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Research Progress on the Pangenomes and Population Genomics of Underutilized Crop

Source: Institute of Crop Sciences

Underutilized crops are often stress-tolerant and combine with unique and beneficial nutritional profiles, which made them very important to overcome the challenge of climate change and the need to feed a globally increasing population. Recently, researchers from the Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ICS-CAAS) and collaborators from the University of Southampton in the UK, have published a review paper in New Phytologist, to systemically introduce the prospect of population genomic and pangenomes methods in promoting the research of underutilized crops and ensuring the safety of human food and nutrition in the future.

 

As Professor Zhou Meiliang introduced, the tolerance of staple crops to climate change and harsh environments is limited, and the risk of hidden hunger caused by dietary homogenization also increasing, while the underutilized crops usually have unique nutritional value and better environment adaptability, which shows great potential as genetic resources in the breeding improvement.

 

This paper points out that compared with the staple crops, the lack of genomic information on underutilized crops restricts their process of genetic improvement. To optimize their breeding potential, efforts should be made not only to generate a reference genome but also to carry out population-level sequencing and pangenomics. Researchers are encouraged to make the data free to use, and collaborations between institutes worldwide should expedite the production of results and limit unnecessary overlap and wasted resources, thus ensuring future food security.

 

Professor Zhou Meiliang (ICS-CAAS) is the corresponding author of this paper. Dr. Mark A. Chapman (University of Southampton) is the first author and Dr. He Yuqi (post-doctor in ICS-CAAS) is the second author. This study was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2019YFD1001300/2019YFD1001302), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31871536 and 32161143005) and the Natural Environment Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences

Research Council (NE/S002022/1).

 

 

Reference resource: https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.18021

                                                   

 By Zhou Meiliang (zhoumeiliang@caas.cn)