Syngenta hosts National Association of Plant Breeders meeting

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Innovations in plant breeding will be showcased at the eighth annual meeting of the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) which convenes this week in Minneapolis.

Syngenta will host nearly 200 public and private plant breeders, scientists and graduate students at this year’s gathering, which is themed “Breeding for Water Stress.” Syngenta speakers slated to present include Dr. Ron Ferriss, lead, Global Germplasm Contractual Compliance and Dr. Chad Geater, Breeding Academy senior project lead. The meeting includes a combination of research presentations and posters about the latest advances in plant breeding, as well as networking opportunities. Participants will also have the opportunity to tour Syngenta’s research and development facility in Stanton, Minn.

Over the next 15 years, nearly 40 percent of the global population will experience severe water use challenges. For a growing number of farmers, water efficiency is now of prime concern – and will be the focal point of this scientific gathering.

Heather Merk, Breeding Academy program lead at Syngenta, and a member of the NAPB conference planning committee, said advances in plant breeding have enabled researchers to identify and select for forms of genes that help plants use water more effectively and provide season-long protection against drought. Long-term solutions require that we rethink water and how we use it, she adds.

“Converting available water into grain is a global challenge,” Merk said. “At Syngenta, we are striving to increase the average productivity of the world’s major crops by 20 percent without using more land, water or inputs. This is one of six commitments we outlined last year as part of The Good Growth Plan.”

Plant breeding is currently undergoing rapid developments in genomics, analytics and other technologies. As a result, in addition to plant breeders, breeding programs need molecular biologists, physiologists, computation scientists and numerous other specialists working together to bring advanced genetics and integrated crop solutions to market.

“Breeding has become a team sport,” Merk added. “The better the training and the smoother the teamwork, the more likely the team will be successful. Events like this facilitate the sharing of knowledge that will be essential to helping crops manage water use more effectively.”

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