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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Innovative Genetic Approaches to Sorghum Germplasm Improvement and Analysis of Traits Critical to Hybrid Development

Location: Crop Germplasm Research

Project Number: 6202-21000-034-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 20, 2013
End Date: Feb 19, 2018

Objective:
This project aims to utilize recent advances in high-throughput genotyping, bioinformatics, and molecular biology to acquire knowledge of sorghum genes and germplasm, and utilize this information to enhance the rate of genetic gain for complex traits such as grain yield through the development of new adapted breeding material. Sorghum breeding stocks, landraces, and elite tropical sorghums will be phenotyped and genotyped with an amalgamation of approaches, and knowledge of the genetic basis for key traits that impact productivity will be acquired. New sorghum genetic stocks will be developed, characterized, and released with new genes and traits not presently available to sorghum breeders. Specifically, during the next five years the project will focus on the following objectives. Objective 1: Develop and use markers in molecular marker-assisted approaches to introgress day-neutral flowering response into elite tropical sorghums and thereby create new sources of temperate-zone adapted sorghum germplasm. Objective 2: Identify genes and alleles in sorghum breeding stocks for pollen fertility restoration, and exploit this information to accelerate development of new parental lines. Subobjective 2.A: Identify an exhaustive set of fertility restoration (Rf) and partial fertility (Pf) genes in cultivated sorghum using genetic linkage analysis, association mapping methodology, and bioinformatics. Subobjective 2.B: Elucidate the genetic and molecular basis of cytoplasmic male-sterility (CMS) in sorghum A1 cytoplasm by sequencing mitochondrial genes and transcripts in CMS- and normal cytoplasms, and examine the effect of Rf genes and unfavorable temperatures on the expression of CMS-associated genes.

Approach:
The long-term goal of this project is to utilize recent advances in high-throughput genotyping, bioinformatics, and molecular biology to acquire knowledge of sorghum genes and germplasm, and utilize this information to enhance the rate of genetic gain for complex traits such as grain yield through the development of new adapted breeding material. The challenge facing scientists is how to exploit the vast amount of knowledge and tools in molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics to accelerate the rate of genetic gain in applied breeding programs. We have targeted several agronomically critical objectives that include introgressing day-neutral flowering response into elite tropical sorghums to create new sources of temperate-zone adapted sorghum germplasm, and identifying genes and alleles in sorghum breeding stocks for pollen fertility restoration, and exploit this information to accelerate development of new parental lines. In ongoing collaboration with scientists at Texas A&M University and private sector plant breeders at MMR Genetic LLC, a classical breeding approach augmented with robust genomic and bioinformatics tools will be used to identify elite tropical sorghums and convert these lines to temperate adaptation. The approach developed under Objective 1 will introduce new germplasm and favorable genes for complex traits, including grain yield, into sorghum breeding programs in the USA and worldwide. In ongoing collaborations with our collaborators in Queensland and Perth, we will use genetic linkage analysis, association mapping methodology, and bioinformatics under Objective 2.A to identify an exhaustive set of fertility restoration (Rf) and partial fertility (Pf) genes. Under Objective 2.B, we will sequence mitochondrial genes and transcripts in CMS- and normal cytoplasms, and examine the effect of Rf genes and unfavorable temperatures on the expression of CMS-associated genes. Through the combined approaches outlined under Objectives 2A. and 2B. we will elucidate the genetic and molecular basis of cytoplasmic male-sterility (CMS) in sorghum A1 cytoplasm. The overall approach of objective 2 will permit breeders to exploit this information to accelerate development of new parental lines for hybrid production fields. Objectives 1 and 2 are complementary, and the knowledge gained under one objective will facilitate the success in all.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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