Improvement of cotton fiber quality with chemical mutagenesis
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Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is world’s most important natural fiber crop. For the U.S. cotton industry to compete in international markets, we need to develop cultivars with improved fiber quality. The short growing season of the Lower Great Plains of North America provides a difficult environment for the production of high fiber quality. In addition, the narrow germplasm base of our short seasonal cotton cultivars limits the improvement of fiber quality. The Cotton Genetics Program at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX has historically concentrated on development of better fiber quality using chemical mutation. Chemical mutagenesis and subsequent selection have helped develop lines with improved fiber quality in genotypes adapted to this region. A total of 63 M5 breeding lines were selected from ethyl methansulfante (EMS) mutagenized populations of TAM 94L-25 and Acala 1517-99. These M5 lines were evaluated for High Volume Instrument (HVI) fiber quality characteristics and other basic agronomic components in six production environments across the Southern USA. HVI values of the selected mutant lines consistently deviated significantly from the means of the parental lines (Acala 1517-99 and Tam 94L-25). Multi-year and multi-location replicated studies confirmed the genetic bases for these differences. This indicates that a fiber traits were genetically enhanced using mutation breeding methods. It could be advantageous for cotton breeders to incorporate some of these traits into their breeding programs and to use these lines to develop genetic markers for specific fiber quality traits.