We think we are in a good place to address this because…
A bit of history. In 1918, at the end of the First World War, Britain was facing a food crisis. Laurence Weaver was appointed controller of supplies at the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. He knew that the quality of seeds and varieties, and the knowledge required to enable farmers to select appropriate types for their specific environmental conditions, was critical to the improvement of crops yields. The Official Seed Testing Station was established and Weaver launched an appeal for charitable funding to set up the National Institute of Agricultural Botany. Original objective to deliver ‘better seeds better crops’ post-WW1 remains critically important today.
Little crop science knowledge was being transferred to the farmer. Plant breeding was in its infancy 1920 NIAB was established in Cambridge to promote ‘Better Seeds: Better Crops’ and started to carry out regional trials of breeders’ varieties, putting them into the local context and facilitating the transfer of knowledge of variety performance under conditions which farmers could relate to. A National Variety Structure was established to eliminate local synonyms in potatoes and cereals, and, in the 1930s, NIAB began to issue farmers’ leaflets for autumn and Spring sown cereals, potatoes, sugar beet and other crops; informing variety choice on-farm. By the 1930s NIAB was carrying out regional trials and producing documents to inform variety choice by farmersIn
When the Second World War came, supply of quality seed was recognised as a National priority, and NIAB began to release authenticated stocks of proven state-bred varieties, working in partnership with the national Plant Breeding Institute, also based in Cambridge. In effect NIAB was the regulatory and knowledge transfer arm of the PBI. In 1944 the first NIAB Recommended Lists for winter wheat varieties were produced, soon to be followed by listings for other crops. By the mid 50s relative yield and quality data was made available via the cereal leaflets. A Seed Multiplication Branch handled the increased throughput of state-bred varieties and produced seed for performance trials. Vegetables were not forgotten, and in 1960 the first vegetable variety advisory leaflet was issued.
Crop science informs and leads regulation. 1964 was an important year for regulation; the UK signed the UPOV convention, establishing Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) under the Plant Variety and Seeds Act, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) commissioned NIAB to test varieties for Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) and to conduct statutory performance trials. In 1973, following UK accession to the European Community, an agreement between MAFF and NIAB defined NIAB’s responsibilities for the statutory DUS and VCU (Value for Cultivation and Use) tests. The 1980s saw major changes in the way that variety trialling was supported. The Governments cost-cutting policy extended the scope of licensed seed certification and testing by the trade, but retained NIAB training and supervision. Private sector levies started to fund Recommended List programmes, and grant-in aid was withdrawn. Statutory variety testing and seed certification was reduced.
Historically, then NIAB was the Gateway to New market ready products, and still carries out the technical function on behalf of key stakeholders
After 3 decades of chronic under-investment in UK applied and translational agricultural research…NIAB Trust intervenes… Development of genetic research & pre-breeding capabilities 2005 (synthetic wheat, flowering time, transgenic capability)
Allopolypoidy results in convergence in a single organism of genomes adapted to different environments. Creating potential for adaptation to a broader range environmental conditions.Analysis of hexaploid wheat requires the development of genome specific primers to ensure that only one of the three genomes is amplified to reveal to reveal haplotypes. Since sequence variation reveals the shared population history of contiguous DNA segments it provides a powerful approach to unravel the evolutionary history of crop plants.
NIAB has an in-house transformation platform: services under licence
Integration of TAG (also a not-for profit) 2009 to extend NIAB’s coverage / capabilities in applied agronomy research and knowledge transfer onto farm..back to our roots!
Our mission: to provide impartial, science-based, research and information to support, develop and promote agriculture and horticulture; helping the industry to fulfil its potential in supplying food and renewable resources, while respecting the natural environment.
In 1964 the UK signed the UPOV convention, establishing Plant Breeders Rights (PBR).
MAFF commissioned NIAB to test varieties for DUS and conduct statutory trials. VCU was added in 1973.
NIAB still carries out variety evaluation, on behalf of FERA and also to support the Levy Board funded Recommended Lists.
Gateway to New Market-ready Products Purification Official registration & testing DUS & VCU NL/RL trials Plant breeders Sales & marketing “ Core NIAB” Statutory testing & contract research to DEFRA, BSPB, Levy Boards & CEL together with services to farmers & growers
After decades of chronic under-investment in UK applied and translational agricultural research…NIAB Trust intervenes…
Development of genetic research & pre-breeding capabilities 2005 (synthetic wheat, flowering time, transgenic capability)
Transferring knowledge Agronomy Pre-breeding Commercial breeding NL/RL trials Trait discovery New & differentiated products “ new research at NIAB” “ core NIAB”
Wheat a classic allo-hexaploid ESEB Congress, Uppsala, Sweden, August 2007 Science Vol 316, 1862-1866
Funded by NIAB Trust, BBSRC, HGCA and commercial breeders
Working with JIC, RRes, Universities to access novel traits for pre-breeding Wheat Ergot Tracing useful differences in ergot formation observed between elite varieties to precise tissue responses Wheat Yellow Rust Two novel loci controlling resistance have been identified and durable resistance QTL are currently under study stigma & stigmatic hairs anthers 1. Extract Wheat Flower 2. Ergot inoculation 3. Compare infection progress using microscopy Variety 1 Many hyphae reach base of ovary Ov Variety 2 Few hyphae reach top of ovary Ov