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Discovery raises hopes of more temperature tolerant wheat
Jan 04

TSTA Weekly Update - 01/04/2024


Member News

Growout Update

Invoices will be sent shortly to the companies participating in the growouts. We sincerely appreciate your prompt attention. The TSTA Board of Directors made a policy decision last spring that no growout information would be forwarded to participants until payment for the growouts was received from the respective participant.

The Texas Seed Trade Association Annual Membership & Policy Meeting Scheduled for February 11-13, 2024. Registration and Hotel Reservations are Live.

We'll do our best to build on a very successful format and timely topics from last year. We are investigating methods to assist your efforts protecting intellectual property from illegal brown bag seed sales. Other topics include:

  • Plant Variety Protection advances over the last year
  • Relative merits of PVP versus plant patents
  • Trends in seed segments; where's the market headed for members?
  • Seed treatment and advancing regulation of treated seed
  • Cover crop market development linked with government programs
  • How can we help limit brown bag seed distribution in Texas?

Registration is open and can be completed using this link.

Hotel reservations can also me made via the link.

The TSTA Board of Directors will meet on Tuesday February 13, in the morning.

Discovery raises hopes of more temperature tolerant wheat

Gene-editing techniques have helped to identify a temperature tolerance factor that may protect wheat from the increasingly unpredictable challenges of climate change. 

Researchers in the group of Professor Graham Moore at the John Innes Centre made the discovery during experiments looking at wheat fertility in plants exposed to either high or low temperatures.  

Wheat fertility and therefore yield is highly influenced by temperature, particularly the initial stages of meiosis when chromosomes from parent cells cross over and pair to create seeds for the next generation.  

Meiosis in wheat functions most efficiently at temperatures between 17-23 degrees centigrade. It is known that developing wheat does not cope well with hot temperatures and can also fail during low summer temperatures. 

Identifying genetic factors that help stabilise wheat fertility outside optimal temperatures is critical if we are to breed climate resilient crops of the future. 

Previous research has indicated a major meiotic gene DMC1 as the likely candidate for preserving wheat meiosis during low and high temperatures. 

  

Researchers at the John Innes Centre used gene-editing techniques to delete DMC1 from a variety of Chinese Spring Wheat, then carried out a series of controlled experiments to observe the effects of different temperatures on meiosis in the mutated plants. 

The experiments revealed that after approximately one week, the gene-edited mutant plants were significantly affected when grown at a temperature of 13 degrees, with 95% of plants showing a decrease in crossover number.  

At the other end of the temperature scale, wheat plants grown at 30 degrees also showed a reduced number of crossovers, compared to control plants. 

The results confirm the hypothesis that DMC1 is responsible for preservation of meiotic crossovers at low and, to a lesser degree, high temperatures.  

Given that the reduction in crossovers has significant effects on grain yield, these results have important implications for wheat breeders in the face of climate change.  

Professor Moore said: “Thanks to gene editing we have been able to isolate a key temperature tolerance gene in wheat. It provides cause for optimism in finding valuable new traits at a time when climate change is challenging the way we grow our major crops.” 

The next stage of this research is to look for variations of DMC1 which offer greater protection to wheat, and to investigate how dosage and expression levels of this gene in wheat may influence protection against wider variations in temperature. 

Trials on temperature tolerance are taking place in Cordoba, Spain, where 30–40-degree centigrade temperatures are regular, posing a threat to wheat fertility and yield. 

The study also highlights that DMC1 is a deeply conserved gene, controlling temperature tolerance in wheat and throughout the plant kingdom, including in other major crops. 

Previous research, cited in this study, into a species of Japanese newt, also shows that fertility is compromised in temperatures below 13 degrees centigrade and that the temperature effect is related to DMC1 activity. 

This research follows the earlier breakthrough by the Moore group at the John Innes Centre in identifying the wheat gene (ZIP4) responsible for correct chromosome pairing and preservation of wheat yield, but which also prevents the introduction of beneficial new traits from wheat wild relatives by suppressing chromosome exchange. 

