• Mar 21 2017

    Continued funding from Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science

    By: Lori Wright

    Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science officially announced on March 14 that our project was one of the succesful recipients of the prestigious Ontario Research Fund award.
    To quote from the website below .... Projects were evaluated through a rigorous peer review process involving Canadian and international academic and industry experts. The successful projects were chosen based on their research excellence and their economic and societal benefits to Ontario.
    Why mess with success ... comprised of almost all our original researcher leaders, Dr K P Pauls, Dr Frederic Marsolais, Dr Krista Power, Dr. William Crosby, Dr Gale Bozzo, Dr Alfons Weersink, and Dr Rong Cao, and Dr Yuhai Cui who joined us part way through the previous project, we've rebranded our project as "Genomic Ideotype Breeding to Increase Bean Productivity, Healthfulness and Sustainability".  With $2,000,000 from the Ministry of Research and Innovation and an additional $4,000,000 in matching institutional and private funding we are ready to roll for another 4 years.

    Again, a multi-instutional project between the University of Guelph, University of Western Ontario, University of Windsor and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada we proudly continue to be supported by our private funding agencies Hensall Co-op, Ontario Bean Growers, Pulse Canada and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

    The proposed work will ensure that bean breeding in Ontario is based on cutting-edge, molecular technologies, that are informed by the latest understandings of the bean genome, to select superior varieties for producers. The common dry bean is the staple food for more than 300 million people worldwide. 18 M tons are harvested globally with a value of $11 B. Canadian bean production of 300,000 tons/y, is worth more than $250 M. The challenge for crop production in the next 50 years, is the need to produce twice as much food, on the same amount of land, to feed an increasing global population. For plant breeding programs this means meeting a continually rising yield bar, which we propose to accomplish by developing faster, more precise and efficient breeding methodologies. This will require increased understanding of the molecular bases for disease resistance, limitations on fixing atmospheric nitrogen and the refinement of genome-wide selection criteria. Our current knowledge of bean genomes is limited to one complete Andean bean genome (G19833, Schmutz et al 2014), and two complete meso-American sequences for BAT93 (Vlasova et al. 2016) and OAC Rex, at pseudochrome scale (available for download @ https://mega.nz/#!KU13nB7B!LS1afOiDNDPp6koxlmJpGYa8Xnk2_5hCvAiFXyKTOMA), that we deveolped with previous ORF support.
    Moving forward, the objectives of the new work are to:
    1.  Utilize “Genotyping by Sequencing” to molecularly characterize 1,000  individuals in Canadian and Ontario bean breeding programs to allow us to identify and mine molecular variation for value-added traits across entire genomes;
    2.  Phenotype the selected germplasm for: yield, production efficiency, quality and health-related traits;
    3.  Investigate the virtually unexplored contributions of non-coding regions to disease resistance, and quality traits;
    4.  Characterize the value-added biochemical and health promoting properties of  Ontario varieties  in order to improve their properties and increase consumer awareness;
    5.  Integrate the information to develop molecular ideotypes for selecting superior varieties; and
    6.  Determine the economic and environmental benefits of and consumer preferences for particular traits in beans that position the crop as environmentally friendly, health-promoting and lifestyle affirming.
    The proven experience of our researchers, both individually and as a highly productive team, and the extensive existing infrastructure within the collaborating institutions will ensure a rapid start-up of the research program to yield the following:
    ·    detailed information on the genetic diversity of Ontario and Canadian bean breeding germplasm that will optimize genomic selection
    ·    improved knowledge of how the coding and non-coding sequences in the bean genome influence productivity, quality and healthfulness;
    ·    information on the effects of bean diets on animal models to support health claims for beans;
    ·    determination of the utility of a genomic ideotype approach to bean breeding;
    ·   commercialization of varieties with improved yield, disease resistance and quality traits for use by Ontario producers;
    ·   determination of the commercial, economic and societal benefits of disease resistance, nitrogen fixing capability and nutraceutical aspects of improved bean varieties; and
    ·    highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) trained in plant genomics and bean breeding.
    The outcomes of this research will be globally applicable and put Ontario bean researchers, growers and developers at the forefront of these fields.