Texas A&M gene study aimed at enhanced cotton fiber breeding
A new study by Texas A&M University cotton researchers and breeders will take advantage of new high-throughput sequencing technology to rapidly advance cotton genetics research and breeding.
Their goal: maintain U.S. cotton's competitiveness in the world cotton market, according to Dr. Hongbin Zhang, professor of plant genomics and systems biology and director of the Laboratory for Plant Genomics and Molecular Genetics in College Station.
The three-year, $500,000 National Institute for Food and Agriculture-funded study, will be conducted by Zhang, along with Dr. Meiping Zhang, Texas A&M AgriLife Research associate research scientist; Dr. C. Wayne Smith, Texas A&M professor of cotton breeding and soil and crop sciences associate department head, and Dr. Steve Hague, associate professor of cotton genetics and breeding in the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Cotton Improvement Lab.
"Cotton is the leading textile fiber and a major bioenergy oilseed crop in Texas and the U.S., with an annual economic impact of about $120 billion in the U.S.," Zhang said.
"In our previous studies, we have already constructed the first genome-wide physical map of Upland cotton, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the cotton in Texas and the U.S." he said. "We are also using the physical map as a platform to sequence the cotton genome."
Also, they previously developed a population of 1,172 recombinant inbred lines that are essential to fine map the cotton genome and genes of economic importance for fiber and oilseed production, Zhang said.
They phenotyped seven of the traits important for fiber quality and yield in 200 of those lines and their parents using three replicated field trials for three years at College Station. The researchers then sequenced and profiled the gene expressions in the developing fibers of those lines, Zhang said.
"Now we want to develop a new and advanced breeding system in cotton, such as gene-based breeding, where we are selecting the target traits based on the genes controlling the traits, gene activities and gene interaction networks."
The long-term goals are to clone the genes that control all major traits of cotton fiber quality and fiber yield, determine their molecular basis and regulation mechanisms, and develop fiber gene-based toolkits, enabling enhanced cotton fiber breeding, he said.
The breeding toolkits to be developed will enhance breeding for all major cotton fiber traits, including fiber yield, lint percent, fiber length, strength, micronaire, uniformity and elongation across the U.S. cotton breeding programs, Zhang said.