Breeding Organic Cotton Cultivars with Distinct Morphological Marker for Purity Maintenance
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This project addresses OREI priority (4) to strengthen organic crop seed systems and plant breeding for organic production, with an emphasis on publically available releases. Cultivars with simply-inherited, co-dominant leaf shape distinct from commercial GE cotton cultivars will be developed for organic production. Commercial planting seed suitable for organic cotton production is limited because seed companies have shifted away from producing non-GE seed and such seeds are becoming more difficult to acquire. Conventional, non-GE cultivars were not developed for, and are not well adapted to, organic production. Organic cotton farmers save planting seed of obsolete cultivars, no longer commercially available without GE traits, under the PVPA farmer exemption. Farmers seeking to transition to organic production do not have access to seed under the 1994 restriction to this exemption. The major constraint to organic saved cotton seed for planting is unintended adventitious presence of GE traits. Breeding lines developed at Texas A&M AgriLife Research with stakeholder-defined objectives host plant resistance to thrips, disease resistance, low leaf pubescence, efficient plant architecture, drought tolerance, and enhanced fiber quality are included in a complex crossing scheme with okra-leaf shape sources. Studies will be conducted to investigate impact of leaf shape on other organic production considerations. The distinct leaf shape, visible prior to flowering, can be used to manage outcrossing and physical, mechanical contamination. GE avoidance and mitigation training using the okra-leaf marker will be provided. Project objectives address legislatively-defined goal (8), developing new and improved seed varieties particularly suited for organic agriculture.