Green genes for the future

Every modern food-crop - from wheat to tomatoes - was derived from a wild plant species. Crop improvements, such as increases in nutrition and yields, can be made by cross-breeding crop species with their wild relatives.

The wild relatives can provide resistance to diseases and insect pests, or the ability to cope with stresses such as drought. Many crop relatives are under threat. If they become extinct, their potential to improve the world’s crops dies with them.

Wild relatives

Native wild sorghum, Sorghum leiocladum is related to Sorghum bicolor, the world’s fourth most useful cereal crop. Commercial sorghum has many uses including as food, fodder and in the production of bio-fuels.

Like many crop wild relatives, native sorghum may contain traits that could be useful for future breeding programs. Plant breeders are particularly interested in creating nutritious plants that require less water and fertilisers.