An in-depth overview on the global seed industry. From a newly detected wheat rust in Western Australia to a new sequence-mapping tool aimed at accelerating and improving DNA research in the Netherlands.
Two highly innovative companies in the Netherlands, KeyGene and GENALICE have entered into a strategic partnership. KeyGene has purchased a license of GENALICE MAP, described as a groundbreaking new sequence-mapping tool to accelerate and improve DNA research.
KeyGene is an agro-industrial biotech company focusing on genomic research and technology development to accelerate crop improvement. Using cutting edge molecular genetic technologies, such as next-generation sequencing, KeyGene has a leading and innovative role in this market.
“The breakthrough software of GENALICE MAP is a leap forward in improving our analysis pipeline and in staying ahead of competition. We tested, validated and [have] now implemented MAP, as it immediately offers major competitive advantages on speed and accuracy in DNA analysis. In addition, the strategic partnership with GENALICE allows us to influence new functionalities within the product that will benefit our business,” says Arjen van Tunen, chief executive office of KeyGene.
GENALICE is an innovative Dutch software company. In a worldwide online launching event, it will present its first product to all DNA researchers later this year. “This first commercial deal, even before the official launch of our product, shows the quality of our product and the need for GENALICE MAP in the field of DNA data processing,” says Hans Karten, chief technical officer of GENALICE.
“We are extremely pleased with the partnership with KeyGene. It clearly shows that GENALICE MAP is highly welcomed in the field of plant genomics. Plant DNA is often far more complex than human DNA. This demonstrates that we are also well positioned to deal with complex variations in DNA, which is found in complex diseases such as cancer,” adds Jos Lunenberg, CEO of GENALICE.
Researchers in Western Australia have detected a new leaf rust pathotype on a wheat variety known as Wyalkatchem. This new pathotype was recently found at both ends of the country’s wheat belt and is the first occurrence of virulence for the resistance genes Lr13, Lr17a, Lr17b, and Lr26.
According to Ciara Beard, a plant pathologist with Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Food, five samples of leaf rust from wheat crops around Northampton, Borden and Esperance in Western Australia were identified as being the new pathotype by the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program’s laboratories at the University of Sydney.
“These samples were collected from a range of varieties showing unusually high levels of leaf rust, including Wyalkatchem which was previously regarded as resistant or moderately resistant to leaf rust in WA,” says Beard. She adds that the new pathotype was first detected in eastern Australia in 2011 and is presumed to have entered Western Australia on prevailing winds or attached to someone’s clothing.
“While the pathogen is unlikely to have any impact on this year’s crops, it serves as a management warning for growers for next year, particularly if summer rain enables a green bridge to carry inoculum into next season,” Beard says.
Subject to further testing by the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program, the presence of the new leaf rust pathotype is expected to result in Emu Rock’s leaf rust rating being revised to moderately susceptible or susceptible and Wyalkatchem and Corack to moderately susceptible. Some varieties such as King Rock, Fortune and Zippy have leaf rust genes that are expected to still be effective and will have a lesser rating shift to moderately resistant or moderately susceptible.
Further monitoring and testing is underway by the ACRCP to confirm the potential impact to Western Australia’s wheat varieties.
Beard advises wheat growers in leaf rust prone areas, including those where leaf rust has been found this season, to destroy any volunteer wheat re-growth before the 2014 season and to carefully consider management of these affected varieties.
“Growers and agronomists are encouraged to report any further discoveries of leaf rust on late maturing crops to DAFWA and submit samples to the Australian Cereal Rust Survey for pathotype analysis,” she says.
The seed industry in Ukraine is poised for rapid growth, thanks to the creation of the free trade zone with the European Union that will hopefully be created as well as amendments to a Ukrainian seed law that should be adopted in early 2014, according to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food. As a result of the amendments, Ukraine may increase its own seed production by 10 times by 2025.
“Soon we will adopt very important amendments that have been created together by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, State Agricultural Inspection of Ukraine and representatives of the business community. We believe these amendments would be a significant step for our industry and will let Ukraine dramatically increase investments, reach self-sufficiency in seed production, and even enter foreign markets in the foreseeable future,” says Valeriy Hadjimatov, CEO of the Seed Association of Ukraine.
The State Registry of Plant Varieties that are suitable for distribution in Ukraine contains 7,110 varieties and hybrids, says Natalia Hrapiychuk, head of the Seed Department in the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine.
Overall, the seeding demand in Ukraine amounts to three million tons per year, of which 1.8 million tons are for spring seeding and 1.2 million tons
are for autumn seeding. Currently the volume of imported seeds is still too high but Ukraine is actively working to reach self-sufficiency in seed production in the coming years.
“The share of imported seeds [amounts] to 47 percent and the Ukrainian [share is] 53 percent,” says Hrapiychuk. She adds that Ukraine research institutions have been producing more than 1,000 original seed varieties in recent years. “At the same time, the number of legitimate seed producers in the country soon will reach 1,000,” Hrapiychuk says.
Experts maintain the establishment of a free trade zone with EU should boost the level of investment in the Ukrainian seed industry by European companies. It has been projected that this could result in record investment volumes of US$1.5 to $1.7 billion per year, which would enable Ukraine to become self-sufficient in seed production by 2017, and become an active seed exporter after that.
June Issue 2014
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