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Tanackovic V.,Copenhagen University | Svensson J.T.,Nordic Genetic Resource Center | Jensen S.L.,Copenhagen University | Buleon A.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Blennow A.,Copenhagen University
Journal of Experimental Botany | Year: 2014

Brachypodium distachyon is a non-domesticated cereal. Nonetheless, Brachypodium was recently introduced as a model plant for temperate cereals. This study compares grain starch metabolism in Brachypodium and barley (Hordeum vulgare). In Brachypodium, we identified and annotated 28 genes involved in starch metabolism and identified important motifs including transit peptides and putative carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs) of the families CBM20, CBM45, CBM48, and CBM53. Starch content was markedly lower in Brachypodium grains (12%) compared to barley grains (47%). Brachypodium starch granules were doughnut shaped and bimodally distributed into distinct small B-type (2.5-10 μm) and very small C-type (0.5-2.5 μm) granules. Large A-type granules, typical of cereals, were absent. Starch-bound phosphate, important for starch degradation, was 2-fold lower in Brachypodium compared with barley indicating different requirements for starch mobilization. The amylopectin branch profiles were similar and the amylose content was only slightly higher compared with barley cv. Golden Promise. The crystallinity of Brachypodium starch granules was low (10%) compared to barley (20%) as determined by wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) and molecular disorder was confirmed by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The expression profiles in grain for most genes were distinctly different for Brachypodium compared to barley, typically showing earlier decline during the course of development, which can explain the low starch content and differences in starch molecular structure and granule characteristics. High transitory starch levels were observed in leaves of Brachypodium (2.8% after 14 h of light) compared to barley (1.9% after 14 h of light). The data suggest important pre-domesticated features of cereals. © The Author 2014.


Zakhrabekova S.,Carlsberg Laboratory | Gough S.P.,Carlsberg Laboratory | Braumann I.,Carlsberg Laboratory | Muller A.H.,Carlsberg Laboratory | And 12 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2012

Time to flowering has an important impact on yield and has been a key trait in the domestication of crop plants and the spread of agriculture. In 1961, the cultivar Mari (mat-a.8) was the very first induced early barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) mutant to be released into commercial production. Mari extended the range of two-row spring barley cultivation as a result of its photoperiod insensitivity. Since its release, Mari or its derivatives have been used extensively across the world to facilitate short-season adaptation and further geographic range extension. By exploiting an extended historical collection of early-flowering mutants of barley, we identified Praematurum-a (Mat-a), the gene responsible for this key adaptive phenotype, as a homolog of the Arabidopsis thaliana circadian clock regulator Early Flowering 3 (Elf3). We characterized 87 induced mat-a mutant lines and identified >20 different mata alleles that had clear mutations leading to a defective putative ELF3 protein. Expression analysis of HvElf3 and Gigantea in mutant and wild-type plants demonstrated that mat-a mutations disturb the flowering pathway, leading to the early phenotype. Alleles of Mat-a therefore have important and demonstrated breeding value in barley but probably also in many other daylength- sensitive crop plants, where they may tune adaptation to different geographic regions and climatic conditions, a critical issue in times of global warming.


Henryon M.,Pig Research Center | Henryon M.,University of Western Australia | Berg P.,Nordic Genetic Resource Center | Sorensen A.C.,University of Aarhus
Livestock Science | Year: 2014

