Biotechnology and Cotton Improvement in the 1990's

Harry B. Collins


This paper gives one seed company's perspective on the introduction into cotton of foreign genes from organisms not related to cotton and the eventual marketing of superior varieties carrying these unique genes. Collaborative efforts between firms conducting biotechnology research and a seed company with no inhouse biotechnology research are described. From this seed company's perspective there are two categories of characteristics added to cotton through biotechnology, based on the economic value to the seed company. These are divided into 1) herbicide tolerance, which is of little economic value to the seed company but of considerable economic value to the company marketing the herbicide and 2) other characteristics such as pest resistance for which the seed company can realize an increased return. Characteristics which are currently being incorporated into this company's elite germplasm through collaborative efforts with biotechnology firms are herbicide tolerance and insect resistance using the Bt gene. Also discussed are characteristics, such as superior fiber characteristics and a unique type of male sterility and restoration for F1 hybrid production, which may be incorporated into cotton in the future through biotechnology. Also mentioned is the possible future use of Restrictive Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) as a means of simplifying the selection of important traits. Encouragement is given to industry support of public financing of cotton RFLP.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1987 Beltwide Cotton Production Conference pp. 7 - 9
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998