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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Sugarbeet and Bean Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
1) Enhance and release sugarbeet germplasm that represents substantially improved populations enriched for novel genetic combinations for the unique Eastern U.S. growing regions; 2) Develop and exploit sugarbeet and other species nucleotide sequence information for marker-assisted gene discovery, including development and release of simple sequence repeats (SSR) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers; and 3) Develop simplified phenotyping assays for priority biotic and abiotic stress resistance and early season development suitable for molecular analyses.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Traditional sugarbeet population improvement approaches will be deployed for open pollinated, self-incompatible germplasm for release to industry. Production of improved populations will follow from mother root selection under field, greenhouse, or laboratory conditions of one or more germplasm sources, followed by random inter-mating, and harvest of seed from either individual plants, genetically related individuals, or as an entire population. Selfed families will be created from self-fertile materials generated to dissect the genetic control of high priority disease resistances. A program of phenotypic selection is followed by selecting mother roots from field nurseries, selfing these hybrids in the greenhouse, and applying molecular markers. Molecular markers will be developed from sugar beet nucleotide sequences, located to one of the nine beet chromosomes, and compared with segregation of disease and agronomic traits to identify genetic control. Mapped molecular markers will also be used to integrate sugar beet Bacterial Artificial Clones on the genetic linkage map for eventual isolation of specific genes that control agronomic and disease traits. Transcript profiling will be employed for gene discovery, however these tools are new for germplasm enhancement and their use has not been well explored. Examining transcript of profiles during sugar beet development, and during abiotic and biotic stress will allow deduction of important physiological and biochemical clues to the plant responses to stress and development that can be used towards more rigorous application in germplasm enhancement. The prevalence of different sugar beet pathogens in the Michigan agro-ecosystem will be ascertained, and used to develop high priority targets for transcript profiling. Differential disease reaction to Fusarium oxysporum, for instance, as an example of a newly discovered pathogen for Michigan, will form the basis for transcript profiling experiments that will better characterize the disease infection process and assist in identifying targets of opportunity for breeding intervention. Populations and their progeny showing good agronomic and disease performance will be folded into the general agronomic and disease nursery evaluations, and released to industry as enhanced germplasm.

3. Progress Report:
Germplasm enhancement activities continue with individual field trials and greenhouse seed increases in Michigan encompassing agronomic evaluation, selection for resistance to Cercospora leaf spot, Fusarium yellows, and Rhizoctonia seedling and root diseases, selection for sugar beet cyst nematode resistance and salt tolerance during germination, and assessment of stand establishment potential. Over 1,000 distinct entries, not including those submitted for the official leaf spot nursery, are being evaluated. From these trials, individuals with superior characteristics will be selected after evaluation of their performance during the current growing season. In FY12, over 3,000 roots were selected, vernalized, and selfed in the greenhouse for inbred seed production, and over 1,000 were selected for greenhouse and field seed production for open-pollinated population enhancement. Multiple wild and unadapted germplasm have been incorporated into these population improvement schemes. Marker discovery and genetic analyses activities were productive using second-generation sequence acquisition technologies for marker development using single nucleotide polymorphism technologies. A coalition of ARS researchers, and university and industry scientists has been formed to obtain a full-length sugar beet genome sequence. Bioinformatic capacity was acquired that should ease the computational load from the high volume of data generated by these new genomic technologies. A deep transcript profile of expressed genes was obtained from seed germinated in stress and growth-promoting environments. Results confirm previous observations on the mechanism of high seedling vigor and extend the concepts to suggest the biochemical pathways, including signal transduction and transcription factor pathways, by which seedling vigor is better defined and thus amenable to selection for improved vigor. Simplifying phenotypic selection through development of new methods yielded very positive results. Synergistic interactions between root pathogens including Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, and Rhizopus were demonstrated. The fifth year of a comprehensive survey of sugarbeet disease-causing fungal pathogens present in the Great Lakes growing areas is continuing - the first survey in over 25 years. Results confirm presence of known pathogens and suggest involvement of others whose precise roles are being ascertained. Experiments to determine the role of pathology and genetics in long-term storage were initiated, with good results in that different germplasm showed delayed susceptibility to storage rot pathogens, with the caveat that storage at low temperatures induces the flowering response and concomitantly roots from all tested germplasm become increasingly susceptible by this 12-16 week period after harvest with germplasm varying in the rate of both flowering response and increased disease susceptibility. Correlation was found between the rate of change in the two physiological processes, which opens up new areas for research.

