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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Crop Germplasm Research » Research » Research Project #434259

Research Project: Cotton Genetic Resource Management and Genetic Improvement

Location: Crop Germplasm Research

2018 Annual Report

Objective 1: Efficiently and effectively acquire genetic resources of cotton and its wild relatives; maintain their safety, genetic integrity, health, and viability; and distribute them and associated information worldwide. Sub-objective 1A: Regenerate about 5% of the NCGC (approx. 500 accessions) annually at the Counter Season Nursery, Liberia, Costa Rica, and at field and greenhouse resources at College Station, TX. Produce quantities of seed sufficient to meet the needs of the research community and to maintain accessions in long-term backup storage. Sub-objective 1B: Distribute viable seed and associated information for all available accessions to users of the NCGC. Sub-objective 1C: Strategically broaden the genetic diversity of the NCGC through the acquisition of additional cotton germplasm by means of germplasm exchanges and plant explorations. Objective 2: Develop more effective genetic resource maintenance, evaluation, and genetic marker characterization methods and apply them to priority genetic resources of cotton and its wild relatives. Record and disseminate evaluation and characterization data and digital images via GRIN-Global, CottonGen, and other data sources. Sub-objective 2A: Characterize about 5% of the NCGC annually using a comprehensive and standard descriptor set developed for community use and upload into GRIN-Global and CottonGen. Sub-objective 2B: Create standardized digital image libraries of the NCGC to document the morphological diversity of its contents, and make these libraries available to users through placement in the public databases GRIN-Global and CottonGen. Sub-objective 2C: Systematically analyze genetic diversity using new/revised core sets of molecular markers specific to primary and secondary gene pools of cotton to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of cotton genetic resource management and genetic improvement. Sub-objective 2D: Coordinate the cooperative evaluation of cotton genetic resources for priority agronomic traits. Objective 3: With other NPGS genebanks and Crop Germplasm Committees, develop, update, document, and implement best management practices and Crop Vulnerability Statements for cotton genetic resource and information management. Objective 4: Devise more efficient and effective cotton genetic enhancement approaches, and apply them to generate breeding stocks incorporating genes from cotton land races and wild relatives for improved yield, fiber quality, seed quality, and/or resistance/tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses.

The Gossypium genus is composed of at least 50 recognized species of differing ploidy levels and contains a wealth of genetic variability ranging from highly improved allotetraploid species to wild diploid species. The National Cotton Germplasm Collection contains much of the diversity of the genus, and its long-term objectives are to acquire, conserve, characterize, evaluate, and distribute accessions, with the goal of making these resources available for genetic improvement efforts within and outside the USDA. Under the current project, we will make efforts to acquire new germplasm through plant explorations and exchanges that target current gaps in the Collection. To make the inherent variability of the Collection useful, it must be described and evaluated. For this reason, this project will generate phenotypic descriptions of genetic resources, and evaluate these materials for drought stress tolerance, agronomic traits, and fiber quality. Recent advances in cotton molecular genetics have provided the molecular markers needed to measure genetic diversity, characterize new acquisitions, ascertain areas of deficiency, and maintain the integrity of accessions while regenerating the Collection. Recognizing that parts of the Collection are not readily usable due to species incompatibilities, day-length flowering responses, and the perennial nature of accessions, pre-breeding efforts are needed to improve access to and utility of these portions of the Collection. Information generated by this project will be made publicly available in the GRIN-Global and/or CottonGen databases.

Progress Report
This is a new project that replaced 3091-21000-037-00D and which is continuing and expanding upon the work of the precursor project. Work under this new project in FY 2018 addressed several of the FY 2019 milestones to increase and distribute seed (Objective 1) as well as to capture digital images showing the morphology of accessions (Objective 2). Preliminary genotyping studies on newly acquired accessions established that these accessions are important new sources of genetic variation. A brief summary of U.S. National Cotton Germplasm Collection activities, vulnerabilities, and challenges was provided to the Cotton Crop Germplasm Committee in advance of preparing a thorough vulnerability statement document (Objective 3). Initial crosses were made in a marker-assisted backcross program to introduce the high oleic trait from a photoperiodic germplasm into an adapted cultivated germplasm (Objective 4).