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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sugarbeet Research » Research » Research Project #444181

Research Project: Improving Sugarbeet Productivity and Sustainability through Genetic, Genomic, Physiological, and Phytopathological Approaches

Location: Sugarbeet Research

Project Number: 3060-21000-045-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 11, 2023
End Date: Apr 10, 2028

Objective 1. Develop new strategies, identify molecular markers, and release germplasm for the genetic enhancement of pest and disease resistance in sugarbeet. Sub-objective 1A: Identify new genetic sources for improving sugarbeet resistance to Cercospora leaf spot and sugarbeet root maggot. Sub-objective 1B: Conduct genetic mapping and marker development for genes conferring sugarbeet root maggot resistance. Sub-objective 1C: Develop new pre-breeding germplasm with improved resistance to Cercospora leaf spot and sugarbeet root maggot. Objective 2. Develop strategies to limit sucrose losses due to disease, such as Cercospora leaf spot, and postharvest metabolism through a fundamental understanding of pathogen diversity, pathogen/host/environment interactions, and storage physiology in sugarbeet. Sub-objective 1C: Develop new pre-breeding germplasm with improved resistance to Cercospora leaf spot and sugarbeet root maggot. Sub-objective 2B: Identify genomic loci in the C. beticola genome associated with adaptation to management practices including fungicides and new tolerant sugarbeet varieties. Sub-objective 2C: Identify rhizomania resistance-breaking variants of Beet necrotic yellow vein virus using high-throughput sequencing technologies. Sub-objective 2D: Investigate virus-host interactions to characterize virulence factors and host-responsive elements that can be used to develop new tools for rhizomania disease management. Sub-objective 2E: Identify and characterize genes and metabolic pathways responsible for sucrose loss and quality deterioration during storage and determine genetic and environmental factors that regulate them. Sub-objective 2F: Identify and characterize sugarbeet storage pathogens. Sub-objective 2G: Assess the effect of in-season fungicides on soil communities of postharvest pathogens in the sugarbeet rhizosphere. Objective 3. Develop integrative agronomic tools and strategies for managing the emerging threat of herbicide-resistant weeds that threaten sugarbeet production in the United States.

The U.S. sugarbeet industry is valued at $1.7 billion and ensures a domestic supply of a staple in the American diet. Productivity and sustainability of the industry, however, is imperiled by the diseases Cercospora leaf spot (CLS) and rhizomania, the sugarbeet root maggot (SBRM), herbicide-resistant weeds, and storage deterioration. Collectively, these agricultural challenges cost the industry more than $350 million annually. Losses to these challenges are expected to intensify in future years since the pathogens responsible for CLS and rhizomania are increasingly tolerant to contemporary and conventional chemical and genetic controls, pesticides for SBRM control are increasingly use-restricted, herbicide tolerance in weed species and populations is growing, and climate change is fueling storage losses. New management strategies, therefore, are needed to maintain industry productivity and sustainability. However, the development of new management strategies requires a greater understanding of the fundamental biology underlying these challenges and new genetic tools. Research is proposed to generate the knowledge and tools needed to reduce losses to CLS, rhizomania, SBRM, herbicide-resistant weeds and storage deterioration by (1) identifying new sources of genetic resistance for CLS and SBRM control, (2) developing new CLS and SBRM resistant germplasm, (3) developing molecular markers for CLS and SBRM genetic resistance, (4) generating new understanding of how pathogens responsible for CLS and rhizomania overcome host genetic resistance and pesticide toxicity, (5) determining and characterizing population diversity and gene flow for CLS- and rhizomania-causing pathogens, (6) identifying and functionally characterizing genes responsible for postharvest sucrose loss and quality deterioration, (7) identifying and characterizing the microbes causing storage diseases, and (8) determining the effect of in-season fungicides on postharvest pathogen diversity. Success in this research will provide knowledge and tools to reduce losses to CLS, rhizomania, SBRM, herbicide resistant weeds, and storage deterioration for improved productivity and sustainability of the sugarbeet industry.