Gene Controlling Stem Juiciness in Sorghum Identified

Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered the gene controlling the stem juiciness trait in sorghum from a diverse selection of sorghum varieties.

Sorghum is the world's fifth most popular crop. Grain sorghum, a tough, drought tolerant plant with dry, brittle stems, is used to make products ranging from animal feed to industrial chemicals to gluten-free flour, and is a promising source of biofuels. The less common juicy-stemmed sweet sorghum varieties are used to produce a maple syrup-like product.

The scientists discovered the Dry gene functions as a master switch that controls the expression of many genes that help determine the shape and composition of the plant cell wall. Mutations in the Dry gene in juicy-stemmed sorghum varieties lead to abnormal cell walls and even cell collapse, but the high sugar content in these plants enhances their growth and could lead to increased grain production. The scientists identified similar genes in other crop species, providing the opportunity to shape the level of stem juiciness in other plants as well.

For more details, read the press release from the American Society of Plant Biologists.


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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