Summary Sheet of United Sorghum Checkoff Program's Call for

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					Summary Sheet of United Sorghum Checkoff Program’s Call for Research Proposals 2009




                                    Page 1 of 24
                                        Management

                             Management Pocket Handbooks
                                     $121,857

Lead PI             Institute               Title                                     $ Amount
Calvin Trostle      Texas AgrLife           Sorghum Pocket Production Guides-         $21,857.00
                                            Texas South Plains and Coastal Bend
Rick Kochenower     OSU                     Grain Sorghum Management for the          $17,500.00
                                            Great Plains
Scott Staggenborg   KSU                     Central Plains Grain Sorghum              $15,000.00
                                            Management Guide
Barney Gordon       KSU                     Managing Sorghum Production in the        $15,000.00
                                            Eastern Great Plains
Jason Kelley        Univ. of Arkansas       Regional Strategies for Grain Sorghum     $18,000.00
                                            Management for the Delta
Angela Thompson     Univ. of Tennessee      Regional Strategies for Grain Sorghum     $12,000.00
                                            Management in Mid-South
Mark Marsalis       New Mexico State        Regional Strategies for Forage Sorghum    $17,500.00
                                            Management-Plains
Yoana Newman        Univ. of Florida        Regional Strategies for Forage Sorghum    $5,000.00
                                            Management-Easter US
                                                                              Total   $121,857.00




                                         Page 2 of 24
                      Expand Grain Sorghum Hybrid Testing—West Texas
                       Lead PI: Calvin Trostle, Texas AgriLife Extension
                                           $28,104

Project Summary

This project seeks funding, both primary and supplemental, to expand support for new West
Texas grain sorghum hybrid trial testing as well as bolster existing program in the Texas
AgriLife Research Crop Testing program. Areas targeted for new test sites include: dryland—
Perryton, on-farm Levelland (near the ethanol plant using 100% grain sorghum), Vernon,
Lamesa, and on-farm Ballinger/San Angelo; irrigated, Perryton and on-farm Levelland. Existing
dryland test sites in the current official crop testing program will receive additional support due
to the 2007 initiative to re-start dryland sorghum hybrid testing in West Texas whereby
companies were offered three test sites for the price of one (Bushland, Lubbock, & Clovis, NM).
Additional funding was anticipated for these sites through the state sorghum association, but this
did not materialize hence these sites are greatly underfunded. Depending on the arrangement a
minimum of eight hybrids chosen by Texas AgriLife Extension will be tested at on-farm sites,
and sites affiliated with official Crop Testing work include as many as 30 hybrids. Results will
be at the forefront of Extension producer education programs for grain sorghum in West Texas.




                                           Page 3 of 24
        Update Publication on Growth, Development, and Nutrient Uptake of Sorghum
                              Lead PI: Kraig Roozeboom, KSU
                                          $26,590

Project Summary

To develop efficient management practices aimed at improving productivity and profitability for
any crop, it is essential to understand its growth, development, and nutrient uptake patterns. At
the present time, the most comprehensive publication on sorghum growth and development was
originally published 30 years ago (How a Sorghum Plants Develops) at Kansas State University
with minor updates in 1993 (Vanderlip, 1993). This has served scientists, students, extension
agents, and producers over many decades and has been extensively cited in the literature.
However, significant changes in sorghum genetics and management practices make it necessary
to update this important resource. In addition, the images depicting growth stages are not
available in high-quality electronic form, limiting their dissemination and use in presentations
and publications. Through this proposal we intend to update this publication with current hybrids
and develop new, high-resolution electronic images for dissemination to producers, consultants,
researchers, and extension agents. We will update this information for both grain sorghum and
forage sorghum hybrids. Two grain sorghum hybrids (medium early and medium late) and two
forage sorghum hybrids (standard and photoperiod sensitive) will be grown under currently
recommended crop management practices. Destructive samples will be taken at 10-day intervals
throughout the growing season for determination of dry matter partitioning (leaves, stems, seed
and roots) and nutrient concentration in each component. This data will be used to develop
growth curves and nutrient uptake (N, P, and K) curves and yield over the entire growing period
of the crop. Similarly, at each development stage, images will be taken to illustrate key growth
stages of both grain and forage sorghum. Overall, the new updated publication will be beneficial
to people involved sorghum production, research, extension, and industry. Copies of this
publication will be distributed to sorghum producers and researchers across the country. This
publication will serve the mission of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program to increase
productivity of sorghum through education.




                                          Page 4 of 24
             Development of forage sorghum tissue testing for efficient fertilization
                       Lead PI: Mike Ottman, University of Arizona
                                         $18,849

Project Summary

Nitrogen fertilizer costs have fluctuated wildly in the past few years. Sorghum silage is an
attractive crop because it requires less fertilizer than corn silage. However, fertilizer guidelines
are not available for forage sorghum production in the desert southwest. In order develop these
guidelines, we propose to conduct a nitrogen fertilizer rate study in Maricopa, AZ. Nitrogen
fertilizer will be applied to forage sorghum at 6 rates varying from 0 to 300 lbs N/acre in split
applications during the season. The lower portion of the stem will be sampled six times during
the season and analyzed for nitrate. Preliminary post-plant nitrogen fertilizer guidelines based on
lower stem nitrate will be developed. Publishable guidelines can only be established with 2 or
more years of data.




