25 March 2020

Grain number and genotype drive nitrogen-dependent yield response in the C4 model Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv.

Bandyopadhyay T, Swarbreck SM, Jaiswal V, Gupta R, Bentley AR, Griffiths H, Prasad M - Journal of Advanced Research, 2020


Fertiliser nitrogen (N) drives crop yields and requires the breeding and selection of cultivars that are inherently highly N responsive. For major cereal crops such as wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) breeding over time has led to enhanced N use in modern cultivars however there remains a gap in understanding the N responsiveness of minor cereals grains, many of which are highly relevant to global food security. Here we investigate response to increasing N availability in a diverse population of Setaria italica (L., foxtail millet) accessions demonstrating that N-driven yield increase is dependent on grain number rather than individual grain weight. Within the population, some accessions responded strongly to increased N availability while others show little yield improvement under high N. Genetic markers were generated to enable investigation of N responsiveness at a genome-wide level, highlighting likely underlying causal loci, especially for grains per plant. Despite the lack of response in terms of yield increase, a non-responsive accession shows a strong transcriptional response suggesting different metabolic functioning under high vs low N. Our results show major differences in N responsiveness in S. italica and provide novel insight into the genetic and molecular basis for this variation.

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