Sugarcane Crop Germplasm Committee

Minutes of the meeting held at the USDA-ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station, Miami, FL
June 13, 2006

Tomas Ayala-Silva (USDA, ARS, Miami, FL)
Jack C. Comstock (USDA, ARS, Canal Point, FL)
Jorge A. da Silva (Texas A&M University, Weslaco, TX)
Serge Edme (USDA, ARS, Canal Point, FL)
Rob Gilbert (Univ. Florida, Belle Glade, FL)
Kenneth Gravois (LSU AgCenter, St. Gabriel, LA)
Mike Grisham (USDA, ARS, Houma, LA)
Michael Irey (U.S. Sugar Corp., Clewiston, FL)
Windell Jackson (American Sugar Cane League, Thibodaux, FL)
Collins Kimbeng (LSU AgCenter, Baton Rouge, LA)
Clarissa Maroon-Lango (USDA, APHIS, PGQP, Beltsville, MD)
Scott Milligan (USDA, ARS, Canal Point, FL)
Ray Mock (USDA, ARS, NGRL-PDRU, Beltsville, MD)
Charley Richard (C. Richard & Assoc., New Orleans, LA)
Ed Richard (USDA, ARS, Houma, LA)
Ray Schnell USDA, ARS, SHRS, Miami, FL)
James Shine (Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, South Bay, FL)
Tom Tew (USDA, ARS, Houma, LA)
Willy Wasik (USDA, ARS, SHRS, Miami, FL)
Mike Winterstein (USDA, ARS, SHRS, Miami, FL)

            The meeting began with a welcome from Drs. Tom Tew and Ray Schnell.  The group toured the sugarcane germplasm collection maintained at the station.  Following the tour, the group met indoors to finish the meeting.

