USDA and CSHL Finds Genetic Path to Double Sorghum Yield

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USDA and CSHL Finds Genetic Path to Double Sorghum Yield

Read the original article in The Fence Post

Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory are working on field trials and genetic studies that could one day double the yields of sorghum, which is one of the world’s most important sources of food, animal feed and biofuel.

The efforts follow recent discoveries by ARS scientist Zhanguo Xin, who is based in Lubbock, Texas, and Doreen Ware, who is also with ARS and is an adjunct professor at CSHL, showing how a basic genetic change in sorghum can double its yield of grain.

Sorghum grain is produced in clusters of flowers and the plant has two types of flowers, one type that produces grain and another that does not. The researchers have shown in a series of published reports that mutating a key gene in sorghum inhibits production of a hormone, known as jasmonic acid, and that plants with reduced levels generate more of the fertile type of flowers — and more grain.

Their results show that the gene, known as MSD1, is a major regulator of a cascading series of events along a genetic pathway that controls the production of jasmonic acid, particularly during flower development. They identified the role of MSD1 in a paper published last year in Nature Communications. Their subsequent papers in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences show that genes they have identified as MSD2 and MSD3 also play important roles further along in the genetic pathway and that mutating of any one of the three genes causes a similar increase in grain yield.

View the research publication here

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Posted on

November 11, 2019

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