Science

Cataloguing genetic information about yams

Yams are thought-about an vital money crop in lots of tropical and subtropical areas of Africa. Credit: S. Yamanaka

Yams are a staple meals in West Africa, which produces over 90% of the world’s yams annually. Yams play a key function within the meals safety, financial revenue, and conventional tradition for the area.

While they’re generally assumed to be the identical as candy potatoes within the U.S., yams are a totally totally different plant. The yam tubers are a lot starchier and drier in comparison with candy potatoes. Yams are native to Africa and Asia, and most Americans have by no means had a real yam.

Even although yam is a staple crop for West Africa, there was restricted analysis to enhance the genetic range or productiveness.

Researcher Shinsuke Yamanaka focuses on enhancing crop breeding assets for yams. His analysis was just lately revealed in Crop Science, a journal from the Crop Science Society of America.

The objective of Yamanaka’s analysis was to extend the data about the genetic information inside yams—to assist with future endeavors of breeding extra varieties. Presently, there may be little information for breeders to depend on—so Yamanaka is creating a kind of “library” of information for future yam breeders.

There are greater than 600 species of yams. The analysis group targeted on the white Guinea yam due to its financial significance.

Farmers in tropical and sub-tropical Africa depend on yams to make a dwelling. But yams will not be a simple crop to develop.

Cataloguing genetic information about yams
White Guinea yam tubers may be inconsistent in form and dimension. Breeders will have the ability to use the gathering of genetic assets to enhance yam traits. Credit: S. Yamanaka

Yams can take as much as 11 months to develop earlier than harvest. Also, the female and male flowers develop on totally different crops, so it’s arduous to time pollination appropriately for a profitable breeding.

“The lengthy progress cycle, inconsistency in flowering between crops, and polyploidy are main limitations of the yam breeding examine,” explains Yamanaka.

In addition to enhancing these traits, breeding new varieties can improve the crop yield, enhance cooking properties, and reduce harvesting time. These can be useful for farmers.

When scientists breed crops, it might take a number of years to determine which crops have the most effective traits for use as dad and mom. Once the mum or dad crops are chosen, the breeding course of can proceed because the crops are cross pollinated to create new, improved offspring.

Previous analysis has targeted to gather and characterize genetic materials from nations within the “yam belt” of West Africa. But sustaining this massive assortment is a problem. Researchers needed to higher perceive the bodily and genetic variations of crops within the assortment.

To do that, researchers used molecular markers. Molecular markers are segments of DNA that correspond with sure plant traits. This helps researchers predict what the plant will likely be like based mostly on DNA as a substitute of rising and observing the plant.

The group used plant materials from over 400 yam crops, and DNA was extracted for evaluation.

Cataloguing genetic information about yams
The edible yam tuber has a starchy, white flesh. Yams are an ideal supply of fiber and potassium. Credit: S. Yamanaka

Researchers had been in a position to cut back the dimensions of the gathering by eliminating crops that had been genetically related or not distinctive. A complete of 100 yam crops had been discovered to be distinctive, which can make up the brand new smaller assortment.

Important agronomic traits had been recorded about every plant within the new assortment. These traits included the variety of stems per plant, the expansion interval, variety of tubers per plant, yield, and tuber weight.

In breeding phrases, this can be a “mini-core collection.” Similar collections can be found for rice, millet and palm, amongst different crops.

This smaller assortment will likely be a lot simpler to keep up and collect information from. And creating new, preferable sorts of yams will assist African farmers.

Breeding higher crops takes time. This assortment of genetic assets will assist scientists save time as they consider and choose which crops to make use of for breeding.

“Although our research is just the beginning of better utilization of the wide genetic diversity in yam, we hope our research will pave the way to improve yam breeding for farmers,” says Yamanaka.


Crowning the ‘King of the Crops’: Sequencing the white Guinea yam genome


More information:
Babil Pachakkil et al, Simple sequence repeat‐based mostly mini‐core assortment for white Guinea yam ( Dioscorea rotundata ) germplasm, Crop Science (2020). DOI: 10.1002/csc2.20431

Provided by
American Society of Agronomy


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Cataloguing genetic information about yams (2021, February 10)
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