Posts Tagged ‘CIAT’

Researchers do the crop breeding math

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in CCAFS, collaborative projects, Guest Post

This blog was originally posted here by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
Climate projections indicate that maize breeders will have to start looking for traits that confer tolerance to simultaneous drought and heat stress, according to CIMMYT-CCAFS research. Photo: CIMMYT.

Climate projections indicate that maize breeders will have to start looking for traits that confer tolerance to simultaneous drought and heat stress, according to CIMMYT-CCAFS research. Photo: CIMMYT.

1 + 2 definitely equals 3. No one needs to question elementary math.

But what happens if you try to add words? Does peanut + butter = peanut butter? Not really. Enter the terms separately in a web search engine, and you’ll get a different result than if you enter the two together. And genes? As it turns out, basic addition won’t work with them, either.

Research from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has elicited an unusual hiccup in breeding for stress tolerance in maize: drought tolerance + heat tolerance does not = drought and heat tolerance. That is to say, the genes responsible for tolerance to the combined stressors of heat and drought are not the same as the genes for tolerance to either of those stressors alone.

Training, a golden rule at CIMMYT-Colombia

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in South America, Training

Training is a key CIMMYT activity, and in the CIMMYT-Colombia office it has been essential for all staff. During 08-11 November 2011, CIMMYT colleagues and partners took part in a course on analysis and interpretation of experiments, and genetic designs applied to breeding.

The course was attended by 75 plant breeders, biometricians, and molecular biologists, from a range of institutions such as Colombian and Ecuadorian research centers (CENICAÑA, CENIPALMA, CENICAFE, INIAP), guilds and private seed companies (FENALCE, FEDEARROZ, FEDEPALMA, Dow Agrosciences, Monsanto, Semillas Valle), Colombian universities, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and CIMMYT. From the CIMMYT biometrics and statistics unit, consultant and University of Chapingo professor Mateo Vargas and researcher Gregorio Alvarado taught how to develop theoretical concepts of experimental designs and demonstrated the use of SAS, Genstat, ASREML, and R to analyze experiments.

Participants praised the course and requested similar courses and training events in the future. The course was organized by CIMMYT maize breeder Luis Narro and CIAT biometrician Myriam Cristina Duque, with funding from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Colombia, as part of a collaborative project with the Colombian Corporation of Agriculture and Livestock Research (CORPOICA) and the Colombian National Federation of Cereals and Legume Growers (FENALCE).

CIMMYT-Colombia also fosters the professional development of support staff, through CIAT’s employees program. The CIAT fund for human resource development covers as much as half of employees’ training expenses, and they can pursue studies as long as they are able to keep up with their work. Thesis students also have time for research.

CIMMYT-Colombia wishes to recognize the efforts of Joel Bolaños, field worker, who has finished his elementary and secondary studies, and will soon start high school education. Néstor Romero, systems engineer, and Claudio Romero, business administrator, have graduated and will now study agronomy. Alba Lucía Arcos, research assistant, received an MSc in plant genetic breeding, and is now working on a PhD. Luz Karime Gómez, former administrative assistant, received an MSc and has since gone to study for a PhD in international relations in Spain.

Colombian plains project hosts a maize harvest workshop

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Capacity Building, Events, Maize, South America

On 19 August 2011, a workshop was hosted by CIMMYT-Colombia for maize producers, association representatives, and educators and students from various local universities, among others, on the advances of a project to increase maize production in Colombia through the development of improved germplasm adapted to the production systems in the Orinoquía region (East Plains). The Orinoquía is an area of plains, covered by pasture and interspersed with rivers and forests; all the rivers terminate in the Orinoco river. The project is coordinated by CIMMYT-Colombia, with support from the Colombian Agricultural Research Cooperation (CORPOICA), Colombian Growers Federation of Cereals and Legumes (FENALCE), International Center of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Colombia. The workshop took place at the CORPOICA Research Center in Villavicencio, Del Meta District.

As part of the workshop, attendants visited the field and observed the results of trials of maize with tolerance to acidic soils. For this component of the project, 1,000 acidity-tolerant hybrids are being tested in four locations of the Colombian high plains (C.I. La Libertad in Villavicencio; Menegua in Puerto López; and Taluma and Carimagua in Puerto Gaitán) in the Meta District. They are also being evaluated for yield potentialand other important agronomic traits which help to increase production and profitability. Workshop participants observed that the yields of the best hybrids evaluated in C.I. La Libertad exceeded 7 tons per hectare, and it is hoped that yields in Carimagua will reach almost 10 tons per hectare. Based on harvest data, from the 1,000 hybrids a 10% subset of those with the best performance will be selected for evaluation in an increased number of locations from 2012. The goal is to make the best five hybrids available to Orinoquía farmers within 3-4 years. This would make an important contribution to a region where there are enough resources to widen the agricultural frontier and duplicate the current area sown (5 million hectares).

The same project also trialed maize lines known to be susceptible or tolerant to acidic soils. At aluminum saturation levels of 60%, the susceptible lines died during the seedling stage, long before the flowering stage. These results are particularly relevant given that the percentage of aluminum saturation in a native savannah from the Orinoquía is over 90% and only a few plant species survive.

Biotechnology applied to plant genetic breeding

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Biotechnology, Events, Maize, South America, Training

A course on biotechnology applications to plant genetic breeding was held during 26-30 September 2011, at La Molina Agricultural University, Lima, Peru. Over 100 scientists from Peru’s National Institute of Agricultural Innovation and Peruvian universities attended the course, which focused on modern concepts and procedures of biotechnology as applied to plant breeding.

