at NRI in Chatham (Kent, UK), but also involve spending about 2 months a year in West Africa, based in an international research centre with well-equipped molecular biology laboratories, which also provides good transport, accommodation as well as good security. The other position is more strategic research to determine exactly how the pararetrovirus sequences are integrated in yam genomes, and whether these sequences can be activated to generate de novo virus infections. It also has a very direct applied angle in that the information will be used by the breeding

programmes in West Africa to select which breeding lines to generate clean yam seed from. This position will also be based at NRI, but with travel within UK/to southern France and occasional short Gates project progress meeting trips to Africa (various locations). The positions are targeted at the early postdoctoral stage, but it would be worth more experienced postdocs applying if they are interested as there is scope to employ at the top end of the scale and then promote to the next level in the first year if applicable. Contributed by Hale Ann Tufan (Return to Contents) +++++++++++++++++++++ 5.03 International Society for Seed Science - Post-doc opportunity (6years) in Vienna April 10, 2013 Source: International Society for Seed Science Not specifically for seed physiologists and ecologists, but theyre not excluded either. Great job, great city. Postdoc in plant ecophysiology We are offering a 6-year position for a postdoctoral research associate at the Institute of Botany of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) Vienna. Focus of our group are plant water relations, functional wood anatomy, stress physiology, global change, and ecology and ecophysiology of tropical plants. Candidates should have experience in one or several of these areas. Monthly income (gross) is min. 3.381,70 (depending on previous work experience, 14x per year), social security and health care are covered. Vienna regularly comes out top on the list of the worlds most liveable cities. The candidate is expected to participate in research of the working group Ecophysiologyand to carry out own projects in the field. This includes submission, management and administration of third-party funded, competitive projects, supervision and co-supervision of master and PhD theses, teaching of courses in German and English, and active participation in BOKU selfadministration

He/she should have a good command of English, international publications in the field, previous experience in research projects and in lab and fieldwork in plant physiology. Additional qualifications are proficiency in German, teaching experience, international experience, willingness and ability to work in a team, and good software and statistical skills. Applications (see, reference code 26) can be submitted until 15.05.2013 and should include:

a CV with a detailed account of professional, teaching and research activities, copies of 1-2 recent publications considered particularly representative, a brief analysis (max. 1 page) of why you think you are particularly qualified for this position contact details of 2-3 referees

Candidates should be willing to come to Vienna for a presentation plus interview in May or June. Informal inquiries can be sent to Peter Hietz (email: Employment will start on 1 July 2013, or as agreed. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: (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

UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy Class 3 is open for registration, the class size is limited. Dates: Gent, Belgium October 21-26, 2013 Angers, France March 3-8, 2014 Gatersleben, Germany June 23-28, 2014 Enkhuizen, the Netherlands October 6-11, 2014 Almeria/Barcelona, Spain March 2-7, 2015 Davis, USA June 22-27, 2015 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 at ++++++++ 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 on HS 541 Plant Breeding Methods, see: 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 Prerequisites: undergraduate biology, genetics 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 590 Plant Breeding Overview, see: For more information on distance education at NC State University, see: For more information on Todd Wehner, see: Contributed by Todd C. Wehner Dept. Hort. Sci., Box 7609 North Carolina State Univ. Raleigh NC 27695-7609 919-741-8929 (phone) 919-515-2505 (fax) ++++++++++ Distance Education in Plant Breeding at Texas A&M Available Degrees: Master of Science in Plant Breeding (Non-Thesis Option) Master of Science in Plant Breeding (Thesis Option) Ph.D. in Plant Breeding The Ph.D. in Plant Breeding requires 64 semester credit hours of course work beyond the M.S. and a dissertation on original research. Student research can be completed at the students location. An on-site Ph.D. scientist, educator, or supervisor who qualifies as an adjunct member of the Texas A&M graduate faculty must be available to serve as co-chair of the students graduate advisory committee and be able to direct thesis research locally. Students will have an on-campus co-chair to oversee the academic aspect of their degree. Communication with committee members, examinations, and dissertation defense will be conducted via the internet. For additional information on these distance degree programs, please visit Please also contact: Wayne Smith

Department of Soil and Crop Sciences 2474 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-2474 Tel. 979.845.3450 Fax 979.458.0533 David Byrne Department of Horticultural Sciences 2133 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-2133 Tel. 979.862.3072 LeAnn Hague Distance Education Coordinator Department of Soil and Crop Sciences 2474 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-2474 Tel. 979.845.6148 Fax 979.458.0533 Additional Website eLearning at Texas A&M University: +++++++++++ University of Nebraska-Lincoln launches online plant breeding and genetics certificate program =&id_category=&id_crop= Contact: Deana Namuth-Covert, PhD Ph: (402) 909-0181 For more information and registration, please visit: and Source: ++++++++++++ Plant Breeding Methods - Distance Education version CS, HS 541-section 601 DE; 3 credits; lecture only

