A genetic database to characterize the argentine soybean germplasm by means of SSR and AFLPmarkers

This work was the result of cooperation between the Rosario Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Comercio de Rosario) and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the National University of Rosario (Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias de la Universidad Nacional de Rosario). It was aimed at developing a genetic database based on SSR (Simple Sequence Repeats, or Microsatellites) and AFLP (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms) markers, to characterize the argentine soybean germplasm, allow cultivar identification and provide assistance to breeding. A subset of 20 highly-informative SSR markers was selected to achieve an effective discrimination of any databank accession by means of a simple and efficient procedure, in order to be used for rapid identification analysis and differentiation of new cultivars. This genetic database is now used by the Rosario Stock Exchange to provide a genotype classification service.

This development was carried out by doctors Olsina C, Cairo C, Pessino SC

Development of an Ilex paraguariensis (yerba mate) core genetic map with molecular breeding purposes

Currently, this project is in its final stage of implementation (4th stage out of 4 total stages). It was the fruit of cooperation between the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, National University of Rosario and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, National North-East University-IBONE, CONICET. This collaboration was entirely granted by the National Institute of Yerba Mate (INYM). Ilex paraguariensis Saint Hilaire is a species originary from South America. It is widely used in the preparation of a tea-like regional infusion known as “mate” or “mate-tea”. The exploitation of Ilex paraguariensis has economical and strategic impact for several South-american countries, like Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In the commercial plantations, individuals show low growth efficiency, being a limited hydric stress tolerance one of the main limitations for primary production. The aim of this work is the construction of an Ilex paraguariensis genetic map to be used in molecular breeding. Two polymorphic cultivars with contrasting hydric-stress tolerance were selected. Controlled crosses were conducted in order to establish a pseudo-testcross population including 800 F1 individuals, with potential to be extended to 2000 ones. This family can be used to produce a frame genetic map and identify water stress tolerance major genes. RAPD (Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA) and AFLP (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms) markers were generated in a subset of 80 plants, to establish a core genetic map. Markers were analysed with JoinMap and Mapmaker programs to establish linkage groups. Markers evenly distributed onto the map are being selected in order to produce a set of RFLP clones, which will be available at INYM (National Institute for Mate-tea) for public use.

Researchers involved in this projet are Stein Juliana, Luna Claudia, Espasandin Fabiana, Sartor María, Saucedo María Estefanía, Espinoza Francisco, Ortiz Juan Pablo, Sansberro Pedro, Pessino Silvina

Development of a plant genetic transformation platform

The Agronomic Science College has provided an infrastructure capable of carrying out projects of plant genetic engineering, for academic purposes and agricultural interest developments. This capacity includes plant tissue culture, plant molecular biology for transformation vectors construction, molecular analyses for detection and expression studies of transgenes, use of growth chambers for in vitro culture, and use of growth chamber for in vivo GMOs under biosafety conditions.

A project developed as a consequence of an agreement between the UNR and Bioceres Company SA, led to obtaining transgenic wheat events with a gene encoding a sunflower transcriptional factor that confers tolerance to abiotic stress. This gene (called Hahb-4) was isolated, studied and patented by researchers of CONICET and UNL and licensed to the company. Several transgenic events were transferred to the company for their study in field conditions. The development was carried out by the team of Dr Hugo Permingeat with the collaboration of Agr. Eng. Martín Reggiardo, María Valeria Romagnoli and Micaela Mancini.

A second project is being developed for academic purposes to elucidate the role of certain genes responsible for the phenomenon of apomixis (asexual reproduction via seeds) in Paspalum notatum. The group led by Drs Juan Pablo Ortiz and Silvina Pessino has worked in recent years to characterize the molecular basis of apomixis in grasses. As a result of their research, a number of candidate genes with specific expression during development in apomictic Paspalum notatum were identified. These researchers and their group (Hugo Permingeat, Silvina Felitti and Michelle Mancini) are interested in achieving stable transformation of this specie with constructs that allow the silencing and overexpression of some selected candidate genes, to analyze how the reproductive development is affected. The genetic transformation of Paspalum notatum was already achieved, and transgenic plants are being analyzed at molecular level.

MAGRARIO: the lean lamb of the College of Agricultural Sciences

Lamb meat production in the South of the Santa Fe province is highly informal and has a marked technological gap which needs to be overcome. However, an unsatisfied consumer demand for lamb meat cuts in Rosario and other cities offers opportunities for producers. Local farmers have a tendency to manage mixed systems and, therefore, to introduce technology packages for lamb production in their operations. Lamb production is a complement to the more common farming activities in the region (soybeans-wheat-corn, dairy and cattle production). Lambs are sent to slaughter with a weight of more than 40 kg (thus, they are referred to as “heavy lamb”), which allows the carcass to be cut using the New Zealand-Australian method, adding a substantial market value to the well-differentiated, quality cuts thus obtained. In terms of production diversification, lamb meat is an alternative for small-scale farmers who want to keep their mixed farms viable or give them a boost. Since 1986, the College of Agricultural Sciences has worked on the development of a new genotype through a program for the improvement of the Ideal breed (a descendant of the Merino breed) with backcrosses to the Texel breed, which originated in the Netherlands and is used in the European Union as a terminal-sire breed for industrial crosses aimed at lowering the percentage of carcass fat. This genotype, which was registered in 1999 under the Magrario trademark, has shown in successive trials in the Villarino Park that, even under supplementary feeding, the animals deposit less fat than the meat breeds used in the area, and that this trait is dominant in crosses with other wool or meat-type breeds.

