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Title: Sugar Beet Breeding - Where are We Going from Here?

item Panella, Leonard

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/5/2013
Publication Date: 1/10/2013
Citation: Panella, L.W. 2013. Sugar Beet Breeding - Where are We Going from Here? Meeting Abstract. Billings, MT. Jan. 9-10, 2013.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: USDA-Agricultural Research Service plant breeders generally do pre-breeding, but today we will talk a little about what the future holds for new varieties and directions in commercial plant breeding. This presentation is my vision, not a presentation from a seed company, and we will talk about trends I see the industry going in. The last 15 years has seen a tremendous increase in available tools for research and breeding, which is leading to increased information and changing the way plant breeding is done. It seems that molecular technologies, tools, and applications are growing exponentially. Genetic mapping using a variety of new molecular markers is allowing the identification and characterization of genes responsible for different traits, and not just transgenic traits. Markers also can speed up plant breeding (marker assisted selection), especially of traits controlled by single or few genes. As we get better maps and more knowledge, multi-genic traits also can be followed, and he genetic control of plant systems better understood. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges with changing technologies is utilizing the amount of data that available new techniques and tools can generate, and integrating these data with the traditional phenotypic evaluation data. Bottom line: just as new technologies are impacting the way you grow crops, new technologies are impacting the way seed companies produce the varieties they sell – allowing quicker and more efficient improvements. What are some of breeding goals for new varieties, both traditional and biotech varieties? Disease resistance will remain an important goal, especially against diseases where there is no chemical protection. Because viruses often have disease resistances controlled by one or few genes, they are disease resistance targets for a biotech approach. Nematode resistance will continue to be a target of traditional breeding as well as a biotech goal because of its relatively simple inheritance. Fungal diseases and insect pests are a little more problematic for a biotech approach because current resistant mechanisms are controlled by many genes, but I am sure that novel resistance mechanisms are being explored. Additional goals include development of Energy Beets: Those energy beet varieties grown in warmer climates will require a different disease resistance package, and the energy beet will require other not yet defined changes – and there will be both biotech and traditional approaches to these changes. There also is a strong interest both for energy and sugar beets in a winter-beet, grown in areas where sugar beet traditionally has been grown as a spring planted crop. This would require better non-bolting varieties than are now available, and probably a biotech approach. Certainly there will be a continuing emphasis on sugar yield, using both traditional and biotech approaches. Other traits of interest include biotech approaches to other herbicide resistances. Because s sugar beet is a great plant factory, we will see it used to produce chemical feedstocks like fructans and other natural polymers to replace plastics, etc. Drought and heat tolerance will be needed in areas impacted by climate change and limited irrigation water, and, if it is to be used as a winter beet, frost tolerance will be needed. As there is more and more CO2 available in our atmosphere, a plant that is more efficient at photosynthesis would have an advantage. In a similar way a plant that more efficiently uses nutrients would have lower input costs. Many of the improvements in the future will depend on better knowledge of the plants physiology, and increasing our understanding of this may be one of the greatest benefits of the new technologies.