ARS Sunflower Research Boosted by New
State-of-the-Art Equipment By
June 23, 2009
New, high-yielding sunflower germplasm that gives this important
oilseed crop resistance to insects and two fungal pathogens could result from a
research effort by Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) scientists in Fargo, N.D.
Researchers at the
Sunflower Research Unit (SRU) in Fargo, using state-of-the-art equipment,
are seeking sunflowers that resist insects and Verticillium and
Sclerotinia fungi. Non-oil sunflower seed production was 429 million
pounds and valued at $124 million last year in the United States, while
oil-type sunflower seed production was just under 3 billion pounds and valued
at $545 million.
The SRU scientists, in collaboration with researchers from around the
world, have discovered new sources of resistance to these yield-reducing pests.
For example, SRU geneticist
Hulke has found, with the help of entomologist
Charlet and plant pathologist
Gulya, unique genes for resistance to downy mildew, rust,
Sclerotinia diseases, and two insect pests, the red sunflower seed
weevil (RSSW) and the banded sunflower moth (BSM). These genes form the basis
for new and improved sunflower breeding lines.
Hulke has developed RSSW- and BSM-resistant germplasm and will test
experimental hybrids from these later this year. Preliminary results will be
available at the end of the year. This research is greatly facilitated by the
efforts of the National Sunflower
Association (NSA) and the $400,000-worth of new equipment the NSA donated
to the SRU.
Hulke and Charlet are among the ARS speakers at the NSA Summer Seminar
that starts today and runs through June 25 in Alexandria, Minn. NSA is a
non-profit organization that works on problem solving and creating
opportunities for growers and the sunflower support industry.
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency in the
U.S. Department of