Game Changing Solutions

So4eng

 

View from the field: Challenges in international agricultural research

Recent UN estimates project the world’s population to swell to 9.6 billion by 2050, chiefly in developing countries. Africa’s population growth alone, will account for more than half of this increase. Food production will need to soar by some 70% if it is to feed not simply more people but also a growing, middle-class whose greater purchasing power signals shifts in dietary demands. Many of these same countries already are burdened with high rates of poverty and food insecurity. They also are often the first to experience intensifying climate change and its myriad effects on crop vulnerability, emerging pests and diseases, and other unknowns. The precise impact of these climate-induced challenges remains uncertain. But as their severity and frequency increase, some smallholders may choose to farm elsewhere; some may be forced to abandon their land and livelihoods altogether. Steady increments in yields and dietary qualities are unlikely to be enough to face all food security challenges ahead. Breakthroughs from basic research have to be exploited to develop research “products” to overcome major productivity limitations, reduce product losses, and expand the area under cultivation. It is imperative that science- based, innovative, and greater resource-efficient approaches are discovered as quickly as possible in order to develop and deliver solutions to the bottlenecks in productivity and adaptive traits of potato and sweetpotato.

 

Institutional competencies in innovative research, science, and technology

 

Thanks    to    its    unique    combination of  assets,  CIP  is  leading  initiatives  to solve the challenges facing potato and sweetpotato production in developing countries. CIP is making strategic investments to ensure that these crops offer  a  growing  human  population their  fullest  genetic  potential  in  order to    meet     urgent     productivity     and food security needs. Our innovative research and development programs employ    recent,    evolving    discoveries in genetics,  molecular  biology, genomics, bioinformatics, plant- pathogen interactions, disease control, developmental biology, and cellular biology. By taking advantage of multidisciplinary    approaches,    CIP   in the next 10 years envisages five game- changing   solutions:   research   outputs that respond to a major agricultural problem with great potential for significant impact on food security. Two solutions address immediate priorities: a disease-free potato and a pest-resistant sweetpotato would offer substantial productivity,  health,  and  economic gains   through   the   use   of   multiple

genes borrowed from distant species to provide durable resistance. Three other targeted programs are in the pipeline: expanding the cultivation of potato toward  warmer  and  drier  land  mainly by genomic-assisted breeding, next generation  of  pathogen  diagnostics and new true potato seed technology.

Crop  improvement  remains  the heart of CIP’s core competencies. And although conventional breeding is firmly established at CIP, the inherent genetic complexity of our crops slows the pace of scientific gains. Pre-breeding, capturing alleles, and quantitative trait loci from wild populations will help to accelerate this progress. Complementary to these efforts, genomics and biotechnologies have    revolutionized    agriculture.    We are well placed to make use of these in crop improvements,  in the field of pest surveillance   and   diagnostics,   control of diseases, remote sensing, and soil microbiology. CIP can transfer genes without sexual recombination or edit genomes by site-specific mutagenesis, and  use  DNA  markers  to  identify  the rare but superior genotypes. CIP’s modeling capability can generate new knowledge needed by biotechnologists and breeders to accelerate the process for generating expected solutions.

 

Stronger alliances and partnerships to enrich and sustain impact

 

These   five   game-changing   solutions rely on enabling technologies and policies,    knowledge,    CIP   capacities, and partner expertise. CIP’s genebank houses the greatest genetic diversity in both the primary and secondary gene pool for potato and sweetpotato and lays the foundation for future genetic and potential crop management gains. Exploiting any one of these assets requires   multidisciplinary   teams  that will draw on the expertise in CIP research programs for the development and delivery of crop gains through a global network of local, regional, national, and international partnerships. Advanced research institutions (ARIs) and the private sector are key partners to access the new knowledge and technologies needed to realize these game-changing solutions.    Development    of   disease- free potato will first be tested in Africa using the advanced biotechnology facilities at Biosciences eastern and central Africa and at the National Agricultural     Research     Organization in Uganda following strict biosafety regulations.  These  same  two  partners

figure prominently in the development of  pest-free  sweetpotato  in  Africa, where    virus    diseases    and    weevils are having the most severe impacts. Together we will collaborate with ARIs and the private sector for research product    development     and    testing. The  advent  of  genomics  tools  offers new options for exploiting potential sources of resistance to viruses and weevils   in   cultivated   germplasm   as well as wild species. We will then adapt the technology for different Asian countries, working closely with the CIP- China  Center  for  Asia  and  the  Pacific. As  challenges  are  resolved,  modeling will be used for ex-ante estimation of adoption and impact that will guide further development steps and the use of public-private partnerships to ensure that solutions reach large numbers of farmers in a targeted way.

