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Archive for the ‘Host plant resistance’ Category

Video: As Ghana appears poised to approve its first GMO — a insect-resistant cowpea — here’s the story of the country’s science journey

Joseph Gakpo | June 24, 2022

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Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

Ghana is on the verge of approving its first genetically modified crop, the pod borer resistant (PBR) cowpea. In this documentary, Joseph Opoku Gakpo discusses Ghana’s GMO journey.

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  1. Photo series: Nigeria welcomes GMO cowpeaJoseph Gakpo et al., Genetic Literacy Project, 2021
  2. COVID-19 pandemic may boost public acceptance of Ghana’s GM cowpeaJoseph Gakpo, Genetic Literacy Project, 2020
  3. Ghana’s first genetically modified crop – pod borer resistant cowpea — is poised to address widespread protein deficiency challengesMy Joy Online et al., Genetic Literacy Project
  4. Ghanian farmers press for locally-developed pest-resistant genetically modified cowpeaGideon Kwame Sarkodie Osei et al., Genetic Literacy Project
  5. Nigeria commercializes its first GMO food crop | Genetic Literacy ProjectJoan Conrow et al., Genetic Literacy Project
  1. Cowpea protected from a devastating pest, free for smallholder African farmersPhys.org
  2. Bangladesh releases first GM foodPhys.org
  3. Relationship between Cowpea Crop Phenology and Field Infestation by the Legume Pod Borer, Maruca testulalisLouis E. N. Jackai, Annals of the Entomological Society of America
  4. Can a Biologic Monotherapy Help Moderate to Severe RA Patients Sustain Remission?ReachMD
  5. Efficacy of a cry1Ab Gene for Control of Maruca vitrata

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Partnership on track to give Bangladeshi and Indonesian farmers disease-resistant GMO potatoes

John Agaba | Cornell Alliance for Science | June 29, 2022

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Reducing fungicide use and protecting yields, this Bt potato holds huge promise for the world. Credit: Cornell Alliance for Science
Reducing fungicide use and protecting yields, this Bt potato holds huge promise for the world. Credit: Cornell Alliance for Science

Researchers will be testing genetically modified potatoes in Bangladesh and Indonesia this year in hopes of providing farmers with an alternative to spraying fungicides.

Multiple confined field trials of GM late blight-resistant (LBR) potatoes will be conducted in both countries under a Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership.

Potatoes are some of the most important crops grown in Indonesia and Bangladesh. Indonesia produces about 1.3 million metric tones of potatoes annually, while the tubers are the third most important food crop after rice and wheat in Bangladesh.

But late blight disease is a serious problem in both countries, destroying 25 to 57 percent of the crop.

Akhter Hossain of Bangladesh compares healthy potatoes (right) to potatoes infected with late blight fungus. Credit: Alliance for Science

Unlike other pathogens, late blight — or Phytophthora infestans — can be complicated to control once it has appeared and farmers can actually see it, said Janet Fierro, communication and advocacy global resource lead at the Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership.

So, farmers begin to spray fungicides very early in the cropping cycle to stop the fungus from appearing. In some cases, farmers in Indonesia spray between 20 and 30 times during the growing season, which can last 75 to 160 days.

Fungicides are expensive to keep spraying. Credit: Zubrod et. al.

But this can be expensive for smallholder farmers, Fierro said. The synthetic chemicals applied also can adversely affect human and environmental health if not used properly.

However, the GM potato promises to change all that. It is expected to reduce fungicide applications by 90 percent.

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Partnership progress

Under a partnership funded by the United States Agency for International Development, Michigan State University (MSU), the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) and the Indonesian Center for Agricultural Biotechnology Genetic Resources Research and Development, among others, are working to develop and commercialize an LBR potato in farmer-preferred varieties in Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Researchers in the partnership isolated late blight-resistant genes from wild potato species in South America and transferred them into farmer-preferred Asian varieties, using genetic modification.

Origin of the pernicious blight. Credit: Kentaro Yoshida et. al.

Then researchers at Simplot Plant Sciences screened more than 30,000 potato varieties until they zeroed in on the 10 best performing lines. Simplot sent the 10 selected lines to MSU for further greenhouse and field trials, which identified lines that were then imported into Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Indonesia has already conducted several field trials with the lines and Bangladesh recently completed a greenhouse trial. Results have shown the lines provide complete resistance to late blight disease.


A close-up of a potato ruined by late blight disease. Credit: Alliance for Science

“All of our research and data shows that this is a good product,” said Muffy Koch, senior regulatory manager at J.R. Simplot Co. “It is late blight-resistant and very safe.”

Data also show that the LBR potato performs “extremely well” in Indonesia’s humid areas.

Scientists in Bangladesh and Indonesia will now test LBR potato in multiple confined field trials to collect the necessary data to submit a regulatory dossier for general release.

Researchers have already applied for permits in Bangladesh to start the multiple confined field trials and hope to plant the varieties during the next planting season in November.

