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History and Current Status of Sugarcane Breeding, Germplasm Development and Molecular Genetics...

D. E. Cursi; H. P. Hoffmann; G. V. S. Barbosa; J. A. Bressiani; R. Gazaffi; R. G. Chapola; A. R. Fernandes Junior; T. W. A. Balsalobre; C. A. Diniz; J. M. Santos; M. S. Carneiro.

Brazil is the world's largest producer of sugar-cane and one of the leading suppliers of sugar and ethanol worldwide. In the 2019-2020 crop season, the country produced 642.7 million tons of sugarcane in a harvest area of 8.44 million hectares. Historically, sugarcane breeding has contributed continuously to increasing yields by regularly releasing superior cultivars for use by the Brazilian industry. In the last 40 years, an average annual increase of 155.7 kg ha-1 of sugar yield has been reported, about half of which may be attributed to breeding programs. However , due to the size of the country, the intensive expansion of the crop to low-fertility soils in the last few years, especially in degraded pasture areas, and the widespread adoption of mechanization, new challenges have been imposed on national breeding programs. This review covers the current situation with sugarcane breeding in Brazil and the main advances that have allowed the country to maintain world leadership in developing the industry. Additionally, the history of sugarcane breeding, current national breeding institutions, germplasm development, key breeding objectives, selection stages and methodolo-gies are summarized. An overview is also presented of biotechnological approaches which have become key tools for improving Brazilian traditional breeding programs. The adoption of strategies to increase Brazilian sugarcane yield, aiming to consolidate crop production in a food and energy matrix, is also discussed.


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