ECPGR Beta Working Group

Participants in the meeting (photo by B. Desprez)

Fourth Joint Meeting of the Working Group on Beta and World Beta Network, 20-22 June 2012, Cappelle-en-Pévèle, France

Highlights of the meeting

Beta nana: Based on studies showing the diversity among the few existing populations, the establishment of a first genetic reserve on the Mount Olympos, Greece, was proposed together with further investigation of the distribution of genetic diversity within existing sites located at different altitudes. The ECPGR WG on Beta and the WBN recommended the implementation of a Greek B. nana project proposal. The WG will use funds to help the Greek Gene Bank to complete monitoring and collecting of samples on the Mount Olympos.

Patellifolia: Any further research should include taxonomically clearly defined standard accessions of P. webbiana, P. procumbens and P. patellaris. The P. procumbens accession used in the genome sequencing projects should be verified. WG funds are available to organise a meeting to set up a project proposal focusing on taxonomic aspects and genetic diversity of Patellifolia and Beta section Corollinae.

Genetic reserves: As a result of the AEGRO project, priority genetic reserve sites for Beta and Patellifolia species were identified and proposed for 26 locations. These were selected on the basis of geographic, climatic and genetic data and they form the first components of species specific networks of plant occurrences presumed to represent a significant part of intraspecific diversity of threatened wild beet species. The ECPGR WG country representatives agreed to revise the proposed choice of genetic reserves and to expand the list beyond the EU territory.

Rhizomania resistance in in situ populations: A wild beet population growing nearby Kalundborg, Denmark, has been used by the Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany, as a population segregating for resistance gene Rz2. This population revealed to be suitable for high resolution mapping of Rz2 and has become a model to show the importance of in situ conservation of wild relatives. The preliminary genetic analyses indicate the existence of a Hardy-Weinberg-population within a defined area along the coast of Kalundborg. This result is pointing at the need to extend the protection of the population and its Rhizomania resistance trait beyond the boundaries of the much smaller genetic reserve location suggested by the AEGRO project.

AKER project: A French research initiative for sustainable beet improvement has started as a private – public partnership led by Florimond Desprez and endowed with €20 M for 8 years. Three thousand accessions have been requested from genebanks to start a breeding programme that will involve crossing of wild material with elite lines. Extensive phenotyping and genotyping of hybrid lines will be carried out to identify improved material.

AEGIS: It was agreed to start with inclusion in the European Collection of the accessions that are part of the Beta Core Collection and of those that are being used by the AKER project. Also accessions of threatened species and accessions collected from in situ genetic reserves should be included, in order to link in situ and ex situ management. The International Beta Database manager will lead the identification of the specific accessions, with the intention to obtain the agreement for inclusion in the European Collection by the respective country collection holders before the end of 2012.

Regeneration guidelines: A request to provide a protocol for the multiplication of Beta nana was conveyed to B. Hellier (USDA/ARS). All curators should check whether the existing protocols for the multiplication of Beta accessions, published on the ECPGR web site, are still valid.

Taxonomy: The need was expressed to match the taxonomy utilized by VIR with the GRIN taxonomy. The Group planned to match of all the synonymies between the two taxonomic systems before the end of 2013.

International Database for Beta: The importance of the database for the Group was stressed. It was decided to prepare a project proposal to raise the necessary funds for the sustainable continuation of the database.

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