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Concept: Millet


Analysis of organic residues in pottery vessels has been successful in detecting a range of animal and plant products as indicators of food preparation and consumption in the past. However, the identification of plant remains, especially grain crops in pottery, has proved elusive. Extending the spectrum is highly desirable, not only to strengthen our understanding of the dispersal of crops from centres of domestication but also to determine modes of food processing, artefact function and the culinary significance of the crop. Here, we propose a new approach to identify millet in pottery vessels, a crop that spread throughout much of Eurasia during prehistory following its domestication, most likely in northern China. We report the successful identification of miliacin (olean-18-en-3β-ol methyl ether), a pentacyclic triterpene methyl ether that is enriched in grains of common/broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum), in Bronze Age pottery vessels from the Korean Peninsula and northern Europe. The presence of millet is supported by enriched carbon stable isotope values of bulk charred organic matter sampled from pottery vessel surfaces and extracted n-alkanoic acids, consistent with a C4 plant origin. These data represent the first identification of millet in archaeological ceramic vessels, providing a means to track the introduction, spread and consumption of this important crop.

Concepts: Poaceae, Cereal, Neolithic, Crops, Archaeology, Prehistory, Bronze Age, Millet


Foxtail millet (Setaria italica) belonging to the family Poaceae is an important millet that is widely cultivated in East Asia. Of the cultivated millets, the foxtail millet has the longest history and is one of the main food crops in South India and China. Moreover, foxtail millet is a model plant system for biofuel generation utilizing the C4 photosynthetic pathway. In this study, we carried out de novo transcriptome assembly for the foxtail millet variety Taejin collected from Korea using next-generation sequencing. We obtained a total of 8.676 GB raw data by paired-end sequencing. The raw data in this study can be available in NCBI SRA database with accession number of SRR3406552. The Trinity program was used to de novo assemble 145,332 transcripts. Using the TransDecoder program, we predicted 82,925 putative proteins. BLASTP was performed against the Swiss-Prot protein sequence database to annotate the functions of identified proteins, resulting in 20,555 potentially novel proteins. Taken together, this study provides transcriptome data for the foxtail millet variety Taejin by RNA-Seq.

Concepts: Protein, Agriculture, Poaceae, South Korea, Millet, Millets, Setaria, Foxtail millet


Finger millet is one of the small millets with high nutritive value. This crop is vulnerable to blast disease caused by Pyricularia grisea, which occurs annually during rainy and winter seasons. Leaf blast occurs at early crop stage and is highly damaging. Mapping of resistance genes and other quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for agronomic performance can be of great use for improving finger millet genotypes. Evaluation of one hundred and twenty-eight finger millet genotypes in natural field conditions revealed that leaf blast caused severe setback on agronomic performance for susceptible genotypes, most significant traits being plant height and root length. Plant height was reduced under disease severity while root length was increased. Among the genotypes, IE4795 showed superior response in terms of both disease resistance and better agronomic performance. A total of seven unambiguous QTLs were found to be associated with various agronomic traits including leaf blast resistance by association mapping analysis. The markers, UGEP101 and UGEP95, were strongly associated with blast resistance. UGEP98 was associated with tiller number and UGEP9 was associated with root length and seed yield. Cross species validation of markers revealed that 12 candidate genes were associated with 8 QTLs in the genomes of grass species such as rice, foxtail millet, maize, Brachypodium stacei, B. distachyon, Panicum hallii and switchgrass. Several candidate genes were found proximal to orthologous sequences of the identified QTLs such as 1,4-β-glucanase for leaf blast resistance, cytokinin dehydrogenase (CKX) for tiller production, calmodulin (CaM) binding protein for seed yield and pectin methylesterase inhibitor (PMEI) for root growth and development. Most of these QTLs and their putatively associated candidate genes are reported for first time in finger millet. On validation, these novel QTLs may be utilized in future for marker assisted breeding for the development of fungal resistant and high yielding varieties of finger millet.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Poaceae, Magnaporthe grisea, Millet, Underutilized crops, Millets, Finger millet


There are more than 50000 known edible plants in the world, yet two-thirds of global plant-derived food is provided by only three major cereals - maize (Zea mays), wheat (Triticum aestivum) and rice (Oryza sativa). The dominance of this triad, now considered truly global food commodities, has led to a decline in the number of crop species contributing to global food supplies. Our dependence on only a few crop species limits our capability to deal with challenges posed by the adverse effects of climate change and the consequences of dietary imbalance. Emerging evidence suggests that climate change will cause shifts in crop production and yield loss due to more unpredictable and hostile weather patterns. One solution to this problem is through the wider use of underutilised (also called orphan or minor) crops to diversify agricultural systems and food sources. In addition to being highly nutritious, underutilised crops are resilient in natural and agricultural conditions, making them a suitable surrogate to the major crops. One such crop is teff [Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter], a warm-season annual cereal with the tiniest grain in the world. Native to Ethiopia and often the sustenance for local small farmers, teff thrives in both moisture-stressed and waterlogged soil conditions, making it a dependable staple within and beyond its current centre of origin. Today, teff is deemed a healthy wheat alternative in the West and is sought-after by health aficionados and those with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity. The blooming market for healthy food is breathing new life into this underutilised crop, which has received relatively limited attention from mainstream research perhaps due to its ‘orphan crop’ status. This review presents the past, present and future of an ancient grain with a potential beyond its size.

