Agronomy and Horticulture, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 8-2010


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Agronomy (Plant Breeding and Genetics), Under Supervision of Professor Ismail Dweikat. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2010
Copyright 2010 Lekgari Aatshwaelwe Lekgari


Sweet sorghum, a botanical variety of sorghum is a potential source of bioenergy because high sugar levels accumulate in its stalks. The objectives of this study were to explore the global diversity of sweet sorghum germplasm, and map the genomic regions that are associated with bioenergy traits. In assessing diversity, 142 sweet sorghum accessions were evaluated with three marker types (SSR, SRAP, and morphological markers) to determine the degree of relatedness among the accessions. The traits measured (anthesis date [AD], plant height [PH], biomass yield [BY], and moisture content [MC]) were all significantly different (P<0.05) among accessions. Morphological marker clustered the accessions into five groups based on PH, MC and AD. The three traits accounted for 92.5% of the variation. There were four and five groups based on SRAP and SSR data respectively classifying accessions mainly on their origin or breeding history. The observed difference between SSR and SRAP based clusters could be attributed to the difference in marker type. SSRs amplify any region of the genome whereas SRAP amplify the open reading frames and promoter regions. Comparing the three marker-type clusters, the markers complimented each other in grouping accessions and would be valuable in assisting breeders to select appropriate lines for crossing. In evaluating QTLs that are associated with bioenergy traits, 165 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) were planted at four environments in Nebraska. A genetic linkage map constructed spanned a length of 1541.3 cM, and generated 18 linkage groups that aligned to the 10 sorghum chromosomes. Fourteen QTLs (6 for brix, 3 for BY, 2 each for AD and MC, and 1 for PH) were mapped. QTLs for the traits that were significantly correlated, colocalized in two clusters on linkage group Sbi01b. Both parents contributed beneficial alleles for most of traits measured, supporting the transgressive segregation in this population. Additional work is needed on exploiting the usefulness of chromosome 1 in breeding sorghum for bioenergy.