                                           Page 5 of 24
    Use of canopy temperature to optimize water use and irrigation management in sorghum
                       Lead PI: James Mahan, USDA-ARS Lubbock
                                  $42,504 (2–year project)

Project Summary

The combination of declining water resources and increasing costs for irrigation have resulted in
renewed interest in the optimization of water use in sorghum. New water-efficient germplasm
and improved irrigation management can both contribute to economical water use. The
development of tools for the identification of improved sorghum hybrids and irrigation
scheduling methods tailored to sorghum will provide new opportunities for sorghum as a
profitable crop under limiting water conditions.
    Regardless of the germplasm used by the producer, profitability will be improved by
appropriate irrigation management. Some current irrigation methods are not well-suited for use
in many sorghum production settings. This project will provide the basis for implementation of
the BIOTIC irrigation scheduling in sorghum across a range of irrigation intensities.
    While new sorghum germplasm is essential for production under limited irrigation, the
identification of germplasm for improved water use is limited by the lack of suitable methods for
monitoring water use among large numbers of sorghum hybrids. A newly developed infrared
thermometry system used in this study, coupled with new insights into the relationship between
plant temperature and water use, will provide a new tool for germplasm identification.
    Over a 20-year period scientists from the Plant Stress and Germplasm Development Research
Unit in Lubbock TX have carried out extensive research into the use of plant temperature for the
management of crop irrigation. A number of crop species have been studied though the bulk of
the studies have utilized cotton. Insight into the relationship between crop canopy temperature
and water status resulted in an irrigation management protocol referred to as BIOTIC that has
been licensed by Smartfield Inc (Smartfield.com). Smartfield is marketing a device based upon
our BIOTIC protocol under the name Smartcrop. Smartfield’s hardware and software provides a
conduit for the direct transfer of the results of this study into the production agricultural
community.
    A “spin-off” product of BIOTIC research is a simple to use low-cost wireless infrared
thermometry system that has greatly simplified the use of infrared thermometry in agricultural
settings and is compatible with production systems. This new temperature monitoring system
coupled with our previously developed BIOTIC irrigation scheduling provides the basis for the
use of canopy temperature for the identification promising germplasm for production under
limited irrigation.
    The current commercial status of the technology coupled with the researchers’ previous
experience in technology transfer provide a pathway to rapid adoption of the approaches
developed in this project.




                                          Page 6 of 24
  Investigating automatic irrigation scheduling and quantifying water use efficiency for limited
                    and fully irrigated grain sorghum using LEPA irrigation
                     Lead PI: Susan O’Shaughnessy, USDA-ARS Bushland
                                             $13,500

Project Summary

This proposal is submitted by a group of investigators who amongst them have high levels of
expertise and experience in areas of irrigation engineering, soil science, automatic irrigation
scheduling, crop water use measurement and estimation, agronomy, and sensor development.
This proposal also represents collaboration between two entities, USDA-ARS and Texas
AgriLife Extension Services for a two year research project. Progress from the study will be
published in the Bushland USDA-ARS bi-annual news letter (the “Wetting Front” product of the
Soil & Water Management Research Unit), and a refereed journal. Agronomic progress and
results will also be disseminated by Texas AgriLife Extension Service for outreach with local
producers.
     Sorghum is an important forage and grain crop and is widely used as agricultural feedstock
for ethanol production. In the Northern High Plains district of Texas, 40% of grain sorghum is
irrigated, resulting in yields double to those from dryland farming (Colaizzi et al., 2008).
Improving crop productivity without significantly impacting the existing water supply is
becoming a major focus of consideration for producers to either maintain or improve their
profitability. This research project will investigate automatic irrigation scheduling based on a
temperature stress index. Crop canopy temperature measurements will be made from wireless
sensors mounted on a six-span center pivot arm. Yield responses will be analyzed across fully
randomized plots (four manual irrigation treatments- 80%, 55%, 30%, and 0% of
evapotranspiration (ET) (calculated from Penman Monteith Equation and retrieved from the
Texas High Plains ET network) and their automatic analogs and three replications, blocked by
control type (manual or automatic) and analyzed using Proc Mixed statistical models.
     In cooperation with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, our field experiment will be
incorporated as an onsite visit during a sorghum field day. Possible topics to be included in the
field day include: the impacts of limited irrigation on sorghum development and productivity,
irrigation levels and water use efficiency, optimal thermal stress indexes for irrigation
scheduling, and the impact of irrigation technology on water conservation and profitability.




                                          Page 7 of 24
      Enhancing Sorghum Yield and Profitability through Efficient Nitrogen Management
                              Lead PI: Dave Mengel, KSU
                                         $10,000

