Netional Wheat Improvement Committee Meeting - Minutes


13 January, 2005
San Diego, CA, USA.


NWIC members: Allan Fritz, Brett Carver, Jim Peterson, Jackie Rudd, David Van Sanford, Jose Costa, Jim Anderson, Harold Bockelman, Dave Garvin, Joe Anderson, Xianming Chen, Kim Garland Campbell, Robert Graybosch, Kim Kidwell, and Kay Simmons (ad hoc).
Guests: Maarten Van Ginkel, Bikram Gill, Jakub Hadam, John Raupp, Forest Chumley, David Frey, Dave Hilferty, Mark Gage, Jorge Dubcovsky, Dave Matthews, Guihua Bai, Bob Bowden, Floyd Dowell, Gina Brown-Guedira, David Marshall, Ed Kaleikau, Kulvinder Gill, and Mark Sorrells.

Approval of minutes. Minutes from the December 2003 meeting, as published in the Annual Wheat Newsletter, were approved without revision.


Annual Wheat Newsletter.

Brett Carver and John Raupp - The current AWN account balance is approximately $4,000. Annual contributions typically average $1,800, and annual expenses (largely printing and mailing) equal approximately $2,000/year. Publication and distribution of printed copies will continue as long as sufficient funds exist. A discussion was held as to whether future versions will include only a CD version, all on-line publications, etc. Conclusion was that the status quo will be maintained as long as sufficient funds are available. A request for receipt of hard copies will be circulated next year.


USDA-ARS staffing update.

Kay Simmons, USDA-ARS National Program Staff - Modest funding increases were obtained for the genotyping center at Raleigh, and Gina Brown-Guedira now has been appointed the director. The USDA Scab Research Initiative for FY05 will distribute $ 5 million. Increased funding of $ 200,000 was provided for wheat genomics research at Ithaca, NY. The plan will be to develop a new CRIS project to work on analytical tools for breeders of small grains in coöperation with GrainGenes.


CSREES programs.

Ed Kaleikau - A draft concept paper on a multi-state coördinating committee for plant breeding is being circulated amongst interested parties. The goal is to increase visibility of plant breeding to the public. Reported on progress toward establishment of Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) research projects for various crops. Wheat CAP group held a coördination meeting last year, headed by Jorge Dubcovsky of UC-Davis. A report is available on the GrainGenes web site:


Regional reports.

Eastern and southern soft wheat region. Joe Anderson and others noted a joint Eastern/Southern meeting will be held in May 2005 at Bowling Green, Kentucky. Current vice-chair, Curtis Beazer, will become chair of the Eastern wheat workers. Jose Costa reported on the Southern region. Warm winter, mildew, and leaf rust are on the increase this winter already, along with BYDV. Only 10 % of the typical Arkansas wheat acreage was seeded.

Spring wheat region. Dave Garvin and Jim Anderson - ARS genotyping center at Fargo, ND, now is staffed and operating, with Shiaoman Chao as director.

Western region. Kim Kidwell - Western wheat workers meeting was held in Pullman, WA. The major topic of conversation being new races of stripe rust in North America, with at least 10 new ones having been discovered. Brian Beecher has joined the ARS group at Pullman to work on molecular approaches to improving Asian wheat product quality; the genotyping center at Pullman has been established and work is commencing. Oregon State has advertised to fill a cereals extension position.

Winter wheat region. Brett Carver - Kansas State University Grain Science Department has had several changes. Bob Bennett has moved to The International Grains Program, and Virgil Smail has been appointed Department Chair. Tim Herrman left an extension position at Kansas State to assume a similar position at Texas A&M. Yinghua Huang has joined the ARS group at Stillwater, OK, and will work on insect resistance in wheat, barley, and sorghum. ARS also has added a heat-stress scientist, Zoran Ristic, at Manhattan, KS. Jeff Edwards has assumed a wheat extension position at Oklahoma State University. The annual wheat breeders field tour, will be held 19 May at Lahoma, OK. Preharvest sprouting was a major problem in 2004 and acreage seeded to white wheat has declined.


Wheat Crop Germplasm Committee.

Kim Garland Campbell presented a summary of CGC meeting. ARS will be adding > 1,000 synthetics from CIMMYT to the National Small Grains Collection. It was recommended the wheat community should be proactive in getting international efforts in stripe rust screening. The CGC needs five or six new members and will meeting with NWIC again next year.


NWIC bylaws.

A decision was made to update the NWIC bylaws. A draft version will be written and circulated for approval.


National Association of Wheat Growers update.

