Cotton Research enters to a period of “golden” opportunities

With the recent completion of draft sequencing of diploid cotton Gossypium raimondii and G. arboreum genomes published in Nature Genetics, and the first “gold-standard” version of G. raimondii genome published in Nature, cotton research community enjoyed the pick of many seminal research results that have provided a glorious opportunity to study orthologous and paralogous genes and gene families in allotetraploid cotton.

These successes and great achievements in ancestral diploid genome sequencing further resulted in decoding of the representative genome of widely grown allotetraploid Upland (G. hirsutum L.) cotton, Texas Marker-1.

Two independent research papers published in Nature Biotechnology by Zhang et al. and Li et al. in this week issue described the complex allotetraploid TM-1 genome that further entered cotton research to an era of “golden” opportunities providing the first insights into allotetraploid cotton genome structure, genome rearrangements, gene evolution, cotton fiber biology and biotechnology that will help to rapidly translate the genomics “knowledge” to an “economic impact”!

Congratulation to all cotton community with these latest achievements, high impact journal seminal publications, and hard work to foster cotton research!

World Cotton Germplasm Resources – new book has been published

New open access book of Intech entitled  “World Cotton Germplasm Resources” (ISBN 978-953-51-1622-6) has just been published online.  Book has compiled 11 peer-reviewed chapters from several leading cotton growing countries including Australia, China, India, Pakistan, United States of America, and Uzbekistan. It provided updated information on the current status and detailed inventory of available cotton germplasm resources. All chapters also targeted to address the past and current progress; enrichment of collections with novel germplasm resources including Bt-cotton, RNA interference and markers assisted selection lines; new trends and molecular tools in germplasm evaluations, development of database, understanding genetic diversity and its exploitation in cotton breeding; future perspectives of existing collections; critical challenges and opportunities in preserving the cotton genetic resources; and the ongoing multi-national communication and collaboration to enhance the germplasm protection, preservation, and evaluation. This book should be useful reading source on worldwide cotton germplasm resources. The content of this book is freely available for downloading at (

Sharing research outputs through a specific journal

Journal of Cotton Sciences

There are many possible journals for agricultural science publications.

One specific cotton publication is the Journal of Cotton Science.

  • “The multidisciplinary, refereed journal contains articles that improve our understanding of cotton science.
  • Publications may be compilations of original research, syntheses, reviews, or notes on original research or new techniques or equipment”.
  • The journal is web based and is published four times each year by the US Cotton Foundation.

This Journal needs our support to build a larger number of cotton paper submissions and more readership and citations, so we urge you to consider this journal for publishing results of your cotton research.

ICAC Cotton Researcher of the Year 2014


The International Cotton Advisory Committee started recognizing a cotton researcher in 2009. Dr. Greg Constable of CSIRO, Australia is the winner of the ICAC Researcher of the Year – 2015 award. He is also current Chairman of the International Coton Researchers Association (ICRA). Dr. Constable is an eminent leader in the international cotton research community. He was one of the primary organizers of the first World Cotton Research Conference in Australia in 1994. Dr. Constable’s experience in cotton research is spread over four decades. His achievements are well recognized in three fields of research: agronomy, breeding and physiology and scientific leadership. Dr. Constable’s research has greatly benefitted the cotton industry in Australia and he has received many recognitions at the national level in Australia.

Sincere congratulations from ICRA.

For More information


Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide benefits cotton growth and yield

Climate change is real and will affect cotton growth and yield. Climate change is occurring because of increased greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, in the atmosphere causing global warming and related changes in various weather phenomena. Increasing CO2 levels should be beneficial to plant growth and yield because increasing ambient CO2 would enhance photosynthesis and plant growth. This is because photosynthesis in cotton responds to increasing CO2,such that increasing CO2 levels above the current ambient level would result in higher amounts of CO2 fixed, and therefore increased carbohydrate production and enhanced plant growth. It has been estimated that the photosynthetic rate of agricultural crops such as cotton would increase by 33% with a doubling of the CO2 concentrationIn addition to enhancing canopy photosynthesis, CO2 is also a competitive inhibitor of photorespiration, and both of these factors result in increased growth and productivity.  However, other factors come into play with climate such as increased temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, and changed season length that could negatively impact the advantages of increased CO2 levels