Project Summary

Nitrogen fertilizer represents a significant investment for many sorghum growers. In Kansas
growers will normally invest $15 to $60 per acre in nitrogen each year. Recent work shows that
the current preplant N recommendations overstimate N needs by 26 pounds N per acre, if
growers use a preplant soil test. Without soil tests that over recommendation can easily double.
However, less than 10% of the sorghum fields grown in Kansas use current profile N tests as a
base for N recommendations.
    Sorghum is also normally grown in high risk environments. One too available to growers to
reduce the risk and enhance return on their fertilizer investments is to delay N application until
mid-season, when a better assessment of yield potential and N need can be made. By using crop
sensors mid-season, together with well placed N fertilized reference strips, much more accurate
N recommendations can be made.
    The efficiency with which applied N is recovered by the sorghum crop, NUE, also varies
dramatically. Past work in Kansas has shown N recovery to vary from <30 to >60%. This
significantly impacts both yield and the N application rate required to reach maximum yield.
    This project proposes to conduct a series of field experiments to address these three issues.
Classical N response data will be collected to assist in the development of more effective N rate
recommendations, both traditional preplant soil tests based and sensor based. In addition a NUE
rate adjustment will be developed using both results found in the literature and new field data
which will allow quantifying differences in NUE found between various N management
practices.
    The potential benefits to farmers will be much more accurate N fertilizer recommendations,
reduced N application costs and potentially higher yields. This could result in a potential increase
in net returns of $5 to $20 per acre from a combination of reduced N cost and/or higher yield.




                                           Page 8 of 24
             Development of forage sorghum tissue testing for efficient fertilization
                       Lead PI: Mike Ottman, University of Arizona
                                         $24,140

Project Summary

Nitrogen fertilizer costs have fluctuated wildly in the past few years. Sorghum silage is an
attractive crop because it requires less fertilizer than corn silage. However, fertilizer guidelines
are not available for forage sorghum production in the desert southwest. In order develop these
guidelines, we propose to conduct a nitrogen fertilizer rate study in Maricopa, AZ. Nitrogen
fertilizer will be applied to forage sorghum at 6 rates varying from 0 to 300 lbs N/acre in split
applications during the season. The lower portion of the stem will be sampled six times during
the season and analyzed for nitrate. Preliminary post-plant nitrogen fertilizer guidelines based on
lower stem nitrate will be developed. Publishable guidelines can only be established with 2 or
more years of data.




                                           Page 9 of 24
                                    Disease & Pest Research

                  Integrated Management of Sorghum Downy Mildew in Texas
                         Lead PI: Tom Isakeit, Texas AgriLife Extension
                                            $13,800

Project Summary

Sorghum downy mildew (SDM), caused by the fungus Peronosclerospora sorghi, is emerging as
a potential constraint to sorghum production in the Upper Gulf Coast counties of Texas. Initially,
there was the emergence of a metalaxyl-resistant isolate in 2001 in Wharton County, which was
followed by the emergence of a new metalaxyl-resistant pathotype that overcame some sources
of host resistance in 2005. Experiments in Wharton county demonstrated a disease incidence of
up to 24% in susceptible hybrids. The new pathotype has spread within Wharton County and in
2008, was found in Victoria County. Although there is currently research evaluating new
sorghum germplasm and new fungicides for management of SDM, we are proposing to increase
educational efforts to more intensively promote existing IPM (integrated pest management)
practices for managing this disease in the short term (i.e. the next few years) and integrating new
germplasm or fungicides as they become available into a control program over a longer period of
time. We propose to conduct extensive surveys for SDM in an eight-county area of the Upper
Gulf Coast. We will map locations of SDM and identify the pathotype and metalaxyl sensitivity.
We will conduct demonstration trials of hybrids with resistance to the prevailing pathotype in
several counties, assessing both disease severity and yield, in comparison with susceptible yields.
We will also perform trials demonstrating the effectiveness of crop rotation. We will promote
these trials with field days and county meetings, as well as publish the results. Educational
bulletins will be developed and disseminated via mailings and the internet. The efforts will be
coordinated by a plant pathologist, but will rely heavily on the contributions of a multi-
disciplinary team of agronomists and entomologists, since factors in addition to disease
resistance will affect the yield of a hybrid. The integration of efforts will be at a regional level
through extension specialists and IPM agents, as well as at a county level through county agents.
This area of Texas accounts for 8% of the yield for the state, but represents a value of the crop of
$67 million (2008 statistics: 13.5 million bushels @ $5/bu). A widespread presence of SDM in
this area could conceivably result in a yield loss of millions of dollars, which our proposed
educational efforts would avert. Our efforts could be transferred to other sorghum production
areas of the United States, where SDM could become a problem in the future.




                                          Page 10 of 24
     Optimization and Education Program for Herbicide Resistant Technology in Sorghum
                             Lead PI: Kassim Al-Khatib, KSU
                                         $41,400

Project Summary

Field research and educational programs will be conducted during 2009 at six states that
represent significant part of the sorghum producing areas in the US. The objectives of the project
are to optimize herbicide resistant technology, educate growers how to use the technology
effectively, and develop stewardship program to manage the technology. Acetolactate synthase
(ALS) and Acetyl COA carboxylase (ACC) resistant sorghum will be planted in separate studies
at 15 sites in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, and South Dakota during 2009.
Accent and Assure II will be applied at 0.67 and 7 oz/A, respectively. In addition, Accent and
Assure II will be applied in combination with selected herbicides. Sorghum injury ratings will be
determined 1, 2, 4, and 8 weeks after postemergence treatments. Sorghum plant height will be
determined at flowering stage. Grain will be harvested mechanically from the center two rows of
each plot and weighed then destroyed. Data will be analyzed using analysis of variance and
regression analyses as appropriate. The proposed research will develop necessary data that will
develop a cost effective and environmentally sound weed control practice in grain sorghum. The
ALS and ACCase technologies will add new tools for weed management in sorghum. These
technologies are extremely important because it can be used as postemergence treatment to
control weeds including grasses that escape the preemergence treatment. Information form this
research will be transferred to sorghum growers through field days, tours, extension bulletins,
and seminar presentations by the principal investigators and extension personnel.




