Mitch Mc GrathSoybean and sugarbeet geneticist, USDA (US Department of Agriculture)

"AKER is an ambitious project, and it has already produced important results"

It is a great pleasure and honor to serve the AKER project as a member of the scientific committee. Having worked with sugar beet breeding, genetics and genomics in the United States for over 17 years, it is clear that meeting the challenges addressed by the AKER project is essential for continued breeding progress for improved sugar beet varieties, as well as sustained profitability for sugar beet growers around the world.




Early in the project, where we are now, AKER partners and scientists have done a fantastic job in characterizing the diversity present in the species. As sugar beet carries only a small fraction of this species diversity, it represents a rich source of genetic novelty that has great potential for sugar beet improvement.

Indeed, many important traits have already been captured in sugar beet from the wild species, and this AKER goal is to systematically capture this diversity into sugar beet so that it might be deployed to meet continued challenges faced by sugar beet growers and processors.

Over the next few years, new methods by which this novel diversity can be evaluated are being developed in the AKER project that will allow greater precision and higher efficiency in breeding, which will help not only in meeting AKER's goals, but assist the entire sugar beet breeding and genetics community.

Certainly, the AKER project is very ambitious, and already has accomplished a great deal by carefully thinking about the current variety development process and bringing new genetic resources and modern technology to bear on long-standing challenges for increasing agricultural productivity. It is a pleasure to be able to play some small part in this process.