About this Research Topic
Sorghum and Pearl Millet as Climate Resilient Crops for Food and Nutrition Security
Sorghum and pearl millet are staple foods for about 200 million people residing in dryland tropics of south Asia and Africa. In these regions, sorghum and pearl millet are major sources of calories and micronutrients. It also serves as a major feed and fodder to livestock in China, Australia and USA. Varieties of these cereals are predominantly in Africa, while hybrids represent the most dominant cultivars (>50%) in India. Sorghum and pearl millet improvements so far have made extensive use of Western Africa and USA germplasm, to develop large numbers of hybrid parents and breeding lines. Today, global efforts contributed to a reservoir of variability; yield gains and useful sourcse of adaptation traits including emerging quality traits (e.g. nutritional traits). Application of genomic resources will bring more attention to these crops for both future food supply and nutritional security.
Sorghum and pearl millet accounts for more than 90% of world coarse cereal production and acreage. A major emphasis is given to sorghum in the United States as a potential summer season alternative crop in the great plains. With the hybrid and varieties developed in India by ICRISAT, productivity is greatly enhanced to 10-31 kg/ha/year. Such yield gains through hybrid breeding are yet to be realized in Africa. Research gaps are not well documented in the global sorghum and pearl millet research community.
Global food production is moving towards sustainable production systems in the 21st century. In this context, sorghum and pearl millet is a future crop for food, fodder and nutrition. These crops can grow in regions with <400 mm annual rainfall and air temperatures up to 40oC. Production is constrained largely by the degree of biotic stress (grain mold, downy mildew and blast) and abiotic stress (drought, heat and salinity). Furthermore, a high prevalence of micronutrient malnutrition in Africa and India has directed breeding and biotechnology efforts to both yield and nutrition (iron and zinc, to date). Thus, basic and applied research should focus on improving grain yield and nutritional quality concurrently.
This Research Topic aims to document cutting-edge discoveries and future prospects of sorghum and pearl millet research as mini-reviews, full-length reviews, and original research manuscripts on the following key areas in sorghum and pearl millet improvement:
• Use of genetic resources, high-throughput precision phenotyping and breeding approaches for climate resilience and nutritional quality including micronutrient traits (iron and zinc)
• Applying OMICS approaches (single ‘omics or multi-omics) to provide insights into traits defining stress tolerance and yield under biotic and abiotic stress conditions, together with relevant functional/physiological insights
• Breeding and gene editing for resistance to key diseases such as grain mold, anthracnose in sorghum; downy mildew and blasts in pearl millet
• Advancements in gene mapping and genomic integrated breeding approaches abiotic stress tolerance including drought, heat and salinity
• Breeding methods to accelerate rate of genetic gain for yield and yield components while maintaining other core traits.
Keywords: Genetic resources, Genomic resources, Drought tolerance, Heat tolerance, Disease resistance, Biofortification
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