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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

2017 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 the Florida sugarcane growers is still the introduction of orange rust, brown rust, smut, leaf scald diseases. 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 program (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 2016-2017 crossing season, approximately 402,337 seeds from 902 crosses were sent to Louisiana; 93,983 seeds from 836 crosses remained in Florida for the regular (muck-soil) breeding program; and 12,754 seeds from 102 crosses made for the Florida sand-land breeding program. There were 89,110 seedlings from 325 crosses transplanted in the Seeding field in 2017 at Canal Point and approximately 10,540 seedlings (from 57 crosses) transplanted in Clewiston for sand soils in Florida. Additionally, a total of 5,600 seedlings (from 133 crosses) were transplanted in two progeny tests at Canal Point. There were 7,976 genotypes planted in Stage I and 1,614 genotypes planted in Stage II in 2017 at Canal Point. Cultivars developed by ARS occupied more than 92% of the sugarcane acreage in Florida in 2016. The breeding and selection programs develop sugarcane cultivars for organic (muck) and mineral (sand) soils in Florida. Improvements have been made in cultivar selection for sand soils. In 2017, for the seventh consecutive year, all stages of the sand-land selection program were planted on sand soils, beginning with the seedling stage. In addition, all stages of the selection for the muck-soil CP program were conducted on muck soils. Two recently released varieties, CP 01-1372 and CP 00-1101 are still grown on 15% of the sugarcane acreage in Florida. In 2017, there were two new varieties released, CP 10-1208 and CP 10-1619 that is expected to yield well on sand soils. Both of them were resistant to brown rust, orange rust, and other diseases in Florida based on inoculations and natural infection tests in the CP programs. Additionally, a CP clone (CP 08-1968) was released for Texas growers by a joint release from Texas Rio Farm and Florida CP programs. In research to better understand molecular, physiological, and agronomic bases of biotic and abiotic stress resistance and yield improvement, to improve data accuracy and selection efficiency for high sucrose content and disease resistance, and to help growers meet Best Management Practices, several field studies have been established by scientists in Canal Point, Florida. 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 still orange rust and brown rust diseases. The rusts recently caused 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 two new high-yielding sugarcane cultivars with disease resistance/tolerance in June 2017 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. One variety (CP 08-1968) was released for Texas growers by a joint release from Texas Rio Farm and Florida CP programs. CP 08-1968 was originally not released 2 years ago for the Florida growers because of its orange rust susceptibility. However, in multi-year field tests in Texas, it performs the best in yield and quality under the Texas environments. We expect that CP 08-1968 will benefit the Texas sugarcane production.

Review Publications
Singh, M., Comstock, J.C., Davidson, W., Gordon, V.S., Sandhu, H., McCord, P.H., Zhao, D., Sood, S.G., Baltazar, M., McCorkle, K.M. 2017. Registration of ‘CP 06-2425’, ‘CP 06-2495’, ‘CP 06-2964’, ‘CP 06-3103’, and ‘CP 07-1313’ sugarcane for sand soils in Florida. Journal of Plant Registrations. 11:143-151.
Petersen, S., Lyerly, J.H., McKendry, A.L., Islam, M.S., Brown Guedira, G.L., Cowger, C., Dong, Y., Murphy, P.J. 2017. Validation of Fusarium Head Blight resistance QTL in US winter wheat. Crop Science. 57:1-12. doi:10.2135cropsci2015.07.0415.
Zhao, D., Comstock, J.C., Sighn, M., Davidson, W., Abbott, T.E., Gordon, V.S., Sandhu, H., McCord, P.H., Sood, S.G., Baltazar, M. 2017. Registration of ‘CP 08-1110’ sugarcane. Journal of Plant Registrations. 11:135-142.
Davidson, W., Sandhu, H., McCord, P.H., Comstock, J.C., Edme, S.J., Zhao, D., Glaz, B.S., Sood, S.G., Glynn, N.C., Gilbert, R., Singh, M., Baltazar, M., McCorkle, K.M. 2017. Registration of ‘CP 06-2042’ sugarcane. Journal of Plant Registrations. 11:121-128.
Zhao, D., Irey, M., Laborde, C., Hu, C. 2017. Identifying physiological and yield related traits in sugarcane and energy cane. Agronomy Journal. 109:927-937.
Gordon, V.S., Comstock, J.C., Sandhu, H.H., Gilbert, R.A., Korndorfer, P., El-Hout, N., Arundale, R., Sood, S.G. 2016. Registration of 'UFCP 87-0053' sugarcane for use as a biofuel feedstock. Journal of Plant Registrations. 10:258-264.
Gordon, V.S., Comstock, J.C., Sandhu, H.H., Gilbert, R.A., Korndorfer, P., El-Hout, N., Arundale, R., Sood, S.G. 2016. Registration of 'UFCP 84-1047' sugarcane for use as a biofuel feedstock. Journal of Plant Registrations. 10:251-257.