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Mini-symposium on maize molecular breeding at CIMMYT

More than 40 maize scientists gathered for a mini-symposium on maize molecular breeding on 24 November 2008 at El Batán. Participants came from CIMMYT; the University of Chapingo; the Colegio de Postgraduados (Mexico); the Mexican National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture, and Livestock Research (INIFAP); the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS); and the China Agricultural University. Organized by the Maize Molecular Breeding Program, the symposium was titled: Where are we and where are we heading? Kevin Pixley, associate director of the Global Maize Program, opened the symposium and also helped to organize it.

“It’s important for the center to know where it stands on maize molecular breeding compared to advances being made in the very competitive public and private sectors,” says Yunbi Xu, CIMMYT maize molecular breeder who chaired the event. “The symposium helped us to see which direction we need to head in and will hopefully enable us to strengthen our collaboration with scientists in our host country.”

A total of 14 presentations contributed by 10 speakers, each followed by brief discussions, focused on molecular breeding tools, maize quality traits, drought tolerance, simulation, and bioinformatics. Participants also learned about wheat molecular breeding at CIMMYT. “It gave a good overview of the practical applications and limitations of molecular breeding,” said Abel Gil Muñoz, professor at the Colegio de Postgraduados. Graham McLaren, principal scientist in the Generation Challenge Program (GCP)observed that, “It was also a good chance for the breeders to see what is available and for me in the GCP to see where we can support the adoption and advancement of molecular breeding technologies.”

Many of the participants said they would like to attend more meetings such as this one. “We hope to have a maize molecular breeding symposium once a year and to also include speakers from the private sector,” said Xu.

Special thanks to all the speakers and to Raman Babu, GREU maize molecular breeding consultant who presented three talks.