Stalk Rot Diseases Affect Biofuel Traits of Sweet Sorghum

Sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) has potential as a source of biofuel feedstock for lignocellulosic-based bioethanol production. However, diseases, such as stalk rot, can be an important concern and the potential impacts of diseases on biofuel traits are currently unknown. Kansas State University researchers tested the effects of Fusarium stalk rot and Charcoal rot on sweet sorghum biofuel traits assessed the combining ability of the parental genotypes for resistance to the two diseases.

Nineteen genotypes, including 7 parents and 12 hybrids, were tested in the field against Fusarium thapsinum (FT) and Macrophomina phaseolina (MP), which are pathogens causing stalk rot in sorghum. Plants were inoculated 14 days after flowering with FT and MP. Plants were thean harvested 35 days after inoculation and disease severity was evaluated. Grain weight, juice weight, Brix (°Bx), and dried bagasse weight were also determined.

On average, FT and MP infection resulted in significantly reduced grain weight and dried bagasse weight across genotypes. The general and specific combining abilities of parentals were found to be statistically insignificant.

Their study revealed the adverse effects of stalk rot diseases on biofuel traits and the need to breed sweet sorghum for stalk rot resistance.


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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