CNAP Artemisia Project

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Research

Prior to the CNAP Artemisia Research Project, very little genetic improvement of A. annua had taken place; yields of the artemisinin were low from cultivated A. annua making it expensive to produce and an unprofitable option for farmers.  In addition, the only commercially available seeds were both expensive and untested in the largest production environments for Artemisia. 

When the project started in 2006, it was also clear that demand for ACTs was escalating, and there was growing concern that the existing supply chain would be unable to produce consistent, affordable and high quality artemisinin in the quantities that would be required.  In addition, planting area was variable from year to year, raising fears of shortage-driven price hikes.   

Strategy

Initially, our research focused on characterising the poorly known genetics and biochemistry of A. annua, thereby supporting a fast-track breeding programme.  Our starting germplasm material included Artemis, a commercially available hybrid made by Mediplant in Switzerland, and its parental lines, as well as other natural populations sourced from Madagascar and Uganda. 

The diagram shows the strategy employed for our plant breeding programme to make new F1 hybrid varieties of A. annua.  The search for elite parental lines focussed on two populations of plants; those with induced genetic variations and those with natural variations.  Plants were assessed for desirable features using genetic and trait screens which led to the identification of parental lines with potential for the breeding programme. 

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cnetre for novel agricultural products - CNAP department of biology - unversity of york
Department of Biology