Diversity Prospecting for an Open Source Plant Breeding Framework
Humans began plant breeding to domesticate crop plants initially for increased yields. As selection continued genotypes were chosen for improved flavor and other desirable traits such as non-shattering grains. Genotypes we use today are continually being selected for adaptation to new pests and changing environmental conditions. These successes are directly related to the ability of farmers and plant breeders to access diverse plant genetic resources. We are currently experiencing a dramatic transition in how plant germplasm is distributed, developed, and released; from a freely available resource, primarily in the public sector, into proprietary structures managed largely by the private sector. Farmers need access to a wide variety of cultivars that suit diverse environments and that appeal to their customers. Access to diverse cultivars and the traits they encompass is becoming more restricted due to increasing use of a wider variety of intellectual property rights protections. Using carrot as a model crop, this project will explore germplasm diversity and its associated intellectual property rights to determine how these forces impact farmers’ and plant breeders’ access to and sharing of germplasm. A set of nearly all carrot cultivars of every market class available in the United States was planted in replicated trials at two organic farms in the Madison, WI area. Phenotypic data and an accounting of any form of legal protection or restrictions associated with each cultivar that may impact future breeding efforts were collected. With this information and farmer collaborator input, our team will begin to develop several populations that capture diversity available for breeding. Eight populations were developed that ensures germplasm diversity will remain available for others to use in breeding programs and on farms in the future. Access to and utilization of diverse germplasm will help facilitate the development of new cultivars with useful traits for farmers and will ensure genetic diversity essential for resilient agricultural systems.
The goals of this project were to collect phenotypic and intellectual property rights data on the majority of commercially available carrot cultivars in the United States. We collected this data during the summers of 2013 and 2014. In addition, we created eight diverse populations using carrot cultivars that were not protected by intellectual property rights. Attached are a photo of crosses being made in the greenhouse in 2014 and an example of the data we are collecting from a presentation given at the Organic Seed Growers Conference 2014.
- Example of data collected. This graph shows root length and diameter as well as freedom to operate for each variety
- Making crosses for the populations in the greenhouse
Over the course of this project, we successfully completed two field seasons in collaboration with our farmer partners. 142 cultivars were planted at two organic farms in the Madison, WI area in the summers of 2013 and 2014. Each season, data were collected for each cultivar on petiole anthocyanin, leaf growth habit, top height, top strength, bolting, red/purple on shoulder, green on shoulder, root length, root diameter, root shape, smoothness, branching, uniformity, tip shape, relative core diameter, outer root color, xylem color, phloem color, soluble solids and beta carotene. The intellectual property rights were identified for each cultivar. Those cultivars that were not protected by intellectual property rights and were available to use in breeding were used to create eight diverse populations based on market class and root color: nantes, danvers, parissiene, chantenay, purple, red, white and yellow. The data from this project are in the process of being analyzed.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Information about this project have been presented at a number of different venues including the 2014 Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis OR, the 2014 Student Organic Seed Symposium in Geneva NY, the 2015 Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Conference (MOSES) in Lacrosse WI, and at a field day for Tipi Organic Produce, one of our farm partners. In addition, we have seed of the eight diverse carrot populations that could be distributed to interested parties.
926 Spaight st.
Madison, WI 53703
University of Wisconsin- Madison
1575 Linden Dr.
Madison, WI 53706
Office Phone: 6513435180
14706 Ahara rd
Evansville, WI 53536