An international team of researchers and scientists from the USA and China
has sequenced the genome of proso millet, world's most drought-resilient
crop grown mostly in the American Great Plains, northern China, and parts of
Millets grow in infertile soils with less water than any other grain, and is
popular among subsistence farmers in ever-hotter, drier swaths of Africa and
Asia. However, low yields combined with traits that make them difficult to
harvest, limited their viability as a food, feed, or fuel staple.
The sequencing project identified more than 55,000 gene which instruct the
building of proteins. It was also revealed that the species' genome
originated from the merging of two closely related genomes more than 5
million years ago. By comparison, the genome of bread wheat emerged within
just the last 6,000 years.
The team also made a biochemical discovery that has never been reported in
other plant species before. Proso millet a C4 plant, has been found to use
all three different biochemical paths to convert inorganic carbon into a
useful form. Most C4 plants use just one of the three biochemical paths,
with plant biologists only recently finding evidence of two paths in corn.