Tag Archives: breeding

New varieties for East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club

A new factsheet from AHDB Horticulture summarises the attributes of the main varieties released in the second tranche of the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club, as well as details of promising selections developed during the same period.

Three varieties from the second tranche (which started in 2013) are in the process of being commercialised. The late-season June-bearer Malling Allure (EM2157) and the disease resistant Everbearers Malling Champion (EMR564) and EMR639. 

Malling Allure is described as ‘a robust plant, with moderate vigour in comparison with other late-season varieties.’ It is 10-12 days later than Elsanta and has fruit quality similar to Malling Centenary. Malling Champion is ‘an early season Everbearer, which produces its peak harvest in July and picks steadily through August.’ It is resistant to crown rot (Phytophthora cactorum) and wilt (Verticillium dahliae) and shows moderate resistance to powdery mildew (Podosphaera aphanis), as does EMR639.

Six other selections from the programme are due to advance to large scale grower trials, including two June-bearers and four Everbearers. The East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club (EMSBC) was formed in 2008 to continue the national strawberry programme that began at East Malling Research in 1983. The second tranche of AHDB-funded work runs until 2023.

Photo Caption: Malling Allure

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Scottish scientists working to improve raspberry flavour

Plant breeders and scientists from Scotland’s James Hutton Institute at Invergowrie near Dundee are working to develop new varieties of raspberries which have more consistent flavour whatever the weather during the growing season.

However, different consumer perceptions and preferences mean that the task is not always straightforward. Research has shown that men, women and the young and old all have different views on what a raspberry should taste like, and that these differences can affect overall sales of the popular berry.

Project leader Dr Julie Graham told The Scotsman, “If a consumer buys raspberries that they don’t like, some won’t go back and buy the fruit for the rest of the season. Others won’t go back for several weeks. A negative eating experience does have a big impact on purchasing. We also want to understand why the environment has such a big effect on the flavour.

“Typically, the younger you are, the sweeter you want your raspberries. As people get older, they tend to want a balance between sugar and acid. Then there is also a gender divide. Speaking generally, men tend to like a bit of balance and then women like it sweeter. However, that again is affected by age profile. It is really quite interesting what people want in flavour.”

The research facility is now working with New Zealand’s Delytics Ltd in order to provide better guidance and exactly when to harvest the fruit to growers.

Photo Caption: Different consumers have different ideas of what a raspberry should taste like

Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures

The post Scottish scientists working to improve raspberry flavour appeared first on Hort News on 5 September 2018.

Rijk Zwaan highlights potential of snack vegetables

Healthy snacking is becoming increasingly popular around the world and Rijk Zwaan believes that it can offer a number of innovative options to the snack vegetable market.

Among the lines that the company will be highlighting at this year’s Asia Fruit Logistica event in September are snack tomatoes in a variety of colours, Silky Pink tomatoes and its One-bite cucumber.

As well as red, orange and yellow tomatoes in different sizes, it is also offering pear-shaped snack tomatoes, light-green or bicolour mini cucumbers and mini bell peppers in a variety of colours. According to the company, at just 5 centimetres long, its One-bite mini cucumber is ‘truly unique.’

The Silky Pink cocktail tomato is the latest in the company’s range, with a cherry and beefsteak version promised in the future. In a press release, Rijk Zwaan added, “The snack vegetable offering also includes robust yet appealing packaging concepts that are ideal for online retail in Asia.

“Guided by [our]motto of ‘Sharing a healthy future’, Rijk Zwaan is committed to working together to further develop the market for fresh vegetables.”

Photo Caption: Rijk Zwaan believes that the snack vegetable market is set to grow

Photo Credit: Rijk Zwaan

The post Rijk Zwaan highlights potential of snack vegetables appeared first on Hort News on 20 August 2018.

CRISPR technology used to change flower colour

Japanese scientists have used the revolutionary CRISPR, or CRISPR/Cas9, genome-editing tool to change flower colour in an ornamental plant, the first time the technique has been used for such a purpose.