Consumer demand for alternatives to beef, such as pork and lamb, is expected to increase in the short term, since chicken meat is already clearly established and positioned in the market. This genetic improvement project, with a high impact in the region, has been made posible by the commitment of the Department of Genetics of our College to support a shift from sheep production to lamb meat production. The development of this new genotype, which allows the production of early-finishing animals with high quality meat without fat deposits, and with white wool 26 microns in fibre fineness, has positioned our College as a qualified information source and promotion agent for lamb meat production. As a result, the Sheep Module at the Villarino Experimental Field serves as the Demonstration Module for heavy lamb production for the Sheep Act Enforcement Committee at the Province of Santa Fe, since our Province has joined the sheep production recovery program under Federal Act Nº 25422. The Module is used for developing protocols for heavy lamb production in confined systems for those operations in which Magrario males have been introduced for improving and/or converting sheep production.

The researcher leader of this project is Dr Liliana Picardi.

FESTUCA FLEXIBLE FCAR

Festuca artindinacea is a perennial forage grass with a Festucoid-type growth habit; it is widely grown and used due to its outstanding agronomical characteristics, adaptability, and high forage yield under a wide range of environmental and management conditions.
Its branched, extensive deep root system gives this species resistance to drought and greater soil-building efficiency.

The high genetic variability, readiness for cloning, good seed production, and longevity of this species facilitate genotype conservation and management of the breeding material.
In 1970, the Department of Forages at the College of Agricultural Sciences started a plan for the improvement of tall fescue, under the direction of the Agricultural Engineer Hugo L. Müller. The objectives of the project were to achieve higher digestibility and rate of consumption, good winter production, and late development of spikelets arranged in bunches.

In 1965, Gillet and Jadas-Hecait referred to “leaf flexibility” as an indicator of forage quality in tall fescue. They classified leaf blades from very rigid to very flexible by running their hands through the foliage. The degrees of flexibility were not closely associated to chemical quality indicators (lignin, crude fiber, ashes, silicon, calcium), but they were positively correlated with palatability.
The initial selection was carried out in July and august 1970, in pasture fields in some areas of the Province of Santa Fe (Chabás, Venado Tuerto, Santa Isabel, Murphy ), and the Province of Entre Ríos (Victoria, Gualeguay, and Paraná).

The initial selection consisted of 3,600 vigorous plants (in terms of tiller density) which had been grazed (showing cattle preference), and which presented good regrowth and flexible leaves. Three clones were obtained from each of the selected plants, and they were planted in the “J. F. Villarino” Experimental Field at our College.

Qualitative observations were carried out in subsequent years, recording leaf flexibility, regrowth rate, tiller density, date and uniformity of flowering, seed production, and resistance to pests and unfavourable weather conditions.

The best 25 plants were selected and planted in a balanced 5×5 plot design in 1974-75. Later, 3 of the selected plants were discarded and the first plot of “Flexible” FCA fescue was sown with seed from the remaining 22.

Starting in 1977, the cultivar was subjected to comparative assays at different Experimental Sations (INTA Concepción del Uruguay, Rafaela, Pergamino, and Oliveros).
In 1992, it was registered at the National Registry of Cultivars Property under the name of “Flexible FCAR”.

HORTICULTURAL VARIETIES

Registered tomato cultivars
Cultivar Querubín FCA
(Expediente INASE Nº S01:0165049/07)
This cultivar is small cherry type. The outstanding features of this line are its long shelf life (21 days) and good organoleptic attributes, for possessing genes from the wild.
Cultivar Gema FCA
(Expediente INASE Nº S01:0165110/07)
This cultivar has a deep red color and bright because of wild genes, and a pleasant flavor balance between sugar and acidity. The outstanding features of this line are its long shelf life (23 days) and its ovoid way.
The intellectual property ownership of these varieties are from Drs Picardi, Zorzoli, Pratta and Rodríguez.

Long pumpkin hybrids (Cucurbita pepo L.)
“Nativo FCA”
Compact plant, with short internodes, 44 days to flowering, light-blue fruits weigh about 290 g, very productive hybrid with yields up to 32 t/ha.
“Overo FCA” 
Compact plant, with short internodes, 44 days to flowering, light-blue fruits with an approximate weight of 270 g and dark ribs on their surface which confer higher resistance to handling. Very productive hybrid, with yields up to 26 t/ha.

Clonal varieties of globe artichoke [Cynara cardunculus L. var scolymus (L.) Fiori]
“Oro Verde FCA”
Globular, compact artichoke, light-geen in colour with slight purple pigmentation at the base of bracts, with an approximate weight of 195 g, harvest starts on September 25th; high-yielding (13 t/ha).
“Gauchito FCA”
Globular, compact, glossy light-green head with an approximate weight of 223 g; harvest starts on September 23rd; high-yielding (17 t/ha.)
“Gurí FCA”
Globular, compact, variegated in colour (purple-green), glaucous green foliage, head weighs about 220 g; harvest starts on October 10th; high-yielding (15 t/ha).

Artichoke varieties for growing from seed [Cynara cardunculus L. var scolymus (L.) Fiori]
“Estrella del Sur”
Globular, compact, dark purple artichoke, with a weight of approximately 230 g; harvest starts on September 30th. High-yielding (11 t/ha).

Clonal asparagus hybrids (Asparagus officinalis L .) 
“Neptuno FCA-INTA”; “Lucero FCA-INTA”, and “Pampero FCA-INTA”
High-yielding hybrids with thin diameter, average weight 27 g; production starts on September 10th.