                                          Page 11 of 24
 Evaluation of saflufenacil and pyrasulfotole herbicides for crop tolerance and weed control in
                                            sorghum
                        Lead PI: Brent Bean, Texas AgriLife Extension
                                            $18,000

Project Summary

Due to the lack of registration of new herbicides in sorghum over the last 20+ years, producers
must rely on a limited selection of chemicals for effective, economical weed control in sorghum.
Weed control is always stated in surveys as one of the major concerns producers have in growing
sorghum. For this reason, one of the goals of the USCP is to have new weed and grass control
options utilized on 50% of the sorghum acres by 2015. This study will evaluate two new
herbicides, saflufenacil and pyrasulfotole, for use in sorghum in the High Plains region. It is
anticipated that each will be registered in 2011. Trials will conducted to 1) evaluate broadleaf
weed and grass control efficacy, 2) crop tolerance as affected by soil texture, 3) appropriate
application rates and timings, 4) tank mix partners, and 5)economics of weed control systems
using these new herbicides. Information gained will be communicated to producers and
consultants through presentations, publications, and media.




                                         Page 12 of 24
                                           Breeding

  Development of sorghum germplasm with enhanced drought tolerance and higher grain yield
                            Lead PI: Hays Experiment Station
                                        $40,000

Project Summary

Sorghum is predominately grown in harsh environments because it is one of the few crops that
can be successfully cultivated under these conditions. Improving yield under these conditions
will require the development of new germplasm that can withstand these unfavorable conditions.
Drought, both pre- and post-flowering is the most common impediment to high yields. Pre-
flowering drought limits grain yield by limiting the development of seeds while post-flowering
drought leads to lodging and small kernels. In the absence of adding additional water, breeding
for increased tolerance to water stress by studying processes linked to plant performance under
stress and incorporating new genes is a proven way to increase yield. . In areas of sorghum
production where the constraint of limited water is not severe, sorghum must compete with corn
and soybean. To do this, sorghum yields must be increased. The utilization of exotic material
may lead to new genetic systems that will add to grain yield. In addition, changing the planting
management to more closely mimic that of corn needs to be investigated. Developing new
germplasm sources that incorporate these traits and which can then be utilized by the seed
industry to produce hybrids is essential to increased sorghum production




                                         Page 13 of 24
 Accelerated Development and Deployment of Cold Tolerant Sorghum Germplasm Through the
                     Practical Application of Biotechnology Resources
                       Lead PI: Gloria Burow, USDA-ARS Lubbock
                                 $84,000 (2–year project)

Project Summary

Sorghum is well known for its drought tolerance and overall adaptation to high temperature. At
the other end of the temperature spectrum, sorghum generally lacks cold tolerance and is
vulnerable to cool temperature, specifically during stand establishment in early season planting
from April to May in most areas of the US sorghum belt. Stand establishment and early season
vigor of sorghum is adversely affected by air and soil temperatures below 60ºF (15°C) during
germination, emergence and early seedling growth. Cold tolerance is recognized as a crucial
factor for increasing yields, both allowing farmers to capitalize on early season moisture and also
that fuller season varieties with higher yield potential may be developed. Fortunately, excellent
sources of cold tolerance have been identified within the sorghum gene pool, and steps have been
taken to begin the process of developing the tools needed to bring these genetic resources to
market.
     To support the need for cold tolerant germplasm, the sorghum improvement project at the
USDA-ARS –Lubbock, TX initiated and pursued research efforts aimed at the identification of
sources of cold tolerance and development of genetic resources for the transfer of cold tolerance
traits to U.S.-adapted sorghum. Furthermore, genomic tools such as DNA markers have been
created in the program, to facilitate the application of marker technology to the overall
improvement of sorghum. This proposed project focuses on the utilization of an advanced
Recombinant Inbred Line (RIL) population specifically designed to be used as a tool for
understanding cold tolerance, through a synergistic collaboration between public programs
(USDA-ARS, KSU) and a private company (Advanta U.S., Hereford TX). We will carry out a
comprehensive evaluation of cold tolerance across three locations within the U.S. grain sorghum
belt and characterize a sizeable number of F6 lines to pinpoint genetic regions associated with
cold tolerance. The identification of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) will enable the rapid
development of cold tolerant sorghum hybrids through the use of Marker Assisted Selection
(MAS). To better understand the inheritance of this trait and to determine the most effective
means of hybrid development, we will also create F1 hybrids between sterile versions of Chinese
sources of cold tolerance and elite US A/B lines. This will provide estimates of the performance
of these traits in hybrid combination and assess the importance of seed parent vs. pollinator in
cold tolerance. Finally, the project will disseminate marker technology to sorghum researchers
by providing ready-to-use DNA markers that cover the whole genome.
     This proposal will address the issue of sorghum cold tolerance in an integrated fashion that
facilitates the analysis and characterization at both the whole plant and molecular level. We will
deliver a platform for gene identification and DNA marker tools that will facilitate the breeding
of both grain and forage sorghum with enhanced cold tolerance. The project is envisioned to
directly benefit sorghum producers and promote the core values of the sorghum check off board
thru research through the establishment of public-private sector partnerships.




