NCCC204: The Interface of Molecular and Quantitative Genetics in Plant and Animal Breeding
- October 01, 2007 to September 30, 2012
- Administrative Advisor(s):
- NIFA Reps:
Statement of Issue(s) and Justification:Quantitative genetics focuses on understanding and modeling the inheritance of so-called complex or quantitative traits, which are phenotypes that affected by multiple genes and the environment Quantitative genetics has had remarkable success in both plant and animal breeding by directing strategies for genetic selection of agronomic traits. Those advancements, however, have been limited by the relatively simplistic assumptions of the model for inheritance of quantitative traits and the tools available for estimating genetic worth. With the advent of molecular genetics, those limitations no longer need apply. We now have the means to uncover the true modes of inheritance of quantitative traits by unlocking the mysteries of the genetic code. Although structural genomics has revealed the DNA sequence of the human genome and of several plant and animal species, less than 1% of the human genetic code can be deciphered into functional genes. The DNA sequence is like the Egyptian hieroglyphics on the Rosetta stone: we have the cipher but do not yet know what it all means. Functional genomics is the painstaking process of extracting meaning from the code. Functional genomics will reveal gene function and regulation, knowledge that we can apply in advanced breeding programs. Several obstacles, however, remain before such a goal can be realized. Those are detailed below.
Need: More than ever before, the need for proper statistical methodology and bioinformatics is critical to the advancement of molecular genetics and for the application of those advancements to improvement of agriculturally relevant plant and animal species. The latter is been termed "translational genomics" whereby information gleamed from molecular genetics is transformed into applications in the field. Failure to empower translational genomics through bioinformatics techniques would relegate the finding of genomics to academic interest and not realize the promise of biotechnology.
Stakeholders: The primary stakeholders are those who can most directly utilize this information: plant and animal breeders, vector biologists, medical entomologists, agricultural entomologists and conservation biologists. Ultimately the stakeholders are all those who will benefit from plant and animal agriculture by enhanced productivity, increased exports, decreased production costs, and increased safety and healthfulness of food for human consumption.
Feasibility and need for multi-state project: The technical feasibility of the research is excellent. Rapid advancements in statistical methodology are possible when driven by small groups of interacting scientists. These issues and questions are therefore best addressed by scientists working in diverse fields of genetics, from gene mapping to bioinformatics and with a diverse range of species, both plant and animal. However, few scientists have in depth knowledge of all. By bringing together a diverse group of scientists in these areas to exchange information on methods of gene mapping, bioinformatics, such issues can be more efficiently and widely addressed. By including scientists from plant and animal breeding companies, relevance of the proposed work will be ensured.
- Develop and compare statistical and computational methodology for analysis of molecular genetic and genomic data associated with quantitative traits.
- Examine the efficiency of incorporating molecular tools in plant and animal breeding programs through theoretical modeling, computer simulations, and biological testing in actual breeding populations.
- Use molecular genetics and genomics tools to test hypotheses generated from the fundamental theories of population, quantitative genetics, and molecular evolutionary genetics.
Procedures and ActivitiesThis group of researchers is largely responsible for leading the direction of development of statistical tools and methodology for incorporating molecular genetics in plant and animal breeding. The group disseminates tools, results and methods of research (mapping) or tools and methods of genetic improvement among themselves and other interested parties. The "others" will be encouraged to join the project and contribute to the discussion on the direction of research at the interface of molecular and quantitative genetics. Tools and methods developed for breeding or from fundamental theories are used to test hypotheses from applied or fundamental genetics. Where possible these hypothesis are tested against information available from plant and animal populations or breeding programs.
Expected Outcomes and Impacts:
- Better statistical and computational methodology for analysis of molecular genetic and genomic data for quantitative traits
- Software for implementing those methods.
- Better budgeting and global competitiveness of companies using these technologies through cost estimation and efficiency of incorporating molecular tools in breeding programs
- Enhanced productivity, increased exports, decreased production costs, and increased safety and healthfulness of food for human consumption from the application of developed methods in breeding programs for agronomic species.
- Fundamental theories of population, quantitative genetics, and molecular evolutionary genetics will be advanced for better understanding of evolutionary process and applications to artificial selection.
Project Participation:Include a completed Appendix E form
Efficient technology transfer is facilitated by members of the project being in contact with, or work for, industry in the field of genetics of plants and animals. These contacts vary from consulting by academics, to joint research projects, to industry input into research projects at project stations and other academic institutions. The identification of industry needs is not formalized within the project but does occur by discussion of research topics with industry membership. Project members contribute frequently to workshops held in conjunction with global meetings or organized by stations / institutes of other project members. These workshops are a flexible and efficient means to disseminate the advanced topics studied in this project and to keep the contents updated. Contribution of the NCCC204 project to the above are the connections created between industry and stations within the project. the annual project meetings provide an excellent opportunity to draw participation from, and interact with scientists from companies of interest. Project members collaborate in the development of workshop programs and hosting of workshops at stations in different parts of the country and world.
Objective criteria for assessing the above: Number of workshops held, programs developed and released, publications related to the proposed objectives, grants awarded to teams composed of committee members, number of invited presentations by committee members to national symposia related to objectives of the program, courses devleoped that include proposed objectives.
Standard governance will be used, i.e. Secretary is elected from membership for 2 year term. Secretary steps up to the chair position after one year, to provide continuity. In the first year, the secretary from the outgoing project will become chair of the new project, and a new secretary elected at the first meeting. Additional decision-making will be determined in an annual business meeting. Attendance will be closely monitored. If the representative is unable to attend a meeting the person should still send a representative and station report. If an representative misses a meeting and does not send a representative, the representative will be placed on probation, and a notice will be sent indicating that missing two consecutive meetings will result in the representative being dropped from the project, and will be acted upon in the next years business meeting. Administrative guidance is provided by an administrative advisor and CSREES representative.
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