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In This Issue

June 8, 2012

NEWS

Global
• Consortium Releases Pear Genome Data 
• DNA Discovery Key to Drought Resistant Crops 
• Genomic Studies Shed Light on Maize Diversity and Evolution 
• Plant Research Funding Crucial for the Future 

Africa
• G8 Outcomes – Will the Private Sector Undermine Africa's Smallholder Farmers? 
• Burkina Faso to Continue Growing Bt Cotton 

Americas
• Genetic Sequence and Map of Foxtail Millet Released 
• Oil Production Mechanism in Plants Identified 
• CLC bio, Donald Danfort Plant Science Center Partner for Cassava for Africa Project 
• US Environmental Assessment for GE Eucalyptus Hybrid Field Release Available 
• One Sample Testing Program Receives USDA-RMA Continuation Approval 
• BASF: Farmers Will See the Value of Drought Tolerant Corn 

Asia and the Pacific
• Scientists Develop First Genetically Modified Miscanthus 
• BKS Study Confirms Benefits of Bt Cotton to Indian Small Farmers 
• Australian Scientist to be Awarded Farrer Memorial Medal 
• GRDC Calls for Insecticide Resistance Grassroots Input 

Europe
• ICG Europe Tackles Plant, Animal and Human Genomics 
• NUE Efficient Sugar Beets Field Test Results Released 
• Nobel Awardee Expresses Views on GM 
• Bayer CropScience Opens Wheat Breeding Center in Germany 

Research
• Bt Cry and Cyt Mutants for Overcoming Insect Resistance 
• Over-expression of CYCD2;1 Improves Banana Root Growth 
• Study Shows How Oleic Acid Regulates Nitric Oxide Production 

Beyond Crop Biotech
• Vegetables: Less Visible, but Vital for Human Health 
• Embrapa Improves Microbial Collection 
• Study Shows Parasitic Flower Share More Genes from Its Host 

Announcements
• 11th International Conference on Bioinformatics, Bangkok 

Document Reminders
• PK 40 Biotechnology for the Livestock Industry 
• The Benefits of Herbicide-Resistant Crops 

Latest Communication Products

Straight from the Scientists: Biotech Experts' Perspectives and Experiences in Informing the Public
This monograph highlights the study on how academics and scientists play their role in biotech communication.
Pocket K no 48: Bt Eggplant
Pocket K on Bt Eggplant features the technology behind the biotech crop and status of Bt eggplant adoption and experimentation including potential benefits in Bangladesh, India, and the Philippines.
Biotechnology in Ornamental Plants
This new Pocket K, Biotechnology in Ornamental Plants, includes the different types of ornamental plants, the different uses of biotechnology in ornamental horticulture, and the major genetically modified ornamentals.
Brief 47: The Status of Commercialized Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh
ISAAA Brief 47 is a comprehensive report on the status of commercialized Bt brinjal in Bangladesh. Brief 47 presents a thorough review and analysis of the deregulation of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh – from the scientific and biosafety assessment and commercial release to the planting of Bt brinjal by farmers in Bangladesh.

News

Global

An international team of scientists led by Nanjing University in China announced that it has finished sequencing a draft version of the pear genome. The sequencing project yielded a high-quality diploid draft genome sequence for the commercially important Asiatic pear cultivar "Suli" (Pyrus bretschneideri Rehd. cv. Dangshansuli). The assembly which was aligned using a genetic map representing the pear's 17 chromosomes covers 97.1 percent of the plant's whole genome, the report stated.

The scientists who worked in the sequencing project said that the pear sequence would be an important resource for those who would like to understand pear evolution and its relationship to other plants. The data from the sequencing effort will be available to other researchers online, and it is expected to help unravel information that could eventually lead to breeding plants with enhanced fruit flavor, color, quality, and shelf-life while lessening its susceptibility to pests and diseases.

