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40 I EUROPEAN SEED I EUROPEAN-SEED.COM INTERNATIONAL NEWS GLOBAL SEED WATCH DROUGHT IS DRIVING CHANGE IN AFRICA WHILE IN CANADA RESEARCHERS HAVE RELEASED A DRAFT OF THE LENTIL GENOME. STATUS CANADA University of Saskatchewan U of S researchers have released a draft lentil genome assembly that will help develop new understanding and commercial applications of this ancient crop. The lentil genome assembly will pro- vide important information to help us better understand this crop says Kirstin Bett U of S professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and project lead of the international lentil sequencing effort. More importantly it will lead to development of genomic tools that will help improve breeding practices and accelerate varietal development. The development of genomic tools will allow breeders to track multiple complex traits during their cross-breeding which will help them develop high quality and high-yielding lentils in a shorter period of time. Improved speed precision and breadth offered by these genomic tools have proven to be complementary to classical field and phenotype-based breeding practice. This international sequencing effort is unique as the research is farmer-driven and industry-supported. Saskatchewan Pulse Growers SPG has been a strong supporter of pulse crop research and development at the U of S. SPG first partnered with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in 2011 to provide approximately 1-million for initial lentil genomic research. In 2013 SPG provided more than 1.4-million to kick-start this sequencing initiative. Many international partners came on board once SPG made the investment says Bett. The sequencing work quickly gained momentum and thats why we were able to complete the sequencing in less than three years. T he sequenci n g effor t i ncludes researchers at University of California- Davis National Research Council Canada United States Department of Agriculture Washington State University International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas ICARDA Victoria State Government African Orphan Crop Consortium University of Western Australia and the Institute of Experimental Botany in the Czech Republic. Source University of Saskatchewan STATUS UNITED STATES A new study by researchers at Boyce Thompson Institute BTI has uncovered a veritable trove of genes used by plants to form symbiotic relationships with fungi vastly increasing the knowledge of the genetic basis for this agriculturally valuable interaction. Most land plants get a large portion of their mineral nutrients through a symbiotic relationship with soil fungi called arbuscu- lar mycorrhizal AM symbiosis. But despite decades of research many of the genes required to form this relationship remain elu- sive. Now with the advent of widely available genome sequences BTI researchers were able to compare 50 plant genomes to identify 138 genes shared exclusively by plants capable of AM symbiosis. The findings published in the journal Nature Plants may ultimately bring us closer to developing plants that thrive without added fertiliser. Currently our research field has iden- tified only a handful of genes required exclu- sively for AM symbiosis and we know that there are huge gaps in our knowledge says senior author Maria Harrison the William H. Crocker Professor at BTI. These 138 genes are a valuable resource and provide new insights into the ways that plant cells host their fungal symbionts. Analysis of the new genes that were found highlighted the importance of lipid biosynthesis during symbiosis. While the analysis cannot single out every gene that a plant needs for symbiosis it did pick out the ones that serve no other function except in symbiosis. I think it really shows you the power of bioinformatics says Lukas Mueller a co-au- thor and associate professor at BTI. If you have lots of genomes you have much more power to answer questions. In the future the researchers plan to investigate the remaining 131 genes and to use them to learn more about the development and regulation of the symbiosis. Almost all staple food crops form AM sym- bioses so optimising this interaction through crop breeding could improve yield and reduce the need for fertilisers. Source Boyce Thompson Institute STATUS CHINA The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences will establish an overseas agriculture research center to facilitate the export of more agri- cultural technologies and to encourage more international cooperation the academys pres- ident said. Li Jiayang vice-minister of agriculture and president of the academy said that the academy will seek to establish more multina- tional joint agricultural labs and agricultural technology exhibition centers during the 13th Five-Year Plan 2016-20. The move is part of an effort to push for- ward a more global agricultural technology development strategy and to serve the national Belt and Road Initiative he said. Li said the institute will first seek to establish exhibition centers in Africa and Latin America to pitch Chinese technology and products. The export of agricultural technology is an area with huge potential he said. The tech- nologies should be used to tap the international market in the context of Chinas going global strategy he said. The academy will first prioritise the establishment of multinational labs in areas including biotechnology animal husbandry veterinary medicine and agricultural resources and environment.