Genetic analysis of interveinal chlorosis and reduced seedling vigor as related to agronomic performance in sorghum resistant to ALS inhibitor herbicides



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Kansas State University


The lack of effective post-emergence weed control options is often highlighted as one of the major factors behind dwindling acreage under sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) in the United States. The discovery of herbicide resistance sources in wild sorghum population and subsequent efforts to incorporate them into cultivated sorghum was received with much optimism to change weed management practices in sorghum. As the development of the technology advances, especially of the Acetolactate synthase (ALS) resistance, concerns over the temporary interveinal chlorosis and reduced seedling vigor in some of the resistant families became heightened. This thesis research is designed to shed light on the genetic basis of seedling chlorosis and assess its impacts on yield potential. The study has three parts; the first part is focused on identifying the genetic causes and plant mechanisms associated with the chlorotic phenotype. ALS herbicide resistant sister-lines expressing normal and chlorotic phenotypes were analyzed via RNA sequencing at four time points during seedling growth. The study identified several variants of genes coding chloroplast precursors and those that cause epigenetic modifications. Once confirmed, genetic markers can be developed to track these gene variants in the breeding population and eliminate segregates genetically prone to chlorosis/yellowing. The second part of the study focuses on assessing the effect of ALS resistance associated chlorosis on agronomic and nutritional parameters of sorghum inbred lines. A set of ALS resistant lines expressing different levels of the chlorotic phenotype were evaluated in replicated field trials and laboratory methods. Results showed that interveinal chlorosis delays flowering but does not have negative effect on yield and nutritional parameters with and without herbicide treatment. The last part addresses whether there is any yield drag that may be associated with herbicide resistance traits and foliar interveinal chlorosis. For this, we synthesized a large set (182) of hybrids from ALS resistant, ACCase resistant and regular (susceptible) seed and pollinator parents. The hybrids were then evaluated in three sets at multiple locations during the 2014 and 2015 crop seasons along with commercial checks. The results revealed that resistance to both herbicides do not cause any drag to grain yield. The traits also do not have any negative impact on grain and nutritional quality of resistant hybrids.



Sorghum bicolor, Acetolactate synthase inhibitor herbicide resistance, Acetyl Co-enzyme-A carboxylase inhibitor herbicide resistance, Interveinal chlorosis, RNA sequencing, Yield drag

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Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Agronomy

Major Professor

Tesfaye T. Tesso