Research highlight

Plant science: Sorghum resequencing reveals potential for genetic improvement

Nature Communications

August 28, 2013

The whole genome resequencing of 44 sorghum lines, spanning various subgroups and geographic origins, is reported this week in Nature Communications. These data highlight the genetic diversity of cultivated sorghum and represent a key resource for the genetic improvement of this cereal crop.

Sorghum is a drought tolerant crop and the staple food for about half a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. It is therefore critical in meeting the ever-increasing demand for food in a changing climate. Worldwide, it is an important source of animal feed and is emerging as a potentially valuable biofuel crop. David Jordan and colleagues present high coverage genomic sequences of 44 sorghum lines in order to uncover the genes that play a role in sorghum productivity and other traits which are relevant to agricultural economics.

The authors identify 725 candidate genes for domestication and crop improvement by analysing the divergence between wild and cultivated sorghums and report 285 domestication genes that may play a role in agronomic performance. This study resource will allow for genetic comparison between other cereal crops, including rice, maize and soybean and may facilitate the introduction of adaptive sorghum traits into these and other cereals.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms3320

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