Leading the efforts in pearl millet genome sequencing 

Director General William D Dar delivers his message during the workshop. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

“Pearl millet is an important nutritious crop and is cultivated on over 17 million ha in India and Africa. It is staple food for over 100 million poor people across the globe. Hence, it gives me immense pleasure to announce that ICRISAT, together with key partners, is now leading the efforts of sequencing the genome of such an important crop,” said Director General William D. Dar in his message at the opening session of the International Workshop on Pearl Millet Genome Sequencing held at the ICRISAT headquarters on 13 September.

“The pearl millet genome sequencing consortium composed of several leading groups in pearl millet genomics and breeding is making good progress in generating a high-quality draft genome of pearl millet,” according to Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes in his introduction to the workshop. He also highlighted efforts to re-sequence 900 diverse germplasm lines and parental lines of pearl millet which will give complete insights into the genome organization that can be deployed in pearl millet breeding.

“ICAR and ICRISAT have a long and successful association in the past, particularly in deciphering the pigeonpea and chickpea genomes. We are happy to again be a part of this great effort of unraveling the pearl millet genome, which will address questions related to pearl millet improvement,” said Dr Swapan K Datta, Deputy Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Dr Stefania Grando, Research Program Director – Dryland Cereals welcomed the participants to the workshop. The activity aimed to bring together several scientists from all ICRISAT locations (Asia, Eastern and Southern Africa and West and Central Africa) working under the pearl millet genome sequencing consortium. The consortium is composed of ICRISAT, ICAR, Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) in France, Aberystwyth University (IBERS) in the UK, Cornell University, University of Georgia and University of Florida in the USA, Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA), and the Pioneer Overseas Corporation.

During the technical sessions, consortium members represented by Liu Xin (BGI- Shenzhen), Yves Vigouroux (IRD, France), Jason Wallace (Cornell University, USA), Rattan Yadav (Aberystwyth University, UK), Ndjido Kane (ISRA, Senegal), RS Mahala (Pioneer Overseas Corporation, India), Peggy Ozias-Akins (University of Georgia, USA), Mahendar Thudi and Anu Chitikineni (ICRISAT, India) presented updates on the progress of their work at their respective centers.

Participants of the workshop. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

In total, 12 consortium members (three from India; two each from Niger and Senegal; one each from China, France, USA, UK and Kenya) took part in the workshop. In addition, 31 pearl millet breeder trainees of the International Training Course on Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Improvement and Seed Production and several members of the Hybrid Parents Research Consortium also participated in the workshop and gained insights into the ongoing efforts. Drs CLL Gowda (Acting Deputy Director for Research), Shoba Sivasankar (Director, CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals), Rachit Saxena, Krishna Mohan Katta, Rakesh Srivastava, SK Gupta, Rajan Sharma; and C Tom Hash, Hamidou Falalou (ICRISAT-Niamey), Damaris Odeny (ICRISAT – Nairobi) also participated in the workshop.

Source: ICRISAT Happenings