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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research » Research » Research Project #424691

Research Project: Development of Genetic Improvements of Bioenergy Feedstock and Other Selected Tropical Crops Grown Nationally

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
1. Improve the economic viability of sugarcane and other selected crops grown in Hawaii by evaluating and enhancing their bioenergy potential. 2. Improve disease resistance of coffee and develop new coffee cultivars by incorporating rust resistance with yield and quality characteristics suitable for Hawaii’s coffee industry. 3. Develop germplasm for the nation's sugarcane industries that have difficulties in variety development because their agronomic environment is not conducive to flowering that is required for hybridization. Focus on making crosses to increase biomass and/or sugar yields, increase tolerance to environmental stresses such as cold and drought, and resistance to pathogens and pests. Evaluate the potential for high value novel compounds as co-products for these crops. 4. Produce new knowledge about the fundamental biology and genetics of potential bioenergy crops and other selected crops grown in Hawaii. Develop genomic resources and identify markers linked to important agronomic traits including fiber and sugar content in sugarcane and selected bioenergy crops. 5. Identify and characterize regulatory controls over metabolism to improve quality, yield, and production of novel compounds. Use appropriate genetic engineering approaches when conventional breeding cannot produce the essential genetic gains needed for a viable agriculture economy. 6. Assess the potential commercial application and the potential environmental and biosafety risks of transgenic plants that are developed. Develop approaches for managing risks of transgenic plants.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Use HARC land and resources to grow, evaluate, and cross selected sugarcane and other tropical grass accessions that cannot be preserved or crossed at the National sugarcane clonal repository in Miami, Florida. Characterize the genetic diversity in germplasm accessions to identify markers that co-segregate with desired agronomic traits to assist breeders in variety development. Interbreed lines of high yielding tropical grasses for Hawaii and those selected by the national sugarcane research centers. Distribute seed or progeny from these crosses for crop performance evaluations in the environments where they will be grown for the production of bioenergy feedstocks. Cross lines of other bioenergy target crops to produce and evaluate progeny populations for developing genetic markers associated with productivity and other agronomically important traits such as pest and disease resistance. Isolate and characterize genes for altering metabolism for use in genetic transformation to improve specific biomass yield and bioenergy quality parameters of the crops. Coffee seeds from selected trees of T5175 and T8667 (rust resistant Catimor varieties) and their hybrids with Hawaiian cultivars will be sent to Centro de Investigacao des Ferrugents do Caffeiro (CIFC) to screen for rust resistance using wide ranges of coffee rust races. In addition, new rust resistant varieties will be imported from CIFC for evaluation as potential new Hawaii cultivars and as parents for production of rust resistant hybrids. Transfer these new technologies to clients for the improvement of tropical agriculture. Formerly 5320-21000-013-13S (05/13).

3. Progress Report:
The objectives of this collaborative agreement to characterize genetic diversity of plant germplasm, develop DNA markers for crop improvement, transferring new technologies for improvement of agriculture are all contributing to objective 1 of the parent project, "Develop and assess transgenic plants to control plant growth and development, disease resistance, and shelf life." This project replaced project 5320-21000-013-03S, terminated in May 2013. The work that began with this new project in June, 2013, will cover characterization of the genetic diversity of plant germplasm, developing DNA markers associated with important traits for crop improvement, isolation and characterization of important genes, improving transgene expression, creating tissue-specific patterns of expression in engineered tropical plants, transferring new technologies to clients for improvement of agriculture, and making selected crosses to expand the genetic diversity and improve and increase the seed selection for the U.S.sugarcane farmers.

4. Accomplishments