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Tropical Grass Genetic Breakthrough to Help Develop Climate-Friendly Cattle Farms
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: May 03, 2019 06:55AM

Researchers at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have
shown that Brachiaria grass species reduce greenhouse gas emissions from
cattle and increase productivity. Considered an orphan crop, the breeding
process for Brachiaria grasses is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

Margaret Worthington, a geneticist at CIAT and the University of Arkansas,
and colleagues created the first dense molecular map of B. humidicola, a
robust and environmentally friendly forage grass. They also identified the
candidate genes for the plant's asexual reproductive mechanism, which is a
huge asset for plant breeders. With this molecular marker, plant breeders
can run a quick and inexpensive test when Brachiaria grasses are at seedling
stage to identify whether they reproduce through apomixis. Results are
available in a couple of weeks, allowing plant breeders to select only
asexually reproductive plants for trials, and to allocate more time and
resources to plants that have the potential to produce new cultivars.

Similarly, a recent study found that B. humidicola was especially adept at
reducing the nitrous oxide, a strong greenhouse gas, which is emitted from
the soil from cattle urine. In addition, CIAT researchers have identified
mechanisms that this tropical grass uses to efficiently acquire nutrients
from soil.


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