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Content archived on 2024-04-30

Molecular marker systems for variety testing


Recent developments in molecular biology have resulted in techniques that can be used for the characterization of plant material. This project will demonstrate the technical viability of a superior molecular technique, the sequence tagged micro satellite site (STMS) approach for variety identification and discrimination. As examples, two important European crops species - tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) and wheat (Triticum aestivum) - will be analysed. Databases containing the molecular description of the most common varieties of tomato and wheat grown during the last 10 years in Europe will be constructed and tested. It will be demonstrated that the markers and databases can be utilised for a range of applications, including all aspects of variety identification, quality control and genetic diversity measurements. In addition, their potential use in variety registration through Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing, quantifying and establishing 'minimum distances' between varieties and setting criteria for the assessment of 'essential derivation' of varieties will be explored. This will include the use of these markers for tracing infringements of Plant Breeder's Rights (PBR).
Molecular markers are superior over morphological and biochemical markers because of their independence from environmental influences and their almost unlimited availability. Also, establishing identity through molecular techniques can generate results in a few days, while for morphological and physiological characteristics, plants have to be grown to full maturity which can take 3-4 months. This makes the process of identification too slow and too expensive to be used as an effective control of the plant material throughout the agri-chain. In addition, traditional methods for laboratory based identification, such as isozyme analysis, are inadequate in both crops.
The STMS approach yields highly informative markers, is suitable for automation and the results obtained can easily be stored in a database. In this project, a set of approximately 20 STMS primer pairs will be used for each crop. All of the necessary primer pairs are available, as are systems for detecting STMS polymorphisms. The available STMS markers have been previously shown to reveal polymorphisms within a small collection of reference varieties. These STMS markers will now be tested on a larger, i.e. more realistic number (approximately 500) of varieties, to evaluate thoroughly the potential of the technique and to demonstrate the superior technical performance of STMS compared to other marker technologies. When demonstrated successfully in these difficult crops, it can be expected that the technique also will be very successfully applied in other crops.
In this project producers of the technology (partners 01 and 03) are brought together with users. These users are registration authorities in their respective countries (01 and 02), a plant breeder (partner 04) and a service company (partner 05) that routinely applies the technology for a range of customers throughout the agri production chain. The project is also linked to an extended audience, via the contacts between the partners and appropriate national and international organizations.

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Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek
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6700 AA Wageningen

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Participants (4)