1. SMIL
  2. »What we do
  3. »Current projects
  4. »Genetic Improvement of Sorghum for Resistance to Fungal Pathogens

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum and Millet

Genetic Improvement of Sorghum for Resistance to Fungal Pathogens

Lead institution: Purdue University
Award amount: $1,056,897
Focus country: Ethiopia

Genetic variation for resistance

Principal investigator: Dr. Tesfaye Mengiste
U.S. collaborating institutions: Purdue University, Kansas State University
International collaborating institutions:  Ethiopia - EIAR (Asosa Research Center, Bako Research Center), Oromia Agricultural Research Institute, Haramaya University 

The overarching goal of this project is to improve the livelihood of sorghum farmers in the plant disease prone regions of Ethiopia by providing disease resistant and adapted varieties that also integrate other desirable traits. This project will build on scientific discoveries, disease resistant germplasm, and networks of collaborators, established in the first phase, to deliver genotypes that integrate critical traits including wide adaptation, disease resistance and high yield potential. Resistant genotypes identified through multi-year and multi-location field trials in the first phase of this project are already incorporated into the breeding pipeline of the national and regional research institutes. Introgression of disease resistance genes into widely adapted elite materials that are deficient in diseases resistance genes is also underway. These parallel efforts will be accelerated to complete the development and release of regionally or nationally adapted varieties that integrate important traits. To support sorghum improvement in the project target region and beyond, strategic research that focuses on gene discovery and scientific advances will be conducted through genetic and genomics studies of unique resistant materials and populations we developed. Genetic resources such as adapted landraces, breeding lines and recombinant inbred populations harboring resistance to foliar and grain disease were identified and characterized. Genes underlying this traits will be identified to develop molecular marker to support improvement of the crop in Ethiopia and other countries with similar challenges. A collection of Ethiopian sorghum landrace population was partially characterized and genotype information generated. Deep phenotyping and sequencing of a core representative set of landraces, defined on the bases of genomic data, will be conducted to serve as the main source of traits for future breeding and strategic research, and lay the foundation for genomics enabled breeding platform. Finally, the project will incorporate graduate education, short term training and knowledge enhancing workshops to strengthen the human and institutional capacity of local research institutions.

For more information about the project, contact:

Dr. Tesfaye Mengiste, Professor
Purdue University
915 W. State Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907
765-494-0599
tmengist@purdue.edu