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Under the hood: How environment and genomes interact in plant developmentUnder the hood: How environment and genomes interact in plant development

Jan 27

TSTA Weekly Update, 01/27/2022

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Member News
Horseshoe Bay Resort
February 13-15, 2022
´╗┐Texas Seed Trade Association Annual & Membership Meeting
The deadline is looming for good room rates - please book now!
The 2022 TSTA annual meeting will be February 13-15, at the Horseshoe Bay Resort near Marble Falls, TX. The activities begin Sunday, February 13th for the first Annual TSTA Cornhole Tournament the proceeds of which will be used to support our scholarship program through the TSTA Foundation. Beginning at 3:00PM the tournament is $100 to enter and $150 to watch. Some very nice prizes are included for the winners! The Super Bowl Party convenes just after the corn-hole tournament Sunday evening.
Monday, February 14th, there will be an installation of new officers; a review of the state of the organization; and interact with experts on a variety of subjects of interest to seed professionals. There will be a light continental breakfast Monday morning and a luncheon between the morning and afternoon sessions. The President & 1st Lady's Dinner and Auction will be enjoyable for all on Valentine's Day with spouse, guest, and friends.
The TSTA board of directors will meet on Tuesday morning the 15th. All members in good standing are invited to attend the board meeting.
Reservations may be made using the link below. Rooms may be available at the negotiated rate beyond the 15th check out. Please call the Resort at 877-611-0112 to inquire. Our room rate is quite favorable especially for a property of this distinction.
The second link is for meeting registration and the third provides some general information.
Monday morning we will discuss membership issues and hold elections for new board members and officers. We'll go over the state of our sponsored scholarships, legislative activities, and regulatory updates. Our outgoing, and incoming, association president will have some things to share with you as well.
Monday afternoon we will host a general session on topics of mutual interest to all members. Dr, Bill Rooney will discuss his research on the potential of sorghum bred for energy utilization for carbon sequestration. Tillery Sims will be with us to discuss progress on hemp crops in Texas and where she sees we're going and what it will take to get there. Dr. David Baltensperger will present several updates on how Texas A&M is contributing to their already productive plant breeding efforts and news about AgriLife priorities as well as news from the Texas State Seed & Plant Board.
Thank you to our sponsors!
In an effort to update and maintain our membership records we request you take a few moments and fill out the very brief info request at the following link.
The link is secure and the information will be used internally by the Texas Seed Trade Association and never shared without your permission. This request is on behalf of your association's board of directors and officers and we greatly appreciate your cooperation. Thank you!
1/27/2022 - If you have not updated your information please take a moment and do so now. We appreciate it! We continue to update this database and need your input!
Supreme Court Will Hear Waters of the U.S. Case
American Farm Bureau Federation reports:
Washington - American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, which challenges EPA's overreach of its Clean Water Act jurisdiction.
"AFBF is pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to take up the important issue of what constitutes 'Waters of the U.S.' under the Clean Water Act. Farmers and ranchers share the goal of protecting the resources they're entrusted with, but they shouldn't need a team of lawyers to farm their land. We hope this case will bring more clarity to water regulations.
"In light of today's decision, we call on EPA to push pause on its plan to write a new WOTUS rule until it has more guidance on which waters fall under federal jurisdiction. For the past 10 years, Farm Bureau has led the charge on elevating the issue of government overreach in water regulations. The goal is simple, clean water and clear rules."
News Bits
Gordon W. Davis has had a larger impact on the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources than just about anyone else.
A local businessman who spent 10 years as an associate professor in the college, Davis and his wife, Joyce, have given a $44 million donation, which represents the single largest philanthropic donation to Texas Tech in school history and is one of the largest investments in people and programs in an agricultural college in the U.S.
The gift will fund three areas within the college:
• A $25 million endowment that will directly benefit the college;
• A $4 million gift to establish the Gordon and Joyce Davis Endowment for Excellence in Meat and Food Science; and
• A $15 million gift from the Gordon W. Davis estate to benefit future educational efforts within the college.
To honor this generosity, Texas Tech University is renaming the college the Gordon W. Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources.
Agricultural producers and landowners can sign up soon for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a cornerstone conservation program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a key tool in the Biden-Harris Administration effort to address climate change and achieve other natural resource benefits. The General CRP signup will run from Jan. 31 to March 11, and the Grassland CRP signup will run from April 4 to May 13.
Several agribusinesses have suffered cyberattacks in recent months including the nation's largest private seed company, Stine Seed.
President Myron Stine tells Brownfield there was a sophisticated cyberattack on their data systems January 9th.
"We had never gone through something like that, so we were very very careful. We dotted our I's and crossed our T's. And the FBI was very helpful, just instantly. There was really no waiting around, there was no 'we'll get back to you tomorrow' or anything. They were right on it right away."
He says the company quickly reached out to sales reps and dealers.
"I would tell our customers that it's a common thing. There wasn't any real heavy damage at all, in fact there was little or no damage. But there could've been. And I think everybody should just doublecheck and think about 'yes it could happen to me."