The pear genome consortium started in the spring of 2010, and included researchers from Nanjing Agricultural University's Centre for Pear Engineering Technology Research, BGI-Shenzhen, the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Japan's Tohoku University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Georgia, and the University of Hawaii.

Read the news release at http://www.genomeweb.com/sequencing/consortium-releases-pear-genome-data.

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The international collaboration involving The University of Western Australia's Institute of Agriculture and researchers from China, Syria, and United States has identified the 'stay green' DNA in barley, in a new research to help farmers grow better crops that can withstand drought, heat, and salinity.

Researchers from the project studied 292 barley accession from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). The accessions were collected from 35 countries in six geographic regions including Africa, Middle East Asia, North East Asia, Arabian Peninsula, Australia, and Europe. Using  EcoTILLING, a molecular biology technique that allows direct identification of natural mutations in specific genes, the researchers identified 23 DNA sequence variations, 17 of which are in the gene coding region. Two of these 17 DNA sequence variations are predicted to cause malfunctioned proteins, which will cause change in barley phenotypic traits.

A better understanding of the genetic variation in genes that encode the light harvesting chlorophyll a/b-binding proteins (LHCP) helps plant breeders use these DNA sequence variations as DNA markers to improve the ‘stay green' efficiency of plants. The study found that samples from Middle East Asia had the highest genetic diversity in genes that encode the LHCP and the researchers conclude that crossing and transfer of gene from Middle East Asian accession into cultivated barley will enhance genetic diversity.

The news release is available at UWA's website: http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201205314685/business-and-industry/dna-discovery-key-drought-resistant-crops.

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BGI, the world's largest genomics organization located in Shenzhen, China, together with 17 international institutes (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, University of California Davis, Cornell University, and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), among others), announced that they completed the second generation of maize HapMap (Maize HapMap2) and genomics studies on maize domestication and improvement. The two separate studies were published online in the same issue of Nature Genetics on June 4, 2012.

The studies mark an important milestone in maize (Zea mays) genomics research, which will provide valuable insights for botanists and breeders worldwide and facilitate the genetic engineering of this vital cereal crop in the world. In the study Generation of maize HapMap2 identifies extant variation from a genome in flux, researchers developed a novel population-genetics scoring model for comprehensively characterizing the genetic variations and found that structural variations (SVs) were prevalent throughout the maize genome and were associated with some important agronomic traits, such as those involved in leaf development and disease resistance. Major factors that influence the maize genome size were also investigated. The results showed that the intra-species genome size variation is influenced by the DNA structure known as chromosomal knobs.

In the other study Comparative population genomics of maize domestication and improvement, researchers comprehensively traced maize's evolution process by comparative population genomics analysis. The results showed that new genetic diversity has arisen since domestication, maybe due to the introgression from wild relatives. More importantly, the results demonstrated that the selection applied by ancient farmers seemed to play a stronger impact on maize evolution than the breeding techniques adopted by modern breeders.

See the original news in Chinese at http://www.genomics.cn/news/show_news?nid=99074.

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Scientists Wolf Frommer of Carnegie Institution for Science and Tom Brutnell of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center published an opinion paper in the June issue of The Scientist, calling the scientific community for a 10-year commitment of $100 billion for plant science research.

"Today, we face growing and economically empowered nations, energy-intensive global economies, and major shifts in global climate that together constitute the perfect storm for agriculture," Frommer and Brutnell say. "Yet plant-science research has been underfunded for decades—and funding is projected to shrink."

With the Food and Agriculture Organization's 2012 estimate that about 920 million people lack sufficient food to meet the recommended daily caloric intake goals, plant research should be invested and strengthened to be able to achieve the 70% required increase in food production by 2050. Investments in plant science will also benefit the fuel industry and improve social and political stability in developing nations.

See the news article at  http://carnegiescience.edu/news/plant_research_funding_crucial_future.

