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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: History and Basic Biology, Plant Introduction and Genetic Diversity.

Authors
item Panella, Leonard
item Lewellen, Robert

Submitted to: Genetics and Breeding of Sugar Beet
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 15, 2003
Publication Date: May 1, 2005
Citation: Panella, L.W., Lewellen, R.T. 2005. History and Basic Biology, Plant introduction and Genetic Diversity. pp. 34-38. In (eds. E. Biancardi, L. G. Campbell, G. N. Skaracis, & M. De Biaggi) Genetics and Breeding of Sugar Beet. Science Publishers, Inc. Enfield (NH), USA, 2005 (Book Chapter)

Interpretive Summary: Sugar beet is, not only a relatively new crop, but a relatively new beet crop, developed once a method for measuring sucrose allowed for mass selection based on this criterion. The main source of germplasm for early sugar beet varieties was, most likely, fodder beet germplasm of the type grown in Silesia. As sugar beet production moved east into Russia, south into the Mediterranean region and west into England and North America, a host of endemic diseases that limited sugar beet production was encountered and plant breeders were confronted with diseases for which there were few know sources of resistance. In the Po Valley of Italy, the high humidity and warm night temperatures provide an almost perfect environment for leaf spot of sugar beet. The first documented instance of collecting wild beet germplasm to use in a sugar beet breeding effort was when Ottavio Munerati looked to the wild sea beet growing in the Po estuary as a source of host plant resistance to leaf spot. In the United States, other collections were extensively evaluated in Salinas, CA, and found to possess many useful traits. Additionally, there was continual contact and germplasm exchange among sugar beet breeding programs world wide, however, most of the exchanges were informal and are impossible to document. The need for increased resistance to disease and insect pests and a greater productivity rekindled interest in wild beet and other exotic sources of germplasm. In 1983 the Sugar Beet Crop Advisory Committee (now Crop Germplasm Committee - CGC) was formed and has aggressively managed the beet germplasm evaluation of the USDA-ARS. An international core collection comprising 805 accessions held by various genebanks in Europe and around the world was used to facilitate germplasm evaluation funded through the European Union. Between 300 and 700 accessions of the core collection were used by project partners in Europe to evaluate for resistance diseases, as well as drought tolerance. Private and public plant breeders in Europe and throughout the world have taken the results of these evaluations and are beginning to use these newly discovered sources of disease resistance

Technical Abstract: Sugar beet is, not only a relatively new crop, but a relatively new beet crop, developed once a method for measuring sucrose allowed for mass selection based on this criterion. The main source of germplasm for early sugar beet varieties was, most likely, fodder beet germplasm of the type grown in Silesia - the 'White Silesian Rübe'. For this reason it has been suggested that the genetic base of sugar beet is probably narrower than that of most open pollinated crops. Early sugar beet development and production was in the temperate climate of Northern Europe, which was relatively disease free and, therefore provided little pressure to find or maintain high levels of host plant resistance. As sugar beet production moved east into Russia, south into the Mediterranean region and west into England and North America, a host of endemic diseases that limited sugar beet production was encountered and plant breeders were confronted with diseases for which there were few know sources of resistance. In the Po Valley of Italy, the high humidity and warm night temperatures provide an almost perfect environment for leaf spot of sugar beet (caused by Cercospora beticola Sacc.). The first documented instance of collecting wild beet germplasm (B. v. ssp. maritima) to use in a sugar beet breeding effort was when Ottavio Munerati looked to the wild sea beet growing in the Po estuary as a source of host plant resistance to leaf spot. In the United States, George H. Coons of the USDA was familiar with Munerati's work and made collection trips in 1925 and 1935 to look for sources of leaf spot resistance and curly top resistance in wild beet accessions as well as in the other species in the genus Beta. Subsequently this and other collections were extensively evaluated in Salinas, CA, and found to possess many useful traits. Additionally, there was continual contact and germplasm exchange among sugar beet breeding programs world wide, however, most of the exchanges were informal and are impossible to document. Until the 1980's there seemed to be a reluctance to use wild beet germplasm, perhaps because of earlier experiences that resulted in the introgression of many undesirable traits from the exotic germplasm. The need for increased resistance to disease and insect pests and a greater productivity rekindled interest in B. v. ssp. maritima and other exotic sources of germplasm. In 1983 the Sugar Beet Crop Advisory Committee (now Crop Germplasm Committee - CGC) was formed to represent the sugarbeet germplasm user community in the U.S. as an integral part of the USDA-ARS's National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). Since it was established, the Sugar Beet CGC has aggressively managed the Beta germplasm evaluation of the USDA-ARS NPGS. An international core collection comprising 805 accessions held by various genebanks in Europe and around the world was used to facilitate germplasm evaluation funded through the European Union project - GENRES CT95 42. Between 300 and 700 accessions of the core collection were used by project partners in Germany, Greece, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy and The Netherlands to screen for resistance diseases, as well as drought tolerance. Private and public plant breeders in Europe and throughout the world have taken the results of these evaluations and are beginning to introgress these newly discovered sources of disease resistance into sugar beet.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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