Biotech Updates

Scientists Release the Pan-Genome of of Foxtail Millet

June 14, 2023

An international research team led by scientists from the Institute of Crop Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) has released the pan-genome of Setaria or foxtail millet, an important cereal crop. Together with scientists from New York University (NYU), the research advances the understanding of foxtail millet domestication and evolution, as well as the genetic basis for important agricultural traits.

In the paper published in Nature Genetics, the researchers established the Setaria pan-genome by assembling 110 representative genomes from a global collection of 1,844 Setaria species. Large-scale genetic studies were performed for 68 traits across 22 environments in 13 geographical locations. The researchers also identified potential genes and marker-panels for how foxtail millet has evolved and improved at different geographic sites. For example, the researchers found that the gene SiGW3 regulates the foxtail millet's grain yield. The research team also constructed the first graph-based genome sequence of Setaria, which shows insights into genomic variation across wild and cultivated Setaria.

“Foxtail millet is considered to be the foundation for early Chinese civilization,” said Michael Purugganan, the Silver Professor of Biology at NYU and NYU Abu Dhabi, and the study's co-senior author. He added that foxtail millet uses C4 photosynthesis and it can grow across a wide range of environments, including arid lands, and has the potential to be important for food security under climate change.

For more details, read the news article in NYU News.

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