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 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) For more information, please visit or contact Dr. Thomas Lbberstedt, Department of Agronomy, phone: 515-294-5356 or 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 Contact us today for more information about how you can apply: Paul Christensen Seed Technology and Business Program Manager Ph 515-294-8745 +++++++++++ New/non-traditional education opportunities in Plant Breeding Plant Breeding and Genomics (PBG) on eXtension publishes open access educational materials for plant breeders and students. Topic areas are broadly defined and include workflow and feature numerous computational approaches and crop-specific examples. Advanced tutorials demonstrate processes in plant breeding and genomics using a How-to demonstration that includes sample data and step-by step software specifics to support self-paced learning. PBG also hosts a webinar series. The next webinar presentation, How to investigate breeding priorities using socioeconomic methods, is scheduled for April 17th at noon ET. Attendance and registration for webinars is free. Follow these webinar links to register for the upcoming webinar and view archived recordings of past presentations: and (Return to Contents) B. COURSES OF THE SEED BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER AT UC DAVIS September 17 19, 2013, Program Management for Plant Breeders, UC Davis Lead instructors include industry experts, Fred Bliss, Tom Francois and Rale Gjuric. This course will be at UC Davis on September 17 19, 2013. Registration is available here. Contributed by Susan DiTomaso

For questions and additional information go to SBC or contact Susan DiTomaso. +++++++++++ (NEW) September 30 - October 4, 2013, Seed Business 101: Field Crops. Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Attracting and retaining talented new employees is a critical challenge for the seed industry. The Seed Business 101 course was created, with input from industry executives, to accelerate the careers of promising new employees and young managers. By selecting and sponsoring employees to attend this course, companies acknowledge past performance and invest in accelerated professional development. 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. Instructors are Seed Industry Professionals with decades of experience. Register at For more information and to sign up please contact Susan DiTomaso at or at 530-754-7333. +++++++++++ October 2013, Class III of the European Plant Breeding Academy Registration is now open for Class III of the European Plant Breeding Academy. This program begins in October 2013. +++++++++++ January 20 24, 2014, Seed Business 101 Field Crops and Horticulture, Monterey, CA Registration is located here For questions and additional information go to SBC or contact Susan DiTomaso. ++++++++++++ European Plant Breeding Classes

For more information and application process visit ++++++++++ Seed Central series of monthly events The program for the next several months can be viewed at: To learn more about Seed Central, please visit C. OTHER MEETINGS, COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

May 27-30, 2013, International symposium on genetics and breeding of durum wheat Rome, Italy. See: +++++++++++ June 2-5, 2013, Annual Meeting of the U.S. National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) will be held on in Tampa, Florida Hosted by University of Florida USA February 18, 2013 Barry L. Tillman, Ph.D Associate Professor Peanut Breeding and Genetics North Florida Research and Education Center; Agronomy Department UF/IFAS 3925 Hwy. 71, Marianna, FL 32446 Meeting registration: find the link at or spx?id=130 =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: Newsletter of the U.S. National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) +++++++++++++++ (NEW) June 2-5, 2013, NAPB Annual Meeting, University of Florida. Tampa

A detailed program for the Annual Meeting was just released and can be found at the NAPB website, or a Program-specific link (PDF document). It contains detailed information on speakers, topics, schedule and tours. If the hyperlinks above do not work, paste this address into your browser: 2013 Annual Meeting Program 2013c29ds.pdf spx?id=130 Wednesday Afternoon Optional Programs- NEW!! When you register please note and select one of the excellent optional workshops or tour on Wednesday afternoon 1. Essential Beyond the Science Expertise for a Successful Plant Breeder, facilitated by Kim Kidwell and Jamie Sherman Becoming an extraordinary scientist requires more than simply mastering content and scientific skills. Industry leaders and potential employers expect excellent scientific results, as well as interpersonal, communication, management, leadership and team building skills. A panel will share Essential Expertise they require when hiring plant breeders. Join us to begin developing the skills you need Beyond Science to be successful. Contact: Jamie Sherman, for details. 2. Storing and accessing data through cyberinfrastructure: identifying needs for the plant breeding community, facilitated by David Francis and Doreen Ware. The Workshop will examine existing infrastructure and identify what the needs and challenges are for data management and analysis in plant breeding. The workshop will follow the morning session talks which are aimed at providing an overview of the resources available through the iPlant Collaborative, examples of plant breeding databases, and examples of software developed by the Generation Challenge Program and the industry/public collaboration The Virtual Lab in Plant Breeding. The afternoon session is intended to be plant-breeder driven, providing an opportunity for the NAPB community to share their needs with experts in cyberinfrastructure. Our goal is to identify existing issues in data workflow, identify common data structures and perceived gaps, examine the breeding communitys desire to share analysis pipelines, and establish a working group to identify priority use cases and priority needs for tool development.

