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Bringing doubled haploid technology to tropical maize breeders

DSC_0690‚ÄúThose who have not used the doubled haploid technology are not in this century‚ÄĚ said Kingstone Mashingaidze, Programme Manager for Plant Breeding and Biotechnology of South Africa‚Äôs Agricultural Research Council (ARC), during the closing ceremony of a training course on this technology at CIMMYT-El Bat√°n, Mexico, 20- 24 August 2012. Routinely used in maize breeding programs of some multinational, large seed companies, doubled haploids (DH) dramatically speed development of genetically uniform inbred lines‚ÄĒkey to generating hybrids and making selection decisions using DNA markers. Lack of tropicalized haploid inducer lines as well as technology know-how have held back the use of DH technologies by small and medium enterprise seed companies and public breeding programs in developing countries.

Now those programs and companies can join the 21st Century: after five years of collaborative research with the Institute of Plant Breeding, Seed Science and Population Genetics of the University of Hohenheim, Germany, the CIMMYT global maize program publicly unveiled the tropical haploid inducers on 15 August 2012, and is making them available to interested breeders. With technical support from Univ- Hohenheim, the center has also established a DH production pipeline at the Agua Fría station in Mexico.

Part of efforts to foster widespread use of DH technology in developing countries, the training course offered theoretical and practical knowledge to 16 participants from 10 countries (China, Ethiopia, Iran, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Zimbabwe), including visits to facilities at the El Batán and Agua Fría experiment stations in Mexico. Topics included haploid induction, chromosomal doubling technology, rapid-cycle breeding with DH lines and genomic selection, and use of DH lines in genetic studies. Participants gained hands-on experience in identifying haploid kernels, the chromosomal doubling treatment, and assessing haploid induction rate. Field visits demonstrated the advantages of tropical over temperate inducers, induction nursery designs, agronomic management of the induction and haploid nurseries, and development of new haploid inducers.

Lectures were delivered by BM Prasanna, Vijay Chaikam (course organizer), George Mahuku, and Xuecai Zhang of CIMMYT; by Wolfgang Schipprack, U-Hohenheim; and Brian Dilkes, Purdue University. CIMMYT maize technicians Leocadio Martínez and Luis Antonio López contributed significantly to the practical demonstrations. Special thanks to CIMMYT training logistics staff, especially Laura Ruíz and Eleuterio Dorantes, for their excellent support.