Pearl millet is the daily food of over 90 million people worldwide.
Photo: © ICRISAT

20.10.2017

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The analysis of the genetic variability of a thousand pearl millet lines reveals how this cereal survives temperatures over 42 degrees Celsius. This discovery may also help develop climate adaptation strategies in other important cereal crops.

Rising temperatures and frequency of extreme climate events like heat waves in many parts of the world will lead to a drop in major staple crop production. Now, the decoding and sequencing of the pearl millet (bajra in Hindi) genome by a global team of 65 scientists from 30 research institutions has revealed critical coping strategies.

The analysis of the genetic variability among a thousand pearl millet lines has led to a better understanding of the ability of this dryland cereal to survive soaring temperatures (over 42oC) and its exceptional drought tolerance. This discovery may also help develop climate adaptation strategies in other important cereal crops.

The research co-led by the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India, BGI-Shenzhen, China and the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), used the latest innovations in DNA sequencing and analysis to identify new genetic tools like molecular markers related to drought and heat tolerance, as well as other important traits (better nutrition profile, pest resistance).

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