E.J. Sacks

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, United States

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Publications (5)48.43 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Despite doubling of yields of major grain crops since the 1950s, more than one in seven people suffer from malnutrition (1). Global population is growing; demand for food, especially meat, is increasing; much land most suitable for annual crops is already in use; and production of nonfood goods (e.g., biofuels) increasingly competes with food production for land (2). The best lands have soils at low or moderate risk of degradation under annual grain production but make up only 12.6% of global land area (16.5 million km2) (3). Supporting more than 50% of world population is another 43.7 million km2 of marginal lands (33.5% of global land area), at high risk of degradation under annual grain production but otherwise capable of producing crops (3). Global food security depends on annual grains—cereals, oilseeds, and legumes—planted on almost 70% of croplands, which combined supply a similar portion of human calories (4, 5). Annual grain production, though, often compromises essential ecosystem services, pushing some beyond sustainable boundaries (5). To ensure food and ecosystem security, farmers need more options to produce grains under different, generally less favorable circumstances than those under which increases in food security were achieved this past century. Development of perennial versions of important grain crops could expand options.
    Science 06/2010; 328(5986):1638-1639. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In Southeast Asia, upland rice (Oryza sativa) is an annual crop typically grown for subsistence on hilly lands that are at risk for soil erosion. If perennial cultivars of upland rice were developed, they would provide farmers with an inexpensive tool to produce a preferred food while conserving soil. O. rufipogon, the undomesticated progenitor of O. sativa, includes perennial and stoloniferous forms. To evaluate the feasibility of developing perennial cultivars by combining genes of O. sativa and O. rufipogon, four trials were conducted in an upland field at IRRI: O. sativa/O. rufipogon F1 clone and cutting height trial, F2 family trial, and two O. sativa/stoloniferous-selection factorial mating design trials. Plants were established at the beginning of the rainy season, then subjected to a 6-month dry season and evaluated for survival after 1 year. Of the 2101 cultivar control plants, only three IR47686-1-4-B individuals survived and none produced stolons. The 18 F1 clones, which were selected from previous trials with less drought stress, ranged in survival from 4.4 to 91.4%. Cutting height at harvest did not affect survival. Survival among the F2 families ranged from 9.4 to 31.9%. Segregation for stolon presence did not differ from a 3:1 ratio for five of the six F2 families, suggesting the effect of a single dominant gene. Average yields per plant for the F2 families were 1/3 to 1/9 of yields for the cultivars. However, by crossing the F1s to cultivars, yield potential was almost fully recovered. For the full-sib families of the factorial trials, survival ranged from 0.0 to 48.6%. Azucena and IR47686-1-4-B, both japonica cultivars, exhibited greater general combining ability for survival relative to the six other cultivar parents. Thus, the process of developing perennial cultivars of rice should include screening annual cultivars to identify those with the best combining ability for survival. To develop cultivars of perennial upland rice, drought avoidance and/or tolerance from annual upland cultivars must be combined with the capacity for perennial growth from wild perennial species. The frequency of stolonifereous testcross progeny was lower than expected and was affected by the O. sativa parent. Thus, additional genes likely affected stolon penetrance and expression. Analyses of covariance indicated that stolons improved the likelihood of survival for progenies of the factorial trials but the effect was small (b < 0.1), and that yield (g/plant) had a small negative effect on percent survival (b = −0.13 to −0.32). This study demonstrated that it was possible to introgress genes for perennial growth from wild O. rufipogon accessions into domesticated O. sativa. Additionally, strategies for developing perennial cultivars of upland rice were improved.
    Field Crops Research 01/2007; 100:155-167. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fertility barriers, which are common in many wide crosses, can hinder efforts to introgress genes. In this study, we examined an intermated Oryza sativa/Oryza longistaminata population and assessed how fertility barriers affected selection for long rhizomes, a polygenic trait. Rhizomes are typical of O. longistaminata but not found in O. sativa. In the intermate population, we observed that pollen-fertility and self-fertility were generally low but exceptional individuals of high fertility were found in nearly all generations. About 1/5th of the genotypic variation for self-fertility was accounted for by pollen-fertility, based on a significant linear regression. Intermating improved self-fertility more than backcrossing for one generation. Heritability estimates via parent-offspring regression were 17 ± 7% for pollen-fertility and 39 ± 9% for self-fertility. The data indicated that many genes contributed to the fertility barriers. Individuals with relatively high fertility or long rhizomes (>8 cm) were observed infrequently in the intermated population, and there was no evidence of association between low fertility and presence of long rhizomes. By evaluating a large population, we were able to obtain a few rare recombinants that had both self-fertility greater than 10% and long rhizomes.
