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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sunflower and Plant Biology Research » Research » Research Project #424876

Research Project: Sunflower Genetic Improvement with Genes from Wild Crop Relatives and Domesticated Sunflower

Location: Sunflower and Plant Biology Research

Project Number: 3060-21000-039-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 14, 2013
End Date: Mar 11, 2018

Objective 1: Identify gaps and acquire new wild species to fill gaps or deficiencies in the sunflower germplasm collection. Objective 2: Identify insect pests and pathogens of sunflower, develop effective screening methods to optimize assessment of resistance to sunflower pathogens, determine mechanisms of plant resistance, phenotype germplasm for resistance to major insect pests and pathogens, and introgress insect and disease resistance genes from the wild species into diverse cultivated germplasm. Subobjective 2A: Identify and monitor pathogens. Subobjective 2B: Develop effective screening procedures for Phomopsis and insect damage. Subobjective 2C: Identify and assess mechanisms of insect resistance. Subobjective 2D: Transfer disease resistance, insect resistance, and other agronomic traits from wild Helianthus species into cultivated sunflower and improve methods for interspecific hybridization and release of pre-breeding germplasm. Subobjective 2E: Characterize and map resistance to pathogens and insect pests, and other agronomic traits. Objective 3: Develop sunflower germplasm with high yield, high oil content, and desirable fatty acid concentrations, as well as novel resistance genes for diseases and insects. Subobjective 3A: Develop new inbred lines with novel fatty acid compositions, such as low saturated fatty acids, and high oleic acid. Subobjective 3B: Pyramid disease and insect resistance genes with high yield and oil content in a common germplasm.

Currently, there are a number of factors that reduce sunflower yield including a host of insects and diseases that require careful and costly management practices, reducing profitability. Research is proposed to reduce the input costs by developing durable pest resistance, herbicide resistance, oil content and quality increasing the oil per acre yield of sunflower. Specifically, we will collect wild sunflower relatives to broaden the crop’s genetic base. This germplasm will be phenotyped for resistance to major insect pests and pathogens, cytoplasmic male sterility, and fertility restoration. Methods for improving interspecific hybridization will focus on techniques to detect introgressed alien chromosome segments in interspecific crosses using the genomic fluorescence in situ hybridization technique. Interspecific gene transfer will be evaluated using molecular markers for desirable agronomic traits such as resistance genes to rust and downy mildew. Interspecific germplasm with useful genes will be introgressed into cultivated sunflower and released as enhanced pre-breeding germplasm. Current diseases will be monitored for shifts in virulence and races, and for newly emerged diseases. A field test will be developed to reliably test for the newly emerged Phomopsis stem canker pathogen. An efficient non-destructive screening method will be developed for detecting damage of banded sunflower moth, sunflower moth, red sunflower seed weevil, and sunflower stem weevil. Insect resistance mechanisms will be identified and assessed for sunflower moth. Resistance genes for pathogens and insects, and other agronomic traits will be characterized and mapped. DNA markers for selected traits will be developed and used for marker-assisted breeding. Enhanced sunflower germplasm with high yield, high oil content, and desirable fatty acids concentration, as well as novel resistance genes for diseases and insects will be developed and released. Accomplishing these objectives will provide producers with improved sunflower that will provide a stable supply of high quality oil and confectionery sunflower, improving on-farm profitability and providing the consumer with a reliable domestic supply of a healthy oil, a staple in the American diet.