Using gene editing technology, the researchers have split the dual function of ZIP4 so that it maintains yields but enables wheat to be more easily crossed with wild relatives. This could contribute genetic diversity in elite varieties, including traits such as heat resilience and disease resistance. 

Professor Moore added: “Climate change is likely to have a negative effect on meiosis and therefore on wheat fertility and ultimately crop yields, so screening of germplasm collections to identify heat-tolerant genotypes is a high priority for the future of crop improvement.” 

‘DMC1 stabilizes crossovers at high and low temperatures during wheat meiosis’ appears in Frontiers in Plant Science.

Factoids

Proposition 12, the California law that prohibits the sale of whole pork in the state that comes from the offspring of sows raised in gestation crates, is ready to be implemented.

After delays due to court challenges and the need to wait for a ruling from the Supreme Court, Prop 12 is now law.

The state has registered more than 1,250 producers and distributors to sell Prop 12-compliant eggs and pork.

To view the list click here.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts pork processors are challenging a similar law approved by voters. A major difference is the Massachusetts law, known as Question 3, does not allow transshipment of pork that does not meet the cage-free requirements. Massachusetts recently filed a brief opposing the companies' efforts to stop the law.

Pizza Hut franchisees in California are set to lay off more than 1,100 delivery drivers ahead of a $4 increase in the minimum wage for fast food workers that goes into effect in April, the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

AB 1228, which was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in late September, will increase the state minimum wage from $16 to $20.

The Service Employees International Union estimates the law will impact more than 500,000 fast food workers.

NAT'L AG LAW CENTER LISTS TOP 10 2023 ISSUES IN AG AND ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Source: National Agricultural Law Center

In the world of agricultural law, 2023 was a year for significant developments and changes. In summary below, attorneys at the National Agricultural Law Center have identified and compiled the top legal and policy developments that affected agriculture this year, including many that will do so in years to come.

1. This was a major year for waters of the United States, or WOTUS, the Clean Water Act ("CWA") term that determines the jurisdiction of the Act and which waters are subject to CWA permitting.

2. A case challenging "Prop 12" was decided earlier this year by the Supreme Court. Proposition 12, a California ballot initiative, regulated the production and sale of many veal, egg, and pork products- regardless of where the products were produced.

3. On November 16, a one-year extension of the 2018 Farm Bill, technically known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, was signed into law.

4. This year, EPA has continued to roll out its updated ESA-FIFRA policy detailing how the agency will meet its Endangered Species Act responsibilities while taking action under the Federal Insecticide, Rodenticide, and Fungicide Act.

5. In 2023, the Arkansas state legislature enacted a foreign ownership law which seeks restricts investors from certain countries, including China, from acquiring an interest in land within the state.

6. Concerns about competition in the livestock and poultry industries has been a theme of 2023. The Biden Administration has focused on regulations strengthening provisions of the Packers and Stockyards Act, with more upcoming in the new year.

7. Issues around water use and the Colorado River continued to heat up as Lakes Powell and Mead, the two reservoirs that all seven states located in the Colorado River Basin rely on, remained at historically low levels.

8. The right-to-repair movement gained traction as farmers continued to advocate for the right to access manufacturer-controlled tools and information.

9. The goals of industrial hemp production have changed dramatically. Three years ago, the emphasis for hemp growers was the production of CBD but in the past year the market has shifted to Delta-8 THC.

10. Civil litigation over pesticides picked up steam with juries in Missouri and Pennsylvania awarding over $2 billion to plaintiffs who claimed that exposure to the glyphosate in Roundup products caused them to develop cancer.

Looking ahead to 2024, many of the top issues from this year will continue to develop. Additional areas to watch are the implementation of corporate transparency rules requiring disclosure of ownership interests in companies (including single member LLCs), proposed changes to the H2A program via the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Supreme Court consideration of issues that could significantly impact the degree of deference future courts must give when reviewing agency actions.

