Story in recent issue of Agricultural Research.
Strong, Comfy Cottons Result from Arizona Research
July 12, 2000
Fabric woven from fluffy, white bolls of the pima cotton plant
makes smooth, soft and durable clothing, as well as luxurious sheets, towels
and other cotton goods. Today, virtually every type of pima cotton grown
commercially in the United States has some parentage from pimas developed by
plant breeders with the Agricultural
For more than 40 years, ARS researchers in Arizona--in conjunction
with University of Arizona scientists--have been producing superb new pima
plants. They have offered more than 200 different pima genetic lines or
varieties to cotton breeders in the United States and abroad, according to
Richard G. Percy of the ARS Western
Cotton Research Laboratory at Maricopa, Ariz.
The Arizona lab's newest pima genetic lines, for instance, are
better able to fend off attack by pink bollworm and silverleaf whitefly, two
major pests of cotton in the American West. The new lines also mature earlier
than some other pima types, reducing the need for water, pesticides, and
Known to scientists as Gossypium barbadense, pima cotton is
produced on some 200,000 hot, dry acres of desert in southern California and
the Southwest. Tomorrows pimas may be even better equipped to endure the
About a decade ago, ARS and University of California at Los
Angeles scientists noticed that some plants keep pores, called stomates, open
longer as the day gets hotter, releasing moisture that then cools their leaves.
Now, a research team at New Mexico
State University has pinpointed genetic markers that may, in turn, lead to
genes that control the cooling-off trait. Once that happens, those genes could
be shuttled into other cotton plants, giving them a new, natural way to produce
high yields--despite the heat.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief research agency.
Scientific contact: Richard G. Percy, ARS
Western Cotton Research Laboratory,
Maricopa, Ariz., phone (602) 379-4221, fax (602) 379-4983,