Newswise — Texas Tech University is taking the lead in one of the largest projects ever funded by the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP).  

Krishna Jagadish, a professor and the Thornton Distinguished Chair in the Department of Plant and Soil Science, received $1.6 million in funding in partnership with Texas A&M University, Kansas State University, the U.S Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service locations in Lubbock and Manhattan, Kansas, and industry partners. Haydee Laza, an assistant professor of plant physiology in the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, is a co-investigator on the project as well. 

Titled “Transforming grain sorghum's climatic yield potential and grain quality through trait-based ideotype breeding,” the project is designed to maximize the sorghum crop by determining effective trait combinations for different environments. 

“The project brings together major public sorghum improvement programs in the U.S.,” Jagadish said. “The trans-disciplinary team aims to achieve the project goals by integrating agronomy, crop physiology, breeding, machine learning and crop and climate modeling.” 

Over the course of the project researchers, led by Jagadish, hope to develop trait-based ideotype sorghum hybrids specifically targeted to thrive in water-deficient areas and in areas considered favorable for growing sorghum. 

“For the first time in modern history, we have an opportunity to reimagine the architecture of the plant and how it operates,” USCP CEO Tim Lust said. “From drought tolerance to photosynthetic efficiency, this stellar team of physiology experts will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of a more productive, efficient sorghum plant for our farmers.”

The project is scheduled to last five years and incorporate a number of students seeking both master's and doctoral degrees, giving it the added benefit of helping train the next generation of leaders in the sorghum industry. 

“This project is timely and will be a difference-maker as we strive to improve crop resilience and feed the world,” said Plant and Soil Science Department Chair Glen Ritchie. “The collaborators on this project are top experts in sorghum physiology and stress tolerance and they will make a global impact with their success.”

About the USCP

The USCP is a producer-funded organization dedicated to improving the sorghum industry through research, promotion and education. For more information about the USCP and other sorghum promotion projects visit www.sorghumcheckoff.com.

 

Photo caption: Sorghum researchers from TTU, KSU, USDA ARS, industry representatives and the USCP leadership discussing the project progress at the New Deal farm.

 

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Allen Ramsey