Exploiting Erianthus diversity to enhance sugarcane cultivars : ASSCT peer-reviewed paper
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Introgression of Erianthus arundinaceus into the SRA sugarcane-breeding program has been a goal for researchers for many years. The Erianthus genome was finally accessible to sugarcane breeders with the identification in 2005 of the first Saccharum/Erianthus fertile hybrids, developed in China. Today, Saccharum/Erianthus BC3 and BC4 clones are available in Australia, and Erianthus-sugarcane hybrids have been characterised by cytogenetics and investigated for their potential resistance against pachymetra root rot, sugarcane smut and nematodes. Some clones have shown potential as new sources of resistance for incorporation into the SRA breeding program. These hybrids were created from Erianthus clones indigenous to China and their reaction to the above diseases is unknown in Australian conditions. In Meringa we also have access to many Erianthus clones of Indonesian origin. Some of these Erianthus clones have previously shown immunity to pachymetra root rot. In the late 1990s, these Indonesian Erianthus clones were used in crossing but no fertile hybrids were ever produced due to an incompatibility between the Saccharum and the Erianthus genomes. We revisited this untapped source of resistance by utilising the fertile Erianthus hybrids derived from China to cross with the Indonesian Erianthus of known resistance to pachymetra root rot. Here we report on the early stage results of introgressing Indonesian Erianthus into the SRA breeding program.