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October 10th, 2016 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

There are vast numbers of seeds in gene banks around the world. A new approach uses their genomes to predict the best options to grow for specific traits.

“We think it’s possible to use these predictions to guide our breeding and selection decisions,” says first author Xiaoqing Yu, a postdoctoral agronomy research associate at Iowa State University. “We hope it will facilitate better and more precise breeding with the diverse genetic materials.”

The researchers tested a complex set of genetic tools to predict which traits hundreds of sorghum seeds would possess if cultivated. The team then grew specimens for some of those sorghum accessions— plant material collected from various sites—to gauge the accuracy of their genome-based predictions. Their yield predictions proved accurate over 70 percent of the time. See more