Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 31 ES: Which diseases are most important in your breeding work? Have there been any new diseases discovered in French Bean over the past few years? JR: The most important disease in Europe would be Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, or white mould. Occasionally, we see new diseases popping up in fields, but overall they are viewed as a one year location event. We are normally very conservative in adding a new disease trait to our programme. To add a new trait can slow down the programme by 50 per cent. We usually choose the strategy for selecting against when we see new and/or low frequency diseases in our breeding trials, where we record differences in susceptibility and deselect the most effected lines, which are recorded as a flaw. CV: It depends on the markets. For example, regarding the processing market, Vilmorin breeding work aims to provide a full disease resistance package to the main diseases halo blight, common bacterial blight, anthracnose and bean common mosaic virus. We also work on Sclerotinia, which is becoming critical in many areas and root rot resistance, and have developed internal tools to phenotype our breeding lines. GvdB: This is dependent on area. For northwest Europe, Sclerotinia is currently the most devastating disease. Sclerotinia has many host plants and easily survives in the soil for five years or more. To become as environmentally friendly as possible, it is important to increase the resistance level in our varieties. Bacterial brown spot and cucumber mosaic virus are diseases that seem to have become more widespread. ES: How important is genetic diversity in your breeding work? What is the main source of your diversity—mainly commer- cial varieties, or also landraces and other species? EV: Genetic diversity is key in breeding work, especially when breeding for disease resistance. We mainly use elite lines and commercial varieties, but also exotic material, such as improved dry bean lines or, sometimes, landraces, when the interesting trait is not present in French bean. The main source of improved lines is the United States, where public research is very active in pre-breeding. Vilmorin, as a business unit of Limagrain, has access to a historic bean genetic resources collection, comprising about 3,300 lines, which are maintained and characterized. GvdB: Genetic diversity is crucial in plant breeding. For French bean breeding, the genetic base in some segments is quite narrow, for example, in extra fine beans. Fortunately, we can cross French beans with dry beans, where much more genetic diversity is available. JR: Genetic diversity is very important in French beans. The main source we use are the commercial varieties, in all classes, for short- term strategy. For long-term strategy, we will use just about every material that carries interesting traits and which fits our strategy and we can legally receive. For this, we are actively scouting and monitoring literature and meetings, like the Bean Improvement Cooperative. ES: What innovations—technological, genetic, molecular, et cetera— are in the pipeline in French Bean breeding? EV: Some upstream projects are commonly led together with our colleagues from HM.CLAUSE, another business unit of Limagrain, based in the United States. Our projects often target molecular marker devel- opment for disease resistance, but sometimes also quality traits. We’ve developed an inter- nal technology to improve reliability and accuracy of pod calibration by image analysis: sieve, length and curvature are automatically calculated. In this way, we can increase the number of samples calibrated every day, and lower labour costs of the breeding team. GvdB: Molecular markers are becoming more and more important. They facilitate a breeder following certain traits, but the final decisions still have to be made in the field. BeanCap at has done great work in discovering thousands of markers, and revealing the DNA sequence of beans. This will help us to learn from other crops, such as soybeans. Markers for monogenetic traits are widely available. The next challenge is to find more and better markers for more complex—quantitative— traits. JR: We have developed image analysis tools that help us to identify the right maturity and grading. Syngenta is also building breeding software tools that monitor the performance of our selections over years and locations better. This makes us able to make better advancement decisions. Markers are implemented in our programmes to identify traits and are used to speed up the gene- of-interest frequency in our programmes. We are also using our marker platforms to understand the diversity of our germplasm for better parent selection, and to be able to identify our varieties which support both the seed production group and intellectual property. MASSIRA green climbing flat bean from Vilmorin.