Novel findings and strategies for fiber biotechnology

A negative correlation between fiber quality traits and the key agronomic characteristics such as yield and maturity makes it a challenging task to improve cotton fiber quality traits using conventional breeding.The improvement of key characteristics of fiber quality is one of the major objectives of cotton biotechnology worldwide. Several key findings published lately by several cotton research groups fueled a good evidence and promise for biotechnological improvement of cotton fiber. The report published by Guan et al. 2014 in January issue of Nature communications highlight the role of GhMYB2A and GhMYB2D and its tans-acting regulatory microRNA signatures, miR828 and miR858, in trichome and fiber development. Another report in the same issue of Nature Communications by our group highlighted the involvement of cotton phytochrome gene family in the simultaneous improvement of major fiber characteristics and several important agronomic traits of Upland cotton utilizing RNA interference of the targeted light regulatory gene(s). Recent report of Han et al. in the March issue of Plant Biotechnology journal demonstrated that Phytosulfokine-α (PSK-α) signaling may regulate the respiratory electron-transport chain and reactive oxygen species to affect cotton fibre development. Results of all these recent discoveries on regulating novel genetic signatures through transgenomics approaches not only expanded our understanding on the complex cotton fiber development process but also provided novel innovative strategies to improve cotton fiber quality to increase competitiveness of natural fiber over synthetics.

Future threat to Cotton in Pakistan: Red Cotton Bug and Dusky Cotton Bug

Cotton in Pakistan is mainly damaged by number of lepidopteron caterpillars like spotted bollworms, cotton bollworms, pink bollworms, Army worms etc, and mostly cotton growers have limited expertise to manage these worms due to number of reasons like unable to recognize the entire life cycle of insects, non-existence of reliable pest scouting, limited knowledge of pesticides and beneficial insects etc. Since these worms feed on cotton bolls or flowers, they cause direct and great yield losses. It was presumed that pest management is the weakest area of Pakistani cotton grower. With the Introduction of Bt cotton, the bollworms are no longer an issue; the saving of losses caused by worms and converted into yield gain help to raise farm’ income. Elimination of fear of pink bollworm enabled cotton growers to keep cotton crop for longer in fields. On the other hand, insecticides used for the control of bollworms in cotton substantially reduced and resulted in so called “imbalance” of cotton ecosystem. The imbalanced ecology up graded various potential or minor pests to the status of major pests. Cotton mealybug which was attacking cotton and other crops at very lower incidence converted into a major pest in 2008-09, is a good example of it.

Consequent upon the farmers’ complaints of yellow spots on cotton lint and significantly increasing number of rotten or un-opened bolls, the scientists revealed that two sucking pests are responsible for lint coloration. Based on preliminary studies at Central Cotton Research Institute, Multan it was noted that Red cotton Bug and Dusky Cotton Bug, with cell sap feeding habits (insect with needle like mouth) sucks sap from cotton seed. The insects are preferably feed on seed of partially or unopened bolls. While inserting its needle like mouth into cotton seed for feeding and crawling on bolls, the body secrets colored liquid resulting in lint staining with yellow spots. The discolored lint never appreciated by spinners as its fiber is weakened which end up a low quality yarn or textile product. The saliva also carries bacteria which cause the boll rotten. The bolls aspirated by bugs, if managed to open has lighter seeds making higher seed-lint ratio. The seed produced from such bolls has viability and germination issues hence such crop cannot be used for seed production. Not only this, the hole made for the feeding of insect gets fungus infection and seed cake made from such seed has higher aflotoxine contents. Animals refuse to take such feed and since aflotoxine is extracted in milk if fed to milking animals, the milk processing sector refused to accept milk from the dairies using cotton seed cake as concentrate diet. It is worth mentioning here that aflotoxine is carcinogenic in nature and can cause cancer. Both insects are not new to our environment, rather they were surviving and could not make their existence prominent due to management practices adopted for bollworms or other insects.

Red Cotton Bug, scientifically known as Dysdercus cingulatus, is small insect of about 12-14 mm in length, with deep red legs and antennae. The wings are of two parts outer part is membranous and is black in color, where as inner portion is hard & grayish and has black spot. Females lay eggs in crevasse of moist soil and of bright yellow color. Adult do feed on leaves green bolls and partially opened bolls.

Oxycrenus hyalipennis is the Latin name of Dusky Cotton bug. It is very small insect of about 4-5 mm in length. The body is dusky brown in color, legs are deep brown and wings are faded transparent with black spots. Young ones suck sap from immature seed, which do not ripe and remain light in weight. The adults are picked up with picking of seed cotton and crushed during ginning resulted in stained lint and also produce bad smell.

