Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/21/2015
Publication Date: 11/10/2015
Citation: Pan, Y.-B. 2015. Impact of biotechnology on sugarcane agriculture and industry. Proceedings for International Conference on: World economics for sugar industry towards food and energy in a changed economic environment. November 7-10, 2015, Aswan, Egypt.
Technical Abstract: There are nine key issues that can influence the productivity and sustainability of the sugarcane industry. These include land, soil fertility, water, variety, planting density, crop protection, cultural practices, harvesting and processing, and information technology. To all sugarcane farmers, it remains a top-most concern to grow the right cultivars. While it is the duty of conventional breeders to develop desirable sugarcane cultivars, biotechnologists can contribute greatly to the variety development process (crossing, selection, and evaluation) through the development and application of molecular breeding tools. Sugarcane breeding is very difficult as it may take 12 to 14 years to develop a new cultivar for commercial production. This is because sugarcane varieties are highly polyploid, inter-specific hybrids with 100 to 130 chromosomes that may vary across geographical areas. Other obstacles/constraints include the small size of flowers that may not synchronize but may self-pollinate, difficulty in distinguishing hybrids from self progenies, extreme (G x E) interactive effect, and potential variety mis-identification during vegetative propagation and varietal exchange. To help cane breeders circumvent these constraints, applied biotechnology research was initiated in 1994 at the USDA-ARS, Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma, LA in areas of molecular evaluation of germplasm, species- and trait-specific (SCAR, QTL) DNA markers, genetic linkage maps, transgenic (GMO) sugarcane, and a molecular identity database, which is the main focus of this presentation. Since 2005, approximately 2,000 molecular identities have been constructed for clones of sugarcane and related Saccharum species that cover geographical areas including Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, USA (Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Hawaii), and Venezuela. The molecular identity database is updated annually and has been utilized to: 1) provide molecular descriptors to newly registered cultivars; 2) identify in a timely fashion any mislabeled or unidentifiable clones from cross parents and field evaluation plots; 3) develop de novo clones of energy cane with S. spontaneum cytoplasm; 4) provide clone-specific fingerprint information for assessing cross quality and paternity of polycrosses; 5) determine genetic relatedness of parental clones; 6) select F1 hybrids from (elite x wild) or (wild x elite) crosses; and 8) investigate the inheritance of SSR markers in sugarcane. The integration of the molecular identity database into the sugarcane breeding program may improve the overall efficacy of cultivar development and commercialization.