International Maize Improvement Consortium – Asia
The International Maize Improvement Consortium in Asia (IMIC-Asia) is a partnership of 35 institutions (seed companies, national programs and foundations) formed by CIMMYT to develop and share improved maize inbreds and hybrids for targeted impacts in Asia.
This is all done through a shared research investment. IMIC-Asia, which was established in 2010, has so far developed and distributed over 1,500 improved inbred lines developed by CIMMYT to members for use in new inbred line development or in heterotic hybrid combinations of the partners.
IMIC-Asia germplasm incorporates trait priorities jointly identified by members while still maintaining the typical vast genetic diversity of CIMMYT germplasm. Molecular breeding is one of the key strategies to enhance genetic gains and accelerate the pace of product development. Asia is one of the most important hubs for agri-biotech interventions due to highly skilled scientific and technical staff and world-class institutions and infrastructure.
CIMMYT’s Maize Program in Asia deploys cutting-edge “native trait-based” molecular breeding strategies, such as genome-wide association analysis and genomic selection in Asia-adapted maize germplasm. The program has been successful in enhancing the understanding of genetics of complex traits, such as heat stress tolerance and waterlogging tolerance.
The CIMMYT team in Asia is intensively engaged in discovery, validation and deployment of breeder-ready markers for prioritized abiotic and biotic stress traits, and developing breeding strategies for simultaneous introgression of multiple loci associated with stress resilience in maize.
With help from funding by the German government’s international development agency GIZ for the Abiotic Stress Tolerant Maize for Asia, CIMMYT scientists have used germplasm selected at field days. Members have also sampled the diversity in terms of tolerance to major abiotic stresses (drought and heat) and biotic stresses, a key strength in CIMMYT’s tropical maize germplasm base.
Whether it is training on maize breeding, field-based phenotyping for abiotic stresses, statistical and genomic analysis data management imparted through this consortium or evaluation of pre-release hybrid combinations of partners, IMIC-Asia has added value to the research portfolio of member companies.
The consortium members helped in establishing a strong collaborative testing network for identifying best-bet pre-release products, which now serves as a precursor for such products to be further evaluated at the national or state level as a part of the varietal release process. CIMMYT hybrid combinations are in the process of being allocated to interested members, especially small and medium enterprises for commercialization and deployment.