Kicking 2020 off with project meetings with breeders

On 20 January, Marizanne Horn and Elsabet Wessels undertook the trek to Bethlehem, Free State, for project meetings with colleagues at the local Sensako breeding station. 

Marizanne, an employee of Sensako and industry placement at CenGen, met with Roean Wessels, Sensako’s sunflower breeder. Elsabet, who is responsible for the wheat MAS programme at CenGen, met with the irrigation wheat breeding team, Stephan de Groot and Elaine van Eeden.

The wheat marker-assisted selection (MAS) programme at CenGen (MSL) has been running since 2011 and Sensako has participated actively since its inception with both their dryland and irrigation spring wheat programmes. The sunflower programme is one of the latest additions to their seed portfolio and the aim is to implement MAS as efficiently in this programme as what has been done for wheat.

Male (short) and female (tall) sunflower plants in a crossing block at Bethlehem. Insects pollinate the tall female plants.

During the meetings, new breeding schemes were developed, important information regarding target genes and linked markers were exchanged, new sources of resistance and quality traits were discussed and data were examined.

Project meetings such as these are very important to ensure that the molecular breeding programmes stay on track and that the marker work that is done is sensible and provide useful information to the breeders. We are grateful towards Sensako who sponsored Elsabet’s trip to Bethlehem.

Photo credit: Roean Wessels