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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

2016 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
The challenge facing sugarcane growers in south Florida is still the introduction of orange rust and brown rust. Consistent development of disease tolerant and high sugar yield cultivars is important for sugarcane production. In addition to making efforts for improving the Canal Point (CP) sugarcane breeding and cultivar development (CP program)for Florida, true seeds, developed from crosses at Canal Point, Florida, were sent to the ARS cultivar development program in Houma, Louisiana. It is estimated that in the 2015-2016 crossing season, approximately 607,495 seeds from 848 crosses were sent to Louisiana; 309,624 seeds from 864 crosses remained in Florida for the regular breeding program; and 41,588 seeds from 146 crosses made for the Florida sand-land breeding program. There were 89,870 seedlings from 382 crosses transplanted in the Seeding field in 2016 at Canal Point, Florida, and approximately 15,590 seedlings (from 88 crosses) transplanted in Clewiston for sand soils in Florida. Additionally, a total of 15,040 seedlings (from 328 crosses) were transplanted in two progeny tests and an international fuzz test this year at Canal Point, Florida. There were 7,683 genotypes planted in Stage I and 1614 genotypes planted in Stage II in 2016 at Canal Point, Florida. Cultivars developed by ARS occupied more than 90% of the sugarcane acreage in Florida in 2015. This breeding and selection program develops sugarcane cultivars for organic (muck) and mineral (sand) soils in Florida. Improvements have been made in cultivar selection for sand soils. In 2016, for the sixth 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 for the regular CP 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 21% of the sugarcane acreage in Florida. In 2016, there were eight new varieties released, CP 09-1385 that is expected to yield well on both muck and sand soils, CP 09-1430 and CP 09-1952 for muck soils only, CP 09-1822 and CP 09-2392 for sand soils only, and other three new cultivars (CP 09-4153, CP 09-4758, CPCL 09-2392) for the Townsite (at Clewiston, Florida) sand soils only. Most of these new cultivars were resistant to brown rust and orange rust based on inoculations and natural infection tests in the CP programs. 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 studies have been established by scientists. Data collection and analyses are in progress.

1. Development of high-yielding and disease resistant sugarcane cultivars for commercial production. The biggest challenge sugarcane growers in Florida are facing is orange rust and brown rust diseases and the rusts recently cause considerable yield losses and an increase in input costs of fungicide applications. Therefore, development of new cultivars with disease resistance, high yields, and high profits is our priority. ARS researchers at Canal Point, Florida, collaborated with other institutes and released eight new high-yielding sugarcane cultivars with disease resistance/tolerance in July 2016 for growers to use in Florida (especially for sand soils). The new cultivars will mitigate negative effects of brown and orange rusts and other stresses on sugar yield and profits in Florida.

2. Production of high quality seeds for improving probability of elite seedlings and clones. Designing crossing combinations and making crosses based on target traits of parental clones are most important for the CP sugarcane breeding and cultivar development program because optimized crosses can increase genetic contribution to disease resistance and high yields. The ARS researchers at Canal Point refined the crossing strategies by reducing poly-crosses by 74% compared to the previous year because the poly-crossing has a big disadvantage to trace genetic gain. The number of crosses for the Florida sand soils increased by 80% (81 crosses in 2014 vs. 146 crosses in 2015) to improve yield, a challengeable issue on sand soils. A total of 1,862 crosses were made for both Florida and Louisiana in the 2015 cross season (November 2015 to February 2016). These crosses resulted in 351,212 seeds for Florida and 607,495 seeds for Louisiana. The high quality of seeds will increase probability of elite seedlings and clones in other selection stages of the CP sugarcane breeding program.


Review Publications
Edme, S.J., Davidson, W.R., Zhao, D., Comstock, J.C., Sandhu, H.S., Glaz, B.S., Milligan, S.A., Hu Chen, J., Sood, S.G., Mccorkle, K.M., Gilbert, R.A., Glynn, N.C. 2016. Registration of ‘CPCL 05-1201’ Sugarcane. Journal of Plant Registrations. 10:14-21.
Zhao, D., Li, Y. 2015. Climate change and sugarcane production: potential impact and mitigation strategies. International Journal of Agronomy. 2015:10 pages.
Zhao, D., Wright, D., Marois, J., Rowland, D. 2016. Rotation of peanut and cotton with bahiagrass to improve soil quality and crop productivity. Environmental Benefits of Conservation on Cropland: The Status of Our Knowledge. pp. 71-102.
Afghan, S., Shahzad, A., Comstock, J.C., Zhao, D., Ali, A. 2016. Registration of "CPSG-3481 sugarcane. Journal of Plant Registrations. 10:124-129.
Sandhu, H., Mccord, P.H., Comstock, J.C., Edme, S.J., Zhao, D., Singh, M., Davidson, W., Glaz, B.S., Sood, S.G., Glynn, N.C., Gilbert, R., Gordon, V.S., Baltazar, M., Mccorkle, K.M. 2016. Registration of ‘CP 07-2137’ sugarcane. Journal of Plant Registrations. 10(3):265-270.
Zhao, D., Gordon, V.S., Comstock, J.C., Glynn, N.C., Johnson, R.M. 2016. Assessment of sugarcane yield potential across large numbers of genotypes using canopy reflectance measurements. Crop Science. 56:1747-1759.
Zhao, D., Davidson, W., Baltzar, M., Comstock, J.C., Mccord, P.H., Sood, S.G. 2015. Screening for sugarcane brown rust in first clonal stage of the Canal Point sugarcane breeding program. Agronomy. 5:341-362.
Glowacka, K., Ahmed, A., Sharma, S., Abbott, T.E., Comstock, J.C., Long, S.P., Sacks, E.J. 2016. Can chilling tolerance of C4 photosynthesis in Miscanthus be transferred to sugarcane?. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. 8:407-418
Sandhu, H.S., Gilbert, R.A., Comstock, J.C., Gordon, V.S., Korndorfer, P., El-Hout, N., Arundale, R. 2015. Registration of 'UFCP 74-1010' Sugarcane. Journal of Plant Registrations. 9(2):179-184. doi: 10.3198/jpc2014.06.0042crc.