Sorghum breeding in the genomic era: opportunities and challenges

Sorghum breeding in the genomic era: opportunities and challenges.
Hao HQ*, Li ZG, Leng CY, Lu C, Luo H, Liu YM, Wu XY, Liu ZQ, Shang L, Jing HC*
Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 2021, DOI: 10.1007/s00122-021-03789-z.
Sorghum, a historically vital staple food source and currently the ffth most important major cereal, is emerging as a crop with diverse end-uses as food, feed, fuel and forage and a model for functional genetics and genomics of tropical grasses. Rapid development in high-throughput experimental and data processing technologies has signifcantly speeded up sorghum genomic researches in the past few years. The genomes of three sorghum lines are available, thousands of genetic stocks accessible and various genetic populations, including NAM, MAGIC, and mutagenised populations released. Functional and comparative genomics have elucidated key genetic loci and genes controlling agronomical and adaptive traits. However, the knowledge gained has far away from being translated into real breeding practices. We argue that the way forward is to take a genome-based approach for tailored designing of sorghum as a multi-functional crop combining excellent agricultural traits for various end uses. In this review, we update the new concepts and innovation systems in crop breeding and summarise recent advances in sorghum genomic researches, especially the genome-wide dissection of variations in genes and alleles for agronomically important traits. Future directions and opportunities for sorghum breeding are highlighted to stimulate discussion amongst sorghum academic and industrial communities.