Dec 7 2004

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 7, ARMENPRESS: In May 2004, the Laboratory of
Plant Genetic Resources at the Armenian Agricultural Academy (AAA)
was provided with a grant from USDA CSREES International Cooperation
for Agricultural Research (ICAR) in Central Asia and the Caucasus
(CAC) Project (http://www.ip.wsu.edu/projects_partners/icar/icar.html)
to implement its research proposal on "Conservation and utilization
in breeding of wild relatives of cereals in Armenia".

According to Michael Gyulkhasyan, head of the group, the main goal of
the project is to conserve genetic resources of wild cereal relatives
and save the unique plant gene pool in Armenia. Wild wheat samples were
collected during the expeditions in Ararat and Vayots Dzor marzes, and
Erebuni reservation in Yerevan. Usage of these wild cereal species as
initial breeding materials and crossing them with cultivated varieties
will create new hybrids with economically important features, such
as resistance to diseases, pests, and drought.

The AAA group collaborates with Kansas State University within the
project. According to Dr. Gyulkhasyan, USDA CSREES ICAR provides an
excellent opportunity for Armenian agrarian research institutions to
achieve breeding improvements and introduce these achievements into
breeding practice. Professor Gyulkhasyan's project was one of the
three winners from the 125 project proposals. The project started with
a visit by USDA CSREES ICAR, Washington State University and CYMMIT
representatives. It's a two-year project and will continue next year.