Galway scientists develop bigger and better sugar beet
Plant biotechnologists from the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway have identified genetic breeding strategies to develop bigger and better sugar beet.
Sustainable intensification of agriculture to meet rapidly growing global demand for food and non-food products produced by crops will require higher yielding crop varieties that can produce more food using less resources and land area.
For crops such as sugar beet, this means the development of varieties that produce more per hectare, while reducing inputs.
The findings from their research has been published in the international journal, BMC Plant Biology.
Sustainable intensification of sugar beet supply will require the production of more sugar beet using less resources and land, which requires high yielding sugar beet varieties that require minimal inputs.
Professor Charles Spillane’s Genetics and Biotechnology Lab at NUI Galway has been working closely with the international plant breeding company KWS SAAT to develop genetic breeding strategies to produce hybrid sugar beet varieties with higher yield that can maintain high levels of sugar production.
Using a combination of molecular genetics laboratory work and large-scale sugar beet experimental field trials conducted in Cork, the research team discovered that the most efficient way to develop higher yielding sugar beet varieties was by tapping the benefits of hybrid vigour*, a topic of focus for the team.
The white and brown sugar that the vast majority of food consumers in Ireland include as a sweetener in their daily diet is a naturally occurring biochemical called sucrose.