Speaker to talk about Proso millet genetics at Panhandle Center

Santosh Rajput, a doctoral student in the Alternative Crops Breeding Program at University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center, will present a seminar Jan. 4 on his activities aimed at developing new tools and technology for improving proso millet.

Rajput is testing proso millet lines from different countries for identifying important agronomic traits such as tolerance to shattering and lodging and high yield. He is developing modern breeding tools (DNA markers) using genomic research in other related crops (e.g. corn, wheat, switchgrass).

His research goal is to develop first genetic map of proso millet, which will lead to identifying DNA markers for quick and efficient selection of the complex traits for proso millet variety development. He foresees that tools developed from this research will help the proso millet breeder to develop genetically improved varieties in shorter time for High Plains.

The seminar will begin at 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, in the Bluestem Room at the Panhandle Center. It is free and open to the public.

Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) is a small grain cereal, which uses least amount of water among all cereal crops. It is the most suitable alternative crop for wheat based dryland cropping system in the High Plains because of its short growing season and less water requirement. It is grown in the United States, Asia (China, Russia, Ukraine, Korea, and India) and Europe.

In the United States, 90 percent of proso millet is grown in High Plains (Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota). It is used as bird seed in the USA; however, it is used as human food in other countries. It contributes about $50 million annually to the bird seed industry in the region.

Although proso millet is very important for the High Plains agriculture, number of good varieties of proso millet is limited. Genetics and breeding research in proso millet is inadequate.

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