Imagine an every-day diet of a typical man without bread. Wheat that has been cultivated by people since the 7th-6th millennia B.C. is still feeding mankind. It is a known fact that a good harvest is a result of work of many specialists, including geneticists and plant breeders. In Autumn 2011, the international conference Genetic Resources and Genomics of Wheat organized by the RAS Institute of Cytology and Genetics was held in the Novosibirsk science town. The forum was organized for the third time, but each time it was dedicated to specific topics. This time it was devoted to genotyping, genetic and selection strategy of the future. Acad. Vladimir Shumny, specialist in experimental genetics, chairman of the Vavilov Society of Geneticists and Plant Breeders, spoke about the "hottest" issues with the correspondent of the Science in Siberia newspaper L. Yudina.
The main idea of the conference held with the participation of scientists from Germany, France, USA, Holland and Iraq was that a national program dedicated to wheat as one of the principal grain crops in Russia should be developed. It will attract attention of geneticists and plant breeders from all over the world, which allows to attract more money. Even though wheat plays a leading role in establishing a global bread potential as compared with other crops, selection and genetic activities are distributed unevenly. A lot of money is spent for a soy bean, rice and corn, but, as distinct from wheat, technology of production of these crops is more difficult: there are numerous hybrid species, which means that a special seed breeding is required.
According to V. Shumsky, genetic improvement of wheat varieties was one of the central points of discussion. High-potential varieties were created. Wheat is not a problem in terms of cultivation; the most important thing here is quality of seeds. Harvests are usually rich, but they could be even higher. The potential is not realized in full, only 30-40 percent. For example, with a wheat variety of 8t/ha, in Russia they gather about 2-3 t/ha on the average. However, some varieties bred 10, 20 and
30 years ago become out of date morally. Besides, the requirements increase, environmental conditions and tasks change.
Genetic improvement of crop varieties has been carried out for a long time: it was necessary to sort out all wheat genes, decode genomes, determine genes in charge of productivity, resistance to diseases, pests and extreme environmental conditions. The latter should be mapped and available for plant breeders. By analogy required genes are taken from wild plants--wheat-grass, leymus, etc., and transferred to the genome of wheat. It is difficult, but not unreal. The RAS Institute of Cytology and Genetics has collections of wild plants with highly-valuable genes, and foreign colleagues often address Russian scientists to get some of them. Geneticists and plant breeders are first of all trying to get strong healthy varieties resistant to extreme factors of the environment, such as cold, drought, salinity of soils. It is not a secret that plants have always been affected by diseases and pests that are nowadays even more frequent than before.
In the past the RAS Institute of Cytology and Genetics became famous for the variety of wheat Novosibirskaya-67, bred together with scientists from other institutions. It is used as a standard of resistance to low temperatures in Russia, including Siberia. New varieties are created throughout Russia--each year more than one variety. Selection is well developed in Siberia, while seed-growing leaves much to be desired. It is a whole industry with its laws and peculiarities, and mainly in the hands of private farmers. As in the rest of the world, this sector is well developed-there are strong seed-growing companies, working in a close contact with plant breeders, they satisfy all requirements and conditions in advance, including productivity per hectare, gross mass, price. Our country is also on the way to develop a necessary mechanism and, if the government is in control of main moments, there will be fewer cases of failures, and agricultural producers will be more protected.
L. Yudina, "A National Program Required", Science in Siberia newspaper, No. 40, 2011
Опубликовано на Порталусе 07 октября 2021 года
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