“It’s a lengthy process,” Fierro said. “So, we will probably go through at least two or three cycles of multi-location field trials before we test the varieties in farmer fields.”

Trials will take several seasons. Credit: Wharton PS

Farmers eager

Farmers should begin to access the varieties in the next three to four years, pending regulatory approval, she said.

The researchers do not expect delays related to biosafety regulations once the varieties have gone through all the required processes.

“Both Indonesia and Bangladesh have functioning regulatory systems,” Koch said. “And Indonesia has already approved growing GM cotton and GM sugar cane while Bangladesh has approved planting of insect resistant eggplant [Bt brinjal]. So, there is precedent that things are working.”

And farmers want the varieties.

“Farmers are familiar with the idea of improved seeds because they have seen the successes of Bt eggplant,” Koch said. “The performance of Bt eggplant has showed them that they can actually spend less on inputs and harvest more when they plant these improved seeds.”

“We have also had studies that show how Bt eggplant has improved farmers’ lives in Bangladesh and how it is safe,” Koch added. “All of this has driven the demand for adoption of these technologies.”

Bt brinjal was eagerly adopted in Bangladesh. Credit: A. Roy

Fierro said farmers she visited in Indonesia and Bangladesh are “very excited about this potato. They have seen what the potato looks like and can do. They are excited about the opportunity and potential this potato can give them.”

It appears the potential is huge. Apart from stabilizing crop yields, the late blight-resistant potato will significantly cut reliance on fungicides.

“Farmers will not have to spend [money] on fungicides that could be harmful to their health and environment,” said Fierro. “We expect that these improved late blight resistant varieties will reduce reliance on fungicide sprays by up to 90 percent.”

John Agaba is a journalist based in Kampala, Uganda. Find John on Twitter @jonnyagaba

A version of this article was originally posted at the Cornell Alliance for Science and has been reposted here with permission. The Cornell Alliance for Science can be found on Twitter @ScienceAlly

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New ToBRFV-resistant varieties presented for Mexico

At a recent celebratory conference in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Enza Zaden presented the trial data accompanied by seven new commercial HR ToBRFV varieties specifically adapted for Mexican growing conditions. The varieties include two indeterminate Roma types, two indeterminate beef types, and three grape types.

“It’s very exciting news for Mexican growers, seed dealers, and industry stakeholders. After two years of extensive trialing in Mexico and other countries, we have HR ToBRFV varieties available now for shadehouses, greenhouses, and high-tech greenhouses across Mexico,” said Oscar Lara, Senior Tomato Product Specialist Enza Zaden.

High Resistance is an important part of an ongoing and integrated fight against ToBRFV. Enza Zaden discovered the HR ToBRFV gene in 2020 and launched HR varieties for Mexico just two years later.

Oscar Lara, Senior Tomato Product Specialist, Enza Zaden 

“Data collection from our breeding station in Culiacan and from allied growers across the country plays a key role in our ongoing efforts to control the rugose for our customers here and all over the world,” said Antonio de Sainz, Commercial Director for Mexico, Enza Zaden.

For more information:
Enza Zaden
Juan Labastida
Marketing Specialist
+ 52 667 303 67 69
Email: j.labastida@enzazaden.com.mx
www.enzazaden.com/mx

Publication date: Fri 24 Jun 2022

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  1. Genetic options ensure stem rust is toast
Professor Brande Wulff (pictured) collaborated with an international team to identify a stem rust resistance gene in a wild cereal relative of wheat, which they successfully transferred to common wheat.

food securitydesert agricultureplant genomicsplant science

Genetic options ensure stem rust is toast

Researchers have identified stem rust resistance in the wild cereal plant Aegilops sharonensis and successfully transferred the resistance gene into bread wheat.

May 9, 2022

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Stem rust is a significant disease in wheat crops around the world, with outbreaks expected to become more common under future scenarios of climate change.

The reemergence of the disease over the past few decades highlights the importance of developing new wheat varieties with broad-spectrum ongoing resistance to stem rust, says KAUST researcher Brande Wulff.

An international research team, including Wulff and lead author Guotai Yu, have recently identified a stem rust resistance gene in Aegilops sharonensis and transferred it to common wheat. The new transgenic wheat lines show high levels of resistance to the stem rust pathogen.

Aegilops sharonensis, or Sharon goatgrass, is a wild wheat that possesses a disease-resistance gene that can be used to boost the immunity of wheat and barley, thus helping to improve global food security.
Aegilops sharonensis, or Sharon goatgrass, is a wild wheat that possesses a disease-resistance gene that can be used to boost the immunity of wheat and barley, thus helping to improve global food security.

So far, 58 stem rust resistance genes have been identified in wheat, with almost half of these introduced from wild and domesticated species of wheat and other cereals. Ae. sharonensis is a wild relative of wheat found in Israel and southern Lebanon. The species possesses many traits of agricultural importance, including resistance to major wheat diseases such as rust, but its genetic potential remains largely untapped.

