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CIMMYT and Iran: growing partnership in maize and wheat

December 11, 2012

To discuss the present status of maize breeding and possibilities for strengthening collaboration between CIMMYT and the national research institute in Iran, B.M. Prasanna (CIMMYT Global Maize Program director), Daniel Jeffers (CIMMYT-China maize breeder), and M.R. Jalal Kamali (CIMMYT-Iran country liaison officer and wheat breeding principal scientist) visited the Seed and Plant Improvement Institute (SPII), Karaj, Iran, during 10-16 November 2012.

Maize is grown on about 350,000 hectares in Iran and the demand is steadily increasing, creating constant need for maize research for development. Rajab Choukan, SPII head of maize program and deputy director general for research, presented on the status of maize breeding and product development in Iran and called for CIMMYT’s support for the Iranian national maize breeding program in technical backstopping, germplasm exchange, and capacity building. Prasanna then outlined the current initiatives and efforts of CIMMYT, especially under CRP MAIZE, and highlighted opportunities for enhancing breeding efficiency through precision phenotyping, doubled haploid (DH) technology, and molecular breeding. Jeffers then discussed the ongoing work on subtropical maize breeding conducted by CIMMYT-China with an emphasis on breeding for biotic stress resistance.

The meetings were concluded by identification of areas for commencement of collaboration in the following spheres: broadening genetic base and improving stress resilience using elite tropical/subtropical CIMMYT maize germplasm, transfer and adaptation of DH technology, and capacity building for Iranian maize researchers.

Ravi P. Singh, CIMMYT head of spring bread wheat breeding and rust research, and Marta Da Silva Lopes, CIMMYT-Turkey wheat physiologist, visited the Seed and Plant Improvement Institute (SPII), Karaj, Iran, during 17-21 November 2012, to interact with scientists from the Cereal Research Department, SPII, and attend meetings with over 25 wheat breeders/scientists from SPII, Dryland Agricultural Research Institute (DARI), Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran (ABRII), and other national institutions.

The Iranian breeders and scientists presented the irrigated and dryland wheat breeding programs and their strategies, methodologies, and achievements. Singh then followed with presentations on “Global Wheat Improvement Research: Challenges and Perspectives”, “Strategies and Methodologies for Wheat Breeding”, and “Strategies and Methodologies to Breed for Durable Rust Resistance”; and Lopes gave talks on “Wheat Physiology Research at CIMMYT” and “Applications of Physiology in Wheat Breeding”. This was followed by Q&A sessions, during which scientists exchanged ideas on new developments and achievements of the national programs and CIMMYT’s wheat breeding program and physiology research, as well as areas for future collaboration. The Iranian scientists showed deep interest in contributing to the objectives of CRP WHEAT through a more active partnership, as it is expected that the discussions would lead to the development of successful partnership projects within the CRP.


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