Last year, Pat Byrne (Soil and Crop Sciences) and Frank Peairs (Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management) of the Colorado State University (CSU) completed a USDA-funded cooperative project with  Dr. Ferdu Azerefegne, Professor in the School of Plant and Horticultural Sciences, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia. The project included a visit to Ethiopia to (1) to become more familiar with Ethiopian wheat production and the agricultural research system, particularly at Hawassa University and the Kulumsa Agricultural Research Center; and (2) to plan the next phases of the project, including the training of two graduate students at CSU.

The two Ethiopian students, Yewubdar Ishetu and Tafesse Bekele, received training at Colorado State University from mid October, 2014 through early January, 2015.  The central theme of their training was crossing of Russian wheat aphid (RWA) resistance genes into two Ethiopian local wheat varieties. Russian wheat aphid is a pest common to Colorado and Ethiopia.  Although it is not currently a major problem in Ethiopia, it is expected to become more serious in the future due to a projected expansion of wheat production into drier regions and seasons. The Dn7 resistance gene source was crossed and backcrossed twice into the Ethiopian varieties, and the resulting families of plants were tested in Ethiopia in spring of 2015. The results were encouraging, as shown in the photos of the susceptible local variety compared to a resistant plant identified in a backcross family.

Specific areas of training included entomological field and greenhouse studies, molecular techniques, marker assisted selection and statistical analysis. The students also had the opportunity to sit in on lectures in several classes. Finally, they were able to make a short visit to the USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory in St. Paul.
The students are quite satisfied with their training and are enthusiastic about continued collaboration. They also greatly appreciated their personal and professional interactions with Colorado State University faculty and staff.

Visit our Gallery for more photos from this trip.

Source: CSU College of Agricultural Sciences
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