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Africa

Renewed funding for agriculture, food and nutrition security was established as a primary move during the G8 summit in 2009 held in L'Aquila, Italy. Small farmers in developing countries especially in Africa have been the beneficiaries of this new initiative. However, some global commitments for this fund are yet to be fulfilled.

With the recently concluded G8 Summit at Camp David, USA, US President Obama, the current host of the summit endorsed the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. This new initiative will add on to the existing USD 22 billion commitment from donors for food security, and a USD 3 billion new fund to be raised from the private sector. These funds will be used to implement agricultural sector reforms that prioritize small holder farmers and promote food security in Africa.

President Obama endorsed the new alliance project "to achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth and raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years."

See the story at  http://allafrica.com/stories/201206061241.html.

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An interview by Le Pays and published by the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) has dispelled claims broadcasted on Radio France Internationale (RFI) on 10th May 2012, that Burkina Faso was about to abandon cultivation of Bt cotton

During the interview, Dr. Dehou Dakuo, the Director of Cotton production and development at SOFITEX, a leading cotton company in Burkina Faso, contradicted the RFI broadcast as untrue even as efforts to establish the source of RFI's information could not be established. According to Dr. Dakuo, SOFITEX was equally surprised by the information, especially because at the period of the broadcast, SOFITEXwas holding his annual pre-seedling forums for Bt cotton with cotton producers. He stressed that RFI should have verified the truth before airing the news. "No stakeholder, whether in or outside the cotton industry seem to understand the source of that information," he said.

Dr. Dakuo added that a report on the general evaluation of the cotton industry was released to the public, by the Association Interprofessionnelle du Coton du Burkina (AICB). The report states that Burkina Faso is still committed to Bt cotton. SOFITEX and stakeholders continue to encourage stakeholders in neighboring countries such as Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Senegal and Togo as well as other neighboring states to replicate the Burkina experience."If our experience is negative, it cannot be used as reference," said Dr. Dakuo.

To read the full interview, go to http://www.nepadbiosafety.net/bt-cotton-in-burkina-faso.

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Americas

Researchers from the University of Georgia unveiled the genetic sequence and map of switchgrass' close relative Foxtail Millet.  Foxtail millet, a grass commonly grown in China, is one of the most important crops in Asia and is believed to be a potential source of biofuel especially now that scientists have identified the genetic sequence of the plant.

According to Jeffrey Bennetzen, lead author of the research, the sequence and map will allow scientists to systematically search for genes that influence plant traits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance, growth rate and  cell wall composition, which may further lead to development of varieties that require less water or pesticides or those which can be easily converted to biofuels.

View the University of Georgia's news release at http://redandblack.com/2012/06/03/uga-scientists-map-and-sequence-genome-of-switchgrass-relative-foxtail-millet/

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Scientists at the United States Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified the key element in the biochemical mechanism that plants use to limit the production of fatty acids. The results suggest that scientists might target the biochemical pathways to increase production of plant oils as renewable resources for biofuels and industrial processes.

Brookhaven biochemist John Shanklin said that understanding how plants know when they have made enough oil and slow down production will help his team look for ways to break the feedback loop so the plants keep making more oil. Shanklin said that it is difficult to work on oil seeds because of their small size, so they simulated what goes on the seeds using a plant embryo cell culture. 

With these results, Shanklin and his team is now exploring how to interfere with the feedback mechanism, saying, "If we can interrupt this process, we hope to fool the cells so they won't be able to gauge how much oil they have made and will make more."

Read more about this research at http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/pr/PR_display.asp?prID=1418&template=Today.

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CLC bio and the International Laboratory for Tropical Agriculture (ILTAB) at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will collaborate to benefit the Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa project (VIRCA). The partnership will also include researchers from Uganda's National Crops Resources Research Institute, and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute.

VIRCA's efforts to develop and deliver farmer-preferred cassava varieties will involve the use of RNAi technology to resist serious plant virus diseases that greatly reduce yields and increase the threat of poverty and famine.

