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Agricultural Research Center – Hays

Sorghum Breeding



Dr. Perumal
Ramasamy Perumal, Sorghum Breeder, at KSU Field Day

The major focus of the grain sorghum research in the semi-arid regions of Kansas is to increase hybrid grain yield potential through the development of elite parental lines and hybrids with pre- and post-flowering drought, heat and cold tolerance, non-lodging and disease (Fusarium stalk rot, charcoal rot and grain mold) and pest (sugarcane aphids) resistance by integrating classical and molecular breeding approaches.

Drought and heat tolerance:

More than 80% of the sorghum in the US is grown under non-irrigated conditions, where water is the major limiting factor for yield. Productivity enhancement under stress (drought and heat) conditions is a challenging task, because of the unpredictable nature of most periods of water and temperature stresses in sorghum growing areas in Kansas and gaps in our knowledge of abiotic stress biology. Since pre-flowering drought limits the number of potential seeds and seed number accounts for approximately 80% of the variation in yield, improving pre-flowering drought tolerance is critical to increasing yield potential. Post-flowering tolerance trait is characterized by the plant’s ability to maintain most of its green leaf tissue during periods of moisture stress after flowering. Since seed number has already been established in plants subject to post-flowering drought, stay-green and limited transpiration influence yield mainly by reducing stalk lodging. The research focus at this center will be primarily on the development of drought and heat tolerant parents using conventional breeding methods and through estimating the genetic parameters and character association for some valuable morpho-physiological traits, which have been extensively utilized for screening of pre- and post-flowering drought tolerance.   The program also evaluates new germplasm to find potential sources for priority traits for use in the development of improved lines through multi-location test hybrids evaluation. We use sorghum association panel (SAP) and recombinant inbred lines (RILs) from nested association mapping (NAM) population to collect data on physiological traits using drone based high high-throughput phenotyping tools (digital imaging to measure vegetative index, canopy architecture, temperature and chlorophyll fluorescence).  By integrating phenotypic and   genotyping data, quantitative trait loci (QTL) will be identified and validated for the aforesaid key traits. 

Cold Tolerance:

Most hybrids of sorghum under cultivation are vulnerable to cooler conditions (15° C or below) and limit germination and seedling growth during stand establishment at early-season planting from April to May in many areas of the US sorghum belt (Burow et al. 2011. Mol. Breeding 28:391–402). Robust cold tolerance is highly advantageous in sorghum to allow the crop to be sown earlier (mid-April) to take advantage of spring moisture. The traits could also be expected to stabilize and increase yield by establishing excellent crop stand and maintaining high plant density starting at the critical planting period. The current research focus is on developing tannin free parental lines for the important seedling cold tolerance traits like emergence percentage, emergence index, seedling height, shoot and root dry weight and vigor score with other agronomic adapted traits.  Drone based high-throughput phenotypic data collection, develop and integrate molecular markers and marker assisted selection in early generation for the cold tolerance traits are the integral part of the program to accelerate the breeding process. 

Non-lodging and Diseases Resistance:

Charcoal rot [caused by Macrophomina phaseolina (Tassi) Goidanich] incidence is much higher when sorghum plants are exposed to prolonged drought and high stress during grain development. Fusarium stalk rot (caused by Fusarium spp.) is typically more severe when drought and high temperature stress occurs during grain development followed by wet, cool conditions near physiological maturity. Development of genotypes not affected by late-season drought is one of the other research priorities to reduce susceptibility to stalk rot diseases and lodging close to maturity.  