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba, the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) and Yokohama City University, Japan, altered the flower colour of Japanese morning glory (Ipomoea nil or Pharbitis nil), from violet to white, by disrupting a single gene. Japanese morning glory, or Asagao, was chosen as it is one of two traditional horticultural model plants in the National BioResource Project in Japan (NBRP).

The research team targeted a single gene, dihydroflavonol-4-reductase-B (DFR-B), encoding an anthocyanin biosynthesis enzyme, that is responsible for the colour of the plant’s stems, leaves and flowers. Two other, very closely related genes (DFR-A and DRF-C) sit side-by-side, next to DFR-B.

The CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)/Cas9 system is based on a bacterial defence mechanism. It is composed of two molecules that alter the DNA sequence. Cas9, an enzyme, cuts the two strands of DNA in a precise location so that DNA can be added or removed. Cas9 is guided to the correct location by a small piece of RNA that has been designed to be complementary to the target DNA sequence. Currently, CRISPR/Cas9 technology is not 100% efficient, but the mutation rate in this study, 75%, however, was relatively high.

Photo Caption: Morning glory flowers

Photo Credit: tamayura39 / Fotolia

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Opportunity for strawberry growers to see latest breeding

The latest selections from the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club will be on display to growers at an EMR Association/AHDB Horticulture walk at NIAB East Malling Research on 8 June.

According to organisers, the event represents a great opportunity for growers to experience this year’s most promising performers from the breeding club, with an opportunity to view and taste the most interesting new selections from the programme.

The event will also give growers a chance to provide feedback on the lines and ultimately will help choose which lines move on to commercial release to the industry. In conjunction with project SF 096a, the key aim of the Strawberry Breeding Club is to breed varieties to the highest standard, with overlapping seasons, high yields, high pest and disease resistance and greater picking efficiency to reduce labour costs.

Photo Credit: Pexels

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Use of true potato seed gets EU boost

The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (Seeds and Propagation section) of the European Commission has approved a so-called ‘temporary experiment’ with derogatory rules on the marketing of True Potato Seed.

Potatoes are currently exclusively propagated by tubers, however, innovative technologies now allow propagation by seeds and this has a number of significant benefits, including speeding up the multiplication of varieties which are currently reliant on tuber production.

The new technology for the production of true seed relies on the crossing of uniform, inbred lines, allowing quicker introduction of one, or even several beneficial new traits as F1 hybrids, and the use of True Potato Seed for faster propagation; one potato plant can easily produce 1000 seeds.

The total value of seed potatoes produced in the EU is estimated at €1 billion per year. New technologies will potentially have a large impact on trade; a small bag of 30 grams of True Potato Seed corresponds to 2,500 kilograms of seed tubers, which are also prone to losing quality during long transport. Current legislation in the EU does not regulate the marketing of true seed of Solanum tuberosum. The temporary experiment, which will last seven years, will help in establishing the requirements for this material so that both producers and users can maximally benefit from this innovative technology.

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New seed breeding technique reported

According to reports, scientists from Syngenta have published details of a breakthrough seed breeding process in the international scientific journal Nature.

It is believed that the technique of haploid induction could significantly speed up breeding. Although initially based around corn (maize) crops, with the mechanism triggered by a defect in an enzyme coded by the Matrilineal (MTL) gene, the work could have wide implications.

“Successful haploid induction is an often painstaking and costly process,” said Tim Kelliher, principal scientist, reproduction biology at Syngenta and lead author of the paper. “But this research is an important step in showing how gene editing can help us breed plants that produce higher yields, on a much more efficient time frame.”

“We know that investment in gene editing and crop genetics can help us create significant progress toward sustainable intensification of agriculture,” said Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, head of Seeds Research at Syngenta. “To be recognized by the scientific community for this work illustrates its importance to innovation in agriculture. It is a true honour and testament to the quality of our scientists.”

