As part of its mission to promote healthier lives and more resilient livelihoods through greater diversity in the food we grow and eat, The World Vegetable Center (Worldveg), in collaboration with the Asia & Pacific Seed Alliance (APSA), initiated a two-day event to showcase latest innovations in vegetable breeding.
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The APSA-WorldVeg Vegetable Breeding Consortium held its first tomato & pepper field day at ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bengaluru, India on 9 May 2022.
WorldVeg Regional Director for South and Central Asia Ramakrishnan Nair and ICAR-IIHR Principal Scientist & Head, Division of Vegetable Crops Madhavi Reddy welcomed 134 vegetable breeders and researchers representing 31 companies from nine countries (France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Thailand). The event was officially opened by ICAR-IIHR Director General B.N.S. Murthy, who emphasized the importance of public-private-partnership to improve agricultural practices and strengthen support for farmers worldwide.
Scientists demonstrated the 2021 APSA-WorldVeg Vegetable Breeding Consortium exclusive lines for consortium members to observe and evaluate a total of 12 tomato, four chili and four sweet pepper lines under Indian conditions.
Peter Hanson, former World Vegetable Center Plant Breeding Lead Scientist, kicked off the discussions with an introduction of the 2021 Consortium Exclusive Tomato Lines, followed by Derek Barchenger, Scientist-Pepper Breeding introducing the consortium exclusive pepper lines. H.C. Prasanna, Principal Scientist, Madhavi Reddy, and Smaranika Mishra, Scientist, Division of Vegetable Crops, ICAR-IIHR also provided the brief updates of the tomato and pepper trials conducted at ICAR-IIHR fields. The event was concluded with fruitful visit and enthusiastic interaction at the tomato and pepper trial fields and net cages.
The consortium conducted a hybrid annual workshop on 10 May 2022 at ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bengaluru, India after two consecutive years of virtual workshops and attended by a total of 174 participants.
Consortium members get early access to newly developed WorldVeg vegetable breeding lines and the opportunity to join special projects to address research priorities for generating knowledge and materials for developing improved varieties.
Impact Generated by Consortium Members
WorldVeg Flagship Leader for Enabling Impact Pepijn Schreinemachers shared the survey results from the use of WorldVeg germplasm and breeding lines. Consortium members reported the commercialization of 120 tomato, pepper, bitter gourd and pumpkin varieties in 2021, up from 47 in 2017, and sold at least 27.6 tons of seed of these varieties in 2021. This amount is enough to plant about 181,000 ha and benefit 524,000 farm households in Asia annually. Increasingly, seed companies are using WorldVeg material as parents to develop F1 hybrids.
Vegetable Breeding Updates
Flagship Leader for Vegetable Diversity and Improvement Roland Schafleitner highlighted newly-developed breeding lines available to consortium members, reviewed WorldVeg breeding pipelines, and outlined opportunities to jointly work on special projects such as insect resistance of tomato, pepper thrips resistance and bitter gourd breeding. This is to speed up the release of new varieties, reduce the development costs for individual companies, and benefit farmers with well adapted, stress tolerant, reliable yield and high quality vegetable varieties.
The Center’s long-standing breeding program for fresh market and dual-purpose tomatoes (used for fresh consumption and processing) continues to expand. Tomato Breeder Peter Hanson briefed participants the current emphasis is on combining tomato yellow leaf curl virus disease (TYLCD), bacterial wilt, early and late blight resistance, heat adaptation, improved productivity and fruit quality into superior tomato breeding lines and hybrids. Peter also shared the process of developing advanced introgression lines derived from Solanum galapagense with improved fruit size and resistance to sucking and feeding insect pests such as whitefly and tomato leafminer combined with Ty genes.
Pepper Breeder Derek Barchenger shared the extensive progress in studying heat stress response in pepper and the individual components of heat tolerance was made. The major traits associated with tolerance to high temperature stress and a number of lines with stable performance across seasons were identified. Derek further shared four chili and four sweet pepper lines with high yield during the hot season and comprise diverse fruit shapes and sizes, and multiple disease resistance such as Chili veinal mottle virus (ChiVMV), CMV, Phytophthora capsici, bacterial wilt, anthracnose, and Potato virus Y (PVY) will be made available to consortium members this year.
Cucurbit Breeder Narinder Dhillon noted his team’s success in developing bitter gourd lines resistant to cucurbit powdery mildew. WorldVeg’s improved breeding lines will be demonstrated in the field during the Bitter Gourd Open Field Day on 26 July 2022 at the WorldVeg East and Southeast Asia Research and Training Station, Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand. Results of the observation trial of multi-virus tolerant pumpkin hybrids were presented. Progress on the development of loofah lines resistant to Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV) was shared.
Following the success of three phases of the bitter gourd project, WorldVeg will be venturing into the fourth phase where the focus will be on germplasm collection, mostly from Bangladesh, to explore new market segments. A special project entitled “Growing new markets with better bitter gourd genetics: WorldVeg's monoecious, gynoecious and predominantly female lines of different market segments developed through recurrent selection to breed breakthrough hybrids'' will be launched in September 2022 under the APSA-WorldVeg Vegetable Breeding Consortium with outputs on monoecious and gynoecious, predominantly female lines, promising F1 hybrids, and 3 significant biotech outputs including molecular markers associated with QTLs conferring resistance to Tomato leaf curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV), cucurbit powdery mildew, and gynoecy trait. A potential project idea on thrips resistance for peppers is also being discussed.
The event concluded with a stronger commitment to collaborate and innovate plant breeding and pest management techniques to further enhance capacities to meet the growing nutritional and consumption needs of Asia.
Special thanks to ICAR-IIHR for hosting this event and to Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the funding support.