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BARD 40 Year Review

Case Study 17: Basil Lines Highly Resistant to Downy Mildew

Principal Investigators: IS: Yigal Cohen (Bar-Ilan University); US: James Simon (Rutgers University) 

Goal: To develop basil strains that would be resistant to downy mildew, a disease prevalent since the last decade in epidemic proportions both in the field and in greenhouses and constituting a threat to the US and Israeli basil industry. 

Activities: Domestic and wild basil accessions from around the world were screened for resistance to downy mildew. Introgression between resistant lines and sweet basil have created partially (from domesticated accessions) and fully (from wild accessions) resistant basil varieties. Embryo rescue was employed in the backcrossing breeding to enable the development of fertilized abnormal gametes into plantlets.

Outcomes: Genesis Seeds Ltd. facilitated the breeding program in Israel and began marketing two resistant varieties under the trademark “Prospera®” in 2019. Four commercial varieties that emerged from the US research group are produced and sold since 2018 by VDF Specialty Seeds. Rutgers University is due to release an additional 4 downy mildew resistant basil varieties for consumers and home gardeners.

Economic Benefit: Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is $10 million, thereof $0.1 million has already been attained. The Internal Rate of Return is 144%. Benefit-Cost Ratio is 34, thereof 1 has already been attained.

Capacity Building: 5 postgraduates are and have been involved in the research supported by this single BARD award that began in 2016.

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Case Study 18: GOSSYM Cotton Model

Principal Investigators: US: Donald Baker (USDA-ARS); IS: Avishalom Marani (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Goal: To evaluate the quantitative effects of drought stress on the rate of photosynthesis of cotton plants. To incorporate the information into the process-driven dynamic simulation model, GOSSYM, to aid in cotton crop irrigation management.

Activities: Constants and rate coefficients for processes such as photosynthesis and organ growth were obtained for water stress conditions under closely controlled and monitored environmental conditions. The results were incorporated into the GOSSYM model and validated in field experiments. A second model, Cotton 2K, was later derived from GOSSYM, with adaptations specifically for arid and dry regions.

Outcomes: The GOSSYM model was used in commercial cotton farms in the US between 1984-2008 as a decision support system for determining crop termination, nitrogen utilization, and irrigation practices in efforts to maximize profit, minimize risk and optimize input. In Israel, the full model was not applied but the coefficients derived for the irrigation simulations have been routinely utilized from 1985 until today. 

Both the GOSSYM and Cotton 2K cotton simulation models are widely used in research programs for testing hypotheses and for providing policy makers with economic and policy decisions (e.g. to assess decline in yields, effects of climate changes, the potential effect of fertilizer replacements, changes in drainage patterns, and assessing precision agriculture and integration of sensor data with models). 

Economic Benefit: Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is $813 million, already attained. The Internal Rate of Return is 98%. Benefit-Cost Ratio is 288, already attained.

Capacity Building: 2 postgraduates were involved in the research supported by the BARD award in 1980. Currently, 1 is in the USDA-ARS – Beltsville, MD., US, and 1 works at the Israel Ministry of Agriculture’s Extension Services.

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