Transformation and Transgenic Expression studies of Glyphosate tolerant and Cane Borer Resistance Genes in Sugarcane (Sccharum officinarum L.)  

Zahida Qamar , Saman Riaz , Idrees Ahmad Nasir , Qurban Ali , Tayyab Husnain
Center of Excellence in Molecular Biology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
Author    Correspondence author
Molecular Plant Breeding, 2015, Vol. 6, No. 12   doi: 10.5376/mpb.2015.06.0012
Received: 07 Apr., 2015    Accepted: 15 Jun., 2015    Published: 02 Jul., 2015
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This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Zahida Qamar, Saman Riaz, Idrees Ahmad Nasir, Qurban Ali, Tayyab Husnain, 2015, Transformation and Transgenic Expression studies of Glyphosate tolerant and Cane Borer Resistance Genes in Sugarcane (Sccharum officinarum L.), Molecular Plant Breeding, 6(12) 1-17 (doi: 10.5376/mpb.2015.06.0012)


Sugarcane is an important sugar and cash crop grown throughout the world. Sugarcane quality and production is mostly affected by biotic and abiotic factors that caused low yield of sugarcane products throughout the world. Using biotechnology and genetic engineering as a complement for traditional breeding methods it is possible to introduce insect/pest, herbicide-tolerant traits into various crop species. It has been found that the absence of insect/pest, abiotic and herbicide tolerant genes in genetic pool of crop plant species makes traditional breeding programs difficult. The varieties that are productive and at the same time has resistance against certain pathogens and diseases, can improve yield. The development of biotic and abiotic resistant sugarcane varieties through transgenic technology will be cost effective in controlling all type of stresses which ultimately improve yield potential. The present review will provide its readers the opportunity to understand the methods of glyphosate tolerant and Bt resistant genes in sugarcane.

Saccharum officinarum; Gene transformation; Biotic; Abiotic resistance; Stress

Sugarcane is tallperennialtrue grassesbelongs to the grass family; Poaceae, of the genusSaccharum. Sugarcane is an economically important crop and used forsugarproduction. They have stout jointed fibrous stalks that are rich insugar, and measure 6 to 19 feet tall. All sugarcane species interbreed and the major commercialcultivarsare complexhybrids. Agriculture is central to economic growth and development in Pakistan. Sugarcane occupies an important position in national economy in order to drive the large sugar industry. Agriculture contributes to 21.4% of GDP and employs 45% of the country’s labor force. During 2012-13, sugarcane was cultivated on an area of 1124 thousand hectares. It adds 3.2% in agriculture and 0.7% in GDP. The production of sugarcane during year 2012-13 was 62.5 million tonnes with 5.9% increase in yield as compared to last year i.e. 58.4 million tonnes (Economic Survey of Pakistan, 2012-13). Sugarcane is indigenous to tropicalSouthandSoutheast Asia.The genus Saccharum contains six species; two wild species S. spontaneum and S. robstum; and 4 cultivated species S. edule, S. officinarum, S. barberi and S. sinense (Peter Sharpe, 1998). Different species originated in different locations e.g.S. barberi originated inIndia; S. eduleandS. officinaruminNew Guinea. All commercial canes grown today are inter-specific hybrids (Wrigley, 1982). Sugarcane originated in India about 300 B.C and subsequently spread through trade routes to North Africa, the Mediterranean region, Spain and later on to Arabia, China and Persia (Ullah et al., 2011). It was first domesticated as a crop in New Guinea around 6000 BC. Approximately 70% of the sugar produced globally comes fromS. officinarum. It is assumed that multiple crossing between S. spontaneum, Erianthus asundinaceus and Miscanthus sinensis resulted in S. officinarum (Daniels and Roach, 1987).
Sugarcane cultivars have a complex aneuploid, highly heterozygous and polyploid genome with chromosome number varying from 80-120 (Joyce et al., 2010). Sugarcane cultivars derive from recent inter-specific hybrids obtained by crossing S. officinarum (2n=8x=80) and S. spontaneum (2n=5x=40 to 2n=16x=128) (Cuadrado et al., 2004). The challenge in sugarcane sequencing is complexity of its genome structure that is highly polyploidy and aneuploid with a complete set of homologous genes predicted to range from 8-10 homologous copies of most loci (Souza et al., 2011; Mudge et al., 2009). Multiple alleles are expressed although transgenes expressed from the corresponding promoters can undergo efficient silencing (Moyle and Birch, 2013).
Sugarcane is largely grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world and provides around 74 million tonnes of sugar annually and contributes to 2/3rd of world sugar production (Ullah et al., 2011; Weng et al., 2010: Hillocks and Waller, 1997). Sugarcane propagation is through stem cuttings of immature 8-12 months old canes. These are called "setts", "seed", "seed-cane" or "seed-pieces". Cane is grown highest latitude at 34o N in northwest Pakistan and 37o N in southern Spain (Sharpe, 1998). The best setts are taken from the upper 3rd part of the cane because the buds are younger and less likely to dry out.
It takes 12,500-20,000 setts to plant one hectare (Purseglove, 1979). The setts are lightly covered with soil until they sprout in 10-14 days and then the sides of the furrow are turned inward (Sharpe, 1998). Sugarcane is a perennial crop which usually produces crops for about 3-6 years before being replanted. The first crop is called the "plant crop" and takes 9-24 months to mature, depending on location (Purseglove, 1979).
Sugarcane Production in Pakistan
Pakistan is the 6th largest cane producing country in the world in term area and ranks 15th in sugar production (FAO, 2011; Ullah et al., 2011; Qureshi, 1998). Sugarcane contains a major source of edible sugars and many by-products are also produced by sugarcane (Table 1).

