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Fonds National Suisse de la Recherche Scientifique (FNSRS) 2022

Investigating Key Characters for the Domestication of Marama Bean

Domestication Marama Bean

Titre : Investigating Key Characters for the Domestication of Marama Bean

Numéro  : 204528

Début/Fin : 01.05.2022 – 30.04.2025

Requérant  : * Ueli Grossniklaus, Molecular and Cellular Plant Physiology Department of Plant and Microbial Biology University of Zurich * Ndomele Ndiko Ludidi, Centre for the Study of Higher Education Faculty of Education University of the Western Cape

Orphan crops are typically grown Africa, Asia, and South America and they play an important role in local diets, but are not traded internationally. Consequently, they receive little attention in research, breeding, or improvement of agricultural practices to produce them. However, many orphan crops are characterized by unique properties, e.g. high nutritional value and stress tolerance, such that they are considered crops of the future. Thus, orphan crops could play a major role in ensuring global food security and contribute to develop sustainable food systems in light of a changing climate. This project focuses on the legume Tylosema fassoglense, one of five species loosely known by the common name marama bean or tamani berry, which occur only in Africa. Marama bean is not being cultivated but has traditionally been gathered by the Khoisan and Bantu peoples of Southern and Eastern Africa. T. fassoglense grows in deserts, open grasslands, and woodlands, and can survive long drought periods and sweltering heat. The high protein and mineral content of marama bean rivals that of soybean, which, together with its drought tolerance, make it a very attractive orphan crop for cultivation. Despite the tremendous potential of T. fassoglense for domestication, there is a general lack of knowledge about this species, little if any genetic and genomic resources, and no molecular data with respect to traits that are central to its domestication and cultivation. For instance, cultivation requires even germination and a rapid establishment of the seedlings, which is somewhat erratic in marama bean. The overall goal of this project is to generate these missing genomic and genetic resources. Specifically, our objectives are to:1) generate a chromosome-scale annotated reference genome for T. fassoglense,2) collect locally adapted accessions and assess their phenotypic and genetic diversity,3) determine the molecular correlates of the drought response by transcriptomic studies,4) investigate the molecular networks controlling seed formation and germination.This project relies on the complementary expertise of the Ludidi laboratory in drought tolerance and legumes, and the Grossniklaus laboratory in seed development and genomics, respectively. It will offer unique opportunities for young researchers to work in a field relevant to global agriculture and, during doctoral research placements, to acquire knowledge and obtain training in techniques and approaches that are not available at their home institutions. Importantly, the project will generate some of the essential resources required to develop T. fassoglense into a cultivatable crop that will contribute to sustainable food systems and food security in arid and semi-arid regions of Africa. Apart from genetic and genomic resources, it will shed light onto the molecular basis of traits that are highly relevant to the further development of marama bean into a cultivatable crop, e.g., by identifying factors mediating drought tolerance and potential domestication genes.

Mots clés : Marama bean, Domestication, Genome sequencing, Drought tolerance, Genetic diversity, Seed germination, Tylosema fassoglense, Transcriptome analysis, Marginal soils, Orphan Crop

Financement : 681 000 CHF

Fonds National Suisse de la Recherche Scientifique

Page publiée le 22 avril 2023