Dr. Claude M. Fauquet, ILTAB's director, said that "We're using CLC bio's software to analyze and map siRNAs providing information required for accelerating development and identification of the elite cassava lines for testing under field conditions in East Africa." He added that, "using science and technology to improve agricultural production can make a difference for millions of people."

Read the news release at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/clc-bio-collaborates-with-donald-danforth-plant-science-center-on-the-virus-resistant-cassava-for-africa-project-2012-06-06. A video featuring Dr. Fauquet elaborating on ILTAB's VIRCA project can be viewed at http://www.clcbio.tv/video/4913932/non-profit-development-of.

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An environmental assessment for a proposed controlled field release of a genetically engineered clone of a Eucalyptus hybrid was prepared by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The field release is intended to assess the effectiveness of gene constructs contained in the hybrid for cold tolerance, change in lignin biosynthesis, and improved growth and flowering.

APHIS has concluded, based on the review of scientific information and considering comments from the public, that the field release is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk or to have a significant effect on the quality of the human environment. Thus, the agency has determined that an environmental impact statement need not be prepared for this field release.

See the news announcement at.http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-06-06/pdf/2012-13760.pdf.

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Aflatoxin produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus has been a huge problem in the livestock industry. It causes liver cirrhosis, cancer, and is lethal to animals and humans. Monitoring its content in the corn feeds to contain acceptable levels of 200-300 parts per billion for finishing beef cattle feed and 20 parts per billion for dairy cattle feed has been a standard procedure in Texas.

The One Sample Strategy developed by Texas AgriLife Research facilitates the aflatoxin testing procedure. The US Department of Agriculture-Risk Management Agency has extended approval of the program for 2012 and succeeding crop years, and made it the standard in aflatoxin test in the Texas grain industry. Testing accuracy is maintained through monitoring and program oversight by state chemist field investigators.

To find a participating elevator in your area or learn more about becoming approved for the program, visit the One Sample Strategy Web site at http://otscweb.tamu.edu/risk/OneSample. To view the original article, check out http://today.agrilife.org/2012/06/05/one-sample-testing-program-receives-usda-rma-continuation-approval/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AgrilifeToday+%28AgriLife+Today%29.

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Some 250 farmers in the U.S. are currently testing the new drought tolerant corn scheduled for widespread production in 2013. This new product was developed by BASF SE and Monsanto Co. and will be under the DroughtGard brand. It is designed to provide farmers yield stability during periods when water supply is scarce by mitigating the effects of drought or water stress within a corn plant.

According to Peter Eckes, president of BASF's plant science division, the results will show the farmers about real value of the product.

Read more at http://www.niuzer.com/Stock-Markets/BASF-Says-Drought-Tolerant-Corns-Value-to-be-Determined-by-Farmers-12177436.html .

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Asia and the Pacific

A research team from the University of Hokkaido in Japan completed the first ever genetically modified Miscanthus. The herbaceous perennial that originated from East Asia is considered to be a promising energy crop. The plant is considered as a cellulosic feedstock material which contains lignocellulose, a structural material that can produce abundant ethanol.

The newly developed gene transfer technology for Miscanthus is expected to create new varieties such as those which have improved saccharification through modification of the cell wall composition (by lowering lignin content) and those which have environmental stress tolerance among others.

The original article is available at http://www.hokudai.ac.jp/en/news/201103.html.

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The study on the "Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of Bt Cotton in India" jointly undertaken by the Council for Social Development (CSD) and Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS) confirms that cotton production in India has risen substantially with the use of the hybrid Bt cotton seeds resulting in benefiting small farmers and helping the country to become net exporter of cotton in the world. The study concludes that the overall production of cotton has grown by 9.25 percent since introduction of Bt cotton in 2002-03 and farmers' income jumped up by nearly 375 percent.