                                          Page 14 of 24
        Marker Assisted Introgression of Cold Tolerance into Elite Sorghum Inbred Lines
                            Lead PI: Gebisa Ejeta, Purdue University
                                   $157,978 (3-year project)

Project Summary

Cool temperatures during the early growing season are a major limitation to growing sorghum
(Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) in the northern mid-west regions of the United States, and other
temperate areas. Sorghum originated in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa. Sorghums
from these primary centers of crop origin of tropical north-east Africa, lack this trait. China is the
only place in the world where sorghum evolved under temperate condition. Perhaps as a result,
many sorghum landraces introduced from China exhibit higher emergence and greater seedling
vigor when grown under cool conditions than typical US-bred lines. Unfortunately, however,
Chinese sorghums also possess several undesirable agronomic traits. Introgression of seedling
cold-tolerance genes from these landraces into elite inbred lines requires careful manipulation to
avoid genetic drag and, such a feat could potentially be facilitated by marker-assisted selection
(MAS). However, empirical studies that have demonstrated the value of MAS for quantitatively
inherited agronomic traits in field crops have been few. In our laboratory, we recently completed
a successful step-wise study where we first observed segregation of QTL for early-season cold
tolerance in a recombinant inbred (RI) population one parent of which was a cold-tolerant
Chinese line, Shan Qui Red (SQR). We followed that observation by the further identification of
three SSR markers each representing a QTL for cold tolerance. And finally, we were then able to
validate the association between the presence of these markers and the phenotypic expression of
seedling cold tolerance in two newly created segregating populations with SQR as a donor parent
for the cold tolerance trait. In the current study, we propose to introgress these three markers into
selected inbred lines of sorghum, both pollinators and seed parents, to generate isogenic hybrids
with and without the SSR markers as a proof of concept to further verify the efficacy of these
markers as selective tools for marker-based selection for seedling cold tolerance in sorghum.
This is a necessary step before broader use of these markers that we identified is recommended
for commercial application of sorghum breeding for early-season cold tolerance in sorghum.




                                           Page 15 of 24
              Identifying and developing new drought tolerant sorghum germplasm
                           Lead PI: John Burke, USDA-ARS Lubbock
                                            $32,292

Project Summary

Post-flowering drought tolerance (the “stay-green” trait) is an essential trait for increasing the
production of sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] in increasingly variable climates.
Previously, methodologies for identifying the nonsenescent (stay-green) trait required the right
intensity of drought stress at the right developmental stage to visually evaluate lines in the field.
Field-based evaluations of drought tolerance are notoriously difficult to manage, and often
require growing lines in multiple locations across several years in order to acquire a meaningful
assessment of the stay-green trait. Now, because of a new technique developed in my laboratory,
we can readily identify stay-green lines by means of a 30-minute high temperature challenge to
leaf tissue from pre-flowering well-watered sorghum and 30-minute room temperature recovery.
Evaluation of ten known stay-green and senescent sorghum lines with this bioassay allowed us to
separate the two classes of sorghum from well-watered pre-flowering plants. The stay-green
lines can also be separated from senescent lines under well-watered greenhouse conditions from
the boot-stage onward. This technology will greatly reduce the selection time needed to identify
drought tolerant sorghum.
    The proposed research will use this new technology in a two pronged research approach to
identify germplasm with improved drought tolerance. The first approach will evaluate
photoperiod sensitive lines of the Sudan Core Collection (Dahlberg et al., 2004) from the USDA
sorghum collection for lines with the “stay-green signature” provided by this technique. The
second approach will be to characterize mutants of BTx623 that we have isolated and identified
as exhibiting the “stay-green signature” under field and greenhouse conditions. Both research
avenues should provide new sources of drought tolerance that can be used to improve sorghum
hybrids. Mutants of BTx623 that exhibit the stay-green trait can be moved directly into breeding
programs to provide new more drought tolerant sorghum hybrids. Lines identified from the
screening of the photoperiod sensitive lines can be moved into the sorghum conversion program
to develop photoperiod insensitive lines, or used directly in tropical environments to move the
stay-green trait into elite germplasm.




                                           Page 16 of 24
                      Re-Instatement of the Sorghum Conversion Program
                          Lead PI: Fred Miller, MMR Genetics, LLC
                                 $115,000 (multi–year project)

Project Summary

This project focuses on the conversion of valuable tropical Sorghum bicolor (L.) Monech
germplasm to short stature, early flowering cultivars with an emphasis on improving access to
major heterotic groups and the subsequent increased grain yield that could be obtained through
new superior higher yielding sorghum hybrids. The overall goal of this project is to continue the
process of converting useful, potentially higher yielding alien sorghum germplasm, while
maintaining an emphasis on expediting the timeline to release converted materials through
modifications to the classical breeding scheme and implementing the use of molecular markers.
The products from this proposal will be improved sorghum germplasm, new breeding
methodologies for rapid conversion of tropical accessions, and the potential to release new
germplasm from superior heterotic groups resulting in a marked increase in hybrid grain yields.




