Opportunities for Napier Grass (Pennisetum purpureum) Improvement Using Molecular Genetics

Alemayehu Negawo, Abel Teshome, Alok Kumar, Jean Hanson, Chris Jones
2017 Agronomy  
Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach.) is a fast-growing perennial grass native to Sub-Saharan Africa that is widely grown across the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is a multipurpose forage crop, primarily used to feed cattle in cut and carry feeding systems. Characterization and diversity studies on a small collection of Napier grasses have identified a moderate level of genetic variation and highlighted the availability of some good agronomic traits, particularly
more » ... s, particularly high biomass production, as a forage crop. However, very little information exists on precise phenotyping, genotyping and the application of molecular technologies to Napier grass improvement using modern genomic tools which have been applied in advancing the selection and breeding of important food crops. In this review paper, existing information on genetic resources, molecular diversity, yield and nutritional quality of Napier grass will be discussed. Recent findings on characterizing disease resistance and abiotic stress (drought) tolerance will also be highlighted. Finally, opportunities and future prospects for better conservation and use arising from the application of modern genomic tools in Napier grass phenotyping and genotyping will be discussed. Napier grass is a monocotyledonous flowering plant belonging to the family Poaceae (the family of grasses) and the genus Pennisetum [5, 6] . Pennisetum is a highly diverse genus consisting of a heterogeneous group of approximately 140 species [7-9] with different basic chromosome numbers of 5, 7, 8 or 9, a range of ploidy levels from diploid to octoploid, both sexual and apomictic reproductive
doi:10.3390/agronomy7020028 fatcat:siccbuzqxnehvgiwizb2afw4ai