We argue that animal-breeding schemes need well-designed breeding plans to maximise long-term genetic gains from genomic information. Genomic information has been implemented in livestock breeding schemes with ad hoc breeding plans, suggesting that the potential benefits of genomic information are not being fully exploited. Breeding schemes need well-designed breeding plans to exploit the benefits of genomic information for two reasons. First, there are several components of breeding schemes with genomic information that impact on long-term genetic gains. Second, these components interact, which implies that breeding schemes need to optimise components simultaneously in order to maximise long-term genetic gains. Designing breeding plans that optimise components simultaneously is a complex task. In more cases than not, breeding schemes, their components, and interactions between these components do not allow optimum breeding plans to be designed by mere reasoning. We recommend using decision frameworks to design breeding plans for schemes that use genomic information: testing sound hypotheses by designing and executing controlled experiments using decision tools, such as mathematical-statistical models. These decision frameworks enable us to design optimum breeding plans by providing an objective and theoretical basis to make and validate breeding decisions, enabling us to understand the underlying mechanisms of breeding schemes with genomic information, and allowing us to test the practical implementation of breeding decisions against theoretical models. Genomic information is an exciting prospect for animal breeding, and there is clearly an important role for breeding plans that maximise long-term genetic gains in breeding schemes using genomic information. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


Alemu S.W.,University of Aarhus | Alemu S.W.,Wageningen University | Berg P.,University of Aarhus | Berg P.,Nordic Genetic Resource Center | And 2 more authors.
Heredity | Year: 2014

Social interactions among individuals are widespread, both in natural and domestic populations. As a result, trait values of individuals may be affected by genes in other individuals, a phenomenon known as indirect genetic effects (IGEs). IGEs can be estimated using linear mixed models. The traditional IGE model assumes that an individual interacts equally with all its partners, whether kin or strangers. There is abundant evidence, however, that individuals behave differently towards kin as compared with strangers, which agrees with predictions from kin-selection theory. With a mix of kin and strangers, therefore, IGEs estimated from a traditional model may be incorrect, and selection based on those estimates will be suboptimal. Here we investigate whether genetic parameters for IGEs are statistically identifiable in group-structured populations when IGEs differ between kin and strangers, and develop models to estimate such parameters. First, we extend the definition of total breeding value and total heritable variance to cases where IGEs depend on relatedness. Next, we show that the full set of genetic parameters is not identifiable when IGEs differ between kin and strangers. Subsequently, we present a reduced model that yields estimates of the total heritable effects on kin, on non-kin and on all social partners of an individual, as well as the total heritable variance for response to selection. Finally we discuss the consequences of analysing data in which IGEs depend on relatedness using a traditional IGE model, and investigate group structures that may allow estimation of the full set of genetic parameters when IGEs depend on kin. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


Alemu S.W.,University of Aarhus | Alemu S.W.,Wageningen University | Bijma P.,Wageningen University | Moller S.H.,University of Aarhus | And 3 more authors.
Genetics Selection Evolution | Year: 2014

Background: Since the recommendations on group housing of mink (Neovison vison) were adopted by the Council of Europe in 1999, it has become common in mink production in Europe. Group housing is advantageous from a production perspective, but can lead to aggression between animals and thus raises a welfare issue. Bite marks on the animals are an indicator of this aggressive behaviour and thus selection against frequency of bite marks should reduce aggression and improve animal welfare. Bite marks on one individual reflect the aggression of its group members, which means that the number of bite marks carried by one individual depends on the behaviour of other individuals and that it may have a genetic basis. Thus, for a successful breeding strategy it could be crucial to consider both direct (DGE) and indirect (IGE) genetic effects on this trait. However, to date no study has investigated the genetic basis of bite marks in mink. Result and discussion. A model that included DGE and IGE fitted the data significantly better than a model with DGE only, and IGE contributed a substantial proportion of the heritable variation available for response to selection. In the model with IGE, the total heritable variation expressed as the proportion of phenotypic variance (T2) was six times greater than classical heritability (h 2). For instance, for total bite marks, T2 was equal to 0.61, while h 2 was equal to 0.10. The genetic correlation between direct and indirect effects ranged from 0.55 for neck bite marks to 0.99 for tail bite marks. This positive correlation suggests that mink have a tendency to fight in a reciprocal way (giving and receiving bites) and thus, a genotype that confers a tendency to bite other individuals can also cause its bearer to receive more bites. Conclusion: Both direct and indirect genetic effects contribute to variation in number of bite marks in group-housed mink. Thus, a genetic selection design that includes both direct genetic and indirect genetic effects could reduce the frequency of bite marks and probably aggression behaviour in group-housed mink. © 2014 Alemu et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Diederichsen A.,Plant Gene Resources of Canada | Solberg S.O.,Nordic Genetic Resource Center | Jeppson S.,Nordic Genetic Resource Center
Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution | Year: 2013

