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50 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM INTERNATIONAL NEWS GLOBAL SEED WATCH RESEARCH DISCOVERIES IN AUSTRALIA CHINA AND THE UNITED STATES ARE IMPROVING CROP CULTIVARS AND FUNCTIONALITY WHILE PAKISTAN AMMENDS ITS SEEDS ACT. STATUS AUSTRALIA A group of international researchers have discovered two new genes in the barley plant that will shed light on the history of agricul- ture and also bring new capabilities to barley breeding programs. The new genes Btr1 and Btr2 are completely new genetic discoveries and according to Emeritus Professor Geoff Fincher from the University of Adelaide in South Australia they will revolutionise what we know about the domestication of the crop. This latest genomic information and the potential to introduce as yet unused wild barley traits may offer great new poten- tial in our barley breeding programs said Fincher who co-authored the study from the Australian Research Council ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls at the Universitys School of Agriculture Food and Wine. The study was initiated in Japan by a group of geneticists at the Okayama University Institute of Plant Science and Resources and was led by professor Takao Komatsuda of the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences. Discoveries related to the brittle rachis show that there is a distinct difference between cell wall thickness in brittle and non-brittle plant type which determines whether wild barley drops its grain to the ground at maturity or retains it in the ear. Source Australian Research Council Australian researchers have unraveled the mystery cause of the emerging wheat disease White Grain Disorder. Scientists at the Wheat Biosecurity Laboratory in the Research School of Biology identified the cause of the disease when they isolated three previously undiscovered fungi from infected wheat samples and sequenced their genomes. Until now growers and pathologists have recognised the symptoms of White Grain Disorder but they havent known what causes it says lead researcher and associate profes- sor Peter Solomon from the Research School of Biology. This finding now provides all stakehold- ers with confidence in what they are dealing with in the field. White Grain Disorder emerged about 20 years ago and has sporadically affected crops in Southern Queensland and South Australia but until now has been poorly understood. This is an important advance to the field as it can be difficult to manage diseases when you dont know what causes them. This study is crucial to our ability to manage this disease in the future says Solomon. Growers who have invested heavily in their crops for the growing season can now have confidence of knowing what the path- ogens are behind the disease and what they can do about it. The team found the disease is caused by three previously unidentified fungi which occur in different proportions in different dis- eased areas although they produce identical symptoms Source Australian National University STATUS CHINA An important gene called GS2 which could significantly boost the yield of super-rice is successfully separated and cloned from the local rice variety Baodali in Zhejiang prov- ince China according to a new study. The major findings were published in the latest issue of the well-known international jour- nal Molecular Plant. The introduction of this rare gene into rice cultivars could significantly enhance grain weight and increase grain yield with possible applications in breeding high-yield rice varieties the researchers say. The study presents the cloning and characteri- sation of a dominant quantitative trait loci QTL which encodes Growth-Regulating Factor 4 OsGRF4 a transcriptional reg- ulator. GS2 localises to the nucleus and may act as a transcription activator. A rare mutation of GS2 affecting the binding site of a microRNA OsmiR396c causes elevated expression of GS2OsGRF4. The increase in GS2 expression leads to larger cells and increased numbers of cells which thus enhances grain weight and yield. Source Molecular Plant journal STATUS INDIA Indias premier agriculture research body Indian Council of Agricultural Research ICAR has emphasised the importance of genetically engineered crops in bridging the demand and supply gap for foodgrains in the future. Vision 2050 which provides a stra- tegic framework for innovation-led inclusive and sustainable agricultural growth in the country has listed research into genetically modified organisms GMOs among nine key areas which have to be harnessed to enhance productivity nutrition and farmers income. ICAR in its vision document said Genetic enhancement is considered to be a major option to bridge the demand and supply gap under normal situations as well as under projected scenarios of increased frequency and intensity of stresses. The document released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July also noted that GMOs do not provide a miracle solution to all problems and detailed how scientific research in this area backed by proper field trials would help in dealing with safety and ethical aspects of genetically engi- neered crops. I am sure that ICAR Vision 2050 would stir new thinking in researchers to harness science in the policymakers to develop pol- icies for sustainable development of agricul- ture to provide food income and livelihood and in the consumers an urge to tailor their lifestyle keeping in view the planetary bound- aries of the Earths resource system said S. Ayyappan director general of ICAR. Source ICAR STATUS UNITED STATES A team led by scientists at the University of California Riverside has reached a new mile- stone in its work begun in 2000 on sequenc- ing the barley genome. The researchers have sequenced large portions of the genome that together contain nearly two-thirds of all barley genes. The new information published in The Plant Journal will not only expand geneticists knowledge of barleys DNA but will also help in the understanding at the genetic level of wheat and other sources of food. It also has