“Advances in genomics and bioinformatics are fueling an exponential growth in the discovery and cloning of disease resistance genes in wheat and its wild relatives,” says Yu. “This is providing exciting opportunities for engineering broad-spectrum and durable disease resistance into wheat.”

 “The key advances that have allowed us to do this work are a steep fall in the cost of DNA sequence acquisition and improvements in data storage, computer power and bioinformatics,” adds Wulff.

Importantly, the team has published a “reference genome”, which will support ongoing efforts to clone other resistance genes.

“This means that most of the genome has been assembled into connecting stretches of DNA that, in turn, have been ordered according to their physical orientation in the genome,” explains Wulff.

This genome assembly will be useful in future studies aimed at cloning genes from Ae. sharonensis, understanding the evolution of wild grasses and domestication of wheat.

So far about 80 genes have been cloned in wheat, of which about 40 are disease-resistance genes and of these, 30 are resistant for the rusts (wheat stem rust, stripe rust and leaf rust).

Wulff says that now the raw material is available to engineer some formidable stacks containing multiple resistance genes for each rust gene.

“Such polygene stacks would be very difficult for the pathogen to overcome, potentially turning wheat into a nonhost for these devastating diseases,” predicts Wulff.

“If I were a wheat rust now, I would be shaking in my spore.”

References

  1. Steuernagel, B., Moscou, M.J., Hernández-Pinzón, I., Green, P., Hayta, S., Smedley, M., Harwood, W., Kangara, N., Yue, Y., Gardener, C., Banfield, M.J., Olivera, P.D., Welchin, C., Simmons, J., Millet, E., Minz-Dub, C., Ronen, M., Avni, R., Sharon, A., Patpour, M., Justesen, A.F., Jayakodi, M., Himmelbach, A., Stein, N., Wu, S., Poland, J., Ens, J., Pozniak, C., Karafiátová, M., Molnár, I., Doležel, J., Ward, E.R., Reuber, T.L., Jones, J.D.G., Mascher, M., Steffenson, B.J., Wulff, B.B.H. Aegilops sharonensis genome-assisted identification of stem rust resistance gene Sr62Nature Communications 13, 1607 (2022).| article

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Manage insects and other pests in rice production before they manage you

Brian Irelanddfp-ricefield-bireland (6) copy.jpg

Recently planted rice emerges in fields near Rayne, La.

Insects must be identified and managed in rice production before the effects impact a growers yield.

Brian Ireland | Jun 01, 2022

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Insects and other pests can destroy a crop at any stage, reducing yields and grower profits.  

Over the past few years, Louisiana has experienced a multitude of pests attacking the rice industry. Growers and researchers continue to be diligent in finding ways to combat the issues that arise to have a successful and productive harvest. 

Blake Wilson, a Louisiana State University field crop entomologist specializing in sugarcane and rice, works with the major pests faced by Louisiana farmers, including the invasive apple snails.  

“Pests come in waves and can destroy rice yield if not properly managed,” he said. “From armyworms and weevil in the early season to rice stink bugs in the late season.” 

The LSU Rice Research Station, located in Rayne, La., works with producers to select varieties that are resistant to pests and learn how to properly treat and control pests before they become a problem. 

Rice water weevil 

Rice water weevil is a major concern for the rice industry. According to Wilson, rice water weevil is most damaging in water seeded rice, but it also infests dry or drill-seeded rice. 

The primary treatment for controlling and preventing infestations remains to be insecticidal seed treatments, while certain practices can significantly reduce the impact on rice yield. 

“Rice water weevil can be controlled by a variety of methods,” he said. “Foliar application is less effective once the weevil larvae reach the roots.” 

Adult beetles fly into rice fields to feed on the leaves. This causes narrow scars that run lengthwise on the leaf, while this feeding rarely causes yield reduction. 

Females lay eggs at or below the water line beginning soon after a permanent flood is applied. The larvae feed on the roots, reducing plant growth and rice yields. 

Water-seeded and early flooded rice are the most susceptible to yield losses during infestations.  

“Seed dealers can apply insecticidal seed treatments before planting,” he said.  

Fall armyworm 

In 2021, Louisiana, as well as the rest of the Midsouth, experienced a major outbreak of fall armyworms.  

The armyworm is an early-season concern for rice growers. Larvae feed on the leaves of young rice plants, often resulting in the seedlings being pruned to the ground.  

Infestations typically occur on elevated areas in and around the field, where the worms can escape drowning in high water. Fall armyworms can devastate a field of rice that is too young to be flooded so scouting should occur after the germination of seedlings and continue weekly according to the LSU AgCenter. 

Since adult worms lay eggs on grasses in and around rice fields, larval infestations can be reduced by managing weedy grasses. Flooding-infested fields for a few hours can be effective under the right conditions. Parasitic wasps and pathogenic microorganisms can help reduce armyworm populations.  

