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Setaria emerges as a novel model for grasses functional genomics

DATE:2014-03-17       SOURCE:MOA


Setaria is on the fast track to becoming a novel model for grasses research in functional genomics. This is a consensus reached at the 1st International Setaria Genetics Conference (ISGC 2014) held in Beijing on March10-12th, 2014.


ISGC was hosted by the Institute of Crop Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS-ICS), and organized by the National Millet Crops Research and Development Center under China Agricultural Research System (CARS-NMCRDC).


In his speech at the Opening Ceremony, MOA Vice Minister and CAAS President Li Jiayang said that the science of genetics keeps evolving, which plays a significant role in promoting human health and development of the bio-technology sector, increasing agricultural productivity and ensuring food security. As the science of genetics develops, facilitating social development and meeting the evolving needs of the mankind, the research on model organism is playing an increasing role in promoting scientific discoveries and advanced research methodology and tools.


Setaria is evolutionarily close to many cereal crops such as maize (Zea mays), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor),sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum), pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), common millet (Panicum miliaceum). It is also closely related to switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and other candidate biofuel crops. Hence, Setaria is strongly positioned to be the most appropriate model for functional genomics for these cereal and biofuel grasses. This model research will not only offer opportunities to understand molecular genetic mechanisms of drought tolerance and C4 photosynthesis, but also bring unique perspectives and fresh ideas on crop domestication and improvement, genetic mechanism of drought tolerance, plant systematics and evolution as well as isolation and cloning of funcitional genes. 


"Setaria genetics research has just taken off and is faced with a number of technological challenges including further improvement in transformation efficiency."Li pointed out. Thus, Li urged the academic community to establish an inclusive online genomes database, select a group of model cultivars for research, and create a mutant library. 


The participants of the meeting had thorough and extensive discussions on a wide range of issues concerning the creation of the Setaria genomes database, formulation of standard operating procedures, development of an efficient transformation system and the establishment of International Setaria Community. The meeting has resulted in broad consensus, which has laid a solid foundation for future cooperation in Setaria research and brought new opportunities for further development of cereal and biofuel crops of SubFam. Panicoideae.

Due to their outstanding tolerance to drought and infertile soil, small diploid genomes, short growing cycle and small stature, Setaria are highly valued by the genetics community in this century. Genetics research on Setaria italica and Setaria viridis has been conducted in UK, Germany, Japan, Australia and Brazil, to name just a few. In this global heat of the Setaria genetic research, China's research, led by CAAS-ICS and CARS-NMCRDC, is taking a leading role in Setaria genome sequence, haplotype mapping, genome-wide association study and database development. 
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