- The study by Armel Rouamba et al., 2023, focuses on genome-wide association analyses of agronomic traits and Striga hermonthica (Sh) resistance in pearl millet.
- Pearl millet is a drought-tolerant cereal crop with low and stagnant yields, particularly in Burkina Faso.
- The study identified 28 SNPs significantly associated with a low number of emerged Striga, and other SNPs linked to agronomic traits like days-to-50%-flowering and thousand-grain weight.
- The identified SNPs can serve as valuable genomic resources for accelerated breeding and variety deployment in pearl millet.
- The research addresses the low productivity of pearl millet due to factors like lack of improved varieties and Striga infestation.
Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum [L.] R. Br.) is a nutrient-rich, drought-tolerant cereal crop primarily cultivated in dry regions. Despite its resilience, the crop suffers from low productivity, especially in major production areas like Burkina Faso. A new study by Armel Rouamba et al., 2023, aims to address this issue by conducting genome-wide association analyses to identify genetic markers that can improve yield and resistance to Striga hermonthica (Sh).
The study involved 150 pearl millet genotypes, which were phenotyped in fields known as hotspots for Striga infestation. 29 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were initially generated from 345 pearl millet genotypes, and 256 K SNPs were selected for the study. Various agronomic traits and Sh parameters were assessed, including days to flowering, plant height, number of tillers, and grain weight.
The study found significant differences among the assessed pearl millet genotypes for agronomic traits and Sh parameters. Specifically, 28 SNPs were identified significantly associated with a low number of emerged Striga. These SNPs were located on chromosomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7. Additionally, other SNPs were found to be associated with agronomic traits like days-to-50%-flowering, panicle length, and thousand-grain weight.
Implications for Breeding Programs
The identified SNPs can serve as valuable genomic resources for accelerated breeding programs to improve pearl millet varieties. These markers can facilitate marker-assisted selection and gene pyramiding, thereby speeding up the development of high-yielding and Striga-resistant pearl millet varieties that meet farmer and market needs.
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