A descriptor list of 34 phenological and morphological characters was applied to assess the changes of diversity in 57 Nordic spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars released between 1892 and 1994 and to compare their diversity to 22 Nordic landraces. The field observations were conducted at the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre at Alnarp, Sweden, in 2010. Over time the cultivars became shorter, less inclined to lodging, earlier in heading and maturity. The spikes became shorter and denser with more grains per spikelet, and seed shattering of mature spikes decreased. The morphological type of Nordic spring wheat cultivars did not change after the 1960s, although improvements in disease resistances, yield and quality characters still occurred. All recent cultivars represented T. aestivum L. var. lutescens (Alef.) Mansf., characterised by awnless spikes with white glabrous glumes and red grains. Compared to the cultivars, the landraces were generally earlier in heading and maturity, much taller, inclined to lodging and they had looser spikes with less grains per spikelet than cultivars. In some characters such as glume colour and awnedness the landraces showed more diversity within and among the accessions than the cultivars and hence represented more infraspeficic taxa than the cultivars. Nordic landraces seemed adapted to low-input growing conditions. However, for the use in ecological agriculture, they would need improvements, e. g. in reducing seed shattering, lodging and enhancing disease resistances. The role of plant breeding in preserving and developing genetic diversity in Nordic spring wheat with emphasis on Sweden is discussed. © 2012 Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.