Sugarcane aphids (SCA):

SCA infested grain sorghum in Southwest Louisiana, South and East Texas, southern Oklahoma, eastern Mississippi and northeastern Mexico (Villanueva et al. 2014. Texas A&M AgriLife Extn. ENTO-35). Ironically, though SCA was reported in mid-1980 in South Africa, it became a serious problem on sugarcane in 2013 (Way et al. 2014. Proc. S. Afr. Sug. Technol. Ass., pp. 53–7). Even with the use of insecticidal compounds, over the last few years, the infestation area enlarged significantly. It was calculated that growers in the lower Rio Grande Valley (South Texas) lost over US $31 million in 2014 and 2015 due to reduced yields and increased expenses for insecticide and cost of applications. By the end of 2016, the aphid had been confirmed in 18 states, basically all areas in the United States where sorghum is grown. Research efforts are being made to identify resistance sources and to inrogress the trait into adapted breeding lines.

Publications / Research article

Bouchet, S., Olatoye, M.O., Marla, S.R., Perumal, R., Tesso, T., Yu, J., Tuinstra, M. and Morris, G.P. 2017. Increased Power to Dissect Adaptive Traits in Global Sorghum Diversity Using a Nested Association Mapping Population. Genetics 206: 573-585; https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.116.198499.

Maduraimurthu, D., Perumal, R., Krishna Jagadish, S. V., Ciampiti, I.A., Welti, R., Prasad, P.V. V. 2017. Sensitivity of sorghum pollen and pistil to high temperature stress. Plant, Cell & Environment 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1111/pce.13089. DOI: 10.1111/pce.13089

Maduraimuthu. D, Perumal, R., Ciampitti1, I.A., Gupta, S.K. and Prasad, P.V.V. 2017.  Response of Pearl Millet to High Temperature Stress: Thresholds, Genetic Variability and Relative Sensitivity of Pollen and Pistil. Plant, Cell & Environment Pages: 1-15. DOI: 10.1111/pce.12931.

Serba, D.D., Perumal, R., Tesso, TT. And Min, D. 2017. Status of Global Pearl Millet Breeding Programs and the Way Forward. Crop Sci. 57:1–15.

John Sunoj, V.S, Somayanda, I.M., Chiluwal, A., Perumal, R., Prasad, P.V. V. and Krishna Jagadish, S.V. 2016. Resilience of pollen and post flowering response in diverse sorghum genotypes exposed to heat stress under field conditions. Crop Sci. 56:1429–1442.

Rhodes, D., Gadgil, P., Perumal, R., Tesso, T. and Herald, T.J. 2016. Natural variation and genome-wide association study of antioxidants in a diverse sorghum collection. Cereal Chemistry (First look: http://dx.doi.org/10.1094/CCHEM-03-16-0075-R).

Sukumaran, S., Li, X., Li, X., Zhu, C., Bai, G., Perumal, R., Tuinstra, M., Prasad, P.V. V., Mitchell, S., Tesso, T.  Yu, J. 2016.  QTL Mapping for grain yield, flowering Time, and stay-green traits in sorghum using genotyping-by-sequencing markers. Crop Science 56(4): 1429-1442.

Adeyanju, A., Perumal, R. and Tesso, T. 2015. Genetic analysis of threshability in grain sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L) Moench]. Plant Breeding 134:148-155.

Bandara, Y.M.A.Y., Perumal, R. and Little, C. R. 2015. Integrating resistance and tolerance for improved evaluation of sorghum lines against Fusarium stalk rot and charcoal rot. Phytoparasitica DOI 10.1007/s12600-014-0451-0.

Bayoumy, M.H., Perumal, R. and Michaud, J.P. 2015. Comparative life histories of greenbugs and sugarcane aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) co-infesting susceptible and resistant sorghums. Journal of Economic Entomology. 109:385-391 (DOI: 10.1093/jee/tov271).

Hu, Z., Mbacké, B., Perumal, R., Guèye, M.C., Sy, O., Bouchet, S., Prasad, P. V. V. and Morris, G.P. 2015. Population genomics of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.): comparative analysis of global accessions and Senegalese landraces. BMC Genomics 16:1048 (DOI 10.1186/s12864-015-2255-0).

Perumal, R., Tesso, T., Kofoid, K. D., Prasad, P.V.V., Aiken, R.M., Bean, S.R., Wilson, J.D., Herald, T. J. and Little, C.R. 2015. Registration of Nine Grain Sorghum Seed Parent (A/B) Lines. Journal of Plant Registrations 9:244–248.

