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Public – Private linkages in UK wheat breeding: Successes, Failures and Opportunities Peter Jack, RAGT, Cambridge 3rd UK Cereal Genetics and Genomics Workshop,

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Presentation on theme: "Public – Private linkages in UK wheat breeding: Successes, Failures and Opportunities Peter Jack, RAGT, Cambridge 3rd UK Cereal Genetics and Genomics Workshop,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Public – Private linkages in UK wheat breeding: Successes, Failures and Opportunities Peter Jack, RAGT, Cambridge 3rd UK Cereal Genetics and Genomics Workshop, John Innes Centre, Norwich, 6–7 April 2006

2 Background Application of DNA markers in Breeding – 1 site – 3 owners! –PBI-Cambridge ( ) Privatised part of PBI (sold to Unilever) PBI crops, plantation crops, vegetable crops –Monsanto Cambridge ( ) European Wheat & Barley breeding & biotech centre –RAGT Seeds Cambridge (2004-present) European Wheat breeding centre Number 2 European wheat breeder (after Limagrain/Nickerson-Advanta) Very different organisations, crops, view of technology. –But consistent use of DNA markers by breeders throughout. –Strongly assisted by sharing site > facilitating technology transfer. –Communication is SO important!

3 Marker-Assisted Wheat Breeding in RAGT Applications –Introgression novel alleles from non-adapted wheats or related species Some characters would not have been introgressed without markers –Parental characterisation Identifying optimal combinations of crosses –Early generation selection Eliminating negative & enriching positive alleles –Mid & late generation selection Fixing positive allele combinations. Traits under marker selection –Disease resistance, Quality, Yield, Adaptation –BUT gene interactions e.g. yield penalty of disease, quality penalty of yield – need to understand why. –Sustainability traits too complex to tackle alone. Source of Markers & Trait Marker Linkages –50% discovered/validated in house –50% sourced from public work (but most from outside UK!)

4 Scope of Talk Focus specifically on Wheat given its importance in UK agriculture –Apologies to barley and other communities but similar principles apply? Personal perspective –But also an attempt to synthesise many discussions within UK wheat breeding industry. Distinction between Fundamental Plant Science & Crop Science –Fundamental science is curiosity driven and criteria of success is discovery per se - as judged by literature & not by applications. –Crop Science is “Applied” research i.e. there has to be clear benefit to Agriculture to justify “Crop” Science. –My comments relate to Crop Science & not fundamental Plant Science.

5 This subject has received much attention recently! Recent discussion meetings –BCPC meeting at RRS 16/2/06. –WGIN management meeting at NIAB 7/2/06. –HGCA LINK project review at NIAB 6/3/06. Reflects –genuine desire for more effective PP linkages (by some at least) –encouraged by broader analyses such as BBSRC Crop Science Review April ‘04. Will consider outcomes later –First some successes –what can we learn from them & how do we achieve them more consistently.

6 Successes part1 - LINK LINK projects e.g. practical benefits from: –Orange blossom midge; Septoria tritici; Lodging; Soil borne mosaic virus; Fusarium head blight (not an exclusive list just some examples) Others in progress: Wheat functionality; HFN; Ergot. Others in development: Drought tolerance & WUE; Second wheat. Why is LINK successful? –Close relationship between Industry & Public scientists –e.g. hands on breeder involvement at a practical level (in-kind); project set up & ownership; project management. Not just suppliers of letters of support (at last minute with no opportunity to be involved!) –Rarely has this occurred in BBSRC projects or initiatives. Limitations of LINK –In kind limits have now been reached – very difficult to take on new projects – should this be a limitation? Is there a way around? –DEFRA review of role in relation to supporting genetic research (outcome end ‘06) –Increasingly policy driven – how will important projects with lesser “sustainability” status be supported in future?

7 Successes part2 - Communication WGIN as a Communications Vehicle –Management meetings consistently well attended by Industry & Public sector. –CIMMYT visit Dec ’04 – Industry & Public sector both involved. –These Cereal Genetics & Genomics Meetings! –Much debate over priorities & applications. –Need to ensure such ideas acted upon! –Need to ensure this or similar communications vehicle continues. Wheat apprentice at JI. –Secondment in Industry to gain practical experience & commercial realities.

8 Successes part3 – Identification of Industry Needs Wheat breeding community becoming more coordinated. –Especially pre-competitive research. An example - Priority Traits List. –Aim is to identify important traits for which there is inadequate current public research. –Strong emphasis on work direct in wheat (or with clear route to wheat exploitation). –Many have strong sustainability aspects!

