Project: Bean Variety Trials at North Dakota State University
Project Leads: Juan Osorno and Ali Soltani, North Dakota State University
Goal: Collect photosynthesis and plant health data on 150 varieties of common bean for eventual QTL (genetic) mapping.
This week I went to Fargo, North Dakota to meet with Professor Juan Osorno and post-doc Ali Soltani, bean breeders at North Dakota State University. I bet you didn’t know that NDSU has one of the premier bean breeding programs in the US – well they do!
On my flight in, I told the guy next to me I’d never been to North Dakota before, and his response was “You’re going to love it”… Love it? North Dakota? Well, yes, I did love it. People were nice, and it appeared that everyone was there because they wanted to be, which makes sense, you don’t end up in North Dakota for no reason. Agriculture is booming, and the the fields are gigantic (at least in comparison to the ones I was used to growing up in central New York). So, what were we doing there? I’ll let Ali give a recap:
So our goal is to show that you can correlate photosynthetic outcomes to actual genes or groups of genes. This has so far proven difficult and slow to achieve for breeders especially in comparison with the dizzying pace of mapping the genome, which has been automated and has come down in cost many orders of magnitude over the last 15 years. We took measurements of 150 different varieties with 6 replicates each (900 measurements total). Each measurement included two protocols: SPAD (a measure of leaf greenness which correlates to Nitrogen content) and Phi2 (a measure of photosynthetic efficiency).
It took us some time to get ready to collect data. We had to go to a coffee shop to get internet to make sure everyone had an account at PhotosynQ.org and their cell phones had the PhotosynQ android app installed correctly. But once we got to the field (a full 1.5 hours away!), taking measurements was a snap. The only technical problems we had were swapping batteries as they needed to be recharged – that was a big success for us, and shows we’re ready to do real work with this thing!
So let’s look at some preliminary results using the online analysis tool (so you can view and play with the data too! Note that you may have to create a login first). This tool is intended to be a Swiss Army knife of sorts – it can do lots of quick analysis, but none of them too deeply. If you need to do multiple regression analysis… you’ll probably have to just download the data 🙂 We might to see more data in this project this week, as Ali and Stephan go back to a second field, we’ll see. Also, Ali is working on more in depth device comparisons, to try to use statistics to parse out the variation coming from the device versus that coming from the varieties themselves.