Scientists analyze genome of a heat and drought resistant cereal plantJanuary 31st, 2009 - 2:05 pm ICT by ANI
Berlin, Jan 31 (ANI): A team of scientists is analyzing the genes of sorghum, a heat and drought resistant cereal plant, which is the first plant of African origin whose genome has been sequenced.
The global climate is changing, and this change is already impacting food supply and security. People living in regions already affected by aridity need plants that can thrive under dry conditions.
One example is sorghum, which is also known as milo, durra, or broomcorn.
Sorghum is a grass species that can grow up to five meters in height and is extremely resistant to aridity and hot conditions.
The grass, which originates from Africa, can thrive under conditions and locations where other cereal plants cannot survive due to lack of water.
In arid-warm and moderate regions of the Americas, Asia and Europe, it is mainly utilized for food and fodder and is also gaining in significance as a basis for bio-fuel.
The plant also provides fibers as well as combustible material for heating and cooking.
As part of an international consortium of scientists, researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen in Germany are analyzing the genes of sorghum, the first plant of African origin whose genome has been sequenced.
We want to elucidate the functional and structural genomics of sorghum, according to Dr. Klaus Mayer of the Institute of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology of the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen.
That is the prerequisite for making this important grain even more productive through targeted breeding strategies, he added.
As German Research Center for Environmental Health, sustaining the food supply is one of our most important research topics. That is why we are trying to learn something about the molecular basis of the plants pronounced drought tolerance in order to apply this knowledge to other crop plants in our latitude zone as well, said Dr. Mayer.
What makes sorghum interesting as a model system is that it is more closely related to the predominant grains of tropical origin, for example maize, than it is to rice.
Moreover, sorghum, unlike many other crop plants, has not undergone genome enlargement in the past millions of years.
Its rather small genome, about one-fourth as large as the human genome, is a good starting point for investigating the more complex genomes of important crop plants such as maize or sugarcane. (ANI)
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