AIMS AND INTRODUCTION: Sorghum (Sorghum bicolour) is a valuable feed crop in Australia but suffers from comparatively lower grain quality than other cereals due to reduced protein content and digestibility. Australian grain growers could benefit from new high-value sorghum varieties with enhanced grain quality which would lead to increased valuation and open up the possibility of new markets in the future. The endosperm is the most economically valuable part of the sorghum plant, and it is tightly regulated by complex genetic and epigenetic factors, including DNA methylation. Understanding the development and regulation of the endosperm can generate the knowledge and tools to achieve improved digestibility, higher protein content, and larger grain size. In particular, understanding the natural variation present in our collections is critical. I will investigate the potential for improving grain yields and digestibility by engineering seed storage protein genes and profiling demethylation. The aims of my project are to advance our understanding of the fundamental science behind differential demethylation, an underexplored area with great potential in sorghum. A lot of interesting results have been derived in maize, making this a provoking question for sorghum. METHODS: This project will discover new (epi)genetic targets for breeding, an area that has been relatively unexplored in sorghum through methylome sequencing of different tissues throughout the lifecycle of the sorghum plant. This will require integrating several new breeding technologies together focused on the manipulation of epigenetic contributions for agronomic traits. EXPECTED OUTCOMES: This study shall be an important milestone in the sorghum industry and benefit farmers for three primary reasons. Firstly, it will advance the fundamental knowledge behind epigenetics in sorghum for bettering future advancements in the field of crop science for a more sustainable world as we need to use ourĀ 

Project members

Kusumitha Shrinivasan

PHD candidate
School of Agriculture and Food Sustainability