Developing Sorghum with Improved Grain Quality, Agronomic Performance, and Resistance to Biotic Abiotic Stresses
Sorghum is poised to play a key role in expanding agricultural development and food security in countries around the world. New marketing opportunities for sorghum include use in high-quality food and beverage products, feed for poultry production, and use of grain and potentially biomass in the rapidly expanding biofuels industry. Success in meeting these demands hinges in part on the successful transfer of genetic, genomic, and agricultural technologies that have been developed for the crop. The research described in this work plan will focus on development and deployment of new and existing genetic technologies that will enhance the value and performance of sorghum in farmer-accepted varieties adapted in West Africa (WA) and the United States. In WA, the most important regional research issues highlighted by scientists from the area include the need to develop locally-adapted guinea and non-guinea sorghum varieties and hybrids with improved grain quality characteristics (e.g., tan-plant, white-grain, grain mold resistance, etc.) and resistance to Striga. In the U.S., research is focused on development of high-yielding hybrids to meet the expanding food, feed, and biofuels markets and technologies to manage grassy weeds. This research, training, and institutional development project attempts to address these crop improvement needs through targeted research, short and long term training and education, and technology transfer to promote and enhance sorghum production. The proposed training activities will strengthen sorghum breeding programs across the region and contribute to institutional development in host-country programs. The proposed germplasm enhancement program will result in technology transfer that contributes to development of sorghum varieties and hybrids with enhanced food- and feed-quality traits that can be grown in WA and/or the U.S. Selection of these varieties will promote acceptance and production. Strong linkages with the private seed industry will lead to rapid commercialization of new cultivars in developed and developing countries. Increased production of high-quality grains will stimulate and support development of new markets. The fundamental genetic research proposed in this project focuses on use of the nearly completed sorghum genome sequence as a tool to identify or develop allelic variation in genes that influence specific grain quality or crop production traits. These studies will lead to a better understanding of the genetic bases for variation in economically important traits and contribute to more efficient use of the germplasm collections.
1. Develop sorghum varieties and hybrids having improved grain quality and production characteristics. 2. Deploy traits that contribute to resistance or tolerance to biotic stresses into locally adapted varieties and hybrids with excellent grain quality. 3. Identify and mine genes and alleles associated with improved sorghum performance from the natural sorghum gene pool.