Gene Discovery Platform

Developing a functional gene discovery platform for sorghum improvement

Tremendous gaps remain in our understanding of the valuable traits contained in sorghum genetic resources. Advances in genomics, targeted mutagenesis, reverse genetics and whole-genome DNA sequencing can enable efficient gene discovery and germplasm mining for crop improvement.  With support of the BMGF, we are developing genetic and genomic resources that can be used to leverage the phenotypic variation in sorghum.  By developing tools in the genome-sequenced variety BTx623 and elite germplasm adapted for Africa, this project accelerates the ability of sorghum researchers to translate knowledge into practical applications in sorghum improvement.

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Using this resource, African breeding programs will identify candidate genes impacting traits of value to them, easily survey alleles of those genes in sequence-indexed collections of EMS mutants and diversity panels of local and globally important lines and landraces. The best alleles for improving their target trait can then be crossed into locally adapted breeding stocks. In addition, African laboratories and breeding programs will be trained in the informatics tools needed to use rapidly expanding and available genomics databases to enable more rapid and more effective sorghum breeding.