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Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)
Federal Research Centre
for Cultivated Plants

Temporary Head
Dr. Thilo Hammann

Groß Lüsewitz
Rudolf-Schick-Platz 3a
18190 Sanitz, Germany

Ms Annett Sitte
Tel: +49(0)38209 45-200
Fax: +49(0)38209 45-222

Gabriele Platek
Tel.: 038209 45-100
Fax: 038209 45-120

E-mail: zl@  jki.bund.  de

Institute booklet

Evaluating the potentials of plant genetic resources

Plant genetic resources (PGR) represent a wealth of genetic diversity, part of which is of potential value for breeding better crop plants. For instance, landraces or crop wild relatives may bear valuable genes for disease resistance, yield-improving properties, or quality-related traits.

Often, those parts of genetic diversity which may prove useful for breeding purposes are masked by other "wild" properties which are agronomically unfavorable. In these cases, the potential of a plant genetic resource (PGR) cannot be judged from the per se performance of the PGR and, thus, stays unused unless explored in a more thorough way. To uncover the presence of valuable gene variants in a plant genetic resource and estimate its potential for plant breeding, we apply sophisticated strategies of breeding research, flanked by complex tests in the laboratory and multi-year agricultural trials in the field.

Genetic adaptability of narrow-leafed sweet lupin

Narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) is a home-grown protein crop which can be utilized both for feed and food purposes. Due to its deep-reaching root system and its ability to fix nitrogen narrow-leafed lupin (NLL) is a crop also suited for light soils and brings about good preceding-crop effects. NLL is a relatively young crop plant and may be expected to bear potential for further improvements in important agronomic traits such as kernel yield or shattering resistance. Such improvements will be paramount to widely and sustainably establish this species in crop rotations. To this end, we investigate the genetic variability of NLL for valuable trait expression. We established pre-breeding lines of NLL expressing novel growth types, some of them exhibiting increased yield potential compared to standard cultivars. To make this potential accessible to plant breeders we analyze the inheritance of selected growth types and address the underlying genes by means of molecular markers.

Genetic resources for disease-resistant potatoes

Worldwide, potato production is challenged by a multitude of plant pathogens and pests, among them late blight caused by the fungus-like oomycete Phytophthora infestans, aphid-transmitted viruses, pathogenic fungi and bacteria as well as nematodes. Rendering potato cultivars less vulnerable to these threats via plant breeding requires a genetically diverse gene pool. To widen this gene pool we investigate the Mexican wild species Solanum tarnii Hawkes et Hjerting for resistances to potato beetle, potato virus Y (PVY) as well as aphids which serve virus vectors. In a succeeding step we aim at introducing resistance genes derived from this and other plant genetic resources into adapted potato germplasm. This is accomplished by use of advanced reproduction techniques and molecular markers. To ensure a broad basis of genetic resources and methodical approaches we cooperate with gene banks and research institutions in Germany, Russia, Romania, Canada, and Vietnam. You can find further information here.

Nematode Resistance: Tapping novel genetic resources of resistance to Globodera pallida pathotypes in starch potatoes (SERAP)

The wild species Solanum gourlayi is a potential source of resistance to the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida (© Thilo Hammann/JKI)

For decades the starch potato has been used to a considerable extent as a renewable resource for technical purposes. Derivatives of potato starch are utilised in paper industry, for glue production and in the production of synthetic materials. However, numerous pathogens and pests are threatening the use of starch potato for bio-economy. Cyst nematodes (Globodera pallida, G. rostochiensis) represent quarantine pests and are among the most important threats in some regions of starch-potato production in Germany.

For economical and ecological reasons as well, breeding resistant starch-potato varieties is the only way to face this challenge. At present, only few varieties come with resistance to the most widespread cyst nematode, G. pallida pathotype Pa3. Meanwhile, in some production areas populations of a sub-type of G. pallida Pa3 have established themselves and are able to overcome Pa3 host resistance and, consequently, render potato growing impossible in these areas. The novel Pa3 sub-type is called ‘Oberlangen’. Our objective is to develop a pre-breeding germplasm resistant to G. pallida Pa3 and its sub-type ‘Oberlangen’. To this end, wild Solanum species are evaluated for their potential as resistance donors. To accelerate the introgression of resistance genes into current starch varieties, molecular selection markers shall be developed and used for pyramiding different resistance genes.

Our cooperation partners in this project are the Institute for Plant Protection in Field Crops and Grassland at the Julius Kühn-Institut, the Leibniz University Hannover (www.uni-hannover.de), as well as private potato breeders federated in the Gemeinschaft zur Förderung von Pflanzeninnovation e. V. (GFPi, www.GFPi.de).

Contact: Dr. Thilo Hammann