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Recurrent selection for sucrose content has altered growth and sugar accumulation in sugarcane

Lingle, Sarah E., Viator, Ryan P., Johnson, Richard M., Tew, Thomas L., Boykin, Deborah L.
Field crops research 2009 v.113 no.3 pp. 306
Saccharum, sugarcane, sucrose, plant growth, artificial selection, recurrent selection, selection criteria, plant breeding, cultivars, internodes, length, dry matter accumulation, water content, sugar content, photosynthates, carbohydrate metabolism
Sucrose content is one of the main factors sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids) breeders use in selecting new cultivars. To determine how growth and sugar content have been altered by six cycles of recurrent selection for sucrose, five cultivars from the first generation (released from 1924 to 1933) were compared with five cultivars from the seventh generation (released from 2003 to 2007). In July of 2006 and 2007, we flagged 20 stalks per plot and marked the top internode that was just beginning to elongate. We then sampled one stalk per plot at weekly to biweekly intervals for 12 weeks. We measured stalk length and internode number, and the length, fresh weight, dry weight, water content, and sugar content of the marked internode. Stalks from the Generation 7 cultivars were taller, and had more internodes than those from Generation 1 cultivars. The marked internodes of Generation 7 and Generation 1 cultivars had similar elongation rates during early development, but elongation ended earlier in Generation 7 cultivars so that internodes of Generation 7 cultivars were shorter when fully elongated than those of Generation 1 cultivars. These shorter internodes had lower fresh weights, but similar dry weights as the longer Generation 1 internodes. Water content also decreased faster in Generation 7 than Generation 1 internodes. Generation 7 internodes had more total sugar and more sucrose throughout development. Generation 7 internodes also maintained a higher sucrose:total sugar ratio until the end of the sampling period. We conclude that recurrent selection for sucrose content in sugarcane has altered the allocation of photosynthate from growth to storage within the internode. This is possibly due to a change in the regulation of sucrose metabolism within the internode.