Project Number: 6082-21000-009-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated
Start Date: Mar 12, 2023
End Date: Mar 11, 2028
1. Conduct research to broaden the cotton genetic base, improve fiber quality, increase yield stability and adaptation to climate change, and develop cotton germplasm, along with molecular markers for effective selection. 2. Conduct innovative research that producers can use to develop cropping systems that incorporate customized cover crops to improve cotton production and fiber quality, reduce inputs, and determine soil health and/or environmental benefits. 2.A. Develop and implement novel cotton-cover cropping systems that reduce inputs and increase soil health for sustainable cotton production. 2.B. Improve the adaptation and climate resiliency of novel cover crop species that can be incorporated into southeastern US cotton production systems. 3. Develop informed predictive models for cotton breeding using high-throughput phenotyping, environmental, and genomics data.
Cotton is the world’s primary source of natural, spinnable fiber and accounts for one third of global fiber consumption. There has been slow progress in cotton improvement for yield potential; however, fiber quality, adaptation to climate change, and yield stability improvements are sorely needed. In addition, customized cropping systems are needed that decrease the environmental impacts of cotton production while maximizing ecosystem services. To meet these needs, this research aims to develop improved breeding tools, germplasm, and enhanced management practices for the US cotton. Research in Objective 1 harnesses recent genomic and phenomic advances to develop predictive breeding methods that accelerate cotton’s genetic gain and broaden the genetic base. The research identifies new, beneficial alleles from distant germplasm and deploys a strategy to increase their frequency. Research in Objective 2 develops novel cotton-cover cropping systems that conserve soil moisture, reduce inputs, and increase soil health for sustainable cotton production. The research also improves the adaptation and climate resiliency of novel cover crop species incorporated into southeastern US cotton production systems. The information gained in the research on predictive breeding will better integrate genomic and phenomic research advances into tangible outcomes that drive cotton’s future genetic gains. This research will be of use to public and private plant breeders to provide the industry with future cultivars. Cover crop research will help growers, consultants, and industry maximize cotton production while minimizing environmental impacts in cover crop integrated cotton production systems. Together, the development of new genetic resources and better crop management practices will contribute to enhanced productivity and increased sustainability of the US cotton industry.