Dr. Lee Panella
Research Geneticist 
Crops Research Laboratory
Research Leader for the Sugarbeet Research Unit

The Sugarbeet Genetics Program of the USDA-ARS at the Crops Research Lab in Fort Collins combines traditional methods of crop improvement with the use of new molecular biology techniques to understand the genetics of the sugarbeet plant and some of its major pathogens. The field program develops sugarbeet germplasm with good agronomic characteristics, and increased resistance to Rhizoctonia root rot, Cercospora leaf spot, the curly top virus, and other important diseases. Germplasm from the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm Systems=s Beta plant introduction collection is screeened and incorporated into the commercial germplasm pool. Plant introductions are also screened for resistance to 9 diseases and for morphological and agronomic traits. Enhanced sugarbeet germplasm developed in Fort Collins is released to the sugarbeet industry. There is a history of over 50 years of continued germplasm development from this program.

Laboratory research includes programs in Beta genomics to explore the potential applied uses of new traditional, biochemical, and molecular techniques in a sugarbeet germplasm improvement program. This includes a postdoc working on microsatellite discovery in sugarbeet. These tools are used to: 1) investigate the genetic relationship among cultivated and wild sugarbeets, to bring new sources of resistance into the cultivated genepool, and to better manage our USDA-ARS germplasm resources; 2) to determine genetic control of pathogenicity in the root rot pathogen (Rhizoctoniasolani) genetic control of resistance in the sugarbeet, and genetic control of the interactions between this pathogen and sugarbeet; 3) The germplasm and knowledge developed in these research programs maintains a successful breeding program that releases enhanced germplasm to the sugarbeet industry.

Click here to visit the USDA-ARS NPA Sugar Beet Research unit's web site.