Complete: Understanding the genetic determinants of dry matter composition

Timescale: 2011-2012
Project Lead: Student: Matthew Stevenson Supported by Dr Belinda Townsend
Project Sponsor: Felix Cobbold Agricultural Trust and BBRO

Project Summary

To understand the key genetic factors influencing the composition and development of the cell wall in sugar beet roots.

Main Objectives

The cell walls make up the majority of non-sucrose dry matter that is left in the pulp after sugar extraction, and the size of cells as well as the thickness of the cell wall is thought to be related to the capacity to store high concentrations of sucrose.  Therefore, by understanding how carbon is partitioned between sucrose storage and the structural components of the cell wall, we hope to discover genetic targets to improve sucrose yields and/or the value of the pulp.

Outcomes / Key Message For Growers And Industry

1. There is now a complete set of three replicated filed plots sampling the developmental time course of sugar beet root material. These are available for comparisons of the plant response to different environmental conditions and stages of development using genetic or biochemical testing methods. 

2. Cell wall associated gene expression patterns have provided markers for changes in cell wall biosynthesis that can serve as targets for manipulation or characterisation of nature variation with a view to selecting for sugar beet lines with ideal composition or to find a link between different compositions and increase sucrose content.

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BBRO is a not for profit making company.
We are set up jointly by British Sugar plc and the National Farmers' Union.

British Sugar
National Farmers' Union