Five new germplasm lines targeted at improved fiber quality and increased yield are on the market today thanks to Cotton Incorporated, the University of Georgia, Texas A&M University and the University of Arkansas.
The germplasm lines are the first released from the grower-funded Cotton Inc. Breeding and Genetic Initiative launched in 2002,
The germplasm lines are available to all companies and breeders for use in breeding programs. That the lines are public property is essential to the continued improvement of cotton varieties in the United States, says Roy Cantrell, Cotton Incâ€™s Vice President of Agricultural Research and founder of the Breeding and Genetic Initiative.
Seed companies, Cantrell says, now apply for "utility patents" on their cotton varieties, which not only prohibits growers from keeping seed but also stops researchers formusing the seed for developing new lines.
"If thatâ€™s the path these companies want to take, then we see a very dark future for germplasm enhancement," Cantrell says.
That direction makes the grower-funded research all the more essential to the viability of the cotton industry.
"Whether you know it, we are on a roller coaster in the cotton industry. We can no longer afford stagnant periods in development of improved yield and quality," Cantrell says. "We want sustained genetic improvement in yield and quality.
One of the issues the initiative is addressing is stress tolerance.
"Itâ€™s our goal to pyramid fiber quality and stress stability," Cantrell says.
The work that Cotton Inc. and the land grant universities are doing, however, isnâ€™t accomplished in a vacuum. The idea is to work for the industry and hand-in-hand with private enterprise. Seed companies now can put the new germplasm lines to work in our fields.
"This is the foundation for the future of cotton," Cantrell says. "I believe this complements biotechnology very well."
The five germplasm lines released by Cotton Inc. are:
â€¢ GA 98066 â€“ Developed in conjunction with the University of Georgia, this is a high-yielding germplasm line with desirable fiber quality and moderate resistance to Fusarium Wilt.
â€¢ Tamcot 22 â€“ Developed in conjunction with Texas A&M University, this germplasm is a high-yielding, mid-season picker-type cultivar.
â€¢ TAM 96WD â€“ Developed in conjunction with Texas A&M University, this is a high-yielding germplasm line with improved fiber length and strength.
â€¢ TAM 96WD-69s â€“ Developed in conjunction with Texas A&M University, this is a high yielding, smooth leaf germplasm line with improved fiber length and strength.
â€¢ Arkot 8712 â€“ Developed in conjunction with the University of Arkansas, this germplasm line matures early and has an excellent fiber quality.
In addition to funding, Cotton Incorporated helps make breeding program selections based on fiber testing conducted at Cotton Incorporated and coordinates the Winder Breeding nursery in Mexico, along with the National Cotton Council and USDA-ARS, which aided in the release of the new germplasm lines.
Work under the initiative is administered by The Cotton Board. For more information about the Cotton Board, please visit www.cottonboard.org.