Dr Emma Mace from QAAFI's Centre for Crop Science
Original Published Date: 
Monday, August 9, 2021

Full article issued by The University of Queensland.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Australian Research Council have co-funded a project that has developed the world’s first pan-genome for sorghum in a breakthrough for crop improvement and gene discovery.

Sorghum is a drought-tolerant staple crop for half a billion people in Africa and Asia, an important source of animal feed throughout the world and a biofuel feedstock of growing importance. A pan-genome describes all genetic variation within a species and this enables researchers to find previously missing genetic information. 

The team of scientists led by Dr Emma Mace at the University of Queensland (UQ) identified novel genes from wild relatives of cultivated sorghum that could help to increase crop adaptation to environmental and disease stresses. Other genes were also identified for productivity and nutritional traits such as grain colour, grain weight and seed dormancy.

The new data is already being used in breeding efforts to improve the yield and resilience of crop varieties in Australia in the face of mounting challenges to production, including climate change and increased water scarcity.

Photo credit: 

Dr Emma Mace from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation institute's Centre for Crop Science. Credit: Megan Pope/UQ.