“Some states had to apply for emergency approval to utilize new or different insecticides,” Wilson said concerning last year’s worm invasion.  

Rice stink bugs 

Rice stink bugs are a big threat to headed rice later in the season and can reduce yields as well as grain quality. Females lay eggs in two-row clusters on leaves, stems, and panicles.  

Nymphs and adults feed on the rice florets and suck the nutrients from developing rice grains in the early milk stage which can reduce yields. According to LSU AgCenter, the most economic losses arise from a reduction in grain quality that results from stink bugs feeding on developing kernels. 

Insecticides such as neonicotinoid Tenchu (dinotefuran)  can be used before flowering to control stink bugs. There are several insecticides available but be sure to choose the right one for that time as some cannot be applied 21-days before harvest. 

Apple snail 

Another major issue rising throughout Louisiana waterways is the invasive apple snails.  

“Apple snails have existed throughout much of south Louisiana for the last 10 to 15 years,” he said. “Over the past five years, apple snail population growth in rice and crawfish production systems has become an issue.” 

While not an insect, this pest can easily damage seedling rice in water-seeded fields. 

“These snails can be highly detrimental to crawfish production,” he said.  

Apple Snails are believed to be introduced through irrigation with infested surface water.  

“The spread of snails has been slower due to farmers using well water to fill their crawfish ponds or rice fields,” he said. “Flooding events or movement of materials or equipment from infested ponds can spread the snails into new fields.”  

Copper sulfate has been shown to be an effective treatment for apple snails but can be detrimental to aquatic life such as crawfish. 

There remains no shortage of pests. The trick is figuring out how to control all insects and other pests like invasive apple snails while maximizing yield. Remember there are individuals in the agriculture industry who specialize in identifying and controlling insects or other pests. 

TAGS: RICE

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mardi station

Pairing U.S. and West African Institutions Leads to Accelerated Breeding Breakthroughs

Pearl Millet breeding brings adapted and high-yielding varieties to smallholder farmers to enhance productivity and food security in West Africa.

Pearl millet is a staple food for millions of people, especially many of those living in extreme climatic production areas and economic poverty. In West Africa, pearl millet is one of the top cultivated crops by area. These are just two of the reasons why it’s important to concentrate on pearl millet production to increase farm productivity and food security for communities in West Africa and other countries.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum and Millet (SMIL) is supporting key research and improved seed to address this challenge. The Genetic Enhancement of Pearl Millet for Yield, Biotic and Abiotic Stress Tolerance in West Africa (GENMIL) project was started in 2018 to accelerate pearl millet innovations to increase food security and income.

Since its beginning in 2018, the GENMIL project has seen collaborative efforts from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN) and the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA) through the Centre d’Etudes Régional pour l’Amélioration de l’Adaptation à la Sécheresse (CERAAS). In fact, modernizing the INRAN and ISRA breeding programs was a major feat of the project.

Dr. Ndjido Kane (CERAAS director, SMIL Senegal coordinator, and SMIL GENMIL project principal investigator) said, “We are modernizing breeding programs in Western Africa. As a program, we benefit from the technology we are bringing into the region because we can share the findings of what we develop for Senegal with other partners in the region since we share the same Sahelian drought-prone environments. We’re focusing more on trait discovery and product development and have new investments that can screen for drought tolerance.”

Pairing U.S. and West African Institutions Leads to Accelerated Breeding Breakthroughs
Farmer Input is Necessary to Increase Adaptation and Food Security

Even with new technologies, none of these advancements would be made without direct and frequent dialogue between scientists and farmers. This back-and-forth is critical for a high adoption rate of the innovations created by the scientific community. During this project, at least 160 farmers visited plots of pearl millet varieties in Senegal. With their feedback, resistance to biotic stresses such as Striga, downy mildew and drought were identified as the most important traits they consider when selecting a variety to grow in their field.

“We have to give credit to farmers. It’s their management systems and knowledge we are using to see how we can improve those practices and systems in combination with the new varieties we are proposing to them,” said Kane.“We don’t want to propose something they do not want to use, so it is easier to ask them what they need. Each farmer brings their own knowledge and we add technical or scientific knowledge to move forward together.”

This collaboration has resulted in three open-pollinated varieties and the first-ever hybrid from the ISRA pearl millet program — all dual-purpose, high-yielding and richer in nutrient content compared to the most cultivated variety, Souna 3.

Farmers are adopting these new varieties, which is resulting in tripling the population of the crop being cultivated. This yield increase will result in improved food security and greater income and possibly new jobs being created. 

“I use this example: the farmers will use one-third of their production as table food, but if they tripled production, they now have two-thirds left that they can sell, export or keep for the next year,” said Kane. “The result is increased income for the farmer and more readily available products for consumers.” 

farmers

This collaboration has resulted in three open-pollinated varieties and the first-ever hybrid from the ISRA pearl millet program — all dual-purpose, high-yielding and richer in nutrient content compared to the most cultivated variety, Souna 3.

