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2 grants to UC Riverside boost scientists' efforts in developing improved cowpea varieties
Date:10/30/2013

ated and marking where the genes for the favorable traits are located in the cowpea genome," he said. "The marker-assisted selection then allows for the crossing of varieties with complementary sets of favorable traits so that these traits can be stacked up and passed down to progeny. It's not about making transgenes and inserting them into plants. It's about bringing favorable traits from donors into highly bred cultivars via accelerated cross-breeding."

Close and Roberts will be joined in the analysis by Stefano Lonardi, a professor of computer science and engineering and a co-principal investigator on the team, who will help process large amounts of data that the research projects will generate.

"We will use a computational method that greatly reduces the possibility of making mistakes and also reduces the cost," Lonardi said. "This method makes it possible to mark where in the genome the genes are located that influence, say, drought-tolerance. And the method also identifies those progeny that carry the alleles, which are forms of genes, for this and other desirable traits."

Close explained that marker-assisted breeding can also be understood as being analogous to creating a painting.

"Imagine you have eight different sources of favorable alleles," he said. "You can make a painting by having a blue segment in one section of the canvass for drought adaptation, a yellow one in another section for aphid resistance, and so on. This way, you create what's called a genetic ideotype. You then use markers to cross one variety with another, and calculate how close each progeny is to the ideotype. The goal is to get a variety close to the genetic ideotype through the least number of steps. Because the marker system has good knowledge-based efficiency built int
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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