The study also reported a steep decline in pesticide consumption by 23 percent in the Post-Bt cotton period (2002 to 2009) when compared to the Pre-Bt cotton period (1996 to 2001). Similarly, the study also reported a substantial gain to small farmer for growing Bt cotton, with an average net returns from Bt cotton at the all India level to be as high as Rs.65307.82 per hectare equivalent to US$1300 per ha. The per hectare net returns were scale neutral across farm size classes. Further, it was also found that the total income or net returns from Bt cotton was much higher than income from other non-farm sources. According to the study, 85 percent of farmers and landless labourers invested in better quality education for their children and 77 percent reported intake of high value and nutritious food.

Notably, the study clearly delinked the farmers suicides from Bt cotton and blamed the suicides mainly on low and erratic nature of rainfall, unavailability of timely credit and fluctuating cotton prices over the years that made production risky in certain years. As timely availability of institutional credit was a challenge, farmers depended more on non-institutional sources of credit such as money lenders, arhatiyas (middle men), relatives and friends. Non-institutional credit was easily accessible but had a higher rate of interest.

The study was undertaken to validate farmers' experience using Bt cotton in nine cotton growing states of India in 2009-2010 by surveying more than 1050 farmers and 300 agricultural laborers.

A copy of the study is available at: http://farmersforum.in/policy/study-on-socio-economic-impact-assessment-of-bt-cotton-in-india/. For more news about biotechnology in India, contact Bhagirath Choudhary at b.choudhary@cgiar.org.

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Farrer Memorial Trust announced that Professor Graeme Hammer, Director of the Centre for Plant Science at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), will receive the 2012 Farrer Memorial Medal. The award is presented annually to a person who had provided distinguished service in agriculture science.

"His most significant research contribution includes the design and development of sophisticated mathematical models that examine the physiology and genetics of complex adaptive traits in field crops, with a focus on improving water productivity in cereals," said Farrer Memorial Trust Chairman Richard Sheldrake. Hammer's research has made way to the "development of improved models that enable simulation of consequences of genetic and management manipulation of crops in specific target environments".

The award was established in 1911 in memory of research done by William James Farrer who introduced Federation wheat, a development which significantly advanced the wheat industry.

Check out the press release at http://www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=24822

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Entomologists engaged in research projects funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) are searching for locations where growers have experienced chemical control difficulties or failures when dealing with insect pests, particularly mites and aphids. The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has issued a call to farmers and farm technicians to assist them in an ongoing investigation to identify areas at risk of having insecticide resistance and provide early detection of resistant populations.

The research is being led by cesar, a science-based company that delivers environmentally sustainable management solutions in agricultural pest control and wildlife conservation, and the University of Melbourne, in collaboration with entomologists across Australia.

"Entomologists suspect that the problem is more extensive than has been scientifically confirmed. We are therefore keen to map the geographical spread of the problem throughout Australia's cropping and pasture regions," says Dr. Paul Umina of cesar. The researchers also want to monitor paddocks that have been subjected to heavy sprays to assess build up of insect pest populations.

Reports can be made directly to Dr. Melina Miles on 07 46881369 or email melina.miles@daff.qld.gov.au. More information on integrated pest management is available from the GRDC via http://www.grdc.com.au/pestlinks. For details, see the news at  http://www.grdc.com.au/director/events/mediareleases?item_id=BF4D385BECB213C8DFA73F4F598DC704&pageNumber=1.

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Europe

The recently concluded International Conference in Genomics organized by Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) was held at Biocenter of Copenhagen in Denmark. BGI and partner universities in Europe welcomed 400 prominent researchers and global industry executives to discuss and accelerate Omics-related research and boost the transformation of scientific and technological achievements.

Professor Huanming Yang, chairman of BGI, expressed his excitement in holding the ICG-Europe, the first international conference on genomics in Europe, during his opening remarks. He hoped it could provide a  platform for researchers to exchange their knowledge and insights on Omics-related research. Several excellent presentations were delivered by researchers from Aarhus University, Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland, Karolinska Institute, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, CeBiTec Bielefeld University, University of Freiburg Medical Center, Imperial College London, University of Gothenburg, among others, the news article reported.

