Sorghum – Work on UK forage grasses used to increase drought tolerance of tropical cereal

IBERS research involving a Ghanaian PhD student and close working with ICRISAT has used conventional plant breeding and marker assisted selection to develop sorghum varieties possessing the ‘stay-green’ trait and understand how they respond to drought.

Benefits: ‘Stay-green’ is an important genetic trait associated with drought tolerance. Sorghum varieties possessing the ‘stay-green’ trait retain green stems and leaves continue to photosynthesise even under terminal drought stress conditions. More importantly plants with this trait continue to fill grain as normal. This provides a route to increasing grain production, fodder quality and crop residues under water limited conditions.

The big picture: Sorghum is an important crop in resource poor communities in sub Saharan Africa. It is used for human food, animal feed and fodder, fuel, and fibre. It also has great potential for use in infant food formulation. Although sorghum is more drought tolerant than most other grain cereals, drought stress at certain times leads to significant yield loss. Successful up take
by farmers of varieties possessing the ‘staygreen’ trait has great potential in mitigating the effects of climate change and increasing food security.

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