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Genetic variation and selection within glandless cotton germplasm

Zhang, Jinfa, Idowu, Omololu J., Flynn, Robert, Wedegaertner, Tom, Hughs, S. Ed.
Euphytica 2014 v.198 no.1 pp. 59-67
Gossypium hirsutum, breeding, cultivars, fiber quality, genetic variation, germplasm, gossypol, lint cotton, pedigree, seeds, United States
There is a renewed interest in research and use of glandless (free of gossypol) Upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) that can produce edible seeds for human food and animal feed. However, there was a lack of information on yield potential of existing glandless germplasm since intermittent breeding activities for glandless cotton were stopped in the U.S. before 2000. The objectives of the present study were to test obsolete and exotic glandless germplasm for possible production and evaluate progress in direct pedigree selection within the existing glandless germplasm in eight field tests. In multiple tests, the glandless cotton Acala GLS yielded only 65–80 % lint of the glanded control Acala 1517-08 and 46–75 % lint of commercial transgenic cultivars. Most of obsolete glandless germplasm and their selections yielded <70 % of Acala 1517-08 and only three selections yielded 82–89 % of the control. Genetic variation in yield and fiber quality traits was seen from significant differences between selections within the same glandless germplasm, indicating the existence of residual genetic variation. Most importantly, three selections from exotic glandless germplasm out-yielded Acala 1517-08 by 4–9 %, one of which had desirable fiber quality traits. These promising glandless lines with comparable yields to commercial cotton make it possible to revitalize the glandless cotton industry. More field tests will be needed to evaluate their yield potential and adaptability in the U.S. Cotton Belt.