In one of the presentations, Professor Jun Wang, Executive Director of BGI, introduced BGI's genomics research and "Three Million Genomes Projects" which consist of the "Million Plant and Animal Genomes Project," "Million Human Genomes Project" and "Million Micro-Ecosystem Project". He said, "Due to next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, advancements in genomics have been moving rapidly forward. BGI focuses on translating Omics-related research into molecular breeding and disease-associated studies with the aim to boost the rapid development of agriculture, medicine, drug development and clinical treatment, among others."

For more on this news, see  http://www.genomics.cn/en/news/show_news?nid=99068.

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Research partners Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. and SESVanderhave announced the successful three year field trials of nitrogen use efficient (NUE) sugarbeets. The crop has been genetically modified to produce higher yields compared to controls under different fertilizer applications over multiple years.

"The data we have produced with the experimental NUE sugar beets have shown a very significant potential for yield improvement under various nitrogen regimes and have indicated that in some conditions highly competitive yield could be achieved with less nitrogen input," commented Klaas Van der Woude, Research & Development Director of SESVanderHave. "We are very enthusiastic to progress the development of the technology in sugar beets rapidly, and to bring NUE seed products to support the competitiveness and sustainability of the sugar beet industry."

Upon successful commercialization of NUE sugar beets, growers can use lower nitrogen fertilizer and can contribute to a sustainable agriculture and thereby reduce their environmental impact.

See the news release at http://www.arcadiabio.com/news/press-release/sesvanderhave-and-arcadia-biosciences-achieve-field-performance-milestone

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British Biologist and Nobel Prize laureate Richard Roberts expressed his views about genetic modification, synthetic biology, and stem cell research during the Astana Economic Forum held in Astana, Kazakhstan, on May 22-24, 2012. The nobelist said that the European opposition to genetically modified organisms is a political issue.

"On a political level, governments must embrace genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and not give way to European prophets of doom, who oppose the use of GMOs for purely political reasons," said Roberts. "It is important to note there is a complete absence of evidence that GMOs can cause any harm. Indeed to any well-informed scientist, traditionally bred plants seem much more likely to be harmful than GMOs."

He also said that our increasing knowledge of the human genome will lead to improved medical treatments and diagnostics and that stem cell research will help us ensure that the quality of life does not diminish as we age.

Read the original article at http://www.healthcareglobal.com/press_releases/nobelist-speaks-out-on-genetic-modification-synthetic-biology-stem-cell-research. For more information about Astana Economic Forum, visit http://www.aef.kz/en/news/287573/.

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Bayer CropScience has opened a new European Wheat Breeding Center at the Biotechpark Gatersleben Infrastruktur GmbH in Gatersleben, Germany.

"It is an enormous challenge for scientists all over the world to safeguard and improve the global food supply. As a scientific company, we at Bayer want to make our contribution towards achieving this goal, in line with our mission 'Science For A Better Life'," said Dr. Wolfgang Plischke, member of the Bayer AG Board of Management responsible for Innovation, Technology and Sustainability. He said that that it will be essential to use all available methods such as molecular breeding to increase yields.

For more information visit http://www.bayercropscience.com/bcsweb/cropprotection.nsf/id/EN20120606?open&l=EN&ccm=500020.

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Research

Cry and Cyt proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are used globally to control insect pests, either as insect spray or expressed in Bt crops. A team of scientists from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México reviewed the constructions of Cry and Cyt anti-toxins to gain information for developing strategies to counter insects' resistance to native Cry and Cyt toxins.

