Submitted to: Annual Beet Sugar Development Foundation Research Report
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The genetics of agronomic traits in sugar beet are not well defined but a comprehensive understanding of these traits is crucial to more effective breeding of improved cultivars. Agronomic traits include the production, transport and accumulation of sucrose, the yield of beets per unit area, disease resistance, and a number of genes involved in the economical production of hybrid seed. How many genes are involved in sucrose accumulation and their relative contribution to sucrose production is not known, although biochemically we can surmise at least 11 enzymes contribute to sucrose synthesis and another four or five enzymes are involved in the transport of sucrose. Most of the genes encoding these enzymes have been cloned from sugar beet or other plants so there is an opportunity to examine the genetics of sucrose production in relation to at least some of the genes involved. It is also generally accepted that yield of sugar beets, in terms of weight per root or weight per harvested area, has a low heritability. There is no satisfactory explanation for this except that a specific combination of genes act synergistically to produce higher yields. How many genes and what their gene products might be are open to speculation, however hybrids from dissimilar germplasm pools may show enhanced performance. Genetic diversity studies may identify different germplasm pools that could predict better yield combinations in hybrids. Our goal is to examine the genetics of these and other traits such as disease resistance using molecular marker technologies. Knowing which markers are associated with which traits will allow breeders to screen populations at early stages and aid in discovering new genes to augment current sugar beet germplasm.