University of Cambridge > > Plant Sciences Research Seminars > Sugar beet breeding, bolting resistance and Gibberellins

Sugar beet breeding, bolting resistance and Gibberellins

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As well as accounting for 30% of the world’s sugar production, Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) is a versatile crop producing phytochemicals, livestock feed and is used as a biofuel feedstock. Field cultivars are biennial long-day plants with an obligate requirement for vernalization (prolonged cold treatment) to induce reproductive growth. However it is the root of the plant in the vegetative state that has up to 18% sugar content and is the useful agricultural product. Bolting, or internode elongation, is the first visible sign of the reproductive transition and precedes flowering. If bolting resistant genotypes could be developed this would protect spring sown crops from premature bolting and enable a winter sown crop, with up to a 30% yield advantage.

The research team at Brooms Barn aim to understand the floral transition in sugar beet and ultimately to help breeders to develop cultivars which are resistant to vernalization-induced bolting in the field. In my PhD, I’ll be focussing on the role of gibberellic acids and looking for new breeding targets for bolting control. Our previous investigations showed up-regulation of GA biosynthesis at the shoot tip during vernalization, and that the highest GA content in the shoot tips of vernalized plants is correlated with the onset of bolting. I also want to investigate the role of cytokinins in bolting, and to look at the agronomic feasibility of a winter beet crop.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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