Mario Soberón and colleagues found that the non-toxic helix α-4 mutants of Cry1Ab could oligomerize and interact with native toxin (Cry1AMod) forming inactive hetero-oligomers which blocks the toxicity of native Cry1Ab. On the other hand, the N-terminal domain of Cyt1A containing the helix-bundle also shows a dominant negative phenotype inhibiting native Cyt1Aa toxicity. Based on the results, Cry and Cyt mutants have the potential to be used as anti-toxins in certain environments while Cry1AMod toxins could counter resistance to Cry1A toxin in strains with different mechanisms of resistance.

For more details about the study, visit http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004835751200065X.

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Previous studies have shown that the over-expression of Arabidopsis CyclinD2;1 improved the growth of tobacco and rice but not in Arabidopsis. To search for more species that could be improved by over-expression of CyclinD2;1, David Talengera from the National Agricultural Research Laboratories in Uganda and other scientists conducted a study. They isolated CyclinD2;1 from an East African highland banana cultivar called Nakasabira and designated it as Musac;CYCD2;1.

The amino acid sequence of Musac;CYCD2;1 showed more of less 50% similar with the identity of CYCD2;1 sequences of Arabidopsis, rice, maize and wheat. When they over-expressed Musac;CYCD2;1 in cultivar ‘Sukali ndizi', the transformed plants showed no changes in the above-ground parts but the main roots and the lateral roots showed significant increase in length. Furthermore, a deeper root system was exhibited by one transgenic line compared with the control.

There results could be used to enhance the root growth in bananas. Read the complete article at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB/abstracts/abs2012/5Jun/Talengera%20et%20al.htm.

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Nitric oxide and oleic acid are known as regulators of disease physiologies in different organisms. A study conducted by Mihir Kumar Mandal from the University of Kentucky and colleagues shows that nitric oxide production in plants is controlled by oleic acid. The team induced genetic mutation in the oleic acid-synthesizing gene (SSI2) to reduce oleic levels in Arabidopsis. This led to NITRICOXIDE ASSOCIATED1 (NOA1) accumulation and thus increase in nitric oxide levels. It also triggered the expression of sets of genes that activate disease resistance.

The changes in the defense signaling in the ssi2 mutant was incompletely restored by a mutation in NOA1 and completely restored by double mutations in NOA1. The findings suggest that oleic acid levels regulate nitric oxide production by nitric oxide-mediated signaling through NOA1 regulation.

Read the abstract at http://www.plantcell.org/content/24/4/1654.abstract.

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Beyond Crop Biotech

During the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Regional Symposium on Promotion of underutilized indigenous food resources for food security and nutrition in Asia and the Pacific held in Thailand last May 31 to June 2, inclusion of more than 2,000 new vegetables in the world's 20 staple food crops was tackled. Diversification both in agriculture and in achieving food security should be given a second look to consider various vegetable crops such as moringa, slippery cabbage, bitter gourd, and African nightshades, said Dr. Dyno Keatinge, Director General of the Asian Vegetable Research Center (AVRDC), in his keynote address.

More than 70% of diets now consist of either rice or maize that leads to obesity. These food crops are loaded with carbohydrates but lacking in protein, vitamins and other vital micronutrients. Global consumption of fruits and vegetables was also found by the FAO to be well below the minimum World Health Organization standard of 400 grams per day.

"Over the last 40 years we've focused on overcoming hunger, but our success in increasing the production of staple crops has come at a great cost, both to agricultural diversity and community health," said Keatinge. "Increasing vegetable consumption, especially indigenous vegetables is the most effective, most inexpensive tool a country has to benefit the health of its citizens," he added. 

The news release can be viewed at http://www.avrdc.org/fileadmin/pdfs/media_releases/2012/AVRDC_FAO_Symposium_31May12.pdf

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The Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA), the country's state-owned company particularly affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture devoted to agricultural researches in the country, has launched an innovative project to further ensure the quality of microorganism collection of the company and to meet the demands of both local and international markets.

