Germplasm Enhancement of Maize

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Future Opportunities
Mission Statement
Short Term Issue
Long Term Issue
Define Customers
Customer Needs
Measure GEM success

Report of GEM Review Team

March 20 - March 22, 2000


1.      Broad contribution of Linda Pollak and Wilfredo Salhuana recognized

2.      Public / private interaction represented by:

Use of proprietary germplasm to evaluate exotics
Positive intellectual interaction: public/public, public/private, and private/private

3.      Identified “unique” useful germplasm for several traits:

Disease/insect resistance traits
Grain traits

4.      Identified traits for potential new products:

Starch properties
Oil content and profiles
Protein content and profiles of amino acids

5.      Greater awareness and acceptance of exotic germplasm potential:

By direct users
By non-users
Enhanced public perception of value

6.      Increased use of exotic germplasm in public and private research programs


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Key Future Opportunities

1.      Model for public / private interaction and sharing of genetic resources

Popcorn GEM is an example of a new program modeled after GEM

2.      Expand internationally

Include other LAMP countries like Brazil

3.      Generate sources of material for basic research

Genomics (unique traits for research studies)
Plant biology (e.g., drought tolerance)
New sources or mechanisms of pest resistance (e.g., non-Dimboa Peruvian source for ECB resistance)

4.      Develop model for intellectual property sharing that is win-win for ARS, private companies, and university programs

5.      Provide training opportunities for graduate and undergraduates

6.      Develop greater public awareness of benefits of improved diversity / plant improvement to enhance support and understanding of society benefits

7.      Provide additional intellectual exchange (data management methods and non-proprietary information exchange)



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Adjustments to Mission Statement

1.      Replace “materials” with “germplasm and supporting information”

2.      Replace “corn breeding” with “corn product development”

3.      Broaden so that other researchers will have interest in the use of materials  for:

Basic research (Plant biology and Molecular genetics)
Food / industrial corn research
Animal nutrition


Short Term Issues Impacting Success (Highest Priority Issues)

1.      Quality, timeliness, collection, and dissemination of both data and germplasm

Database development and efficiency
Meeting winter nursery schedule
Maintaining seed quality
Efficiency of seed processing

2.      Effective coordination of activities across cooperators

Effective and efficient plot design
Insure Technical Steering Group cover key issues impacting success  / empower TSG
Need better coordination with ISU researchers

3.      Develop basic research opportunities  / develop focus on quality traits with customer needs

4.      Space needs, to assure preservation of seed quality and adequate storage for GEM materials


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Long Term Issues Impacting Success  

1.   Orderly input of new breeding populations for per se and topcross evaluations

2.   Mining data and turning it into knowledge

Format / presentation of information needs to be focused on specific audiences
Identify contributions

3.   Continued and increased participation from private / public cooperators

Adding funding needed for public sector

4.   Intellectual property plan development

Understand current guidelines
Understand options of releases
        S3 – Self to finished line  - public or private
        S3 – breeding cross
Specific traits / genes
Understanding stakeholders
        Effort by cooperators
        Contributions of propriety lines
        University lines
Needs to be done by small group (not TSG) that includes representation from USDA (such as June Blalock), large and small private companies, and universities

5.   Look for ways to speed up cycle time

6.   Devise and implement plan to screen for value-added traits

7.   Devise and implement plan for handling recycling of material

8.   Better definition of key role of Technical Steering Group

Add molecular geneticist (e.g., from University of Missouri) to TSG
Ability to make decisions in TSG needs to have better focus
ARS needs to clarify role / input

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Define Customers

1.    Key initial

Private and public “applied” breeders

2.    Future

Basic researchers (e.g., molecular geneticists)
End use researchers (public and private)
Private and public breeders

Customer Needs  -  Suggestions for Improvements

1.    Stronger coordination of field activities

Timeliness of getting data to data manager and then to cooperators and customers
Growing plots to evaluate quality traits
Improving data quality
Better processing, handling, and storage of seed
Insure skill base is there to accomplish above plus handle the data management needs

2.    Improve data handling

Monitor data quality
Database manager needs expertise in field design / plots
Database manager needs an understanding of basics of breeding

3.    Leverage field opportunities with others (public and private)


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Criteria Used to Measure GEM Success

1.    Documented use in commercial product development programs

2.    Programs and commercial products

Conduct industry survey
Track number of seed requests and details of  customer use
Material transfer agreements in place

3.    Field data utility

Timeliness -- meet cooperator time schedules
Accuracy – establish data filing procedures based on defined parameters
Accessibility – availability of data on Internet
Summaries –  use checks for comparison

4.        Quality trait utility

Develop metrics to measure
Inclusion of end users, and TSG, to assess development and uses
Accessibility to genome products

5.    Amount of independent funding generated for research projects


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1.        GEM has been successful

Public/private focus to meet long-term goals

2.        Well-coordinated effort critical to ensure success, requires:

Strong leadership
Continuity of effort

3.        Many potential research opportunities

Expand customer base to include end users, biotechnology researchers as well as plant breeders

4.        ARS needs to leverage Technical Steering Group effectively

5.        Strong justification for additional support

Justification for at least $2 million in ARS funding
Leverage university infrastructure
In-kind support from private industry – should factor in contribution of use of proprietary material as well as field plots and other support.


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We are grateful to our Cooperators for their support!

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