Agronomists are mapping the evolution and genetic diversity of millet to increase yield

Results of population structure analysis of 100 proso millet accessions: clustering diagram of K = 2, of K = 3 and of K = 5. Credit: Agronomy (2023). DOI: 10.3390/agronomy13102514

Compared to other cereals, millet (Panicum miliaceum L) has a significant advantage of being able to withstand drier climates. Millet contains all the essential amino acids, 10% 15% of its composition is protein. However, for example, millet is smaller than wheat. Therefore, it is planted less often and its full potential is not used.

For the same reason, this plant is one of the most poorly studied plants from the point of view of genetics. Meanwhile, knowledge about the genetic diversity of millet will help to grow it more efficiently. To do this, RUDN agronomists built a complete genetic “map” of millet.

“Millet is an important cereal crop. However, it is also the least studied type of cereal, simply because it is not widely cultivated. The genomic base of millet is very limited compared to the main crops . However, understanding genetic relationships is important for future breeding,” said Meisam Zargar, Doctor of Agricultural Sciences, Associate Professor at the RUDN Agrobiotechnological Department.

Now published in the journal Agronomy, the study was conducted from 2020 to 2022 in the Akmola region of northern Kazakhstan. Agronomists took 100 millet samples from North and South America, East, Central and North Asia, Europe and Southwest Asia and planted them in the dry steppe. To create a “map” of the millet genome, agronomists use so-called microsatellites. These are short sections of DNA, several nucleotides long, found in all nucleated cells. These are used as markers by which to trace the kinship and differences of species.

In total, agronomists tested 20 microsatellite markers, of which nine were suitable for genomic analysis of millet. With their help, the authors constructed a phylogenetic treea graph showing the relationships between species. There are three main clusters of these. Both of these are related to Central Asian genotypes.

Samples from Central and Northern Asia turned out to be the most “careful” of their microsatellites found throughout the tree. Some of their microsatellites have been associated with useful parts of millet for the development of more yield and business. These data can be used to breed high yielding varieties.

“Samples from Central and North Asia are very different from other groups. Microsatellites SSR 85 and SR 86 are associated with important aspects of agronomic productivity of cultivation and grain yield. It is useful in breeding millet to increase reach it,” said Zargar.

More information:
Meisam Zargar et al, Microsatellite-Based Genetic Diversity Analysis and Population Structure of Proso Millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) in Kazakhstan, Agronomy (2023). DOI: 10.3390/agronomy13102514

Provided by Scientific Project Lomonosov

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