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Investigating Key Characters for the Domestication of Marama Bean

English title Investigating Key Characters for the Domestication of Marama Bean
Applicant Grossniklaus Ueli
Number 204528
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Institut für Pflanzen- und Mikrobiologie Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Molecular Biology
Start/End 01.05.2022 - 30.04.2025
Approved amount 681'000.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Molecular Biology
Agricultural and Forestry Sciences
Botany
Genetics

Keywords (10)

Marama bean; Domestication; Genome sequencing; Drought tolerance; Genetic diversity; Seed germination; Tylosema fassoglense; Transcriptome analysis; Marginal soils; Orphan Crop

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Investigating Key Characters for the Domestication of Marama Bean
Lay summary
Die in Afrika heimische Marama-Bohne (Tylosema fassoglense) ist eine trocken- und hitzetolerante Pflanze, die dank ihres hohen Nährwerts gesammelt wird und im südlichen Afrika vielfache Verwendung als Nahrungsmittel findet. Als landwirtschaftliche Nutzpflanze domestiziert und angebaut wurden Marama-Bohnen wie viele andere sogenannte «Orphan Crops» hingegen nie, obschon viele dieser agronomisch interessanten Wildpflanzen grosses Potential zur Sicherung der Nahrungsmittelversorgung in Zeiten des Klimawandels haben und zur Entwicklung einer nachhaltigen, wertschöpfenden Landwirtschaft in Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländern beitragen könnten.
 In Zusammenarbeit mit Südafrikanischen Forschenden der University of the Western Cape sollen wissenschaftliche Grundlagen für die Domestikation der Marama-Bohne geschaffen und der Öffentlichkeit zur Verfügung gestellt werden. Die Projektziele sind: - eine hochqualitative, annotierte Genomsequenz von T. fassoglense zu erzeugen;
- unterschiedliche lokal adaptierte Akzessionen zu sammeln und deren phänotypische und genetische Variation zu bestimmen, mit besonderem Augenmerk auf Samenkeimung, Blüten- und Fruchtbildung, welche für die Domestikation von Pflanzen wichtig sind;
- die Variation bezüglich Trockenresistenz der Akzessionen mit Unterschieden in der Expression spezifischer Gene zu korrelieren;
- und die molekularen Netzwerke zu untersuchen, die Samenbildung und Samenkeimung steuern. Dieses Projekt erlaubt den beteiligten Forschenden nicht nur eine Auseinandersetzung mit agronomisch und somit gesellschaftlich relevanten Fragen, sondern es ermöglicht auch einen kontinental übergreifenden wissenschaftlichen, gesellschaftlichen und persönlichen Austausch, der mit wachsender Vernetzung der Weltengemeinschaft immer wichtiger wird.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.04.2022

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Abstract

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.
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