Dave Hilferty, research committee, thanked the NWIC for a working relationship with NAWG. A priority list of projects recommended by NAWG for increased funding was presented and included:

i. Karnal bunt,
ii. the Wheat Genome Program - NAWG believes wheat should be the next crop genome sequenced,
iii. the ARS Wheat Quality Laboratories,
iv. the ARS Genotyping Laboratories.
v. the National Stripe Rust Initiative,
vi. increased funding for the Cereal Disease Laboratory,
vii. GrainGenes, and
viii. preharvest sprouting research

Mark Gage, NAWG chair, discussed the 'Road Forward in Wheat (RE biotech)', a document detailing the current state of affairs in wheat biotech and NAWG's position. NAWG has decided the growers need to assist in the development of a market for biotech wheat. He described the plan NAWG has for the establishment of international and national markets for biotech wheat. NAWG passed up one opportunity (Roundup resistance) and U.S. wheat growers might not want to pass on future technologies. Much and sundry discussion commenced.

New uses of wheat. NAWG feels we should be keenly aware of additional opportunities for new uses of wheat. Need to move items from research side to commercialization. Feels this and biotech issue are the two key items in keeping wheat producers competitive.

Kim Campbell motioned NWIC appoint a subcommittee to draft a statement from NWIC regarding the 'Road Forward on Wheat Biotech'. Subcommittee would consist of Jim Peterson (chair), Jose Costa, and Dave Garvin. Allan Fritz seconded. Motion passed. None opposed.


Wheat Workers Code of Ethics revision.

Allan Fritz noted that the revision has yet to be completed. Emphasis was placed on the fact that every employer has different rules and obtaining a consensus in this day and age will be difficult. It was noted once material goes into the USDA National Small Grains Collection, it is freely available for distribution without MTAs. Wheat workers were encouraged to deposit materials in the collection so they can be made available to the world's wheat research community.


Crop Science registration of restricted materials.

The Crop Science Society has a new policy that allows registration of materials with restricted release requirements. See the web page of the Crop Science Society of America for details.


CIMMYT update.

Maarten Van Ginkel noted new objectives at CIMMYT will be to increase efforts in South Asia, maintain in Africa, and reduce in Latin America. Six broad multidisciplinary programs will include

i. Genetic Resources Program;
ii. African Livelihood Program, primarily maize;
iii. Tropical Ecosystems Program;
iv. Rain-fed Wheat Systems;
v. Intensive Agricultural Systems; and
vi. Knowledge and Impact Program.

Most of the CIMMYT offices now are in Asia or Africa. CIMMYT is planning on contributing 1000+ synthetic wheats to the USDA-ARS NSGC for deposit and maintenance. Stem rust is now a major problem in Africa, especially in Kenya. Wide crosses will continue. CIMMYT, however, no longer has a full-time position working on Karnal bunt. Appreciation was expressed by the NWIC to Maarten van Ginkel for all of his contributions to international wheat research. NWIC also voiced concern over the deëmphasis of wheat breeding at CIMMYT. A letter from NWIC will be sent to AID and other funding institutions expressing the concern of the NWIC over the decline of funding for breeding and prebreeding at CIMMYT.

CIMMYT trip. Jim Peterson and Allan Fritz are coördinating a visit to CIMMYT by U.S. wheat breeders to CIMMYT facilities in Mexico. The visit will occur in early April 2005.


Stem rust issues.

Allan Fritz - new races seem to be showing up in Africa. Discussion followed regarding possibility for sending regional nursery materials to Kenya perhaps to be screened for stem and stripe rust. Kim Campbell and Allan Fritz will work together to see if we can make arrangements for coordinating forwarding of materials.

Barberry quarantine. Rollie Sears via Dave Van Sanford - USDA-APHIS now requires inspections of ornamental shrub nurseries, but no longer funds them. Some nursery owners find this task odious, but larger nurseries are supportive of it as it allows export to Canada. More on this issue should be forthcoming.


CAP grant proposal.

Jorge Dubcovsky reported on barley and soybean CAP programs. The wheat group attempting to secure a CSREES CAP grant is an expanded group 'From Genomics to Wheat Field' project. The new proposal will incorporate 18 breeding programs and the four regional genotyping centers.


USDA-ARS Engineering Research Unit.

Allan Fritz and Floyd Dowell detailed the status of the USDA-ARS Engineering Research Unit at Manhattan, KS. The unit has lost half of their scientists in the past 8 years, and increased funding is necessary to maintain this group as a viable entity.


IGROW project update.

Bikram Gill described the white paper on the IGROW (International Genome Research on Wheat) to be presented at the 2005 Plant and Animal Genome Conference detailing progress to date. A meeting workshop was held in 2003 (text available at: and will be followed by a pilot phase, assessment phase, and then scale-up if warranted. The goal is to establish a project for the sequencing of the wheat genome. The NWIC is supportive of this effort. An additional report from IGROW can be found on pages 15-16 of this volume.


