Tapping sorghum's potential for cold tolerance

Oct 22, 2012 by Dennis O'brien
Tapping sorghum's potential for cold tolerance
A grain mold-resistant sorghum line with bright red seeds. Credit: Peggy Greb.

(Phys.org)—Sorghum was originally a tropical plant, but U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Lubbock, Texas, are looking to Asia to increase sorghum's cold tolerance and expand its production range.

Agricultural Service Research (ARS) Gloria Burow and her colleagues at the agency's Cropping Systems Research Laboratory in Lubbock have found cold-tolerance genes in Chinese cultivars and are using them to develop lines that breeders can use to produce hardy commercial varieties. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.

Sorghum is part of the human diet in India, Africa and parts of Japan. It is used in the United States primarily in animal feed, but it is a major U.S. export and is sold domestically to make gluten-free flour. By increasing its cold tolerance, Burow and her colleagues hope to extend its range in the Midwest beyond the sorghum belt that now stretches from Texas to Kansas and includes parts of Nebraska. They want to extend it into the Dakotas and west to Colorado.

Extending sorghum's range also would benefit growers overseas. Burow works with Cleve Franks, a scientist at DuPont Pioneer, and with ARS colleagues John J. Burke, Zhanguo Xin, Halee Hughes and Charlie Woodfin in Lubbock.

The researchers crossed one of the most promising cold-tolerant lines from China, called PI610727, with a cold-sensitive sorghum variety, and produced 171 inbred lines. They raised those lines at sites in Texas where they recorded soil and to assess the cold-tolerance capabilities for each plant. They also extracted DNA from the leaves and used to genotype them, essentially matching in plants with their cold hardiness, ability to germinate early, and ability to produce robust seedlings under cold conditions. They also evaluated each line in at and at optimal temperatures for seed germination.

The scientists have released the 171 inbred lines to breeders and research groups through the ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network, and at least two research groups have requested additional information on that population so far. They also published a genetic map of 141 genetic markers in Molecular Breeding that will make it easier for breeders to identify cold tolerance.

Sorghum germplasm also is being evaluated at four locations in Texas, Kansas and South Dakota. The effort could lead to higher yields and crops that can be planted earlier in the spring so that they tap more moisture from the soil.

Explore further: Better mouse model enables colon cancer research

More information: www.springerlink.com/content/1380-3743/

Read more about this research in the October 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Related Stories

Sorghum eyed as a southern bioenergy crop

Sep 17, 2012

Sweet sorghum is primarily grown in the United States as a source of sugar for syrup and molasses. But the sturdy grass has other attributes that could make it uniquely suited to production as a bioenergy ...

Cloned sorghum is aluminum tolerant

Feb 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Leon Kochian and colleagues have cloned a unique sorghum gene that is being used to develop sorghum lines that can withstand toxic levels of aluminum in the soil, a consequence of acidic soils.

Focusing on flood-tolerant soybeans

Jul 24, 2012

Soybean varieties that thrive even in soggy fields could result from studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. This would help increase profits for Mississippi Delta farmers who can see ...

Tannins in sorghum and benefits focus of genetic research

Jul 12, 2012

They might be called a blessing or a curse -- tannins, which are present in certain sorghums, contain health-promoting antioxidant properties, but also provide a bitter taste and decreased protein digestibility. To better ...

Recommended for you

First step towards global attack on potato blight

1 hour ago

European researchers and companies concerned with the potato disease phytophthora will work more closely with parties in other parts of the world. The first move was made during the biennial meeting of the ...

Bacteria study could have agricultural impact

2 hours ago

Wichita State University microbiology professor Mark Schneegurt and ornithology professor Chris Rogers have discovered that one of North America's most common migratory birds – the Dark-eyed Junco – carries ...

Sex chromosomes—why the Y genes matter

14 hours ago

Several genes have been lost from the Y chromosome in humans and other mammals, according to research published in the open access journal Genome Biology. The study shows that essential Y genes are rescue ...

Better mouse model enables colon cancer research

May 27, 2015

Every day, it seems, someone in some lab is "curing cancer." Well, it's easy to kill cancer cells in a lab, but in a human, it's a lot more complicated, which is why nearly all cancer drugs fail clinical ...

How to get high-quality RNA from chemically complex plants

May 26, 2015

Ask any molecular plant biologist about RNA extractions and you might just open up the floodgates to the woes of troubleshooting. RNA extraction is a notoriously tricky and sensitive lab procedure. New protocols out of the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.