Category Archives: Breeding

A new resource for plant research

The plant research community has a valuable and practical new resource available: a rapid-cycling Brassica oleracea population that can be used to map the genetics of many traits simply by phenotyping. The population and related resources are described in a recent publication led by Zach Stansell in Thomas Björkman’s lab at Cornell University.

  • The map and reference genome are complete
  • Bioinformatic-analysis pipeline is available
  • Seed is available for free
  • Researchers only need to phenotype and analyze

The BolTBDH population is derived from a from a cross of rapid-cycling Chinese kale with broccoli. It is particularly valuable for studying reproductive development because progeny lines have inflorescences that range from non-heading to fully heading broccoli. Variation is documented for many other traits, such as architecture and glucosinolate content, and variation in many others remains to be explored and documented.

To1000 is a small plant with long inflorescences, Early Big is a normal broccoli
Parents of BolTBDH: the rapid-cycling Chinese kale, TO1000 and the broccoli ‘Early Big’.

Continue reading A new resource for plant research

Selecting subjective traits in multiple sites.

Zach Stansell has adapted his tool for breeders so that it is usable for any crop that has a highly subjective breeding goal.

Stansell with computer code
Zach Stansell has developed an R package that helps breeders assess their criteria for subjective traits like beauty in many locations.

We are sharing the information with various media outlets. The first pass is a publication in the Cornell Chronicle.

Many horticultural crops need to meet the quality criteria of a particular market or of the main breeder. They need to meet those criteria in many environments. How can you test for   quality  in many locations at the same time. This technique is good at predicting the reference person’s quality score by having trained raters make objective measurements.

The package is posted on GitHub so that anyone can use it for free. It is annotated and revised to work with just about any trait of interest or any crop. The revision was done with Deniz Akdemir, Cornell statistician. The development of the method is published in HortScience (Stansell, Zachary, Thomas Björkman, Sandra Branham, David Couillard, and Mark W. Farnham. 2017. Use of a Quality Trait Index to Increase the Reliability of Phenotypic Evaluations in Broccoli HortScience 32:1490-1495. doi: 10.21273/HORTSCI12202-17 )


Summer adaptation gets even better

The Eastern Broccoli breeding pipeline is producing some great advances. Here is an inbred line from Mark Farnham’s program photographed in the depth of the South Carolina summer.

Exceptional adaptation to Eastern summers in an inbred broccoli from the US Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC. Photographed in mid-July 2016 following weeks on 90+ degree weather.
Exceptional adaptation to Eastern summers in an inbred broccoli from the US Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC. Photographed in mid-July 2016 following weeks of 90+ degree weather. Photo credit: Mark Farnham

In these growing conditions, existing varieties produce heads with significant distortion. Area growers currently don’t harvest until fall to beat the heat. This inbred can be the basis of an expanded production season.

This inbred is a candidate for a public release or protection by a Plant Variety Patent. It would be used as a parental line in a commercial hybrid variety to contribute unprecedented adaptation to the Eastern summer growing conditions. We are working with cooperating seed companies to that end.