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Nature communications

Allelic variation at a single gene increases food value in a drought-tolerant staple cereal.


PMID 23403584

Abstract

The production of adequate agricultural outputs to support the growing human population places great demands on agriculture, especially in light of ever-greater restrictions on input resources. Sorghum is a drought-adapted cereal capable of reliable production where other cereals fail, and thus represents a good candidate to address food security as agricultural inputs of water and arable land grow scarce. A long-standing issue with sorghum grain is that it has an inherently lower digestibility. Here we show that a low-frequency allele type in the starch metabolic gene, pullulanase, is associated with increased digestibility, regardless of genotypic background. We also provide evidence that the beneficial allele type is not associated with deleterious pleiotropic effects in the modern field environment. We argue that increasing the digestibility of an adapted crop is a viable way forward towards addressing food security while maximizing water and land-use efficiency.

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E2412 Pullulanase microbial