USDA-ARS Genotyping Labs.

Gina Brown-Guedira - Raleigh, NC, lab now is established with a mandate to work on wheat, maize, oats, and barley. Gui Hua Bai - Manhattan, KS, lab is up and running and has established research projects on mapping mildew and rust resistance genes and Al tolerance. New targets will include preharvest sprouting, continued work on Al tolerance, QTL for scab resistance from Korea, dwarfing genes, waxy genes, HMW-glutenin genes, and RWA resistance. Kim Campbell - Pullman, WA, lab received modest (less than required) funding, but has hired a postdoctoral associate and part-time technician to initiate work. Fargo, ND lab, under the direction of Shiaoman Chao, is fully funded and well equipped. They are in the process of completing staffing and will take lead in display of data and data analysis procedures.



Olin Anderson described the liaison committee that has been formed to establish priorities, first of which was to migrate GrainGenes to a new database system. In April 2004, they rolled out GrainGenes II and made a formal announcement of the transfer of GrainGenes to a relational database system. A demonstration of the new system was presented at PAG meeting. Increasing importance is interaction with the Gramene project. Funding limits have resulted in staff reductions, which may require significant evaluation of activities and procedures. The NWIC supports GrainGenes and requests funding be maintained at current or enhance levels.


Affymetrix chip.

Joe Anderson reported the wheat chip was made available in December, 2004, and can be purchased. The wheat chip has 50,000+ probes, representing all 42 chromosomes. A rice gene chip also is available.


National Wheat Genetics Meeting.

Kulvinder Gill proposed an Annual National Wheat Genetics Meeting be established. We have one with goal of developing a common background and platform for wheat. Kulvinder Gill, Kim Kidwell, Gina Brown-Guedira, and Joe Anderson will form a subcommittee to explore possible meeting time and location.


International Agriculture in Central Asia & the Caucasus.

Kim Campbell described the current project coordinated by Washington State University via a special grant from CSREES. Currently funded projects include work at Oregon State, Washington State, and South Dakota State University. The NWIC is supportive for this project and recommends funding be continued.


Wheat descriptor information.

Harold Bockelman described circulation of a questionnaire seeking information on optimal descriptors for wheat germplasm in the collection. Discussion tabled until summary report, prepared by Carl Griffey, is circulated. Item will be discussed again at 2006 NWIC meeting.


Ongoing initiatives - Karnal bunt Initiative.

Forrest Chumley - U.S. government has set a target to have Karnal bunt deregulated by 2007. Outlook still is not promising. A minor disease of wheat continues to erode U.S. export markets. An update was presented on research progress of the program to date. Funding has been via a special grant through ARS. NWIC support has been key to maintenance of current funding levels. The initiative needs increased emphasis on genetics and breeding as the best approach will be to have resistant or immune cultivars. If we can develop Karnal bunt-resistant cultivars, deregulation is more likely.


Stripe Rust Initiative.

Current initiative plans to allocate funds to ARS, with ARS to distribute them, half within, half to state programs, with land-grant (state) portion distributed on a competitive basis. Allan Fritz will serve as NWIC representative to evaluate the program. Current version of stripe rust initiative will be used as a document to solicit increased funding.


NWIC ballot on research efforts targeted for additional national funding.

The NWIC supports (in order of decreasing priority) increased funding for the following research objectives:

a. Stripe rust initiative,
b. USDA-ARS Wheat Genotyping Centers,
c. USDA-ARS Wheat Quality Laboratories, and
d. the Karnal bunt initiative.



2006 NWIC and CGC meetings. A motion was passed to meet in San Diego, CA, in January 2006 in conjunction with Plant and Animal Genome Conference. Alternative time and site of December in Milwaukee received not all that many votes.

Election of new NWIC chair. Several candidates were nominated. A motion was passed to conduct a primary election, with the top two vote recipients being advanced to the final ballot.

Resolutions and letters. Brett Carver will draft resolutions and letters from the NWIC to appropriate parties.

The 2005 NWIC meeting was the final meeting chaired by David Van Sanford, University of Kentucky. On behalf of the U.S. and world wheat improvement community, the NWIC thanks Dave for his efforts.

Post meeting note: subsequent to the 2005 NWIC meeting, an E-mail election for the incoming chair was held. C. James Peterson, Oregon State University, was elected chair, and will commence a 3-year term in 2005. Congratulations to Dr. Peterson, and gratitude is herein expressed to all candidates for their willingness to serve.

Prepared by R.A. Graybosch, Secretary, National Wheat Improvement Committee, March, 2005.