Farmers are adopting these new varieties, which is resulting in tripling the population of the crop being cultivated. This yield increase will result in improved food security and greater income and possibly new jobs being created. 

“I use this example: the farmers will use one-third of their production as table food, but if they tripled production, they now have two-thirds left that they can sell, export or keep for the next year,” said Kane. “The result is increased income for the farmer and more readily available products for consumers.” 

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farmers provided feedback to researchers

Empowering Human and Institutional Capabilities

Another pillar of this project is to empower human and institutional capacities. Many of the scientists on this project are young scientists in Senegal who are trained and work at one time in the U.S. This is a reflection of the desire of SMIL to train young scientists to conduct research and make a positive impact in their own countries.

Dr. Timothy Dalton, director of SMIL, said, “I really appreciate that SMIL is pairing American expertise and ingenuity with the best and brightest globally, and training students in developing countries and the U.S. By doing that, we’re ensuring the next generation of food systems leaders are equipped and empowered to address the food security challenges that we know are coming tomorrow as well.” 

The partnership with SMIL and the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in Niger and Senegal addressed and supported the GENMIL project needs and provided resources to strengthen the research being conducted on a regional level. An example is the farming practices coping with disease or ecological factors are being added to the breeding product profile. All identified cultivars are integrated into local breeding programs and are evaluated on-farm for performance and their ability to scale. The involvement and mentoring of young scientists, as well as farmers and seed producers, will contribute to the goal of increased human and institutional capacity. This is essential to modernize and create sustainable breeding programs throughout West Africa.

The breeding program is dynamic, adjusting to demands and evolving as needs change. Kane added, “We have to think ahead on different challenges and demands. If you wait for something to happen, by the time you develop a product, the need has already changed. So the most challenging thing in the breeding program is to anticipate future demand and preference, and start the work now.”

This is another reason why equipping local scientists to work on projects like GENMIL is so important, and is not possible without supportive partnerships like SMIL.

CERAAS partners with nine USAID funded Feed the Future Innovation Labs, and Kane said, “The partnership we have with SMIL is one of a kind. SMIL was the first innovation lab that came to us and asked about the demands we wanted to address and how they could support us in meeting our goals. That made the partnership very beneficial and positive. It strengthened our ability to collaborate and achieve common goals. I hope that will be the case with future partnerships.”

Nat Bascom, assistant director of SMIL, summarizes it this way: “It boils down to how we can help the institution and the people within that environment grow. How do we help them develop as researchers and leaders? For the long-term, we will have helped West African researchers in their aspirations and long-term capacity to bring research to bear toward development goals in their country. That’s the legacy of a partnership like this.”

Pairing U.S. and West African Institutions Leads to Accelerated Breeding Breakthroughs

“We have to give credit to farmers. It’s their management systems and knowledge we are using to see how we can improve those practices and systems in combination with the new varieties we are proposing to them. We don’t want to propose something they do not want to use, so it is easier to ask them what they need. Each farmer brings their own knowledge and we add technical or scientific knowledge to move forward together.”

Dr. Ndjido Kane


Pairing U.S. and West African Institutions Leads to Accelerated Breeding Breakthroughs

For more details:

Genetic Enhancement of Pearl Millet for Yield, Biotic and Abiotic Stress Tolerance in West Africa (GENMIL)

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IITA Unveils New Varieties to Boost Cassava Production

May 31, 2022 12:23 am

Gilbert Ekugbe

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has unveiled new cassava varieties developed by the NextGen project to boost cassava production in the country. 

In a statement, IITA during a farmers’ field day and product launch excited farmers in Kogi and Benue States as they expressed awe at the large sizes and number of roots produced by the new cassava varieties.

The farmers spoke about the difference between the new varieties and the old ones, saying Baba 70 and Game Changer yielded more than local varieties, which they were used to. Some took a few stems to plant in their fields, saying they would love to adopt the new varieties.

According to the breeders, while Game Changer can produce 32 tonnes per hectare, Baba 70 can produce 38 tonnes per hectare. It was also proven that the new cultivars were drought-tolerant and resistant to the virus diseases of cassava.

Speaking at the event, a Molecular Geneticist and Plant Breeder with IITA, Dr. Ismail Rabbi, stated that years of consumer preference studies were conducted before releasing the varieties.

Rabbi said: “In addition to high yield and stress tolerance, we found that these varieties are suitable for several agro-ecologies. Farmers, processors and consumers love these varieties because they were high-yielding, stress-tolerant, and disease-resistant and had the right food properties.”

The Head of IITA GoSeed, Dr. Mercy Diebiru-Ojo, said that the varieties would help to raise the livelihoods of farmers. “I am confident that farmers who adopt these varieties will make more profit and improve their livelihoods. These varieties are also a huge contribution to food security,” she added.

Speaking on the field, the Product Manager for Crop Variety Development, IITA, Dr. Vishnuardhan Banda, expressed joy that the farmers and processors were happy with the new varieties and eager to plant them on their farms. 

