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National wheat breeding and genetics conference in China

Nearly 600 participants representing all the wheat regions in China attended the 6th National Wheat Breeding and Genetics Conference in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province. The conference ran from 28-31 March and was jointly organized by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS), the Yangzhou Agricultural Research Institute, and CIMMYT. The event included keynote presentations, a forum of young scientists, and oral presentations on yield potential, hybrid wheat, resistance to biotic and abiotic stress, and industrial quality.

China has experienced impressive progress in wheat breeding and management over the past several years. Though the country’s wheat area was reduced by nearly 22% in the past decade, the average yield increased almost 30%. In comparison, yield increases for rice were roughly 3% and for maize 5.5%. Two wheat varieties— Jimai 22 and Zhoumai 18—have yield potential over 10.5 tons per hectare and are the leading varieties in the major wheat areas. Significant progress has also been achieved in quality improvement.

Four wheat breeders were selected to receive the Zhuang Qiaosheng Award (named after Zhuang Qiaosheng, wheat breeder from CAAS and former CIMMYT Board member). They included Ma Yongan, who developed a leading variety Han 6172 from CIMMYT germplasm, and Yang Wuyun, who developed leading varieties from CIMMYT synthetic wheat. Also, six postgraduates were selected to receive the outstanding young scientist award. Notable attendees included Zhai Huqu, president of CAAS; Cao Weixing, vice governor of Jiangsu Province; Li Zhengsheng, well-known wheat geneticist; Cheng Shunhe and Richard Richards from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO); and Edward Souza from United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

The National Wheat Breeding and Genetics Conference is held every five years. CIMMYT has played a key role in organizing the conference in the years 2000, 2005, and 2010. The next conference will be held in Henan Province in 2015, hosted by the Henan Academy of Agricultural Science.