Prasad, P.V.V., Djanaguiraman, M, Perumal, R, and Ciampitti, I.A. 2015. Impact of high temperature stress on floret fertility and individual grain weight of grain sorghum: sensitive stages and thresholds for temperature and duration. Frontiers in Plant Science 6:820. doi:10.3389/fpls.2015.00820.

Prom, L., Isakeit, T., Cuevas, H., Rooney, W., Perumal, R. and Magill, C. 2015.  Reaction of sorghum lines to zonate leaf spot and rough leaf spot. Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-RS-15-0040.

Prom, L.K., Perumal, R., Isakeit, T., Radwan, G., Rooney, W. L. and Magill, C.W. 2015. The impact of weather conditions on response of sorghum genotypes to anthracnose (Colletotrichum sublineolum) infection. American Journal of Experimental Agriculture 6(4): 242-250.

Prom, L.K., Perumal, R., Jin, Z., Radwan, G., Isakeit, T. and Magill, C.W. 2015. Mycoflora analysis of hybrid sorghum grain collected from different locations in south Texas. American Journal of Experimental Agriculture 6(1):1-6.

Prom, L. K., Perumal, R., Montes-Garcia, N., Isakeit, T., Odvody, G. N, Rooney, W.L., Little, C. R. and Magill, C.W. 2015. Evaluation of Gambian and Malian sorghum germplasm against downy mildew pathogen, Peronosclerospora sorghi, in Mexico and the USA. Journal of General Plant Pathology 81:1-8. No.1DOI 10.1007/s10327-014-0557-8.

Maduraimuthu, D., Prasad, P.V.V., Marimuthu, M., Perumal, R. and Reddy, U.K. 2014. Physiological differences among sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) genotypes under high temperature stress. Environmental and Experimental Botany 100:43-54.

Prom, L. K., Perumal, R., Little, C.R., and Cissé, N 2014. Evaluation of selected sorghum lines and hybrids for resistance to grain mold and long smut fungi in Senegal, West Africa. Plant Health Progress 15:74-77.

Herald, T.J., Gadgil, P., Perumal, R., Bean, S.R., and Wilson, J.D. 2013. High-throughput micro-plate HCl-vanillin assay for screening tannin content in sorghum grain. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 1-4. DOI 10.1002/jsfa.6538

Kapanigowda, M.H., Perumal, R., Aiken, R.M., Herald, T.J., Bean, S.R., and Little, C.R. 2013. Analysis of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) lines and hybrids in response to early season planting and cool conditions. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 93:773-784 784.

Kapanigowda, M., Perumal, R., Maduraimuthu, D., Aiken, M.R., Prasad P.V.V., Tesso. T., and Little, C.R. 2013. Genotypic variation in sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] exotic germplasm collection for drought and disease tolerance. SpringerPlus. 2:650. DOI: 10.1186/2193-1801-2-650. URL: http://www.springerplus.com/content/2/1/650.

Kofoid, K. D., Perumal, R., Reese, J.C. and Campbell, L.R. 2012. Registration of twelve sorghum germplasm lines tolerant to greenbug feeding damage. Journal of Plant Registrations 6:1-3.

Prom, L.K., Erpelding, J., Perumal, R., Isakeit, T. and Cuevas, H. 2012.  Response of sorghum accessions from four African countries against Colletotrichum sublineolum, causal agent of sorghum anthracnose. American Journal of Plant Science 3:125-129.

Prom, L.K., Jin, Z., Ree, W., Lopez, J.D. and Perumal, R. 2012.  Frequency and diversity of fungal genera contaminating the external body parts of Leaf-footed Bug, Leptoglossus phyllopus (Heteroptera: Coreidae). The Open Entomology Journal 6:13-16.