 

Tapping the potential

 

Looking beyond the two first-priority game-changing solutions, through a window of 5–40 years, CIP will focus on efforts to combat degeneration SO4due to viral infection—a major contributor to yield loss in clonally propagated  crops  across  the  globe.  We  will  concentrate on production of TPS through several novel approaches. The game-changing solutions described here represent research that, while risky, offers high returns and benefits.

 

 

The CGIAR  Research Program on Roots, Tubers  and Bananas is an essential platform for Game Changing Solutions

Accelerating Discovery and Delivery

This SO expands on CIP’s decades of knowledge and practice as an R&D organization committed to scientific rigor and inquiry. It exploits recent, evolving discoveries in genetics, molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, nanotechnology, plant-pathogen interactions, disease control, developmental biology, and cellular biology. By taking advantage of multidisciplinary approaches, SO 4 will achieve five game-changing solutions: research outputs that respond to a major agricultural problem and delivered as a novel technology with great potential for significant impact on food security. Two of the solutions—a potato with durable resistance to diseases, and a sweetpotato with pest resistances—offer the potential of massive productivity gains through the use of the most elite germplasm and the introduction of multiple genes. SO 4 will explore three other game-changing solutions: (1) expanding the cultivation of potato toward warmer and drier land, (2) next generation of pathogen diagnostics and disease risk prediction, and (3) new true potato seed technology. These efforts build on “discovery” research that aims at reaching a proof-of-concept (PoC) stage in these game-changing solutions after which new SOs will be developed. Collectively, such solutions will position CIP with new flagship products well into the next decade. SO 4 will play a role in prospecting new discoveries to add new game-changing solutions if supported by sufficient scientific evidence. 

By 2018, the PoC for breakthrough products will be established at the experimental level for at least one game-changing solution (e.g., disease-free potato). By 2023, at least one intermediate product will be tested at the farmer level to demonstrate its potential for significant gains in potato or sweetpotato productivity, nutrition, and agronomic practices, and the delivery of value-added traits.

The FAO projects that by 2050 food production will need to jump by some 70%[1] if it is to feed a burgeoning population accompanied by rising income levels and shifting dietary demands. Intensifying climate change and its effects on crop vulnerability, emerging pests and diseases, and other unknowns from an increasingly dynamic planet will also pose myriad challenges. The precise impact of these challenges remains uncertain, so agility in discovering and delivering solutions is critical. As highlighted in a recent study, the genetic gain by conventional breeding approaches alone will not feed the world.[2] 

SO 4 focuses on products that will be needed to feed the planet by overcoming major productivity limitations, reducing product losses, and expanding the area under cultivation as recommended in the 2013 study. Displacement of area under cultivation by urbanization is also driving the need for crop varieties with broader adaptability to fit in different kinds of agriculture, such as intensive, constrained-space agriculture, precision agriculture, peri-urban vegetable systems, and vertical agriculture. Responding to shifts in where crops are grown is one of many pressing  challenges, as is the ongoing need to improve nutritional quality; use increasingly scarce inputs more prudently; and employ better, faster, more efficient delivery systems for genetic gains and adaptive traits. Some of these problems have been intractable; for some, conventional, incremental progress is no longer sufficient. It is imperative that innovative, accelerated, and greater resource-efficient approaches are discovered for developing and delivering solutions to the bottlenecks in productivity and distribution of value-added elite varieties of potato and sweetpotato. Envisaged through a window of 5–40 years, the game-changing solutions described here represent research that, while risky, offers high returns and benefits



[1] Alexandratos, N., and J. Bruinsma. 2012. World Agriculture towards 2030/2050: the 2012 Revision. ESA Working Paper No. 12-03. Agricultural Development and Economics Division, FAO of the United Nations, Rome.

[2] Ray, D.K., N.D. Mueller, P.C. West, and J.A. Foley. 2013. Yield trends are insufficient to double global crop production by 2050. PLOS ONE 8: e66428.

Thanks to its unique combination of assets CIP is leading initiatives to solve the challenges facing potato and sweetpotato production in developing countries. CIP’s genebank houses the greatest genetic diversity in both the primary and secondary gene pool for potato and sweetpotato (see SO 6: Conserving Diversity for the Future). This diversity lays the foundation for future genetic and potential crop management gains. One example where the use of germplasm from the genebank will be key in this SO is in the development of the durable and extreme resistance to LB disease using resistance genes from several wild potato species, including Solanum bulbocastanum, S. venturii, and S. paucissectum. Another example is the New Potato Seed, where the uses of known self-compatible genes from wild species such as S. chacoense led to inbred lines that promise to reap the benefits of hybrid seed technology. Exploiting any one of these assets requires multidisciplinary teams, which will draw on the expertise in CIP research programs for the development and delivery of crop gains through a global network of local, regional, national, and international partnerships. ARIs and the private sector are key partners to access the new knowledge and technologies needed to realize these game-changing solutions.

