Home pagePress monitoringFirst detailed decoding of complex finger millet genome

First detailed decoding of complex finger millet genome

Date: 11.9.2017 

Finger millet has two important properties: The grain is rich in important minerals and resistant towards drought and heat. Thanks to a novel combination of state-of-the-art technologies, researchers at the University of Zurich were able to decode the large and extremely complex genome of finger millet in high quality for the first time. This represents a fundamental basis for improving food security in countries like India and parts of Africa. 
Eleusine coracana. Kredit: ARS/USDA.

For many poor farmers in India and Africa, finger millet is a major staple food. The crop species is not only a rich source of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, and it contains many vitamins and essential amino acids.

The plant is also characterized by its resistance to drought and heat. As it is very healthy and gluten-free, it is finding increased use as a food in industrial countries as well. Despite its importance, finger millet has been given very little scientific attention until now.

Finger millet arose through the hybridization of two different plant species. The plant is therefore polyploid, which means it has a four-fold set of chromosomes and almost twice as many genes as its original species. The size and complexity of the genome are thought to have conferred the broad environmental tolerance of finger millet, while making genome research extremely difficult.

For the first time, an international team of researchers from the University of Zurich has now managed to decode the complex genome of finger millet in great detail. It comprises about 2.6 million base pairs and has more than 62,300 genes – about twice as many as rice, for example.

 


 

OPPI, MPO, EU

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