The quest is on to further improve Brachiaria, a vital livestock feed crop in central Africa and Latin America.
The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), with partners in the UK, Colombia and Kenya will look for crossing different species of Brachiaria to produce new varieties with superior traits. A particular Brachiaria species, B. decumbens, grants resistance to aluminium, which has a high concentration in acid soils. Most low-income livestock keepers live in tropical grasslands in countries in central Africa with great grazing potential, but are vulnerable due to the growing problem of increasing acid soils and longer extreme weather seasons.
New generation of forage crops
TGAC is working to identify high aluminium-resistant genes and chromosome regions in the Brachiaria genome, contributing to the international breeding programmes developing the new generation of forage crops. This genomic approach to forage breeding, will help to produce varieties with high nutritional value under physical stresses, such as low soil fertility.
Strengthening and improving livestock forage-systems will contribute to the sustainability of food production, while helping to reduce carbon dioxide and mitigating the effects of climate change. The international team of scientists will apply next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies and genomics to help improve forage breeding by reducing the length of the Brachiaria breeding cycle.
Photo: Flickr, Neil Palmer (CIAT)
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