Banda, however, urged them to always send feedback on the performance of the varieties to the researchers.

His words: “We want you to work with us. You are very important in the process of crop improvement. You are the farmers and the first consumers. We urge you to always tell us how these varieties are performing on your various farms. You have seen that these are very good varieties but we know that in years to come, you would need something new. Just keep giving us feedback about farmers’ choices and complaints, and we the breeders will be working with that information to give you new and better products.”

The former Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, Ambassador Jaiyeola Lewu, was present at the event, commended the NextGen project and the IITA and NRCRI scientists.

Lewu described the varieties as game changers in the agricultural sector, saying that farmers would benefit immensely from them.

In his response, the Advocacy Outreach and Promotions Lead of the IITA Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System, Phase 2 (BASICS-II) project, Dr. Godwin Atser, who spoke on behalf of the Project Manager, Prof. Lateef Sanni, stated that the BASICS-II project would use its seed system model (BASICS model) to ensure that farmers get access to new and improved varieties.

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Science News

from research organizations


Function follows form in plant immunity

Date:May 20, 2022Source:Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding ResearchSummary:Scientists have discovered a novel biochemical mechanism explaining how immune proteins defend plants against invading microorganisms.Share:

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Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ) and the University of Cologne, Germany, have discovered a novel biochemical mechanism explaining how immune proteins defend plants against invading microorganisms. Their findings are published in the journal Cell.

We humans rely on our immune systems to protect us from diseases caused by harmful microorganisms. In a similar manner, plants also mount immune responses when invaded by harmful microbes. Key players in these plant immune responses are so-called immune receptors, which detect the presence of molecules delivered by foreign microorganisms and set in motion protective responses to repel the invaders.

A subset of these immune receptors harbours specialized regions known as toll-interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) domains and function as enzymes, special proteins that break down the molecule nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a highly abundant, multi-functional small molecule found in all living cells. Breakdown of NAD+, in turn, activates additional immune proteins, ultimately culminating in the so-called “hypersensitive response,” a protective mechanism that leads to the death of plant cells at sites of attempted infection as an effective way to protect the plant as whole. However, studies have shown that breakdown of NAD+, while essential, is not sufficient for plant protection, suggesting that additional mechanisms must be involved.

The authors, led by the corresponding authors, Jijie Chai, who is affiliated with the MPIPZ, the University of Cologne, and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, Paul Schulze-Lefert from the MPIPZ, and Bin Wu from School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, examined the function of the TIR proteins and could show that these receptors not only broke down NAD+, but intriguingly possess an additional function — the TIR domains were also processing molecules with phosphodiester bonds, typically found in RNA and DNA, which are present in cells mainly as large, linear single- or double-stranded molecules. Using structural analysis, the authors could show that TIR proteins form different multi-protein structures for breakdown of NAD+ or RNA/DNA, explaining how one and the same protein can carry out two roles. To cleave the RNA/DNA molecules, the TIR proteins follow the contours of the RNA/DNA strands and wind tightly around them like pearls on a string. The ability of TIR proteins to form two alternative molecular complexes is a characteristic of the entire immune receptor family. The exact shape of the TIR proteins thus dictates the respective enzyme activity.

The authors went on to show that this function itself was not enough for cell death, suggesting that specific small molecules generated by the breakdown of RNA and DNA were responsible. Using analytical chemistry, the scientists could identify the molecules as cAMP/cGMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate/cyclic guanosine monophosphate), so-called cyclic nucleotides that are present in all kingdoms of life. Intriguingly, rather than the well-characterized 3′,5′-cAMP/cGMP, the authors analysis showed that the TIR domains were triggering the production of the so-called non-canonical 2′,3′-cAMP/cGMP, enigmatic “cousins,” whose precise roles have thus far been unclear. When they reduced TIR-mediated production of 2’,3’-cAMP/cGMP, cell death activity was impaired, demonstrating that the 2′,3′-cAMP/cGMP molecules are important for the plant immune response.

If 2′,3′-cAMP/cGMP promote cell death in plants in response to infection, then it stands to reason that their levels would be kept tightly in check. Indeed, the authors discovered that a known negative regulator of TIR function in plants, NUDT7, acts by depleting 2′,3′-cAMP/cGMP. Similar negative regulators are released by certain pathogenic microorganisms during infection inside plant cells, and the scientists could show that these pathogen proteins also deplete 2′,3′-cAMP/cGMP. This suggests that invading microorganisms have evolved clever strategies to disarm the 2′,3′-cAMP/cGMP-dependent plant defence mechanism for their own benefit.

Dongli Yu, one of three co-first authors of this study, together with Wen Song and Eddie Yong Jun Tan, sums up the significance of his study thus:

“We have identified a new role for the TIR domain of immune receptors in protecting plants against infection. Looking forward, identifying and characterizing the targets of 2′,3′-cAMP/cGMP will suggest novel strategies for making plants more resistant to harmful microbes and in this way contribute to food security.”


