Dr. Jorge A. daSilva
Soil & Crop Sciences
Molecular Genetics and Plant Breeding
Overall Research Interest:
Dr. da Silva’s says “Our program’s goal is the improvement of sugarcane for sustainable productivity in South Texas and improvement of energy cane for the Southeast U.S. Our research activities focus on the tolerance and resistance to abiotic (drought and cold) and biotic stress (Ratoon Stunting Disease and Mexican Bore); the development of sugarcane clones with improved performance and quality (high sucrose content); the introgression of exotic germplasm and the application of molecular techniques in plant breeding.”
Feedstock Development for Bioenergy
The overall goal of this project is on developing bioenergy feedstocks to produce high tonnage per acre, with low delivered cost and optimized for highest performance in the conversion technology.
The main focus of this research is the development of molecular markers associated with traits of interest in order to assist and speed up the selection of superior genotypes in the breeding program, which aims at improving feedstock crops for bioenergy such as sugarcane and its wide hybrids, adapted to the Southeast U.S. growing conditions. High-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies are being used to generate massive amounts of DNA sequence data, aiming at developing large numbers of informative markers to help to understand the genetic architecture of complex agronomic traits, such as yield, drought and cold tolerance, resistance to insects and pathogens. It also allows the identification of alternative forms of major genes controlling these traits from different germplasm accessions, to introduce them into the commercial varieties for improved field performance and biomass production.