By Kassa Semagn/CIMMYT
A training course held in Tanzania provided maize breeders with hands-on experience in using molecular markers for quality control analysis (genetic identity, genetic purity and parentage verification), germplasm characterization, marker-assisted backcrossing and marker-assisted recurrent selection.
The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project organized the workshop for 25 breeders from the national agricultural research systems (NARS) of Kenya, Mozambique, Republic of South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda from 16-21 January. The trainees used simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers of different density and a wide range of statistical software for exercises.Participants attend a training course in Tanzania.
The participants found the training useful. “This molecular markers data analysis course was the best course that I have ever attended since I started my career,” said Eric Ndou, a maize breeder from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Republic of South Africa. “My mind is now very clear and convinced when and how I should use molecular markers,” added Julius Serumaga, a maize breeder with the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Uganda. “I don’t have any excuse for not using them in my breeding program, at least for quality control analysis purposes.”
The training was organized and facilitated by Kassa Semagn, CIMMYT maize molecular breeder; Yoseph Beyene, CIMMYT maize breeder; Stephen Mugo, WEMA CIMMYT leader and maize breeder; Sylvester Oikeh, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) WEMA project manager; and Barbara Meisel from WEMA Monsanto. CIMMYT, Monsanto and the NARS of the five countries are partners in WEMA, a public-private partnership coordinated by AATF to develop drought-tolerant and insect-protected maize using conventional breeding, marker-assisted breeding and biotechnology, with the goal of making these varieties available royalty-free to smallholder farmers in Sub- Saharan Africa.
WEMA Phase II is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.