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Materials provided by Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding ResearchNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dongli Yu, Wen Song, Eddie Yong Jun Tan, Li Liu, Yu Cao, Jan Jirschitzka, Ertong Li, Elke Logemann, Chenrui Xu, Shijia Huang, Aolin Jia, Xiaoyu Chang, Zhifu Han, Bin Wu, Paul Schulze-Lefert, Jijie Chai. TIR domains of plant immune receptors are 2′,3′-cAMP/cGMP synthetases mediating cell deathCell, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.04.032

Cite This Page:

Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research. “Function follows form in plant immunity.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/05/220520132832.htm>.

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Friday, 06 May 2022 07:36:00 PestNet

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘Why Tomato Crops Today Are So Susceptible to Disease ‘

Submission

Why Tomato Crops Today Are So Susceptible to Disease

Growing produce

Anthony P. Keinath By Anthony P. Keinath|May 4, 2022

Why are tomatoes so susceptible to disease? Of three possible answers — aggressive pathogens that specialize on tomato, the tomato plant itself, or the growing environment — it’s not the pathogens.

For example, early blight and late blight can be equally destructive on tomato and potato. Phytophthora blight and fruit rot is worse on pepper than tomato. Is there something about the tomato that makes it inherently susceptible, something medical doctors call a congenital defect? Or is it weather conditions during the growing season? The answer seems to be both.

Same Chromosome Controls Resistance and Size

Tomatoes were domesticated in Southeast Mexico from a wild tomato that resembles a small cherry tomato. The cherry tomato ancestor originated in the humid Amazon rainforests of Northeast Peru and then spread to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, according to a 2020 article in the highly regarded scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

San Martin, Peru, where ancestral tomatoes still grow wild, is humid with 6 to 13 inches of rain per month, year-round. So, tomatoes should be suited to cropping in humid environments.

But something happened in the chase for larger fruit. Early Mesoamericans who domesticated tomato, as well as modern plant breeders, produce buyers, and consumers wanted large tomato fruit. The average size of a fruit doubled as tomato developed into what passes for an early modern tomato.

Bacterial spot is one of multiple tomato pathogens to be aware of. Susceptibility is linked to genes for large fruit and high yield.
Photo by Zack Snipes

Unfortunately for today’s tomato growers in the Eastern U.S., large-fruited tomato plants are susceptible to a variety of bacterial diseases. That includes bacterial wilt and bacterial spot.

The genes in wild tomatoes that make them resistant to bacterial diseases are found on the same chromosome as genes that control fruit size and yield.

That’s why the resistant offspring of a cross between a tomato parent with decent-sized fruit (but susceptible to bacterial diseases) and a resistant parent (but with small fruit) always have fruit that are too small for current tastes.

Allow Breathing Room

Another likely reason for the prevalence of tomato diseases is our modern, intensive production practices.

Most staked tomatoes are grown with 6 feet between rows and 2 feet between plants. That’s tight spacing for full-grown tomato plants, even after “suckering” to leave only two main side branches.

The large fruits — unlike the original cherry-sized fruits — are too heavy for tomato plants to support without aid from the stake-and-tie production system that originated in the Southeast.

Stringing a mass of foliage together creates humid microclimates perfect for pathogens. On humid summer days, or after a downpour, the inner leaves of the canopy may never dry completely. Continuously wet leaves allow bacteria, fungi, and water molds like late blight to grow continuously — just like they do in a petri dish in the lab.

Simply giving tomatoes more space may be enough to reduce foliar diseases.

A local organic grower spaces tomato rows 12 feet apart instead of the standard 6 feet. This farm had less bacterial spot than nearby conventional farms.

He sprayed the recommended organic products, copper plus Serenade (Bayer Crop Science), while conventional growers sprayed the recommended conventional products, copper plus mancozeb. Both spray programs are moderately effective, so one likely reason for seeing less bacterial spot on the organic crop was the wider row spacing.

Protect Plants from Rain

High moisture in the form of rainfall also damages tomatoes. The processing tomato industry is concentrated in California’s Central Valley. Rainfall there is only five to 20 inches per year. That’s half the annual precipitation in the Midwest, where processing tomato acreage has declined since the 1990s.

One way to protect tomatoes from too much rain is to grow them under high tunnels. Based on a trial at Kansas State, tomato fruit from high tunnels had less postharvest fruit rot and could be stored longer than field-grown tomatoes.

The high tunnel environment also reduces gray leaf spot on the very susceptible heirloom ‘Cherokee Purple’.

In Florida, fruit cracking and decay of beefsteak tomato was consistently two-thirds lower in high tunnels than in the field.

In both locations, the plastic covering of the high tunnel keeps the leaves and fruit dry during rain and protects them from rain-splashed pathogen spores.

Although wild tomato is native to the humid tropics, modern descendants perform better in drier natural or man-made environments.

