Date of Award

December 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant and Environmental Science

Committee Member

B. Todd Campbell

Committee Member

William C. Bridges

Committee Member

Sachin Rustgi


The history of cotton breeding in the southeastern United States is multifaceted and complex. Public and private breeding programs have driven cotton’s genetic development over the past two centuries. The Pee Dee breeding program in Florence, South Carolina, has had a substantial role in the development of well-adapted cotton cultivars with improved fiber strength, fiber length, and performance in farmers’ fields. Despite the historic importance of the cotton germplasm lines and varieties from the Pee Dee program, little has been done to characterize the population structure and genetic architecture of key traits in this closed breeding program. Here, I first provide an in-depth exploration of the rich history of cotton breeding and genetics over the past century to provide some context for the remainder of this thesis. Then, I discuss the interface of breeding goals, population genetics, and historical implications of a representative sample across 85+ years of cotton breeding in the Pee Dee program. Once the family structure had been evaluated, I applied modern statistical methodology to find gene haplotypes that are associated with improved fiber quality or field performance and attempted to trace the origin of some beneficial alleles. Lastly, I talk about the implications of our work and how it may influence future breeding efforts to utilize the germplasm from this diverse cotton collection.



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