Stine says when agriculture is targeted, it might be because cyber attackers view farmers and ag companies as easy prey.
When asked by Brownfield if Stine Seed Company is "full steam ahead" as it prepares for the upcoming growing season, Stine replied "absolutely."
Check out the four newest All-American Selections plant variety winners by clicking here
Ukraine is a key player in global agriculture, and how these conflicts play out will have international impacts. Ukraine has more than 41.5 million hectares (or 102.5 million acres) of agricultural land that cover 70% of the country.
In 2020, Ukraine's agriculture sector generated approximately 9.3% of GDP. Crop farming, which accounts for 73% of agricultural output, dominates Ukrainian agriculture, according to the International Trade Administration.
The country's main crops are sunflowers, corn, soybeans, wheat and barley. Globally, Ukraine ranks:
• 1st in global sunflower production (For 2021/22 Ukraine sunflower seed production is estimated at a record 17.5 MMT)
• 6th in global corn production. (For 2021/22 Ukraine corn production is estimated at a record 42 MMT)
• 6th in global barley production
• 7th in global rapeseed production
• 9th in global soybean production
• 9th in global wheat production
Ukraine has been a global supplier of wheat, corn and sunflower/sunoil, says Joseph W. Glauber, senior research fellow for the markets, trade and institutions division at the International Food Policy Research Institute.
This year, Ukraine is forecast to account for 12% of global wheat exports, 16% for corn, 18% for barley and 19% for rapeseed. The share of agriculture in export revenues for Ukraine increased from 26% in 2012 to 45% in 2020 amounting to $22.2 billion.
Under the hood: How environment and genomes interact in plant development
Iowa State University news release
Sorghum plants grow in an Iowa field. ISU researchers showed genomes interact with environments during plant development to determine final height in sorghum. Photo by Qi Mu.
Iowa State University scientists have harnessed data analytics to look “under the hood” of the mechanisms that determine how genetics and changing environmental conditions interact during crucial developmental stages of plants.
A new study published in the academic scientific journal New Phytologist focuses on how changes in temperature affect the height of sorghum plants, and the scientists who conducted the experiments said the research could help to breed more resilient crops as well as shed light on mechanisms that play a critical role in plant growth. The research revolves around the concept of phenotypic plasticity, or how a given trait can differ as a result of environmental conditions. For instance, a plant may grow to a different height in a dry environment than a plant with identical genetics that grows in a wet environment.
Understanding plasticity can help plant breeders design crop varieties that will perform well under a range of environmental conditions, said Jianming Yu, a professor of agronomy and the Pioneer Distinguished Chair in Maize Breeding at Iowa State University and corresponding author of the study. But looking only at the final mature traits of plants paints an incomplete picture of plasticity. Instead, the new study examines the growth rate of sorghum during a critical stage of development, between 40 and 53 days after planting. Zeroing in on that rapid-growth phase in the plant’s life cycle allowed the researchers to examine the mechanisms that govern sorghum’s phenotypic plasticity in greater detail.
“Looking at the developmental phase allows us to look under the hood to see what causes the final mature traits,” Yu said.
The researchers collected data on sorghum, a globally cultivated cereal crop, grown in Iowa, Kansas and Puerto Rico over the span of multiple years. Measurements of plant height were taken at several points during the growing season, creating a large dataset on which the researchers applied statistical regression analyses to better understand the relationship between height and diurnal temperature change, or the difference in temperature between nighttime lows and daytime highs.
They found increases in diurnal temperature change tended to produce shorter plants. The trend was particularly distinct during that critical developmental phase around 40 to 53 days after planting.
“We found that these genes actually interact with environmental stimuli and control the maximum growth rate as well as time to reach maximum growth rate,” said Qi Mu, a postdoctoral research associate in agronomy and the first author of the study. “And that eventually determines the final plant height.”
Plasticity and climate change
Climate change increases the urgency of understanding phenotypic plasticity, Yu said. As climate change causes more volatile swings in weather, farmers and plant breeders will require better tools for predicting how crop varieties will perform under different environmental conditions. For instance, Yu said climate change could cause nighttime temperatures to rise in some locations, which would have significant ramifications for cultivating crops, as illustrated in the study.
Research into phenotypic plasticity will allow plant breeders to develop more precise tools for predicting how crops will perform across a range of environmental conditions, Mu said.
“With climate change, crops need to adapt to different climates and environments,” Mu said. “In order to breed crops that are more adaptive we have to understand the mechanism of how they respond to environments. With that knowledge, we can design resilient crops that thrive in future environments.”
The study’s results emerged after analyzing 3,500 phenotype records collected in four years, and further validated with 13,500 phenotype records in another four years, said Xianran Li, a former adjunct associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State and a co-corresponding author of the study.
“Thousands of weather and genetic fingerprint datapoints were mulled over as well,” said Li, now a research scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.
