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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Plant Physiology and Genetics Research » Research » Research Project #434263

Research Project: Sustainable Bioeconomy for Arid Regions (SBAR)

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

Project Number: 2020-21410-007-006-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2017
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

A key driver for new crops is to aid in producing 36 billion gallons per year of biofuels by 2022: a goal for the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The nascent commercialization of natural rubber and guar gum make two desert plants, guayule and guar, especially well-suited for this SBAR project. The overall goal of this integrated SBAR project is to maintain and expand the rural bioeconomy of arid regions in the US by combining research, extension and outreach. The hypothesis is that further feedstock development and production optimization of guayule and guar will enable the Southwest US to expand our base for the commodity, biofuel, and high-value product markets. Reliable phenotypic information is not available for public guayule germplasm lines, which limits their utility for breeding improvement. One of the objectives of the SBAR proposal is the phenotypic characterization of the USDA guayule germplasm collection and to develop high throughput sensor-collected data for estimations of biomass, crop growth and development, and crop status.

The ARS Maricopa lab will phenotype all guayule germplasm accessions in the USDA National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) with remote sensing technologies using a high-throughput phenotyping (HTP) tractor with mounted sensors, and direct field and laboratory measurements. Guayule requires at least two years (or two winter seasons) before meaningful rubber accumulation, and content will be evaluated by a destructive harvest. Other information contributing to deciding which germplasm to use in our breeding program includes the rate of growth over time, leaf characteristics, amount of flowering, time of flowering, plant height, and plant canopy temperature. The USDA Guayule lines will be planted in Maricopa in a replicated experiment over 3 years, and the same set of lines will be planted in replicated field plots at University of Arizona farms in Tucson, AZ and the Bridgestone LLC. farm in Eloy, AZ.