Submitted to: Journal of New Seeds
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/6/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The genetic improvement of cotton fiber properties contributes to processing efficiency in yarn and textile manufacture, plus better textile products for consumers. Conventional breeding, marker-assisted selection, and biotechnological methods are strategies with which to modify cotton fiber properties. This research assesses the merits of each of these three estrategies and provides recommendations for their use. Conventional breeding is still the choice for the improvement of most of the basic fiber properties for several reasons. Marker assisted selection is not yet feasible for the genetic improvement of fiber properties, because the technology to elucidate markers at the level of the chromosome has not advanced to the point where chromosomes have a sufficient density of markers. Similarly, biotechnological improvement of fiber properties is not yet feasible because the genes that impart fiber quality have not been identified. Conventional breeding with its documented history of success in modifying cotton fiber properties to meet the needs of yarn and textile manufacturers will remain the dominant methodology until further advances occur in molecular biology.
Technical Abstract: The properties of cotton fiber that allow it to be used as a textile fiber are genetically controlled. The brief history of the organized modification of cotton fiber properties through breeding began with the development of tools to measure these properties and the application of genetic analysis to crop plants. Prior to organized breeding, there was a general realization that fiber length was a critical method of evaluating the suitability of germplasm for its processibility, because of the association between longer length and spinnability on crude yarn manufacturing equipment of the era. The history of the cotton industry teaches us that when fiber properties fail to keep pace with technological advance in yarn and textile manufacture, cotton's share of the raw fiber market has declined. Traditional breeding has been very successful in modifying fiber length and strength, two important properties of cotton fiber that allow it to be spun into yarn. However, technological advances in yarn and textile manufacture, such as rotor yarn spinning and high-output cloth manufacture, have increased demand for ever stronger cotton fiber. These market forces are, thus, incentives for cotton geneticists to develop genotypes with improved fiber characteristics. The object of this chapter is to review progress from traditional breeding for fiber properties and how new tools including molecular markers and transformation can be applied to accelerate fiber property improvement.