  1. Tom Tew called the meeting to order following a tour of the sugarcane collection.
  2. Guests and members of the Sugarcane Crop Germplasm Committee introduced     themselves.
  3. Minutes from the 2005 meeting were handed out and any changes to the minutes were      offered to the group – a motion to accept by Ed Richard and seconded by Charley         Richard was made and accepted.
  4. Follow up on action items from 2005 meeting:
    1. Sugarcane CRIS folded into one large CRIS with the other crops at the Beltsville quarantine facilities.  This followed a move to put all quarantine responsibilities into APHIS.  There was some transfer of equipment and personnel from ARS to APHIS.
    2. Jim Shine emphasized that sugarcane research should continue to receive a high priority.
  5. Proposals from the sugarcane committee were submitted:
    1. The proposal by Jorge A. da Silva was selected for funding.
    2. Report by Jorge A. da Silva on the objectives of his proposal, which included TRAP markers to study the variation among S. spontaneum.  He aims to tag positive alleles in S. spontaneum not found in the commercial germplasm.
  6. Funding information was not yet received by Tom Tew for the next round of funding by the National Sugarcane Crop Germplasm Committee.
  7. Gail Wisler - New National Program Leader, USDA-ARS for Sugar and Horticulture crops.         She will be at the ASSCT meeting later this week (St. Pete Beach, FL: June 14-16, 2006).
  8. Tom Tew handed out information from the National Crop Germplasm Committee Chairs meeting held at Ames, IA during the previous week (June 5-8, 2006).
  9. Kenneth Gravois reported on the 8th ISSCT Plant Breeding Workshop recently held in      Ecuador.  Core collections for sugarcane were discussed but the concept could not be      agreed upon.
  10. Tom Tew also reported information from the ISSCT Plant Breeding Workshop:
    1. India’s location is inaccessible for those accessing germplasm from Coimbatore.
    2. India has requested germplasm from the U.S. but there is no reciprocation for exchange.
    3. Nils Berding recommended multiple locations for the world collection.
    4. Discussion also included the concept of species specific sites.
    5. There was a concensus that two complete collections that are accessible should be in place.  Brazil was mentioned as one, but it was agreed that the ISSCT should take the initiative on these actions.
    6. Brazil has most of the S. officinarum collection.  The Miami location lost most of the S. officinarum accessions in the collection when Hurricane Andrew happened but was able to restore most of these from Brazil.  The Brazil collection may not be presently accessible because of national treaties and other issues. There was an offer by a private breeding organization in Brazil to be one of the world collection sites.  The ISSCT has the final say on this issue.
  11. Clarissa Maroon-Lango: Report from USDA-APHIS, Plant Germplasm Quarantine           Beltsville, MD
    1. APHIS assumed all responsibility in October 2006 for sugarcane quarantine
      1. A smooth transition occurred as ARS transferred responsibility to APHIS
      2. Clarissa replaced Suzanne Hurtt who is retiring at the end of June 2006 (requests for letters and cards).
      3. Clarissa manages sugarcane, rice and other grass crops.
      4. Clarissa will be filling a gardner position.
      5. Tissue Culture will have a full-time position.
    2. Clarissa Maroon-Lango showed pictures of the facilities (Bldg 580).
      1. The sugarcane germplasm committee was instrumental in opening the new facility.
      2. These facilities are ever expanding as was shown in the pictures
      3. Laboratory facilities have improved for disease detection.
    3. There are 72 sugarcane accessions in the greenhouse.
      1. 17 are positive controls
      2. 55 were tested for pathogens
      3. 8 were from tissue culture for elimination of yellow leaf disease
    4. A flow chart of activities as accessions proceed through the program was passed out.
      1. Discussion of PCR technology for sugarcane yellow leaf disease detection.
      2. Some problems with the primer sets were also brought up as well as the importance of testing for YLD, which is present in all sugarcane growing regions.
    5. Questions from Clarissa:
      1. Do we continue to test for the YL virus which is already in the U.S.?
        1. Bacilliform virus testing (expressed in all cell of the sugarcane collection).
        2. This virus is not a problem from a commercial stand point, but in conjunction with other diseases it may be a problem.
      2. Are there other pathogens that should be tested for?
        1. Mike Irey – brought up the issue of stains with sugarcane yellow leaf disease. He emphasized the need for continued testing. We do not have all the stains of the yellow leaf disease virus.
        2. There was concern of how much time the tissue culture person devotes to sugarcane. Clarissa assured us that sugarcane has a high priority within the group. She also mentioned that sugarcane is not a high volume now, but Mike stressed to take the time now to fine tune techniques of tissue culture.
        3. Discussion to take all positive sugarcane accessions through tissue culture.  The committee stressed that all accessions should be cleaned up via tissue culture if any disease was found.
      3. Would off types be an issue? (Scott)
        1. This would certainly be an issue but would be offset by the benefit of having the germplasm accessible.  Beltsville would follow the rules for between in-state exchange when it comes to the movement from the World Collection to w/in the US. Mike Irey suggested that the MOU be examined for clarification.
      4. Subcommittee developed: “To elevate a protocol for Clarissa to take back to her bosses.” Motioned by Ed Richard, and seconded by Windell Jackson.
        1. Chairmen: Mike Irey, Mike Grisham
        2. Committee: Jeff Flynn, Jack Comstock, Kenneth Gravois, Scott Milligan, Jeff Hoy
        3. Need a report by August 31, 2006
      5. How to handle fuzz?
        1. Draft language and protocol to import fuzz directly from foreign countries.
        2. Tom Tew will look up the protocol which includes Clorox treatments. He will communicate to APHIS and the committee via email.
      6. How should other species be handled by quarantine and testing? (Ed Richard)
        1. The Beltsville facility handles “other grasses.” Miscanthus is so closely related that it should be tested for sugarcane diseases. Committee stressed that all Miscanthus be tested because much of it will end up in sugarcane states. It was also brought up that there would be some opposition from other users of these grasses if they had to follow the two-year sugarcane program.
    6. Ray Schnell – Handout of manuscript  (
    7. Ray Mock – Presentation (three handouts)
      1. Ray discussed support of USDA quarantine actions in Bldg 580.
      2. Seven personnel are in the unit that includes the tissue culture position for sugarcane.  A post doc will work on sugarcane tissue culture, which will start on May 30, 2006 (Dr. Chong (sp?? Whole name??) who has background with monocots)
      3. Will work on tissue culture techniques and then move toward therapies for the elimination of diseases.
      4. He is relying on the literature to begin work on tissue culture techniques.
        1. Relying on the Australian example through their “smart sett” program.
        2. Multiple plantlets produced have been produced and there is optimism about the process being made.
      5. There is currently a survey of Florida and Louisiana Sugarcane commercial areas for mosaic strains.
        1. Will send lat nucleic acid extracts, is looking for streak mosaic virus (looking for) and others (sugarcane bacilliform virus)
      6. He again stated that sugarcane is a priority in his program.
      7. Jim Shine emphasized that the sugarcane germplasm committee should have input on the five year plan being developed.
      8. Research on sugarcane:
        1. Questions on future research topics that would be of interest to the group.
      9. An invitation was extended to everyone to visit the facilities.

    Nominations of Committee members and officers

    Nominations from the floor:
    1. Motion to replace:
      1. K.K. Wu with Susan Schenck
      2. Erik Mirkov with Jorge daSilva
    2. Motion by Scott Milligan, Seconded by Jim Shine and Ed Richard
    3. Meeting Adjourned

      Tom Tew – second tour of world collection is available after lunch