Sugarbeet Research Unit, Fort Collins, CO
2008 CRIS Project Plan Objectives
Non-Chemical Pest Control And Enhanced Sugar Beet Germplasm Via Traditional And Molecular Technologies
This project focuses on development of improved sugarbeet germplasm that serves the diverse and changing needs of the U.S. beet sugar industry (seed companies, and grower cooperatives, which produce and process all sugarbeet in the U.S.). In addition, this project facilitates development of sugarbeet germplasm with greater disease resistance and assist in the development of improved and innovative management principles for pathogens that impact the Northern Plains and U.S. sugarbeet growing areas. We also seek to understand the etiology and epidemiology of important sugarbeet diseases to develop alternatives to manage diseases more effectively. This work is in direct cooperation with the national sugarbeet improvement program.
Objective 1: Evaluate, characterize, and utilize available sugarbeet genetic resources and ascertain the diversity (genetic, proteomic, morphological, and pathogenic) within and among sugarbeet and sugarbeet pathogen populations to fulfill the objectives below. This objective is an important part of the ARS NPGS Beta germplasm collection, which is available to public and private breeders and geneticists.
Objective 2: Characterize the interaction of major sugarbeet pathogens (esp. Cercospora beticola, Rhizoctonia solani, and Fusarium oxysporum) with sugarbeet.
Objective 3: Develop and distribute enhanced germplasm with novel stress resistance genes.
As molecular tools are adapted for use in germplasm enhancement programs, it is hoped that the prebreeding process will become more rapid and efficient. A multidisciplinary approach combining traditional genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry allows for identification of key resistance-associated genes/proteins. Characterization of resistance using varied techniques provides a better understanding of plant defense against disease and identifies candidate genes and novel sources of resistance to move into sugar beet germplasm. Furthermore, this greater knowledge of sugar beet defense opens up avenues for creating novel selection tools, including exploitation of polymorphisms and use of biomarkers. The same analyses can be used to understand and better manage pathogens of sugar beet through the creation of novel disease management strategies.
Diseases are recognized as the major cause of sugar beet losses worldwide. The Fort Collins ARS Sugarbeet Research Unit has traditionally focused on two important fungal diseases, caused by Cercospora beticola and Rhizoctonia solani, and produced germplasm with durable resistance to these pathogens and management techniques to reduce the impact of the disease they cause. The unit has evolved in recent years to focus on an expanded array of pathogenic threats, which include Fusarium spp. and sugar beet cyst nematode. We seek to understand the mechanisms behind sugar beet defense against disease, and the biology of the interaction between the plant and pathogen, thereby creating novel, more effective disease control strategies.