Submitted to: Experiment Station Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 2009
Publication Date: July 9, 2009
Citation: Pinson, S.R., Wang, Y. 2009. Applied Genetics: Developing breeding tools and knowledge. Texas Rice, Highlighting Research in 2009. pp. IX-X.
Geneticists improve the breeder’s ability to create desired varietal improvements by:
a) finding genes,
b) making them more readily available to breeders by putting them into improved germplasm,
c) devising improved selection techniques – whether based on visual trait evaluations, or linkage between genes and molecular markers.
Dr. Shannon Pinson, Research Geneticist for the USDA-ARS Rice Research Unit in Beaumont, Texas, is conducting genetic research to help breeders improve available rice varieties for the following traits.
Resistance to Sheath Blight Disease: Research funded by USDA NRI RiceCAP
Improved Selection Technique: The traditional method for evaluating sheath blight resistance involves field evaluation of nearly-mature plants. Dr. Pinson helped to develop a method for evaluating seedlings. This method uses plastic soda bottles to create humid conditions that encourage disease on susceptible seedlings.
Finding molecular markers linked to resistance genes:
Drs. Pinson, Tabien, and Wang are collaborating to identify molecular markers that can be used to select for breeding progeny containing disease resistance genes, and are placing these genes into germplasm that will be easier for breeders to work with..
Seedling Vigor: Research funded by TRRF
Drs. Pinson, Tabien, and Wang are also collaborating to identify molecular markers linked to genes affecting early tiller production. Early tillering can lock-in yield potential prior to seedling stresses such as water weevil root-pruning. It can also improve uniformity of seed maturity, which in turn improves the milling quality of harvested grain.
Resistance to Grain Fissuring : Research funded by the Rice Foundation
Grain fissuring causes milling losses, and thus ‘steals’ income from producers and millers. Details of Dr. Pinson’s research on grain fissuring are in the next section.
Improved Nutrition: Research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
Finding genes: Drs. Pinson and Tarpley are evaluating thousands of rice lines collected from around the world to identify those that contain genes for enhanced mineral content of rice grains. Consumers willingly pay more for grocery products high in calcium, potassium, and iron.