Concepts: Nutrition, Wheat, Spelt, Poaceae, Cereal, Maize, Rice, Millet


Finger millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn), holds immense agricultural and economic importance for its high nutraceuticals quality. Finger millets seeds are rich source of calcium and its proteins are good source of essential amino acids. In the present study, we developed 36 EST-SSR primers for the opaque2 modifiers and 20 anchored-SSR primers for calcium transporters and calmodulin for analysis of the genetic diversity of 103 finger millet genotypes for grain protein and calcium contents. Out of the 36 opaque2 modifiers primers, 15 were found polymorphic and were used for the diversity analysis. The highest PIC value was observed with the primer FMO2E33 (0.26), while the lowest was observed FMO2E27 (0.023) with an average value of 0.17. The gene diversity was highest for the primer FMO2E33 (0.33), however it was lowest for FMO2E27 (0.024) at average value of 0.29. The percentage polymorphism shown by opaque2 modifiers primers was 68.23 %. The diversity analysis by calcium transporters and calmodulin based anchored SSR loci revealed that the highest PIC was observed with the primer FMCA8 (0.30) and the lowest was observed for FMCA5 (0.023) with an average value of 0.18. The highest gene diversity was observed for primer FMCA8 (0.37), while lowest for FMCA5 (0.024) at an average of 0.21. The opaque2 modifiers specific EST-SSRs could able to differentiate the finger millet genotypes into high, medium and low protein containing genotypes. However, calcium dependent candidate gene based EST-SSRs could broadly differentiate the genotypes based on the calcium content with a few exceptions. A significant negative correlation between calcium and protein content was observed. The present study resulted in identification of highly polymorphic primers (FMO2E30, FMO2E33, FMO2-18 and FMO2-14) based on the parameters such as percentage of polymorphism, PIC values, gene diversity and number of alleles.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Allele, Amino acid, Essential amino acid, Millet, Finger millet


To understand the exceptional high grain calcium accumulation in finger millet grains, a calmodulin (CaM) gene that is strongly expressed during developing spikes of high grain calcium genotype was further characterized. Using 5'-3' RACE, the full-length CaM open reading frame (ORF) was isolated and the deduced protein sequence showed the presence of four characteristic EF motifs. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the finger millet CaM (Eleusine coracana calmodulin [EcCaM]) was identical to the rice CaM 1-1. Southern hybridization showed the presence of at least four copies of CaM gene that might be located on different regions of the finger millet “AABB” genome. Immunodetection using monospecific polyclonal anti-EcCaM antibodies revealed that EcCaM is localized in the embryo and aleurone layer and accumulates in higher amounts in high grain calcium genotype compared to the low grain calcium genotype. Furthermore, in silico analysis showed that EcCaM interacts with aquaporin which indicates that calcium is probably delivered to developing spike via mass flow of water. These results indicate that higher expression of CaM might cause greater stimulation of the downstream calcium transport machinery operative in the aleurone layer leading to the higher calcium accumulation in the grains of high grain calcium genotype.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Poaceae, Cereal, Open reading frame, Millet, Finger millet



Iron deficiency is the most widespread nutritional deficiency in the world.

Concepts: Iron, Earth, Randomized controlled trial, Europe, World, Malnutrition, Asia, Millet


Millet is unusually drought resistant and consequently there is a progressive increase in the use of these grains as a human food staple, especially in large areas of India and sub-Saharan Africa. The purpose of this study was to determine the absorption of iron and zinc from pearl millet biofortified with 2 micronutrients that are typically deficient in nonfortified, plant-based diets globally. The study was undertaken in 40 children aged 2 y in Karnataka, India (n = 21 test/19 controls). Three test meals providing ∼84 ± 17 g dry pearl millet flour were fed on a single day for zinc and 2 d for iron between 0900 and 1600 h. The quantities of zinc and iron absorbed were measured with established stable isotope extrinsic labeling techniques and analyses of duplicate diets. The mean (± SD) quantities of iron absorbed from test and control groups were 0.67 ± 0.48 and 0.23 ± 0.15 mg/d, respectively (P < 0.001). The quantities of zinc absorbed were 0.95 ± 0.47 and 0.67 ± 0.24 mg/d, respectively (P = 0.03). These data did not include absorption of the modest quantities of iron and zinc contained in snacks eaten before and after the 3 test meals. In conclusion, quantities of both iron and zinc absorbed when iron and zinc biofortified pearl millet is fed to children aged 2 y as the major food staple is more than adequate to meet the physiological requirements for these micronutrients.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Food, Dietary mineral, Cereal, Maize, Bread, Porridge, Millet


Iron biofortification of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is a promising approach to combat iron deficiency (ID) in the millet-consuming communities of developing countries. To evaluate the potential of iron-biofortified millet to provide additional bioavailable iron compared with regular millet and post-harvest iron-fortified millet, an iron absorption study was conducted in 20 Beninese women with marginal iron status. Composite test meals consisting of millet paste based on regular-iron, iron-biofortified, or post-harvest iron-fortified pearl millet flour accompanied by a leafy vegetable sauce or an okra sauce were fed as multiple meals for 5 d. Iron absorption was measured as erythrocyte incorporation of stable iron isotopes. Fractional iron absorption from test meals based on regular-iron millet (7.5%) did not differ from iron-biofortified millet meals (7.5%; P = 1.0), resulting in a higher quantity of total iron absorbed from the meals based on iron-biofortified millet (1125 vs. 527 μg; P < 0.0001). Fractional iron absorption from post-harvest iron-fortified millet meals (10.4%) was higher than from regular-iron and iron-biofortified millet meals (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively), resulting in a higher quantity of total iron absorbed from the post-harvest iron-fortified millet meals (1500 μg; P < 0.0001 and P < 0.05, respectively). Results indicate that consumption of iron-biofortified millet would double the amount of iron absorbed and, although fractional absorption of iron from biofortification is less than that from fortification, iron-biofortified millet should be highly effective in combatting ID in millet-consuming populations.

Concepts: Iron, Measurement, Poaceae, Fodder, Porridge, Millet, Pearl millet, Pennisetum