Improving the petunia

February 28, 2010
Dr. Daryl Somers, research director of applied genomics at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC), is working with colleagues Dr. Theo Blom from the University of Guelph and Wayne Brown from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on the development of new traits for one of Ontario’s major ornamental species, the petunia.

Petuniastudy1
Wayne Brown, Dr. Theo Blom and Dr. Daryl Somers have begun a major study on petunias.

This multi-year research program, supported by Flowers Canada (Ontario) and Ball Horticultural Company, sets into motion the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, University of Guelph Partnership Agreement, a five-year collaboration centred on industry-driven research priorities for Canadian horticulture.

The amount of water petunias require is a problem that causes difficulties for retailers and unnecessary losses for growers. “Taking a genomics approach, we will search for value-added traits such as drought tolerance and reduced dormancy to improve the quality and production of ornamental species,” says Dr. Somers. “This research will also position Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and the University of Guelph for continued success in breeding of both ornamental and vegetable species.”

Petuniastudy2
 

 
This is an important project to defining Vineland’s industry value, said VRIC CEO Dr. Jim Brandle. “Finding solutions to horticultural challenges is exactly what drives our science. We begin by working with industry partners from growers through to retailers to better understand where the gaps are causing profit loss and frustration. By utilizing research partnerships we are able to apply leading edge science to tailor a solution.”     

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and the University of Guelph both emphasize that research must be responsive to industry in order to foster innovation and improved competitiveness for Canadian agriculture. “The University of Guelph is committed to building a research partnership with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre that makes a difference to horticultural businesses across the country,” said Dr. Kevin Hall, the university’s vice-president of research. “We also expect that the science generated through this agreement will have impact within the international research community.”

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is an independent, not-for-profit organization established as a world-class centre for horticultural science and innovation. In its capacity to enable and foster relationships with industry, academia and government, Vineland works to deliver premium horticultural products and production innovations. It brings a global perspective to the horticulture industry and offers a broad range of lasting benefits both locally and internationally. Vineland’s research priorities align with industry needs and its outcomes focus on the growth of the entire horticulture industry.

• www.vinelandresearch.com ■

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