News Article | November 10, 2016
Site: phys.org

This technology has already given us genetically modified (GM) plants that produce bacterial pesticides, GM mosquitos that are sterile and GM mice that develop human cancers. Now, new biotechnological techniques are promising to deliver a whole host of new lifeforms designed to serve our purposes – pigs with human organs, chickens that lay eggs containing cholesterol controlling drugs, and monkeys that develop autism. The possibilities seem endless. But do these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have conservation value? The biodiversity of life on earth is globally recognised as valuable and in need of protection. This includes not just wild biodiversity but also the biodiversity of agricultural crop plants that humans have developed over thousands of years. But what about the synthetic forms of biodiversity we are now developing through biotechnologies? Does anyone care about this synbiodiversity? It's a question I was compelled to ask while conducting research into the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV). The SGSV is the global apex of agricultural biodiversity conservation, an approach to conservation where collections of diverse seed samples are kept in frozen storage in genebanks for future use by plant breeders. The SGSV is a frozen cavern in a mountain on the arctic island of Svalbard, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. It has been called a Noah's Ark for crop plants (also the "doomsday vault") because it is the place where genebanks from all around the world send backup copies of their seed collections for safe-keeping. Here the seeds are sealed inside bags sealed inside boxes locked in a freezer locked in a mountain. They are sent there to be kept safe from the threats genebanks can face, such as energy shortages, natural disasters and war. Seeds in the SGSV can only be accessed by the genebank that deposited them and only one withdrawal has been made so far, by researchers from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA ) seeking to restore their collections after the destruction of Aleppo in war-torn Syria. The SGSV is managed through a collaborative agreement between the Norwegian government, the Crop Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen). It opened in 2008 and currently houses 870,971 different samples of 5,340 species from 233 countries, deposited by 69 institutes. Are there any GMOs frozen in the vault? During my research into the SGSV I asked if it held any GM seeds. Despite initially receiving conflicting responses, the formal answer was ultimately "no". But different reasons were given for this and all are open to change. The vault is not a certified facility for GMO storage Facilities working with GMOs require certification to do so. While the SGSV is not currently certified, it could be since requirements typically relate to ensuring strict containment and the SGSV is already oriented towards this goal. Also, since no analysis of seeds is performed at the SGSV or required for deposits, the collections may actually be unintentionally (and unwittingly) contaminated. This is because a mixing with GM crops could have happened via seed or pollen flow before the material was sent to the vault. There is no political will to include GM crops Currently, no one in the SGSV management wants to become (any further) entangled in the controversy surrounding GM crops. They already face what they see as false conjectures about the role of the biotechnology industry (fuelled no doubt by the fact that organisations involved in the biotechnology industry have donated funds to the Crop Trust). Several of the depositing genebanks also actively support biotechnology research. Therefore, if they wanted to store GMOs in the future, the will to seek certification may certainly change. Norway has a strict GMO policy that requires not just evidence of safety but also of social utility and contribution to sustainable development. This means no GM crop has yet been approved for either cultivation or import. But this is currently being challenged by a government committed to speeding up assessments and advocating for weakened interpretations of the law. This further indicates the potential for political will to change. GM crops do not meet the requirements for multilateral access The International Plant Treaty is a crucial foundation for the SGSV. As such, depositing genebanks are required to agree to multilateral access to their collections if they wish to deposit backup copies in the SGSV. But GM crops are not freely accessible to all as part of the common heritage of humanity. They are patented inventions owned by those claiming to have created them. The SGSV requirement that deposits be available for multilateral access can be waived though. But if GM crops are not in the SGSV, should they be? Do GMOs have conservation value? Very little work has examined the moral status and conservation value of GM crops. As the fields of genome editing and synthetic biology are now undergoing rapid development though, we have an important opportunity to consider how we relate to biotechnological forms of biodiversity. We can also think about whether it might be possible to navigate through syn- to symbiodiversity. That is, instead of focusing on these life forms as synthetic human inventions, we could begin to think about them as co-creations of human-nature interactions. In doing so, we may then shift the focus away from how to make synthetic organisms to satisfy our needs and place more emphasis on how to interact with other life forms to establish symbiotic relations of mutual benefit. The French sociologist of science and anthropologist Bruno Latour has urged us to love our monsters, to take responsibility for our technologies and care for them as our children. Certainly it seems fair to argue that if we don't care for our biotechnological co-creations with a sense of (parental) responsibility, perhaps we shouldn't be bringing them to life. How do we care for GM crops? The model of freezing seeds in genebanks and backing up those collections at the SGSV is one way to conserve biodiversity. Another, however, is the approach of continuing to cultivate them in our agricultural landscapes. While this model of conservation has generated and maintained the biodiversity of traditional crop varieties for thousands of years, there is now a significant shift taking place. More than 90% of traditional crop varieties have now disappeared from our fields and been replaced by genetically uniform modern varieties cultivated in large-scale monocultures. Meaning, there may be no GM crops frozen in the SGSV, but there are plenty in the ground. So this leaves me questioning what it is we really cherish? Are we using our precious agricultural resources to expand the diversity of humanity's common heritage? Or are we rather placing our common heritage on ice while we expand the ecological space occupied by privately owned inventions? And who cares about synbiodiversity anyway? Explore further: Thousands of crop varieties from 4 corners of the world depart for Arctic seed vault


Maggioni L.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | von Bothmer R.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Poulsen G.,Nordic Genetic Resource Center | Branca F.,University of Catania
Economic Botany | Year: 2010

Origin and Domestication of Cole Crops (Brassica oleracea L.): Linguistic and Literary Considerations. Various attempts have been made to locate the area of domestication of Brassica oleracea crops (i.e., cole crops). Contrasting hypotheses suggest either a North Atlantic or a Mediterranean origin. In the absence of archaeological proof, linguistic and literary considerations can offer some insight into this issue. Expressions indicating a deep-rooted knowledge and use of these crops are present in early works of ancient Greek and Latin literature, while no trace of cole crops has been found in documents from ancient Egyptian or other Fertile Crescent civilizations. Most cole crop terminology used in modern European languages can etymologically be traced to ancient Latin or Greek roots, particularly those terms indicating the most obvious morphological feature of the primitive domesticated forms, i.e., the solid upright stem (kaulos, caulis). Celtic tradition is not documented earlier than the Christian era, other than in stone inscriptions, and there is no clear evidence of a "cole tradition" among the Celts. This paper gathers information from the linguistic, literary, and historical points of view that are compatible with the domestication of B. oleracea in the ancient Greek-speaking area of Central and East Mediterranean. © 2010 The New York Botanical Garden.