    Field Crops Research 01/2006; 95(1):30–38. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development of perennial cultivars (CVs) of upland rice would give farmers a new tool to reduce soil erosion from hilly fields, thereby mitigating a problem of regional concern in Southeast Asia. Oryza longistaminata is an undomesticated, perennial, rhizomatous relative of domesticated Asian rice (Oryza sativa). Using five sets of 4 × 2 factorial mating designs, we crossed rhizomatous interspecific genotypes (IGs) from an intermated O. sativa/O. longistaminata population with male-fertile IG selections from the intermated population, and with O. sativa CVs. Parents and progeny were planted in an upland field at IRRI using a randomized complete block design and evaluated for rhizome expression, survival after 1 year, vigor of the survivors, and yield. For the IG parents, rhizome expression was variable and penetrance of most genotypes was incomplete, but genotypes that demonstrated the potential for moderate rhizome expression had high penetrance (89% average). The CV parents yielded 11.0 g/plant on average but none produced rhizomes or survived 1 year. The IG parents averaged yields of 3.1 g/plant, 57% rhizomatous and 36% survival. The IG/IG progeny averaged yields of 4.2 g/plant, 32% rhizomatous and 37% survival. The IG/CV progeny averaged yields of 6.0 g/plant, 18% rhizomatous and 16% survival. Nine IG/IG progeny and six IG/CV progeny were rhizomatous, perennial, and yielded at least 5 g/plant, and five of these yielded more than 10 g/plant. For the IG parents and IG/IG progeny, rhizome presence and expression were positively associated with survival and vigor of the survivors. General combining ability effects were significant for percent survival and yield but not percent rhizomatous. Specific combining ability effects were significant for percent rhizomatous, percent survival and yield. By selecting female parents for long rhizomes and male parents for fertility, considerable gains in rhizome expression, survival and yield were made. The development of perennial upland rice CVs should be feasible via introgression of genes from O. longistaminata.
    Field Crops Research 01/2006; 95(1):39-48. · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Annual and perennial habit are two major strategies by which grasses adapt to seasonal environmental change, and these distinguish cultivated cereals from their wild relatives. Rhizomatousness, a key trait contributing to perenniality, was investigated by using an F(2) population from a cross between cultivated rice (Oryza sativa) and its wild relative, Oryza longistaminata. Molecular mapping based on a complete simple sequence-repeat map revealed two dominant-complementary genes controlling rhizomatousness. Rhz3 was mapped to the interval between markers OSR16 [1.3 centimorgans (cM)] and OSR13 (8.1 cM) on rice chromosome 4 and Rhz2 located between RM119 (2.2 cM) and RM273 (7.4 cM) on chromosome 3. Comparative mapping indicated that each gene closely corresponds to major quantitative trait loci (QTLs) controlling rhizomatousness in Sorghum propinquum, a wild relative of cultivated sorghum. Correspondence of these genes in rice and sorghum, which diverged from a common ancestor approximately 50 million years ago, suggests that the two genes may be key regulators of rhizome development in many Poaceae. Many additional QTLs affecting abundance of rhizomes in O. longistaminata were identified, most of which also corresponded to the locations of S. propinquum QTLs. Convergent evolution of independent mutations at, in some cases, corresponding genes may have been responsible for the evolution of annual cereals from perennial wild grasses. DNA markers closely linked to Rhz2 and Rhz3 will facilitate cloning of the genes, which may contribute significantly to our understanding of grass evolution, advance opportunities to develop perennial cereals, and offer insights into environmentally benign weed-control strategies.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2003; 100(7):4050-4. · 9.81 Impact Factor