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FEBRUARY 2005 117

Distribution of Single Fiber Tensile Properties of Four Cotton Genotypes
Fiber and Polymer Science, University of California, Davis, California 95616, U.S.A.

The distributions of breaking force and elongation of single fibers from five cultivated
cotton varieties, African-51 (G. herbaceum), Asian-163 (G. arboreum), Maxxa and Texas
Marker-1 (G. hirsutum), and Pima-S7 (G. barbadense), are studied. The range and
distribution patterns of single fiber breaking force and elongation are significantly differ-
ent for these cultivars and appear to be highly dependent on genotypes. Single fiber
breaking force ranges from 16, 17, 20, 24, and 28 g for Pima-S7, TM-1, Maxxa,
African-51, and Asian-163, respectively, and single fiber breaking elongation ranges from
16, 17, 18, 18, and 24% for these varieties. The single fiber breaking forces of Pima-S7
and TM-1 are symmetrically distributed, whereas those of the other three are asymmetri-
cally distributed. African-51 and Maxxa have longer right tails, whereas Asian-163 has a
longer left tail. Distributions of single fiber breaking elongation for all five varieties are
asymmetrical and positively skewed, with the African and Asian cultivars having longer
right tails. Within each cultivar, fibers of varying lengths have similar distributions in their
breaking forces and elongation. This lack of relationship with fiber length suggests that
these fibers’ tensile properties may be independent of length development, i.e., during
elongation of the primary cell wall through the early stage of secondary cell wall
synthesis. Single fiber breaking force and elongation are positively correlated (r ⫽ 0.259
to 0.443) for all five varieties, with Pima having the highest correlation coefficient.

Single fiber tensile properties are critical to the pro- ing tenacity had all fibers within the bundle equal break-
cessing efficiency of cotton fibers into products and the ing elongation and no slack.
quality of these products. The mean single fiber tensile The sources of variations in single fiber tensile prop-
properties and their variations have been reported to have erties are many. It is generally agreed that the tensile
significant effects on fiber bundle and yarn strengths (2, properties of cotton fibers are dependent on genotype,
6, 12–14). Suh et al. [13, 14] reported that efficiency loss environmental or growth conditions, and competition for
of tensile properties in a fiber bundle was largely (46%) nutritional resources [1, 5, 6, 9, 10]. Variations in single
due to variations in the single fiber breaking elongation fiber tensile properties have mainly been reported for
and, to a lesser degree (7%), to the slack in the fiber fibers of varying unknown sources, since bale mixing is
bundles. Sasser et al. [12] reported that yarn strength was a common practice in textile processing. In mixed cotton
better correlated with mean single fiber strength than fiber populations, single fiber elongation has been re-
with bundle strength. The coefficients of variance of ported to fit a normal distribution, whereas single fiber
single fiber strength within any individual Upland cotton breaking force fits the Weibull distributions [13, 14]. Our
varieties were around 35%, much higher than those studies of several calibration cotton standards have
(⬃12%) among thirty-five varieties. These findings sug- shown the distributions of single fiber breaking elonga-
gest that yarn strength depends not only on single fiber tion and toughness to be positively skewed with a long
strength, but also on the uniformity of single fiber break- right tail [3, 4]. Since these findings were based on mixed
ing elongation. The higher the single fiber strength and populations, the reported variations were attributed to a
the lower the variations of single fiber breaking elonga- combination of all potential sources, i.e., genotype,
tion, the closer the bundle and yarn tensile strength growth conditions, and nutrition.
would be to the sum of single fiber strength. Ideally, fiber Even within a cultivated variety and under optimal
bundle tenacity would equal the total single fiber break- growing condition, fiber tensile properties vary by plants,
boll positions within a single plant, seed locations within
a boll, and regions on the same seed [5–7]. The overall
Corresponding author:; (530) 752-0843 variations of single fiber tensile properties within an