                                          Page 17 of 24
                                          BioEnergy

      Establishing the Relationship between Forage Sorghum Composition and Bioenergy
                                      Composition Values
                               Lead PI: Bill Rooney, Texas A&M
                                             $35,347

Project Summary

     Various agencies and industries have identified sorghum as the primary annual dedicated
 herbaceous bioenergy crop for second generation biofuel production in the U.S. While yield is a
   major factor measuring energy potential on a per acre basis, composition also influences the
   yield of bioenergy produced. Animal feeders have long known that forage sorghums differ in
  their feeding quality; hence they developed methods of measuring such quality that have been
  used for many years. Unfortunately, these estimates of forage quality do not relate well to the
      composition standards required bioenergy conversion. They tend to overestimate some
      components and underestimate others. To alleviate that problem, the initial biochemical
composition analyses are being completed, which allows for the systematic comparison of forage
   composition with biochemical composition. The objective of this proposal is to compare and
 analyze a set of sorghum biomass samples using both techniques and to develop, if possible, an
 approach to effectively estimate biochemical composition from the existing forage quality data.
   This will allow us to utilize a significant and valuable existing resource to optimize sorghum
                                composition for bioenergy production.




                                         Page 18 of 24
                                 Genomics & Biotechnology

                       Association genetics of sorghum drought tolerance
                        Lead PI: Andy Paterson, University of Georgia
                                            $48,180

Project Summary

This proposal is focused on supporting increases in the yield and yield stability of sorghum
through research, specifically on the topic of development and deployment of water management
and water use efficiency. The decision to grow sorghum is frequently based on its drought
tolerance. The importance of drought tolerance in agriculture is likely to grow—agriculture uses
69% of the world’s available water supply, and 46% of available water in the USA. Many parts
of the world, including some parts of the USA, face “water scarce” conditions in the future. The
development of drought-resistant crops by conventional breeding has been hampered by low
heritability, and by large ‘genotype x environment’ interactions. Conventional sorghum breeding
has only utilized a small subset of the available germplasm—we hypothesize that a substantial
degree of phenotypic variation in responses to drought exists and remains among a broad
sampling of sorghum genotypes.
    The proposed activities build upon a detailed physiological and agronomic characterization
of a ‘diversity panel’ of 384 geneotypes that broadly samples worldwide sorghum diversity, let
by our cooperators H. Upadhyaya (germplasm curator), v. Vadez (plant physiologist), and C. T.
Hash (sorghum breeder) at ICRISAT. Numerouse –omics approaches offer the means to develop
testable hypotheses about possible relationships between specific genes or gene families and
drought response. Our work will identify specific genes, DNA markers, and possibly even
nucleotides, that are diagnostic of particular drought responses.
    These DNA markers may accelerate progress in sorghum improvement through either
marker-assisted selection or through identification of specific genes that make singularly large
contributions to sorghum drought tolerance. Because the diversity panel to be studied broadly
samples worldwide sorghum diversity, molecular-level results are expected to have a very broad
relevance to the sorghum gene pool generally, and phenotypic results are expected to identify a
broad sampling of drought tolerant germplasm, different subsets of which are likely to be
adaptable to different regions. The benefits of using such germplasm lines might be determined
quickly, by their evaluation in hybrid combinations with wiedly-used inbreds already adapted to
respective target regions.




                                         Page 19 of 24
       Identification of Ma1, the gene that hinders utilization of exotic sorghum germplasm
                          Lead PI: Andy Paterson, University of Georgia
                                              $32,500

Project Summary

Critical problem. The single greatest hindrance to utilization of exotic germplasm in
improvement of sorghum for temperate agriculture is that the vast majority of such germplasm
flowers only at short daylength, as a result of the Ma1 gene conferring photoperiod sensitivity.
Much effort in ‘conversion’ of exotic sorghums to day-neutral forms by a lengthy and tedious
crossing program has rendered about 700 exotic sorghums more useful in breeding programs,
however this remains only a tiny sampling of extant sorghum diversity.
    Research approach. Over more than a decade of research, we have ‘mapped’ the short-day
flowering trait to a small region of the genome, sequenced the genome, scrutinized the ~30,000
genes in the sequence, and narrowed the list of candidates to about 400. Herein, we seek to
narrow the list of candidates to a much smaller number and further test those showing especially
great promise based on their phenotypic effects in botanical model plants, by utilizing a
‘diversity panel’ of 384 genotypes that broadly samples worldwide sorghum diversity, provided
by our cooperators H. Upadhyaya (germplasm curator), and C. T Hash (sorghum breeder) at
ICRISAT. We expect the outcome to be the demonstration that different ‘versions’ (alleles) of
one particular gene are closely correlated with differences in flowering time among members of
the panel, indicating that the gene is Ma1. In addition, a fringe benefit will be to set the stage for
the identification of the nearby dw2 gene that accounts for much of the tall stature of exotic
sorghums.
    Potential benefits/impact. Identification of the specific gene responsible for short-day
flowering would empower the use of a variety of mechanisms to ‘silence’ the gene, with the
potential to cut many years from the conventional ‘conversion’ process. Over time, one could
envision making most elite sorghums ‘impregnable’ to the Ma1 gene, such that most progeny of
crosses between elite and exotic lines are immediately day-neutral in the F1. The nature of the
gene and its native regulatory features may also suggest means by which one could exogenously
induce short-day plants to flower (although this is less of a problem, in that simply covering with
a trash can at night for 2-3 weeks is usually an adequate method).




