The discovery of genes responsible for asexual reproduction in a tropical grass may reduce negative impacts of cattle farming. The grass captures carbon, reduces gas emissions from soils, restores degraded land, and improves cattle health and productivity
Cattle are a mainstay for many smallholders but their farms are often on degraded lands, which increases cattle’s impact on the environment and lowers their production of milk and meat. Researchers at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have shown that Brachiaria grass species can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cattle and increase productivity – and breeding improved varieties can potentially augment the environmental and economic benefits.
But the breeding process is difficult, time-consuming and expensive. A breakthrough on Brachiaria‘s complex genome may make breeding much more efficient, and potentially increase the speed with which new grasses begin benefiting cattle farmers and the environment.
Margaret Worthington, a geneticist at CIAT and the University of Arkansas, and colleagues created the first dense molecular map of B. humidicola, a robust and environmentally friendly forage grass. They also pinpointed the candidate genes for the plant’s asexual reproductive mechanism, which is a huge asset for plant breeders. The findings were published in January in BMC Genomics.
“The idea is to create a better crop with less time and less money and to get it out faster to farmers,” said Worthington. “By using this molecular marker, you increase the odds of finding that rare winner.”
Traditional plant-breeding methods for Brachiaria grasses involve one of two complex techniques. One is to grow the plant to seed, and to study the seeds under a microscope to determine if the plant reproduced asexually. The other involves excising the plant’s embryos and conducting a similar analysis. Both techniques require many weeks, significant funds and highly trained specialists.
Asexual reproduction through seed, called apomixis, is key for developing new crop varieties for widespread use. Crops that reproduce through apomixis conserve the same traits from one generation to the next, essentially locking in sought-after characteristics such as drought tolerance or high nutritional value. Plants that reproduce sexually do not reliably pass on desired traits to subsequent generations.
With this molecular marker, plant breeders can run a quick and inexpensive test when Brachiaria grasses are seedlings to identify whether they reproduce through apomixis. The results are available in a couple of weeks. This allows plant breeders to select only asexually reproductive plants for trials, allowing them to allocate more time and resources to plants that have the potential to produce new cultivars.
Brachiaria grasses have often been considered an “orphan crop,” due to a lack of investment in research, but their potential for making tropical farms more productive and better for the environment is well known among tropical forage specialists. One recent study found that B. humidicola was especially adept at reducing the nitrous oxide, a strong greenhouse gas, emitted from soil as result of cattle urine deposition. In addition, CIAT researchers have identified mechanisms that this tropical grass uses to efficiently acquire nutrients from soil.
Brachiaria breeders also value apomixis for smallholders in developing nations who have limited resources for investing in improving their farms. Improved grass varieties that produce sufficient quantities of trait-retaining seeds can eliminate the need to purchase new seeds for every planting, which is a potentially expensive barrier to adoption.
“This breakthrough allows for the acceleration of our breeding program for multiple traits, including the development of tropical forages that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make farming more eco-efficient,” said Joe Tohme, a senior scientist at CIAT and study co-author.
“This discovery represents a milestone in the path toward developing mitigation technologies in the livestock production sector,” said Jacobo Arango, a study co-author who is an environmental biologist from CIAT and a Lead Author for the next Assessment Report on Climate Change Mitigation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The Latest on: Brachiaria grasses
via Google News
The Latest on: Brachiaria grasses
- Brazil’s success with second season crop behind record production of cornon June 16, 2020 at 2:44 pm
Mato Grosso farmers have developed a rotation of two seasons of soybeans, each followed by safrinha corn grown with brachiaria grass. This safrinha double crop allows for 60 days of cattle grazing ...
- The women fighting to save the planeton June 13, 2020 at 12:32 am
Nature Kenya's Policy and Advocacy Manager Serah addresses a group of women in Tana River County about the importance of their participation in conservation. PHOTO | COURTESY Nature is wide but at the ...
- Cattle imports alone won’t help increase milk productionon June 2, 2020 at 1:15 pm
promote cultivation of pasture grasses and provide an effective veterinary service. . There is no effective programme to promote cultivation of improved pastures such as Brachiaria sp. Napier and CO3.
- I built my 13-cow farm and milk shop from single calfon May 22, 2020 at 5:00 pm
She notes that adoption of improved feeds such as desmodium and brachiaria grass can also be supplemented with other feeds like hay to boost production of milk. **** Get it quick Benefits of ...
- Sexual modulation in a polyploid grass: a reproductive contest between environmentally inducible sexual and genetically dominant apomictic pathwayson May 20, 2020 at 2:19 am
Though many eukaryotes, especially protists, have given it up, the earliest common eukaryote ancestor was sexual. Sexuality promotes the creation of genetically variable and physiologically ...
- Farmers earning big from pasture seedon May 19, 2020 at 3:57 pm
Improved pasture species include; Chloris gayana (Rhodes grass), Brachiaria mulato and NARONAP3,” Owere said. Owere says since inception in July 2019, the project has trained 357 farmers (166 ...
- Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science, NAROon June 12, 2019 at 10:14 am
Forage Crop Genome Unit conducts the fundamental researches to develop new ... genetic modification and genome editing in maize and (3) breeding of brachiaria grass using DNA marker approach. We are ...
- Sebastião Salgado Has Seen the Forest, Now He’s Seeing the Treeson September 22, 2015 at 7:51 am
Salgado takes note of a patch of invasive brachiaria grass that has flared up in a sunny spot. The road jogs left, and suddenly we park. Genesis A fence line traces the long ridge. Salgado holds ...
via Bing News