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The genome of stress tolerant crop wild relativePaspalum vaginatum leads to increased biomassproductivity in the crop Zea mays

By Guangchao Sun, Nishikant Wase, Shengqiang Shu, Jerry W Jenkins, Bangjun Zhou, Cindy Chen, Laura Sandor, Chris Plott, Yuko Yoshinga, Chris Daum, Peng Qi, Kerrie W. Barry, Anna Lipzen, Luke Berry, Thomas Gottilla, Ashley Foltz, Huihui Yu, Ronan C O'Malley, Chi Zhang, Katrien M. Devos, Brandi Sigmon, Bin Yu, Toshihiro Obata, Jeremy Schmutz, James C Schnable

Posted 19 Aug 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.08.18.456832

A number of crop wild relatives can tolerate extreme stressed to a degree outside the range observed in their domesticated relatives. However, it is unclear whether or how the molecular mechanisms employed by these species can be translated to domesticated crops. Paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) is a self-incompatible and multiply stress-tolerant wild relative of maize and sorghum. Here we describe the sequencing and pseudomolecule level assembly of a vegetatively propagated accession of P. vaginatum. Phylogenetic analysis based on 6,151 single-copy syntenic orthologous conserved in 6 related grass species placed paspalum as an outgroup of the maize-sorghum clade demonstrating paspalum as their closest sequenced wild relative. In parallel metabolic experiments, paspalum, but neither maize nor sorghum, exhibited significant increases in trehalose when grown under nutrient-deficit conditions. Inducing trehalose accumulation in maize, imitating the metabolic phenotype of paspalum, resulting in autophagy dependent increases in biomass accumulation.

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