Funding for the research came from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the ISU Raymond F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding and the ISU Plant Sciences Institute. The research team also included Tingting Guo, a research scientist in agronomy and a member of Yu’s lab.
China to allow gene-edited crops in push for food security
China has published trial rules for the approval of gene-edited plants, paving the way for faster improvements to crops as it seeks to bolster its food security.
Gene editing - or altering the genes of a plant to change or improve its performance - is viewed by some scientists as less risky than genetically-modifying them, which involves transferring a foreign gene.
The new guidelines, published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs late Monday, come amid a raft of measures aimed at overhauling China's seed industry, seen as a weak link in efforts to ensure it can feed the world's biggest population.
Beijing has also recently passed new regulations that set out a clear path for approval for genetically modified (GM)crops.
But while it has deliberated for years whether to allow planting of GM crops to feed its people and livestock, it is ahead of some nations in outlining clear and relatively fast procedures for gene-edited crops.
"Given the strong investment of the Chinese government in genome editing, we expect the release of a relatively open policy in the coming years," Rabobank wrote in a December report.
China's research institutes have already published more research on market-oriented gene-edited crops than any other country, it added.
The technology's precision makes it faster than conventional breeding or genetic modification, and also lowers the cost.
Regulation is also less cumbersome in some countries, such as the United States, although the European Union is still reviewing how to regulate the technology. read more
"This really opens the door for plant breeding. It's an infinite opportunity to improve crops more precisely and much more efficiently," said Han Gengchen, chairman of seed company Origin Agritech (SEED.O).
The draft rules stipulate that once gene-edited plants have completed pilot trials, a production certificate can be applied for, skipping the lengthy field trials required for the approval of a GM plant.
That means it could take only a year or two to get approval for a gene-edited plant, said Han, compared with around six years for GM ones.
It is not clear how many companies or institutes are ready to apply for approval of edited products.
Chinese researchers have used gene-editing to create lettuce seeds rich in vitamin C and herbicide-resistant rice, according to a Global Times report.
China's leadership said in late 2020 the country needed to use science and technology for an urgent "turnaround" of its seed industry, which has long struggled with overcapacity and little innovation.
China imports a significant share of its vegetable seeds and wants to reduce its reliance on overseas breeding.
Brownfield Ag News reports
The leaders of three national ag input groups say multiple factors are contributing to ag input supply shortages and record high prices.
Corey Rosenbusch, CEO of The Fertilizer Institute says their main message to the industry is a reminder that fertilizer is a global market, with about 90% of fertilizer consumed outside of the US.
"So whether that's blockages that China is putting on all of their phosphate and nitrogen to natural gas prices and Europe shutting down 40% of their nitrogen plants - all of these come together to effect what happens on the global scene."
Ag Retailers Association CEO Darren Coppeck tells Brownfield government-imposed import tariffs on ag inputs aren't helping.
"It is really bad timing to increase the price and reduce the supply of these products at the same time we are having all of these other issues. We have certainly been taking that message from retailers to Washington that says this is not helpful."
CropLife America CEO Chris Novak says manufactures are still playing catch up from disruptions during weather events like Hurricane Ida.
"I know that our companies are working extremely hard. They certainly would prefer to have products to sell, and I know they are working very hard to ensure farmers have what they need for the spring crop."
Brownfield interviewed Coppeck, Novak and Rosenbusch during the 2022 Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association Convention in Peoria.
As a follow-up to our report on the Biden administration implementing procedures for reducing meat prices they feel are the result of too little competition at the wholesale distribution level...
In a report issued today, economists with Iowa State University, North Carolina State University and the National Pork Producers Council found that pork prices have risen because of strong demand for U.S. pork, higher input costs and labor shortages throughout the supply chain, not concentration in the meatpacking industry. The report's authors, Iowa State's Dermot Hayes, NC State's Barry Goodwin and NPPC's Holly Cook, also found that pork prices in the United States are still lower than in many other countries.
The pork packing industry is made up of fewer and larger plants than it was 50 years ago, but the structure of the industry has changed little in recent decades, the report stated, and concentration levels today are about 7 percent lower than they were five years ago because of new packing plants that opened from 2017 to 2020. Four of those five plants are at least partially producer-owned. In fact, more than 100 industries had a greater concentration level, according to a commonly used calculation, the report noted.
"This report shows the concentration level in the pork packing industry is not significantly higher than it was 15 years ago," said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. "The recent increase in pork prices is driven by strong pork demand, rising input prices, higher wages and supply chain bottlenecks throughout the industry."
The report also found no evidence that significantly higher profits are being captured at the wholesale level during this time of higher retail prices. The farm-to-wholesale price spread - which consists of packers' costs and profits - has been shrinking while the wholesale-to-retail spread has increased over the past six months. Packer gross margins also are estimated to be within their 5-year average range, according to the report.
Editor's Note: It can be inferred that "higher input costs and labor shortages throughout the supply chain" may be largely attributable to federal government policy over the last 12 months. We are, again, reminded of one of our favorite sayings relative to government "If you think the problems we create are bad wait until you see our solutions."