Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Crop Genetics Research » Research » Research Project #444754

Research Project: Developing Strategies and Tools to Mitigate Biotic and Abiotic Stresses in Cotton and Managing the National Cotton Variety Testing Program

Location: Crop Genetics Research

Project Number: 6066-21000-053-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 26, 2023
End Date: Mar 25, 2028

1. Conduct research to unravel the basic physiology and/or molecular events involved in cotton fiber initiation and density to understand the mechanism behind production of fiber versus lint, and work with breeders to develop germplasm with high fiber production. 2. Conduct research to identify sources of tolerance to abiotic stresses in cotton and develop Upland cotton cultivars with tolerance to multiple abiotic stresses via proven or novel introgression methods combined with innovative molecular techniques to improve tolerance to abiotic stresses and climate change resilience. 2a. Identify germplasm lines, populations, breeding lines and better strategies to reduce negative associations between lint yield and fiber traits or effectively introgress traits that mitigate the effects of climate change. 2b. Use genetic variation identified in cultivated cotton as well as measurement techniques available to develop cotton lines that gin more cost effectively and are resilient to environmental changes. 3. Identify novel sources of host plant resistance to insects and diseases, including natural variants, conduct research to determine their reaction to various climate change stresses, and use them to develop new cotton germplasm via proven or novel introgression methods. 4. Conduct collaborative regional and national cotton variety testing to generate supporting data for breeding and use the information to develop genetic and/or production strategies to improve the cotton crop.

This project will combine the expertise and plant materials of four scientists to provide a coordinated approach for improving grower profits by decreasing input costs and providing high yielding cotton lines that will meet the fiber quality needs of the modern textile industry. There is a need to improve cotton grower profits and make U.S. grown fiber more competitive in the global market. U.S. breeders must now search more widely for unique germplasm and find novel ways to generate new cotton lines to improve cultivar fiber quality. However, yield is always the top priority for growers, and a major challenge remains to reduce the existing negative association between yield and fiber quality. As the climate changes and growing conditions become more unstable, additional challenges become relevant as it is essential to develop plants with the ability to tolerate and thrive under warmer temperatures as well as changing weather patterns. These changing patterns can also allow diseases and insects to become more of a threat. This plan will study the mechanisms that allow cotton to tolerate the changing environment and pest threats and use this knowledge to develop new cotton lines with improved traits. Grower profits can also be increased through reducing input, harvesting or ginning costs and developing cotton that detaches more easily and cleanly from the seed is one way to reduce these costs. A venue is then needed to test elite lines and new varieties. The National Cotton Variety Test program will provide coordinated multi-location testing for breeders and provide a database of performance data across locations and years.