The goal of the proposed research and development program is to establish integrated, real-time phenotyping and analysis of above- and below-ground plant architecture and total carbon partitioning and allocation to predict heterosis and develop superior crop hybrids by fully leveraging the Sorghum gene pool.
This project consists of two overarching themes: 1) development of a new crop improvement approach utilizing advances in high-throughput phenotyping (HTP), computing, and genomics for public dissemination and 2) leverage this platform for sorghum crop improvement and commercialization. The two private companies will each have an individual domain over the commercialization and T2M approaches. The combination of public and private partners allows the basic research and hypothesis testing to be quickly accelerated for commercial application by the two individual companies yet maintains that the core framework and academic insights remain in the public domain for continued market disruption, competition, and innovation.
Our team will dissect and exploit hybrid vigor in the Sorghum gene pool to optimize valuable traits, speed up the breeding cycle, and increase the impact of elite germplasm in this leading bioenergy crop. We will accomplish this objective by: (1) developing and utilizing high-throughput, automated above- and below-ground phenotyping platforms to assay and analyze key plant traits associated with crop productivity and yield stability (eg. biotic stress resistance), (2) employing a hybrid vigor prediction pipeline to minimize the amount and time of testing required to identify promising germplasm for commercial production, and (3) combining both approaches to use transcriptomics, metabolomics, and genomics with rapid HTP to accelerate genetic gain.