Crop improvement remains the heart of CIP’s core competencies, but it needs a multidisciplinary approach to maximize its future impact. Unique breeding populations have been developed for both potato and sweetpotato from diverse germplasm derived from existing varieties, landraces, and original genetic stocks that take advantage of contributions from wild species. Conventional breeding is firmly established at CIP; however, the inherent genetic complexity of our crops slows the pace of scientific gains. Pre-breeding, capturing alleles, and quantitative trait loci (QTL) from wild populations will help to accelerate this progress. Complementary to these efforts, genomics and biotechnologies have revolutionized agriculture. CIP is well placed to make use of these in crop improvement, in the field of pest surveillance and diagnostics, control of diseases, remote sensing, and soil microbiology. CIP can transfer genes without sexual recombination or edit genomes by site-specific mutagenesis, and use DNA markers to identify the rare but superior genotypes. CIP’s modeling capability in relating phenotypic expression of QTL under different environmental conditions can generate new knowledge needed by biotechnologists and breeders to accelerate the process for generating expected solutions.

We will assess these game-changing solutions using socioeconomic and biophysical models in order to conduct ex-ante impact assessments. The assessments will determine the feasibility of achieving large-scale adoption of the solution and the potential benefits for small-scale farmers around the world. How effectively each solution performs will then influence further investments in it beyond the PoC stage.

The game-changing solutions of SO 4 are the future flagship products for the other SOs or new ones to come (Fig. 1). We envisage five game-changing solutions that rely on enabling technologies, knowledge, new policies, CIP capacities, and partner expertise. Many of the technologies used to develop the solutions and linked outputs are proprietary and protected by intellectual property rights. Hundreds of such technologies enter into play to develop these game-changing solutions. In all cases, we will avoid accessing a proprietary technology whose restrictions would transgress CGIAR’s Intellectual Asset principles.

Linked Products

Flagship and Linked Products

1. Disease-free Potato. An LB-free potato is envisaged as the first game-changing solution and will result from combining technologies that confer durable resistance by multiple broad spectrum R genes from related Solanum species and/or RNAi-mediated engineered resistance. Improvement of potatoes’ LB resistance has long been one of the most important research areas at CIP because of the high potential impact that the resistant varieties can have. LB causes major damage in potato worldwide, and the use of fungicide to control LB is still the norm in potato production, even with the most resistant cultivars. Research on pathology, disease modeling, and innovative crop management practice have long been essential parts of CIP’s research portfolio, and disease-free potato builds on this body of knowledge. The LB-free potato will first be tested in Africa using the advanced biotechnology facilities at Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) and at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda. After LB, potato virus Y (PVY) and bacterial wilt (BW) will be considered as these are the next most important diseases of potato and a permanent threat to seed production. Building on previous work, the Ryadg gene-conferring resistance to all known PVY strains is being cloned from S. andigena and, once ready, will be transferred to the LB-resistant potato. Innovative research is needed to study the mechanisms of Ralstonia solanacearum pathogenicity and virulence, which will enable durable resistance to BW to be developed. Genomics using next-generation technologies is essential for such study resulting in generation of “big data,” with high requirements for bioinformatics capacities and data analysis skills. These are the areas where the collaborative research with ARIs becomes essential to ensure access to the latest state-of-art technologies and facilities. Improving transformation of farmer-preferred varieties and developing biosafety and stewardship frameworks for these products are also essential to success. Once the PoC is ready, the technology may enter in the product development phase and use delivery systems of SO 2 and SO 3.

2. Ecosystem-flexible potato. This game-changing solution will combine diverse traits that allow potato cultivation to be extended to the lowland tropics and temperate regions—an “old” potato-breeding objective. These traits will build on previous successes of CIP’s lowland tropical potato program, adding on early bulking; capacity of tuberization under high night temperatures; tolerance to heat and drought; modulating the short-day dependence of tuberization; and resistance to LB, virus, and BW. Complex gene networks are being discovered when potato plants respond to moderately elevated temperatures, as have tuberization signals and genes that can be manipulated to promote tuberization under higher temperatures and long-day conditions. In addition, genetic resources (including wild potatoes originating from the humid tropics) and new technologies such as genome sequencing will be used to identify genes conferring traits for tolerance/resistance to the challenges listed above and will be combined with novel crop management practices to maximize the yield potential. These will be used in conjunction with high-quality and high-throughput field phenotyping of cultivars to identify those that are productive in the lowland tropics.

