Targeting seed microbes to improve seed resilience

26 February, 2024

Fonio (Digitaria exilis), a type of millet, is the oldest indigenous crop in West Africa and one of the fastest maturing cereals. Despite its low yield, the combination of quick maturation and drought tolerance and its ability to thrive in poor soils make it a useful model for understanding how cereals can adapt to future climate change conditions.

Nutritionally, fonio is comparable to other millets, says KAUST researcher Naheed Tabassum, but yields are much lower than the major cereal crops rice, maize and wheat. Tabassum believes fonio could complement staple crops amid climate change and desertification challenges.

Tabassum and colleagues, led by Heribert Hirt and Simon Krattinger, have investigated the potential to improve fonio by manipulating its association with soil microbes.

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