Project Summaries

09-512MS  Project Manager: D. C. Jones


Ted P. Wallace, Mississippi State University

In 2006, federal scientist made a major contribution to cotton breeding by successfully transferring resistance to the reniform nematode from a wild species of cotton to the most commonly cultivated species of cotton. Shortly afterwards cotton breeders with the Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) designed a breeding program aimed at developing nematode resistant MAFES breeding lines adapted to production in the Mid-South growing region. Availability of the USDA Mid-South Area Genomics Laboratory (MSAGL) facilities located in Stoneville, Mississippi provided the opportunity to apply modern technology to plant breeding and was a decisive factor in pursuing the development of nematode resistant cotton. Using marker assisted selection (MAS), resistant plants can be identified simply by the presence of a "marker", (a unique sequence of DNA), taken from a small leaf. This approach has a huge advantage over traditional methods since resistant plants can be identified without screening plants in nematode infested soil. To use this approach, susceptible and resistant breeding lines are crossed, and leaf samples are collected from the second generation of offspring. Thousands of plants are then tested for the presence of the marker to identify which plants are resistant and also have a favorable combination of agronomic properties. Using this method resulted in nearly 70 reniform resistant breeding lines that were tested for yield in 2011. Several resistant lines produced lint yields greater than commercial varieties that were included for comparison purposes. These lines were further evaluated in 2012 to determine if they should be released for use by the cotton industry. In addition, new breeding lines were developed using MAS technology that have genes for resistance to both reniform and root-knot nematodes. Developing lines with resistance to two nematode species and favorable combinations of agronomic traits is more of a challenge when compared to resistance for a single nematode species. More crosses must be made and more plants tested to increase the odds of finding a suitable plant. A number of plants have been selected that stack resistance for both nematodes; however, these plants must be evaluated to determine performance for yield and fiber properties. Although it is too early in the breeding program to judge success, progress has been achieved and a good number of nematode resistant lines are now ready for more extensive testing.


Project Year: 2012

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