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‘Almost all crops today have been changed from their original form’: National Academies of Sciences says GMOs just most recent form of food genetic modification

National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine | May 3, 2022

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Credit: Mary Evans Picture Library
Credit: Mary Evans Picture Library

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation. It is posted under Fair Use guidelines.

People have been changing plants for thousands of years. Humans started farming more than 10,000 years. Agriculture began in Mesopotamia, in the region we now call the Middle East. At first, people took the seeds of wild plants and put them in places where they would grow well and be easier to harvest. Soon, people noticed that some plants performed better than others, and they kept the seeds of the best ones to plant the next year. As people did this year after year, farmed crops slowly became different from their wild relatives. This process is often called domestication.

The choices early farmers made about which seeds to plant were driven by many of the same factors that influence choices made about seeds today. Many wild plants naturally produce toxins that act as a defense against pests, and people made seed choices so that many crops today are tasty, nutritious, and easy to digest. Farmers want plants that are easier to harvest and produce more fruit, vegetables, grains, fiber, or oil. They also look for plants that can withstand disease, pests, flooding, drought and other problems.

Over thousands of years, people grew many types of crops, brought them to new areas of the world, and continued to change the plants to suit their needs.

Methods for changing plants expanded as science and technology advanced

In the 1800s, Gregor Mendel and others made discoveries about how parents pass traits to their offspring. This new understanding helped people produce new varieties of plants with useful qualities using selective breeding. In this method, two plants with desirable traits are deliberately mated so the next generation of plants will have these characteristics. As experiments in plant breeding continued, people learned how to breed plants together to create hybrids with certain traits. For example, hybrid types of corn, wheat, and rice were bred that produce more grain per plant and that can be grown in narrow rows in a field. Farmers are then able to harvest more grain using the same amount of land.

In the 1930s, people found that applying radiation or chemicals to a seed caused plants to have traits different from their parents. This is because radiation and certain chemicals can cause changes in the genes of plants, which determine what characteristics the plant will have. The seeds with the most useful traits caused by these genetic changes were then grown and used to breed new varieties of crops. Today, hundreds of varieties of more than 100 crops that we grow and eat were developed using these means, including many types of rice, wheat, and barley.

With the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953 and other advances in understanding how genes work, scientists began to explore other ways to improve plants. By the 1980s, scientists were able to identify specific bits of DNA called genetic markers that are associated with particular traits. By knowing what genetic markers to look for, marker assisted breeding speeds up the breeding process by allowing scientists to know whether a plant will have the desired trait even before it is grown.

For most of history, improving plants depended on choosing two parent plants of similar types or varieties that are able to breed with each other. In the 1980s, scientists also invented ways to create new traits by combining the genes of different kinds of plants, as well as DNA from other organisms, including bacteria and viruses. These new plants carry “recombinant” DNA and are sometimes referred to as Genetically engineeredtransgenicgenetically modified organisms (GMOs), or bioengineered. More than a dozen food crops with traits introduced through recombinant DNA are grown in the world today.

In the 2010s, gene editing was developed, allowing scientists to directly change a plant’s genes without having to use the DNA from another plant or other organism. A few such crops are grown today, including gene-edited soybeans that produce soybean oil with a healthier balance of fats.

Almost all crops today have been changed from their original form

Since people have been farming for such a long time, nearly all crops grown today have been genetically improved, whether through domestication, selective breeding, hybridization, radiation or chemicals, or changes made directly to plant genes by humans.

Scientists and growers continue to improve methods for making crops with certain traits. For example, people are working to create crops that can better withstand droughts, which are becoming more common as the climate changes.

A version of this article was posted at National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and is used here with permission. Find the National Academies of Sciences on Twitter @theNASciences

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Insect-resistant GMO cowpea trials wow Nigerian farmers with jumping yields and lower costs — but other farmers remain hesitant

Abdulkareem MojeedEbuka Onyeji | Premium Times | May 4, 2022

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Credit: IFAD
Credit: IFAD

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation. It is posted under Fair Use guidelines.

Last August, the farmers were given cowpea seeds genetically modified (GM) to resist the destructive pod-borer insect pest and improve yield to experiment on their farms.

Mr Osondu said his farm became the centre of attraction a few weeks after he planted the cowpea. “As you can see, I planted the beans at a roadside where everybody can see it,” the farmer said. He was quick to point out the sharp contrast between the traditional cowpea the farmers are used to and the new variety.

“I used to spray insecticides at least five times on the normal cowpea yet the crop will still be eaten by insects before harvest. But this one I sprayed only once, and it did very well. I harvested about two months after planting and the yield was impressive.

“They gave me half a cup and I harvested three painter buckets. If I planted the same amount of normal beans, I would have harvested only one painter,” the farmer said.

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Poor awareness of GMO among not just lay people but even many informed Nigerians fuels scepticism, which is making it difficult for Nigerians to make informed decisions on whether to accept or reject GM cowpea in Nigeria, our findings revealed.

This is an excerpt. Read the original post here

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