Aus scientists breeding better crops for Africa

Grain Central January 19, 2017

TECHNOLOGY developed by Agriculture Victoria scientists will be used to breed more productive cassava, a vital food crop in Africa.

Agriculture Victoria worked with agricultural biotechnology company, Dow AgroSciences, to develop the technology, known as Optimum Haploid ValueTM (OHV).

A humanitarian project, NextGeneration Cassava Breeding (NextGen), has been granted a free, non-exclusive licence to use the technology to breed better cassava for Africa.

Cassava is a major staple crop that is the main source of calories for 500 million people across the world, and is indispensable to food security in Africa.

Agriculture Victoria’s executive director of biosciences research, Professor German Spangenberg, said OHV was an advancement of genomic selection, which used genetic information and physical characteristics to select the best parental lines.

Using OHV and genomic selection, breeding cycles are shorter and improved plants can be bred much faster.

“We developed this technology in a most productive collaboration with Dow AgroSciences, and it is now being implemented by a global humanitarian project involving academia and industry,” Professor Spangenberg said.

“Jointly with Dow AgroSciences we’ve made OHV available for this humanitarian project due to the importance of cassava not only for Africa, but for global food security.”

“Breeders and farmers will benefit from the use of OHV to accelerate the development of higher-yield, disease-resistant cassava varieties.”

“The technology also has potential application for other crops, including those like wheat and canola that are important to the Australian agriculture sector.”

The project is led by the Boyce Thompson Institute and Cornell University (US) and funded by a $25 million, five-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom.

Source: Agriculture Victoria


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