Institute calls for improved research into genomics to help Philippine sugarcane production

A Philippine-based institute has called for increased research into genomics to help improve the variety and yield of the country’s sugarcane, particularly by increasing its resistance to common diseases.

To sustain the industry’s growth, new and superior varieties of sugarcane should be developed, Dr. Liwayway M. Engle of the Philippine Sugar Research Institute (PhilSURIN) told attendees at the recent S&T Agri Biotech Forum held at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management Convention Hall.

The sugarcane industry is considered the Philippines second-most important crop after rice, according to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), contributing to industries such as bioethanol fuel production as well as food needs, the Manilla Times reported.

Engle said that sugarcane breeding, which includes marker assisted selection of promising varieties, is a long and tedious process—taking as many as eight to nine years—thus requiring a lot of human and financial resources. The process is long due to sugarcane’s long life cycle and complex genetic nature, which requires huge breeding populations of 100,000 to 400,000 genotypes.

To solve this problem, Engle said that genetic improvement of sugarcane must be continuously undertaken. Engle stressed that sugar genomics is good for the increased productivity, profitability, sustainability, and global competitiveness of the Philippine sugar industry.

Organised by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Philippine Council for Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research and Development, the forum was part of the activities for the 12th National Biotechnology Week held last month, the Manilla Times reported.

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