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Characterization of Sudanese pearl millet germplasm for agro-morphological traits and grain nutritional values

  • Elfadil M. A. Bashir (a1), Abdelbagi M. Ali (a2), Adam M. Ali (a2), Albrecht E. Melchinger (a1), Heiko K. Parzies (a1) and Bettina I. G. Haussmann (a1)...
Abstract

Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.) is an important staple cereal cultivated in the arid and semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa, regions severely affected by malnutrition. Knowledge about the extent of genetic variability and patterns of agro-morphological variation in local germplasm from a target region is an important prerequisite for efficient crop improvement. To assess the potential of Sudanese pearl millet landraces as sources of desirable traits for pearl millet improvement including biofortification, a total of 225 accessions were evaluated in Sudan at three locations for agro-morphological traits and at one location for grain mineral nutrient contents (Fe, Zn, Ca, P, K, Mg, Mn, S, Na, Cu and β-carotene). Genetic variation was highly significant, but relatively limited for some agro-morphological traits (62–78 d to flowering, 119–188 cm plant height and 16–34 cm panicle length), pointing to the potential usefulness of a targeted diversification for these traits. Self-pollinated grain micronutrient contents showed a wide variation: 19.7–86.4 mg/kg for Fe and 13.5–82.4 mg/kg for Zn. Significant and positive correlations among most of the nutritional traits were observed; therefore, enhancement of the concentrations of some nutrients will lead to the improvement of other related nutrients. No significant associations were observed between the nutritional and agro-morphological traits, indicating good prospects for simultaneous improvement of both trait categories. No clear patterns of geographic differentiation for specific traits were detected for the Sudanese pearl millet. Nutrient-rich accessions were identified and those with acceptable agro-morphological traits are encouraging materials for future pearl millet biofortification programmes in Sudan.

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*Corresponding author. E-mail: bettina.haussmann@uni-hohenheim.de
References
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