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LOGO: Journal of Cotton Science


History of USDA-ARS Cotton Host Plant Resistance and Breeding Research at Mississippi State, MS

Authors: Jack C. McCarty Jr., Johnie N. Jenkins, Sukumar Saha, and Martin J. Wubben
Pages: 101-157
Breeding and Genetics
DOI: (

Cotton host plant resistance research was initiated with the establishment of the Boll Weevil Research Laboratory in 1960. Laboratory objectives were to conduct research and develop technology that ultimately could be used to eradicate the boll weevil. Early research concentrated on developing techniques and screening germplasm for resistance. A full-scale boll weevil eradication trial began in southern Virginia and eastern North Carolina in 1978 and after initial success the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service established an eradication program. This led the host plant resistance program to broaden its research into other pests of cotton. During the 1980s, research continued to focus on tarnished plant bug, tobacco budworm, expanding the genetic diversity of cotton, basic genetic and cotton breeding studies. With the development of field infestation techniques for the tobacco budworm, in the 1990s the research team conducted the first field test of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) transgenic cotton for resistance. During this time, root-knot nematode research expanded. Cotton fruiting efficiency and distribution of harvestable bolls and the concept of plant mapping were developed. During the 2000s, research expanded with the use of chromosome substitution lines for the introgression of new alleles into Upland cotton. Nematode research remained active during this time. To date, the research program has developed and released more than 800 germplasm lines and four random-mating populations. Scientists in the program have trained more than 60 graduate students and countless others have been mentored. The full impact of the research team will only be revealed with time.