Genomic Designing for Climate Smart Finger Millet

Odeny, Damaris Achieng ; et. al... (2020)

Finger millet is a nutritious cereal crop mainly grown in eastern Africa and southern parts of India. The crop has an incredible ability to adapt to adverse agro-ecological conditions, and is therefore a favorite of smallholder farmers in the tropics, especially women. Finger millet grain is gluten free and exceptionally rich in micronutrients including calcium, folic acid and iron. Despite its unique quality, there has been limited research investment in finger millet resulting in the lack of genetic and genomic resources for more efficient breeding. The abundant genetic resources at the center of origin are yet to be fully exploited for crop improvement, and to date, very few pre-breeding programs exist. Several studies indicate the potential use of the secondary and tertiary gene pools to broaden the narrow genetic base that has been created by the inbreeding nature of the crop. The recent availability of draft whole genome sequences and a robust genetic linkage map, now make it possible to implement large-scale genomics-assisted breeding in finger millet. Comparative mapping with closely related and well-studied crops such as rice, provide an opportunity to understand the complex tetraploid genome more efficiently. With the increasing health awareness, and the growing middle class in Africa and Asia, there is likely to be a higher demand for the nutritious finger millet. Breeders will need to generate relevant populations and increase the yield of finger millet to its full potential in order to meet the demand. The current investment in the generation of genomic resources will need to be matched with investment in phenotyping and germplasm characterization to enable more efficient breeding in finger millet. We discuss the genetic and genomic resources available for finger millet and how they can be exploited to enhance its adaptability to climate change.

Springer Nature Switzerland


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