                                           Page 20 of 24
     Establishing a pedigreed sorghum mutation library-A community resource for sorghum
                                        improvement
                                    Lead PI: Zhanguo Xin
                                          $52,200

Project Summary

The proposal focuses on the development of an Annotated Individually-pedigreed Mutagenized
Sorghum (AIMS) library consisting of 6,400 independent mutant families. With the sorghum
genome sequence completed, the challenge is now to harness the genome sequence information
to accelerate sorghum improvement for new uses. Mutants are a very powerful tool for relating
sorghum (and other) genes to their functions – the visual effects of disrupting a gene quickly
inform us about what the gene does in its normal state. One of the major obstacles for sorghum
genomic studies is the lack of a systematic mutant population to investigate the functions of
sorghum genes and for selection of traits that can be directly used to improve sorghum for new
uses, such as foods, feed, health, and bioenergy. As a crop with highly-productive C4
photosynthesis, as well as excellent tolerance to high temperature, drought, and low soil fertility,
sorghum is likely to become increasingly important in the future. Expansion into new markets
through adaptation of sorghum to new uses is needed to sustain growth and profitability. To
fulfill the need for functional genomic studies toward developing sorghum for new uses, we
propose to establish a mutant library in the inbred line BTx623. This inbred line was used for the
genome sequence, and therefore offers an advantage because mutations can be easily determined
through comparison with the reference sequence. BTx623 seeds will be mutagenized by the
chemical ethyl methane sulfonate (EMS), which is known to induce a broad spectrum of
mutations. The mutagenized seeds will be propagated to the third generation (M3) through
single-seed-descent to guarantee that each mutant family is derived from an independent
mutation event. Seeds will be bulked thereafter for public distribution. Phenotypes will be
carefully evaluated at M3 generation. The mutant plots will be open to public and private
sorghum researchers through field days and individual arrangements to select mutants for their
respective needs and priorities. All phenotype information will be captured in an online
searchable database to benefit sorghum research and foster collaborations. Genomic DNA from
each plant that is used to produce the M3 seeds for the mutant library will be prepared. The DNA
will be deposited in a central lab for identification of mutants for specific sorghum genes that can
serve as potential candidates for sorghum improvement. Coupled with high throughput mutation
detection in specific genes, mutagenesis has been used to breed soybean and peanut with high
quality oil and low allergenic activity, and to produce high digestible starch in wheat and maize.
Our pilot project displayed many potential useful mutations, such as brown midrib mutants,
monoculm, large panicle, staygreen, and cold tolerance. Availability of a mutant library with an
adequate number of families will accelerate sorghum functional genomic studies and aid the
breeding efforts to adapt sorghum into new uses.




                                          Page 21 of 24
                                   New Uses and Utilization

             Identification of the ‘prebiotic’ fraction of grain sorghum lipid extract
                           Lead PI: Curt Well, University of Nebraska
                                              $48,700

Project Summary

Grain sorghum is a rich source of phytochemicals that could potentially benefit human health.
Our group has shown that Grain Sorghum Lipid extract (GSL) included in the diet significantly
improved the non-HDL/HDL cholesterol equilibrium of Syrian hamsters, a recognized animal
model with cholesterol metabolism of humans (Carr et al., 2005). Furthermore, we have
identified that GSL stimulates putative health promoting bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of
hamsters, and that alterations within the gut bacteria were strongly linked to improvements in
cholesterol metabolism (Martínez et al., 2009). These studies provide evidence that modulation
of the gut microbiota-host metabolic interrelationship using GSL extract has the potential to
improve cholesterol homeostasis, which has relevance for cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular
disease (CVD) is a major problem in the United States and other developed countries in part due
to unhealthy diet choices. Better diet choices including functional foods (i.e. fresh or processed
foods claiming to contain nutraceuticals or have a health-promoting and/or disease-preventing
property beyond the basic function of supplying nutrients), nutraceuticals (i.e. extracts of foods
claiming to have a medicinal effect on human health) and prebiotics (i.e. non-digestible
functional foods or food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the
digestive system for the health of the body) offer the potential to reduce CVD-related disorders
and save millions of dollars spent on associated health care costs. Our previous studies clearly
demonstrate the great potential of GSL extract as a functional food ingredient to prevent CVD.
    The research outlined in this proposal seeks to determine which fraction of GSL exerts a
cholesterol lowering effect in hamsters and the mechanisms underlying this effect. This study
will therefore provide important knowledge for the utilization of GSL extract as a functional
food ingredient to improve human health. Once the role of GSL extract is better understood,
markets for functional foods containing grain sorghum could open in not only developed
countries but also in developing countries that have traditionally consumed sorghum-based food
products. The proposed lipid research will complement the concurrently proposed starch
digestion studies at Kansas State, cross-linking and sorghum-phenolic-based food preparation
studies at the USDA-ARS GMPRC, and anti-oxidants and phenolics studies at Texas A&M.
Together, results from the studies at the four research entities will provide more comprehensive
knowledge on nutritional and health benefits of grain sorghum in the diet.




