Non Technical Summary
As we transition to sustainable agricultural systems that focus on local production and prepare for the consequences of global warming, a clear imperative emerges to invest in plant breeding for biotic stress resistance in the northeastern United States. The faculty in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University are in a unique position to leverage investments in genomics for crop improvement in this region. We propose to build on our existing programs to train future plant breeders that are able utilize genomic tools, navigate a wealth of data with bioinformatics and synthesize research perspectives from both vegetable and grain breeding as part of their modern skillset. To create this nexus, we have proposed a program that will use student training and curriculum development to bring together fundamental and applied plant breeding research. This project will directly support two graduate students and provide research experiences for sixteen undergraduates. Applied plant resistance breeding programs in fusarium head blight in wheat, Septoria leaf spot in tomato, cyst nematodes in potato, pyramiding Phytophthora blight/virus/bacterial spot in pepper, and northern leaf blight in maize will be used to provide students with summer internships and rotation and thesis projects. The Solanaceae Genome Network and Gramene will offer academic year research projects in genomic databases/bioinformatics. Curriculum will be enhanced by creating new courses and creating learning materials from them. These projects will be advised groups from an institutional education committee, seed producers, growers, processors and private sector plant breeders. Expected Outcomes Sixteen undergraduates will have a better understanding of how the different areas of plant breeding for disease resistance are related. Their experiences will provide informed encouragement to continue their education in Plant Breeding and related fields. Two PhD students will receive state of the art systems training in Plant Breeding for biotic stress resistance. New curricula will be developed and existing courses will be enhanced. Students will advance the progress in the described projects.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
201 - Plant Genome, Genetics, and Genetic Mechanisms; 212 - Pathogens and Nematodes Affecting Plants;
Subject Of Investigation
1543 - Soft white wheat; 1460 - Tomato; 1461 - Peppers; 1310 - Potato; 1510 - Corn;
Field Of Science
1080 - Genetics;
septoria leaf spot
fusarium head blight
northern leaf blight
Goals / Objectives
This proposal seeks to educate students who can integrate traditional methods of plant breeding with new approaches offered by molecular genetics, genomics, computational biology, and bioinformatics. This new generation of plant breeders will be equipped with the theoretical knowledge and experience to improve resistance to biotic stress. They will also have a background to address other plant breeding needs such as yield, abiotic stress resistance and nutritional quality of existing crops for a healthier food supply and more sustainable agricultural production system and to develop new crops for new purposes such as biofuels. Fellows will learn how fundamental knowledge in molecular, organismal and computational biology contributes to applied plant improvement and will gain proficiency in developing and managing a modern plant breeding program. This project relates directly to FY 2009 Priority 3 by educating students and engaging them in research on plant breeding for disease resistance. Student training that focuses on experiential learning will be supported including: training 2 graduate students in systems approaches for disease resistance breeding, students during rotations through diverse plant breeding projects, providing 8 summer internships for undergraduates to encourage plant breeding careers, mentoring 8 undergraduates during the school year on bioinformatics research projects, promoting opportunities for students to interact with stakeholders and private sector plant breeders. Curriculum will be developed that will be sustained in future years: creation of field practicum, genomics tools and bioinformatics scripting courses; incorporating genetics of disease resistance into undergraduate coursework and labs; creation of a faculty lecture series on the topics of this grant and others as opportunities arise. Professional archiving and processing of Learning Modules will be derived from: PLBR6180 Breeding for Disease Resistance; a faculty lecture series on breeding for disease resistance; QTL Analysis: mapping genotype to phenotype in practice. Research will be conducted on today's disease problems in 5 major US crops: tomato, Introgression of Septoria Leaf Spot resistance; pepper, Pyramiding Phytophthora, Bacterial Spot and Viral resistance; wheat, Genomic selection for Fusarium Head Blight resistance; corn: Fine mapping of genome-wide Northern Leaf Blight resistance; potato, Introgression of resistance to Cyst Nematodes.
Two graduate students will be supported from this grant to work in the area of plant breeding for disease resistance. A total of 16 undergraduate research experiences will be provided as part of this proposal. Pairs of undergraduates from Texas A and M Kingsville will be hosted for summer research in yers 2 and 3. Each year a student will spend at least a semester working in independent research with Gramene and at SGN. We will introduce a new course, Practicum in Plant Breeding. Lecture content and complementary lab exercises will be developed to supplement Plant Genetics related to the inheritance of resistance. A second module devoted to the principles and practice of genomic selection will be created for QTL analysis. We will create Bioinformatics Scripting for Biologists course that will focus on a programming language that is widely used in the bioinformatics community (Perl) and how it can be applied to manipulate different important data types also teach some basic SQL skills to query databases, and give a short introduction to the R language, which is widely used to address statistical questions. High quality "Learning Modules will be developed by recording, editing and assembling lectures from a new faculty lecture series on the latest disease resistance breeding research and b) Breeding for Disease Resistance (PLBR6180) and QTL Analysis: mapping genotype to phenotype in practice. The specific research projects include 5 major US crops. A marker will be developed for Septoria leaf spot based on Conserved Ortholog (COSII) markers that allow genetic map alignment among the Solanaceae. The resolution afforded by new approaches should be sufficient to allow marker assisted selection for disease resistance in pepper. One objective in this proposal is to empirically evaluate the potential of genomic or genome-wide selection (GS) to improve quantitative resistance to FHB in a winter wheat breeding program. Students would run extensive field disease (NLB) screening nurseries during the summer, and contribute towards population development and advancement. For student intern projects during the semester, SGN will offer the possibility to acquire and intensify bioinformatics, programming and database skills. At Gramene students could gain or expand their experience with the Perl programming language, UNIX/Linux operating system, and the mySQL relational database system. The Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics Education Committee will provide guidance regarding curriculum building and curriculum and performance evaluation by critically reviewing the curriculum, syllabi and teaching evaluations and making recommendations to the chair. Two existing stakeholder groups with strong interests in the topics of this proposal will be engaged to form the advisory committee for our proposal. Student participants will be asked to evaluate their specific training experiences. We will also track student accomplishments and career paths beyond the termination of the project to assess overall success of the project's educational activities. Much of the research will be judged by its progress toward indentifying or deploying sources of resistance.