Sugar Beet History

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1 Brief history of sugar beet The first references to the family of plants known as “Beta” can be found in Greek literature around 420BC. They were described as garden plants; dark and light varieties are mentioned. Sugar beet was first grown 2000 years ago originally for its leaves, which were probably the spinach or swiss chard of their day. Beet gradually spread throughout France and Spain, often in monasteries but also by peasant farmers. By the fifteenth century beet was grown all over Europe. The vegetable was probably selected from various Beta species growing around the shores of the Mediterranean. It was widely used for culinary purposes in Europe from the middle Ages onwards. The sugar beet currently grown is far removed from the garden plant. Later the root became a popular vegetable, especially the red type of beet known as beetroot. In the second half of the eighteenth century the chemist Marggraf demonstrated that the sweet tasting crystals obtained from juice of beets and sugar cane were similar, this was the first step in developing beets into an industrial crop for extraction of sugar. Before that time nobody paid much attention to what gave the roots their sweetness. Beets with higher levels of sucrose were selected from a white fodder beet variety. The White Silesian variety is still considered to be the primary source of sugar beet germplasm grown today (Fischer 1989). The plant Beta vulgaris has been developed to fill the need for a sugar crop that could be grown in temperate climates. Today the sugar beet crop is grown in Europe, Asia, North Africa, North America and even in some parts of South America .The sugar beet was the source of only 5% of the world's commercial sugar in 1840, but by 1890 it supplied ... ... middle of paper ... ...cardi, Lewellen et al. 2002). This resistance was recognized as monogenic and dominant as hybrids produced segregated in a pattern typical of a single dominant gene, Rz1. (Rz2) was identified in a sea beet population coded WB42 (Scholten and Lange 2000). Progress in molecular genetics during the last century has permitted greater characterization and understanding of gene function, which will ultimately enable advances in classical breeding. New disease resistance, and other desirable genes will be identified in Beta germplasm screening studies, and introduced into breeding lines and into commercial cultivars (Francis and Luterbacher 2003). As a result, the molecular genetics could result in truly high yielding, low-input, and pesticide free sugar beet cultivation. This would be beneficial both to the environment and, depending on the seed price, to growers’ income.
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