EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 31 INTERNATIONAL NEWS GLOBAL SEED WATCH DISCOVERING WHAT MAKES PLANTS CLOCKS TICK AND NEW WORK UNDERWAY TO MAKE HYBRID WHEAT A REALITY. STATUS UNITED STATES Theres growing interest in hybrid wheat andDr Amir Ibrahim a Texas AM AgriLife Research wheat breeder in College Station believes the time is right to make it available. Ibrahim has been working toward the development of hybrid wheat varieties since 2013 but wheat breeders first began looking at hybridisation in wheat more than 50 years ago in the early 1960s he said. The price for wheat was so low and the cost for the hybrid seed was too high at the time he said. Today we have a better handle on the genes and better prices and availability of genomic tools. And it is something that is needed Ibrahim said. Wheat production yield poten- tial has been leveling off and this is one way to break that barrier. The performance of the TAM varieties of wheat developed by AgriLife Researchs wheat breeding team has been improving across the state and into other states with diverse climates providing a solid base of germplasm. Under a Monocot Improvement Initiative grant by AgriLife Research as well as fund- ing from the Texas Wheat Producers Board Ibrahim is working with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to test more than 600 lines of hybrid wheat in Nebraska and Texas. Within five years I hope we can have the first commercially available hybrid seed available for producers Ibrahim said. He said in addition to the fieldwork his team now has access to medium- to high-throughput genotyping which will help them map the restoration genes and under- stand hybrid vigour at the molecular level. They are also screening the germplasm for the floral characteristics and for combining ability. With the next generation sequencing technology Ibrahim said they may be able to select for performance traits that can result in higher biomass and yield drought toler- ance consistent performance quality dis- ease resistance and agronomic adaptation vigorous root system and increased production in low-fertility conditions. Source Texas AM AgriLife Research STATUS JAPAN A team of biologists at Nagoya Universitys Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules ITbM led by Narihito Nakamichi has uncovered that the clock genes produced by plants during the evening are regulated by clock proteins pro- duced in the morning. During the afternoon plants ready them- selves for the cold temperatures that follow sunset. In this manner plants use their biological clock to respond beforehand to the changes in their surrounding environment that are caused by variation in time. Since 2011 we have been trying to find the key factor that regulates the expression of the gene that is transcribed during the afternoon says Nakamichi. The group used Pseudo-Response Regulator 5 PRR5 which is a clock gene of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. According to Nakamichi they believed that CCA1 a clock protein generated during sunrise binds to a specific DNA sequence involved in the expression of the target gene PRR5. They collected the CCA1 protein bound to DNA using Chromatin immunoprecipitation ChIP and analysed the DNA sequence by rapid DNA sequencing. They were able to identify that the PRR5 gene appearsin the regulatory region at a high frequency and data suggested that the CCA1 protein directly acts towards the regula- tory region of the PRR5 gene and has a major effect on it. The research group also found the target DNA region of the CCA1 clock protein in the plant cells chromosome. We found many genes that are expressed in the evening nearby the DNA region that CCA1 binds to explains Nakamichi. Some of these genes are responsible for the plants responses to drought stress transmission of the signals from the plant hormone abscisic acid regulation of the opening and closing of sto- mata and production of wax. The results of our studies suggest that the CCA1 protein induces these biological processes to occur at a specific time during the evening. Source Nagoya University STATUS AUSTRALIA Scientists from The University of Queensland UQ in Australia are undertaking a world-first research into ancient wheats to ensure the crops future. Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovations Dr Lee Hickey said Modern breeding and a switch to monoculture cropping has greatly improved yield and quality but the lack of genetic variation has caused crops to become more vulnerable to new diseases and climate change. Adnan Riaz UQ Ph.D. student performed the worlds first genome-wide analysis of wheat seeds that were collected by the Russian scien- tist Nikolai Vavilov. Riaz examined a total of 295 diverse wheats using 34000 DNA markers. The genomic analysis revealed a massive array of genes that are now absent in modern Australian wheat cultivars and these ancient genes could offer valuable sources of disease resistance or drought tolerance. The Hickey Lab offers the research com- munity open-access to this resource including the pure seed of the ancient wheats along with DNA marker information. We hope this will empower scientists and wheat breeders to redis- cover genetic diversity lying dormant in our seed banks said Hickey. Source The University of Queensland STATUS ISRAEL The reproduction process is essentially the same in humans animals and most plants. Both female and male organisms are required to contribute to the phenomenon. A new joint Tel Aviv UniversityFreiburg University study offers an alternative the discovery of a genetic trigger for the devel- opment of offspring without cross-fertilisa- tionin moss. It identifies and explores the master genetic switch for self-reproduction in the mossPhyscomitrella patens. According to the new study the BELL1 gene triggers a pathway of genes that facili- tate embryo development without fertilisation to form fully functional adult moss plants. The research was led jointly byNir Ohad director of theManna Center Program for Food Safety and Securityat TAUsGeorge S. WiseFaculty of Life Sciencesand Ralf Reski of the University of Freiburg. It was recently published inNature Plants. The knowledge gained from our research may help to modernise agriculture allowing us to clone certain important plants and distribute their seeds to farmers said Ohad. Moss possesses both egg cells and motile sperm and as such serves as a simple model plant to understand self-fertilisation processes. Our results explain at the molecu- lar level how asexual reproductionknown as parthenogenesis or apomixeshas evolved. In these processes genetically identical plants are formed.