Druka A.,Scottish Crop Research Institute | Franckowiak J.,Hermitage Research Station | Lundqvist U.,Nordic Genetic Resource Center | Bonar N.,Scottish Crop Research Institute | And 8 more authors.
Plant Physiology | Year: 2011

Since the early 20th century, barley (Hordeum vulgare) has been a model for investigating the effects of physical and chemical mutagens and for exploring the potential of mutation breeding in crop improvement. As a consequence, extensive and wellcharacterized collections of morphological and developmental mutants have been assembled that represent a valuable resource for exploring a wide range of complex and fundamental biological processes. We constructed a collection of 881 backcrossed lines containing mutant alleles that induce a majority of the morphological and developmental variation described in this species. After genotyping these lines with up to 3,072 single nucleotide polymorphisms, comparison to their recurrent parent defined the genetic location of 426 mutant alleles to chromosomal segments, each representing on average <3% of the barley genetic map. We show how the gene content in these segments can be predicted through conservation of synteny with model cereal genomes, providing a route to rapid gene identification. © 2010 American Society of Plant Biologists.


Solberg S.O.,Nordic Genetic Resource Center
International Journal of Vegetable Science | Year: 2015

In Northern Europe, onion (Allium cepa L.) is grown from sets planted out in early May and lifted in early September. After a field-curing period the bulbs are put into storage and dried at 25–30°C until the neck is completely dry before the temperature is gradually reduced to 0°C for long-term storage. Watery scale (translucent and leathery scale) is a postharvest problem in our area causing loss of yield and quality. Watery scale includes the following categories of disorders: leathery scale, which appears as thick, dark scales between outer dry and inner fleshy scales, and translucent scale, which appears as glassy, firm fleshy scales further into the bulb. Symptoms of watery scale were clarified based on visual appearance, tissue pH, electrical conductivity, and contents of ethanol, lactic acid, and acetic acid. The disorders were linked to disturbances in gas exchange of bulbs with high internal CO2 and/or low internal O2 levels. Bulbs were exposed to handling treatments leading to increased respiration and/or reduced gas exchange from the interior of bulbs to the outside atmosphere. Internal bulb atmosphere, gas flux, and gas permeability (of O2) of onion scale and tissues were measured to explain why damage occurred. Translucent scale generally occurred in the middle and upper parts of the outer two fleshy scales but could include the entire bulb. A clear reduction in electrical conductivity of translucent tissue was measured, indicating leaching. A rise in pH occurred in translucent scales with weak symptoms followed by a reduction in pH. Leathery scale tissues had a pH around 3.5 and a rise in ethanol content, indicating anaerobic respiration. Dry scale and epidermis of fleshy scale had very low oxygen permeability. Transport of gas through the neck region was 10–20 times higher than transport through the scale. Gas flux was related to need of O2 in respiring tissue and to problems of adverse internal atmosphere and development of disordered scales. Normal cultivation of onion and handling of bulbs resulted in low occurrence of disordered bulbs. Weak symptoms of translucent scale could disappear in storage, but usually symptoms became more severe after long-term storage. Dropping and pressure treatments produced more translucent scale but had no effect on leathery scale. Internal CO2 concentration, as high as 22.3%, occurred after combined dropping and pressure treatments. The results explained the induction of translucent scale. Leathery scale was not affected by the treatments examined in this study. Further work is needed to understand why leathery scale develops and how it can be minimized. © , Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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