Texas A&M University
Sorghum is an important feed grain, food grain and forage in Central America. In this region it is produced by a range of groups, from subsistence fanners who consider sorghum as a food security crop to commercial producers, who consider it a cash grain or forage crop. There is substantial need to improve the yield and quality of this germplasm and to incorporate tolerance traits to minimize losses due to drought, disease and insect pests. The overall goal of this proposal is to enhance the genetic yield and quality potential of sorghum genotypes adapted to Central America for use as a feed grain, food grain and forage crop. To meet this goal, previously established linkages with collaborators in the Central American region will be used (i) to coordinate in-country research studies and breeding evaluations, (ii) to identify quality students for training through involvement in ongoing projects at
1. Develop high-yielding, locally-adapted sorghum varieties and hybrids with improved grain and/or forage quality, drought tolerance, and disease resistance using both conventional breeding techniques and marker-assisted selection technology. Populations pertinent to this objective will be created and then distributed segregating populations to the international collaborators (Clara, Obando) for selection and cultivar development. 2. Identify and characterize genes related to disease resistance in sorghum with specific emphasis in downy mildew, anthracnose and grain mold. Utilize these sources of resistance inbreeding improved cultivars and hybrids for Central America. Our program has screened numerous accessions and identified specific sources of resistance to anthracnose, downy mildew and grain mold. These lines and populations derived from them will be evaluated in domestic and Central American sites to determine which sources will provide the most stable resistance. Populations of these will be evaluated to determine heritability and to transfer the resistance to locally adapted sorghum. Phenotypic evaluation of these lines and populations will occur in the appropriate domestic (Texas with C. Magill, G. Odvody and T. Isakeit) and international locations (Rene Clara in Central America and Medson Chisi in Southern Africa). 3. Identify and map genes related to grain quality such protein digestibility, nutraceutical potential and grain quality parameters per se. Variants that possess unique grain traits such as increased protein digestibility and enhanced antioxidant characters have been identified and characterized in our program. The purpose of this project is to assess the feasibility of producing cultivars that possess these characteristics. In collaboration with the TAMU grain quality program (L. Rooney, D. Hays), we are assessing the feasibility of combining both grain mold resistance and enhanced digestibility. Phenotypic evaluation of this material will occur in Texas and international locations (Central America and Southern Africa) in cooperation with the domestic (Gary Peterson) and international (Rene Clara, Rafael Obando, Medson Chisi) collaborators. 4. Provide technology transfer and technical assistance in promoting the use of improved sorghums as a feed grain, food grain and a forage crop in Central America. The purpose of this objective is to transfer the technology and knowledge needed to effectively produce and utilize the forage and/or grain produced from the improved sorghum cultivars (Maicillos Criollos, lines and hybrids). As appropriate, our program will coordinate these workshops with collaborating scientists in the specific area of expertise, such as animal feeding (J. Hancock) grain quality and utilization for human food (L Rooney), and agronomy and forage quality (J. Blumenthal). The technical assistance efforts will focus on industry and academic leaders in El Salvador and Nicaragua.