Table 1 Area, Production and Yield of Sugarcane in Pakistan

Sugarcane Production in World
Cane is the world’s largest, important and major crop which is very sweet in taste. It is used as raw material as 80% of sugar production is based upon it. It is cultivated in several countries. Brazil is the biggest sugarcane producing country of world with a total production of 734,000,000 tonnes, while Mauritius is the 2nd biggest producer after Brazil and India ranked 3rd (FAO, 2011) (Table 2).

Table 2 Ten Sugarcane Producers of World

Sugarcane Uses
Sugarcane is the main source of sucrose that is deposited in stalk internodes. Saccharum officinarum L. is cultivated on a large scale as raw material for sugar and industrial products, such as furfural, dextrans, alcohol, chip board, paper manufacturing, beverages, food processing, confectionery, chemicals, plastics, paints, synthetics, fiber, insecticides and detergents. It accounts for 75% of sugar production worldwide (World Sugar Statistics, 2009; Joyce et al., 2010; Enríquez-Obregón et al., 1998; Patrau, 1989). Some natural pharmaceutical compounds are derived from sugarcane (Nasir et al., 2014; Julian et al., 2005; Enríquez-Obregón et al., 1998; MeneÂndez et al., 1993). It is also a valuable renewable source of biofuel/bio-energy for the production of ethanol (Ricaud et al., 2012; Weng et al., 2011; Menossi et al., 2007; Butt et al., 2015). Due to this reason, it has gained importance all over the world in the last 20 years. It is a prime candidate for the future fuel crop due to its efficient biomass production (Bower and Birch, 1992; FAO, 1991).
Sugar Production
The sugar industry is the 2nd largest industry in Pakistan (Ullah et al., 2011). Global production of table sugar is now exceeded up to 165 million tonnes a year. Approximately 70-80% is produced from sugarcane. The remaining is produced from sugar beet, which is grown mostly in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. Sugar is produced in 120 countries. 70 countries produce sugar from sugarcane, 40 from sugar beet, and 10 from both (World Sugar Statistics, 2009). The 10 largest sugar producing nations represent roughly 75% of world sugar production and 2/3rd of total world consumption. Brazil alone accounts for almost 25% of world production. White sugar consumption in developed countries can be considered as saturated whereas developing countries are considered as growing markets, particularly in Asia, and to a lesser extent in the Middle-East and Africa. At the beginning of the 20th century, a world population of 1.6 billion people consumed roughly 8 million tonnes of sugar, i.e. 5.1 kg per capita. Today, a world population of 7 billion people consumes roughly 165 million tonnes of sugar i.e. 23 kg per capita on average (World Sugar Statistics, 2009) (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Major Sugar Consumers of World

Problems of Sugarcane Industry
Internal disputes between sugarcane growers and processors are big problem the industry. Procurement practices such as buying and purchasing used by processors such as delaying the crushing season, buying cane at less than the support price, and withholding payments hurt the farmers’ profitability. On the other hand, sugar processors complaint that farmers grow unapproved varieties that produce low sucrose content resulting in lower sugar production and recovery rates. As a result of the fluctuations in quantity and quality of raw material, sugar mills have been required to operate at 50% of their installed capacity. Furthermore, the lower sugarcane supplies have also forced most of the mills in cane producing areas to close 1-2 months earlier than normal (
Low Yield of Sugarcane
Wide use of sugarcane and its relevant products have created a challenging situation for sugarcane researchers and growers. In spite of extensive research the average yield of sugarcane in Pakistan is very low as compared to other cane producing countries of the world (Imam, 2001). There are many factors which are responsible for this low yield, among them severe attack of insect pests at early and mature stages of crop are the most significant one. Sugarcane borers are the most damaging among the pests attacking this crop (Ashraf and Fatima, 1980). These include top borer, stem borer, root borer, and Gurdaspur borer. Borers may reduce the yield up to 80% (Kalra and Sidhu, 1955). The damage caused by borers not only reduces the crop yield but also affects the sucrose contents of cane.
Sugarcane Problems
Approximately, 100 diseases have been reported to hinder the growth of sugarcane all over the world (Khurana and Singh, 1975). The most common are fungal diseases which occur as spots and hinder the process of photosynthesis affecting the growth of plant and ultimately the yield (Patil and Bodhe, 2011). A number of bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens attack the crop and cause serious damage.
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