Advances in biotechnology

June 12, 2012 at 6:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ICARDA’s biotechnology lab offers new tools for plant breeders, and training for researchers and graduate students

The biotechnology lab at Tel Hadya uses cutting-edge technology to complement conventional plant breeding methods. Work covers several areas including genetic transformation, doubled-haploid production, tissue culture and development of molecular markers for specific traits. This will allow breeders to target these traits faster and more accurately, and ‘pyramid’ genes controlling different traits. More than 2000 doubled-haploid wheat lines were produced this season, to help improve yield potential, drought tolerance, Sunn pest resistance and yellow rust resistance.

Ongoing field trials will provide yield, phenology and morphology data on more than 12,000 genotypes. The data will be used in conjunction with molecular/genetic analysis to confirm associations between markers and genes or even specific alleles – the first step towards marker assisted selection (MAS). The program uses ten markers for MAS for rust resistance; three markers for vernalization in wheat; and three others for ascochyta blight resistance in chickpea. New markers are being developed for tannin content in faba bean.

In legume crops, the key traits of interest are drought, cold and salinity tolerance in all legumes; fusarium wilt, ascochyta blight and leaf miner resistance in chickpea; fusarium in lentil; botrytis and ascochyta blight in faba bean; and Orobanche resistance in all three legumes. Mapping populations are being developed in all three crops to identify resistance genes.

For more information contact Dr Michael Baum, Director, Biodiversity and Integrated Gene Management Program, email

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