New knowledge about ancient grain: Researchers map complete millet genome to help food security

foxtail millet

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An international team of researchers has unveiled a large-scale genome analysis of the important cereal crop Setaria, or foxtail millet. The study, led by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, including scientists from New York University, advances our understanding of the domestication and evolution of foxtail millet, as well as the genetic basis of important agricultural traits.

“Foxtail millet is believed to be the foundation of early Chinese civilization,” said Michael Puruganan, professor of biology at New York University and NYU Abu Dhabi and senior author of the study. “Furthermore, because it is a crop that grows in a wide range of environments, including drylands, it may be important for food security in the face of climate change.”

Foxtail millet is one of the oldest cereal crops in the world and has been cultivated by humans for approximately 11,000 years. It dominated Chinese agriculture until the introduction of high-yield farming techniques such as irrigation and chemical fertilizers. The protein-rich grain is a highly efficient type of photosynthesis that uses C4 photosynthesis, which helps it adapt to a variety of environments – it is drought tolerant and can grow in nutrient-poor soils.

“C4 plants make up only 3% of flowering plants, but they account for about 25-30% of global biomass production. The complexity of the genomes of most C4 species has presented challenges for basic research and breeding, but Setaria fulfills this function. For the study of C4 photosynthetic plants in genomics and genetics research an excellent model system,” said Xianming Diao, a professor at the Institute of Plant Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, senior author of the study, and scientist who organized the study.

in their study published in the journal Nature genetics, researchers created the Setaria pan-genome—the entire set of genes of the species—by assembling 110 representative genomes from a worldwide collection of 1,844 Setaria species. They conducted extensive genetic studies of 68 traits in 22 environments in 13 geographic locations, each with unique climates, identifying potential genes and marker panels that show how foxtail millet has evolved and improved in different geographic locations. For example, the researchers found that the SiGW3 gene regulates the grain yield of foxglove.

They also constructed the first graphical genome sequence of Setaria, providing insights into genomic variation in wild and cultivated Setaria. A deeper understanding of this comprehensive genomic variation equips researchers with valuable genetic tools for biological research and breeding.

“This work is an important milestone because it paves the way for the next generation of comparative genomics research to help unravel the molecular mechanism of C4 photosynthesis. Large-Scale Comparative Genomics, Genome-wide Association Studies, and Genome-wide Breeding Studies. “The Setaria seed not only provides opportunities for gene discovery and breeding in foxtail millet itself, but also provides insights into other crops to improve global food security,” Diao added.

“Understanding the genetic basis of foxtail millet domestication and improvement, along with these important agricultural traits, has significant potential for its improvement. With our graph-based genome, we can assess traits related to grain quality and potential yield, providing ways to adapt to climate change.” cultivation of foxtail millet,” said Qian He, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Plant Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and first author of the study.

More information:
Graph-based genome and pan-genomic variation of the model plant Setaria, Nature genetics (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41588-023-01423-w

Provided by New York University

Quote: New knowledge about ancient grain: Researchers map complete genome of millet to help food security (2023, June 8) Accessed June 8, 2023 at – taken from the site. genome.html

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