Application of genomics to germplasm analysis for sorghum and sugarcane improvement

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Henry, RJ, Cordeiro, GM, Dillon, SL, Izquierdo, L & Lee, LS 2006, 'Application of genomics to germplasm analysis for sorghum and sugarcane improvement', paper presented to the OECD Workshop: Domestication, super-domestication and gigantism: Human manipulation of plant genomes for increasing yield, Tsukuba, Japan, 2-4 October.


Both sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) are members of the Andropogoneae tribe in the Poaceae. Sorghum and sugarcane are each others closest relatives amongst cultivated plants. The Andropogoneae also includes maize (Zea mays).

Recent molecular analysis of the sorghum genus has identified close relatives of S. bicolor that may be used to expand the Sorghum gene pool. Mutant populations (including TILLING populations) provide a useful addition to genetic resource for this species. The genome of sorghum is currently being sequenced. This will provide a great boost to our knowledge of the evolution of grass genomes. Sugarcane is a complex polyploid with a large and variable number of copies of each gene. The wild relatives of sugarcane represent a reservoir of genetic diversity for use in sugarcane improvement. Techniques for quantitative molecular analysis of gene or allele copy number in this complex system have been developed. SNP discovery and mapping in sugarcane has been advanced by the development of high-through put techniques for ecoTILLING in sugarcane. Genetic linkage maps of the sugarcane genome are being improved for use in breeding selection. The improvement of both sorghum and sugarcane will be accelerated by this application of genomics.