Contact David Francis ( for details. 3. Tour the Dole-SunnyRidge blueberry and blackberry farm where SunnyRidge got its start. Growing from a 7 acre blueberry farm to an international grower and packager of blueberry, blackberry and raspberry, SunnyRidge (About SunnyRidge) was purchased by Dole Food Company in 2011 (Dole buys SunnyRidge). We will tour the farm where potential blueberry and blackberry cultivars are tested. Contact Barry Tillman ( for details. Abstracts submission deadline has just passed Competition for invited speaker slots (3): Advanced graduate students and post-docs are encouraged to compete for three 15-minute invited speaker slots. An ad hoc committee will rank eligible poster abstracts and select up to three winners. To be eligible, the presenting author must either be a graduate student or a post-doctoral researcher who earned his/her PhD between 2011 and 2013. Competition for best poster awards (3): In addition to the oral presentation competition, there will be a poster competition at the meeting. An ad hoc committee will evaluate and acknowledge up to three outstanding posters with awards. Hotel reservations: Attendees can call hotel directly to apply meeting rates for extended stays between 5/30 - 6/8. To book your room Web: NAPB Annual Conference Phone: Phone 888-627-8261; ask for NAPB Annual Conference Attention all USDA and other federal employees To book your room using the GSA rate (currently $93) 1. Web: NAPB Annual Conference-Per Diem Block (or 888-627-8261) Government ID required at check-in 2. Contact Barry Tillman, or 850-633-4082. Hotel requires a list of all federal employees with dates of stay 3. Exemption from state of Florida taxes requires a form available at hotel Hotel Information ( The Tampa International Airport (TPA) is a short distance from the meeting hotel and will be the best option for those traveling by air

1. Free shuttle to/from the airport; 5:00am until midnight, every 20 min. 2. Call Sheraton at 813-879-7196 for pickup If you are driving, the hotel address is 4400 West Cypress Street, Tampa FL and the hotel offers complimentary parking Free wireless internet for NAPB meeting attendees $10 breakfast voucher available at check-in Conference rates available May 30 June 8, 2013 if you plan to extend your stay (call hotel directly) ++++++++++ June 9-13, 2013, The 7th International Triticeae Symposium (7ITS), Sichuan Agricultural University (SAU), Chengdu, China Information can be found on the website: Contributed by Helmut Knuepffer +++++++++ June 10-13 2013, Pre-breeding fishing in the gene pool, EUCARPIA Genetic Resources section meeting, Sweden, Alnarp (+ accommodations in Malm) Contributed by Helmut Knuepffer ++++++++++ 1922 August 2013, Next year's BGRI, Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, India. Technical Workshop to recognize the 50th anniversary of Norman Borlaug's work in South Asia. will be held at the BGRI South Asia program center in New Delhi +++++++++ August 27th 31st, 2013, "Adaption to Drought", Perth, Australia See for Master Class information and bursary conditions/criteria.

We invite suitable nominees to submit their CV in English with the emails of two referees to by March 15th, 2013. See for details of InterDrought IV Conference: Contributed by William Erskine Director Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) University of Western Australia, M080 +++++++++++ September 2-6, 2013, InterDrought-IV Conference, Perth, Western Australia. For more information, visit Source: Crop Biotech Update January 16, 2013: Contributed by Margaret Smith Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Cornell University +++++++++++ (NEW) September 16 to December 6, 2013 AVRDC 32nd International Vegetable Training Course (IVTC) Vegetables: From Seed to Table and Beyond, AVRDCs Research and Training Station, Kamphaeng Saen, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand AVRDC The World Vegetable Center is now accepting applicants for its 32nd International Vegetable Training Course (IVTC) Vegetables: From Seed to Table and Beyond The course aims to enhance participants' technical, scientific and managerial skills, so that they may contribute to the sustainable development of their countries through increased production and consumption of nutritious and health-promoting vegetables. The training emphasizes advanced and sustainable vegetable production and postharvest technologies, farmer education, human health and nutrition, and marketing. In addition, this training will enhance awareness and understanding of emerging global development issues and technologies.

The course is divided into three separate but interrelated one-month long modules that can be taken singly or as a whole:

Module I: From Seed to Harvest (16 September - 11 October 2013) Module II: From Harvest to Table (14 October - 8 November 2013) Module III: Vegetables for Sustainable Development (11 November 6 December 2013)

This 32nd IVTC is organized in collaboration with SATNET Asia - a project funded by European Union, the HortCRSP Center of Innovation at Kasetsart University and endorsed by the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), particularly its Commission on Education, Research Training and Consultancy. The attached brochure and website link will provide you with more details about the course, and the application form can be downloaded from Please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail at for any further questions. =&id_category=&id_crop= Source: +++++++++++ 14-17 October 2013, 11th African Crop Science Society Conference, Yaound, Cameroon For additional Information you can contact Dr. Leke Walter Nkeabeng, VicePresident ACSS Council, Chairman LOC Cameroon; P. O. Box 2123 Messa Yaounde, Cameroon; Tell: +237 79704342 (C),+237 94035711 (C), Email: Contributed by Kasem Zaki Ahmed Faculty of Agriculture Minia University, El-Minia, Egypt +++++++++++ (NEW)10-14 November 2013.International Plant Breeding Congress, Antalya, Turkey

Contributed by Danny Hunter Bioversity (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 welcome 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 e-mail message as above with the message UNSUBSCRIBE PBN-L. Lists of potential new subscribers are welcome. The editor will contact these persons; no one will be subscribed without their explicit permission.