The CNAP Artemisia Research Project

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					The CNAP Artemisia Research Project
Tackling malaria with fast track plant breeding

                                                                                                                           Project Update
                                                                                                                              Number 7
                                                                                                                                    July 2010


Field trialling the project’s first hybrids
The first experimental hybrids from the project are now being field trialled in the world’s major growing regions. With these
tests, we can select the plant lines that perform best under commercial agricultural practises and local weather conditions.
The tests will also reveal how robust our plants are to pest and disease attack and other challenges.

                                                                                               Our field trial partners are companies with
                                                                                               extensive grower networks, good links to the
                                                                                               ACT supply chain and experience with botanical
                                                                                               extraction, namely;
                                                                                               ●   Afroalpine Pharma ltd (Uganda)
                                                                             Southwest China   ●   AVT Natural Products ltd (India),
                                           Kitale KenyaEast Africa   India
                                                                                               ●   Botanical Extracts EPZ ltd (Kenya),
                                                                                               ●   BIONEXX (Madagascar),
                                                                                               ●   Guilin Pharma Company ltd (China).

                                                                                               Mediplant is also field- testing our plants.
                                                                                               We would like to thank our field trial partners for
                                                                                               their valuable contribution to the project.

A pipeline of promising plant lines
Our scientists have screened thousands of Artemisia plants and selected the most promising for breeding experiments.
Initial selections were made on the basis of measurable traits, such as plant architecture and metabolic profile. Since the
development of the genetic map (see newsletter number 6), these tests have been complemented by DNA assessments
for factors such as; genetic indicators of high yields and potential for hybrid vigour. Thus, our breeding decisions have
become better informed as the project has progressed. The plant lines currently being field-tested are just the first in what
is expected to be a series of increasingly high-performing new hybrids.

Instability in the artemisinin market continues
The Artemisia market continues to swing between boom and bust. A new review on Artemisia cultivation (Ref 1) points
out that, in recent years, low prices for artemisinin have made the Artemisia crop an uneconomic choice for farmers. This
has led to a reduction in the area planted to this crop. Now, the Financial Times (Ref 2) reports that low planting areas and
drought in China are causing concern that artemisinin shortages are on the way. As prices for artemisinin rise past $400 per
kilo, it looks like bust is turning to boom once more. The FT article does not see market forces as a reliable solution to this
problem. It considers instead that to break the boom/bust cycle will require both funding interventions that aim to improve
the situation and technological developments including the high-yielding varieties from CNAP.

References; (1) “Cultivation of Artemisia annua in Africa and Asia.” Outlooks on Pest Management 21 (2) pp89 – 93.
            (2) “Artemisinin: Vagaries of weather and the market hamper deliveries.” Financial Times, April 22.
The strategy for seed production and delivery
We have been exploring how, once the new varieties have been developed,
they can best be produced and delivered effectively to the supply chains of
high quality ACTs. Dalberg Global Development Advisors are working with us
to identify and appraise sustainable commercialization models. As part of this
process, the project team have recently been meeting with both ACT supply
chain members and hybrid seed production companies.

In the media
●   Cultivating the seeds of hope - article and podcast by Chemistry World,
    June 2010

●   Artemisinin: Vagaries of weather and the market hamper deliveries
           The CNAP Artemisia
    - Financial Times , April 22nd 2010

●   DriversResearch ProjectVol 16
           of innovation - Innovation UK magazine,

●   Artemisia: a plant against malaria Catalan Television, 26th May 2010

●   Professor Dianna Bowles spoke on “Resources from plants: the emerging
    bioeconomy” at the NFU Conference 2010, 23-24 February, 2010
●   Professor Dianna Bowles also gave a talk entitled “From plant
    biotechnology to a bio-based economy” at a conference to mark the
    20th anniversary of the EC-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research
    2 June, Barcelona.
●   Dr Deborah Rathbone and Dr Tomasz Czechowski will be presenting at
    the Banff Conference on Plant Metabolism 2010, 24- 28 June, Banff,
    Alberta, Canada.
●   Dr Tony Larson will present a poster, “Combining targeted and untargeted
    metabolomics to support the development of high-yielding artemisinin
    lines of the anti-malarial plant, Artemisia annua” at the Metabolomics 2010
    conference, 27 June- 1 July, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
●   Dr Teresa Penfield will talk on “Increasing the Artemisinin Yield of Artemisia
    annua” at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists,
    July 31-August 4th, Montreal, Canada

CNAP Artemisia Research Project
Department of Biology (Area 7)
University of York
York YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 8741