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Scientists seek useful traits in wild cottons

its such as insect and disease resistance, and drought, salt and cold tolerance.

Scientists at Lubbock obtain seed from global cotton collections in small lots, sometimes as few as 10 seeds per lot. Before their work advances, they must turn a few seeds into more by growing plants in an environmentally-controlled greenhouse.

Greenhouse manager and Experiment Station research assistant Leslie Wells supervises seed stocks from planting through harvest. His skill in making difficult cross pollinations is critical in developing new cotton lines, Gannaway said.

"Many of the cottons we grow for more seed are photoperiodic," Gannaway said. "They will only produce fruit and seed during the short days of temperate winter."

As these cottons grow and mature, scientists keep a log of their physical, or phenotypic, characteristics. Remember Mom's smile, Dad's eyes and Grandpa's laugh"

The lint, or fiber, these cottons produce is also measured, analyzed and recorded. The lint is hand-, saw- and roller-ginned, and then characterized using high volume instrumentation and the advanced fiber information analysis system.

The Lubbock scientists enter this information into a genetic database which they share with other scientists and the public. This database will complement the Texas A&M University System's cotton breeding program, Gannaway said. An overview of that program is online at http://lubbock.tamu.edu/news/2007/LScapesWinter06.pdf .

Under Gannaway's guidance as lead researcher, Experiment Station research associate Jimmy Mabry and others conduct the greenhouse screening to make the database a reality.

Mabry grows cotton plants in PVC tubes, measuring the characteristics of their roots, shoots and leaves and comparing them to a group of control cottons. The data from these comparis
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Source:Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications


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