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How Sorghum Root Traits Can Contribute To Cereal Yield Increase

Tobias Wojciechowski, Josefine Kant

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In recent decades the effects of climate change became more visible and the problems it causes for agricultural production and yield maintenance. Future crops need to be higher yielding than today, but at the same time more resilient to drought and increased temperatures, especially in drought-prone regions with erratic precipitation. Sorghum, more heat and drought tolerant than maize, presents an interesting candidate for potential genetic material to provide this increased resilience, containing traits and the underlying genetic loci conferring better performance. Compared to the above-ground tissues, root systems are less investigated, but an improvement in this “hidden half” also improves yield. Due to their close relationship, findings in sorghum may be easily incorporated into maize breeding programs. In this chapter we will review recent literature on sorghum and other cereal root system improvements and provide unpublished data on the natural variation of sorghum root development.