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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MOLECULAR GENETIC APPROACHES TO PEST AND PATHOGEN RESISTANCE IN SUGAR BEET, BETA VULGARIS L. Title: Sugar Beet

Authors
item Smigocki, Anna
item Campbell, Larry
item Larson, Rebecca
item Wozniak, Chris

Submitted to: Blackwell Science
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 2, 2009
Publication Date: March 3, 2009
Citation: Smigocki, A., Campbell, L., Larson, R., and Wozniak, C. 2008. Sugar Beet. In: Kole, C., Hall, T.C., editors. Compendium of Transgenic Crop Plants: Transgenic Sugar, Tuber and Fiber Crops. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing. p. 59-96.

Interpretive Summary: This review focuses on sugar beet, a significant industrial crop that provides about a third of all sugar consumed in the world. Over 26 million tons of sugar beet valued at over 1.2 billion dollars is produced each year in the U.S. Used as a sweetener in foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals, sugar makes up about 11% of all consumed food and its consumption is growing at the same rate as the increase in world population. A summary is presented of approaches used to generate genetically engineered sugar beet that have been modified with beneficial genes to improve disease resistance and yields, growth in less desirable locations, production of new products of economic value and our knowledge of basic plant growth and development patterns. As an example, genetic engineering for increased broad-spectrum resistance to herbicides using genes from microorganisms is discussed. In addition, research results from our most recent studies on one of the most devastating insect pests of sugar beet, the sugar beet root maggot (SBRM) are presented. Presented are newly discovered genes and their regulatory switches that we identified as being associated with root responses to SBRM feeding in either susceptible or moderately resistant sugar beet varieties. Information on the root responses will increase our knowledge of plant-insect interactions. Scientists will use this information to identify plant resistance mechanisms that will lead to new approaches for increasing pest and disease resistance in sugar beet without the use of harmful pesticides.

Technical Abstract: Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.) is a significant industrial crop of the temperate zone, the worldwide production of which exceeded 240 million tons in 2000. Worldwide, sugar from sugar beet provides about a third of all sugar consumed. Used as a sweetener in foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals, sugar makes up about 11% of all food consumed in the world and its consumption has been growing at 2% per year, the same rate as the increase in world population. World acreage of sugar beet harvested is currently greater than 7.7 million hectares and is expected to increase to meet world demands. Market value of this crop is in the billions of U.S. dollars. About half of all the sugar consumed in the U.S. comes from sugar beet roots. Over 26 million tons of sugar beet valued at over 1.2 billion dollars is produced each year in the U.S. on more than 0.6 million hectares. The increase in world population taken together with the increased demand for alternative energy sources suggests a growing need for increased production of sugar beet as not only a source of food but also as a source of biofuels. This anticipated demand provides the motivation for development of innovative approaches to augment classical breeding techniques for sugar beet improvement. Transgenic sugar beet have the potential to accelerate the development of adapted productive commercial hybrids. In addition to allowing the transfer of desirable genes from other sugar beet species, genes from unrelated organisms could be utilized in sugar beet improvement. The successes in introducing genes from microorganisms that resulted in resistance to broad-spectrum herbicides have demonstrated the potential of transgenic sugar beet. The possibilities of transgenic sugar beet include the introduction of resistance genes, modification of physiological process related to adaptation and yield, production of new products of economic value and the advancement of knowledge of basic sugar beet physiology.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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