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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Crop Germplasm Research » Research » Research Project #444589

Research Project: Modern Breeding Approaches for Sorghum Hybrid Improvement and Molecular Analysis of Grain Traits Critical to End-use Quality

Location: Crop Germplasm Research

Project Number: 3091-21000-047-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 20, 2023
End Date: Feb 19, 2028

Objective 1: Integrate genomic selection technology into traditional methods of sorghum genetic improvement to accelerate the rate of genetic gain for grain sorghum hybrids. Objective 2: Utilize modern biological tools to conduct fundamental molecular research into end-use quality traits including the black pericarp phenotype in sorghum.

This project aims to integrate recent advances in genomic selection technology augmented with phenomic and enviromic resources. The ultimate goal is to accelerate the rate of genetic gain in sorghum hybrids and to utilize modern biological tools to conduct fundamental molecular research into end-use quality traits including the black pericarp phenotype in sorghum. The challenge facing crop geneticists and breeders is how to develop strategies that combine the traditional tools available to crop genetics with new genomic- and phenomic-assisted approaches that leverage the extensive 'omics' resources available to crop improvement programs. Utilizing elite sorghum inbreds from U.S. public breeding programs along with novel genetically diverse germplasm developed by the previous project plan, this project aims to emulate the modern genomics-based approach of commercial maize hybrid improvement programs to transform existing sorghum breeding strategies in both public and private sector in the U.S. In addition to the need for an "omics-assisted" approach to hybrid sorghum breeding, there is a need to enhance value-added traits that improve end-use quality of sorghum grain. Black pericarp sorghum, and the associated accumulation of the high-value phytochemicals 3-deoxyanthocyanidins, represents one such value-added trait with enhanced nutritional quality desired by processors and consumers. This project aims to elucidate the genes, gene networks, and novel genomic features (e.g., structural variation, epigenetic control) controlling the black pericarp trait to eliminate knowledge gaps that limit our capacity to improve this valued trait. The products of this research will include an assessment of appropriate genomic- and phenomic-assisted methods to integrate into breeding programs, more effective hybrid breeding programs through the introduction of genomic and phenomic selection models into sorghum breeding pipelines (Obj. 1), and critical knowledge of cellular control of black pericarp phenotype required to devise effective biotechnology- or breeding-based approaches to improve the expression of this trait. (Obj. 2)