4. Accomplishments
1. The first Recombinant Inbred Line (RIL) population in beet. Sugar beet is an open-pollinated crop with wind-blown pollen that makes precise genetic analyses of agronomic and other traits very difficult. ARS researchers at East Lansing, Michigan initiated a program 12 years ago to inbreed populations of beets to assist with general genetic analyses, mapping of single gene traits, and dissection of traits important for the production, profitability, and expansion of beet products to new markets. Progeny from a single hybrid individual from a cross between a sugar beet and a red table beet were propagated by single seed descent for six generations, resulting in an inbred RIL population of >900 individual lines in FY11, most (>70%) producing sufficient seed for field trials. In FY11 and FY12, this population was used to determine the genetics of morphological characters that define differences between sugar beet and red table beet as well as define the minimum number of genes that contribute to economic sucrose production of sugar beet. This is the first RIL population of beet and demonstrates that deeply inbred sugar beet germplasm can be created for precise and repeatable molecular determinations of agronomic traits that will lead to improved varieties.

2. Development and release of enhanced sugar beet germplasm with resistance to sugar beet cyst nematodes (SBCN). It was only recently recognized (<10 years) that the Sugar Beet Cyst Nematode robs Michigan growers of 2-10 tons/acre of root yield annually, and the effect of any of seven species of root knot nematodes in Michigan is completely unknown. Nematode-resistant germplasm has been developed over the past 10 years from materials previously developed from wild beets (Beta vulgaris spp. maritima) and released to industry for creating resistant commercial sugar beet hybrids adapted to the Great Lakes growing region. These new germplasm releases fill a void from which a wide range of hybrids can be generated that helps ensure a sustainable sugar beet industry.

Review Publications
Jiang, H.H., Meng, Q.X., Hanson, L.E., Hao, J.J. 2012. First report of Streptomyces stelliscabiei causing potato common scab in Michigan. Plant Disease. 96(6):906.

Barnett, K.A., Sprague, C.L., Kirk, W.W., Hanson, L.E. 2012. Influence of glyphosate on Rhizoctonia crown and root rot (Rhizoctonia solani) in glyphosate-resistant sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.). Weed Science. 60(1):113-120.

McGrath, J.M., Panella, L.W., Frese, L. 2011. Beta. In: Kole, Chittaranjan, editor. Wild Crop Relatives: Genomic and Breeding Resources Industrial Crops. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. p. 1-28.

Gachango, E., Kirk, W.W., Hanson, L.E., Rojas, A., Tumbalam, P., Shetty, K. 2011. First report of Fusarium torulosum causing dry rot of seed potato tubers in Michigan. Plant Disease. 95(9):1194.

Hanson, L.E., McGrath, J.M. 2011. Rhizoctonia seedling disease on sugar beet. International Sugar Journal. 113(1352):584-589.

Hanson, L.E., Duckert, T.M., Goodwill, T.R., McGrath, J.M. 2012. Beta PIs from the USDA-ARS NPGS evaluated for resistance to Cercospora beticola, 2011. Plant Disease Management Reports. Available:

McGrath, J.M. 2011. Registration of EL54 and EL55 sugarbeet germplasms. Journal of Plant Registrations. 5:1-6.

Hatlestad, G.J., Sunnadeniya, R.M., Akhavan, N.A., Gonzalez, A., Goldman, I.L., McGrath, J.M., Lloyd, A.M. 2012. The beet R locus encodes a new cytochrome P450 required for red betalain production. Nature Genetics. 44:816-820.

Last Modified: 08/18/2017
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