                                          Page 22 of 24
                       Developing Healthy Foods from Special Sorghums
              Lead PI: Lloyd Rooney, Texas A&M University & Mark Haub, KSU
                                          $102,426

Project Summary

This collaborative project consists of a carefully chosen team of scientists with the skills and
experience required to provide fundamental and practical information on the unique health
benefits that sorghum contains. Sorghum has a wide array of phytochemicals ranging from
condensed tannins to flavones, flavanones, and rare the 3-deoxyanthocyanins that have
significant potential use in foods and extracts.
     Members of the team are highly experienced in starch, protein and their interactions in foods.
We will concentrate on obtaining additional information on the apparent reduced digestibility of
heat-modified sorghum. The condensed tannins reduce feed efficiency when fed to livestock but
that is a positive for reduced-calorie diets for humans. We will confirm our recent data in which
tannins heated with starch and sorghum endosperm reduced starch digestibility significantly.
Thus, we can produce low- calorie foods that are suitable for weight-conscious humans and for
type 2 diabetics. For the first time, we will obtain data on the glycemic index of these sorghum
products.
     Some sorghum varieties have very high levels of polyphenols, which include condensed
tannins while others have high levels of 3-deoxyanthocyanins, which are rarely found in nature.
The condensed tannins of sorghum have very high antioxidant power and significantly decrease
the feed efficiency of sorghums for livestock, which means that they may have excellent
properties for producing foods for diabetics and low caloric diets. We believe that tannins react
with protein and starch to reduce hydrolysis and produce resistant starch. Therefore, this project
proposes to measure the glycemic index (GI) of cooked products with and without tannins and
other phytochemicals. Rats will be fed sorghum bran and whole grains to see if fat deposition is
decreased by polyphenols.
     Sorghum components for use in reducing inflammation and cancer risk will be evaluated
with in vitro tests. Foods containing tannins and other phytochemicals will be analyzed to
determine their anti-inflammatory properties. The use of different sorghums in processed foods
is increasing significantly. The team of scientists represented in the project can provide excellent
information on the various aspects of sorghum for use in health foods. The flour of sorghum
behaves differently than corn, which we will attempt to understand in this project. Our efforts so
far have established that special sorghums have outstanding properties for food utilization but we
need significantly more information as proposed in this project.
     Progress is being made in breeding to improve the properties of some of the most interesting
sorghums to produce reliable levels of varieties with unique properties. Thus, sorghum breeders
and others are important members of the team. Thus, we have the opportunity to improve the
overall concept of sorghum into a positive image of “Hey it’s a Great FOOD GRAIN!” We
have information in the pipeline that can be used to develop several brochures and fact sheets on
sorghums related to whole grains, celiac foods, phytochemicals, and natural unique food
colorants that can be developed during the first year.




                                          Page 23 of 24
                       Protein Adhesives from Low-Cost Sorghum DDGS
                                    Lead PI: Dongai Wang
                                            $60,174

Project Summary

In the United States, annual demand for adhesives and resins exceeds 20 billion pounds.
Currently, most adhesives used in the wood industry are petroleum-based, such as phenol-
formaldehyde and urea-formaldehyde adhesives. Formaldehyde emissions cause many
environmental and health issues. Development of biobased adhesives not only significant impact
a >$100 billion industry sector, but also solve the environmental issues related volatile organic
compounds (VOC) emission and reduce our relying on petroleum-based feedstocks with carbon
reduction benefits. Currently, numbers of leading industries are seeking environmental friendly
adhesives; however, the major challenge to their switching from petroleum-based to biobased
feedstocks is the high cost of biobased feedstocks and enabling technologies to meet their
requirements. The sorghum protein adhesives using low-cost DDGS will be one solution to
industry. The cost effective processing approach of the adhesives using low cost feedstocks will
allow industry to initiate commercialization of the technology developed from this research.
    The long-term goal of this proposed research is to develop affordable, durable and
biodegradable protein adhesives using low-cost sorghum DDGS to increase the profitability of
sorghum industry and reduce VOC emission and reduce reliance on fossil feedstocks. The short-
term goal is to establish the feasibility of an innovative technology to produce affordable and
durable biobased protein adhesive using low-cost sorghum protein from DDGS, which have
great potential to replace petroleum-based polymers such as formaldehyde-based adhesives. The
research will focuses on 1) development of innovative technology for extraction of proteins from
sorghum DDGS with high yield, high purity, and desirable functionality for industrial uses; 2)
characterization of physical, chemical and structural properties of sorghum proteins from DDGS;
and 3) evaluation of adhesion performance of sorghum protein and improve sorghum protein
adhesion by chemical modification.
    The proposed research will deliver the state-of-the-art technology for adding values to
biofuel and food residues such as sorghum DDGS. This would help to sustain sorghum bio-
industry as well the global economic development and improve environment. The success of this
project will provide informative data and knowledge for large-scale production of biodegradable
adhesives from sorghum protein with desirable properties. Success in the research program will
result in a low-cost technology to produce affordable and durable biobased adhesive using low-
cost DDGS. The results from this project will provide a platform technology to open up
significant markets for utilization low-cost by-products from ethanol industry and give ample
scope for renewable resources utilization, especially using low-cost by-product. Development of
biobased adhesives could significantly impact a >$100 billion industry sector that currently relies
on petroleum-based feedstock with their attendant environmental problems. Large market of
plywood, particleboard, and coatings for construction and furniture represents huge demands for
various adhesives. Our proposed research addresses the Mission of USCP of “USCP commits to
effectively investing checkoff dollars to increase producer profitability and enhance the sorghum
industry” and this research addresses the technical area of “development of new uses in
bioenergy, foods, and health” described in the RFP.




                                          Page 24 of 24