The project looking at drought genes in sorghum is aiming to identify the commonality of drought tolerance in many plants.
The Kearney Agriculture Research and Extension Center is part of the project and Director Jeff Dahlberg says the trials are looking deeper into the plant to find out what triggers drought tolerance. “A lot of these plants are related and theres a lot of the same genes buried in these plants that for whatever reason were never expressed, never turned on,” Dahlberg says. “For example these drought genes, where sorghum was domesticated in Africa there was just a huge amount of variation in climates where sorghum was grown in and sorghum was put under a lot of pressure for drought tolerance, for heat tolerance and for all these things other plants might not be dealing with and these genes got expressed. The idea is that there could be some commonality among all plants with these particular genes, they just were never really turned on or expressed in these other systems.”
Dahlberg says that could lead to many other crops. “Long-term this is gonna be really important as we look at how we are going to feed the world of the future, especially in cereal crops. We hope this will transfer over to other crops as well.”