A Study in Sorghum Bicolor: QTL Analysis of Photoperiod Sensitive Sorghums, Evaluation of Sorghum x Sugarcane Hybrids and Trait Introgression for Intergeneric Hybrid Improvement
Bartek, Matthew Scott
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Recently designated as a bioenergy crop, Sorghum is rather unique as it can produce large quantities of cellulose or sugar which can be used to produce advanced biofuels or compounds. Sweet sorghum contains high levels of sugars and biomass sorghums consist primarily of ligno-cellulosic biomass. Improvement of both sorghum types is essential for maximizing production and conversion efficiency. Photoperiod sensitive sorghum is thought to maximize biomass production yet maturity influence on biomass production and composition is not fully understood. Utilizing sorghum for sugar production has increased efforts to develop sweet sorghums with sugar yields similar to sugarcane. Hybridization of these species has been investigated with, until recently, little success. Testing newly developed intergeneric hybrids and improvement of parents used in their creation will determine their feasibility and improve hybrid performance. Objectives of this research are multifaceted. First, analyze photoperiod sensitive sorghum in varying day length environments to determine maturity effects on plant phenotype, composition, and QTL detection. Second, analyze intergeneric sorghum ? sugarcane hybrids to determine agronomic performance in relation to sugarcane. Lastly, introgress the iap allele into sweet sorghum females for use in intergeneric hybrid creation. Photoperiod sensitive sorghum RILs were evaluated in College Station and Weslaco, Texas and Puerto Rico which caused differential expression of plant maturity. Genetic control of trait expression was high for each location. Results indicate gradual induction of plant maturity increases detection of phenotypic QTL and detection of compositional QTL increases when maturity effects on plant phenotype are reduced. Intergeneric sorghum ? sugarcane F_1 hybrids were compared to sugarcane in Weslaco, Texas in 2011. Each hybrid expressed agronomic traits similar or better than that of the sugarcane variety. High levels of repeatability and genetic influence on trait expression were observed. Overall performance of the sugarcane variety was better than any individual hybrid tested. Introgression of iap into sweet sorghum was successful and generated seventeen new sweet sorghum female genotypes possessing the allele. Only two genotypes exhibited higher brix readings and both were later maturing than Tx3361. Height and maturity of all developed genotypes varied and desirability of developed lines was similar to Tx3361.