To read the entire article click here.

GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS DOMINATE U.S. SOYBEAN, COTTON AND CORN ACRES

Genetically engineered (GE) seeds were commercially introduced in the United States for major field crops in 1996, with adoption rates increasing rapidly in the years that followed.

The two main GE trait types are herbicide-tolerant (HT) and insect-resistant (Bt). These traits can be added individually to seeds as well as combined into a single seed, called stacked seed traits. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) reports information on GE crops in the data product Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.

These data show that by 2008, more than 50 percent of corn, cotton, and soybean acres were planted with at least one GE seed trait. Today, more than 90 percent of corn, cotton, and soybean acres are planted using at least one GE trait. Traits other than HT and Bt have been developed, such as resistance to viruses, fungi, and drought or enhanced protein, oil, or vitamin content.

However, HT and Bt traits are the most used in U.S. crop production. While HT seeds also are widely used in alfalfa, canola, and sugar beet production, most GE acres are occupied by three major field crops: corn, cotton, and soybeans.

News Bits

Missouri Governor Mike Parson has signed an executive order to ban China and other foreign adversaries from owning farmland in the state within 10 miles of critical military facilities.

Parson says this is a placeholder in case the state legislature can't agree on updated foreign ag land policies and its as far as executive authority can go under current state law.

"If I had the authority, we wouldn't just be talking about banning farmland, but all commercial properties by foreign adversaries regardless of rural or urban."

He says other proposals on foreign ag land in the state do more harm than good.

"Banning our adversaries, yes, but if we start banning every purchase of farmland by a foreign individual or business, where does this end?"

Parson says the Missouri Agriculture Department will have greater oversight over foreign ag land purchases under this new order and any purchase of ag land must be examined and approved by the department.

By Brendan Pierson, Reuters

Bayer has won a trial in a lawsuit brought by a California man who said he developed cancer from exposure to its Roundup weedkiller, ending what had been a five-trial losing streak for the company in trials over similar claims.

The verdict was handed down on Friday by a jury in San Benito County, California Superior Court, Bayer announced. The company said in a statement that the verdict was "consistent with the evidence in this case that Roundup does not cause cancer and is not responsible for the plaintiff's illness."

Lawyers for plaintiff Bruce Jones did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Like most plaintiffs in Roundup lawsuits, Jones alleged that the product caused him to develop a form of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Around 165,000 claims have been made against the company for personal injuries allegedly caused by Roundup, which Bayer acquired as part of its $63 billion purchase of U.S. agrochemical company Monsanto in 2018.

To read the entire report click here.

The Italian government has just done something many American farmers and ranchers probably wish their government would do.

Italy banned cultivated meat, the kind grown in laboratory bioreactors from stem cells. Under a law enacted last month, cultivated meat cannot be produced or marketed in Italy.

Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida said Italy was proud to be the first country to impose such a ban. Which, if any, will be the second is unclear.

Many other countries are allowing, even encouraging, the technology to be developed. Singapore is the only country where people are currently eating cell-based meat, but the USDA and FDA have approved two kinds of cell-based chicken.

For regulators in most countries, including the U.S., the paramount issue is food safety. Were they to nix a proposed cultivated-meat product, it would be because they found it less safe than meat raised the old-fashioned way.

Italy's ban grows out of somewhat different concerns, concerns that may be of more interest to American farmers and ranchers. Italy is unashamedly trying to protect its food traditions -- and its farmers.

"We protect our food, our food system, to maintain the relationship between food, land and human work that has accompanied us for millennia," Food Navigator.com quoted Lollobrigida as saying. "We must protect our workers, our agricultural entrepreneurs and our citizens who have the right to eat well."

What Italy isn't protecting is its infant cultivated-meat industry. Instead, it's putting it out of business. Italian farmers lobbied hard for the measure. They are eager to see their high-tech competitors squelched.

To continue reading article, Click Here