3. Pest-free sweetpotato. As virus diseases and weevils are the major constraints to sweetpotato cultivation worldwide, two intermediate flagship products with extreme resistance to weevils and viruses will be produced in the context of local needs and regulatory requirements. Initially, the focus of pest-free sweetpotato will be on Africa, where these problems are having the most severe impacts, in collaboration with ARIs and the private sector, but also with a prominent role for BecA and NARO-Uganda for product development and testing. This will ensure that local capacity is also developed with the issues of biosafety and stewardship. This game-changing solution will employ RNAi technology and will also include Cry protein-mediated resistance to weevil and/or novel combinations of alleles of endogenous genes improving the efficiency of RNAi. Improving transformation technologies will be paramount to speeding up the PoC since it still takes a year to produce transgenic events from only a handful of varieties. The advent of genomics tools offers new options for exploiting potential sources of resistance to viruses and weevils in cultivated germplasm as well as wild species. Adaptation of the technology for different Asian countries at the CCCAP is envisaged as the next step . This will be part of an ex-ante impact assessment using modeling.

4. Next-generation diagnostics. Degeneration due to viral infection is a major contributor to yield loss in clonally propagated crops across the globe. In addition to other pathogens, the international—and even sometimes national—distribution of germplasm is hampered by presence of viruses. Hence, the diagnosis and elimination of virus infections are the major obstacle in rapid international distribution of vegetatively multiplied crops, including potato and sweetpotato, severely limiting impact from global conservation and breeding efforts. Diseases such as BW and LB continue to inflict enormous losses and rapidly evade control by resistance or pesticides in potato. The ability to diagnose existing and novel pathogen genotypes that can overcome resistances is critical to understanding pathogen dynamics and designing adequate resistance strategies. Modern diagnostic techniques such as small RNA sequencing and assembly (SRSA) have enabled rapid and universal sequence-based identification of all viruses in a single test. We will validate SRSA as a universal virus identification tool to reduce the time and cost for virus indexing by fivefold as compared to the current situation. Single-tube micro-arrays for detection of all pathogens for potato and sweetpotato will be developed for use at national or regional distribution hubs. Such arrays can also be “formatted” to identify critical genotypes and used for pathogen monitoring and mapping. We will also develop LAMP (loop mediated isothermal amplification) assays for the relevant viruses, which will be combined into microfluidics-based multiplex assays for rapid, cheap, and highly sensitive field-level diagnostics. Smart-phone applications will be developed for diagnostic support and enabled to read results from microfluidics LAMP and tube-arrays. Linked to a central server mapping data on pathogen distribution, this tool will provide for rapid risk assessment and advice. Establishing sound PPPs will be critical to ensure further technology development and distribution to end-users.

5. New potato seed. Each true potato seed (TPS) obtained from sexual recombination will develop into a unique plant different from the parent cultivar. This represents a major biological bottleneck in production of agricultural applications that is one of the factors that has limited the success of CIP’s previous TPS programs. This flagship will concentrate on TPS production through novel approaches that include the production of inbred lines for the capture of heterosis through the production of hybrid TPS and the development of apomictic systems for TPS. It will build on and further characterize in-depth, naturally occurring 2n gamete production and haploid induction system in potato. The game-changing trait of this product is a notably pro-poor technology as it resides in its phenomenal multiplication rate (1 to 7 for tuber seed vs. 1 to 1,000+ for botanical seeds) and new trait combinations. One invention embraces hybrid technology that has proven extremely successful in grain crops. Diploid breeding to exploit hybrid technology relates to the production of inbred lines resulting from cycles of selfing and selection using diverse diploid potato landraces, self-compatibility systems, and hybrids between wild species and Phureja clones. These inbred lines are crossed to produce hybrid TPS selected for heterosis and new combinations of traits. A first-stage PoC has been developed and a spin-off company of the Wageningen University, Solynta, is pioneering hybrid technology in potato. Complementary to the hybrid TPS research will be research into the production of an apomictic system in potato. For the production of this flagship, either elite tetraploid potato varieties would be mutagenized by non-GMO-regulated technologies or by the identification of natural apomictic systems in potato. As challenges are resolved, modeling will be used for ex-ante estimation of adoption and impact, which will guide further development steps and the use of PPPs to ensure reaching all farmers.

 

Impact Pathway

Game Changing Solutions Last News

Reaching Agents Of Change

April 7, 2015 By RAC

We are delighted to share these two documentaries (five minutes and 19 minutes) that the Reaching Agents of Change (RAC) project has produced highlighting key achievements and impact the project has had on the lives of beneficiaries in the project countries.

Heat-Tolerant Potato Clones under Investigation in Humid Tropics African Countries

February 4, 2014 By CPAD

As a contribution to the CGIAR Humidtropics Research Program, CIP’s Potato Research Team in Sub-Saharan Africa has been leading an Africa-based research project focused on heat-tolerant potato clones. In addition to the farm-based trial on heat-tolerant potato clones, the CIP-Humidtropics research project also works on the training and up-skilling of farmers in Western Kenya, where the trial is taking place.

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