Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

New Method for Associating Genetic Variation With Crop Traits

Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Bookmark and Share
A new technique will allow plant breeders to introduce valuable crop traits even without access to the full genome sequence of that crop.

The technique, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, links important agronomic traits in crop plants with active regions of the genome.  Instead of requiring knowledge of the crop’s complete genome, it identifies only expressed genes.

“For many crop plants, markers are still lacking because of the complexity of some plants’ genomes and the very high costs involved,” said Professor Ian Bancroft, who led the study at the John Innes Centre. “We have succeeded in developing markers based on the sequences of expressed genes, widening the possibilities for accelerated breeding through marker assisted selection.”

Expressed genes are converted from genomic DNA to mRNA.  Working with mRNA means that there is no need to generate a complete genome sequence from DNA, making the techniques applicable to a wide range of crops, even those with complex genomes, such as oilseed rape and wheat. It also enables the development of advanced marker resources for less studied crops that are important for developing countries or have specific medicinal or industrial properties.

The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Peter Werner of plant breeding company KWS UK Ltd and part of the research team said “KWS UK has been delighted to be involved with this ground breaking developmental research. We will be increasingly using this approach to further improve the speed and reliability of our breeding towards the continued improvement of yield and quality of our new varieties produced within the KWS group.”

In partnership with the Cambridge-based bioinformatics company Eagle Genomics Ltd, the technology, called TraitTag, is being offered as a service to plant breeders. Markers associated with measured trait variation can be identified in essentially any crop species, including traits controlled at the level of gene expression variation rather than gene sequence variation, such as those with an epigenetic basis.

In an example of such an application, the researchers are now working with plant breeding company Limagrain to produce reliable markers for hybrid performance in oilseed rape. Marker-assisted breeding for this complex trait has previously been unsuccessful due to a lack of available markers and appropriate technology.

Using bioinformatics techniques it is possible to associate variation in both the sequences of expressed genes and their relative abundance in the mRNA with important traits, and then produce markers for these traits that breeders can use in their breeding programmes. Their research was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology and was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

“Growing” Medicines in Plants Requires new Regulations
Scientists say amending an EU directive on GMOs could help stimulate innovation in making cheaper vaccines, pharmaceuticals and organic plastics using plants.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Major Grant from Gates Foundation to UK Center to Develop Self-Fertilizing Crops for the Developing World
The John Innes Centre in UK will lead a $9.8m research project to investigate whether it is possible to initiate a symbiosis between cereal crops and bacteria. The symbiosis could help cereals access nitrogen from the air to improve yields.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Genomics unlocks key to Mendel's pea flowers
John Innes Centre scientists have helped discover the key to one of biology's most well-known experiments - the gene that controls pea flower colour, used by Gregor Mendel in his initial studies of inheritance.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
UK: Norfolk GM potato trial withstands blight
A trial plot of genetically-modified potatoes at Norfolk's John Innes Centre has withstood five days of intense late-blight infection.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Scientific News
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
GMO Food Animals Should be Judged by Product, Not Process
In a world with a burgeoning demand for meat, milk and eggs, regulatory policies around the use of biotechnologies in agriculture need to be based on the safety and attributes of those foods rather than on the methods used to produce them, says a UC Davis animal scientist.
Cancer-Fighting Tomato Component Traced
The metabolic pathway associated with lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, has been traced by researchers at the University of Illinois.
TGAC Announces Milestone in Wheat Research
A more complete and accurate wheat genome assembly is being made available to researchers, by The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) on 12 November 2015.
Shedding Light on the Origin of the Date Palm
Researchers also find ‘genetic mutation’ that is responsible for dates’ color.
New Way to Find DNA Damage
University of Utah chemists devised a new way to detect chemical damage to DNA that sometimes leads to genetic mutations responsible for many diseases, including various cancers and neurological disorders.
Speeding Up Potato Breeding
A joint project is investigating the potential of drones for speeding up the development of new potato varieties.
Gene Editing Could Enable Pig-To-Human Organ Transplant
The largest number of simultaneous gene edits ever accomplished in the genome could help bridge the gap between organ transplant scarcity and the countless patients who need them.
Ancestors of Land Plants Were Wired to Make the Leap to Shore
When the algal ancestor of modern land plants made the transition from aquatic environments to an inhospitable shore 450 million years ago, it changed the world by dramatically altering climate and setting the stage for the vast array of terrestrial life.
Photosynthesis Gene Could Help Crops Grow in Adverse Conditions
A gene that helps plants to remain healthy during times of stress has been identified by researchers at Oxford University.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos