In 2009, the SBC worked with Luca Comai and Roger Chetelat from UC Davis to develop an induced mutation population in tomato to identify novel traits for trait analyses and breeding. By screening at the DNA level using TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes) technology, rather than by phenotypes, large populations can be screened rapidly for mutations in genes encoding complex traits. A population of 5,000 mutation lines that will be available to the community is being validated for its use in TILLING. This work is supported by the USDA National Research Initiative.
Engineering Disease Resistance in Tomato
The SBC is working with Two-Blades Foundation to develop and test resistance to bacterial spot in tomato using biotechnology approaches. Bacterial spot in tomato can be devastating to commercial production, especially in areas of high humidity such as Ohio and Florida.
Genes in Pepper Conferring Microspore Regeneration Capacity
The production of doubled haploid lines -- lines that are true breeding derived from individual pollen cells -- can significantly accelerate breeding programs by rapidly fixing and expressing traits. In pepper only a few lineages are amenable to this technology. Through the UC Discovery program, the SBC is partnering with Rijk Zwaan B.V. to identify genes controlling regeneration capacity of pollen cells in pepper. This information will enable selection of breeding lines that are amenable to this technology and hasten the breeding process in pepper.
Switchgrass has been identified as a promising source for ethanol production due to its capacity to produce large amounts of biomass annually. It is native to the US prairies, but not to California. The SBC is working with Joe DiTomaso, Eduardo Blumwald (UC Davis) and Ceres, Inc., a California- based genomics and breeding company, to evaluate the potential invasiveness and desirable habitats for switchgrass in different California environments. In 2009, the physiological characteristics of lowland and upland switchgrass were evaluated in the greenhouse and field under drought and riparian regimes. Preliminary data indicate that switchgrass establishes poorly, indicating that it may be a poor competitor in natural situations. Funding is from the UC Discovery program and Ceres, Inc.