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Global Wheat Program busy in Obregón: Visitors Week 2013

April 23, 2013

CENEB0Once a year, wheat researchers from around the world have the opportunity to see the Centro Experimental Norman E. Borlaug (CENEB) in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico, in all its glory and the wheat experiments in full bloom. This unique opportunity —the Global Wheat Program’s Visitors Week —took place from 19-22 March 2013 in the presence of 157 visitors representing 37 countries who enjoyed field visits organized by the physiology group, durum breeding, cropping systems management, and wide crosses units, Bread Wheat Improvement Program, and Seeds of Discovery. Other units within the Global Wheat Program (GWP) – quality improvement and marker assisted selection, as well as all of the GWP regional offices (Kenya, Turkey, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iran, and China) – had a chance to present their research and answer questions during an auditorium session on the afternoon of the first day. The participants showed keen interest in every research program, and many scientists stole away at any chance they got to wander into the fields, check out new material, and do selections themselves.

As part of Visitors Week, the GWP Physiology Program inaugurated a new building – the first ever purpose-built facility for wheat physiology research at CIMMYT —which was dedicated in a special ceremony to Dr. Tony Fischer, the first physiologist at CIMMYT hired by Dr. Norman Borlaug. During the ceremony, CIMMYT wheat physiologist Matthew Reynolds noted Fischer’s enormous legacy in wheat physiology, with outputs such as a new generation of stress-adapted germplasm that have been included in mainstream international breeding nurseries; equipping national agricultural research systems breeders worldwide with infrared thermometers and other field screening instruments used for breeding; a fully equipped airborne phenotyping platform capable of measuring thousands of yield plots for traits like canopy temperature and water index; over 70,000 germplasm bank accessions screened for heat and drought tolerance; identification of quantitative trait loci (QTL) for a range of adaptive traits based on yield trials in Mexico and throughout Asia and Africa; Wheat Yield Consortium, connecting some of the best crop scientists worldwide, with a US$ 1.1 million annual contribution from SAGARPA; and breeding programs in GWP dedicated to physiological breeding. “Dr. Fischer is a great source of inspiration for my physiology group,” Reynolds concluded.

The dedication ceremony was followed by the crowning event of every Visitors Week: a traditional carne asada and mariachis serenading the party. All CIMMYT staff are welcome to attend GWP Visitors Week and we hope you will join us next year!

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