It is quite important to understand that Bt cotton has nothing to do with these insects, it’s the ecosystem where pesticides for Sundies are withdrawn which facilitated the development and rapid multiplication of these bugs. In non-Bt cotton cultivation pesticides applied for Sundies unnoticeably killed these insects as well, so they never appeared as serious pests. This phenomenon is not new to Pakistan, other countries adopted Bt cotton also had similar experiences with varying degree. Cotton scientists have devised a management strategy for these pests and planned a systematic research during the coming years to address various aspects of these and other potential pests including it biology, natural enemies and study of host range. It is also advised to farmers to report their nearest agriculture officer or research institute/ station if they notice any abnormal behavior of crop, insect or disease symptoms. Strong vigilance may prompt the issue before it could cause an economic loss.


Dr. Khalid Abdullah

Cotton Commissioner

Ministry of Textile Industry

Government of Pakistan

IslamabadDusky Cotton Bug Red Cotton Bug

HVI Guideline Updated

The ITMF International Committee on Cotton Testing Methods (ICCTM) approved updates to the Guideline for Standardized Instrument Testing of Cotton during its meeting in Bremen, Germany on March 18, 2014. The Guideline is a joint effort by the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) Task Force on Commercial Standardization of Instrument Testing of Cotton (CSITC) and the ICCTM.

The Guideline provides specific instruction on the conditioning of cotton samples, operation of instruments and instrument testing laboratories and the handling of data in the evaluation of the quality of cotton fiber. The purpose of the Guideline is to assure standardized testing procedures so as to ensure results that are accurate, precise and repeatable and are thus useable by the cotton and cotton textile value chains in both the marketing and use of cotton fiber.

The major changes approved at the ICCTM meeting in Bremen included updates to the basic ASTM reference documents, a recommendation that climate data in each laboratory be averaged over a maximum 5 to15 minute interval, cautionary guidance in the use of rapid conditioning equipment, requirements for the continuous identification of samples handled within laboratories, requirements regarding calibration material, information on within-instrument and inter-instrument variations, information about participation in CSITC Round Trials and recommendations regarding the handling of data by laboratories.

The new version of the Guideline will be available at and  from April 07 on. It will be translated into Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Is a modification of the temperature level in cotton testing laboratories suitable?

Cotton testing has to be done under specific climate conditions, which are given in the according standard practices (as ASTM 1776 or ISO 139). Particularly in countries with tropical conditions, it is very difficult and energy-intensive to maintain the required temperature level of 21°C, although temperature shows, compared to the influence of the relative humidity, a low impact on cotton test results – as long as the relative humidity is kept constant. Therefore the ITMF International Committee on Cotton Testing Methods (ICCTM) discussed during its meeting in Bremen, Germany on March 18, 2014, about the influence of temperature on the test results for cotton.

Whereas it is well known that the relative humidity shows a strong influence on cotton test results, the influence of the temperature is not as clear. The conclusions of the committee were:

a) Research should be done to check, if with a different temperature level (e.g. 24°C or even 27°C) the same test result level and the same accuracy of results can be achieved. Furthermore it has to be investigated, how the respective relative humidity has to be adapted – presumably on a level that results in the same moisture content of the cotton fibres as the currently given standard conditions (21°C / 65% relative humidity). At this stage, USDA-AMS, CSIRO in Australia and the Bremen Fibre Institute in Germany promised to investigate on this.

b) The allowed tolerance for temperature variations (1°C in ASTM 1776 or 2°C in ISO 139) should definitely not be widened, as this shows, with given constant total water content of the air, a direct impact on the relative humidity.

The results will be discussed at the next ICCTM meeting, which will take place in Bremen in March 2016.

Climate change from global warming will affect cotton production

There has been much concern worldwide about climate change resulting from global warming and the possible effects on agriculture and human food supply.  Most of the global climate change scenarios include change in the amount and pattern of precipitation,  more restricted water availability, more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events including heat waves, droughts and heavy rainfall, longer growing seasons, and possible changing geographical regions suitable for crop production. These changes will effect agriculture and necessitate adaptive production practices.

Cotton production will be impacted by future climate change.  Although the increased photosynthesis caused by the rising CO2 levels will promote increased biomass production, this will not necessarily translate into higher yields due to the negative impact higher temperatures have on reproductive growth.  However, rising temperatures will lengthen the season available for growing cotton, permitting shifts in planting dates and also permitting cotton to be double-cropped behind other crops in an expanded region. Rising temperatures may also eventually promote the movement of cotton production into more northern regions.