Textile Res. J. 75(2), 117–122 (2005) 0040-5175/$15.00

individual boll are associated mainly with seed locations ing fibers from the middle sections on the same seeds
in the boll and less with fiber length [7]. Fibers from were grouped by their lengths in 5-mm intervals. Fifty
medial sections of a cotton seed have the highest single fibers randomly selected from each fiber length group
fiber tenacities, even if all fibers from a single seed are of were selected for single fiber tensile measurements. All
the same genotype and under the same growing condi- fiber samples were conditioned at 70°F and 65% relative
tions [5]. Even under culture conditions where the com- humidity at least 48 hours prior to measurement.
petition for nutrition resources is minimized, cell walls A Mantis single fiber tensile instrument (Zellweger
are thicker on fibers located near the micropylar ends of Usters, Inc.) was used in this study to accumulate a large
the seeds [1]. These findings are mainly derived from amount of data as described in our previous reports
selected Gossipium hirsutum cultivars. Very little has [4 –7]. All single fiber tensile properties were measured
been reported on the variation and distribution of tensile using the middle segments of the fibers. All randomly
properties of fibers from other cotton species, let alone selected fibers from the three bolls for each cultivar were
under optimal growing conditions. considered as one population for analysis of their distri-
In recent years, much effort has been made by molec- butions. The histograms of single fiber breaking force
ular biologists to improve cotton fiber quality by genetic and elongation were constructed using a 1-g breaking
means. A better understanding of these fiber variations force and 1% elongation range as an interval. The cor-
and their origins is critical to developing effective strat- relation between single fiber breaking force and elonga-
egies to improve fiber quality. Obtaining information on tion was analyzed using the data of all randomly selected
the variation, distribution, and correlation of individual individual fibers from the three bolls.
fiber tensile properties within the same genotype, specif-
ically the same position on seeds and same seed location Results and Discussion
in bolls, is vital.
In this paper, we investigate the distributions of single The histograms of fiber frequencies versus single fiber
fiber tensile properties of greenhouse-grown fibers from breaking force and elongation for the five varieties are
the same source, i.e., within an individual boll and from presented in Figures 1 and 2, respectively. The distribu-
a specific section of the seed. The main focus is on the tion patterns of these tensile properties are highly depen-
analysis of single fiber tensile, properties within the most dent on genotypes. Single fiber breaking force ranges are
similar and well-defined population within a genotype. the widest for the two diploids, i.e., up to 24 and 28 g for
We include two diploid species, i.e., Gossipium (G.) African-51 and Asian-153 cottons, respectively, fol-
herbeceum, G. arboreum, and two tetraploid species, i.e., lowed by Maxxa of the tetraploid, i.e., up to 22 g. The
G. hirsutum and G. Barbadense. These samples represent upper ranges of breaking forces for the other tetraploids
all four species of cotton genotypes and allow compari- are 16 and 17 g for Pima-S7 and TM-1, respectively. The
sons among the full range of genotypes. breaking elongation of Asian cottons has the widest
range, up to 24%, whereas those of African and the
Materials and Methods tetraploid cultivars (Maxxa, TM-1, and Pima-S7) are
close to each other in the 16 to 18% range.
Five cultivars of four cotton species, i.e., African-51 For breaking force and elongation distributions, the
(G. herbeceum), Asian-163 (G. arboreum), Maxxa and percentage of fibers in the peak category, the coefficients
Texas Marker-1 (G. hirsutum), and Pima-S7 (G. barba- of variance (CV) of the peak, and the percentages of
dense) were grown under standard greenhouse condi- fibers to the left and right sides of the peaks are summa-
tions, six plants of each cultivar. Each flower was tagged rized in Tables I and II, respectively. The breaking force
on the day of anthesis (flowering) as well as when the of Maxxa, one of the two tetraploid cultivars studied, is
boll dehisced (opened). For each cultivar, first-position most varied with a CV of 45%, followed by the two
plant-mature bolls from between the fourth to the tenth diploid (CV ⫽ 40%) and the other tetraploid species
fruiting branches were harvested 5 to 7 days after boll (37% for TM-1 and 39% for Pima-S7). The breaking
opening. Twenty to thirty plant-mature bolls were col- elongation of Maxxa, on the other hand, is the least
lected and weighed. Three mature bolls with boll weights varied (CV ⫽ 30%), followed by the other tetraploids
closest to the average boll weight of those collected were (CV ⫽ 36% for both TM-1 and Pima), then the diploids
selected. Within each boll, all seeds (five to eight total) (44% for both African and Asian cottons).
from one locule were used. All fibers were manually The single fiber breaking force of Pima-S7 is the most
removed from each seed. One hundred fibers from the symmetrically distributed, with close to 50% of fibers at
middle section of each cotton seed were randomly se- each side. The single fiber breaking force of the TM-1
lected for single fiber tensile measurements. The remain- cultivar is nearly symmetrically distributed with a slight
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FIGURE 1. Distribution of single fiber breaking force of five cotton FIGURE 2. Distribution of single fiber breaking elongation of five
cultivars (n denotes the number of fibers). cotton cultivars (n denotes the number of fibers).

TABLE I. Percentage of fibers in single fiber breaking force
histograms of five cotton cultivars.

% Fiber

Cultivar African-51 Asian-163 Maxxa TM-1 Pima-S7

Peak 10.2 10.6 12.4 14.2 17.2
Left side 40.3 55.0 39.5 48.3 49.5
Right side 59.7 45.0 60.5 51.7 50.5
CV 40 40 45 37 39

TABLE II. Percentage of fibers in single fiber breaking elongation
histograms of five cotton cultivars.

