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Dawson J.C.,UMR de Genetique Vegetale | Dawson J.C.,Cornell University | Riviere P.,UMR de Genetique Vegetale | Berthellot J.-F.,Reseau Semences Paysannes Cazalens | And 8 more authors.
Sustainability | Year: 2011

Because organic systems present complex environmental stress, plant breeders may either target very focused regions for different varieties, or create heterogeneous populations which can then evolve specific adaptation through on-farm cultivation and selection. This often leads to participatory plant breeding (PPB) strategies which take advantage of the specific knowledge of farmers. Participatory selection requires increased commitment and engagement on the part of the farmers and researchers. Projects may begin as researcher initiatives with farmer participation or farmer initiatives with researcher participation and over time evolve into true collaborations. These projects are difficult to plan in advance because by nature they change to respond to the priorities and interests of the collaborators. Projects need to provide relevant information and analysis in a time-frame that is meaningful for farmers, while remaining scientifically rigorous and innovative. This paper presents two specific studies: the first was a researcher-designed experiment that assessed the potential adaptation of landraces to organic systems through on-farm cultivation and farmer selection. The second is a farmer-led plant breeding project to select bread wheat for organic systems in France. Over the course of these two projects, many discussions among farmers, researchers and farmers associations led to the development of methods that fit the objectives of those involved. This type of project is no longer researcher-led or farmer-led but instead an equal collaboration. Results from the two research projects and the strategy developed for an ongoing collaborative plant breeding project are discussed.© 2011 by the authors.

Dawson J.C.,UMR de Genetique Vegetale | Dawson J.C.,Cornell University | Serpolay E.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Giuliano S.,Purpan Engineering School | And 9 more authors.
Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution | Year: 2013

The contribution of farmers to the creation and maintenance of genetic diversity is beginning to receive more recognition in developed countries. Although the use of landraces and historic varieties has largely disappeared in countries with industrialized agricultural systems and formal seed markets, certain varieties with particular cultural significance have been continuously cultivated by farmers and other varieties have been preserved ex situ in genebanks. Recently, associations of organic farmers have become involved in the conservation and use of landraces and historic varieties (called farmer varieties in this article) because these varieties possess agronomic and quality traits that they have not found in modern varieties. In this study, eight farmer varieties of bread wheat from Europe selected by participating farmers were evaluated in on-farm trials during 3 years of cultivation. Each variety was grown on each farm, and phenotypic changes in each variety were measured the third year in a replicated split-plot trial on each farm comparing the version of each variety the farmer had multiplied to a sample of each variety from the region of origin. All varieties, including the two modern pureline varieties used as checks, showed statistically significant phenotypic changes over 3 years of multiplication. However, the magnitude of these changes was moderate and did not call into question varietal identity or distinctness. In addition, some traits of putative agronomic and adaptive importance, such as grain weight per spike and thousand kernel weight, did not respond positively to natural selection (environmental conditions and management practices) which suggests the necessity of farmer selection to maintain and improve varietal performance. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

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