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Drought Tolerance and Water Use Efficiency In Biomass Sorghum Under Water-Limited Conditions

2017 USDA-NIFA Integrated Award


Principal Investigators and affiliations:
PI:  Dr. Qingwu Xue (Texas A&M AgriLife Research-Amarillo)
Co-PI: Dr. Rob Aiken (Kansas State University Northwest Research-Extension Center)
Co-PI: Dr. William Rooney (Texas A&M University)
Co-PI: Dr. Jourdan Bell (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension)
Co-PI: Dr. Sushil Thapa, Texas A&M AgriLife Research-Amarillo

Funded: $150,000

Start Date: 12/01/2017

End Date: 04/15/2019


The project goal is to better understand the physiological mechanisms of drought tolerance and WUE in biomass sorghum. The objectives are to (1) investigate yield, water use, and WUE in biomass sorghum genotypes in various water regimes, (2) identify physiological traits related to drought tolerance and WUE, and (3) quantify chemical composition of biomass sorghum in various water regimes. To address objectives (1) and (2), field experiments will be conducted at Bushland, Texas and Colby, Kansas in 2018 and 2019 using a set of unique biomass sorghum genotypes developed by Texas A&M AgriLife Research. These genotypes will be grown under various soil water regimes. The biomass samples at final harvest will be collected for compositional analysis to fulfill Objective (3).


Expected Outcomes

This work will provide critical information for the development of bioenergy sorghum and maintaining sustainable production to ensure ample feedstock streams for energy conversion. The benefits will be important to biomass sorghum production in 3 ways. First, the results will help sorghum breeders and geneticists to accelerate germplasm development and improve line selection efficiency. The physiological traits identified for improved drought tolerance and WUE will be important to breeders and geneticists for identifying genetic markers. The important traits are also useful to develop field phenotyping tools for field section. Second, the results will allow producers to adopt proper management practices for high yields and WUE in specific water regime (e.g., dryland or irrigated). In particular, the project will provide information needed to assess suitability of biomass sorghum for limited irrigation in the SGP. Third, the results of this project are not only important to producers in the Southern Great Plains but also important to the regions that sorghum is grown under rainfed conditions such as Mid-west, south and southeastern U.S.

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