% Fiber

Cultivar African-51 Asian-163 Maxxa TM-1 Pima-S7

Peak 24.3 11.8 18.2 14.9 14.8
Left side 27.6 29.9 47.9 39.1 33.7
Right side 72.4 70.1 52.1 60.9 63.3
CV 44 44 30 36 36

positive skew. The breaking forces of the other varieties
are asymmetrically distributed. African-51 and Maxxa
have longer right tails compared to the longer left tail of
Asian-163. Note that Asian-163 cottons have the highest
proportion of the lower breaking force fibers (55%),
whereas African-51 and Maxxa have the lowest. FIGURE 3. Distribution of single fiber tensile properties within each
fiber length group for Pima-S7: (a) breaking force, (b) breaking elon-
Distributions of fiber breaking elongation of all culti- gation.
vars are asymmetrical and positively skewed with vari-
able lengths of right tails. The two diploid species have
significantly longer right tails (70 –72%), whereas Maxxa sile properties may not be associated with the initia-
has the lowest (52%) proportion of fibers with higher- tion or elongation stages of fiber development. In other
than-mean breaking elongation. Pima-S7 and TM-1 have words, longer fibers that initiate earlier or elongated
61– 63% fibers in their right tails. more have tensile properties similar to those shorter
Within each cultivar, we also examined the distri- fibers that initiate late or elongate less. Our previous
butions of single fiber tensile properties of fibers findings have shown that mean single fiber breaking
grouped by lengths. Within each cultivar, we found force, cell wall thickness, and tenacity increase most
similar distributions of single fiber tensile properties significantly during the first two weeks of secondary
among all length groups. Therefore, we show only the cell wall development [5]. Such increased fiber tenac-
distributions of single fiber breaking force and elon- ity is associated with increased crystallinity and crys-
gation of Pima-S7 fibers grouped by the fiber lengths tal dimensions in the cellulose. Several questions
(Figure 3) to exemplify the similarities among the about the sources of single tensile property variations
length groups. The fact that fibers from different remain to be addressed. One is if or how secondary
length groups have tensile property distributions iden- cell wall thickness is associated with fiber lengths.
tical to the randomly selected samples from the entire Another question is whether variations in tensile prop-
population indicates that fiber tensile properties are erties develop during this first half or throughout the
independent of fiber lengths within the same boll of an entire secondary cell wall development.
individual cultivar. Overall fiber length developes dur- Another angle to these data is if and how these distri-
ing the cell elongation stage, usually over a period of butions indicate the potential for improving the tensile
20 to 25 days. Cotton fiber cells initiate over a period properties of each species. In any distribution with a
of 2 to 3 days around anthesis, and the cells that longer right tail, fewer fibers are in the left tails, meaning
initiate earlier develop into longer fibers. Similar dis- a proportionally smaller number of fibers possess lower
tributions of breaking force and extension among the single fiber tensile properties than mean values within
different length groups suggest that variations in ten- the population. This could mean that the potential for
FEBRUARY 2005 121

improvement is lower. Based on that, G. arboreum and
G. herbeceum would have the lower improvement po-
tential for breaking force than the G. hirsutum and G.
barbadense cultivars. It seems that a more viable and
likely approach for improving the breaking force of any
species is to increase its peak value and uniformity. The
fact that all varieties have long right tails in their break-
ing elongation histograms suggests that the improvement
potentialities of breaking elongation are much lower than
those of breaking force.
We plotted the single fiber breaking force and elonga-
tion of all randomly selected mid-ovule fibers together to
analyze their co-variation properties (Figure 4). We ob-
served positive correlations between individual fiber
breaking force and elongation for all five cultivars. This
means that within the same genetic background, fibers
that break at a lower extension also break with less force,
and those that elongate more at break also require higher
forces. Although positively correlated for all five variet-
ies, the correlation coefficient r values of these linear
regressions between breaking force and elongation vary
by their genotypes. The r values for African-51 and
Asian-163 are the lowest and are lower than those of all
tetraploid cultivars. The single fiber breaking forces of
Pima have the highest correlation with their breaking
Because yarn and bundle tenacity is dependent upon
single fiber breaking forces, one question is how the
distribution of single fiber tensile properties contributes
to yarn and bundle properties. It is thought that the
distribution of breaking elongation may impact bundle
tenacity more significantly because fibers with lower
extension break first and do not contribute to the strength
of remaining fibers in the bundle. African-51 and Asian-
163 fibers have much longer right tails in their breaking
elongations, meaning that larger percentages of fibers
have higher breaking elongations. This may translate to
higher bundle and yarn strengths because of a higher
proportion of higher extension fibers. On the other hand,
these fibers are also shorter, which is less favorable for
yarn strength.
During bundle tensile processing, fibers with lower
extension contribute little to bundle tenacity because
they break before others in the bundle. The correlations
between the breaking force and elongation, however,
may be more useful indicators of bundle strength. The
higher correlation, i.e., higher slope, and/or the closer
correlation, i.e., higher coefficient r value, among fibers
may mean a greater contribution to bundle breaking
force. The r values of the linear regressions are in the
descending order of G. barbadense, G. hirsutum, G. FIGURE 4. Correlation between breaking force and elongation of five
herbeceum, and G. arboreum. cotton cultivars (linear regression equation with r denoting the corre-
lation coefficient).

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