Molecular markers allow cotton breeders to accelerate development of root-knot resistant cotton varieties


Breeding new varieties for resistance to root-knot nematodes has been a challenge for cotton seed companies. The work was made easier because breeders can now use molecular markers to determine which genes are providing resistance to the pests. Monsanto’s Roy Cantrell discussed those advances in an interview at the Monsanto NPE Summit in Charleston, S.C.

“We’re seeing the real benefits of the technology of Monsanto combined with the germplasm and seeds from Deltapine with the launch of the three new varieties here in the Class of 2014,” says Cantrell, global cotton breeding lead for Monsanto Deltapine. “We also talked about the new technologies such as Xtend Flex. I also spoke about the new genetics that will come out in the XTend Flex and BollGard 2 technology platform.

“We’re excited about the performance of those varieties, their fiber quality as well as the benefits the technologies bring in terms of weed control and so forth. We’re in a time of transition from BollGard 2 Flex to Xtend. Pending regulatory approval, we’re looking ahead to the launch of that new technology in the best genetics.”

The NPE (New Product Evaluators) Summit has become a time for Monsanto representatives and growers to exchange information about what producers are seeing in the field on new varieties. In some cases, producers have convinced Monsanto to pursue varieties the company was considering dropping.

”The NPE program continues to be a success in helping get the best genetics and germplasm out into the marketplace, and getting the feedback from those growers about where the best fit is for those varieties and how to best manage those varieties,” said Cantrell. “This gets more important because as we adopt new technology these NPE growers will be early adopters, and they will help adapt the new technology like Xtend Flex to their particular farm.”

Besides DP 1454NR B2RF, the new nematode-resistant variety, Monsanto also introduced DP 1410 B2RF, an early maturity variety, and DP 1441 RF, a mid- to full-season variety, both of which will be targeted to the West Texas markets, during the meeting in Charleston. Representatives said they will continue to test other varieties that growers have labeled as promising in 2014 for possible inclusion in the Class of 2015.

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