• Fragrant Sorghum Products Will Appear on the Human Table in the Near Future

    TIME: 18 Feb 2022
    Recently, researchers from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) created fragrant sorghum by CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology.
    Fragrance is an important quality trait of crops. Famous fragrant rice is imported from India and Pakistan, which greatly contributes to their foreign trade export business. 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline (2-AP) is a major volatile compound that contributes to fragrance in rice. Betaine Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2 (BADH2) is the major gene that generates fragrance in many crops and vegetables, such as rice, maize, sorghum, soybean and cucumber. The loss of function of the BADH2 gene can lead to 2-AP accumulation, a major compound responsible for the generation of the characteristic aroma. Although we know that the SbBADH2 gene is involved in the regulation of sorghum aroma, there is no aromatic sorghum variety has been found in China.
    The researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology, by designing two specific target sites in SbBADH2 gene, they created SbBADH2 knockout mutants in sorghum. The 2-AP measurement experiment demonstrated that there was a significant higher accumulation of 2-AP in both seeds and leaves of mutants than without edited control.
    Since sorghum is the second largest silage resource for livestock, researchers tested whether grass-fed animals had a preference for fragrant sorghum leaves. Interestingly, through a rabbit feeding experiment, they found that fragrant sorghum forage could attract grass-fed animals.
    Currently, sorghum is widely used as animal feed and raw materials for the brewing industry in China, and the new fragrance sorghum germplasm will be used for animal feed and brewing products such as aromatic wine or vinegar. They hope fragrant sorghum products will appear on the human table in the near future.
    The study was published in Journal of Integrative Plant Biology on February 10, 2022 (DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13232).
    The research was supported by a grant from the Strategic Priority Research Program of CAS and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of CAS.
    Edited sorghum release aromatic fragrance from both grains and leaves and attracts grass-fed animals (Image by IGDB)
    Dr. XIE Qi
    Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
    Email: qxie@genetics.ac.cn