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Accelerated cassava breeding coming via OHV Technology collaborationqrcode

Nov. 17, 2016

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Nov. 17, 2016
More productive cassava plants, a root crop that is foundational for food security in Africa, will be made possible by an agreement between Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Co., and Agriculture Victoria, Australia, Cornell University, and the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI).

Dow AgroSciences has collaborated with Agriculture Victoria through its commercial arm, Agriculture Victoria Services Pty Ltd. (AVS), to develop Optimum Haploid Value (OHV) technology that can select the optimal parent varieties for plant breeding. This technology is being granted to BTI and Cornell University via a non-exclusive, royalty-free license for non-profit use to support cassava improvement. The OHV technology will be implemented in the Cassavabase database (https://www.cassavabase.org), maintained at BTI, as part of the NextGeneration Cassava Breeding (NextGen) project.

NextGen is an international partnership that benefits the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) breeding centers in Nigeria, the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Uganda, and the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI). The Cornell-led project is funded by a $25 million, five-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom.

“Making the best use of agricultural technology is essential to feed the growing world, and sharing the OHV technology to improve cassava’s genetic gains is a great example of our desire to provide solutions for farmers around the world,” said Steve Webb, External Technology and Intellectual Property Portfolio Development Leader, Dow AgroSciences.

No other continent depends on cassava to feed as many people as does Africa, where each day, 500 million people consume this starchy, calorie-rich root as a major part of their diet. Accelerating cassava breeding holds great promise for Sub-Saharan Africa, since breeders typically require almost a decade to develop a new cassava variety.

“We are grateful to Dow AgroSciences for making OHV available to us so we can share it with cassava breeders in Africa who would not otherwise have access to this technology,” said Lukas Mueller, Associate Professor at BTI. “Breeders and farmers will benefit from the use of OHV to accelerate the development of higher-yield, disease-resistant cassava varieties.”

The OHV technology is an extension of genomic selection, an approach that uses genetic information and physical characteristics from plant varieties to predict the most productive parental lines, thereby leading to accelerated crop improvement. OHV can shorten breeding cycles, provide accurate evaluation of plant performance at the seedling stage and give plant breeders the ability to evaluate a much larger number of plants without the need to grow them in the target environment. This approach requires fewer resources, making it more sustainable and more efficient. Using OHV and genomic selection, new releases of cassava could be available in nearly half the time.

“Optimal Haploid Value, an improvement over genomic selection, provides the basis for accelerated breeding in crops, thus contributing to global food security,” said Professor German Spangenberg, Agriculture Victoria’s Executive Director Biosciences Research.

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