The project, entitled "Corporate Management Model for Collections of Micro-organisms, Embrapa - GESTCOL" will improve the company's management and collection system of microorganisms using benchmarking. Benchmarking is a knowledge management practice wherein organizations compare their organizational knowledge management structures and activities to their partner organizations to see the best practices that they may acquire, and to apply these knowledge management systems/practices to their own organizations.

In Brazil, the company will visit the collections of Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and the State University of Campinas. Overseas, they will collaborate with the Leibniz Institute of DSMZ (Germany), Belgian Coordinated Collections of Microorganisms (Belgium), CBS (Netherlands) and the Pasteur Institute (France).

According to Clarissa Silva Pires de Castro, project leader and researcher at EMBRAPA's Genetic Resources and Biotechnology Division, the company aims to meet the international quality standards set by international organizations for standardization, among them are ISO Guide 34, ISO / IEC 17025:2005, and OECD Best Practice Guidelines for Biological Resource Centres.

Since its establishment in 1973, EMBRAPA has been collecting microorganisms which include fungi, bacteria, and viruses. The company distribute the microorganisms in its various units to preserve those with various features like traits related to biological pest control, soil fertility and those with industrial interests and causal pathogens in plant and animal diseases.

See the original article in Portuguese http://www.embrapa.br/embrapa/imprensa/noticias/2012/maio/4a-semana/embrapa-inicia-em-2012-diagnostico-de-suas-colecoes-de-micro-organismos.

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Researchers from Harvard University discovered that parasitic "corpse flower" share large parts of its genome with its host vines even if they have been separated by over 100 million years of evolution. The scientists explained that the sharing of genome parts occurred through horizontal gene transfer, which is a process that allows transfer of genes without sexual reproduction.

Co-lead researchers from Stony Brook University said that the gene sharing is surprisingly widespread than their initial assumptions. The genes from the hosts appeared to be likely functional in the corpse flower and may have replaced the other genes that the flower inherited from the early generations.

According to Charles Davis, a professor from Harvard University, the new finding suggests that horizontal gene transfer may convey some evolutionary advantage to the flowers, which are known as the largest flowers in the world.

"At the outset, we wondered if it could be that a subset of these genes might provide some defense from the host mounting an attack," Davis added. "However, the genes coming to the flowers represent a broad swath of functions, including respiration, metabolism and perhaps some useful for defense. If so, these findings might reflect a sort of genomic camouflage, or genomic mimicry for the parasite."

For more details, visit http://phys.org/journals/bmc-genomics/.

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Announcements

The 11th International Conference on Bioinformatics will take place on 3-5 October 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference will be held in conjunction with the 3rd International Conference on Computational Systems Biology and Bioinformatics (CSBio2012) and the 3rd Winter Conference of the International Neural Networks Society (INNS-WC2012), and will be preceeded by a number of workshops. Keynote and plenary speakers in the Conference include noted scientists from China, Japan, UK, USA, Denmark and Thailand. A number of travel grants are made available by the Asia-Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet).

For conference information and travel grant information, please visit its official website at http://www.incob2012.org/.

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Document Reminders

ISAAA publishes Pocket K 40 on Biotechnology for the Livestock Industry, a two-page simple discourse on the biotechnology tools employed in livestock improvement. It discusses Reproductive Animal Biotechnologies such as artificial insemination, embryo transfer, in-vitro fertilization and somatic cell nuclear transfer; Applications of genomics and marker-assisted selection; and future initiatives in DNA-based technology for livestock improvement. Pockets of Knowledge (Pocket Ks) are packaged  information  on biotechnologies in easy to understand style and format that is easily shared and distributed. Pocket K 40 is now available at the ISAAA website at http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/40/default.asp.


Scientist Jerry M. Green from Pioneer Hi-Bred International released an article about the benefits of herbicide tolerant crops. According to Green, new multiple herbicide tolerant crops will expand the use of presently available herbicide technologies to be part of effective weed management systems. In the long run, these weed management systems will help sustain the benefits of high efficiency and high production agriculture.

Get a copy of the article at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ps.3374/abstract.