Tag Archives: plant breeding

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.

New Dutch strawberries released

Dutch fruit producer Flevo Berry has released a new mid-season fruiting strawberry that the company says has good tolerance to Phytopthora.

Sonsation is a short day variety, with berries with orange-red, conical berries which are said to resemble Sonata, but with better firmness. According to the company, ‘Sonsation is an easy growing variety producing a compact plant with lovely upturned leafs. Flower trusses are at leaf length and still well protected against spring frost. Flowers have excellent pollen quality ensuring a very well fruit set and fruits are well displayed and very easy to pick.’

Steven Oosterloo, commercial director of Flevo Berry said: “Sonsation fits into our philosophy. In developing new varieties we always look ahead. It can be done differently and it really must be done differently, so for us, flavor and sustainability are at the top of the list. It is a part of the way we think. You can use Sonsation in a variety of growing systems. From normal conditions and cooled environments to cultivation on racks and on substrate in greenhouses. The variety is easy to grow and juicy, making it appropriate for both direct sale and retail.”

Photo Credit: Flevo Berry

The post New Dutch strawberries released appeared first on Hort News on 23 July 2018.

EU divided over plant breeding

An expected European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the use and classification of new plant breeding techniques (NPBT), which was widely expected this month, is now believed to have been delayed for at least another month.

A recent report on the Euractivwebsite says that the European Commission ‘has made clear it sees it as a pure case of interpreting the law; However, EU farmers expressed their fear last year about a “politicised” decision.’

The EU farmers’ union Copa-Cogeca has urged the EU to embrace new technology quicker. Its secretary-general Pekka Pesonen said: “It is crucial that breeders in the EU get access to all the necessary plant breeding technologies (NBT). EU farmers cannot wait for the normal time of 12-15 years that it takes to breed a new variety and with the huge uncertainty that results from conventional processing techniques.

“NBTs must be used immediately for mutation breeding as it is the plant’s own DNA being worked on and must therefore naturally be excluded from the GMO Directive. By doing this, a new variety where NBT is used for mutation, of course, must only undergo a normal variety testing by CPVR and, of course, can in no way contain any patents at all.”

However groups representing organic and small farmers believe that these new techniques have only been developed by big business as a way to overcome public hostility to genetic modification.

Photo Caption: Supporters argue that new plant breeding techniques can reduce pesticide use and improve yields.

Photo Credit: pxhere

The post EU divided over plant breeding appeared first on Hort News on 23 May 2018.

Syngenta acquires sweet corn breeder Abbott & Cobb

Syngenta’s US business has announced that it has acquired independent Pennsylvania-based vegetable breed and seed producer Abbott & Cobb.

Established in 1917, Abbott & Cobb is particularly strong in sweet corn and cucurbits, as well as peppers and beans for processing. According to Syngenta, combining the expertise, portfolios and pipelines of both companies will enable it to increase its ability to innovate and enhance its offer to growers. In particular it will strengthen Syngenta’s vegetable seeds business in sweet corn, which is seen as one of the company’s core crops globally.

Javier Martinez-Cabrera, Syngenta Head of Vegetables Seeds North America, commented, “Abbott & Cobb is a strategic acquisition for Syngenta Vegetable Seeds and it will give us access to high eating quality germplasm, and early maturity varieties to complement the Syngenta portfolio. We welcome the Abbott & Cobb team into the business and look forward to achieving great things as one team.”

Photo Caption: Abbott & Cobb are leading breeders of sweat corn

Photo Credit: Abbott & Cobb / Twitter

The post Syngenta acquires sweet corn breeder Abbott & Cobb appeared first on Hort News on 18 April 2018.

Exciting new varieties from summer fruiting raspberry trials

AHDB Horticulture is highlighting the benefits of variety trials on new raspberry varieties funded by the levy board.

“Exciting work coming out of the latest summer fruiting raspberry variety trials means that soft fruit growers have increased access to delicious and profitable selections,” says AHDB Knowledge Exchange manager Scott Raffle. “Over the years, the UK Raspberry Breeding Programme has produced many competitive new varieties. The trial allowed the performance of a wide variety of selections to be compared to industry standards, Tulameen and Octavia.”

He says that of particular note were Squamish, Glen Carron, Glen Dee and two late selections from NIAB EMR, all of which he described as “outstanding.” Canadian variety Squamish produces unusually high yields for an early variety and has a low chilling requirement compared to Tulameen.

“Glen Carron (formerly 0485K-1) produces a very high quality raspberry that is consistently larger than Tulameen,” adds Scott. “It does have a high chilling requirement, but it could perform well when used in sequential plantings of cold stored long canes. Glen Dee offers a late season replacement to Octavia with very large berry size, high yields and high fruit quality.”

The trials also suggest that two NIAB EMR selections (EM6805/142 and EM 6804/81) could replace Octavia, producing higher yields than the long established standard. Two selections from Washington State University (WSU 1605 and WSU 1607) are also interesting.

“With more selections becoming available each year, growers are encouraged to seize the opportunity to compare some of the new outstanding varieties and selections with their own production systems,” stresses Scott, who recommends that growers download the AHDB Summer Fruiting Raspberry Variety Trial factsheet.