Prom, L.K*., Perumal,  R*., Erattaimuthu S.R., Little, C.R., No, E-G, Erpelding, J. E., Rooney, W., Odvody, G. N. and Magill, C. W. 2012. Genetic diversity and pathotype determination of Colletotrichum sublineolum isolates causing anthracnose in sorghum.  European Journal of Plant Pathology 133:671–685 (* Authors with equal contribution).

Seifers, D. L., Perumal, R. and Little, C. R. 2012.  New sources of resistance in sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] germplasm are effective against a diverse array of Potyvirus spp. Plant Disease 96:1775-1779.

Prom, L.K., Isakeit, T., Perumal, R., Erpelding, J.E., Rooney, W. and Magill, C.W. 2011. Evaluation of the Ugandan sorghum accessions for grain mold and anthracnose resistance. Crop Protection 30:566-571.

Prom, L. K*., Perumal, R*., Erattaimuthu, S. R., Erpelding, J. E., Montes, N., Odvody, G. N., Greenwald, C., Jin, Z., Frederiksen, R. and Magill, C. W. 2011. Virulence and molecular genotyping studies of Sporisorium reilianum isolates in sorghum. Plant Disease 95:523-529 (* Authors with equal contributions).

Radwan, G.L., Perumal, R., Little, C., Prom,  L.K., Isakeit, T. and Magill, C.W. 2011. Screening exotic sorghum germplasm, hybrids and elite lines for resistance to a new virulent pathotype (P6) of Peronosclerospora Sorghi causing downy mildew. Plant Health Progress doi: 10.1094/PHP-2011-0323-01-RS.

Katilé, S*., Perumal, R*., Rooney, W.L., Prom, L.K. and Magill, C.W. 2010.  Expression of pathogenesis-related protein PR-10 in sorghum floral tissues following inoculation with Fusarium thapsinum and Curvularia lunata. Molecular Plant Pathology. 11(1):93-103 (* Authors with equal contributions).

Prom, L.K., Montes-Garcia, N., Erpelding, J.E., Perumal, R. and Medina-Ocegueda, S. 2010. Response of sorghum accessions from Chad and Uganda to natural infection by the downy mildew pathogen, Peronosclerospora sorghi in Mexico and the USA. Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection. 117(1):2-8.

Nimmakayala, P., Tomason, Y.R., Jeong, J., Ponniah, S. K., Karunathilake, A., Levi, A., Perumal, R. and Reddy, U.K. 2009. Genetic reticulation and interrelationships among citrullus species as revealed by joint analysis of shared AFLPs and species-specific SSR alleles. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization. 1–10 (doi:10.017/S1479262109990098).

Perumal, R, Menz, M.A., Mehta, P.J., Katile, S., Gutierrez Rojas, L.A., Klein, R.R., Klein, P.E., Prom, L.K., Schlueter, J.A., Rooney, W.L. and Magill, C.W. 2009. Molecular mapping of Cg1, a gene for resistance to anthracnose (Colletotrichum sublineolum) in sorghum. Euphytica 165:597-606.

Prom, L. K., Perumal, R., Erpelding, J. E., Isakeit, T., and Montes, N. and Magill, C. W. 2009. A pictorial technique for mass screening of sorghum germplasm for anthracnose resistance. The Open Agriculture Journal 3:20-25.

Perumal, R., Nimmakayala, P., Erattaimuthu, S., No, E.G., Reddy, U.K., Prom, L.K., Odvody, G.N., Luster, D.G. and Magill, C.W. 2008. Simple sequence repeat markers useful for sorghum downy mildew (P. sorghi) and related species. BMC Genetics 9:77 (doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-9-77).

Perumal, R., Renganayaki, K., Menz, M.M., Katile, S., Dahlberg, J., Magill, C.W. and Rooney, W.L. 2007. Genetic Diversity among Sorghum Races and Working Groups Based on AFLP and SSRs. Crop Science 47:1375-1383.

Perumal, R., Isakei, T., Menz, M.A., Katile, S., No, E.G. and Magill, C.W. 2006. Characterization and genetic distance analysis of isolates of Peronosclerospora sorghi using AFLP fingerprinting. Mycological Research 110(4):471-478.

