Molecular technology advances southern pea breeding
By Fred Miller
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Field day visitors toured Division of Agriculture southern pea breeding plots and heard about the latest research in the field.
- Development of molecular technology will cut years and dollars off the pea breeding process.
- Division scientists are evaluating weed control strategies to support profitable southern pea production.
Related PHOTOS on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/89175420@N02/sets/72157656780940610
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Merging genetic tools into conventional breeding methods may cut years, and dollars, off the lengthy and expensive process of breeding improved southern pea varieties, according to researchers at a University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture field day.
Some 30 participants learned about new technologies and developments in southern pea research during the field day Aug. 12 at the Vegetable Research Station near Kibler.
Division vegetable breeder Ainong Shi said conventional breeding methods require years of crossing many different parent lines and growing them to maturity in order to select plants with potentially desirable traits.
The Division of Agriculture currently has more than 1,000 advanced southern pea breeding lines, Shi said, and 50 years of pea breeding experience. On average, he said, it takes nine to 10 years to advance a single breeding line from cross pollination to the point at which it’s ready to be released as a commercial variety.
Molecular technologies — with names like “marker assisted selection” and “single nucleotide polymorphism” — offer more efficient means of identifying desirable genetic traits in breeding lines.
Shi said existing breeding lines could be screened for useful genetic traits — pest or disease resistance, high yield, drought tolerance etc. A smaller number of cross-pollinations could be made to target those traits. The resulting progeny could be screened in greenhouses and only those with the desired genetics would have to be planted in breeding plots.
Dennis Motes, director of the Vegetable Research Station, said the program’s breeding lines could be reduced to about a third of its current inventory by weeding out the lines with no advantageous genetic traits. He said the breeding process from making a cross to releasing an improved variety could be cut from around nine years to two or three years.
Division weed scientist Nilda Burgos and graduate assistant Chris Rouse described weed control research related to horticulture in general and southern peas in particular. Burgos said Arkansas has limited options for herbicides labeled for use in vegetable crops, but division researchers have tested strategies, coupled with land management methods, that provided effective weed control.
Rouse discussed recently completed southern pea weed management update and herbicide recommendations that will soon be available from the Division of Agriculture.
Heavy rain and flooding this year had presented challenges to division weed research, Rouse said, but sufficient data had been collected to develop the recommendations. He noted that 2015 rains demonstrated the wisdom of considering rain fast options among the available herbicides and monitoring weather as much as possible.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service