To train the next generation of researchers in the use of genomic tools for enhancing crop productivity and climate resilience in Mali, a training program on quantitative genetics and its application to selection was recently organized at ICRISAT’s Samanko research station.
The training offered an overview of quantitative genetics such as genetic variance, heritability and use of markers. It started with a historical overview of the fundamental equation of quantitative genetics. Discussions revolved around the genetic component in the equation, improvement of which is fundamental to any breeding program. It is a crucial link between genetics and breeding, which is realized through marker or genomics-assisted selection.
The discussions also featured Breeder’s Equation, genetic gain and construction of selection index to deepen the link between quantitative genetics and selection as well as the introduction of socio-economic elements for a holistic approach to the selection process.
The participants witnessed presentations of practical cases based on their research interests. There was sharing and exchange of tools and methodology approaches (R codes before and after training). The trainer and participants are expected to engage beyond the workshops to help the latter apply the newly acquired knowledge in their work.
“What I have learned allows me to deepen my knowledge, especially in quantitative genetics. I have learned how to undertake QTL analysis. The topics on molecular and genomic analysis came at the right time for me as I am preparing to undertake such an activity, and thus, I am better prepared to organize my data,” said Mr Boubacar Sinare, an aspiring groundnut breeder.
“We spent three very intense days. I was impressed with the way the course was offered; the main purpose of this course was to arouse curiosity in the use of certain tools,” said Dr Baloua Nebie, Sorghum Breeder and Coordinator of the UE-APSAN-Mali project. The training was conducted under the aegis of the project during 20-22 October.
Thirty two researchers (seniors, doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows), including eight women, from different academic backgrounds and professional experiences, participated. Participants came from diverse disciplines such as plant breeding, agronomy, computer science, geography and socio-economics. Participants who attended the course in person came from programs of IER, ICRISAT and IPR-IFRA. Participants online were able to access the training through their connection to the ABEE (Strengthening of networks and institutional capacities in Plant breeding for the development of resilient crops for meeting the needs of West African farmers) project led by CORAF and / or through Facebook.
Dr Vincent Garin, a scientist in quantitative genetics and a post-doctoral researcher at ICRISAT supporting work on target environments by phenotype (TPE) and BC-NAM population analysis, trained the participants.