The instructors covered many topics. Myriam Cristina Duque, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), gave a presentation on biometrics applied to plant breeding, with an emphasis on experimental designs for non-balanced trials. Gary Atlin, CIMMYT, then focused in on heritability, mixed models theory and its application to plant breeding, as well as current uses of sequencing and genomics. Association mapping and analysis of plant genomes using molecular markers and QTL mapping was the subject of a presentation by Marilyn Warburton, USDA, and Luis Augusto Becerra, CIAT, also discussed molecular markers, as well as demonstrating the use of MapMaker and conducting a session on plant gene-based mapping. Luis Nopo, Arkansas State University, spoke about transgenic plant transformation and Raúl Blas, La Molina Agricultural University, conducted a practical session on extracting DNA from plants.

Unanimous positive feedback was received from the participants, who suggested that similar courses be held in other locations in order to better disseminate knowledge on current technologies. Resources for the course came from Peru, whose partnership with CIMMYT dates back 10 years, with the objective of developing profitable and environmentally-friendly maize technologies.

CIMMYT looks to further partnerships with Peru

Following the course on biotechnology for plant genetic breeding in Peru, Gary Atlin (Associate Director, CIMMYT Global Maize Program) and Luis Narro (Coordinator, CIMMYT-Columbia) met with Juan Rheineck Piccardo, Peru’s Vice-Minister of Agriculture on 27 September 2011, to discuss possible further partnerships between CIMMYT and the Peruvian government.

It is hoped that further collaborations would increase maize production in Peru, which currently produces just 40% of its national grain demand. Piccardo expressed interest in the proposals, suggesting that a project should be implemented at the National Institute of Agricultural Innovation (INIA) to select water-efficient maize genotypes. Atlin and Narro then visited the INIA site at Paiján, in the north coastal zone of Peru, to assess it’s characteristics. The area has no rainfall, allowing researchers to control the amount of water the plants receive during development, and the water table is more than 8 meters below ground-level, therefore avoiding interference between underground water and irrigation systems. Dialogues will continue once the selection trial has been established.

CIMMYT stories from Colombia

Written by Corporate Communications on . Posted in Capacity Building, Maize, Visits to CIMMYT

Varieties of QPM released
C__Documents and Settings_lyates_Local Settings_Temporary Internet Files_ContentTwo new quality protein maize (QPM) varieties, designed to thrive in the tropical lowland coffee production zones of southwest Colombia, were released on 14 April 2010. CIMMYT-Mexico developed these two varieties—yellow maize FNC 31AC and white maize FNC 32AC—and the Fundación para la Investigación y Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDAR) evaluated them, under the supervision of Luis Narro of CIMMYT-Colombia. More than 150 people attended the launch event, held at the fields of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Palmira, a city in the Cauca Valley, Colombia.

The two varieties yield five tons per hectare, similar to normal maize, but have more tryptophan (0.08% compared to 0.05% of normal maize). Tryptophan is one of two amino acids required for protein synthesis in humans and swine livestock. The release of these QPM varieties is part of the Agrosalud Project, which aims to develop and disseminate biofortified crops, including maize, bean, rice, and sweet potato, and was the result of collaboration with CIMMYT, CIAT, and FIDAR. The National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers (FENALCE) will take charge of seed production and distribution.

Visits and collaborations at CIMMYT-Colombia
3The Global Maize Program’s new director, B.M. Prasanna, continues his travels to CIMMYT’s extensive and wide-spread maize offices. His most recent stop was to CIMMYT-Colombia where from 26-28 April he met with CIMMYTColombia staff and coordinated collaborative activities between CIMMYT and CIAT for Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Included among other activities was a visit to one of the research stations of the Federación de Cafeteros de Colombia. The experimental station, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones de Café (CENICAFE) La Catalina, is a key area for maize-coffee trails. The director of the station, Carlos Gonzalo Mejía, showed Prasanna (accompanied by Félix San Vicente, maize breeder, and Reymunda Labuguen, program administrator) the fields where since 2002 CIMMYT has collaborated with FEDERECAFE (the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers) and FENALCE to sow maize among coffee trees. FENALCE researcher Argemiro Moreno highlighted the benefits of this crop combination, pointing out that maize yields in coffee production zones are high. This year, for example, experimental maize fields at La Catalina yielded 18 tons per hectare.

Agronomic management was another topic of conversation. FENALCE researcher Argemiro Moreno showed staff how to use GreenSeeker, a tool that allows farmers to apply the proper amount of nitrogen to their fields, which he learned about during a recent visit to CIMMYT’s Norman E. Borlaug Experimental Station, in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, Mexico.

Later, a meeting with Rubén Echeverría, director general of CIAT, led to the conclusion that CIMMYT and CIAT can and should increase collaboration for key areas in Latin America. Highlighted initiatives included 1) improving efficiency in the maize-bean-cattle production systems, 2) efficient utilization of new tools and methods to improve and expedite plant breeding and selection, 23) evaluation and promotion of precision agriculture technologies, and 4) capacity building with students and farmers for faster, effective technology adoption.

To follow-up on these identified issues, the visitor group toured CIAT facilities and met with some of the researchers involved in the emphasized areas, including Michael Peters, tropical forages program leader, Idupulapati M. Rao, physiology and plant nutrition, and Steve Beebe, bean breeder.

 Fieldbook course
Two CIMMYT-Colombia team members led a course on Fieldbook during 13-14 May 2010. The course attracted 10 participants, including representatives from two local seed companies, Semivalle and Sem-Latam S.A, and agronomy students from the Corporación Universitaria Santa Rosa de Cabal, Risaralda, Colombia.

Yacenia Morillo, head of Semivalle’s basic research, said that Semivalle will embrace this new knowledge and software, and thanked course organizers Néstor Romero and Alba Lucía for their hard work. Counting this event, CIMMYT has now trained nearly 100 Latin American researchers from public and private organizations in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

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