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Accelerated Cassava Breeding Coming Via OHV Technology Collaboration

Dow AgroSciences, Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University and Agriculture Victoria Working Together on Essential African Root Crop

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 8:00 am EST

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INDIANAPOLIS, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA & ITHACA, N.Y.

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DOW
"We are grateful to Dow AgroSciences for making OHV available to us so we can share it with cassava breeders in Africa who would not otherwise have access to this technology"

INDIANAPOLIS, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA & ITHACA, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--More productive cassava plants, a root crop that is foundational for food security in Africa, will be made possible by an agreement between Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW), and Agriculture Victoria, Australia, Cornell University and the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI).

Dow AgroSciences has collaborated with Agriculture Victoria through its commercial arm, Agriculture Victoria Services Pty Ltd. (AVS), to develop Optimum Haploid Value™ (OHV) technology that can select the optimal parent varieties for plant breeding. This technology is being granted to BTI and Cornell University via a non-exclusive, royalty-free license for non-profit use to support cassava improvement. The OHV technology will be implemented in the Cassavabase database (https://www.cassavabase.org), maintained at BTI, as part of the NextGeneration Cassava Breeding (NextGen) project.

NextGen is an international partnership that benefits the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) breeding centers in Nigeria, the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Uganda, and the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI). The Cornell-led project is funded by a $25 million, five-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom.

“Making the best use of agricultural technology is essential to feed the growing world, and sharing the OHV technology to improve cassava’s genetic gains is a great example of our desire to provide solutions for farmers around the world,” said Steve Webb, External Technology and Intellectual Property Portfolio Development Leader, Dow AgroSciences.

No other continent depends on cassava to feed as many people as does Africa, where each day, 500 million people consume this starchy, calorie-rich root as a major part of their diet. Accelerating cassava breeding holds great promise for Sub-Saharan Africa, since breeders typically require almost a decade to develop a new cassava variety.

“We are grateful to Dow AgroSciences for making OHV available to us so we can share it with cassava breeders in Africa who would not otherwise have access to this technology," said Lukas Mueller, Associate Professor at BTI. “Breeders and farmers will benefit from the use of OHV to accelerate the development of higher-yield, disease-resistant cassava varieties.”

The OHV technology is an extension of genomic selection, an approach that uses genetic information and physical characteristics from plant varieties to predict the most productive parental lines, thereby leading to accelerated crop improvement. OHV can shorten breeding cycles, provide accurate evaluation of plant performance at the seedling stage and give plant breeders the ability to evaluate a much larger number of plants without the need to grow them in the target environment. This approach requires fewer resources, making it more sustainable and more efficient. Using OHV and genomic selection, new releases of cassava could be available in nearly half the time.

“Optimal Haploid Value, an improvement over genomic selection, provides the basis for accelerated breeding in crops, thus contributing to global food security,” said Professor German Spangenberg, Agriculture Victoria’s Executive Director Biosciences Research.

About Agriculture Victoria and AVS

Agriculture Victoria works with industry, primary producers, urban and regional communities to improve livability and drive sustainable economic growth in the food and fiber sectors in Victoria, Australia. Dow AgroSciences works with Agriculture Victoria through its commercial arm, Agriculture Victoria Services Pty Ltd.

About Boyce Thomson Institute

Boyce Thompson Institute is a premier life sciences research institution located in Ithaca, New York on the Cornell University campus. BTI scientists conduct investigations into fundamental plant and life sciences research with the goals of increasing food security, improving environmental sustainability in agriculture and making basic discoveries that will enhance human health. For more information, visit http://www.bti.cornell.edu.

About Dow AgroSciences

Dow AgroSciences discovers, develops and brings to market crop protection and plant biotechnology solutions for the growing world. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, Dow AgroSciences is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company and had annual global sales of $6.4 billion in 2015. Learn more at www.dowagro.com. Follow Dow AgroSciences on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

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Contact:

Dow AgroSciences
Kenda Resler Friend
317-337-4742
kresler@dow.com
or
Boyce Thompson Institute
Patricia Waldron
607-254-7476
pjw85@cornell.edu