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College

Agriculture

Abstract

The demand to produce high-yielding crops grows exponentially with the ever-expanding world population, and with this comes the obligation to examine the actual impact that these crops will have in areas with the most need. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, cannot support many of the otherwise staple agricultural crops due to climatic limitations. Sorghum, a heat-tolerant and drought-hearty grain source, is used as a primary cereal crop in regions of sub- Saharan Africa. However, sorghum grain is known to have a significantly lower protein digestibility rate compared to other common cereal grains. Cooked sorghum, in particular, has decreased levels of protein digestibility, rendering it less nutritionally effective, which is a serious concern in parts of the world that depend on sorghum grain as a primary source of protein and calories. The nutritional content that sorghum currently provides is inadequate, meaning that higher yields, though important, cannot be the sole aim of our agronomic research. Identifying and modifying the genes that influence sorghum protein digestibility would have a lasting impact on the millions of people who rely on sorghum nutritionally and economically. This study explored the genetic influences of sorghum proteins using a basic digestibility assay to screen thousands of sorghum mutants in search of those with high protein digestibility.

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