Fonio millet genome unlocks African orphan crop diversity for agriculture in a changing climate

Michael Abrouk, et al.

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Received Date: 13th April 20

Michael Abrouk, Hanin Ibrahim Ahmed, Philippe CUBRY, Denisa Simonikova, Stephane Cauet, Jan Bettgenhaeuser, Liubov Gapa, Yveline Pailles, Nora Scarcelli, Marie Couderc, Leila Zekraoui, Nagarajan Kathiresan, Jana Cizkova, Eva Hribova, Jaroslav Dolezel, Sandrine Arribat, Helene Berges, Jan J. Wieringa, Mathieu Gueye, Ndjido A. Kane, Christian Leclerc, Sandrine Causse, Sylvie Vancoppenolle, Claire Billot, Thomas Wicker, Yves Vigouroux, Adeline Barnaud, Simon G. Krattinger

Sustainable food production in the context of climate change necessitates diversification of agriculture and a more efficient utilization of plant genetic resources. Fonio millet (Digitaria exilis) is an orphan African cereal crop with a great potential for dryland agriculture. Here, we established high-quality genomic resources to facilitate fonio improvement through molecular breeding. These include a chromosome-scale reference assembly and deep re-sequencing of 183 cultivated and wild Digitaria accessions, enabling insights into genetic diversity, population structure, and domestication. Fonio diversity is shaped by climatic, geographic, and ethnolinguistic factors. Two genes associated with seed size and shattering showed signatures of selection. Most known domestication genes from other cereal models however have not experienced strong selection in fonio, providing direct targets to rapidly improve this crop for agriculture in hot and dry environments.

Read in full at bioRxiv. 

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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