Book Chapters

Little, C.R. and Perumal, R. 2017.  Diseases and Management in sorghum cultivation. In: Achieving sustainable cultivation of sorghum. Rooney, W.L. (Ed). Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Ltd., Sawston, Cambridge, United Kingdom. (in press)

Perumal, R., Magill, C.W., Peterson, G.C., Prom, L.K., Bashir, E.M., Tesso, T.T., Serba, D.D. and Little, C.R. 2017. Sorghum breeding for biotic stress tolerance In: Achieving sustainable cultivation of sorghum. Rooney, W.L. (Ed). Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Ltd., Sawston, Cambridge, United Kingdom. (in press)

Tesso T.T., Gobena, D.D., Duressa, D.O., Roozeboom, K., Krishna Jagadish, S.V., Perumal, R. Serba, D.D. and Weerasoriya, D. 2017. Harnessing genetic/genomic resources to transform production and productivity of sorghum as vital crop of the 21st century. Rooney, W.L. (Ed). Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Ltd., Sawston, Cambridge, United Kingdom. (in press)

Tesso T.T., Weerasoriya, D., Al-Khatib, K., Tuinstra, M.R., Gobena, D.D., Thompson, C., Kershner, K., Jugulam, M. and Perumal, R. 2017. Herbicide Resistance: An Alternative Approach for Managing Weeds in Sorghum. Prasad, P.V. V. and Ciampiti, I. (Eds). Agron Monogr. 58. ACSESS DL Book, ASA and CSSA, Madison, WI). (in press)

Little, C.R. and Perumal, R. 2016. The Biology and Control of Sorghum Diseases. In Sorghum: State of the Art and Future Perspectives. Prasad, P.V. V. and Ciampiti, I. (Eds) Agron. Monogr. 58. ACSESS DL Book, ASA and CSSA, Madison, WI (in press).

Perumal, R., Passoupathy, R., Maulana, F., Tesso, T. and Little C.R. 2016. Genetic Changes in Sorghum. In Sorghum: State of the Art and Future Perspectives. Prasad, P.V. V. and Ciampiti, I. (Eds). Agron Monogr. 58. ACSESS DL Book, ASA and CSSA, Madison, WI doi:10.2134/agronmonogr58.2014.0053 (in press)

Little, C.R., Perumal R., Tesso T., Prom L.K. and Magill. C.W. 2012. Sorghum pathology and biotechnology - A fungal disease perspective: Part I. Grain mold, head smut, and ergot. European Journal of Plant Science and Biotechnology Global Science Books. P 10-26.

Tesso, T., Perumal R., Little C.R., Adeyanju A., Radwan G.L., Prom L.K. and Magill. C.W. 2012. Sorghum pathology and biotechnology - A fungal disease perspective: Part II. Anthracnose, stalk rot, and downy mildew. European Journal of Plant Science and Biotechnology Global Science Books. P 31-41.

Nimmakayala., P, Perumal R., Mulpuri, S. and U. K. Reddy. 2011. Sesamum. In  Wild Crop Relatives: Genomic and Breeding Resources, Oilseeds. Kole C. (ed.), Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-14871-2_16, P.261-273.

Magill, C.W., Frederiksen, R.A., Boora, K., Perumal, R. and Sivaramakrishnan, S. 2002. Molecular tags for disease resistance genes in sorghum: Improved prospects for mapping. P. 247-252. In John F Leslie (eds.), Sorghum and Millets diseases: First edition, 2002 Iowa State Press, A Blackwell Publishing Company, USA.





Contact Information

Ramasamy Perumal

Ramasamy Perumal
Sorghum Breeder
Associate Professor
KSU Ag Research Center
1232 240th Avenue
Hays, Kansas 67601-9228
Phone: 785-625-3425 x216
Fax: 785-623-4369
Email: perumal@ksu.edu
Website: Research Program