Navigation Links
Plant breeding revolution for cassava, banana
Date:9/14/2011

Cassava, banana and plantain, staple foods for millions of the world's poorest people, are notoriously difficult to breed. But an international team of scientists aims to change that, using a revolutionary new approach to plant breeding developed at the University of California, Davis.

The project is supported by a grant of $1.2 million from the NSF-BREAD (Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development) program, a joint initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

"These are very important food security crops, but they take a long time to reproduce and it's difficult to create new varieties," said Simon Chan, assistant professor of plant biology at UC Davis.

Recently Chan and the other team members Hernan Ceballos, of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Colombia; Jim Lorenzen, from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Tanzania; and Leena Tripathi of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Nairobi, Kenya were invited, with other recipients of NSF-BREAD grants, to present their work to Bill Gates at the foundation's headquarters in Seattle.

"He was very interested in the science and had good questions for everyone," Chan said.

Most successful crop varieties are hybrids created by crossing two inbred varieties. While this is relatively easy to do in well-established annual crops like maize or wheat, it is much harder with slower-growing crops like cassava, banana and plantain. As a result, cassava, banana and plantain growers are currently forced to create new varieties by crossing two hybrid parents a highly unpredictable process.

New crop varieties allow farmers to cope with pests, disease, drought and other problems.

Working with the small laboratory plant Arabidopsis thaliana, Chan's lab recently discovered a method to create plant seeds that carry the DNA from only one of their parents, allowing breeders to immediately create a hybrid that "breeds true," dramatically cutting the time required to create new crops with traits such as disease- or drought-resistance.

"What's exciting is that what started with Arabidopsis is already jumping from a little plant to big crops," Ceballos said.

With the NSF-BREAD grant, the research team will develop Chan's technology for use with these major crop plants.

Cassava is a perennial plant grown as an annual crop. Farmers harvest the edible roots just before the rainy season, then take the stems and replant them for the next year. Cassava is drought resistant and particularly adapted to harsh, poor environments.

Because farmers replant the stems from year to year, the crop basically reproduces as a clone. To produce an improved hybrid through conventional methods could take hundreds of thousands of crosses over many decades, Ceballos said.

"We find good hybrids by chance, but we want to find them by design," he said.

Cultivated bananas and plantains (a starchy cousin of the banana that has to be cooked before eating) are practically sterile. Breeding new hybrids requires either using the occasional fertile seeds from domestic crops or seeds from wild bananas, which are a threatened resource, Lorenzen said.

Chan's technology could be used to make homozygous plants with identical sets of chromosomes that could be tested for new and useful traits, then used to breed new hybrids, Lorenzen said.

Propagating crop plants like cassava, banana and plantain as vegetative clones is a big disadvantage when it comes to storing and distributing the plants, Chan said. Seeds are much hardier and easier to store and ship than roots or stem cuttings. Seeds are also less susceptible to viruses, and not subject to the same quarantine rules as vegetable materials.

The ability to propagate these crops as seeds would be a "huge, huge advantage," Chan said.


'/>"/>
Contact: Andy Fell
ahfell@ucdavis.edu
530-752-4533
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New technique elucidates dynamics of plant cell metabolites
2. Plant compound reduces breast cancer mortality
3. The breathtaking dance of plants
4. Bird pollinated plant mixes it up when it comes to sex
5. Manipulating plants circadian clock may make all-season crops possible
6. Mapping a model: International research on plant species appears in journal Nature
7. How an evolutionary playground brings plant genes together
8. Little plant tells big stories
9. NASA study refutes claims of drought-driven declines in plant productivity, global food security
10. Molecular chaperones traffic signaling proteins between cells in plant stem-cell maintenance pathway
11. UC Riverside plant biotechnologist receives prestigious Jefferson Science Fellowship
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/13/2017)... , April 13, 2017 According to a new ... Authentication, Identity Analytics, Identity Administration, and Authorization), Service, Authentication Type, Deployment Mode, ... IAM Market is expected to grow from USD 14.30 Billion in 2017 ... (CAGR) of 17.3%. ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... Florida , April 11, 2017 ... a security technology company, announces the appointment of independent Directors ... Bendheim to its Board of Directors, furthering the company,s ... ... of NXT-ID, we look forward to their guidance and benefiting ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 4, 2017 KEY FINDINGS ... anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 25.76% during ... diseases is the primary factor for the growth of ... report: https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/4807905/ MARKET INSIGHTS The global ... product, technology, application, and geography. The stem cell market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... INDIANAPOLIS , Oct. 11, 2017  VMS BioMarketing, a ... of a nationwide oncology Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) network, which ... growing need for communication among health care professionals to enhance ... physicians, nurses, office staff, and other health care professionals to ... for breast cancer. ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Singh Biotechnology today announced that ... SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3) B VHH13 ... cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and inhibit its function. Dysregulation ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob ... at his local San Diego Rotary Club. The event entitled “Stem ... CA and had 300+ attendees. Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... The Pittcon Program Committee is pleased ... scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. Each ... leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will be held February 26-March ...
Breaking Biology Technology: