Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene responsible for short stature of dwarf pearl millet identified

Date:
March 29, 2013
Source:
University of Georgia
Summary:
Recently, plant geneticists have successfully isolated the gene that creates dwarfed varieties of pearl millet. It is the first time a gene controlling an important agronomic trait has been isolated in the pearl millet genome.

While pearl millet is a major food staple in some of the fastest growing regions on Earth, relatively little is known about the drought-hardy grain.

Recently, plant geneticists at the University of Georgia successfully isolated the gene that creates dwarfed varieties of pearl millet. It is the first time a gene controlling an important agronomic trait has been isolated in the pearl millet genome. Their work appeared in the March edition of the journal G3: Genes, Genomics, Genetics.

The dwarf varieties are economically important in the U.S., India and Africa, in particular.

The researchers, led by UGA's Katrien Devos, also were able to trace the dwarf gene to plants bred 50 years ago by Glenn Burton, a UGA plant breeder who worked on the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' Tifton campus.

Knowing which gene controls the dwarfing trait will help plant breeders create more efficient, sustainable varieties of millet that have the short stature some farmers and ranchers want.

"Knowing the actual gene that reduces plant height has allowed us to develop markers that can be used by breeders to screen for the presence of the gene long before the effects of the gene can be visually observed," said Devos, a professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, housed in the department of crop and soil sciences, and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences' department of plant biology.

"In the longer term, the knowledge gained in pearl millet will help to develop semi-dwarf lines with high agronomic performance in other cereal crops," she said.

Rajiv K. Parvathaneni, a doctoral student working in Devos' lab, was in charge of tracking down the gene, which works by controlling the flow of the growth hormone auxin through the plant.

He also wanted to understand the mechanism by which the gene controls auxin and to develop plant-breeder-friendly markers that would allow breeders to screen for the dwarfing gene before their plants matured.

The gene that Parvathaneni found affects the downward transport of auxin, which is made in the top part of the plant. If this gene is on, the auxin flows freely, and millet will grow to its full height, about 10 feet. If it is off, the millet plant may only grow to be 3 to 5 feet in height.

Parvathaneni and Devos' team first found which region of the pearl millet's genome contributed to growth and then compared that section to a similar section of DNA from sorghum. Sorghum is a grain related to pearl millet, and a complete map of its genome recently was released by Devos' UGA colleague Andy Patterson.

The comparison revealed that ABCB1, a gene controlling auxin transport and causing reduced plant height in sorghum, was the prime gene candidate controlling pearl millet dwarf stature, Devos said.

Comparative genome analysis, a process in which an unmapped genome is compared to the genome of a similar and more thoroughly described plant genome, is a common method to help identify the functions of specific genes, especially in crops for which little genetic resources are available.

The next step for Devos' team is to work with researchers in other states to understand more fully how auxin transport differs in tall and dwarf millet plants and to verify that ABCB1 is in fact the gene that controls dwarfism.

After Devos and Parvathaneni located the dwarfing gene, they tested pearl millet dwarfs from around the world. All dwarfs caused by a nonfunctional ABCB1 gene have the same mutation as the dwarfs that were first bred by Burton in the 1960s.

Dwarf varieties of pearl millet are not ideal for every planting situation. In Africa, many farmers prefer taller varieties because they use the long stalks for roofing thatch and other applications.

However, where millet is intensively cultivated, dwarf millet allows farmers to harvest the grain with mechanical threshers. Ranchers like dwarf millet as a forage plant because it has a high leaf-to-stem ratio, Devos said.

Knowing more about the plant in general is key to broadening production of the very drought-resistant, hardy grain.

"The crop itself has a future, a bright one-especially in regions where climate change may lead to more erratic rainfall patterns as pearl millet is highly drought tolerant. It already is a popular food crop in semi-arid regions of India and Africa and will likely gain interest from drought-prone regions of the developed world as an alternative to corn in animal feed," Parvathaneni said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Georgia. The original article was written by J. Merritt Melancon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. K. Parvathaneni, V. Jakkula, F. K. Padi, S. Faure, N. Nagarajappa, A. C. Pontaroli, X. Wu, J. L. Bennetzen, K. M. Devos. Fine-Mapping and Identification of a Candidate Gene Underlying the d2 Dwarfing Phenotype in Pearl Millet, Cenchrus americanus (L.) Morrone. G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, 2013; 3 (3): 563 DOI: 10.1534/g3.113.005587

Cite This Page:

University of Georgia. "Gene responsible for short stature of dwarf pearl millet identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130329161249.htm>.
University of Georgia. (2013, March 29). Gene responsible for short stature of dwarf pearl millet identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130329161249.htm
University of Georgia. "Gene responsible for short stature of dwarf pearl millet identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130329161249.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins