Volume 19 Part 1 Article 60
Title: Development of a Revised UPOV Guideline for New Agaricus Mushroom Varieties
Author: Sergio Semon
Several breeding programmes exist throughout the world for the creation of new Agaricus mushroom varieties. Due to the easy nature in which Agaricus mushroom varieties can be propagated and plagiarised, an efficient system of intellectual property protection is required to safeguard the investment of any breeder creating a new variety. The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) provides and promotes an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society. At present, 74 countries and Intergovernmental Organisations, such as the European Union, are parties to the UPOV Convention. Although Agaricus mushrooms belong to the Fungi kingdom, UPOV does allow its system to be utilised for the protection of this and other mushroom genera such as Pleurotus and Shiitake. Before any variety can be awarded a grant of protection, it has to undergo a technical examination to assess whether it is distinct, uniform and stable (DUS). For this purpose, UPOV has developed in collaboration with its Member States, numerous Test Guidelines to provide technical guidance on how to test new candidate varieties in individual species or genera. In 2010, UPOV created an initial Test Guideline for Agaricus mushroom (TG/259/1) based upon the knowledge of a limited number of varieties in the marketplace. This guideline contains a table of 21 morphological and physiological characteristics, which have to be express themselves phenotypically and which need to be observed visually. After five years of working with TG/259/1, examination authorities and breeders of Agaricus mushroom verities expressed a need to improve the existing Test Guideline to take into account new traits and to identify varieties more clearly. The Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) of the European Union was appointed as the Leading Expert for the revision of the Agaricus Test Guideline, with the assistance of interested experts from Hungary, the Netherlands, France, Japan, South Korea, as well as individual breeders and breeders’ organisations. Brainstorming meetings and practical sessions manipulating Agaricus fruit bodies have been held between the experts throughout 2015 detecting enhancements to the Test Guideline. Up to a dozen new characteristics have been proposed, including those on mycelium, pin setting, and the opening of the cap. The collaborative work amongst experts will continue into 2016, with the aim to have a revised Agaricus Test Guideline adopted by UPOV in 2017.