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New hybrid canola cultivar offers double resistance to clubroot

Mar. 15, 2016 - The University of Alberta's canola breeding program, in partnership with Crop Production Services (CPS) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, has developed the first line of canola hybrid that offers double-resistance to club root, the crop's most significant disease threat.

The new hybrid cultivar has been approved and registered by CPS under the Proven Seed brand with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and is now available to growers for the 2016 growing season.

It carries a resistance gene from Mendel, a European winter canola cultivar, and a second gene from an exotic germplasm. The canola breeding program, led by Habibur Rahman, began working on these genes in 2004 in greenhouses, in the fields on South Campus and in clubroot-infested fields in Leduc and St. Albert. They studied more than 250 sources of resistance before determining the best two.

They worked on the resistance sources separately at first, locating the resistance genes in the chromosomes and developing separate individual canola lines based on the resistance of each source.

"With our partners at Crop Production Services, we then combined them to create this hybrid," explained Rahman.

The new canola hybrid cultivar, which combined the two genes, offers double resistance, as opposed to all previous clubroot-resistant cultivars which only offer single resistance.

"We expect this hybrid will offer growers more durable resistance," said Bruce Harrison, CPS' director of research, development and innovation.

Clubroot poses a serious threat to canola production in Alberta. The disease, which infects roots and restricts the flow of water and nutrients to leaves stems and pods, is spreading. Originally discovered in Alberta in 2003, nine new strains of the disease that can overcome current resistant lines were found in the province.

"It's common for single gene resistance to break down in time and becomes susceptible," explained Rahman. "But here, with this new cultivar, if one gene breaks down, then another guard is there."

"CPS has invested deeply in western Canadian-based research and development that provides growers with the very best in genetics to combat serious crop diseases. The U of A team has been great to work with and we are proud of the results and future possibilities this collaboration has created," adds Harrison.

The new canola hybrid cultivar is the first registered hybrid coming from the Collaborative Research and Development grant obtained in 2013 by Rahman and Crop Production Services.

"The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is proud to support the Collaborative Research and Development Grant held by Dr. Rahman, from the University of Alberta. His research is of major significance to canola growers and will contribute to the Canadian economy. His vast experience in both academia and industry is also an asset to the success of this project. Dr. Rahman's working relationship with Crop Protection Services reinforces NSERC's priority of creating partnership opportunities between universities and industry professionals. And, because the grant includes significant training opportunities, it will also provide the next generation of HQPs with valuable experience and opportunities," said Dr. Bettina Hamelin, Vice-president, Research Partnerships, NSERC.

The research was also supported by the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund (ACIDF), the Alberta Canola Producers Commission and later, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

"Genetic developments are among the most costly investments ACIDF makes," explained Doug Walkey. "But as an investment in western Canadian agriculture, these are the most effective investments in our future. Plant characteristics, once developed, are more environmentally friendly, cost effective and efficient than controls with machinery, labor or chemicals. ACIDF has enjoyed an excellent partnership with Dr Rahman and his team, and we look forward to future developments like this one."

"This is exactly what we were looking for when we initially invested in Dr. Rahman's work over 10 years ago," said Daryl Tuck, canola farmer and Chair of the Alberta Canola Producers Research Committee. "We are very pleased to see this option available to canola growers that have need of it."

"This is a tremendous accomplishment by our canola breeding program, in partnership with Crop Production Services and NSERC," said Stan Blade, dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta. "This result is a wonderful example of the types of solutions we need to help feed a growing world population and benefit Canadian farmers."


March 15, 2016  By University of Alberta


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