January 3, 2012

Jorge DaSilva

Professor – ETF Superiority
Texas A&M AgriLife Research – Weslaco
Species: Sugarcane

Phone: 956.969.5623
Email: jadasilva@tamu.edu

“The main focus of our research is the development of molecular markers associated with traits of interest for applying marker-assisted selection as a tool in our breeding program. In this program, the aim is the improvement of feedstock crops such as sugarcane and wide-hybrids, adapted to the US southeast growing conditions, for bioenergy production purposes.  For this, we are making use of high-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies available at the Agrilife Genomics and Bioinformatics Services facility in College Station to generate massive amounts of DNA sequence data, which is allowing the development of a large number of informative SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) DNA markers for gene tagging and to better understand the genetic architecture of complex agronomic traits, such as yield, tolerance to drought and cold and resistance to insects and pathogens.

In addition to molecular marker development, we are also interested in the diversity of those genes affected by human selection during sugarcane domestication, which can be traced back to ~ 10,000 years ago.  During this process, the selection made by humans favoring high sugar content, greatly reduced the genetic diversity of the sugarcane genes involved in sucrose biosynthesis.  In order to investigate the genetic diversity of domesticated and wild cane species, we utilized an Next Generation Sequencing approach (RNA-seq) using Illumina HiSeq2500, which provided a large-scale screening and the identification of domesticated alleles. The outcome of this approach will lead to a better strategy for parental line selection, aiming at sugarcane breeding for energy”.