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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Canal Point, Florida » Sugarcane Field Station » Research » Research Project #425148

Research Project: Enhancement of Sugarcane Germplasm for Development of Stress Tolerant, High Yielding Cultivars

Location: Sugarcane Field Station

2014 Annual Report

1. Produce high quality seed from designed crosses of improved sugarcane germplasm, and from these seeds, select and release higher yielding sugarcane cultivars with better tolerance and resistance to major biotic and abiotic stresses adapted to Florida conditions. 2. Enhance sugarcane crossing and selection by using molecular methods and markers, devising selection methodologies that accelerate gains from sugarcane breeding, identifying new sources of resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses that can be used as parental clones in sugarcane crossing programs, and characterizing sugarcane and related germplasm for compatibility in crossing. 2.A. Develop methodologies to screen young plants of sugarcane and its relatives for tolerance to short- and moderate-duration flooding. 2.B. Compare and determine methodologies that improve selection efficiency and maximize genetic gains in the Canal Point sugarcane breeding program. 2.C. Develop canopy spectral reflectance algorithms for rapid prediction of sugarcane stalk sucrose content and yield potential to improve early stage genotype selection. 3. Increase yields by improving the tolerance of sugarcane to biotic and abiotic stresses prevalent on the sand and muck soils of Florida through molecular methods and markers and new knowledge of the impact of physiological, morphological, and agronomic traits on these stresses. 3.A. Identify genotypic variation in growth, physiological, and yield traits on sand soils and relationships between these traits. 3.B. Assess the genetics of freeze tolerance in sugarcane and develop stress indices for its field tolerance screening. 3.C. Determine the main and interactive effects on growth and yields of flood duration and drainage depth on recently planted or recently ratooned sugarcane.

The primary goal of this project is to improve profits of Florida sugarcane growers by developing more productive and profitable cultivars with improved resistance and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Most research in genetics, agronomy, and crop physiology focuses on improving the breeding and selection of cultivars to yield more on muck and sand soils and have tolerance or durable resistance to diseases and abiotic stresses. This process will be enhanced through improved knowledge of classic and molecular genetics, identification of important traits for selection, and selection methodologies. A portion of the research aims to improve yields through modified agronomic practices. This section focuses on the research objectives of Glaz, Edmé, and Zhao. We will present each of the two new SYs with their broad research topics when they arrive and expect them to choose specific projects and develop approaches for those projects. The Molecular Biologist will focus substantially on disease resistance through approaches using molecular genetics. The Research Geneticist will focus generally on improving the breeding and selection process. Specific efforts may focus on our new sand program, and this may include the pursuit of links between traditional efforts to breed for increased sucrose yields and newer programs that use sugarcane and related species for cellulosic ethanol and enhanced evaluations of the genotypes that will be brought in by ongoing research from the Miami World Collection. The Molecular Biologist and Research Geneticist are expected to interact with each other, and with colleagues at Canal Point, the University of Florida in Gainesville and its Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade, and with other public and private industry scientists in Florida and Louisiana, and other areas.

Progress Report
As new diseases and new races of current diseases infect previously resistant cultivars, the yields of these cultivars are reduced. The most recent challenge facing sugarcane growers in Florida is the introduction of orange rust. True seeds, developed from crosses at Canal Point, Florida, were sent to the ARS cultivar development program in Louisiana. It is estimated that there were 1,321,197 seeds from 794 crosses were sent to Louisiana; and 767,577 seeds from 729 crosses remained in Florida. Cultivars developed by ARS occupied about 90% of the sugarcane acreage in Florida in 2013. This breeding and selection program at Canal Point develops sugarcane cultivars for organic (muck) and sand soils in Florida. Improvements are needed in cultivar selection for sand soils. In 2014, for the fourth consecutive year, all stages of the selection program were planted on sand soils, beginning with the seedling stage. In addition, all stages of the selection program were conducted on muck soils. Two recently released varieties, CP 00-1101 and CP 01-1372 are being expanded rapidly and now are grown on more than 16% of the sugarcane acreage in Florida. In 2014, there were two new varieties released, CP 06-2042 that is expected to yield well on both muck and sand soils and CP 07-2137 for sand soils only. Both CP 06-2042 and CP 07-2137 were resistant to brown rust and orange rust based on inoculations and natural infection test in the CP breeding program. In research to better understand molecular, physiological, and agronomic bases of biotic and abiotic stress resistance and yield improvement and to help growers meet Best Management Practices, several field and pot studies have been established. Data collection and analyses are in progress.

1. Development of high-yielding sugarcane cultivars for commercial production. The biggest challenge sugarcane growers in Florida are facing is orange rust disease. This disease recently caused considerable yield loss and an increase in input costs of fungicide applications. Therefore, development of new cultivars with disease resistance and high yield is our priority. ARS researchers collaborated with other institutes and released two new high-yielding sugarcane cultivars with disease resistance/tolerance in June 2014 for growers to use in Florida. The two new cultivars will mitigate negative effects of orange rust on sugarcane yield and profits in Florida.

2. Production of high quality seeds for improving probability of elite seedlings. Designing crossing combinations and making crosses based on target traits of parental clones are most important for the Canal Point, Florida sugarcane breeding cultivar development program because optimized crosses can increase genetic contribution to disease resistance and high yields. The ARS researchers at Canal Point, Florida refined the crossing strategies and made 1523 crosses for both Florida and Louisiana in the 2013 cross season (November 2013 to February 2014). These crosses resulted in the record high numbers of seeds (767,597 seeds for Florida and 1,321,197 seeds for Louisiana). The high quantity and quality of seeds will increase probability of elite seedlings and clones in other selection stage of the Canal Point program.

Review Publications
Tahir, M., Khalil, I.H., Mccord, P.H., Glaz, B.S. 2014. Sugarcane Genotype Performance in Three Environments (Based on Crop Cycle) at Mardan, Pakistan. American Journal of Experimental Agriculture. 4(3):362-375.
Tahir, M., Khalil, I.H., Mccord, P.H., Glaz, B.S. 2014. Character Association and Selection Indices in Sugarcane. American Journal of Experimental Agriculture. 4(3):336-348.
Hardev, S., Glaz, B.S., Edme, S.J., Davidson, R.W., Zhao, D., Comstock, J.C., Gilbert, R., Milligan, S., Hu, C., Glynn, N.C., Sood, S.G., Mccorkle, K.M. 2014. Registration of ‘CPCL 02-6848’ Sugarcane. Journal of Plant Registrations. 8:155-161.
Todd, J.R., Glaz, B.S., Irey, M.S., Zhao, D., Hu, C., El-Hout, N. 2014. SUGARCANE GENOTYPE SELECTION ON A SAND SOIL WITH AND WITHOUT ADDED MILL MUD. Agronomy Journal. 106(1):315-323.
Zhao, D., Glaz, B.S., Comstock, J.C. 2014. Physiological and Growth Responses of Sugarcane Genotypes to N Rate on a Sand Soil in Florida. Crop Science. 200:290-301.
Todd, J.R., Wang, J., Glaz, B.S., Sood, S.G., Ayala Silva, T., Nayak, S.N., Glynn, N.C., Gutierrez, O.A., Kuhn, D.N., Tahir, M., Comstock, J.C. 2014. Phenotypic Characterization of the Miami World Collection of Sugarcane and Related Grasses for Selecting a Representative Core. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 61:1581-1596.