Photo Caption: The study identified the causes of haploid induction in corn

Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures

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KWS sells potato business

KWS which is best known as a breeder and supplier of arable crop seeds has announced that it will sell its conventional seed potato business to Stet Holland B.V.

The business was formed in 2011 after KWS took over the business of Van Rijn, with who it had been working with for a number of years. Both companies are based at Emmeloord and the sale includes processing, crisping and table varieties. KWS will continue to operate in hybrid and novel potato breeding techniques.

“The future owner Stet Holland is positioned for a successful continuation of our conventional potato business while KWS will fully focus its efforts in potato utilizing its resources and know-how as a breeder to develop hybrid varieties,” commented Peter Hofmann, of KWS SAAT SE. “Hybrid breeding in potato and multiplication via seed instead of tubers is an entirely new but highly promising approach that has considerable advantages compared to conventional breeding. We have been working in this innovative field since 2011 and have achieved significant progress in the meantime.”

Peter Ton, General Manager of Stet Holland added, “KWS’ seed potato business is an excellent fit for Stet as the markets for the current KWS and Stet varieties are very complementary to each other. Taking over KWS’ variety portfolio, seed potato production, and sales channels will enable us to create synergies and gain presence in key markets and specific processing segments. KWS’ varieties, breeding material and expert employees, combined with a good customer base, will help us to strengthen Stet’s position in the seed potato market.”

Photo Credit: KWS

The post KWS sells potato business appeared first on Hort News on 15 April 2016.

Bejo takes over Agrisemen

Dutch vegetable seed company Bejo Zaden has taken over specialist lettuce breeder Agrisemen.

The move will see Warmenhuizen-based Bejo acquire an established portfolio of lettuce material, along with a strong base for future development of the crop. Jack Burgers, Managing Director of Agrisemen, will help to oversee the integration of the two companies over the next two years. Agrisemen’s other lines, including Brussels sprouts and pointed cabbage will continue to be sold under the recognised Agrisemen brand.

John-Pieter Schipper, CEO of Bejo Zaden commented, “Lettuce is a popular vegetable and a major global crop. It fits very well into our product range and the crop plan of our clients. Agrisemen has extensive knowledge and an excellent lettuce breeding program. This collaboration would therefore be a great addition to our current product range.”

“With Bejo as a partner we are gaining access to an extensive international sales and distribution network and the latest research technologies,” added Jack Burgers. “This allows us to achieve our growth ambitions quicker. For us it was a conscious decision to seek an alliance with a Dutch family business where we would be a welcome addition with our product range.”

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Concern over patents for vegetable varieties

Copa and Cogeca have issued a warning over the consequences for plant breeders and others about using patents in the EU agriculture sector.

The comments were made at a seminar in Brussels on 24 June on the interface between patents and plant variety rights. The unions say granting patents will result in fewer products and varieties and additional costs.

Thor Kofoed, Chairman of Copa-Cogeca Working Party on Seeds, said “A patent system in the EU agriculture sector will not help farmers to get a better crop variety adapted to local conditions. Instead, it will lead to less products and less varieties and additional costs. Copa and Cogeca are very concerned by the increasing number of patents granted to plants.”

He pointed to the recent decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) which recognises two patents: one from a British company for broccoli that contains a bitter anti-carcinogenic substance, and another from an Israeli company for ‘wrinkly’ tomatoes which have reduced water content.

Copa-Cogeca maintain that the specific characteristics of these broccoli and tomato plants were not invented or artificially manufactured, but were present in the wild parent plants and are the result of crossing and selection practices, which are essentially biological processes. ‘This protection will mean that all companies that produce varieties with the same features will have to obtain a licence from the patent holder. It could jeopardise progress in breeding, and decrease innovation and biodiversity, thus resulting in increasing consolidation in the seed industry,’ the unions added.

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