Synthetic Wheat in China Continues to Flourish Due to Grassy Species

Chuanmai 104 at Langzhong

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (September 2,2014)- Wheat x grass crosses – known as “synthetic” wheats – were developed 25 years ago by a CIMMYT research team and have since been used in breeding programs worldwide. The first synthetic-derived variety to reach farms, Chuanmai 42, arrived in the Sichuan Basin of China in 2003 and allowed wheat farmers there to boost yields by as much as 20 percent – the most significant increase in the region for decades.

A new report, “Physiological Factors Underpinning Grain Yield Improvements of Synthetic Derived Wheat in South Western China”, was published in Crop Science and has shed light on the physiological differences that can give Chuanmai 42 and other synthetic derivatives better yields. “In our three-year study, the synthetic crosses were more vigorous in early growth stages and grew more above ground at flowering time than non-synthetic varieties,” said Garry Rosewarne, CIMMYT wheat scientist and corresponding author of the report. “At maturity, more dry matter was partitioned to grain in the synthetic varieties and the plants were more erect and compact.”

Progress on Wheat Genome Sequence a ‘Game Changer’

Bread_wheat_genomeEL BATAN, Mexico (July 21, 2014)- Scientists from Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany and the United States have produced a draft map of the bread wheat genome, as revealed in a 17-July series of articles in Science. A full map of the huge and complex genome—the result of repeated hybridization among three grass species over hundreds of millennia—is due in a few years, but the current map will speed breeding for many valuable new crop traits.

Participation of Women Farmers Increases in Africa and Middle East

Women cook bread in Syria


New research from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and partners found “modest gains in women’s empowerment” for female agricultural workers in Northwest Syria.

Through field work focusing on female contractors and wage laborers, researchers analyzed gender relations in the region and studied power dynamics within households. Women’s presence in agriculture is increasing in North Africa and the Middle East; in some parts, women comprise 60 percent of the workforce, though this does not necessarily result in increased access to or control of resources like land, information, technical support or income.

Read more on this gender study.

Former CIMMYT Scientist Receives World Food Prize

Rajaram PhotoCongratulations to Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, former CIMMYT wheat breeder and winner of the 2014 World Food Prize. Rajaram is being recognized for his distinguished career in wheat research that led to the release of more than 480 wheat varieties in 51 countries. These high-yielding varieties now occupy more than 58 million hectares worldwide. Before retiring in 2008, he spent 33 years at CIMMYT working with Dr. Norman Borlaug and as director of the Global Wheat Program, and he later moved to ICARDA.

Read more about the award and Dr. Rajaram’s achievements here.

Photo of wheat in field

The Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium Seeks Research Proposals

Photo of wheat in fieldResearchers worldwide are invited to submit proposals for work as part of the Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium (HeDWIC), a global partnership being established by CGIAR Research Program on Wheat (WHEAT) and facilitated by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). Enter here to read more about the HeDWIC and submit an application for consideration and possible funding.

Why is wheat a strategic crop for Africa?

In the 1990’s economists considered wheat to be a “minor food” for consumers in sub-Saharan Africa.But wheat is no longer a minor crop.African countries will spend about US$20 billion to import 40 million tons of wheat, used mostly to feed the continent’s rapidly expanding population.

CIMMYT and the Canadian Wheat Alliance Join Forces to Fight Durum Wheat Diseases

CIMMYT photo09 June 2014 – Saskatoon, SK, CANADA ─ The Canadian Wheat Alliance (CWA) and CIMMYT will collaborate on research to provide farmers in Canada and in developing countries access to stronger, more resistant durum wheat. The joint research builds upon the two organizations’ long-term programs to improve the yield, sustainability and profitability of wheat.

Read more here.

2014 Advanced Wheat Improvement Training Course in Mexico

Wheat Improvement Course

The 2014 Advanced Wheat Improvement Training Course targets mid-career scientists who can use the knowledge they acquire about wheat germplasm and new techniques in their own breeding programs. Course participants will also gain an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program (GWP) and the roles of support disciplines such as agronomy, pathology, quality, statistics, physiology, biotechnology, geographic information systems (GIS) and social sciences.

For more information, download the course announcement here.

Apply here.