9 Wheat Priority Traits List Intransigent pests –Insect pests such as wheat bulb fly and aphids Clear environmental as well as production benefits Possible approaches include current varietal differences, attractants, physical barriers, toxic agents (as seen in OBM) Intransigent diseases –Fungal pathogens Take all and ergot Take all: known alien leads (e.g. Agropyron caninum), Rye substitutions Ergot: confirm varietal differences - if inadequate move to broader germplasm Yield potential and associated agronomic traits –Includes resource utilisation efficiency! –Increase biomass and harvest index Understand existing variation including recent advances with Robigus/Glasgow/… –Genetics of plant and apical development (morphology and phenology) Designer ideotypes e.g. slow apical development + overwinter biomass accumulation + daylength response + adequate straw Quality parameters and novel end use –Stability in bread and biscuit making properties –Bio-ethanol production

10 Priority Traits List - Outcomes Take-all workshop, Cambridge 24/2/06 –Remarkable attendance list in terms of take-all research. –No easy solutions but can molecular genetics & genomics help? –Proposals required. Grain quality workshop being planned. But many opportunities remain! –e.g. Bioethanol; Insect resistance.

11 External Successes What can we learn from others? –US Wheat National Marker Assisted Selection Program (MASwheat). –Web site contains much information that can be used directly e.g. marker protocols. Model that others could take note of. –Appears to be very strong link between researcher & breeder – targets & translation. US Scab (FHB) Initiative. –Coordinated programme to attack key pathogen from multiple approaches. –Model for key UK targets e.g. Bioethanol, insect pests?

12 Failures part1 – BBSRC Overview BBSRC Crop Science Review identified many problems in UK Crop Science –No coherent strategy for crop research –Investment in plant science not yet impacting on strategic & applied crop science. –Fragmentation of funding within and between funders weakening the scientific strategy. –Shortage of suitably trained personnel. Identified clear targets & technology priorities as basis for “BBSRC Crop Science Strategy”. –Quality through whole food chain including health & consumer benefits –Drought tolerance & water use –Durable & environmentally sustainable strategies for control of pests, pathogens & weeds; efficiency resource use & minimising waste. –Broadening crop range including novel crops & products for bioenergy… Note the close fit with wheat breeders priority areas!

13 Failures part2 –Specific examples Many marker-trait associations in UK use were developed outside UK e.g. markers to: –GAI alleles Rht1/2 –Puroindoline grain hardness. –Waxy. –Glutenin & gliadin storage proteins. –Bdv2 –Many disease resistance genes (FHB, Septoria, Rusts etc). Importantly, much of the fundamental work behind these was conducted in UK. –the failure was to exploit these discoveries. Public datasets often difficult to access or even know about. –More open dissemination should be encouraged. WGIN core projects. –Targets were not agreed with those who would benefit from them e.g. breeders, end users. Sadly much of the work will not be taken up. –Many small projects – what about a focus on 1 or 2 key targets e.g. bioethanol or insect resistance or take-all or exploiting diversity in synthetics? –BUT WGIN has played a valuable role in stimulating debate engaging breeders in identifying common targets

14 Opportunities (& issues to be aware of) BBSRC Crop Science Initiative. –Strong emphasis on translation of benefit. –Will this happen? Will there be a working relationship between public and industry scientists? BBSRC LINK. –BBSRC would like to encourage LINK projects but will in kind limits restrict this? –Private sector much smaller than public so by definition can only match a small portion! –If this issue can be resolved then many opportunities open up. Need for coordinated actions on key areas, especially where strong sustainability argument. –e.g. Bioethanol, insect pests. NIAB - developing role in pre-breeding. –Supported by industry in area of pre-competitive breeding –important not to duplicate competencies. MONOGRAM –Opportunity to not only align Institute activities but also to link with Industry – will this happen? Not forgetting Universities.

15 Conclusion UK fundamental plant science is outstanding. –And much expenditure in “Crop” Science per se. –But small fraction projects translate into practical wheat benefits. Especially in comparison with International outputs. Recent LINK schemes are the exception – many successes. –Genuine collaboration & interaction between public and private sector. –But in kind requirements restrict options – this needs urgent attention. BBSRC Initiatives such as CSI may help. –But better translational mechanisms are required. –Unclear how BBSRC response mode committees will respond to crops. Communication vehicles such as WGIN are critical. Emerging coordination between breeders in relation to pre- competitive research. –Make the most of this! –TALK to them! And LISTEN to them! –And INVOLVE them THROUGHOUT!


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