Photo Caption: Glen Carron was one of the varieties highlighted by Scott Raffle

Photo Credit: James Hutton Limited

The post Exciting new varieties from summer fruiting raspberry trials appeared first on Hort News on 18 April 2018.

Monsanto brings gene-editing to strawberries

Multinational agribusiness Monsanto has invested $125 million in agricultural start-up Pairwise to leverage gene editing technology into fresh produce crops such as strawberries.

According to Business Insider, the two companies will use CRISPR gene editing techniques to develop fruit crops – most likely to be strawberries – within the next five to 10 years, with the benefits expected to be sweeter fruit with a longer shelf life. The website also reported that former Monsanto’s vice president of global biotechnology Tom Adams will become the new CEO of Pairwise.

“Gene editing allows you to address problems that you can’t address with genetic modification and do so faster,” Adams said, adding, “what’s exciting is that it can get into crops that have a smaller footprint than maybe corn and have more opportunities to get into the hands of consumers.”

Haven Baker, the founder and CEO of Pairwise plants, told Business Insider, “We are absolutely targeting things that you’ll be able to see in the produce aisle. And ideally it’ll be benefits you recognize as an average consumer shopping and looking for produce. We want to make specialty crops cheaper more accessible and more affordable.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The post Monsanto brings gene-editing to strawberries appeared first on Hort News on 5 April 2018.

New ‘Tomato Expression Atlas’ dives deep into the fruit’s flesh

Researchers have published a ‘spatiotemporal map’ of gene expression for all tissues and all the developmental stages of tomato fruit which highlights how a fruit changes from inside to out as it ripens.

How a fruit ripens has long been an important question for breeders, and with the global tomato market worth around $55 billion a year, tomato is an important subject for understanding the genetic basis of commercially important traits, such as size, colour, flavour, and nutritional content.

“We needed unbiased sampling that was as representative as possible. For that purpose, we harvested in total more than 400 samples from more than 60 randomly selected individual tomato plants,” explained postdoctoral scientist Philippe Nicolas who was involved in the multi-partner project.

The researchers carefully dissected the tomato tissues by hand and with lasers to isolate and sequence RNA from individual tissues and even cells. The sequence data was then compiled, parsed, and organized into the Tomato Expression Atlas (TEA), where it can be analyzed to investigate the various biological processes important for fruit development.

“The TEA database offers an unprecedented level of interactivity and novel ways to visualize complex, multidimensional expression data,” added scientist Lukas Mueller, referring to the TEA’s graphic interface that allows users to visualize gene expression through heat maps and fruit pictographs.

Photo Caption: Tomato fruit at the different developmental stages used for this study.

Photo Credit: The Tomato Expression Atlas

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Should gene edited crops be exempt from GMO rules?

The European court’s Advocate General has determined that organisms derived by gene editing technologies are exempt from wider EU rules on growing and marketing genetically modified (GM) food.

In a release last week, Advocate General Michel Bobek suggested that the EU’s GMO Directive ‘does not … apply to organisms obtained through certain techniques of genetic modification, such as mutagenesis (‘the mutagenesis exemption’).’

Unlike transgenesis, mutagenesis does not, in principle, entail the insertion of foreign DNA into a living organism. It does, however, involve an alteration of the genome of a living species. The mutagenesis techniques have made it possible to develop seed varieties with elements resistant to a selective herbicide.

Dr Michael Antoniou, the head of the molecular genetics department at King’s College London, said exempting new plant-breeding technologies from GM laws was “wrong and potentially dangerous”.

“None of these gene editing methods are perfect,” he told the Guardian. “They have ‘off target’ effects that can inadvertently disturb the biochemistry of organisms leading to unintended outcomes which – if you’re making a new gene edited food crop, for example – could result in the unexpected production of a new toxin or allergenic substance.”

However, John Brennan, secretary-general of the biotechnology lobby group EuropaBio, said, “The advocate general’s opinion demonstrates that necessary steps are being taken towards clarifying the regulatory status of products that have been developed using the latest biotechnological tools and applications. We trust that the forthcoming ruling will contribute to establishing regulatory clarity.”

The Advocate General’s Opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Seed breeders say impact of Brexit not appreciated

Representatives of the seed industry have told the Fresh Produce Journal that Defra has shown a “heartbreaking” lack of awareness of the potential effects of Brexit on the plant breeding and seed production sector.

There are fears that unless issues are addressed, UK farmers and growers could lose access to many varieties and that seed businesses could move away from the UK in order to maintain international and European links. Other issues include the potential loss of a common variety list and additional phytosanitary requirements.

Chief executive of the British Society for Plant Breeders (BSPB), Penny Mapleston, said, “Breeders will only be able to absorb the higher costs of registering new varieties if there is a guaranteed market. The number of varieties available in the UK market will be less. Fairly swiftly you will see production move overseas, where we will just import it back.”

Global seed breeder Rijk Zwaan’s country manager for the UK, Gerard van der Hut, commented, “What will happen is we will only register the variety we can sell. With new varieties if there’s not enough demand in the UK then we won’t sell them, so the choice given to the UK market could be limited.”

Photo Credit: pxhere

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