John Mullet, PhD, started the fall series of HudsonAlpha seminars on September 26, 2018. Mullet, from Texas A&M University, spoke about the research potential of sorghum as a genomic platform for designing and deploying C4 grass crops.
With a myriad of challenges facing global agriculture — including a changing climate, growing world population and human disruptions like industrial development and war — increasing yields for crops becomes of utmost importance. Mullet noted in his talk that yields of crops like wheat have plateaued for the last ten to twenty years.
Mullet discussed the potential of sorghum, which he noted went from what’s called an “orphan crop,” a crop largely abandoned by researchers, to a plant that generates interest from scientists for a variety of reasons. Sorghum benefits from a highly efficient C4 photosynthesis process, a natural resistance to drought, a diverse germplasm and an annual growth cycle, allowing for more responsive genetic study. Primarily, researchers aim to increase the yield of the C4 grass in order to generate more biomaterial, which is particularly useful for biofuels. Scientists have honed in on a number of approaches to improve those yields, including delaying flowering time, increasing plant height and producing hybrids.
This seminar was hosted by Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD.
More information on HudsonAlpha Research Seminars, including the upcoming schedule, can be found athudsonalpha.org/seminars.