Silver and Gold

As we used to sing at summer camp, "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." This update begins with two pieces of sad news. First, Romulo Trombetta passed away from brain cancer in May. He was based in Argentina, and worked as an agronomist for the Quaker Oats Company in South America. Romulo was a big part of the Quaker Oats South American Oat Improvement Project for many years.

In looking to find more about Romulo and his work, I came across the abstracts from the Third South American Oat Congress, held in Uruguay in 1997. I have now added this document to the "Other Meetings" section of the newsletter (the meetings are listed in chronological order). These older documents can be valuable sources of information, so please let me know ( if you come across anything similar.

The second piece of sad news regards the passing of Ron Phillips, who was a professor at the University of Minnesota for 42 years! Ron’s obituary can be found here, and a link has been added to the "Hall of Fame" page. Ron studied cytogenetics and genomics, and was a big part of the Quaker Oats consortium that brought together breeders and genomicists to work on the first molecular marker maps of oat. Some of his most famous work was the production of stable oat lines carrying single maize chromosomes. More of his accomplishments are outlined on his Wikipedia page.

For some of us, our fondest memories of Ron include getting the chance to visit his home and have a ride in his motor boat. Having been a part of the Quaker Oats consortium, I got that chance in 1994, along with Ken Armstrong, Dave Hoffman, and Steve Molnar, who are seen in this photo with Ron before we headed out across the lake.

Ken Armstrong, Ron Phillips, Dave Hoffman, and Steve Molnar at Ron's home near Minneapolis

In happier news, Steve and two other Quaker Oats consortium alumni, George Fedak and Vern Burrows, all from what is now called Ottawa RDC, AAFC, recently had new oat varieties named after them by Weikai Yan. A few photos from this year’s Oat Day field tour in Ottawa can be seen here. Some photos from the Oat Global field day, held in Fargo, ND, USA, can be seen here.

Other people honoured recently include Ashley Wiese and Shannen Barrett, each of whom received a scholarship from Nuffield Australia to research opportunities for using and marketing Australian oats. Congratulations, Ash and Shannen!

Congratulations also go to Nadia Kamal, who was recently awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant to study drought stress resistance in oat!

While the Quaker Oats consortium got the ball rolling when it comes to oat genomics, we are finally at a stage where the tools can start to be used routinely in breeding. Among these tools is a new 7K SNP chip that was developed in Europe. An article by Andreas Polley, et al., in the "Research Reports" section outlines some of the details. Until the work is formally published, the list of marker sequences can be obtained from Martin Ganal (address in the article).

One of the databases that handles both genotypic and phenotypic data from genomics projects is the Triticeae Toolbox (T3). A newsletter is now being published to pass along update information and handy tips for using T3. You can sign up to receive the newsletter here and the latest issue can be found here.

One of the major traits of interest to the community has always been rust resistance. The 5th report from the USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory was published in July, and the final summary for the season is now also available.

CSIRO in Australia is asking for help monitoring the situation there, and instructions for sending samples can be found here. You can learn more about rust in Australia by reading this article. An interactive map of where rust has been found is also available.

All projects eventually come to an end, and that is true of the Healthy Oats project that brought together researchers and stakeholders from Wales and Ireland. Some photos from their closing event can be seen here and here. A new project is being started, however, and that will be called CELTON – The Celtic Oats Network. If you can access Spotify, you can hear coordinator Fiona Doohan telling "The Story of Oats" in a podcast from 2021.

Back at the International Oat Conference (IOC) last fall, there was some confusion as to who would be representing Ireland. People from other countries not on the original list had also been asking for representation, so a list of new countries and all the candidates was circulated to the other IOC country reps for their approval. The result of the vote was to approve all of them. It was also decided to offer the option of adding a backup representative for each country. The new list includes:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – Venesa Hajdarpasic (rep) and Dragan Mandic (backup)
  • Croatia – Jurica Jovic (rep)
  • Finland – Lidija Bitz (backup for Hanna Haikka)
  • Ireland – Atikur Rahman (rep) and Cathal McCabe (backup)
  • Morocco – Naima Shaimi (backup for Nezha Saidi)
  • Nepal – Dinesh Pariyar (rep)
  • New Zealand- Adrian Russell (backup for John Stevens)

Many thanks to all of you for volunteering for this role!

A lot of other things are going on in the world of oats, so don’t forget to take a look at the Weekly Web Harvests posted in the "Community News" section most Sundays. Keep an eye on the calendar as well, and please send any information you’d like to share about events in your area to

September is Whole Grains Month. Why not gather some recipes from the newsletter or elsewhere and host a celebration with colleagues and friends both silver and gold?