b'EXTRASGLUTEN IN WHEAT: WHAT HAS CHANGEDin waters draining agricultural lands, such as the Everglades DURING 120 YEARS OF BREEDING? Agricultural Area in Florida. Methylmercury is a potent neuro-toxin which accumulates in food chains leading to high concen-In recent years, the number of people affected by coeliac disease,trations in fish and increasing exposure of mercury to humans wheat allergy or gluten or wheat sensitivity has risen sharply. Butand wildlife that consume these fish.why is this the case?The researchers predict that increasing trends will continue It has long been known that wheat proteins can trigger dis- in many croplands around the world, including places like China orders such as coeliac disease or wheat allergies. Approximatelyand India that are still working to regulate fossil fuel emissions.1 or 0.5 percent of the adult population is affected worldwide.Source: Syracuse UniversityBut how big are the differences between old and new wheat varieties really? In order to help clarify this, Katharina Scherf and her team at the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology investigated the protein content of 60 preferred wheat varietiesSVALBARD GLOBAL SEED VAULT COMMENCES from the period between 1891 and 2010. This was made possi- SEED EXPERIMENT THAT WILL LAST 100 YEARSble by the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research and their extensive seed archive. From the archive,The first experimental seed samples were brought into the the researchers selected five leading wheat varieties for eachSvalbard Global Seed Vault on Aug. 27. These first test sets con-decade of the 120 years examined. In order to generate compara- sist of seeds produced at the IPK Gatersleben. ble samples, they cultivated the different varieties in 2015, 2016We contribute a total of five cropswheat, barley, pea, and 2017 under the same geographical and climatic conditions. lettuce and cabbage. The material was grown on our experi-Analyses by the team of scientists show that, overall,mental fields in the last year, says Prof. Dr. Andreas Brner modern wheat varieties contain slightly less protein than oldfrom the Genebank department at IPK Gatersleben. The IPK ones. In contrast, the gluten content has remained constant overis the first institution to provide seeds. The other partners will the last 120 years, although the composition of the gluten hasfollow next year.changed slightly. While the proportion of critically viewed glia- During the following 2-3 years, seeds from nine additional dins fell by around 18 percent, the proportion of glutenins rosecrops will be produced and put into the -18C seed storage in by around 25 percent. In addition, the researchers observed thatSvalbard. Seeds will be produced by the project partners that are higher precipitation in the year of the harvest was accompaniedhighly ranked gene banks and research institutes that also have by a higher gluten content in the samples. taken advantage of the opportunity to deposit security dupli-Source:Leibniz-InstitutFrLebensmittel- cates of their valuable seed collections in the Svalbard Global Systembiologie An Der Tu Mnchen Seed Vault.The main principle for conserving seeds is that well dried and frozen seeds of many important food crops can stay alive for a very long time. Exactly for how long seeds can maintain AGRICULTURE REPLACES FOSSIL FUELS ASthe germination ability after storage under optimal conditions is LARGEST HUMAN SOURCE OF SULFUR TO THEnot fully explored. But it is assumed that seeds of many species ENVIRONMENT can stay alive for centuries.The first experiment seeds that are put into the Seed Vault Historically, coal-fired power plants were the largest source ofnow will be tested in 2030 and then identical seed samples will reactive sulfur, a component of acid rain, to the biosphere. Abe tested every tenth year until 2120, a hundred years from now.new study recently publishing Aug. 10 in the journal NatureSource: Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Geoscience shows that fertilizer and pesticide applications toPlant Researchcroplands are now the most important source of sulfur to the environment.Acid rain gained attention in the 1960s and 1970s when scientists linked degradation of forest and aquatic ecosystemsRESEARCHERS REVIEW GENOME EDITING across the northeastern U.S. and Europe to fossil fuel emissionsSTRATEGIES USED IN DEVELOPING RICE DISEASE from industrial centers often hundreds of kilometers away.RESISTANCEOur analysis shows that sulfur applications to croplands in the U.S. and elsewhere are often 10 times higher than theChinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences researchers and part-peak sulfur load in acid rain, said Eve-Lyn Hinckley, assistantners reviewed the current genome editing strategies used to professor of environmental studies at University of Colorado,improve rice disease resistance. The article is available in the Boulder, and lead author of the study.Rice Science journal."Although sulfur is applied to agricultural lands to improveAccording to the review article, CRISPR-Cas9 has been one the production and health of crops, it can have detrimentalof the most powerful genome editing tools in the development of effects to agricultural soils and downstream waters, similar torice varieties with improved resistance against bacterial, fungal, what occurred in remote forest landscapes under acid rain," indi- and viral diseases. The recent development of more Cas9 vari-cates Charles Driscoll, a professor at Syracuse University andants (Cas9-VQR, Cas9-VRER, Cpf1-RR, Cpf1-RVR, and SaCas9) co-author of the study. together with the advent of novel base editing tools that enable The researchers examined trends in sulfur applicationsprecise genome modifications and the DNA-free genome editing across multiple important crops in the US, including corn in thevia ribonucleoproteins demonstrate significant promise in the Midwest, sugarcane in Florida, and wine grapes in California.development of future strategies that could effectively improve Driscoll says an example of the impacts of agricultural appli- the pathogen-specific immunity of rice.cations of sulfur is the enhanced formation of methylmercurySource: ISAAA62IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'