Abstract: Sugarcane breeding is very difficult and it takes 12 to 14 years to develop a new cultivar for commercial production. This is because sugarcane varieties are highly polyploid, inter-specific hybrids with 100 to 130 chromosomes that may vary across geographical areas. Other obstacles/constraints include the small size of flowers that may not synchronize but may self-pollinate, difficulty in distinguishing hybrids from self progenies, extreme (G × E) interactive effect, and potential variety mis-identification during vegetative propagation and varietal exchange. To help cane breeders circumvent these constraints, a simple sequence repeats (SSR)-based molecular identity database has been developed at the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA. Since 2005, approximately 2000 molecular identities have been constructed for clones of sugarcane and related Saccharum species that cover geographical areas including Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, USA (Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Hawaii), and Venezuela. The molecular identity database is updated annually and has been utilized to: (1) provide molecular descriptors to newly registered cultivars; (2) identify in a timely fashion any mislabeled or unidentifiable clones from cross parents and field evaluation plots; (3) develop de novo clones of energy cane with S. spontaneum cytoplasm; (4) provide clone-specific fingerprint information for assessing cross quality and paternity of polycross; (5) determine genetic relatedness of parental clones; (6) select F1 hybrids from (elite × wild) or (wild × elite) crosses; and (7) investigate the inheritance of SSR markers in sugarcane. The integration of the molecular identity database into the sugarcane breeding program may improve the overall efficacy of cultivar development and commercialization.
Abstract: The aim of the apricot-breeding program in the Horticultural Faculty in Lednice, that has been developed since 1981, is to obtain new adaptable cultivars, which combine most of the valuable biological traits. Standard breeding techniques, such as crossing by emasculation and hand pollination, self-pollination and open pollination, were employed. A total of 1.154 crossings were produced from more than 110 different parents. So far more than 20,000 seedlings have been obtained, of which about 13,000 have already been evaluated. The most interesting selections were grafted and planted in trial orchards (we now have more than 650 elite genotypes). Ten of these have already been registered, and further promising new hybrids have been submitted for registration and law right protection (Betinka, Candela, Sophia and Adriana). The basic prerequisite for the initiation of the breeding program was a large collection of genetic resources, established and gradually supplemented since the 1970s. At the present time, we preserve and manage more than 300 accessions of apricot trees. In the frame of the descriptive work of the genetic resources and in order to use in breeding, a collection of apricots has been evaluated. We selected the genotypes and characters relating to an increased level of adaptation to the environment.
Abstract: Efficient acquisition, assimilation and economy of nitrogen are of special importance in trees that must cope with seasonal periods of growth and dormancy over many years. The ability to accumulate nitrogen reserves and to recycle N determine to a great extent the growth and production of forest biomass. The metabolic relevance of two key amino acids, arginine and phenylalanine, as well as other processes potentially involved in the nitrogen economy of conifers are discussed in the current review. During their long life cycles, conifers not only cope with cyclical annual and long-term changes in the environment but also interact with other organisms such as herbivores and symbionts. The interactions of biotic and abiotic factors with conifer nitrogen metabolism will also be outlined in this review.
Abstract: Nitrogen (N) fertilizers are one of the most expensive inputs in agricultural settings. Additionally, the loss of N increases costs, contributes to soil acidification, and causes off-site pollution of the air, groundwater and waterways. This study reviews current knowledge about technologies for N fertilization with potential to increase N use efficiency and reduce its negative effects on the environment. Classic inorganic sources such as urea and ammonium sulfate are the major sources utilized, while controlled N release fertilizers have not been significantly adopted for cereals and oil crops. Microorganisms, with the exception of Rhizobium sp. in soybeans, are also not widely used nowadays (e.g., plant growth-promoting bacteria and cynobacteria). The interest in implementing new N fertilization knowledge is stimulating the development of sensors to diagnose the N status and decision support systems for integrating several variables to optimize sources, rates and methods of application. Among potential new technologies we identified the incipient development of nanofertilizers, nutrient formulations to coat seeds, and recycled nutrients. Furthermore, increasing concern about the environmental consequences of N may facilitate the implementation of innovations outside the farm such as more effective regulations to guide N fertilization and methods to manufacture N fertilizers that are more energy-efficient and less CO2 equivalent emitting.
Abstract: Aflatoxins, produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, contaminate maize grain and threaten human food and feed safety. Plant resistance is considered the best strategy for reducing aflatoxin accumulation. Six maize germplasm lines, TZAR101–TZAR106, were released by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture-Southern Regional Research Center (IITA-SRRC) maize breeding collaboration for use in African National Programs and U.S. maize breeding programs. The present investigation was conducted to evaluate aflatoxin reduction by these lines in a U.S. environment. As germplasm lines, resistance was demonstrated by the lines tested in 2010 and 2014 trials. In 2010, TZAR106 was among the lines with the lowest toxin accumulation, and in 2014, along with TZAR102, supported low aflatoxin. When evaluated as single cross hybrids in 2012, 2013 and 2014, several crosses involving IITA-SRRC lines accumulated low toxin. In 2012, TZAR103 × HBA1 was one of 4 lines with the lowest concentration of aflatoxin. In 2014, five IITA-SRRC hybrids were among the lowest with TZAR102 × Va35 and TZAR102 × LH132 being the two lowest. Results demonstrate significant aflatoxin reduction by IITA-SRRC lines in a U.S. aflatoxin-conducive environment (at Mississippi State University). Further testing in different locations and environments is needed to further evaluate the potential usefulness of these germplasm lines.
Abstract: In intensive agriculture, N supply often exceeds crop requirements, even in nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ). In farmland, the N surplus gives rise to NO3− leaching and consequent groundwater pollution. The present study aimed at proposing measures to reduce N leaching and hence improve N efficiency in a buffalo livestock farm located in the NVZ of Latina plain (Central Italy). The farm was cultivated with forage crops in a double annual crop rotation: Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) in winter and silage corn (Zea mays L.) in summer. Mineral and organic fertilizers were supplied to both crops. The annual N budget and soil solution NO3-N concentrations were evaluated using a modeling approach. The performance of the WinEPIC model in simulating the response of the NO3-N concentration in percolation to the N application rate was assessed and validated by field measurements of the NO3-N concentration in the soil solution. Three scenarios were proposed to identify the best practice to minimize the environmental impact of N application without significant yield loss. Also, recommendations of best practices in N fertilization and animal manure spreading were given. This study thus provides useful preliminary information for decision-making in agriculture/environmental policies.